The Samurai army had 27 combat units, 2 more than the French. However, this included 7 units of peasants to balance the points cost of the 9 units of Samurai warriors, 6 mounted and 3 foot. The remainder were Ashigaru units armed with either handguns or yari. The army had 5 generals, the same number as the French. The 5 round-based Samurai generals didn’t make it to this club game! I left them on my games table at home, and so Tony kindly let us borrow 5 grey resin 28mm fantasy figures to use instead! These are the ghostly figures that appear in photos. The missing Samurai generals were therefore represented in spirit to compensate for lack of physical presence! The terrain layout for this game was a scattering of small wooded areas with a road weaving between them and a rather useful 8 hex hill located towards the Samurai base edge. By dice roll, Tony and I had the French and Chris and Steve the Samurai. The French army deployed second and moved first and pushed the crossbows forward in a line behind their pavisses. Five of the Samurai units (2 foot, 3 mounted), were positioned facing the extreme right of the French line. To counter this threat, I had to keep a good number of men-at-arms on the right to prevent any outflanking move by Steve. On the other wing, Tony was facing the majority of the ashigaru armed with yari spear or handguns. The yari was a very effective anti-cavalry weapon and the gunpowder weapons of handgunners negated all the armour of the French men-at-arms. Tony, quickly engaged Chris’s ashiguru, while I advanced to take the central woodland while maintaining an extended line on the extreme left to confront the Samurai units. Two units of ashiguru handgunners in the wood kept punishing my crossbows, disrupting them and causing units to flee, as well as recoiling all attempts by my men-at-arms to dislodge them. Events enfolded much more quickly on the other side of the table as Tony and Chris inflicted punishing casualties on each other in a territorial battle. In the centre a Samurai general, lead hordes of Japanese peasants on a successful campaign to capture the central 4 hex woodland. To counter this I had to move a general and units men-at-arms to the centre from my right wing. This created an opportunity for Steve to attack and outflank my right with his foot and mounted Samurai. Thankfully, they stayed put! The punishing hand-to-hand combats had thinned the lines of both sides in the centre and left, and Chris asked for the assistance of Steve’s Samurai. His ashigaru units had defended the 8 hex hill incredibly well but the steady rate of attrition had undermined his once strong tactical position. As the mounted Samurai units moved behind their lines towards their centre and right, the opportunity arose for me to launch a unit of mounted men-at-arms, a general and unit of mounted sergeants against the now weakened Samurai left wing. At the same time my infantry finally managed to dislodge the handgunners from the wood. The extraction of the mounted Samurai from my wing played well for me, but their presence was certainly felt in the centre as they re-enforced the ashigaru. The Japanese peasant hordes, which had created so many problems for the French in the centre were now all but eliminated. One of my units of mounted men-at-arms made a compulsory pursuit move which brought it into contact with 2 mounted Samurai units. This tied them into hand-to-hand contact, but more significantly, caused the Samurai army major command and control problems by virtue of its ‘zone of control.’ Steve and Chris, because all their remaining 3 commanders were tied into hand-to-hand combat, and because of the current position of units of both sides, were not able to command any of their units to move in their tactical movement phase. But, more importantly, this situation wasn’t likely to change in future phases as Tony and I could now use our ‘free’ units who were in command and control, to isolate the aforementioned Samurai commanders. And, in doing so, bring about an extremely hard-fought French victory. Game Analysis
This was an incredibly close game in which both armies were reduced to barely half strength by its conclusion in terms of points and unit numbers. The Samurai army would in the end only be finally defeated through lack of generals able to exercise command and control. I feel that throughout the game good tactical decisions were made by commanders of both sides, which made for a very entertaining and challenging game.