Battle Report – Feudal Japan – Ao vs Shiro Clans

I’ve been significantly revamping my homebrew feudal rules system for the Sengoku Jidai of feudal Japan. As part of it I played out a test game. As I’ve still no figures for it I used MDF bases with blue and white blu tac and some hastily penned on numbers and letters to represent the units.

The 40×20 bases represent standard units of mixed sonae, i.e. ashigaru armed with spears, bows and guns supported by samurai. The 40×30 bases represent the larger honjin headquarters units of the commanders. The 25×25 bases are small units of ashigaru, either mixed or all spear or all gun. I was playing this as a later period game so everyone is considered to have lots of guns.

Black tokens represent Fatigue, white tokens are reduction of loyalty and the 40×10 MDF strips are representing different formations (vertical for attack, horizontal for firing). All commanders are rate Authority 1 with the army general’s rated Authority 2.


The main body of the Shiro attackers at the bottom form up in the Gyourin “fish scale” formation while the two smaller divisions prepare to sweep round the flanks. At the top the Ao clan form the defensive Houen formation.
The Shiro left moves forward to take advantage of the forest while the Ao right moves to intercept.
The main body of the Shiro pish forward along with the left flanking force but run into heavy gunfire from the Ao right wing. Meanwhile the Ao left wing moves to defend against the advancing Shiro column on the right.
The Ao right wing launches a series of attacks against the Shiro left and centre with one unit of ashigaru spearmen breaking an enemy unit only to find themselves advanced too deep and pounded on four sides by heavy gunfire. The Shiro right prepares it’s attack against the Ao left wing’s defensive line and the Ao main body moves up to support.
The Ao line contracts to their right and centre as the Shiro attack takes its toll and the Shiro right charge into the Ao left, attempting to punch another hole in their lines. The ashigaru spearmen and gunners of the Ao show extreme fortitude in repelling the attacks.
Disaster strikes the Ao as the left wing commander falls in battle collapsing their defensive line against the Shiro left and centre. The Shiro press the advantage, pushing forward to attack the Ao Daimyo’s headquarters unit. The Ao left wing commander stays strong and puts on a defiant defence.
The Ao left continues to fight hard, the gunners laying down heavy gunfire while the spearmen see off one of the attacking sonae. The main Ao body holds off the Shiro left and the Ao Daimyo has a clear path to attack his Shiro compatriot. This battle could end in an epic clash between the two mighty Lords.
Two Shiro sonae move into the centre to defend their Daimyo from any wild attacks the Ao may attempt to launch, forcing the Ao to confront them first. The Shiro left continues to apply pressure as another Ao unit is broken. The Ao left wing maintains their valiant defence, but the Shiro forces are piling up against them.
Despite the brave defence of the ashigaru on the Ao left, a well tuned charge by the Shiro swept away the Ao left wing commander on the hill and the remaining forces fled the field. In the centre Ao forces attempt to break through the Shiro lines but the noose pulls ever tighter.
The Ao forces manage to break through the Shiro lines and have a clear run at the enemy Daimyo, but while they’d been fighting their own Daimyo had been surrounded and assaulted from all sides by heavy gunfire.
Unable to stand the intense fire the Ao Daimyo’s troops flee in terror. The remaining troops, though tantalisingly close to the enemy Daimyo see no reason to continue the fight and flee the field. The day belongs to the mighty Shiro Clan!

The rules worked pretty well and were fun to play. I do need to make a few tweaks to the loyalty tests as they were a little too easy to pass which caused the game to run on longer than it should have. Nevertheless, it was fun and a few nail biting momenta that could have changed the whole nature of the battle. Had the Ao opening fire done as much damage as it should have to the Shiro front line it would have stalled their advance and possibly prevented their own collapse. Equally had the Ao been able to activate before the Shiro when the two Daimyo were facing each other, the Ao may have been able to pour into the gap and break the Shiro then and there. But it wasn’t to be for the poor Ao clan.

The battle felt very dynamic and the unusual formations that were used (supposedly) on the Japanese battlefields worked pretty much as expected. While there are a lot of very fanciful battle formations drawn out in Japanese writings from generations after the period that are likely more fanciful than real, they were likely based on somewhat realistic formations that I’ve tried to represent here.

Now I’m happy with the core I’ll experiment with the more advanced rules around the use of camps, messengers, banners, duels and seppuku to bring everything together.

Thanks for reading and watch this space,

Matthew

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