In this 6 player game the three a side teams were decided by di roll – highest three v lowest three using a D12. Choice of table edge, first deployment and first move were decided in the same way.
Andre was borrowed from another gaming table to layout the terrain. This task had to be allocated to someone other than the players who had no prior knowledge of the opposing armies – these were still hidden away in the box! An open battlefield would favour the Koreans and one more cluttered and broken with hills and forests would suite the more infantry-based Samurai army. Andre, virtually emptied the terrain box of trees, hills and roads! This was going to be a Korean challenge!
The Koreans (Callum, Steve and Dave), won the Di roll for first move, but with a wall of trees stretching across half the battlefield between the 2 armies there wasn’t going to be any early contact. The Samurai ( Tony, Chris and I), had time to organise our units into a slow advance to best take advantage of the terrain. There were two further tactical moves by both sides before the shooters of both sides started to ‘tickle’ each other. The protection offered by the forests kept the Korean light cavalry from shooting away their weaker ashigaru opponents. Instead they formed a shooting line ready to blitz any Samurai units that dared to advance out of the forest hexes.
On the other wing, Steve moved the massed units of Korean Heavy cavalry along the line of the road towards my waiting foot Samurai and ashigaru. This would not be a fair contest so I pulled back into the protection of a small area of woodland adjacent to the road.
In the centre of the field the Korean infantry advanced to within bow range of the ashigaru handgunners and a fire fight developed. The Samurai infantry advanced slowly towards the centre of the table through the extensive woodland, and as they finally broke cover, were out-shot by the Korean light cavalry which had come across and recoiled them disrupted back into woodland hexes.
The Koreans were masters of the open ground and the Samurai the forests! To try and break this impasse, Steve took the initiative and pressed home his Korean heavy cavalry attack on my left wing. Thankfully, Tony had sent three units of mounted Samurai across to assist my infantry, and as Steve’s cavalry demolished 2 units of ashigaru and sent a unit of foot Samurai fleeing into woodland, these new arrivals saved the day!
With the Korean heavy cavalry units now committed to the battle on the left wing, Chris was able to advance his ashigaru infantry to engage the Korean infantry in the centre. Callum, in response moved his Korean light cavalry across from their left wing to the centre. By now most of the Samurai cavalry had now come across to support the Samurai left in the epic struggle with the Korean heavy cavalry. The resulting hand-to-hand combats saw heavy losses in units for both sides and when a Samurai general was lost along with his unit of mounted Samurai, Steve’s Koreans gained the upper- hand. However, this situation was soon reversed as in the next round of hand-to-hand combats Steve’s di rolls were frankly awful! This gained valuable time for the rest of the Samurai cavalry units to ‘pile in’ and as a result the bulk of Korean heavy cavalry was lost along with 2 generals.
Although the game had swung firmly in favour of the Samurai, the Korean infantry and light cavalry in the centre were still more than capable of holding their open ground and continued to out-shoot their opponents. They conducted a slow but steady, well organised fighting retreat towards their table edge, the Korean light cavalry quite capable of dealing with any attempt by the mounted Samurai to bring the retreating Koreans back into hand-to-hand combat by evading and shooting. A significant Samurai points win yes, but they failed to inflict a route on the Koreans.
The terrain layout with a significant number of hills and areas of forest was always going to present a challenge to the Korean bow armed cavalry. Once the Korean heavy cavalry had been committed against the Samurai left wing; the more open area of the table, and they were, after an epic struggle defeated, the Samurai win was guaranteed. Such was the terrain that the more numerous ashigaru infantry could always, with the assistance of the woodland hexes, hold and defeat the Korean cavalry. Credit must be given to the Korean commanders who played well when faced with very challenging terrain. Also, Steve’s poor di rolling also didn’t help his Korean heavy cavalry, especially when just a little luck was needed at a key point in the game!