More Pictures from Phil's fantastic game
Over on the samurai right, the fight goes on with the Kuroji still in control of the temple and seemingly destined to remain so. As the first temple under threat it seemed to be ready to fall, but has ended up the only temple still firmly in the monks’ control. As for the others, one has been ransacked and the other two are close to falling. The switch of the Hachisuka clan to attack the Oushokuji temple appears to have reduced the pressure on the Kuroji.
Meanwhile the fight on the central hill is nowhere near producing a result .
As night falls and with it the lure of Rob San’s wonderful nosh, Phil San declares a marginal victory for the Samurai with only the arrival of darkness and hunger preventing a substantial victory. With that said, the assembled throng of wargamers alighted on the said wonderful nosh and proceeded to debate the events of the day, or as much of it as the now arrived partners of the wargamers would allow.
Help arrives or is hoped for
The temples under threat
On the Samurai left, battle was cautiously joined with the Papuruji monks. Surprisingly this proved unnecessary as the mounted samurai of the Ashikaga clan, emerging from their victorious destruction of those unworthy peasants, came down from the central hill and swept into the lightly defended Papuruji temple, killing the temple leader, ransacking the temple and resulting in the rout of the entire
Papuruji monk army. The decision not to defend the temple but to advance and take on the samurai had been proven to be heroic but unwise. The Ashikaga and Honda clans were now free to move all of their strength against the Howaidoji monks and Akechi clan in the struggle on the central hill.
In the centre the Ito and Sumikiri foot, now joined by the Hachisuka were pressing on towards the Oushokuji temple. The line of monk archers, carefully set out in defence behind their tate, did some damage with their archery but proved unable to stop the onslaught and were soon dispatched to the rear. The advance lapped at the fortified walls of the temple but was initially repulsed. The fight between the mounted units on the central hill ebbed and flowed, but eventually turned in favour of the samurai, who advanced toward the only lightly defended Howaidoji temple and Akechi maku. The Oushokuji temple was in danger of being isolated on both sides as the aggressive attack of the Hachisuka mounted samurai had pushed back the defending units on the other flank of the temple.
On the samurai right the battle for the Kuroji temple continued with the monks holding their own and being joined by another horde of unworthy peasants from yet another village. Curiously, all this time the monks had failed to make use of their secret knowledge of a track through the impassable mountain between them and the Hosokawa maku, and launch an attack on that maku. This was because, even more curiously, the Hosokawa had kept back a couple of apparently wasted foot units to defend it. Perhaps Alan San of the Hosokawa showed hidden wisdom or had memories from past battles or was just suspicious of seemingly impassable terrain.
The Monks prepare
Aware of the arrival of the Samurai clans the monks reacted, each temple in a differing way. On their left, the Kuroji lined the river in the expectation of an attack from the opposing clans - the Hisamatsu and the Hosokawa, supported by the Hachisuka.
The Samurai Advance
On the Samurai left the Ashikaga mounted samurai swept boldy forward to the paddy fields surrounding the nearby village, only to be rudely surprised by the appearance of peasants lining the river ahead. The proud samurai were astounded to be fired upon by these low born rabble. To add injury to insult the leaders of both mounted units were felled creating a moment of both crisis and outrage. The Ashikaga Daimyo hastily dispatched replacement leaders but before their arrival the samurai had rallied, crossed the river and chased the peasant upstarts into the hills.
The Honda mounted samurai were more cautious and ended in conflict with the advancing mounted monks. The foot samurai and ashigaru of both clans laboured to close up but were left trailing behind.
In the centre, the foot samurai and ashigaru of the Ito and Sumikiri clans got their feet wet entering the paddy fields on their respective sides of the village in their advance toward the Howaidoji temple. Once again the local peasants mustered to defend the monks and a protracted firefight began to flush them out. Eventually assaults were made across the river and the peasants dispersed.
With the intention of exploiting what seemed to be a weakness in centre of the monk defence, the mounted samurai of the Ito and Sumikiri clans crossed the river and advanced up the slopes of the central hill.
Perhaps forewarned by the appearance of peasants in the villages, the mounted samurai of the Hisamatsu and Hosokawa clans swept past the village on the samurai right and headed for the Kuroji temple. Over several combats they reached the temple and beyond it but were forced back through loss of leaders and casualties.
In all the villages the Samurai entered, they seemed surprised that peasant units appeared that were friendly with their local monks. Those in the village on the samurai right were cleared with relative ease by the samurai and ashigaru foot. The advance on the Kuroji temple gathered pace and the temple seemed to be under imminent threat.
On a sunny day in June, a great horde of wargamers - 16 in all - mustered at Rob’s fantastic war room. They had responded to the war drums for a gathering of the clans - the Samurai clans that is – not a kilt in sight.
Clans and plans
Meanwhile four Monk leaders, none of them looking particularly monkish, had sounded their war horns and deployed their bands of fanatical monks, each wearing coloured cloaks - the sign of their respective temples. These unlikely looking fanatics were - Richard San -Howaidoji white cloaks, Dave San - Kuroji brown cloaks, Greg San - Oushokuji yellow cloaks, Mike San - Papuruji purple cloaks
They had secret knowledge of the local landscape. This they had used (I hope) in their deployment, but taking no chances they had summoned their friendly local Samurai clan (the Akechi led by Patrick San). Unfortunately the arrival of these samurai allies would take some time – no doubt delayed by London traffic or domestic duties for ‘She who must be obeyed’.
The Seven Samurai arrive
Rob San had laid out an interesting landscape of a long river valley lined by several hills and dominated by a central Ji (temple) with a fortified compound and the Samurai Shiro (castle) of a local Samurai clan (the Mori). Before hostilities commenced, for the benefit of the uninitiated or forgetful, Phil San and Noel San, quoting from religious texts (the simple inhouse rules) explained the customs and rites by which the combat would be conducted and decided.
Accompanied by much bluster and trumpeting, the Magnificent Seven led their clans to their agreed starting positions. They proceeded to set up their Clan Maku (screened HQs) and place their Daimyo (great name / clan leader) figure inside with many attendant leaders.
By the turn of a card (12 per turn) the order of play each turn was decided – differently in each turn – and many times during the day, one combatant or another bemoaned the lack of the relevant card at the opportune moment. Some even doubted the integrity of the Imperial appointed umpires, the honourable Rob San, Phil San and Noel San – all such suggestions were met with disdain.