Warring States China using Feudal Japanese Rules

Continuing on my series on tweaking and adapting my own rule set for Feudal Japan I was getting a bit tired of using MDF counters and wanted to get some actual figures on the table. As I don’t yet have any Japanese armies (though an order from Pendraken has just arrived and will hit the painting table in the near future) I went with the next best thing in my collection. Warring States China. I know what you’re thinking, what has Warring States China got to do with Warring States Japan (other than the name). They’re nearly two thousand years apart! Well yes, but much of the strategic thinking that dominated warfare in the region has it’s roots in the great military thinkers of the Warring States period of China. The likes of Sun Tzu and Sun Bin would have an influence on military thinking well beyond their time periods.

I’ve had to “fudge” a few bits to make it work (no chariots in 16th Century Japan…), but not much as many of the existing special rules fitted well, and it proved a good run for using the rules for the pre-gunpowder periods and using more “detachments” (i.e. units armed with the same weapons rather than mixed-arms units) on the battle field. This also gave me a better opportunity to test out the close combat play style compared to the more powerful gunnery that would appear in later warfare. The flavour doesn’t entirely match the period due to the social differences between them, but still put on a fun game.

One of the biggest introductions here is the use of the pre-game setup and deployment rules I’d put together since the last game. I’m pleased to report that they worked pretty well. I’ve just terrain placement to sort out then that should be the pre-game bits pretty much set. This allows for a variety of options around scouting and formations, as well as the showing off and engaging in duels before battle is joined which was characteristic of early feudal warfare in Japan.

I’ve made a few more tweaks off the back of the game. The biggest change is probably simplifying the Charge Test. It had originally been intended as a quick check to see if certain units can charge or not, but had become a little bloated. I don’t like the idea of it bogging down the action so I’ve stripped it back to a simpler test again. I’ve also pruned and tweaked a few modifiers to make some of the other tests a little more streamlined. I want enough modifiers that units and situations can have a unique impact but not so many that it becomes difficult to remember and you have to constantly check the QRS for them.

So without further ado, onto the battle. The Qin are the ones in black at the bottom while the Chu are the white at the top of the images.

Deployment. The Qin managed to get the jump on the Chu and looked like they’d be able to advance before the Chu had even deployed their full army, but thankfully the charismatic Chu general was able to hurry his troops along and get them into position.
The Qin have adopted an aggressive arrowhead formation, hoping the crash through the centre of the Chu lines while their cavalry and chariots sweep in from the flanks.
The Chu have spread out in a more adaptable formation, like a flock of birds in flight, ready to swoop in or dive out as needed.
The Qin advance rapidly in the centre and right, their horse archers sweeping round to harass their enemy.
The Chu response is swift and brutal, moving their flank commanders forwards to drive off the pesky Qin attackers. The front lines at the centre move into firing range and exchange fire. The Chu tribal archers look shaky after a fateful of Qin bolts and fall back behind the infantry.
Things are about to get bloody.
The Qin commander on the left flank charges into the Chu right flank and after a vicious battle the Qin are thrown back in disarray. The Qin commander in the centre, also behaving with reckless aggression, charges headfirst into the Chu crossbowmen. How much fight can a bunch of ranged conscripts put up anyway? The remaining Qin centre attempts to sweep round the flanks to put a squeeze on the Chu.
The Chu flank commanders show their worth as they move to engage the Qin attacks. The Chu crossbowmen shockingly manage to hold off the Qin central commander’s attack while the Qin’s own crossbowmen fall prey to the Chu cavalry, leaving the commander’s flank exposed.
Stop bothering us!
The action’s heating up.
There was once a Qin commander here. No longer. They really Chu-ed him out….I’ll get my coat. Seeing their commander’s screams of righteous fury turn into screams of agonising pain shattered the morale of the central division and they threw down their arms and fled the field.
The Qin right surges forward to try and seize the momentum before the cowardice of the centre catches on. They have some success driving several Chu units to rout, before becoming bogged down by the counter-attack from the centre and left and the Chu right flank commander, who seemed to come out of nowhere. Meanwhile the cavalry on the Qin left pull back to regroup while the infantry engage their Chu adversaries. The Qin commander, seeing the dire situation surges forward with his cavalry. Melee rages across the battlefield.
Now you see them….
Now you see them running away in panic. The Qin infantry on their right flank collapses leaving the commander exposed and in a dangerous situation.
Leaving the tattered remnants of the Chu centre to finish off the Qin commander the Chu right flank commander sweeps back round towards his troops but the Chu left flank commander loses his nerve after seeing so much bloody carnage and orders a retreat for his division. The Qin are putting some serious pressure on the Chu right flank though, his elite chariots manage to throw back part of the advance.
The advance by the Qin general proves successful as his cavalry tear through the Chu lines.
Following the success the Qin push the advance with the Chu centre commander being swept aside with the rest of his troops. A unit of infantry falls to the Chu chariots, but their compatriots pull up and unleash a barrage of bolts and arrows at the Chu right flank. The Chu right flank commander, always looking an opportunity to turn the tide, prepares to charge at the exposed Qin general, but alas his men, exhausted from the endless fighting, refuse to follow him. He turns to urge them on.
Finally the Chu right flank commander urges the charge against the Qin general, but under the barrage of fire from the Qin and seeing their exhausted leader charge headfirst against the fresh Qin general and his elite bodyguard, the Chu right flank disintegrates and the Chu commander is driven off by the Qin general.
The Qin cavalry charge the Chu general in his camp. Surely this is the end? But the Qin are tired and have fought hard while the Chu general is fresh and in a defensive position.
The Chu general drives off the attacking Qin cavalry, but it’s too little too late. This troops have fled the field, morale is shattered, he has no choice but to flee the field of battle. The day has gone to the Qin!

That worked out pretty well and was a close run thing until the end. I was playing an “all out war” style of game where play continued until one side was completely routed. The Qin looked like they may be on the ropes with the loss of their centre and decimation of their right but the reckless charge by the General and his cavalry turned the tide in their favour. That Chu right flank commander though, what a hero, he seemed to be everywhere, turning the tide in the Chu’s favour again and again, though they were unable to capitalise on it. They should have made him the general.

Very happy with the core rules now, just a few refinements here and there but overall looking good. Next step will be moving onto the scenario design. historical battle setups, army lists and such like.

They also worked reasonably well as rules for the Chinese Warring States period, which is promising as I plan to take these rules and adapt them to other periods as well down the line, particularly the Crusades/Medieval Europe but China had been one I’d been keen to look at as well, so the core rules will transfer reasonably well, with some changes to the broader rules to suit the flavour of the period, social conditions and style of warfare. For instance allowing for more of a transfer of leadership when the commander falls rather than the entire division falling apart for those with more centralised authority than the loose clan structures prominent in Japan. But that’s one for the future!

On another note, do people find the arrows and annotations on the images useful or annoying? They take a bit longer to do (especially since my phone keeps crashing the app when doing them, or failing to save them 2 out of 3 times) but perhaps better illustrate the action. Let me know! The photo app seems to be affecting the quality too, the filters and annotations seem to drop it considerably. May try other apps, though getting close to that time to needing a new phone!

Thanks for reading,


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