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.
I put on a game at the club with my collection of ECW figures. It is a period I love but I and other members of the club cannot quite find a set of rules we like. Each one has bits we like such the order system from Forlorn hope but we do not like its complicated combat and morale resolution systems. We decided to combine a number of rule sets, Forlorn Hope’s order system, Black Powders combat system and Warhammer’s ammo limits. Would it work? Each side had an equal number of infantry, cavalry and artillery units.
A traditional deployment was made by both sides with 2 lines of infantry in the centre and 2 wings of cavalry with the artillery deployed in support of the infantry. The Cavalry on both wings engaged quickly with the Parliamentary cavalry overpowering its Royalist counterparts on their left wing, where each side’s cuirassiers made an impact on the combat with their greater hitting power and better saving rolls. For once the dice gods were with me in this cavalry combat and much to Phil’s dismay I was left with one fresh unit to attack his infantry lines. On the other flank however it was a different tale. Alan leading the Royalist cavalry defeated the Parliamentary cavalry under Simon with some help from his artillery which was positioned on the extreme flank of his infantry line. This left the parliamentary infantry lines exposed on their right flank.
The infantry advanced and engaged in a firefight under the command of Noel (Parliament) and Jonathan (Royalist). The Royalists due to the terrain had more units in their front line firing and gained a firepower advantage. The firing was very effective, in particular the supporting artillery. The infantry after they were out of ammunition (after 4 rounds of fire) engaged in “push of the pike”. The game ended with the cavalry unable to make a difference on the flank due to emergency hedgehog formations and time evaded us in the centre to get a conclusion with the infantry. Did the mix of rules work? Yes and no. The order system works but we still feel we need a combat system that is simple and quick but reflects the period (in our opinion!). We all felt the firing was a bit too effective especially the artillery. I guess we just need to spend some time creating some house rules or come across a set that ticks the boxes in all areas - is there ever set that does that!
Noel brought along his amazing collection of 28mm figures (Perry and Foundry mainly)to play a game using Impetus rules system. Noel laid out his collection in troop types. Each player was to get a command and we diced to see who would go first in picking their units. We threw a D6 average to determine how many units we could pick each time but on each pick you had to get different troop types. Once all the troops were picked we then drew cards to see which sides we would play.
Black or Red cards deciding the side. The King of each colour was the pretender to the throne the rest were his loyal supporters - except Noel had also said those players with a diamond or a club card would win if they were on the winning side and could swap allegiances. This gave the Kings on both sides food for thought on how loyal his team mates were! Quality of commanders were rolled with lots of geniuses on the field (3 out of 6!) and unfortunately for Simon he was lumbered with the worst general type the Cowardly general. The Red team were aggressive on their left (Rob) and centre (Patrick as the Red King) whilst holding a defensive right wing (Jonathan). The Black King (Phil) however was also aggressive fearing the loyalty of his commanders, Alan to his right and Simon to his left. He attacked aggressively in the centre trying to kill his opposite number. Alan played for time on the left with being substantially outnumbered, whilst Simon had to contend with his Cowardly commander command dice rolls (avoiding doubles) to advance on the left. Archery and combats were fierce on the Red left and centre and the Black King’s troops however got to grips with Red King himself but even after getting a hit on the King he survived the encounter and were rescued by a unit of mounted knights from Jonathan’s command now under Noel’s supervision.
We played a WW2 game using my 20mm collection. The scenario set was for the British to capture a bridge over a river, with naturally the Germans trying to stop them. The bridge could not be blown as “Hitler” wanted this for the forthcoming German counter attack to drive the invaders into the sea! We used Take Cover rules for this game. The British players had 2 infantry battalions each supported by a Troop of Churchill tanks and off table 25pdr artillery battery.
The German players had a horse drawn infantry battalion supported by a company of Stugs and some regimental support, engineers, infantry gun and A/T platoon. In addition once attacked they would receive reinforcement from the SS in the form an armoured panzer grenadier company and a company of Mark IV's. The British players advanced as rapidly as they could, which was quite slow owing to the movement rate of infantry on foot and the Churchills. The German players held their fire until the British got within close range. The Stug company advance on their left to engage with a squadron of Churchill tanks.
The British player attacked the first line of German defence and with mortar and off table artillery support pushed the German out of their trenches. The Stugs meanwhile were devastated by some great tank firing from the Churchills but being hit very hard by a battery of 25pdrs. Alan in charge of the artillery smashed the Stug formation after rolling all sixes in his barrage. The oncoming Mark IVs also took hits from the Churchill’s and artillery. At the end of the evening it was declared that the British were looking very likely to achieve their objective.
Since the first game in the war room the fitting out has almost come to end. Our carpenters have done an absolutely amazing job in creating bespoke tables, draws, and wall units! The toilet is finished as is the kitchen area. Mrs W is delighted there are no more tea and coffee runs. Pictures are now up with a white board. Book cases have been installed and filled with rule books and magazines (not sure why I keep the latter but I have not had the heart to get rid of them!).
A few more tweaks to go and I have left one corner to fit out which is being kept back in case I buy something that needs a different storage facilities. Mrs W has been worried that have moved out of the house into the “War Room” as it has taken far longer to unpack and organise that I had imagined. We had our second game in the War Room (please see my blogs on our mega ACW game) which was a great success and I look forward to many more over the years. Pictures below showing the interior, storage units and tables. It also shows how the big table is put together before anything gets put onto it. The dream has come to reality..