|Arita Castle 1517 -Phase I Takeda Vanguard|
The Ninja Attack expansion for Samurai Battles included several new units for the game as well as 8 new scenarios featuring many of these units. I decided to run some solo-play games last month to try these units out, and see how they changed the game. (The card driven system lends itself quite well to solo gaming.) Probably the most powerful additions are the Mounted and Dismounted Samurai Archers. These are heavy formations throwing three dice on ranged attacks. They are not as powerful as normal Samurai on the offense, but defend with the same tenacity.
The first scenario (shown above) pits four stands of Mounted Archers against an Ashigaru heavy force with a single stand of Samurai Archers. The Mori Horse archers were able to maneuver outside the reach of the Ashigaru spear, and won the lopsided shooting match with the Takeda archers. The 'double fire' card made for a devastating round of fire that gutted the Takeda ending in a 3-1 victory to red.
|Mori Cavalry overrun the Takeda right.|
Scenario 2 continues the Narrative to have the Mori defending the river crossing at the Matauchi river.
|Arita Castle 1517 -Phase II Matauchi River|
This scenario included Samurai Archers on both sides, with defenders having an edge with three stands of horse archers and three of foot samurai bow. This game became another shooting match, with the Mori missile troops hammering the Takeda advance.
|Takeda Center Advances under fire while the right seize the woods.|
|Takeda Center forced back with heavy casualties|
The game ended after four turns in a 6-2 victory for the defenders. (The two banners for the Takeda general clinched it) I opted to refight this scenario as at this point I was becoming convinced that Richard Borg hates the yellow side and wants it to lose. (I played these games a week after Jon came down to visit, and he soundly thrashed me a couple of times in the previous scenarios, I managed to win with yellow twice, but both were close games.)
The second fight was a much closer affair, where I had Yellow play much more aggressively for the river ford on the left. They still took horrendous casualties from Mori missile fire, but managed to edge out a 6-5 win.
|Takeda Right attempts a sweeping attack.|
|Takeda center advances again.|
|The Takeda manage to drive back the defenders despite massive casualties. At this point it is 5-3 Mori. if Takeda lose one more unit they lose the scenario/|
|The Takeda manage to keep a unit alive long enough to destroy a sixth unit.|
The third scenario is another river defense, with the twist that the river is impassable anywhere but the fords.
|Koriyama Castle 1540 - River Enokawu|
Red has eight units, four of them missile troops against 11 stands of Yellow. The Yellow plan was to use the Missile troops to drive back the defenders at the fords to allow their assault troops to cross and hold the ground on the far side.
|Things go poorly on the left from the start.|
|Desperate struggle for the ford on the Yellow right.|
|Pickett-chu I choose you.|
|Amako Kunihisa Personally leads the charge against Shishodo general|
|and Yellow goes down in flames again.|
The last scenario I tried was Koriyama Castle 1540. This scenario featured three Samurai missile units per side, as well as one Ninja per side. The added twist to the scenario is that the Mori (Red) score victory banners for each Yari unit they withdraw across the river. The game is to four banners, so this is a quick way to win a decisive victory if the cards are favorable. Unfortunately the cards were not favorable, and the Amako (Yellow) were able to fix the two Yari units on the Mori left and destroy them in short order.
|Initial Set Up. Note the river and ford in the upper left.|
|Set up from the Yellow (Amako) side.|
|Amako Right advances quickly to overwhelm the Mori right.|
|The Mori right vanishes, giving up three victory banners, the center force would destroy the single unit necessary to achieve victory.|
This scenario included a ninja figure, which did not affect the outcome, although could have if I had deployed the Mori ninja on the left. The ninja figure allows you to force a casualty check against opposing leaders in close combat as well as sacrificing the ninja if your leader fails a casualty roll.
Overall, an enjoyable exercise, although I would prefer a human opponent (my Son was unavailable for dice rolling as he had a friend over. This would also explain why I was hiding in the den, playing solo games all afternoon...) The new archer units definitely change the flavor of the game as they may missile duels a viable gambit, and are powerful defensive units. I did not have a chance to play the scenarios with the the Peasant Infantry unit (2 attack dice, 6 hits), nor did I opt to try the No-dachi Samurai (They grant/lose 2 honor tokens when they destroy units or are destroyed)
These new units also allow me to field the Samurai Archer and Horse Archer units I already have painted in 15mm as well as my Peasant stands. The Mikata-Ga-Hara scenario actually uses all of the new units, so I am looking forward to giving it a try sometime in the near future. Perhaps if I can find the right opponent....