Pevans's Perspective

This was the title of my board games column in Flagship magazine, so I thought I'd resurrect it, 8 years after Flagship's demise. The idea is to get down my musings in a more contemporaneous way - expect things to appear later in To Win Just Once ( in a more considered form. Now, can I manage a less formal style?
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Samurai battles - even more of them

Paul Evans
United Kingdom
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Nephew Tom and I have comprehensively christened my copy of Commands & Colors: Samurai Battles and I've given my first impressions of the game in my earlier post (Commands & Colors goes to Japan) after working through early scenarios. I've already reported what happened in scenarios 1-3 (see Samurai battles - lots of them), so here are scenarios 4 and 5.

Number 4 is Koriyama Castle 1540 AD (Enokawu River). So we're 23 years after the previous scenarios (but no arquebuses yet) and the warring clans here are Shishido (red) and Shinguto (blue) - clients of Mori and Amako respectively. As I was already on the blue side of the board, I took Shinguto first. Here's my view at the start of the game.
From gallery of Pevans

The river is impassable, but the fords are so shallow that they're effectively open ground. The hills either side of the Shinguto forces are also impassable - the troops are coming across the Bingo pass into Shishido territory. The defending troops are almost all archers (some mounted) and mainly samurai, but there are some spearmen on the right in the photo and another further back centre-left. Oh, and Shinguto gets a (temporary) victory banner for each unit on the other side of the river at the start of their turn.

I was able to attack on both flanks. On the left it was an archery duel. I brought up my mounted samurai bowmen, but Tom did the same, making it three Shishido against two Shinguto. Hmm... But I really didn't want to march my spearmen slowly forward against the bows.

On the right, the Shinguto forces massed against the ford just right of centre. My samurai foot spearmen led the charge, forcing Tom's defending ashigaru (down to a single block) to retreat and seizing a bridgehead. Tom hit them with his samurai foot spearmen, supported by the samurai archers from the centre and the Samurai bow cavalry that were in reserve. Bye bye my samurai spearmen (and that's 0:1 to Tom) as the ford was occupied by the Shishido samurai.

Bad news on the left flank, too, as my mounted archers took 4 hits to the 2 I inflicted on their opposite numbers. That's 0:2.
From gallery of Pevans

With a lead in victory banners, Tom then played his masterstroke. With plenty of Honor and Fortune chips built up, he played the "Turncoat" Dragon card. For the fourth time in six battles. However, this time I managed to roll some 'Honor and Fortune' and the Turncoat failed. Phew!

My ashigaru and mounted bowmen pressed the attack on the ford, eliminating the Shishido samurai (1:2) and again getting across the river. Tom threw everything he had on that flank (including the one-block ashigaru) into a counter-attack. A lucky die roll removed my mounted archers and I lost an ashigaru unit as well, while I took out that damaged unit and Tom's foot samurai. (3:4)
From gallery of Pevans

The Shishido mounted bowmen stormed across the ford to chase down my ashigaru, eliminating one unit, whose leader took the honourable course of seppuku (I didn't have enough Honor and Fortune chips to pay for a retreat!). On top of this, Tom's archers took out my bowmen on the left. That's 3:6, which is when we spotted that he only needed five victory banners to win. Oops!
From gallery of Pevans

We re-set the scenario and played the other sides, which went pretty quickly. We both started with lots of left section cards and Tom charged his left flank forces up to the river. With no cards to do anything on my right, I just had to stand there and take it. My archers were engaging his archers on my left (to little effect) and I had some archers in the centre just in range to support my right. Tom powered through my defenders, destroying two units and getting his first one across the river. (0:3)

I got one back, taking out an ashigaru spearmen unit (1:3) but Tom had moved another unit over the river (1:4). Finally, he brought two more units across the ford and eliminated a third ashigaru unit to take the score to 1:5. Those extra units across the river mean it would have been 1:7 on his next turn. Sigh. Here's that final position.
From gallery of Pevans

Scenario 5 is Koriyama Castle 1540 AD (September), continuing the spat between Amako (blue) and Mori (red) directly, rather than through their clients. Here's the set-up from the Amako side. Historically, they are chasing the three ashigaru units on the right, only to be ambushed by the main Mori force.
From gallery of Pevans

In game terms, the red player gets a banner for each of the ashigaru that they move back across the river (and out of the game). This leaves them with six units to 'ambush' the 10 Mori. I'm not sure I like those odds. Particularly as I'm playing Mori first. However, with only four banners needed to win, the Mori just need one more if they retreat all the ashigaru.

Run away, ashigaru! I managed to get two of them acros the river, but Tom's ashigaru and mounted samurai archers were in pursuit and took out the third, along with the attached foot leader. (That makes the score 2:2) I actually had the Turncoat card this time, but not the advantage (ahead in banners and Honor and Fortune chips) to use it successfully.
From gallery of Pevans

And I'm now outnumbered, so I went defensive. Tom's archers engaged in the centre, killing my remaining leader. (2:3) His ashigaru swung across from his right to join his central forces and I lost another unit for no reward. That finished the game. (2:4)
From gallery of Pevans

For the re-match, I started with low-powered right section cards, so I couldn't pursue Tom's retreating ashigaru in any numbers. The units I did send after him got battered and he got all three ashigaru across the river. (0:3)

Exchanges of archery in the centre made little impression. Then Tom snuck his samurau through a wood to attack my battered ashigaru on the right. Removing them gave him the win in short order. (0:4) Ouch!
From gallery of Pevans

So we'd played a total of nine battles and I'd won a whole two of them. I'd blame bad luck, but Tom beats me consistently. I need a different opponent. Hmm, I believe Deon is free later this week...
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