The Genpei Project

A blog to document my development of a variant rule set and set of scenarios covering the Genpei War of 1180-1185, for the C&C version of Samurai Battles

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Getting back to Japan....and the Genpei War

BrentS
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Well, after a flurry of work last year, this project lost some impetus. Partly stalling on trying to find some final graphics for the scenarios that are compatible with the Old Japan artwork, partly work and other life commitments and partly mental fatigue and a need for a break from it.

However, I’m going back to Japan in May and am thinking about the Genpei War again, which has resparked my enthusiasm. My main objective will be a long held ambition to walk the Kumano Kodo, the ancient pilgrimage trail on the Kii pensinsula. The three main shrine precincts along the five day trail predate the arrival of Buddhism (so over 1500 years old) and were subsequently melded into that uniquely Japanese syncretism of Shinto and Buddhist doctrine. Kumano features prominently in the Tale of the Heike but not in the war itself. Lots to interest me and it’s going to be an amazing experience.


From gallery of goshublue

The Kii Peninsula and the Kumano Kodo


From gallery of goshublue


The iconic waterfall at Kumano Nacho Taisha, the third and final main shrine of the Kumano pilgrimage. In one of the signature scenes of the Tale, the rogue monk Mongaku stood under its pounding waters for days until he passed out.


I do have some specific Genpei War sites on my itinerary for the rest of the trip. Being May, I’d hoped I might have an opportunity to travel to Shinomoskei to visit the site of Dan-no-Ura at the time of the Kaikyu Festival, but we’ll be based in Osaka and Kyoto and it doesn’t look like that will be an option this time around. I do, however, have a number of Genpei related activities planned:

• A full day trip planned to Kobe and the site of Ichi-no-Tani, including the Ikuta Shrine, Suma Beach and Sumamura Park, and the cableway to Hiyodori Ravine (very excited about that one).

The Hojuji-den in eastern Kyoto, site of Yoshinaka’s vicious attack on Go-Shirakawa and his court and now a memorial to the retired emperor.

• The garden of the Daigo-ji, again in Kyoto, to see the Fujito Stone from the site of Kojima that tradition names as the marker of the shallows used by Sasaki for his famous crossing.

• ….and, if I can stretch the patience of my family, Miidera, which I bypassed on my previous visit to Mt Hiei, with a possible side trip to Otsu to visit the grave of Yoshinaka (although the battle site of Awazu would now be hidden under the city, if its location could ever be truly pinpointed).

• Now that I know so much more about the historical context, I’d also like to revisit Nara…….an easier sell because it’s a favourite of my daughter .

Another thing which has reignited my interest is that I’m reading the Gikeiki, the 14th century compilation of legends of the life of Yoshitsune. This expands on his time before and after the Genpei War. I’d not thought I would ever get access to it but my wonderful wife bought me a first edition copy of Helen McCullough’s version for Christmas, the only translation available in English (I haven’t dared ask her how much it cost).

From gallery of goshublue



While it’s less historically reliable than the Tale of the Heike, it provides some fascinating insight and detail on some of the secondary characters in the war, particularly Yoshitsune’s closest companions. These companions have something of the legendary air of King Arthur’s knights or Alexander’s philoi about them and I suspect that they’re mentioned without background in the Tale of the Heike because it’s assumed the readers know all about their histories already:

* The Sato brothers, the younger of whom, Yoginobu, died shielding Yoshitsune on the beach at Yashima and the elder, Tadanobu, who later had a famous death by seppuku in the capital when he was cornered by Yoritomo’s hunters after the war. The brothers were actually noble sons of a prominent family in Oshu in the far north, and were assigned to Yoshitsune as companions by Fujiwara no Hidehira when the young Yoshitsune first fled north seeking sanctuary from the Taira. They became prominent and faithful members of his inner circle.

* The Yoshimori who championed Yoshitsune on the beach at Yashima; stood vigil with his bow above the beach all night after the battle while the exhausted and outnumbered Minamoto slept; the elder brother of Yoichi who made the famous shot at the Setting Sun Fan; and the man who captured Munemori,head of the Taira clan, at Dan-no-Ura……..also went by the name of Ise Saburo, and was the same Ise Saburo who accompanied Yoshitsune in his flight from Yoritomo and died among the last of his master’s friends and retainers, defending him at Koromogawa. I had never made the connection that they were the same man. In the Gikeiki, Ise Saburo Yoshimori is a belligerent and ill-tempered but valorous northern warrior, whose wife takes pity on the teenage Yoshitsune as he flees north on his first visit to Oshu and gives him sanctuary while her husband is away. When he returns, Ise Saburo is prepared to kill Yoshitsune for the temerity of imposing on his household but is so impressed with the young hero’s courage and character that he swears allegiance to him, becoming one of his closest and ablest companions, and following him through the Genpei War, the subsequent years on the run from Yoritomo and finally sacrificing himself for his lord at Koromogawa.

* Not a retainer of Yoshitsune, but his brother…….Gien, the half brother of Yoritomo who was killed under Yukiie’s leadership at Sunomatagawa (many times in a recent Vassal tournament ), was originally named Otowaka, and was actually Yoshitsune’s full brother, one of three sons of Yoshitomo by the court lady, Yokiwa. A whole cycle of legend revolves around Yokiwa’s flight from Kyoto with her three sons (Yoshitsune was a baby) at the end of the Heiji Conflict, and their sparing by Taira no Kiyomori, who was enchanted by her nobility and beauty. This is also detailed in the Heiji Monogatari (The Tale of Heiji), which is available on Kindle and I’ve had the opportunity to read recently. All three brothers were sent to monasteries, where they would take orders and so be removed from the world and rendered harmless as political opponents to the Taira. The elder two, Imakawa and Otowaka, did become priests, taking their religious names, Zenjo and Gien. Of course, Yoshitsune never did take the priestly path intended for him. When the call to arms went out to all the Minamoto after the failed rebellion of Mochihito and Yorimasa, Gien went to Kamakura to join his brothers and it’s interesting to speculate whether he did so out of loyalty primarily to his half brother Yoritomo, or to his full brother Yoshitsune. Why his younger brother was destined to lead the Minamoto armies to glorious victory and he was destined to die needlessly as a subordinate of his incompetent uncle Yukiie is unclear, except that his ordination probably made him ineligible to be a military commander, even if he was still able to fight….this prohibition from high military command for clergy is implied repeatedly in the sources, if not stated outright, even though religion was no barrier to taking up arms.

The Gikeiki also features the warrior monk Benkei, Yoshitsune’s closest and most faithful companion. While hardly mentioned at all in the Tale of the Heike (maybe three times, at Hiyodori Ravine, Yashima and Dan-no-Ura, and then only in passing), he takes front and centre stage in the Gikeiki. In fact, he almost becomes more central to the legend than Yoshitsune himself , as he is in many of the wilder and exotic traditions in the enormous corpus of kabuki, no, bunraku, kowakanomai dance and otogi zoshi short prose that surround Japan’s most famous samurai.

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Thu Mar 17, 2016 9:01 am
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Done and (almost) dusted

BrentS
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With Koromogawa we’ve finally come to the end of the Genpei Project…. almost. The rules and the thirty C&C scenarios were the main purpose of the project and for all intents and purposes, they’re done (although I never imagined at the beginning there would be anywhere near thirty…I was thinking maybe a dozen). I still have some work to do on it. The first thing I’ll be doing is tweaking some of the scenarios and getting the Vassal logfiles finalised so that a full extension can be made for the module. After that I’ll put together a printable pdf of the rules and scenario pack for the Files section of the game page on BGG.

What I’d also like to do is create a file with all the historical articles and scenario design notes I’ve written, as a companion to the scenario pack for players who want to explore the history in more depth as they play. I never intended for it to develop that way and I know I left readers behind on the way but I’ve gotten a lot out of it. This wasn’t just a transcription of the Tale of the Heike into game format. To do it justice I’ve had to research more broadly and even indulge in some amateur interpretation and analysis to attempt to understand the real context of some of the battles (GP12. Shinohara and GP27. Yashima are two examples). I even did some focused battlefield touring when I went to Japan in October. It’s turned into a bit of a geek thesis and I don’t want it to go to waste. There is a fair bit of editing to do and I need to expand on material for some of the earlier scenarios where I wasn’t concentrating as much on historical detail as getting the new rules in order and playtested. I wrote extended biographies for the main players in the war but I’d also like to compile an index of all the lesser characters that appear in the scenarios. I think this will all take me at least a couple of months.

I’d just like to make a comment here on the versatility and accessibility of the C&C systems. I’ve always contended that the lean dynamics of the various C&C games allow for an experience of tactical military history that is every bit as rewarding as more complex games, simply because it is approachable and playable. Samurai Battles has been the catalyst for me to explore, understand and internalise this fascinating historical period in a way that I never could have with any other more heavily detailed game system. The intellectual challenge of manipulating the core mechanisms of the game to simulate the history has opened up my thinking about the war and my understanding in a way that simply reading widely could never have done…..and not just at a tactical level but beyond to the strategic, political, religious, social and philosophical dimensions of the war. The C&C games are often dismissed as lightweight and barely historical but I’d challenge anyone to demonstrate that another wargame has facilitated their insight and engagement with history in the way C&C Samurai Battles has for me in respect to the Genpei War.

I would have loved to playtest this all some more but if I let it drag out it will never get done and a huge chunk of my free time for gaming has been devoted to this in the past months. I’ve had some good late feedback and suggestion on rules such as the monks and naval warfare but some of this would require more extensive playtesting and revision of graphics and this is too far down the line to rework it. I’ve done a lot of solo playtesting of these rules and they work but again, the beauty of the system is that anyone can tinker with these in either Vassal or live play. I’d love to hear the results if people do.

Just a few quick thanks to:

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…….for new graphic design for the monk units


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……for his work on new terrain images and for his work in general on the excellent Old Japan graphics





….for his continuing work on the Vassal module and the extension for the Genpei War material.

Even when the project is finished I’ll be keeping this blog open for commentary and more articles as the mood takes me, although they won’t be as frequent. I’ll post a notice in the forum when each of the files are done.


From gallery of goshublue

Crossing the torrent…..Second Battle of Uji


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Sun Nov 29, 2015 1:53 am
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Commanders and Samurai of Name

BrentS
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Starting with the next scenario I will be designating an overall commander for some armies with their order of battle in the scenario notes. This is purely for the purpose of clarifying rank for the Personal Challenge card. I think that there was probably more planned for this officially down the pipeline, but as it stands it’s somewhat vague what is actually meant by Commander and Samurai of Name in the text of the Personal Challenge card. I’ve always taken it for granted that the leader of a Command Group is a commander but otherwise it's ambiguous. For the purpose of playing Genpei War scenarios I’m going to clarify it in the rules (under New Units), whatever the official plan for this might have been.

A Commander will be designated in the scenario notes with his army and a Samurai of Name is any other leader who is named (given how far I’ve gone with trying to include characters from the history in the scenarios this will be most of them, but there are some cases where I’ve included unnamed leaders and these will be outranked by named samurai in a challenge). I’m going to go back for all the scenarios and designate commanders where appropriate. My intention is that only key characters who had a notable role in the war or in leading that particular battle will receive commander status, meaning that not every side in a battle will have a commander, even if they had a leader…….so in the next battle Yoshitsune will be a commander, the briefly documented Yoshito will not.


From gallery of goshublue

Famous Personal Challenge……Kumagai Naozane and Taira no Atsumori at Ichi-no-Tani


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Thu Nov 12, 2015 12:38 am
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A Brief Break

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Scenario design is on hold for a bit. I have a heavy work schedule and then will be going away on holiday…..Japan, in fact . Unfortunately we won’t be in Kyoto this time but I have been given a day to do my own thing while the girls shop (they don’t want me around for that ) and I’m going to make a day trip from Osaka to Uji, which I’ve managed to miss on previous visits, even though I’ve passed it on the train. My main interest in Uji is the Tale of Genji museum, which is meant to be amazing, and I’m rereading the Uji chapters of the Tale of Genji now to refresh my memory (twenty years since I last read it). The other thing I want to do of course, is visit the Byodo-in, and the bridge and crossing, site of two of the battles of the Genpei War, both already featured in this project. I’ll take pictures.

The other reason I’m holding off publishing more scenarios is that the next four all revolve around the major battle of Ichi-no-Tani, and I want to design them together before publishing. First, I want to make sure that I do actually want to do the four scenarios…….I may find that the tactical situations don’t warrant such an extended treatment. I also want to make sure that they’re compatible as sequential scenarios that may be played together as a mini-campaign.

I don’t have time to do all that before I go away. I will be doodling away on some more historical articles in the interim and tweaking scenarios for the Vassal tournament if it happens.


From gallery of goshublue

The Uji Bridge today……I think the island is a later man-made construction or the result of silting. All of the period prints of the battles show one single long span

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Sat Oct 3, 2015 2:20 am
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C&C Samurai Battles - What I've learned about the game

BrentS
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There’s nothing like this sort of project to really dissect history and understand it, not just to learn the details of events but to gain an insight into the how and why. I have a much greater appreciation of the Tale of the Heike and the history it narrates than I did on my first read through and I’ve had some surprising discoveries and revelations.

The other thing it has helped to do is improve my understanding of C&C Samurai Battles as a game. While they share common elements, the dynamics of each of the C&C games are quite different. Between the paucity of scenarios, lower profile of the game and fiddly nature of the figures, I just hadn’t played the game enough to have the same familiarity with Samurai Battles as I do with Ancients. I love the intellectual challenge of trying to create scenarios that model the history and the exercise has given me a much stronger feel for how the game works and what it’s about.

So what have I learned about C&C Samurai Battles? I’ve touched on a number of these points already throughout the blog, but I’ll summarise here:

• The power differential between green, blue and red units is huge, and cavalry are king of the battlefield. No evasion for greens, no lower attack dice for cavalry compared to their red unmounted counterparts as there is in Ancients. Just raw power. One Mounted Samurai Yari surrounded by greens and blues can shrug off multiple attacks and hit back hard. This makes choosing the number and position of reds and particularly cavalry for each army vitally important for balance or intentional asymmetry, probably the most important decision in scenario design. Cavalry superiority plus Command advantage probably means an unwinnable game for the opponent.

• Samurai Battles games are unpredictable, probably more so than any other C&C games I have played. This is not to say that planning and strategy are unimportant or that skill plays no part, because it does, but the swings of fortune are far greater. The imbalance between units is one factor, the Dragon Deck another (2 First Strikes plus Ambush mean a lot of surprised, dead attackers). Most critical of all is the vulnerability of leaders dying on one die sword rolls in any close combat figure loss from their unit. I find it a rare game where multiple leaders aren’t killed. This has two implications. The first is that I don’t feel quite as beaten when I lose a game. The second is that I’ve become less obsessed with trying to balance scenarios, or rather weight them with the right degree of historical success for each side.

• Starting H&F and Dragon Cards are dependent on scenario type. I’ve designed a number of scenarios here with prolonged buildups to close combat, such as difficult river crossings and sieges, and the possibility of accumulating excessive H&F counts and Dragon Card hands is high. This is made even more problematic where an H&F bonus is designed into SSRs or is a side-effect of core rules (sohei tend to accumulate more H&F). This means that in scenarios where this might be an issue, low starting H&F and Dragon Card counts are preferable. This can even be a design opportunity, forcing players to consider different strategic options to optimise their play (such as the bridge SSR in the First Battle of Uji). Conversely, if armies start close together and there’s likely to be close combat action straight away, high H&F and Dragon Cards are the go.

• Rereading the rules pays. Samurai Battles is not Ancients or Napoleonics. I made an assumption well into the design process that leaders could perform leader escapes through enemy units, and wrote that into rules and scenarios. How many other C&C players have made that same mistaken assumption? They can’t. Seppuku is the only option if a leader can’t escape past enemy units behind him.

• There's no onus to attack built into C&C. In most cases, players enjoy formulating attacks and this isn't a problem but when setting up scenarios where a strong historical attacker has the option to sit tight and make the weaker defender consider attacking, there's a risk of creating a non-game. In some situations where this is the case, I've resorted to imposing field position victory conditions on the historical attacker, such as having a certain number of units cross a river or siege line. This worried me to start with but I'm less concerned now.

• You can do a lot with very little. This is a testament to how robust the basic C&C concept is. With its truncated development, Samurai Battles has the least variety in units and terrain to work with of any of the established C&C games (thank Hachiman we got an expansion and its additional units). Staring down the barrel of 30-odd battles, I had serious doubts that I could create unique tactical situations to make distinctive scenarios. I think I’ve managed that with those I’ve done so far and being about two thirds of the way through the planned battles, I’m confident I can get there. Admittedly I’ve had to design additional units, terrain and rules, but these were specific to the historical needs rather than arbirtrary additions. For some of them I’ve been fortunate to have other C&C game precedents to draw on. SSRs are the key and I’ve already written extensively about my view on those. Using manipulation of core game elements is important to keeping these within the spirit of the game……H&F, die roll results, card effects, Victory Banners. For Samurai Battles, the lack of unit types is offset by the extra dimension provided by H&F and Dragon Cards and they have offered a wonderful additional resource for design.



I’m still having fun with it and expect to learn more about the game as I go.


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Sat Sep 26, 2015 8:18 am
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Where am I up to?

BrentS
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I’ve just taken a brief break from churning out scenarios, partly due to work and other commitments but for a few other reasons. With the burning of Nara we’ve reached the end of the first of three phases of the war (the two battles between Tomomori and Yukiie are fillers in the otherwise quiet period between the first two phases). The second phase is Yoshinaka’s battles, starting from the Taira push against him and his own invasion of the capital, through to his battles with Yoritomo and his death……I already have the first battle of this phase done (Yokotagawa) and one other from the period already posted (Mizushima) but I’m going to hold off on updating these until I’m ready to push on with it. The third phase follows straight on and is the final series of campaigns of Yoritomo/Yoshitsune which ends with the downfall of the Taira……again, I’ve already done one part of this, the first phase of Dan-no-Ura, for the purpose of playtesting the naval rules, but I’ll be trying to go through the war chronologically now.

I still haven’t done a planned list of scenarios. Given the first phase had 7, I expect there will be a couple of dozen by the end. A couple of the big battles, Ichi-no-Tani and Dan-no-Ura, will end up being multiphase, having two or three scenarios. A lot to do but I’m not rushing.

Another important thing is that I wanted to pause here to playtest the first set of scenarios, and particularly to get the monk rules bedded down before moving on, because this beginning part of the war was their time and we won’t be revisiting them in any significant way. I’ve not been satisfied with the initial rules about H&F stealing. It’s thematic and didn’t come out as unbalancing in play. In fact it never seemed to have an impact on the games. It felt a bit anaemic, even boring…..which is not what I wanted.

H&F manipulation (religious zeal and the support of the gods) is still where I want to go with the monks and I’ve playtested two other options: the first is allowing monks to change H&F to swords in close combat, the second is to give them exploding H&F on close combat and ranged rolls (i.e they get to reroll and add results for every H&F they roll). The second is my preferred option. It has precedent in C&C games (elephants, lancers) and is underutilised in Samurai Battles (Command tents are not common). I haven’t found it unbalancing, it’s simple and won’t need wordy ruling, I can use it for both close combat and ranged attacks, and it’s just simply more exciting than my original idea…..we all know the thrill of expectation when elephants roll swords in Ancients and this carries some of the same zing in play. I’d note that for Inspired Leadership the first H&F would still be cancelled, giving a monk player some interesting probability considerations when attacking. It hasn’t changed scenario flow and outcomes much although I may need to tweak starting H&F in a couple of places. Of course I’d be interested in peoples’ thoughts with these but I’m much happier with this on initial play testing.

One monk scenario which I’m really happy with is Nara…..I’m still tweaking it but I think it will turn out to be my favourite of this batch….every one of the playtests has been interesting and exciting, especially once the blaze is started.

The second consideration is that I did want to do historical articles as I went (for my own edification if nobody elses’). I have a few planned and I wanted to get something posted before getting too much further into the war. They add nothing to the gaming aspect but are an important part of this project for me. I’m working on an article for the main characters in the war but have gotten carried away and it will be three articles…..one for the imperial house, one for the Taira and one for the Minamoto. Hopefully I’ll have these out in the next week.

From gallery of goshublue

The omikoshi come to town


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Sat Aug 29, 2015 3:45 am
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SSRs - Over-egging the pudding?

BrentS
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Probably a pointlessly obvious thing to say but I’m a proponent of SSRs (Scenario Special Rules). They’re the part of any scenario in a scenario-based game about which I get most excited. I look forward to seeing how they bend the fundamental framework of a game’s rules into new and interesting tactical situations, and then experiencing the challenge of playing them. This is particularly true of games with which I am very familiar, as they keep them fresh and inject variety.

A good example of this is Combat Commander: Europe, which I play quite a bit solo (and some face to face when I can). The game has a very fine Random Scenario Generator that it is one of its strongest attributes and I know is the preferred play mode for many Combat Commander players….but not for me. I enjoy the RSG and do play it but despite the nearly limitless permutations of maps and orders of battle it’s never the same without the fascinating wrinkles thrown in by an SSR, so I almost exclusively play the published historical scenarios (of which there are thankfully many).

The second benefit of an SSR is modeling history. In games where historical simulation is achieved by varying the order of battle, the numbers and disposition of forces drawn from a fixed roster of basic troop types, and terrain, a great deal can be done to align it with its historical reality…..but there’s only so far that can go. It doesn’t matter when you just want to game the system and these sessions can generate wonderful narrative, but that narrative does not always link specifically to a certain historical battle.

This is where we come to C&C. I’m a big fan of the C&C games, my favourite being Ancients. The games have their critics among hardcore wargamers but I’m a pretty keen amateur student of history, particularly ancient history which is my great passion, and I believe Ancients models the dynamics of ancient warfare, as I understand them, as well as any other system, without the top-heavy and often self-rationalising mechanisms of more complex and detailed games. I’ve played hundreds of games of Ancients by now and have had some incredibly satisfying tactical and narrative experiences which marry perfectly with my reasonably well informed perception of ancient warfare. It is, however, generic. This is one of its great strengths but also a problem for the history buff because with all the best scenario design in the world, battles tend to be homogenous. I’ve had some terrific Successor wars battles that were just oozing with drama and tension but could I tell you now which actual historical battles they were……Ipsus, Gabiene, Paraitacene, Raphia? No. The battles I remember for their historical simulation?.....the ones that have SSRs to model the special character of those battles specifically, my favourite of all being Thermopylae: Middle Gate from the 6th expansion, which is a real beauty.

In my view this is an even bigger problem for Samurai Battles, where the arrested production history means there are even fewer unit types and terrain to work with when trying to create historical battles. For me, with an obvious interest in this specific period, which thanks to the strong literary culture of the time is so comprehensively documented, simply rearranging generic units and terrain would never cut it. Each of the battles of the Genpei War is distinct and fascinating and I could never convey the uniqueness of each to my own satisfaction with the basic building blocks of the game, without resorting to an SSR (or two or three or four).

There is a good argument that the whole point of the C&C games is that their streamlined economy is their narrative engine, that their open nature is how they convey history and overburdening them with detail stifles that quality. To an extent I would agree and I have great admiration for how Richard Borg manages to inject so much into each scenario with such a light hand. I am very much aware that my approach to design is at odds with the C&C philosophy and that’s not a huge problem for me, because this is first and foremost an exercise in engaging with the history. Having said that, design is only half the point and I want these scenarios to be playable for me and others.

An even greater concern when considering the open-ended nature of C&C is the danger of scripting battles to their historical outcome and the more heavily a scenario is layered with SSRs, the greater the risk of this. I don’t buy the often voiced opinion that a wargame has to reach its historical outcome to be relevant. Surely the whole point of wargaming is to explore counterfactual alternatives, the what-ifs of historical possibilities. I don’t want to create or play scenarios with fixed outcomes.

So for me there is a tension between using SSRs to reflect each battle’s unique flavour, and overdoing it. I’m fully aware that in my enthusiasm I do tend to over-egg the pudding. My attempt at the First Battle of Uji may be one example. Somewhere between the generic and the scripted straitjacket there is a happy medium, a sweet spot where a battle is unique and recognisable but retains C&C’s lean, dynamic and open-ended quality. Playtesting helps with this but one of my hopes in posting these is that other players might have ideas for how I can simplify SSRs when I’ve become fixed on a complex idea, to see how I might achieve the same effect with simpler rules, and crack a few less eggs.

Thanks,

Brent.

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Thu Aug 20, 2015 4:36 am
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Introduction

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Having recently read the The Tale of the Heike (commentary here), I realised that the Genpei War was a rich source of historical battles to plumb for Samurai Battles and I thought I’d give it a crack for the C&C side of the game. I can see a dozen or more unique and interesting scenarios which could be generated. While designing historical scenarios for other C&C games is just a fun way of engaging with the history for me, in the case of this fine game it looks like we’ll not be seeing any more official support, at least for the time being. A game with great potential really does suffer in respect to its C&C cousins from lack of unit variety and, more importantly, limited scenario options. For my own benefit at least, I’d like a larger library of scenarios to play and player design is the only way to achieve this at the moment. The other purpose of doing this is to generate ongoing discussion about the game.

The first issue I have to deal with is rules, as warfare in 12th century Japan has some important differences to the Sengoku Jidai for which the game was designed, and there are also characteristics of this war in particular which need to be simulated. No firearms for a start , which means Arquebusiers are out. The other important inclusion is Sohei from the great temples of Mt Hiei and Nara who were so central to the earlier conflicts of the war that it’s impossible to simulate it without them. I know there are Zvezda miniatures available and that we were bound to get rules for warrior monks if the game had continued active production, but I’ve had to design my own. The other issue is that while there were certainly peasant levies of some sort in this period, they did not form the organised core of armies as they did in later centuries. In this case the units represented by Ashigaru Spearmen and Archers could be considered lower rank samurai and I thought it was better to just leave them as they were.

I also need new terrain types, particularly fortification and field works, to effectively simulate a number of the battles. Fortunately good precedents exist in the other C&C games, and I’ve been able to port these with some minor tweaks.

The biggest issue, however, is naval warfare. The majority of the later battles of the war were either amphibious actions or entirely seaborne. One option was to leave these out entirely but a series of Genpei scenarios without key battles like Yashima and Dan-no-Ura would be a pointless exercise. Another option was to change no rules and just have land units functioning normally at sea but this would be patently ludicrous as simulation…..sea battles in name only. I wanted to be as light-handed and simple as possible but I soon realised that if naval warfare was to have any specific character and tactical interest, the rules would need some detail, and so they’re far more comprehensive than I’d originally planned. While they could be used as a template for generic rules for any samurai naval warfare, the rules that I’ve designed are specifically with elements in mind of the Genpei naval battles that will need to be simulated.

Unlike Hellenic and Napoleonic warfare, the impression is that 12th century samurai naval warfare was shoot and board…….that is to say that the tactics of naval combat were not a military discipline in themselves but just an extension of land warfare, with boats as mobile platforms for close combat and archery. This isn’t to say that there was not some art to naval warfare…. The Tale of the Heike clearly states that the Taira were confident they had far more experience in naval combat than the Minamoto (for all the good it did them……most of this experience seemed to be knowing when to go overboard and drown!) but it doesn’t appear that this extended to sophisticated naval maneuvers. This means that I’ve been able to adapt the core Samurai Battle rules without creating whole new concepts (unlike Ancients or Napoleonics, which I believe would need whole new C&C games to simulate naval warfare of their periods). Nevertheless, the rules are a whole subsystem of their own and are therefore the part I’m least confident will work as written without playtesting.

I’ll be playtesting these variant rules over time as I develop the scenarios, but I’d appreciate thoughts and suggestions. Again, one of the purposes of this is to generate ongoing discussion and activity about the game.

Thanks,

Brent.
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Sat Aug 15, 2015 9:12 pm
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