Sunday, November 24, 2013

Ronin - Skirmish Wargames in the Age of the Samurai

I got in a few games of Ronin – Skirmish Wargames in the Age of the Samurai Saturday. First I tried a game with the boy in the afternoon….


We each took more or less identical Buntai with a Samurai and four Ashigaru. Two of the Ashigaru had yumi (bows), the other two had yari (spears). My Samurai had a Naginata, Finnegan’s Samurai had a Tetsubo.

We played the “Skirmish” scenario – which is pretty much a straight up “There they are, go get ‘em” sort of thing. There are additional objectives that you roll for that, if completed gain you additional vicoty points. I think Finnegan rolled the one where he had to have the most figures in three of the table’s quarters to get the bonus 5VP. I think I had to kill 75% of his force!?

(Remember: click on the pictures for a bigger version)

Turn One running towards each other – my archers loosed off a few arrows with little effect.

Still Turn One

This might have been the end of Turn One…?

By Turn Two are warriors were in combat… well… most of them… Finnegan’s Samurai hadn’t quite made it to anyone so I shot him full of arrows (or at least tried).

This might have been the end of Turn Two or sometime during Turn Three…? I think we only got to three – out of what was supposed to be an 8 turn game.

As this was the very first run through of the game after reading the rules earlier in the week we got hung up a few times – but for the most par things were pretty easy to remember and I imagine after a few more games things will go very quickly. I like the combat system. There’s a bit more decision making that simply who to hit – You have a combat pool of which you can draw attack of defence tokens – so you could choose to do an all out attack (choosing all attack tokens), that, if you get the initiative, could lay down some hurt on your opponents, or take a totally defensive posture to just try and get out of there alive (not making any attacks at all, or, preferably some subtle balance of the two that will give you enough fight to take down your opponents but cautious enough to keep you around for the next round.

Later in the evening Patrick stopped by and we had a go at it…


For our first game we used the same two Buntai, and the same scenario. I think I had the control ¾ of the field objective, but Patrick rolled the capture the enemy leader one (so I had to quickly reread the rules on subduing foes!).

Turn Two and we are in the thick of it. I think we rolled 11 turns for this game (game length is generally random 6+d6 turns for the Skirmish Scenario).

Things went south for me very quickly – in our first round of combat Patrick’s samurai captured mine?! And then one of his Ashigaru killed one of mine!?

The next turn his Samurai passed off my captured samurai to his free Ashigaru and chased down one of my archers with his samurai!

Then he chased down my other Ashigaru – who was already battling two of his Ashigaru… In a last ditch effort to free my samurai my remaining Ashigaru ran up and tried to shoot his Ashigaru that was holding my samurai prisoner. I managed to lightly wound him… but that didn’t free my Samurai and that was pretty much the end of it for me…


Next we made up two new Buntai with the small collection of historical samurai and Legend of the Five Rings miniatures I have.

Patrick made a Kakita Academy Koryu Buntai. He had a Sensei with Jenjutsu, Commander and Powerful attributes, a Senpai with Commander, Kenjutso and Niten attribures, Two initiates with Kenjutsu and a novice with only a sword to fill out the points.

I took another Bushi Buntai, but this time only took Samurai. I took a Bushou with Kenjutsu, Sejo-jutsu, and Intuition attributes, and three samurai with Kenjutsu. None of my Bushi had any armour.

WE again played the Skirmish scenario, and I, once again, had to control ¾ of the table to get the bonus points. Patrick had to survive and take less than 25% casualties.


Things were looking up for me after the first round of combat. My Bushou had taken down one of the initiates. And only one of my samurai in combat with the Kakita Academy Sensei had been lightly wounded.

Things went downhill rapidly thereafter…

His Sensei took down two of my samurai and then his Senpai grievously wounded my Boshou…

The next turn saw my remaining samurai chopped to bits by three opponents and my Boshou finished off…


I like it.

Combat is fast and deadly. I think the longest game was four turns… Of course in all three games we pretty much all charged headlong into close combat as fast as we could – because that’s what we were wanting to try out. I think in the future it might be more advantageous to try and keep in mind the other objective that can score bonus victory points and take more missile troops and maybe try and soften up the other buntai with some arrows or something before isolating and  ganging up on the survivors…

We shall see. I am definitely keen to try some more.

This could very well be what we end up playing 10th Annual Wargaming Birthday Bash - I have lots of Samurai (okay, most of them are Legends of the Five rings figures… but a lot of them are fairly historically accurate…) that I could paint up for a few Buntai. I could do with a few Monks and a few more Ashigaru and some bandit-looking guys and peasants and such… but that will probably have to wait until the new year.

(if anyone’s wondering what to get me for xmas… hint, hint, hint, hint, hint, hint, hint…)

Coming soon on Tim’s Miniature Wargaming Blog:

Maybe those Generic South/Central Americans – they’re done, and I took some pictures of them, but it was getting later in the afternoon and the light was fading fast so they didn’t turn out so awesome… maybe I’ll try taking some new ones tomorrow…


  1. Thanks for the super report...tempted to give this a go too - looks good ;)

    1. Thanks Mike! I hope to get in a few games this week - so stay tuned for more!

  2. My samurai and bakemono figures are mainly Dixon. We had a game last night which I wrote up here

    1. Thanks for the link - that's a great looking game!!

  3. Ronin is getting good reviews. It has a good mechanic from what I have read, and a welcome change from the GW mechanic which is more luck based, which I have been used to. Looking forward to following you.

    1. Thanks Dan. It is a dice-rolling game - so there is a bit of luck involved. But I do like the choosing how to use the dice pool - for defence or attack.

  4. Did you find anything in the rules that absolutely required you to have them on round bases?

    1. I don't recall anything in the rules that indicated a particular size or shape for bases. I just happened to have mine on rounds bases, so that's what I've used.

  5. I don't have this ruleset yet, but I wonder how similar it is to In Her Majesty's Name. Osprey has been busy of late pumping out game systems!
    Looking good Tim!

    1. It's been a while since I read IHMN, but I don't think the combat mechanic is all that similar. I suppose it is similar in that you generally activate one miniature at a time and it is meant to be played with very, very small forces. I remember being underwhelmed by IHMN, though I can't remember exactly why (because I can't remember the mechanics of it). I seem to recall that for all the hype I saw building up to it's release, there really wan't much there and it seemed a little too abstract (for me) for a low level skirmish game - and I can take a fair bit of abstraction! Clearly other people dig it, and a lot of people absolutely HATE the games I love most, so... to each his own!?