Sunday, July 09, 2006

10mm Samurai

A couple months ago Desiree and I decided to embark on a "ground up" miniatures project. Deciding on a genre and scale, we'd build our armies up from scratch. After much discussion and speculation we settled on 10mm Samurai. Here's why:

  • I've been wanting to get into 10mm for a long time, so this was definitely my scale of choice. I showed Desiree Arnstein Orten's fantastic site and she agreed the scale worked.
  • We went with samurai because we're both Japan-o-philes and love Kurosawa films and all the cool imagery from the Sengoku period.
The next step was figuring out what rules to use. I ordered "Killer Katanas 2" and "Chrysanthemum Throne" and also downloaded "Bushi" and "Daimyo".

Here's the part where I do a little rant about historical miniatures games. About 10 years ago, when I was sick of Games Workshop and first starting to try and get into historicals I ran up against the "grognard effect". What I mean by that is that most rules sets for historical minis are very cheaply produced and aimed at people who already know a lot about the period. Call me superficial and lazy, but I like my miniatures rules to have lots of inpsiring photos and/or illustrations and a modicum of background information to ground me in the period. I hav never purchased a set of historical rules because I already knew a lot about the period and wanted to game it, but rather because I was interested in the period and wanted to find out more about it. Including historical background in the game, rather than forcing me to do tons of outside research, just makes life easier and makes me look upon the ruleset much more favorably.

I realize that historical miniatures are a niche market of an already niche market, but there are plenty of games out there (like "Blitzkrieg Commander" and the 2nd edition of "Baptism of Fire") that look great, have lots of historical background to help out the novice, and are essentially desktop publishing ventures.

I'm solidly in the camp that sees rulesets like "Flames of War", "Blitzkrieg Commander" and the "Warhammer Ancients" books as a blessing to the historical miniatures community. If those books had been around when I was a young lad with gobs of disposable income I would've become an enthusiastic historical miniatures hobbyist. What happened instead was a lot of frustration and dead ends. But that's a story for another day...

So how do the above-mentioned rules sets stack up against the "grognard effect"? Pretty well. Although all of them suffer from poor layout and bland presentation, the newcomer to the world of samurai warfare would find good to excellent introductions to the period in any of the the rules I looked at. Perhaps it's due to the fact that 16th-century samurai warfare is not a big part of Westren conciousness, and so the authors assumed the prospective buyer would know little about the period. (And in case I haven't made it totally obvious, I feel this is an assumption that all historical miniatures rulebooks should make.) The standout in this regard is Killer Katanas, which has tons of useful information.

No rules system turned out to be exactly what I was looking it stands I think we'll use "CT" as the base system with elements from Bushi and Daimyo.

I chose "CT" as my primary rules system because of its simplicity. Like all Chipco games, it's designed to be fast-playing, requiring only a modest amount of figures and playing space. It's not for nothing that I've seen "CT" referred to as the DBA of samurai rules. Killer Katanas is just a bit too figure intensive for my tastes. Daimyo is a solid set of rules, but it lacks flavor. Bushi, on the other hand, is a bit too heavy on the flavor: the rules forgo using simple and intuitive terms like "Move" and "Combat Skill" in favor of Japanese terms ("Yagake" and "Bujutsu" in this case, respectively). "CT" (with my additions) has just enough flavor to make it feel different from "Western" style battles, and that's what I'm looking for.

The elements I'm bringing in from Bushi and Daimyo relate to pre-game setup (Bushi has some interesting treatments of this, including the historical 27 formations) and deploying the General's base ("CT" only provides for stationary generals; Daimyo covers both stationary and mobile generals).

As I pondered what ruleset to use, I was also doing research. Killer Katanas gave me a nice jumping-off point, and provided Desiree with an army concept straight out of the box as it were--she decided on doing an army of Ikko-Ikki, fanatical peasants led by belligerent warrior-monks.

I went through various concepts before running across a choice nugget of information--it seems a young Tokugawa Ieyasu, future unifier of Japan, won his spurs fighting Ikko-Ikki in his home province. Perfect!

With army concepts firmed up, the time came to order the minis proper. After eBaying some painted GW minis, I used the funds to order a shitload of new lead. Ahh, the sweet smell of new minis...

When the little guys started arriving, Desiree was taken aback by how diminutive they were. She's skeptical about painting them, but I don't think it'll be a problem. Sometimes you gotta just jump in and start slapping on the paint!

I'm currently waiting on a final shipment of Pendraken minis (including the bulk of Desiree's army) via Arsenal miniatures, which is taking quite a while--presumably because they had to order the minis from England? Ah well. They'll be arriving sometime next week, then it's time to paint.

Pictures comng sooner or later... ;)

1 comment:

  1. David, I am trying to contact you regarding your 10 mm Samurai. Google plus is not my friend. I will endeavour to decipher the means but wanted to let you know that there is interest.


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