Battle Reports – Chu vs Qin and Qin vs Chu – To The Strongest!

After completing my Qin and Chu forces, it was time to get them on the table. I’ve been working on minimising games to a small playable area, the units being a 40mm frontage, on a 60mm grid table. For those unaware, TtS! is a grid based rule set driven by, normally, a few decks of playing cards. For the smaller scale of this game there would be no room for cards, so I played this using chits for activations and ten-sided dice for combat, etc.

I’ve gone for the “Late Warring States” list that I put together. I also have “Early Warring States” and “Early Imperial” lists, each with slightly different troop combinations. The Qin force here is smaller and more professional, built around flexible small commands, primarily of mixed infantry and crossbow. The Chu on the other hand consists of a core of conscript infantry and tribal troops supported by powerful cavalry wings.

I played two games. The first was a little rougher as I shook off the rust, got familiar with the new armies and remembered the nuances of the rules, the second went much faster and smoother.

The Qin army descends on the border of the Chu lands, striking through a valley flanked by dense forest and hilly terrain. The Chu ride out to meet the invaders on the field of battle.

The field of battle, Qin on the left, Chu the right.
The Chu deploy a fairly deep formation, hoping to push forward with mass before the Qin can bring their superior firepower to bear.
The Qin spread their firepower all along the line, hoping to use the tight terrain to funnel the enemy into their kill zone. I forgot to put out a unit of Qin chariots for the start of the game, they appear in later photos.
Both sides push forward into range, the white tokens represent ammunition. The Qin get the best of the exchange. Black tokens represent disorder.
The circled Chu crossbowmen hope the high ground will give them the edge and let them rain down bolts on the Qin flank.
The Qin often made use of the barbarian horsemen who bordered their lands. Here a unit of them take the hill to harass the Chu advance.
The Chu General and his guard advance on the hill to the bottom and push back the barbarian cavalry. Along the line the Qin pour missiles into the Chu advance, pulling back when they get too close. The few Chu troops with ranged attacks attempt to concentrate fire, but are mostly outranged by the Qin crossbows. Qin infantry catch the Chu mounted bowmen getting too close and crash into them.
The Chu General and his guard, an elite unit of mixed crossbowmen and infantry, push on toward the Qin camp and flank. The Qin infantry overrun the mounted bowmen and thrust into the Chu flank.
The Chu infantry overwhelm the Qin and push their advance back. The Qin cavalry rush to engage the Chu General’s thrust.
The left flank holds the Chu at bay. The elevated crossbowmen prove less effective than hoped while Chu crossbows wear down the Chu, forcing them to spend precious time rallying.
The Chu line starting to look a bit thin. Battered by crossbow fire, when meeting blade to blade the ferocious Qin get the better of exchanges.
The Chu line collapses under the Qin onslaught. The Chu manage to four a few Qin units, the only Qin casualties of the game, but it’s too little, too late.
The right flank of the Chu is broken, disordered and surrounded as the Qin churn through the undisciplined Chu infantry. With this the Chu General sounds the retreat. The Qin sound the victory and gather the heads of fallen does to prove their valour to the Qin command.

With the invasion successful, the Qin push deeper into Chu territory. The Chu forces regroup and catch the Qin advance in more open terrain where the Chu cavalry can be more effective. A second battle ensues.

The Qin on the right have a solid core but their flanks are exposed in the open. The Chu rely on the rough ground in the centre to show any Qin advance and load up their troops in the flanks. Note in this game I’m using black tokens as ammo as they’re less intrusive and the white tokens for disorder.
The Qin infantry pushes out on the right flank in an attempt to stall a Chu attack with crossbow fire while the Qin General rushes to reinforce the opposite flank, but the Chu advance is swift and the Qin right flank is caught ragged.
Meanwhile, on the opposite flank, the Chu surge forward, concentrating their attack on the exposed Qin.
The Qin hold the line, but the Chu forces are proving a serious threat to the flanks as the two sides exchange fire and prepare to charge into combat.
Chu ranged attack sweep across the Qin flank, weakening them and driving the barbarian horsemen from the field. A reckless charge by the Qin chariots at the Chu Guard unit ends in disaster as their axels break and drivers fall in the face of the elite armoured guards.
At the other end of the line, Chu cavalry sweep away Qin crossbowmen and move with the chariots to threaten the flank infantry commander.
The Qin right flank is under serious threat, the rightmost command is obliterated in a succession of charges by the Chu cavalry and chariots. The central infantry start to fall back towards the camp but the Chu keep pressure on them, moving their bowmen up to support the chariots and cavalry.
Sensing the collapse of their right flank, the Qin surge forward on the left, hoping a ferocious attack will turn the tide in their favour before their entire like collapses. The Chu flank falls back, but the fresh troops from the centre move to meet the desperate Qin advance.
The Qin thrust, while brave, is ultimately ill fated. The beleaguered infantry fall to successive waves of Chu infantry, who while less battle hardened, are fresh and numerous. The Qin centre collapses, the right flank is close to being overrun along with the camp, the Qin General sounds the horn and the Qin forces fall back towards their own lands.

Two fun games and a good way to try out my new forces. Using the combination of the chits and dice with the smaller set up worked really well and I’m happy with how it’s turned out. In time I’ll hopefully make a better game mat but the cheap green paper tablecloth worked out grand and using green marker for the grid means it wasn’t too intrusive. I quite liked the complimentary use of Go tokens throughout the game for statuses. Given Go (or Weiqi in China) was invented in China just a little before this time period, using Go stones was a nice way to bring in some history. The ammo and disorder tokens are from a small travel set while (not pictured) I used full size Go stones as the victory tokens for each side. I did switch them round for the second game though as the white ammo was way too intrusive!

One concern I had with the rules was that Crossbowmen seemed underpowered for their cost. The difference between Bowmen and Crossbowmen in the rules is that Crossbowmen have a longer range, but Bowmen have a higher rate of fire while not disordered or in rough terrain. On face value the higher rate of fire is much better than the additional range, but the subtly of the “while not disordered or in rough terrain” does provide somewhat of a balance, since the crossbows keep their range advantage regardless of their status. It does require careful management to keep that range advantage, but it can potentially be powerful in the right circumstances. Infantry with attached crossbows can be pretty powerful as they can advance slowly, taking potshots at the enemy, and even pulling back to shoot if close combat looks too risky.

It was good to be able to play out two games. The first I was a bit rusty on the rules and new to the armies so took a little getting used to again, but the second fight flowed very smoothly. I did forget a few rules and modifiers in the first game, including the strategem cards, but I remember them all in the second, and even drew the same strategems again, which provide one time special abilities.

I was concerned after a fairly one sided victory in the first game that I’d made the Qin too powerful with their abundance of commanders, but the second battle shows that terrain and tactics can play a big part, and the strong infantry command of the Qin is balanced by their weaker cavalry. The other lists have different configurations of the troops so will be interesting to see how they fare with less command and more cavalry or chariots. This represents different stages of military technology and organisational reforms.

The Chu played very much as I had hoped, with their infantry providing quantity if not quality, and their cavalry proving the decisive hammer blow. The other Chu lists have similar configurations, but the earlier list relies on more chariots and the later list a better trained infantry core, so it’ll be interesting to see how those different combinations play out.

One sign of a good fight is thinking about what you would do differently next time. For the first battle, to give the Chu more of a fighting chance in the tighter terrain, they should perhaps have concentrated their attack more in a single area rather than across the whole line where they were worn down. The Chu General and his guard got pretty deep into Qin lines and almost overran their camp. If he’d been better supported by other troops that might have turned things around, as for most of the battle the Chu took a steady stream of losses while the Qin were unharmed. A few runs of poor numbers for the Chu didn’t help them either.

The second battle went the opposite direction, with the Qin losses mounting quickly and the Chu only losing a few troops. The attempt by the Qin to push out the two flank attacks ended up over stretching them when the Chu were able to advance quickly by leaving their infantry behind. A deeper Qin defense might have repelled the flank attacks and even killed their aggressive commanders, and left the Chu open for a counter attack.

I look forward to getting these troops out on the table again and trying out the different troop configurations. Hopefully it won’t be so long before the next game now I’ve a reasonably good small scale setup that can be put up, played and put away in a few hours.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these as much as I did and thanks for reading,


3 thoughts on “Battle Reports – Chu vs Qin and Qin vs Chu – To The Strongest!

  1. enjoyed very much thanks. It will be interesting to see how with this system, the early army with more chariots perform.


  2. Thanks and yes agreed. They are rated as heavy chariots with lance and extra missile weapon, which gives them the shock impact and save of heavy cavalry as well as the ranged attack of bow cavalry, so they’re powerful but expensive individual units, though have a much harder time with difficult terrain than cavalry as you’d expect. Therefore losing them means you lose a considerable chunk of your fighting strength.


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