Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Ronin Campaign 1 - The Skirmish

We began a Ronin mini-campaign last week. The campaign involves building a buntai (warband) and dividing it into three groups. Each group is assigned to one of three scenarios: skirmish (= encounter), capture and defence. After all three scenarios have been played, the surviving figures mix it up in a big skirmish battle. Figures can gain experience through the campaign, but it would take several such mini-campaigns for a figure to gain enough experience to rise in rank, if I read the rules aright.

The first scenario was the initial skirmish scenario. I had one rank 4 samurai and three rank 1 ashigaru. Rank 1 is the worst and Rank 5 is the best grade. Steve had 3 high ranking monks from his monastery. Clearly the monks were refusing to pay their taxes to the big samurai boss and we had to sort them out. As frequently happens in our games, there was little tactical subtlety.
There was a small building in the centre of the battlefield. I initially thought that I would seize this and then defend it from the monks. We both charged for it. My samurai chappie entered the building while the ashigaru armed with missile weapons let rip. The teppo made much noise but had little effect. The ashigaru with yari lurked near the door of the building as I realised that my plan was not workable.
 As the monks approached, my samurai left the building and sliced and diced the weakest of the monks (a rank 3 monk). The other two monks made short work of two of my ashigaru. It turns out that Steve had fielded an elite force in this scenario with the abbot of his monastery (a rank 5 model), an abbot in the making (rank 4) and a senior monk (rank 3 but now dead). When I realised this, I fully expected to get creamed, so my samurai made a break for it.
He raced towards the ashigaru with the teppo, but so did the monks. The abbot pursued the samurai while the junior abbot pursued my ashigaru. I lost the initiative and my ashiguar was toast. At this point neither of us had achieved our individual victory conditions, and the score was even in terms of points for dead bodies, because my three ashigaru were worth the same as the dead monk. My samurai had been running and had drawn the abbot away from the junior abbot. Seeing his chance, he turned and confronted the monk.
The two leaders faced each other over drawn swords as the junior abbot raced to support his master. He was too late to do anything. Both leaders screamed a battle cry and leapt at each other. When the dust cleared, the samurai was standing and the monk lay in the dust. The battle was over and the last monk withdrew from the battlefield. The monastery had been taught a lesson.

This game was characterised by very good dice rolling on Steve's part in the first half of the game. My dice only came into their own when my samurai turned and confronted the abbot. At this point I convincingly slaughtered him and won the scenario. I got lucky because the abbot was a better warrior on paper. Nevertheless, it was good fun. I really like how the special abilities for the leaders lend something to the narrative of the battle too.

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