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Subject: Samurai Battles: Commands & Colors Rules Review (Part 2) rss

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Kristen McCarty
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Commands & Colors Ancients, Memoir '44, BattleLore, three great games that use the same game system, yet create a unique battle experience. The newest game to utilize this system is Samurai Battles.

This is a preview of the rules and is part of my three part review of the game. Why three parts? Well this game requires a lot more pre-game preparation than most. There are about 122 miniatures to assemble.

Therefore, as my husband patiently assembles the miniatures I will review the rules. I have not yet played the game. But know and enjoy the system. Therefore I cannot give my opinion of the game play and I warn you this is all rules with a bit of my thoughts at the end.



Setting Up the Game

1. First, choose one of the battles in the scenario booklet. The first scenario "First Samurai Skirmish" is not historical. It introduces players to the basics of the rules.

2. Arrange the game board according to the battle scenario map. Each shows which army is the top or bottom of the battlefield.

3. Place the terrain hexes on the battlefield.

4. Then place the unit figures to match the scenario's map. Each unit symbol represents an entire unit. They have their own Sahimono flag color. A colored flag should be placed on each figure in the army.

5. Each player takes a Samurai Victory card.

6. Shuffle the Command card deck. They player takes the number of cards indicated by the scenario's battle notes, the rest are put next to the board.



7. Follow the same steps for the Dragon card deck as for the Command card deck. The Scenario should list how many each player receives.

8. Put the honor and fortune token pool along the battlefield. Each player takes tokens as shown by the battle notes.

9. Place the battle dice.

10. Review any special rules or victory conditions for the scenario.

11. The starting player begins play.

Game-Turn


A Scenario's battle notes state which player goes first, then players takes turns until the one gets the number of victory banners shown in the victory conditions.

Players Turn

There are five phases per turn and one phase must be completed before proceeding to the next phase.

Phase 1: Play a Command card
Phase 2: Order Units and Leaders
Phase 3: Movement
Phase 4: Battle
Phase 5: End of Turn

Phase 1: Play a Command Card

First, the player plays a Command Card from their hand, placee face up, and reads it aloud. The cards order a player's units to move, battle, or do something special. The card played shows which section(s) of the battlefield and how many units are ordered. Only ordered units may move or battle. There are two types of Command cards: Section cards and Tactic cards.

A Section Command shows a battlefield in the lower half of the card, they order a number of units and / or leaders in a section or combination of sections of the battlefield.



A Tactic Command card orders units across the battlefield and may allow the ordered units to move and / or battle in ways not normally allowed in the basic rules.



When the Command card stats "For each Command card you have, including this one", the number is equal to the number of Command cards the player has. If the player can order not units they skip phases 2 through 4 and go to the draw phase.


Phase 2: Order units and Leaders


After playing a Command card the players say which unit will be ordered. Each unit may only get one order per turn. A unit or leader in a hex split between two section may be ordered from either section.

If a Command card issues more orders in a section then there are units, the extra orders are lost.



Figures in the same hex from a unit. The most important figure is the standard bearer, it is always the last to be eliminated. When eliminated the opponents gets the banner.

A leader figure alone in a hex is a unit and will follow the rules for units of its type. A leader figure in the same hex as a friendly unit, is "attached" to the unit. The leader will behave like the unit he is accompanying. Infantry leaders can only serve as a leader of a infantry unit and a cavalry leader only a cavalry unit. The leader and the unit are a single combined with two standards; the leader's and the unit's.

- A leader and the unit he is leader can be ordered as a single unit
- A leader must remain with the unit unless ordered to split
- A leader can be ordered to split from the unit at the cost of a single order
- The unit is not ordered when a leader splits from a unit
- For the cost of two orders a leader can be ordered to split from one unit and the unit can be ordered separately
- When a leader moves and joins a unit, the unit is not ordered
- When a leader is ordered and the leader moves and joins a unit, the unit the leader joins is not ordered
- A leader may not move, join a unit, and move again

Section Command cards and the Shogun card have a Samurai helmet symbol to remind players that a leader with a unit, may be ordered and split from the unit he is with. If a Command card does not have a Samurai helmet symbol a leader may not be split from the unit he is with.



Phase 3 - Movement

Movements are made one ordered unit or leader at a time. A player must complete one movement before beginning another.

Unit Movement

- A unit may only move once per turn
- A ordered unit does not have to move
- Ordered units may move from one section into another
- A unit may never move onto any of the half-hexes
- A unit may only move off the battlefield's only when allowed to by the scenarios battle notes
- Two units may not occupy the same hex
- A unit may note move into or through a hex occupied by other units
- A unit must stay together
- Units may not join another
- Some terrain features impact movement
- An cavalry unit without a leader may move onto a hex containing a one friendly cavalry leader if it does not have a leader, it must then stop
- An ordered unit may not move and join a leader and move again if the leader is also ordered to move
- Retreat movement rules vary slightly

An ordered unit will move according to its rank as noted by the symbol of its standard and its status: infantry or cavalry.



Infantry Unit Movement

- Green Circle - may move up to two hexes and battle
- Blue Triangle - may move up to one he and battle or two hexes and not battle
- Red Square - may move up to 1 hex and battle

Cavalry Movement

- Red Square - may move up to two hexes and battle



Leader Movement

A leader with a unit, must move with the unit, unless the leader is ordered to split. A leader and the unit are ordered together as a single unit. An ordered infantry leader not with a unit may move up to two hexes.

A lone leader must follow the same movement rules and terrain limitations except as follows:

- A leader may only move once per turn
- A leader may be ordered to split and move according to the leader's movement type statistic
- A leader may move onto and through a hex occupied by another friendly unit or leader
- An infantry leader may move onto a hex with a friendly infantry unit join the unit
- An cavalry leader may move onto a hex with a friendly infantry unit and join the unit
- An ordered leader may not move and join a unit and move again
- A leader may not stop in a hex with an enemy
- Only one leader may occupy a hex
- A leader may never move onto any of the half-hexes
- A leader may move off his army's baseline side of the battlefield. This prevents his standard from falling into enemy hands but removes the him from battle, he may not return.



Moving leaders off the battlefield

As part of his normal movement, a leader not with a unit may move off his side of the battlefield provided he has enough movement. The move off of his side of the board from a hex adjacent to the board is considered one hex movement. This does not give the opponent a victory banner but the leader may not return.

Phase 4 - Battle

Battles are checked and resolved one unit at a time.

- A unit that is ordered does not have to battle
- A unit may normally battle only once per turn, they may gain ground after a close combat and make a bonus combat attack.
- A unit may not target and split its battle dice between several enemy units
- The number of casualties a unit has suffered does not affect the number of battle dice the unit rolls in combat, they battle at full strength
- An ordered unit may only engage in one type of battle when ordered, even if it capable of both ranged and close combat




In combat, the number of dice a unit rolls is determined by the unit's rank.

- Circle Standard - rolls two dice
- Triangle Standard - rolls three dice
- Square Standard - rolls four dice

Some units will be subject to combat restrictions caused by their movement.

Ranged Combat (Fire)

Only units with missile can preform ranged combat. Units with a circle symbol on their standard have missile weapons. When battling an enemy more than 1 hex away it is performing ranged combat.

- In ranged combat, the target unit must be within both range and line of sight
- Ranged combat may not be used against an adjacent enemy
- A unit with ranged weapons adjacent to an enemy unit may not target and fire upon another more enemy unit.
- A target unit may not battle back after a ranged combat attack



Ranged Combat Procedure

1. Announce firing unit
2. Check Range
3. Check line of sight
4. Determine terrain battle dice reduction
5. Determine Combat and Dragon card adjustments
6. Resolve Battle
7. Score hits
8. Apply retreats

1. Announce firing unit: Announce which ordered unit is going to fire and its target.

2. Check Range: Verify it is in range. The range is the distance between the units, measured in hexes. When counting range in hexes, include the target unit's hex, but not the firing unit's hex.

3. Check line of sight: Verify your target is within line of sight, it must be able to "see" the enemy.

Imagine a line drawn from the center of the hex containing the firing unit to the center of the hex of the target unit. It is blocked when if a hex or part of a hex between them contains an either a unit, leader, or terrain the blocks line of sight. The terrain in the target unit's hex does not block line of sight.

If the imaginary line runs along the edge of one or more hexes that contain obstructions, line of sight is not blocked, unless the obstructions are on both sides of the line.

4. Determine terrain and battle dice reduction: The terrain in which the target is on, and in some instances, the attacking unit battles from, may impact the number of battle dice rolled in combat.

5. Determine Combat and Dragon card dice adjustments:
After terrain effects are applied, adjust the number of battle dice, based on any unit special abilities, Command card modifier, and Dragon card modifier.



6. Resolve Battle: Roll the battle dice and resolve the resulting roll.

7. Score Hits: The unit firing scores one hit for each dice symbol rolled that matches the targeted unit. An arquebus unit will score one hit in ranged combat for each sword symbol rolled. A bow unit will not score a hit when a sword symbol is rolled in ranged combat.

8. Apply retreats: After all hits have been resolved, casualties removed and leader causality checks made reslove retreats.



Close Combat

A unit, battling against an adjacent enemy, is in close combat. It must battle this unit if it chooses to battle.

Close Combat Procedure

1. Announce Close Combat
2. Determine terrain battle dice reductions
3. Determine Leader inspired, Combat Card, and Dragon Card dice adjustments
4. Attacker Resolve Battle
5. Attacker Score Hits
6. Apply Retreats
7. Possible Gain Ground and bonus Close Combat
8. Battle Back. The defender may battle back in some situations. If battle back occurs, the defender will battle and apply hits and resolve retreats on the original attacking unit

1. Announce Close Combat: Announce which ordered unit is going to attack and the enemy unit it is attacking, they must be adjacent.



State the base number of battle dice the ordered unit is entitled to in close combat, per the unit's rank.

- An ordered infantry unit with a circle on its stand may stay in position or move one or two hexes and close combat an adjacent enemy with 2 battle dice.

- An ordered infantry unit with a triangle may stay in position or move one hex and close combat an adjacent enemy with 3 battle dice. If it moves two hexes, the unit may not battle.

- An ordered infantry unit with a square on its standard may stay in position or move one or two hexes and close combat an adjacent enemy with 4 battle dice.

- An ordered cavalry unit with a square on its standard may stay in position or move one or two hexes and close combat an adjacent enemy unit with 4 battle dice.

Each close combat attack is declared and resolved one unit at a time. Resolve one unit's close combat entirely, including gaining ground, bonus close combat, and battle back, before the next combat.

2. Determine terrain battle dice reduction: Adjust the number of battle dice rolled for terrain.

3. Determine Inspired Leader, Combat Card, and Dragon Card dice adjustments: After terrain effects are applied, adjust the number of battle dice for unit special abilities, inspired Leader modifier, Command card modifier, and Dragon card modifier.



Leader Inspired Close Combat

A lone leader may not battle, when attached he will follow the combat rules of that unit. A leader may still impact a unit's close combat by inspiring the unit, they spend one honor and fortune token, and add one die to a unit's close die roll.



An infantry leader must be in the same hex as the unit he inspires. A cavalry leader an inspire a unit in his hex and may units in adjacent hexes.

- A maximum of one honor & fortune may be spent on a unit during a close combat

- A unit may be inspired when it is attacking and when battling back

- The honor & fortune token is spent and returned to the common pool

- When a player's unit was inspired and rolls the one additional dice in its close combat, the first honor & fortune symbol rolled during close combat will not gain the player an honor & fortune token. The roll is ignored and no honor & fortune token is collected for the symbol.



4. Attacker Resolve Battle: Roll the adjusted number of battle dice and resolve the resulting dice roll.

5. Attacker Scores Hits:
In close combat, the unit attacking scores one hit for each dice symbol rolled that matches the targeted units symbol. A sword rolled will normally score one hit in close combat, no matter the target units standard symbol with the following exceptions:

- A cavalry unit will ignore one sword rolled against in close combat from an infantry unit

- Because of its superior rank, a unit with a square symbol on its standard will ignore one sword in close combat, by a unit with a triangle or circle symbol on its standard

- Because of its superior rank, a unit with a triangle symbol on its standard will ignore one sword when attacked in close combat by a unit with a circle symbol on its standard

Note: Superior rank only applies in close combat, not ranged combat.




Effects of Close Combat Hits

For each hit scored, one figure is removed. When the last enemy is eliminated, place the figure with its standard on the Samurai Victory card. If more hits are rolled than the number of figures in the enemy unit they have no effect. For scoring a hit on a leader: see the Leader Causality rules section.

A flag rolled in close combat does not cause a hit, but may cause the unit to retreat.

For each honor & fortune symbol rolled in close combat collect one honor & fortune token.

6. Apply Retreats: After all hits have been resolved, casualties removed and leader casualty checks made, retreats are resolved.

7. Possible Gain Ground: (Discussed later)

8. Battle Back: In close combat, the defending enemy unit may battle back if one or more of the defending unit's figures survived the close combatand the defending unit did not retreat.



Battle Back procedure will follow the same rules as close combat:

1. Announce Battle Back Close Combat
2. Determine terrain battle dice reduction
3. Determine Inspired Leader and Dragon card adjustments
4. Defender Resolve Battle Back
5. Apply hits
6. Apply retreats

- A defending unit may still battle back when it is unable if its retreat path is blocked, as long as it has one or more figures remaining.

- A defending unit may not battle back when it is forced to retreat out of its original hex, even if still adjacent.

- No further Battle Back is possible after the defending unit's battle back. The close combat will stop immediately after the non-active player unit's battle back

- A unit battling back may not gain ground as a bonus close combat attack

- The target of a ranged attack cannot battle back.




Retreats


After all hits have been resolved, casualties removed and leader casualty checks made, retreats are resolved. Each retreat flag requires a unit to retreat one hex toward its own side.

The controlling player decides which hex the unit retreats onto, using the following rules:

- A unit must retreat toward its side of the battlefield, it cannot retreat sideways. He must not choose one that is not blocked, occupied, or impassable.

- A unit may not retreat onto half-hexes

- A unit may not retreat onto, or through, a hex with another unit

- Terrain has no affect on retreat movement. Impassable terrain may not be retreated onto or through.



A friendly infantry unit may retreat onto a hex containing a lone leader if it does not have a leader. It stops and joins the leader and ignores additional retreat.

- A friendly cavalry unit may retreat onto a hex containing a lone cavalry leader, as long as the unit does no already have a leader, the unit will ignore any additional retreat movement.

- When a unit cannot retreat because it is blocked, one hit is scored on the unit for each retreat movement that cannot be completed.

- When a unit cannot retreat because it is at its army baseline, one hit is scored on the unit for each movement that cannot be completed.

Leader Retreat

A leader with a unit that retreats must stay with the unit. A leader, not with a unit, is subject to the same retreat and terrain limitations as other units following these exceptions:

- A leaders retreat movement is 1, 2 or 3 hexes back toward his side of the battlefield. The controlling player determines the number of hexes and path.

- A leader may retreat through a hex that contains a friendly unit, a friendly unit with a leader, or another friendly leader.

- A leader may not end his retreat movement in a hex that contains another friendly leader, impassable terrain, and enemy unit, or enemy leader.

- A retreating leader may not move through an enemy unit or leader.


- A leader may retreat off of his army's baseline side of the battlefield.



Leader Seppuku

Instead of retreating, the controlling player may choose to have a lone leader commit Seppuku (honorable suicide), even if that leader has a clear path for retreat.

A leader commits Seppuku, the leader figure is removed and the player gains 5 honor & fortune tokens. They lose one Command card selected at random by his opponent. A leader that commits Seppuku will not give the opponent a victory banner. The opposition player does draw one Dragon card.



Leader casualty Check


When a leader is with a unit and the unit loses one or more figures in combat there is a chance the leader may also be hit. A leader casualty check must be rolled. If a unit, with a leader, loses one or more figures because it fails to complete a retreat movement, due to a Dragon card, or during a lack of honor roll it does not make a leader casualty check. The opposing player will always roll for a leader casualty checks. When a hit is scored the leader figure is placed on their Samurai Victory record card.



Ranged Combat Casualty Check Procedure

During a ranged combat attack, when the unit loses one or more figures, but not eliminated, the leader casualty check is made with 2 battle dice. To hit and eliminate the leader, two swords symbols must be rolled.

When a leader is with a unit and all the figures in the unit are eliminated during a ranged combat, the leader casualty check is made with 1 battle die. To hit the leader, a sword symbol must be rolled. If the leader is not hit, the leader must retreat 1, 2, or 3 hexes, or commit Seppuku. Flags rolled against a lone leader have no effect. A leader, if not eliminated on the casualty check, must always retreat 1, 2 or 3 hexes or commit Seppuku.

Close Combat Casualty Check Procedure

During a close combat attack, the leader casualty check is made with 1 battle die. To hit a sword symbol must be rolled.

When a leader is with a unit and all the figures in the unit are eliminated, the leader casualty check is made with 1 battle die. To hit a sword symbol must be rolled. If the leader is not hit, the leader must retreat 1, 2 or 3 hexes or commit Seppuku. Flags rolled against a lone leader have no effect. A leader, if not eliminated on the casualty check, must always retreat 1, 2 or 3 hexes or commit Seppuku.

- If a lone leader cannot retreat the leader must commit Seppuku

- When a lone leader is at the friendly edge of the map, he must retreat off the battlefield or commit Seppuku.

- In close combat after the leader retreats or the leader is eliminated, the unit that was attacking the leader may gain ground onto the vacated hex.



Leader Alone in a Hex

When an enemy leader is alone in a hex, the attacking unit determines the number of battle dice to roll as normal, one or more sword symbols rolled will score a hit.

- A range weapon bow unit cannot hit a lone leader in ranged combat, because it does not sore a hit when it rolls a sword symbol in ranged combat

- A arquebus unit can hit a lone leader in ranged combat because it does score a hit when it rolls a sword symbol in ranged combat.



Bolster Morale

Sometime a unit can disregard flags. A maximum of two flags may be ignored.

A unit may disregard a flag:

- When supported by two friendly units, they must be adjacent

- Support is reciprocal, units in three adjacent hexes support each other

- A lone leader figure, may act as an adjacent hex support and will provide support as a unit

- A leader figure, with a unit will allow that unit to ignore one flag.

- A unit with a square symbol on its standard, may ignore one flag



Retreat & Loss of Honor

Anytime a unit or leader retreats, the retreat will cause the controlling player to lose honor & fortune tokens.

- Circle Standard - must lose 1 honor & fortune token for each hex it retreats

- Triangle Standard - must lose 1 honor & fortune token for each hex it retreats

- Square Standard - must lose 2 honor & fortune token for each hex it retreats

A unit, with a leader that retreats will lose 1 additional honor & fortune token for each hex the unit retreats.

A leader that is alone in a hex when he retreats, must loose 3 honor & fortune tokens. Note a leader does not lose honor & fortune for each hex he retreats. A leader that is alone in a hex, instead of retreating may commit Seppuku.



Lack of Honor Roll

When a player does not have enough honor & fortune tokens in his reserve to cover the loss of honor due to retreat or caused by the action of a Dragon card, the player must lose what tokens he has and suffers the following consequences:

The opposition player will roll a "Lack of Honor" roll of 4 dice against the player's army that was not able to pay.



Lack of Honor When a Unit Retreats

When a player cannot pay, because a unit is retreating, after the unit has completed its retreat movement, each symbol rolled on the lack of honor roll that matches the symbol on the retreating unit's standard will eliminate one figure in the unit that retreated. Each standard symbol rolled that does not match the retreating unit will cause one figure loss to the nearest unit in the army with a matching symbol on its standard. The controlling player will choose which unit will lose figures when two or more units are the same distance in hexes from where the retreating unit ended its retreat movement. A sword, flag or an honor & fortune symbol rolled during a lack of honor roll will not have any effect.

Lack of Honor When a Leader Retreats


When a player cannot pay because of a lone leader retreating, after the leader has completed his retreat movement, one or more sword symbols rolled on the lack of honor roll will eliminate the leader figure. Each unit standard symbol rolled will also cause one figure loss to the nearest unit in the army with a matching symbol on its standard. The controlling player will choose which unit will lose figures when two or more units are the same distance in hexes from where the retreating leader ended its retreat.

Lack of Honor from Dragon Card Play

When a player does not have honor tokens to cover the loss from a Dragon card player against him, each symbol rolled on the lack of honor roll will cause one figure loss to a unit in his army with a matching symbol on its standard of the controlling player's choice.



Special Actions

Gaining Ground

When an ordered unit attacks in close combat and eliminates or forces the defending enemy unit to retreat from the hex it occupies, it has conducted a successful close combat. The victorious attacking attacking unit may advance (move) onto that vacated hex. This is referred to as a gaining ground.

Gaining ground after a successful close combat is not mandatory. However, if the unit does not gain ground, the victorious attacking unit forfeits the possible opportunity to make a bonus close combat, even if adjacent to another enemy unit.

The following situations do not allow a unit to gain ground:

- A unit that moves onto a terrain hex the prevents further movement on the turn will prevent a unit from gaining ground
- A unit battling back is not eligible to gain ground
- A unit ordered by a "First Strike" card is not eligible to gain ground



Bonus Close Combat


After a successful close combat, a cavalry unit or an infantry unit with a leader that gains ground is eligible to battle in close combat a second time. This bonus close combat is optional and gaining ground does not require an eligible unit to attack in close combat again.

A unit that qualifies for a bonus close combat attack, after gaining ground, may choose to battle any enemy unit in any adjacent hex. It does not have to battle the enemy unit that just retreated from the hex. When a unit's bonus close combat is successful, it may gain ground on the vacated hex, but may not battle again this turn.

Some terrain restrictions will prevent a unit from taking a bonus close combat.



Phase 5 - End of Turn


After all unit's movement and combat have been resolved, the active player draws a new Command card and has the choice of drawing one Dragon card or gaining two honor & fortune tokens.

If the active player did not play a Dragon card during his turn, one Dragon card may be discarded and one honor & fortune token is collected. A maximum of one Dragon card may be turned in at the end of a player's game turn.

If the Command card deck or the Dragon card deck runs out of cards, shuffle the discarded cards to form a new draw deck.

Once the active player's Command card is draw and a Dragon card or honor & fortune is replenished, the player's turn is over.

Note: A player who plays a Dragon card during the opponents turn does not immediately replenish his Dragon card or the honor & fortune tokens. Replenishment of Dragon cards or honor & fortune token reserve is only done at the end of an active player's turn.



Honor & Fortune

An army commander, during the Age of Warring States, had to bring some measure of order to the chaos that constantly hung over a fighting army. For the fighting force that maintained some measure of control and discipline was likely to be the army that won the day. Honor & fortune in a roundabout way serves to measure an army's discipline, honor, and fortunes of war.

Players will be challenged to maintain balance between exploiting the use of these tokens to impact the army's fortunes when using Dragon cards and a leader's inspired close combat actions, while at the same time retaining enough honor and fortune to prevent chaos in the ranks, when morale fails and units retreat.

Honor & Fortune tokens are initially placed in a common honor & fortune pool, alongside the game board within easy reach of all players. During the course of the game, the honor & fortune a player earns is placed in his honor and fortune reserve in his play area. The number of honor & fortune tokens a player holds in public information throughout the game.



Managing and Replenishing Honor & Fortune Reserves

Just as important as managing his hand of Command and Dragon cards, a player must carefully watch his honor & fortune token reserve, and make sure to keep adequate reserves if he is to launch his own Dragon card actions at the most opportune time and prevent any figure losses because of lack of honor.

The following are some ways a player may gain honor & fortune:

- A number of honor & fortune tokens are taken at the game's start as indicated by the scenario's battle notes.

- At the end of an active player's turn, the player opts to pick up two honor & fortune tokens instead of drawing a Dragon card

- At the end of the active player's turn, the player discards one Dragon card and gains one honor & fortune token

- Honor & fortune tokens are gained for each honor and fortune symbol rolled in a close combat battle

- As a result of playing certain Dragon cards

Rolling and honor & fortune symbol during other times during play, for example, a leader casualty check, lack of honor roll, etc. will not gain honor & fortune tokens.

There is no limit to the honor & fortune tokens a player can. If the pool runs out no more can be taken.



End Game & Victory

Players alternate turns, they accumulate victory banners in a number of ways. They can eliminate enemy units and leaders or accomplish scenario objectives. These conditions are written in the scenario's battle notes.

A game ends when a player gains the required number of victory banners.

If a players Command cards are reduced to a single card, the player must surrender.



My Thoughts

The rules, so far, seem very similar to other games in the Commands & Colors system. Therefore they should be easily learned and understood by those familiar with them. This may come in the future, or even as a fan created file, but I wish there were more player aides with the game.

For the first few games it may be difficult to remember the terrain restrictions, number of battle dice, special rules for leaders, and so forth. There is a helpful player aide that lists all the units but nothing for terrain outside of the rulebook. But it made out of the same paper as the rulebook and probably won't hold up to continued use.

I like the use of honor in this game and can see it being something to carefully manage. There are some very interesting Dragon cards that could quickly change the course of a battle if used a the right time. This also could add a lot of suspense and action to the game. From reading the rules and talking to Richard Borg at Origins I really feel this game will capture the warring armies of feudal Japan.



Quick Stats:

Designer: Richard Borg, Konstantin Krivenko
Artist:
Players: 2
Publishers: Zvezda
Time: 60 Min
Ages: 10 and up
Mechanics: Campaign /Battle Card Drive, Dice rolling, Simultaneous Action Selectio

Picture Credits: W. Eric Martin (W Eric Martin), StevenE Smooth Sailing...(StevenE), Bill "BK" Kunes (bkunes), Matt Price (mattprice)
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Larry Thorne

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That was Awesome!!!! My copy was delayed until next week. It's going to be a long weekend now.
Thanks for doing this.
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Kevin Duke
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Can you confirm how many actual cavalry figures are in the box?

I don't mean mounted leaders.

Thx
 
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A.T. Selvaggio
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Webster
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Your reviews are incredible - thank you!

I am still on the fence about buying this game. I have three reservations and perhaps you can resolve them for me:

1. I am concerned about the time and complexity involved in assembling the miniatures. I have purchased all the C & C block games and the Battles of Westeros stuff. The former requires a good hour or more to sticker the blocks and the latter involved similar time to glue figures to bases, so I don't mind putting some time in. But while time consuming, the work was simple and mindless, not too fiddly, etc. My fear with Samurai battles is that the assembly will require more time, be more complex, be more fiddly and that the pieces may actually be too intricate and fragile. So, can you tell me whether assembly is merely a simple minded chore or if it requires some careful and intricate work?

2. The other thing that concerns me is the limited number of scenarios for the C & C side of the game. I am right there are only 8? I am used to getting more like 20 with the C & C series. This of course raises what I might be getting into as the expandibility of the game. How will it be expanded? When? I know there is talk about expanding the C &C side, but are there actually plans? I don't want to spend the money, time and deal with the storage issues and end up with 8 scenarios. I also don't want to end up needing to buy piecemeal minis and having rare items emerge that are hard to get. I like simple boxed expansions. Any help here?

3. I own everything in the C & C line. What does this add? Is it merely Battlelore with Samurai figures? I have found all the C & C games different enough to be interesting, but this seems like it might be duplicative.

I realize you may not have the answers to these questions and maybe this should be a separate thread, but I figured I would start here.

Again, thanks for the awesome review.
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Kristen McCarty
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atsgamer wrote:
Your reviews are incredible - thank you!

I am still on the fence about buying this game. I have three reservations and perhaps you can resolve them for me:

1. I am concerned about the time and complexity involved in assembling the miniatures. I have purchased all the C & C block games and the Battles of Westeros stuff. The former requires a good hour or more to sticker the blocks and the latter involved similar time to glue figures to bases, so I don't mind putting some time in. But while time consuming, the work was simple and mindless, not too fiddly, etc. My fear with Samurai battles is that the assembly will require more time, be more complex, be more fiddly and that the pieces may actually be too intricate and fragile. So, can you tell me whether assembly is merely a simple minded chore or if it requires some careful and intricate work?

2. The other thing that concerns me is the limited number of scenarios for the C & C side of the game. I am right there are only 8? I am used to getting more like 20 with the C & C series. This of course raises what I might be getting into as the expandability of the game. How will it be expanded? When? I know there is talk about expanding the C &C side, but are there actually plans? I don't want to spend the money, time and deal with the storage issues and end up with 8 scenarios. I also don't want to end up needing to buy piecemeal minis and having rare items emerge that are hard to get. I like simple boxed expansions. Any help here?

3. I own everything in the C & C line. What does this add? Is it merely Battlelore with Samurai figures? I have found all the C & C games different enough to be interesting, but this seems like it might be duplicative.

I realize you may not have the answers to these questions and maybe this should be a separate thread, but I figured I would start here.

Again, thanks for the awesome review.


I'll try my best to answer your questions, but I'm not completely sure.

1. The models are snap together models. They are taking a long time to put together and my husband is doing most of the work. He has lots of experience building models from his childhood. I put my first ones together last night, the Ashigaru spearmen. We used an Xacto knife to cut them out (carefully) and then followed the instructions to put them together. Be careful that you don't push to hard and bend a spear or foot. Since they are models they take glue nicely if you do make a mistake. It took me awhile but I did get them put together with his help but no previous experience. It isn't a mindless chore, but it also isn't intricate. You have to be careful and it will take a lot of time. You could order a few of the cheap mini sets to start to see what they are like.

2. Remember this is the base game. I talked to Richard at Origins and it seems that they are already working on more scenarios, add-ons, and so forth. He kept mentioning ninjas as well. Plus using Commanders in more scenarios. This is also a nice game to make your own scenarios with and of course as soon as more people have the game they will be user-created scenarios. Other than that I don't know and can't answer. I know there will definitely be the mini-units you can purchase but I don't know about "big box" expansions. May others will have more insight on that one.

3. The game does seem similar to BattleLore but more focused on the honor and fortune involved in Japanese warfare and culture. Having to balance your honor with the use of Dragon Cards (that can be very powerful), losing honor for retreating, gaining honor for bravery, and so forth. It is hard to explain but it does feel like a different game even though it is similar to the lore in Battlelore. It also forces you to pit similar units against each other because stronger units can ignore hits of weaker units (they have better armor and weapons). Strategy and knowledge of your units strengths and weakness because very important. Leaders also play a big role in the game.

I hope that helped and hopefully others will answer you as well.
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Kristen McCarty
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kduke wrote:
Can you confirm how many actual cavalry figures are in the box?

I don't mean mounted leaders.

Thx


There are 8 cavalry figures and 4 cavalry leaders
 
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A.T. Selvaggio
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xcrun55 wrote:
atsgamer wrote:
Your reviews are incredible - thank you!

I am still on the fence about buying this game. I have three reservations and perhaps you can resolve them for me:

1. I am concerned about the time and complexity involved in assembling the miniatures. I have purchased all the C & C block games and the Battles of Westeros stuff. The former requires a good hour or more to sticker the blocks and the latter involved similar time to glue figures to bases, so I don't mind putting some time in. But while time consuming, the work was simple and mindless, not too fiddly, etc. My fear with Samurai battles is that the assembly will require more time, be more complex, be more fiddly and that the pieces may actually be too intricate and fragile. So, can you tell me whether assembly is merely a simple minded chore or if it requires some careful and intricate work?

2. The other thing that concerns me is the limited number of scenarios for the C & C side of the game. I am right there are only 8? I am used to getting more like 20 with the C & C series. This of course raises what I might be getting into as the expandability of the game. How will it be expanded? When? I know there is talk about expanding the C &C side, but are there actually plans? I don't want to spend the money, time and deal with the storage issues and end up with 8 scenarios. I also don't want to end up needing to buy piecemeal minis and having rare items emerge that are hard to get. I like simple boxed expansions. Any help here?

3. I own everything in the C & C line. What does this add? Is it merely Battlelore with Samurai figures? I have found all the C & C games different enough to be interesting, but this seems like it might be duplicative.

I realize you may not have the answers to these questions and maybe this should be a separate thread, but I figured I would start here.

Again, thanks for the awesome review.


I'll try my best to answer your questions, but I'm not completely sure.

1. The models are snap together models. They are taking a long time to put together and my husband is doing most of the work. He has lots of experience building models from his childhood. I put my first ones together last night, the Ashigaru spearmen. We used an Xacto knife to cut them out (carefully) and then followed the instructions to put them together. Be careful that you don't push to hard and bend a spear or foot. Since they are models they take glue nicely if you do make a mistake. It took me awhile but I did get them put together with his help but no previous experience. It isn't a mindless chore, but it also isn't intricate. You have to be careful and it will take a lot of time. You could order a few of the cheap mini sets to start to see what they are like.

2. Remember this is the base game. I talked to Richard at Origins and it seems that they are already working on more scenarios, add-ons, and so forth. He kept mentioning ninjas as well. Plus using Commanders in more scenarios. This is also a nice game to make your own scenarios with and of course as soon as more people have the game they will be user-created scenarios. Other than that I don't know and can't answer. I know there will definitely be the mini-units you can purchase but I don't know about "big box" expansions. May others will have more insight on that one.

3. The game does seem similar to BattleLore but more focused on the honor and fortune involved in Japanese warfare and culture. Having to balance your honor with the use of Dragon Cards (that can be very powerful), losing honor for retreating, gaining honor for bravery, and so forth. It is hard to explain but it does feel like a different game even though it is similar to the lore in Battlelore. It also forces you to pit similar units against each other because stronger units can ignore hits of weaker units (they have better armor and weapons). Strategy and knowledge of your units strengths and weakness because very important. Leaders also play a big role in the game.

I hope that helped and hopefully others will answer you as well.


That was incredibly helpful! Thank you.
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Paul Agapow
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So, broadly, combat is the same as previous C&C games, plus the honour mechanic?
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Kevin Duke
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And the retreat mechanic and seppuku?
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Paul Agapow
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kduke wrote:
And the retreat mechanic and seppuku?


Which I was including under the heading of "honour mechanic", but your point.

It seems a relatively simple addition, that could massively effect how battles go.
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Kristen McCarty
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outlier wrote:
kduke wrote:
And the retreat mechanic and seppuku?


Which I was including under the heading of "honour mechanic", but your point.

It seems a relatively simple addition, that could massively effect how battles go.


I would have to agree with this. Plus the Dragon cards will have a major impact. For example the insult card that stops one enemy leader from moving and if he is with a unit that unit also will not move.
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Todd Rewoldt
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Thank you, Kristen, for taking the time to compose the rules review - I'll be getting my own copy soon enough, but was quite curious about the Dragon Cards and Honor & Fortune tokens. I was expecting a shade of C&C that blended Ancients and BattleLore and that is exactly what we get. The mechanics for Seppuku are very intriguing.

I don't think #'s of scenarios are going to be an issue at all for this game. Even with the ragged way in which BattleLore was rolled out, many official scenarios arrived on the heals of the 10 included in the base game(which, similar to those included in Samurai Battles, were primarily intended to introduce the game's elements a few at a time). I am hoping that Samurai Battles is able to unfold in a way that allows scenarios to be released for the game at regular intervals - be that through expansions or on the web. Also expecting that something similar to Call to Arms for BattleLore will be introduced for Samurai Battles, once more units are made available.

One clarification request, Kristen: for the close combat leader check, is it really only 1d if the unit survives, and not 2d (as it is in C&C:Ancients)? If not, that really does cause one to have pause before getting the leaders involved in clashes.

Thanks again!

EDIT: also wanted to comment on the "bonus strike hierarchy" - I love how that works within the game to give the heavier/better trained/more combat experienced (take your pick) units an advantage over the "lesser" units. Hopefully in a way that satisfies those who have difficulty reconciling that most units have the same hit rates, it is just the number of dice that reflect differences, yet not as over-impactful (my judgement) as adding another entire face (or two!) to those odds.
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Mike Brown
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Nice rules breakdown, have you played any of the several scenarios that ship with it yet?(and I do mean several)
 
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Tom Haesendonckx
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The amount of time it took me to assemble: 5 hours . I did do everything carefully. Amazing quality figures at this price though, well worth the effort.

If you liked battlelore and command & colors ancients, you will also like this game, which (to me) is a little in between.

Big plus is that you also get a second game in the box arrrh. A little bit more wargame and less boardgame if you ask me. It's relatively close to their other WWII game. On itself a good game btw.

The graphic quality and quality of the cards is rather low yuk. It does the job, but it won't win any prices. I was charmed by the idea of including the elevated hills though (although we play on a Hexagon 3D terrain).

There's enough of a 'new' feel to buy the game - and the price is rather low with expansions that come cheap. I especially liked the honor ideas and the combat effect when different units fight each other (A samurai unit against a normal infantry unit for example). This idea with ignoring 1 or more sword hits is a good thing to me.

There is a bit of a missed opportunity devil to allow for rules that limit movement from 1 enemy Zoc to another and for flank attacks on engaged units, which to me are a couple of downsides of the C&C games in general.ninja

The C&C scenario's ARE rather limited though shake. Considering that 1 of the scenarios is a tutorial scenario and 5 others are part of the same larger battle, this is a serious weakness, given that Zveza is not famous for their game support.

What also struck me as strange is that your units sometimes begin really close to the enemy, allowing for less flexibilitywhen playing.

I'm a bit curious to see what expansions they will be bringing.
As it stands, the game is a welcome addition to my collection and we'll probably find a way of arranging different scenarios.


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Mattias Elfström
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Brilliant review. Thanks a lot!
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William Smith
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Silverwings wrote:
.

If you liked battlelore and command & colors ancients, you will also like this game, which (to me) is a little in between.

Sorry, I love C&C: A and BattleLore is my favorite game, but I do not like Samurai Battles so much. The main problem is, as pretty as the miniatures are, they are not stable and easy to use like blocks or soft plastic BattleLore minis. People here are always like "Well, you can mod the minis 'this way or that way' to work". For some that may be worth it...but its not for everyone. I pre-ordered this game...I love Borg, C&C and Samurai history. However, in the end, the fiddly minis make this game a chore to store and play. Will I still play it again? Sure. If I want a quick, fun game of C&C...it's the last one I'll likely pull off the shelf. I think its a decent game, and the pricepoint is fair, but it has component issues(pretty or not). I have to be honest, the lack of forum traffic on BGG for this game belies its issues.
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