Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Future is Now!

So after going all over town yesterday in a vain quest for Future Floor Polish (see previous update), it occurred to me I should maybe check out the market right around the corner from my apartment. And of course they had a bottle! Sheesh. Sometimes it's just too obvious, y'know?

I had time this morning before work to do some test painting with the new "Magic Wash". I did a test-paint on three Pendraken ashigaru. They were primered three different ways: white, black, and black with a white drybrush. I mixed my paints to a thin, almost wash-like consistency with the Magic Wash and applied brush to miniature.

The best result came from the black undercoat with white drybrush. The thin glaze of paint allows the white to show through on the the raised areas, creating a natural highlight. The black undercoat fills in the cracks and crevasses that the glaze can't reach.

I'm not sure when I'll start mass-painting in earnest--there are a couple work-related projects I need to work on...but once those are out of the way, I get to play. ;)

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

More on Taiko! and our armies

As I mentioned in my previous post, for Taiko! I decided to treat figure basing a little differently. I also tweaked the army lists a bit to fit my own peculiar prejudices:

  • I eliminated the requirement that 1/3 of the ashigaru in an army be armed with regular hand weapons. Although the percentage is accurate, that third usually stayed "in the rear with the gear" and only joined the battle in truly desperate circumstances. The fighting ashigaru were inevitably armed with yari of some sort or missile weapons.
  • Similarly, I negated the "1/3" weapon requirement for the sohei.
  • I intend to use the Weather Table from Daimyo, especially since the Taiko! rules for setting fires specifically mention modifiers for rain and high winds.
  • I'm thinking of writing up point costs for pavises and palisades, but I want to try out the basic rules first before I start coming up with points values out of thin air. Might send an email to the folks at Flagship and see how they've handled defensive works in past games.
I think that's about it. The rules themselves are really solid and I can't wait to give 'em a test spin. To that end, I've come up with a neat scenario. But first, let's look at the armies...

Our armies are based around a fairly specific time frame, namely late 1563 into early 1564. This was when a young Tokugawa Ieyasu (still at this time known as Matsudaira Motoyasu) came head to head with local Ikko Ikki contingents in his home province of Mikawa. Several skirmishes and a large battle were fought in which the young Tokugawa impetuously led from the front, famously returning from a charge with his armor full of enemy musket balls! One of his future trusted generals, Ishikawa Ienari, started out on the side of the Ikko Ikki but later switched sides.

With all this in mind when designing my army, I decided that I wanted to have a mounted Army Commander (the impetuous Motoyasu himself!) along with his "right hand man" Honda Tadakatsu and the general, Sakai Masachika, who started the whole conflict when he was sent to collect rice from a temple without its consent. I also took Hattori Hanzo as a sub-commander, because how could I not? The content of the army is fairly conventional--a mix of Veteran and Young Samurai, most armed with pole arms (which in Taiko! include weapons like the no-dachi), ashigaru wielding short and long yari, and missile troops. Since it's still relatively early in the firearms era, I have slightly more bows than teppo. Thank you Arsenal for making that possible! ;)

The Ikko Ikki are an eclectic mix, as they should be. Peasants form the backbone of the army, but we can also find sohei, both on foot and mounted, samurai, under the leadership of that shifty fellow Ienari (it'll be interesting to see if he defects like he did in real life--another reason I love Taiko!), and even some shifty ronin armed with, of all things, muskets! There are actually more firearms in this army than in mine, which is as it should be. The Ikko Ikki were early proponents of the teppo.

Oh, and there are rumors the fanatics have contracted with the mysterious ninja. Wish I had points in my army for a yojimbo body guard...oh dear...

At any rate, the scenario I referred to above will be a fun way to teach ourselves the rules and kick off the campaign. Basically I want to represent the sparking point of the whole conflict, when Sakai arrives to collect rice from the Joguji temple and the peasants and monks therein beg to differ. Each army will have one cavalry, one infantry and one missile unit, as follows:

Sakai's Forces
  • Army Commander, Mounted (Sakai)
  • 2x Mounted Samurai, with Pole Arms
  • 6x Ashigaru, with Pole Arms
  • 4x Ashigaru, with Bows
The Ikko Ikki
  • Army Commander, Mounted (Outraged Sohei)
  • 2x Mounted Sohei, with Pole Arms
  • 6x Peasants, with Pole Arms (hoes and pitchforks)
  • 4x Ashigaru, with Teppo
All the Ikki are rated Fanatic, and the Peasants have been upgraded and the Ashigaru downgraded so they have comparable Class and Armor values.

A small complex (two buildings, a watch tower and a tree-stump wall) represents the temple's granary. The objective for Sakai is to raid the granary, or burn it down. The Ikki must prevent this. Simple, fun, guaranteed mayhem! Can't wait to play! :D

10mm Samurai Update

The last two weeks have seen things finally start to accelerate.

First off, all my orders finally came in. The bases I ordered from Litko Aerosystems arrived first, followed shortly by the last of my miniatures, namely the Pendraken from Arsenal. Here's where I must take an aside and offer my thoughts on my experience with Arsenal:

I ordered all my miniatures on the same day. I ordered my Irregular from Eureka, a company in Australia (and if you're wondering why it's because they have an excellent online shopping system and the shipping is quick and cheap), the GFI from the manufacturer and the Pendraken from Arsenal.

Of those three, I half expected the Arsenal to arrive first. The GFI minis had to be paid for via a check in the mail (they're not taking PayPal or credit cards online and I didn't feel comfortable phoning in my card number over a cordless phone, which is the only kind of phone I have) and the Irregular were coming from Australia, which takes about a week.

As it turned out, I received the Irregular first, followed by the GFI about ten days later. And I waited and waited on the Arsenal shipment. And waited...

So yes, I finally received the Pendraken from Arsenal about a month after I placed the order. Furthermore, my order was...well...not completely what I was expecting. Since for part of my order I had essentially tallied up 80% of the "Samurai Army Pack", they just sent me the whole pack as a bonus. Unfortunately, I got stiffed on a pack of peasants in the bargain.

But I'm not complaining, because the "Army Pack" contained peasant longbows and ashigaru longbows--two packs that I was greatful to have as it turned out!

The reason I found myself in need in bow-armed troops is because I finally found "my" set of rules. If you'll recall from my last update, at that time I hadn't found a ruleset that really struck my fancy. I was planning on using Chrysanthemum Throne, as it was the closest to what I was looking for, although it still left much to be desired. For one thing, it was quite oversimplified, not even including rules for archers. This is the reason I hadn't ordered any.

But two weeks ago, I opened up my copy of Army Builder, looking to see if there any data files for Fantasy Warriors. There aren't, but I discovered that there are data files for Taiko!, a set of rules from Flagship Games. I had totally forgotten about these rules. When I was initially researching rules, it had basically come down to Taiko! vs. Killer Katanas in the "which game am I willing to shell out $25 for?" category. I went for KK2--and I'm glad I did, because KK2 does include quite a bit of very helpful background info and army composition notes, as well as a nifty scenario generator. If I'd bought Taiko! first, I seriously doubt I would've opted for KK2 down the line.

That being said, Taiko! is the system I've been looking for. A perfect balance of CT's "gamey" approach and KK2/Bushi's historicity. It even has a workable points system, which is why someone saw fit to put 2/3 of it into Army Builder format. (I ended up having to script the other third, since that happened to be the Ikko-Ikki list, which happens to be Desiree's army.)

Oh, and Taiko! also passes the presentation test. It isn't fancy, but some thought was obviously put into the layout, which is a simple yet elegant watermark of a different mon on each page. Sprinkled throughout the book we also find rather nicely executed full-page, somewhat cartooney illustrations, each with a humorous caption. My top favorite shows a trio of rather hard looking samurai, perhaps ronin, indignant over the fact that the battle's getting under way before they can finish their lunch.

My only hitch with the rules is that they're written for individually based figures, ala Warhammer. I find this a bit strange, especially since the rules were written specifically for 15mm. And I'll be damned if I'm going to individually base my 10mm figures! So after some thought, I decided that it wouldn't affect the game if I simply treated a base of 10mm figures as one "figure" for rules purposes. Furthermore, since I haven't totally given up on CT as an alternative set of rules, I decided to base the figures according to the standards given there. Ironically, this results in a rather high figure density, something I was trying to avoid. We're playing with 1,000 point armies, which are a bit on the small side for Taiko!, but even then it took nearly all my freshly-bought lead. But oh well, the armies'll look cool and it's preferable to individual basing so I'm happy.

Des and I put our armies together using Army Builder and I spent this afternoon sorting miniatures into units. We're finally ready to start painting.

And speaking of painting, we went on a wild goose chase today looking for Future Floor Polish. We tried two Walgreens, a Home Depot and a Target and no one had it. It seems the cursed Swiffer has replaced floor polish for the most part. Ah well, I guess it's regular water mixed with rubbing alcohol for us.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Fantasy Warriors Battle Report

Well it's been awhile, but last week we found ourselves squaring off over the Fantasy Warriors battlefield again! What brought this on? Glad you asked...

First off, we took a trip back down to L.A. to visit friends and family. Knowing that I'd have full access to my dad's studio, I packed up my six half-finished terrain boards and brought them along. Working on large-scale terrain projects in a small one-bedroom apartment with no balcony puts a significant strain on living space, so I was glad to have the opportunity to make full use of a dedicated work space. (Growing up the son of an artist does have certain advantages.)

So in between a whirlwind of lunches, dinners, BBQs and shooting the breeze I snagged a few hours in the sweltering garage (figures we'd visit in the middle of a SoCal heat wave!) and did the bulk of the rest of the work on the tiles. When we got back it took another week or two of work in my off hours to put the finishing touches on, but in the end I now have a set of 12 two foot square modular terrain tiles! A long-time goal finally realized. ::dusts hands::

So I was naturally excited to "test out" some of the new tiles and Mirliton making the Fantasy Warriors Compendium available online as a PDF cinched the deal. The Compendium came out in the early 90s and contained a brand new army list (Undead), fun new rules (mercenaries, poisoned arrows, field defences, "firewater") and (most importantly) completely revised army lists from the main rulebook. You see, the army lists contained in the original rulebook had some serious balance issues and typos and the Compendium corrected all that. Unfortunately, the Compendium has been out-of-print nearly since it was published! So having it available as a PDF was a major boon indeed.

Poring over all the new niftiness in the Compendium got me really jazzed to play FW...and not just as a one-off exercise like last time. I started to realize that although I'm trying to "standardize" my miniatures gaming (using 10mm as much as possible), playing FW with old school 25mm (as oppossed to the "28mm", more like 32mm minis of today) is the only right way to play it. And that the pure fun of the game coupled with the nostalgia rush I get off playing it justified further investment and future games. After talking it over with Desiree, she agreed it would be fun to build up our existing armies as a sort of "back burner" project. To that end, we each committed to one of the armies. We went with the armies we played last the Orcs are now "my" army.

The Battle
For those of you just joining us, the last encounter between the Orcs and Dwarves ended in a complete greenskin rout. This battle, quite accidentally, would form a sort of sequel to that battle, as the Orcs took up defensive positions and Dwarves pressed their advantage.

I recalculated the army lists using the new point values in the Compendium and found the Dwarves were essentially unchanged:
  • 1x 16 Veteran Spears
  • 2x 8 Elite Axes
  • 3x 5 Veteran Crossbows
  • 1x Warchief (in charge of the infantry)
  • 1x Battle Leader (in charge of the crossbows)
  • 1x Human Hero
My Orc army benefitted a bit from the points adjustments--I was able to make the presence of Trolls in my army "legal" by adding a Battle Leader (who are technically allies). I also dropped the Hero in favor of a volley of poison arrows for each of the missile units.
  • 1x 14 Veteran Spears
  • 2x 8 Average Swords
  • 3x 5 Average Bows
  • 1x 3 Elite War Trolls
  • 1x Warchief (in charge of the infantry)
  • 2x Battle Leaders (one in charge of the archers, the other in charge of the trolls)
  • 1x Amazon Wizard (with a mere 20 power points)
I laid out a simple table with a river zig-zagging across the length of the board. I decided that with a little modification the detailed FW terrain setup rules could be adapted to modular terrain. Basically, I decided instead of placing a terrain feature a player could instead swap out one board for another.

As it turned out, neither of us elected to scout again so terrain layout was pretty simple. The reason we've stayed away from scouting is because our armies are too small to really allow for it! In FW, scouting is done by "commands" rather than units...and the warchief's command can't scout. Since that meant in both our cases that only our missile units could scout, and since we didn't want our missile units to suffer from the rather heavy deployment restrictions placed on scouting units (start game no more than 6" from base edge, Disorganized, and on Hold orders), well...there you go...

Unfortunately for me, Dwarves can afford the luxury of not scouting, since they don't suffer from Bad Light. For me, one of the first new purchases I'm going to make for my Orcs is a scouting command (maybe some wolf riders or somesuch) because I really need to make sure my greenskins fight at night! And wouldn't you know it--the random roll came up not just Daytime, but friggin' noon! Talk about Bad Light!

As I said, the terrain setup was pretty simple. The board stayed "as is" and some dice roll jockeying back and forth resulted in two woods on my side of the board. We randomly determined the strength of the river and it came up "4". We designated two fords, one on my side near the woods on my left and one on Desiree's side, at the foot the hill.

Another dice roll decided I'd be setting up first (if one or both of us had scouted, things like terrain setup and deployment would be determined by who outscouted--or even outmaneuvered--whom). I'd just finished a book on Henry V and the Battle of Agincourt and kind of took a page from the English deployment in that battle. Using the bend of the river as a line of defense, I set up a staggered first line of archers, swords, archers, swords, archers. I then put my spearmen (which included my warchief and banner) and my trolls in reserve.

My plan was to just sit tight under Hold orders and let the Dwarves come to me, forcing them to wade across the river under the hail of black-feathered arrows and then get cut to pieces by my trusty blademen (or failing that, my trusty pointy-stick lads). The trolls would be used to plug gaps or as a counter-attacking force. Lastly, since I was suffering Bad Light I could only benefit by waiting for the slow-poke Dwarves to close--the longer they took, the closer I got to night!

Seeing my deployment, Desiree set up with most of her force weighted on my left flank--running from my left to right she set up her spearmen, then both two-handed axe units. In front she deployed her crossbows as a screening force.

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There was one last step before the battle could commence: boasts and omens! We both elected to read the the omens. They came up good for Desiree and bad for me. However, I had my wizard cast "Fudge the Omens" and got a re-roll, and this time they came up good! How could we both have the gods on our side? Stay tuned...

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Desiree elected not to boast. Keeping in mind my defensive strategy, I went with "I will stay on this spot, immovable like a rock" for my warchief. Figured that if he was having to move, the battle would probably already be lost anyways... ;)

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The battle got under way with all my troops under Hold orders. Desiree had her infantry on Oppose, but, like last battle, gave her missile troops Attack orders. Missile troops with these orders must close to short range as quickly as possible, firing as they go, then hose down the enemy with the remainder of their ammo. A very aggressive stance for Dwarven Crossbows, especially since they enjoy a superior range to my bows and could easily have stood off at long range and pelted me to their hearts' content. As it turned out, the initial volley from the stunties opened up a huge gap in my line!

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(History lesson: one thing Henry V didn't have to worry about at Agincourt was missile units--the French deployed their Genoese crossbowmen behind and to the side of their infantry, rendering them ineffectual in the battle. And a good thing for the English! Those crossbows can be nasty...)

In the future I think I'll invest in some pavises and mantlets for my front line infantry if I'm planning holding a defensive line against Dwarves. As it was, the Dwarven archery caused so many casualties, two of units routed right off the field--a unit of archers and a unit of blades!

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So things were off to a very bad start indeed. But I knew that with their Attack orders the Dwarves would eventually close to within bowshot. And if I could just outlast the Dwarves' ammunition supplies relatively intact, their infantry would still be forced to try and close with me.

As predicted, the Dwarves kept closing. As they got within range, my Wizard let go with all she had, targeting a Blast spell at one of the crossbow units. I knew from previous experience that Blast is not a major killer, but its advantage lies in the fact that any unit taking casualties from the spell must check morale, even if there's only one kill. The risk I was running was that my Wizard was very low on power and Blast is a spell that can easily suck points up...and if a wizard can't pay the Power Points, they die on the spot! And a dead wizard is not a good thing, since it requires the whole army to take a Command Test to see if they still want to stick around.

As it turns out, things kind of evened out. The Blast spell went off and killed a dwarf or two, but amazingly the subsequent morale test found them routing off the field! Unfortunately, my Wizard overdrew her power and also died. But the Command Test was passed easily and the rest of my army stayed put. Good thing too. Man, what an ignominous defeat that would've been...

(After the game I read that when a wizard overdraws their power, their spell fails to go off. So that was an error in my favor...ah well, live and learn, eh?)

The crossbows were finally within short range and expended the rest of their ammo in an archery duel with my bowmen. The Dwarves definitely came out the better for it, wiping out my right-flank unit and nearly destroying my left-flankers. I unloaded in turn with what I had left of my archers, even taking a shot at the Dwarven battle leader with a volley of poisoned arrows, but with very little result. I think unless I'm planning on facing a large monster or similar terror, I'll leave the poisoned arrows at home.

It was time for the Dwarven infantry to move out...

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On my right flank the axes and hero on the hilltop marched down and across the ford, attempting to flank me. The rest of the Dwarves started moving toward my main line (such as it was). The time had come for both of us to start switching orders. In the last battle we hadn't dealt with this, as it was an all-out brawl with no subtlety, just Attack orders across the board.

I'm really quite fond of the order system in Fantasy Warriors. It's simple yet sophisticated and reflects command and control problems well. Having a plan that requires switching orders in mid-battle, especially if you have to time that switch just so, is really difficult. Which is as it should be.

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So as Desiree moved out, she started shifting her warchief. He was too far over to have all his units within his command radius, and needed to get more centered. This was vital, because the Dwarves were currently under Oppose orders and if they expected to get into combat they needed to be under Attack orders. Meanwhile, I needed to switch my Trolls "on" and give them Attack orders. I also wanted to give my archers Oppose orders so they could retire away from the thick of the battle and not become a total loss.

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Since both concerns were under the command of Battle Leaders--and my Warchief couldn't personally deliver the new orders thanks to his "Stonewall" boast--I had to dispatch runners with the new orders. At their current move rate, it would take two turns for the new orders to reach their destinations...and then my Battle Leaders would have to roll to see if they even understood the new orders!

And so, as the Dwarves closed in the messengers moved out. The Attack order was communicated to the trolls' Battle Leader without difficulty and the Trolls roared forward towards the Dwarven flanking force. The handoff of new orders to the archers' Battle Leader did not go smoothly, however. Instead of new orders, the messenger was dismissed, the current orders held, and my archers picked up a Disorganized counter for their trouble. So be it--my archers would stay put and hopefully not get picked off.

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The game clock had now advanced well into the nighttime hours and the time was ripe for a little payback. (Not to mention that the real clock had advanced well into the evening as well, and my gurgling stomach was starting to affect my judgment...)

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As my Trolls charged up my right flank, the Human Hero rode forth to meet them. One round of combat later, the Hero was no more, but she had taken down a troll in exchange.

(This combat brought up another rules question I'm still not enitrely sure about, but I'll discuss that below.)

At this point, Desiree was still trying to get her Warchief shifted in order to issue the new Attack orders. We both realized during this battle that FW rewards deploying your commands' units centrally around their respective battle leader, like the "5" pips on a d6 (yeah, I went there and made a dice analogy). Spread out your units and you can live to regret it...

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What followed more than made up for having to suffer through the destruction wrought by the Dwarven Crossbows. My Trolls moved in to engage the Dwarven Axes, but first they Threatened the unit. The ability to issue Threats can be a powerful tool when used at critical moments. My Trolls' bellowing and feces-hurling managed to earn the Dwarves a Shaken counter. Then the Trolls closed in. Between the Shaken counter, the Oppose orders and the fact they were fighting Elite War Trolls, the Dwarves were literally mown down. They were there, then they weren't...

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I did lose another Troll, but my lone "buzzsaw" was free to rampage into the Dwarven flank...if he could just get over his fear of water...

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As it turned out that pesky river would prove the end of the battle. I tried over the next couple turns to get my troll to cross the water, but he just couldn't battle through the current. Rivers in FW are obstacles indeed! I'm thinking of creating a weighted table to generate river strengths, one that comes up with strengths of 1, 2, or 3 more often. Also, building a bridge or two is probably in order. The strength of the river doesn't matter as much if there are ample crossing places.

At any rate, while my troll was trying to force the river (to meet the other Axe unit waiting across the bank), the rest of the Dwarves moved up to face the Orc battle line, with only a river seperating the two armies.

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And it was here that we left it. Neither side was willing to face the bloodbath of trying to force a swift-flowing river right under the nose of the opposition. In-game, dawn was fast approaching and with it the return of Bad Light. Things could only get worse for me.

We tallied up victory points and it came out a minor victory for the Dwarves. This made sense. The Dwarves had failed to dislodge the Orcs, but were in posession of most of the field. Furthermore, the Orcs had suffered horrendous casualties and although they had bloodied the Dwarves, they were now in an untenable position. They'd have to retire before the dawn came and the Dwarves could regroup and flank them from the two fords. At the same time, they could at least retire in good order and fight another day. And fight they will, oh yes...

(And there you see how the omens were able to be "good" for both sides!)

Other Thoughts
I referred to a fuzzy point of the rules above and here it is: when you have an individual fighting a unit and that individual inflicts "x" number of kills, are those kills distributed to whole unit or only to the model(s) the individual is in base-to-base contact with? I couldn't find a definitive answer in the rulebook. In this game, the hero inflicted 4 kills on the trolls, two of which weren't saved. That would've been enough to wipe out the unit. But I argued that the kills should only be counted against the model in b2b contact, since that's the standard you use to determine how many dice to roll ("throw 1D for each point of worth in base to base contact..."). But I could be wrong. I know Heros in FW are supposed to be pretty powerful.

I'm really looking forward to building up my Orc army. As I mentioned, I'm going to add wolf-riders. Also, I'm going to replace my (technically illegal) Amazon Wizard with a proper greenskin spell-caster, possibly on a wolf as well. I'll probably add a unit of Bodyguards for my Warchief, along with some Big Orcs. I think I'll pick up a saucy-looking Goblin to act as Battle Leader for my Trolls and I was also considering also adding a mercenary unit of Half-Orcs at some point. And of course there's always beefing up my existing units. And at some point down the line it might be fun to see about maybe having a dragon make an appearance in a battle or two...

As for Desiree's army, she's probably going to add an allied Human contingent, using the (technically illegal) Human Hero as the Battle Leader. Also, now that the old Grenadier Dwarven War Cannon is once again available, that's pretty much a must-buy.

Speaking of which, we've decided we're only going to use old "true 25mm" minis. Both Grenadier and Ral Partha are once again available through Mirliton and Iron Wind, respectively.

And even further down the line, if Mirliton starts putting out the old Undead lead (and the Imperial Undead War Mammoth in particular!) an Undead army is as good as mine. And Desiree has expressed interest in maybe putting together an Amazon army at some point. So, much FW fun is in our future.

The funniest thing to me is that I'm finally pursuing this game some 15 years after first receiving it as a birthday present. Life can be pretty wacky sometimes...

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... ;)
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