Monday, November 19, 2012

Commands & Colors: Samurai Battles

Jake made the trip to Spokane on Saturday and brought with him his Samurai Battles setup in 15mm.  Saturday's outing would be my first glimpse of Zvezda's Samurai Battles.  For an overview of the game and game mechanisms, visit boardgamegeek (BGG) at  On BGG can be found rules, errata, and other game related goodies.

Samurai Battles can also be found as a VASSAL module.  The VASSAL module requires the latest VASSAL engine beta version (3.2.0-beta4).  A sample screenshot from the VASSAL module for scenario, First Samurai Skirmish, is shown below.
VASSAL Screenshot
Saturday's games were played on a Hotz mat with 4 inch hexes and custom terrain hexes built by Jake.  Jake also provided all of the figures used with 15mm figures based on 2 inch by 4 inch bases.  Each stand has anywhere from 8 to 21 figures.  Casualties are marked on each stand with units taking four hits before removal from the table.  

The armies Jake brought with him were a mix of Minifig, Two Dragon, and perhaps others.  Although never a great fan of Minifigs, I must confess that the Minifig figures were outstanding and delicately sculpted and looked great en masse on the stand.

As an introduction for me, we gamed the First Samurai Skirmish scenario.  The opposing forces were initially arrayed as shown in (1).  As the game began, Jake pounded the Red center with missile fire prompting the Yellow line to retrograde out of range.   
(1) Initial dispositions

With both armies jockeying for position in the center, and constant harassment from Yellow missile fire, Red launched a flanking maneuver with the Samurai horse on the Yellow right flank.  In the clash, Yellow mounted Samurai were eliminated and then the Red Samurai horse were, in turn, destroyed as Yellow brought up his Samurai foot and played a Dragon card limiting the Red horse to two dice.  Nasty ploy!  The game ended with a Red victory.  This would be my only victory from the five games played. 
(2) Red Samurai horse counterattack
 Assorted game photos from the other four games are included with the last photo showing that Jake winning the Takeda Pincer attack as Red 6-5.

Samurai Battles is really quite fun, adds much depth onto an already enjoyable Commands and Colors system, and provides a game with much nail-biting tension.  The addition of the Honor tokens and the Dragon cards makes for a more unpredictable game.  In fact, in all of the five games played on Saturday, I went from euphoria to despair and back multiple times.  To paraphrase Yogi Berra, the game is never over until it is over.  The variety of colorful uniforms and banners makes for a visually striking game.  I'm tempted to field a Japanese army of my own with the proviso that Jake would like focus not be lost on the 1859 Project. 

My hope is to squeeze Samurai Battles into my regular gaming rotation. 

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