Battle Report – Feudal Japan – Ao Vs Shiro Clans – Rematch

After my last game I did some further tweaking and refining of the rules, as well as working out some of the new bits around messengers and banners. Had a chance to try out the changes so brought out the Ao (blue) and Shiro (white) Clan stand ins. I do have an order in for some proper figures, so at some point will be able to fight with actual miniatures.

The black tokens represent Fatigue. I also started using black and red dice to track this when the numbers got a bit higher.


The two sides face off across a fordable river. The large rectangles at top and bottom represent the camp/command centre which provides certain bonuses and allows the use of messengers.
Both sides advance hoping to take advantage of the river as a defensive barrier. The Ao get there first but the Shiro are quick to move up and unleash some fire. Arrows for movement, straight lines for fire.
The two sides line up on opposing banks and fire away at each other. A unit on either side manages to move across the river and attack enemy units in the flanks. The flags represents banners, which can act as an extension of the commander’s will, providing a boost to various tests. The divided square represents messengers, which boost the commander’s authority.
The right side see’s the exchange of fire take a unit on each side. Meanwhile, on the left, the Shiro focus on firing at the Ao flank and begin to collapse it. The X represent lost units. The ammo symbol for “Firing Formation”. Broken heart for “Wavering”.
Fire ripples back and forth across the lines. The Ao push up on the left to bolster their flank while the centre hold the line and the right prepares for a push across the river. The lightning bolt represents “Attack Formation”.
On the left the focused fire of the Shiro push the Ao back while the centre suffers from sustained attacks. The right manages to inflict some damage, but the Ao situation looks dire. The Ao and Shiro General’s leave their camps and move up to support their lines.
The Ao charge forward across the river on the right. Fire exchange continues across the rest of the front.
Bolstered by the support of their General, the Ao left and centre manage to hold the line against increasingly focused opposition, while the Ao right breaks through and surges forward across the river forcing the Shiro to withdraw.
The lines spiral as the Ao left pulls back while their right pushes forward. Considerable damage is inflicted on both sides.
Clans collapse and rout across the lines as melee is joined and the toll of endless fire takes effect.
The Ao General falls back to his camp as the line begins to collapse from the Shiro push.
The Ao clash in melee with the Shiro assault in the left/centre, but the Shiro General feels the pressure as the Ao rush forward on the right.
The Shiro put on a valiant defense of their camp, but the Ao keep coming. Having seized defeat from the jaws of victory, the Shiro General turns his horse around and flees.

Interesting test game. The banner and messenger rules worked pretty well. Messengers were useful to get things moving early on but at a certain point the General had to decide whether their presence near the lines was more valuable than sending aid from afar. The banners worked reasonably well, though I tweaked the rule a little on the fly, rather than being something assigned each turn they would stay with their assigned unit until moved or the unit falls, in which case they’re lost and it causes a big morale hit. This felt a bit more natural.

There wasn’t much melee here, though when there was it was often quick and brutal. The firing did turn into a long slog as both sides settled into firing formations and laying down fire across the river. This seemed reasonable given the circumstances. I was playing them as mid-period, meaning there was an equal mix of guns and bows, so firepower wasn’t quite as devastating as it would be later.

My only concern was the tracking of fatigue and the calculations around that became a bit onerous at times. The tracking isn’t too bad as while it did often hit double digits, it’s tested with before movement and generally applied after movement, so you never really need to move the fatigue makers themselves. They’re applied then removed. But it does mean adding and subtracting a lot more than I like. I’ve kept modifiers elsewhere streamlined, so this is the only bit slowing it down. E.g. a standard unit with 10 Fatigue against it is required to take a test. It’s threshold is 2 Fatigue and it’s -1 per Fatigue over that. This means it’s doing the loyalty test at -8. However, it has 3 friendly units around it, plus a banner (+1 each) which brings the modifier to -4. Then the commander burns 4 Command Points to bring it to 0. Is this too complicated I wonder? The conditional modifiers are quick to calculate, but fatigue can bring in bigger numbers. On the other hand, having the markers there is a nice visual representation of the modifiers, as it’s quite easy to remove a fatigue marker for each positive modifier to bring it down to a true representation. There may be some more clever ways to represent it too that would make it a bit cleaner.

A lot of the additional fatigue is coming from flank attacks, which at the moment inflict double fatigue. This may be a bit too much, the units at the time were fairly loose and open and while flank and rear attacks were dangerous, maybe not as much as if they were a densely packed block. Perhaps a simple +2 fatigue on the flanks rather than doubling it would bring everything down to reasonable numbers.

Other than that, most of the mechanics worked pretty well so looking forward to getting some figures painted for the period. For my next test game I may try a “kumi” level game, i.e. where each division is a single clan “sonae” and each unit a small detachment of soldiers. In theory the rules should work at this level too, but I want to test and be sure!

Thanks for reading,

Matthew

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