Samurai Battles -First Impression

Scenario #1 Samurai Skirmish.  Takeda forces in the foreground.
With re-basing 80% complete, I tried my first Solo game of Samurai Battles to wrap my head around the rule changes from  Command and Colors Ancients.  The basic game is very similar to CCA, with less diversity in units:

  • Ashigaru Bow:  Green Circle, Shoot/CC 2 Dice, Move and Shoot 1 Dice, Range 3
  • Ashigaru Arquebus (Teppo):  Green Circle, Shoot/CC 2 dice, cannot move and shoot, range 3, 4 w/ 1 die
  • Ashigaru Spear (Yari):  Blue Square, Move 1 and fight or 2 and no fight.  3 Dice.  
  • Samurai Naginata: Red Triangle, Move and Fight 1 square, 4 dice.
  • Mounted Samurai: Red Triangle, Move and Fight 2 Squares, 4 dice.
  • All units have  4 hits, included the mounted Samurai to reflect their 'greater influence'

Takeda Cavalry smash into Uesegi Ashigaru
Some notable differences I found were:

* On attack rolls, you only hit on the target's symbol or a sword result.  A 'superior' unit ignores the first sword from an inferior unit.  (i.e. Samurai ignore 1 sword from Ashigaru, and 2 swords from Archers/Handguns) 

*Leaders allow you to ignore 1 flag result if attached, but not when adjacent

*Attached or adjacent leaders can spend 1 Fortune token to add a die to a close combat roll.

*Only units with attached leaders may follow up and conduct bonus attacks.
Now they are really stuck in.  

The honor and fortune system is the primary difference from CCA.  I understand it is similar to the magic system from Battlelore, but I haven't played Battlelore....   What I can say is that it definitely adds in interesting dynamic to the game and gives it that Japanese flair.  You gain honor points from close combat die rolls (the symbol replaces the purple helent from CCA), and have the choice of collecting 2 at the end of the turn or drawing a Dragon card.  You spend them to play Dragon cards, get an additional die in close combat, and, most importantly, to "pay" for retreats.  It is a neat mechanic, you lose honor when a unit falls back.  If you run out of honor than you can start losing units.  (Roll 4 dice and apply hits for each symbol to the respective units nearby)

The Dragon cards represent your 'Fortune' and can grant you benefits like ignoring flag results in a combat, or inflict misfortune on you opponent.

The last turn, as the Takeda strike unit #5 to win 5-3.

But is it fun?  Absolutely.  I played through five scenarios solo in about 6 hours total playing time.  Only one game seemed to drag on (Kawanakagema phase 4) , and that was my fault for not recognizing the need for aggressive play on the part of the Uesegi .  The game is quick and fluid, and the honor and fortune system ensures that even an apparently lopsided battle is not hopeless.  If that makes the game seem less fun, then take it from both Shingen and Kagetori in "Heaven and Earth"

"That is war."


  1. Looking forward to giving Samurai Battles a try this weekend.

  2. As am I. I found the errata online, and it will make Fourth Kawanakajima phase 2 a little easier for the Takeda....


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