The Samurai won the roll for choice of table edge and deployed second. In the open area in the centre of the table mounted units of both sides were deployed facing each other. Not a traditional deployment with cavalry on the wings, but perhaps sensible for both sides as the terrain towards the left and right of the central area was not practically cavalry friendly – to many woods and hills! Tony, was in charge of the Romano-British centre containing cavalry and chariots, with Dave on his right with the massed warrior hordes, and Steve on his left defending an 8 hex hill with units of ‘B’ class spears and archers. The Samurai deployment had a mix of different units from left to right – foot and mounted Samurai, ashigaru spears, archers, handgunners and peasants. The majority of the 6 mounted Samurai units were located in the centre to counter the threat of the mobile Romao-British directly opposite. Opening moves saw the Romano-British advance with the warrior hordes of their left wing use there 2 hex movement to close on James on my left who was defending a 4 hex escarpment and a wood with ashigaru and Japanese peasants. This was a major early threat to our left flank. To my right Chris advanced to occupy 2 areas of woodland ready to engage in a shooting battle with Steve’s archers. Tony and I watched each other across the centre of the table. Either of us could launch a fast frontal attack, each with 2 generals and fast-moving mounted units at our disposal. However, we are experienced tacticians, and until one of the opponents’ flanks was defeated or at least pushed back, a central charge to victory would be extremely difficult. The key to the Samurai was the 4 hex escarpment defended by James on my left. The British warriors were threatening to smash the severely outnumbered ashigaru and peasants defending it, so we had no choice but to re-enforce the flank with 4 units of Samurai and a general shifted across from the centre. I’m sure that pulling our units from the centre to the threatened wing was the British plan! The line of ashigaru units that now held the central position received withering shooting from Romano-British horse archers and bowmen on the chariots. Meanwhile, on the right-wing Chris was having a tough time against Steve’s archers, which stifled each and every attempt to advance against them. No side could gain a decisive advantage here, until the shooting dice favoured one side over the other. Relative carnage was soon occurring on James’s wing as the British warriors defeated the ashigaru to take possession of the woodland next to the escarpment. However, the hex escarpment held, and the 2 generals and the 4 Samurai units (three mounted and one foot), fighting from the adjacent open ground soon started to inflict major losses on the British warriors. Tony, had 2 generals, 3 units of cavalry, 2 of horse archers and 3 chariot units available to attack the now weakened Samurai centre, but with the escarpment still firmly held, a frontal attack would be a very risky move. An initial success would leave the attacking units in a salient, exposed to an attack from both flanks. I in turn couldn’t launch a frontal attack until the hordes of warriors were defeated on the left and the Samurai units and their general returned to re-enforce any central advance. The breakthrough for the Samurai really came on Chris’s wing when a general accompanying a unit of foot Samurai defeated two units of British spears in hand-to-hand combat and their now disrupted general, taking the whole left wing out of command and control. In the centre Tony and my units were finally engaged. At this stage, my Samurai units were so out of position that I couldn’t organise an effective defensive line and a mounted of Samurai unit, a general, and 2 units unit of ashigaru were lost before the rest of the Samurai units could tilt the balance of the game finally against the British. With both wings of the Romano-British army heading for defeat, and the now numerically superior Samurai in the centre finally just about beginning to gain the upper-hand the Romano British commanders accepted that defeat was imminent. Game Analysis
This was a game of 2 flanks! Tony and I spent a large part of the game weighing-up the odds for our central battle while the real battle was occurring on both wings. The epic struggle for control of the 4 hex escarpment, in my opinion decided the game. It sucked in large numbers of units from both sides and delayed the frontal assaults. The resulting battle of attrition was finally won by the Samurai, but only with the results of some crucial must-win combats finally helping to swing the balance of this very close game.