This past weekend was my 10th
Annual Wargaming Birthday Bash/Winter Wargaming Weekend
. The main
even was a Ronin
– Skirmish Wargames in the Age of the Samurai
“Campaign/Tournement” I mean it was sort of like a tournament in that we used a
swiss draw system to determine the match-ups, but it was also sort of like a
campaign as each players started with 400 points worth of troops from which
they would select 150 points for each scenario – but casualties were counted –
if a model died in a game, they were scratched from the roster and the player
had less of a pool to select from. Also figures that ended a game with a
Grievous Wound had to miss one game before they could be used again. Also there
was a simple system for gaining experience and improving members that survived
I have to admit I was VERY worried that there might be some
early slaughters and by Game Three there would be people playing with less than
150 points and by Game Five they might have nothing at all! The game has the
potential to be very fast, unforgiving and BLOODY! In the end I had little to
fear – everyone else had the same concern and played a little more cautiously
than they might have otherwise done in a one-ff game (which is ecactly WHY
campaigns are so great) and sometimes decided discretion really was the better
part of valour and, for the most part, packed it before things got very, very
It all began of FRIDAY NIGHT…
First off – folks brought me a whole lot of presents!?
(Remember: click on the pictures
for a bigger version)
Cory brought a game called Smash Up
brought the Samurai
game and a custom set of counters for Ronin that his friend
(who just happens to have some laser cutting equipment) made! Gary brought me a
book on the Eastern Front in WW2. Dave and Patrick brought a gift certificate
from the Dragon’s Den
My folks had ordered the pre-order deal for A
Fistful of Kung Fu – Hong Kong Movie Wargame Rules
from North Star Figures
And the big pile of Hät
Napoleonic Prussians, Bavarians, and French, Amanda picked up for me from Woodrow’s War Store
last year some time when they’d had some crazy blow-out sale (I think they were
$5 or $7 per box, or something like that…!). Wow! That has to be the biggest
and bestest haul of presents EVER!? Thank you everyone!
And then, on with the gaming!
To kick things off we started
Friday night with a big multiplayer game with everyone playing a single rank
three figure (a samurai or monk)… oh, except one person that ended up with a
From left to right; Gary, Patrick, the back of Finnegans head, Dave, Paul and John. (Rick showed up a little late and Cory doesn’t
seem to be in this picture…?)
This was done so all would be
up-to-speed on the rules. Three of the eight players had not played before. One
had only played once – over a month ago – and the rest of us have not played
for a few weeks…
Lion Samurai kicking butt and
I think the bald unarmoured
Archer was John, and the bald Samurai charging up the path was Finnegan’s
figure. Paul might have player the archer up on the cliff and Patrick may have
played that Ashigaru…? I should have taken more notes…
After the game we determined who
would be playing which Buntai for the campaign on Saturday.
Paul Knowles (of Saber’s Edge
all the way from Winnipeg, Manitoba (835km!) to play and brought his very own
Bushi Buntai (mostly old Citadel Miniatures samurai and at least one Dixon Miniatures
samurai in there).
I’d originally planned for
people to play a few pick-up games to try out their buntai, but most seemed
more interested in heading home to sleep so they’d be able to get up early to
get going on the campaign…
Last minute setting up of the
terrain boards – Paul also brought along some terrain which cmae in really
handy – and really made a few of these boards “pop”! All the trees on these two
tables are his – as is the archway. He also brought a lovely little bridge that
wold have fit perfectly on the table in the foreground, but everyone preferred
to use it as a ford…?
In the background you can see
the set of swords that I’d picked up as the prize. Unfortunately I neglected to
get a better picture of them or a picture of the winner with them. On the
bottom of the sword stand I’d painted:
More on who took those home
later in the report!
We played five rounds using a
“Swiss-Draw” method of determining who would play each other. The first round
match-ups were completely random.
I told everyone that they could gain a bonus five victory
points if they wrote a Haiku about the day’s events before the presentation of
awards…. No one took me up on the offer. I thought Gary might take me up on
that one (being a published
and all…) but no such luck…
Contest for the Daimyo’s Sword
(Then John pointed out it wasn’t
a proper haiku because there was no reference to the seasons… nerd…).
Downstairs in the main “War
Room/Hobby Bunker” Cory’s Bushi were battling against Rick’s Bushi, and
Patrick’s Sohei and Gary’s Sohei decided to settle some sort of religious
differences with violence.
“War Room/Hobby Bunker” battles
Over in the other room in the basement Dave (with his Bushi) and John (with his peasants)
were meeting up in their first battle…
John’s Peasants and Dave’s Bushi
meeting in the Forest Clearing
All the action seemed to be
around the edges of the battle board in the woods – no one seemed to want to go
out into the clearing and get pin-cushioned by the archers lurking near the edge
of the forest.
The Bushou of the Dragon Clan
meets up with the Senior Ronin of the Peasant buntai and his escorting swarm of
John’s Senior Ronin was killed
in this first game – along with more than a few Peasants!
ON the opposite side of the
clearing from the Bushou’s battle – some of the samurai and ashigaru of the
Dragon Clan were mixing it up with other ronin and peasants.
The Dragon Clan Bushou – kicking
butts and taking heads…
In the end Dave lost a samurai
and two Ashigaru – and his Bushou was lightly wounded, John lost his Senior
Ronin (the leader of his buntai!) and four peasants. Dave scored a win and TEN
victory points and John scored six and a half victory points.
While Gary and Patrick’s Monks
were the first to get their game underway, they were slow to get into contact –
approaching each other cautiously under cover of the woods.
BLAM! Patrick fired his teppo.
Gary’s Grand Master seems to be lightly wounded, but I’m not sure if that was
the teppo or and archer that caused that…?
Splish! Splash! Monks charging
into the ford!
Smoke cleared (and teppo
reloaded) Patricks monks slosh across the ford to contact!
Monks mixing it up on the far
Wow... I took a lot of pictures
of this battle…
BLAM! Another shot from the
I think this scenario ran out of
time. Patrick ended up with two lightly wounded and one Monk killed. Gary,
though he had three grievously injured – including his Grand Master – was saved
by the bell and ended up winning with three victory points. Patrick’s failed to
Upstairs Finnegan’s Ikko-ikki
were trying to force the pass being held by Paul’s (greatly outnumbered) Bushi.
The Ikko-Ikki charging up the
Paul’s five Samurai trying to
hold the pass against Finnegan’s eight Ikko-Ikki.
The battle at the Height of the
Though four of the Ikko-ikki
managed to get past the Samurai he had suffered many injuries and Paul’s
Samurai archers were cutting them to pieces in the open, so Finnegan, sensibly,
conceded before his Buntai was utterly annihilated. As it was he lost four
Monto and two others were grievously wounded. Paul lost a samurai and another
was grievously wounded but he won with nine victory points to Finnegan’s three.
Cory and Rick’s Bushi mucking
about in the marshes.
Rick played an excessively
cautious game – all day. He spent his first hiding in the woods like a bunch of
And Cory was a tad reluctant, as
well, to approach their covered position across the open marshes.
Looks like the two Bushous came
within striking distance of each other…
But rather than actually closing
to battle they shouted insults at each other (and tried to not get in the way
of their own archers who were busy trying to get line of sight on each other’s
AT the end of the first round
the standings were as follows
(the last three could have gone
in any order, but I matched Cory up with Finnegan as I figured another battle
between Cory and Rick would have ended up pretty much the same…).
In the main “War Room/Hobby
Bunker” Dave and Paul’s Bushi Buntai faced off in the marshes and Cory’s
and Finnegan’s Ikko-Ikki did
battle over the river ford.
In the other room in the
basement Rick’s Bushi and Patrick’s Sohei met in the Forest Clearing
Upstairs, John’s Peasants
battled Gary’s Sohei.
The Peasant horde rolled up into
the pass to meet the Sohei.
The fought a mighty battle
Gary, I think, felt a little
overwhelmed by all those peasants.
In the end Gary lost a Monk and
an Initiate and suffered a number of other lightly wounded. John only lost one
peasant and succeeded in fulfilling some minor victory condition (I forget
which) and looted the bodies of the slain Sohei, netting another 11.5 victory
points along with his win! Gary only scorred half a victory point for the
single slain peasant!
Back in the basement Rick and
Patrick’s warriors were exchanging missile fire.
Mostly ineffective fire from
Eventually some of them rushed
out into the clearing (trying to get to cover behind the grave markers!).
…and there they met in battle!
And what an epic battle it was
the Sohei’s Grand Master was pounding on the Bushi’s Bushou. The Bushou was
grievously wounded along with two ashigaru and another ashigaru was killed
before Rick threw in the towel and fled! Patrick suffered no losses or serious injuries,
but was once again cheated out of victory points before he could finish off
anyone. He he scored a win, but only one victory point.
Finnegan’s Ikko-Ikki tried to
rush the ford, but came under a hail of murderous arrow fire from Cory’s Samurai.
After suffereing one dead and another grievously injured, the remaining
Ikko-Ikki turned tail and fled! Cory scored a win, but only one victory point
for the single Monto taken out.
Paul and Dave’s Bushi met in the
forest marshes. Dave had a minor victory condition of killing 75% of the enemy
Buntai. Paul had minor victory condition of losing no more than 25% of his
buntai… so, just like Rick, Paul hid in the woods and tried to wait it out.
Dave played a bit more of an
aggressive game than Cory, however and charged across and met with Paul’s
Samurai on the far edge of the table.
I think this one went down to
the wire as well. Dave won in the end killing a Samurai and a hatamoto and
taking a head for a total of eight victory points. Paul collected two victory
points for killing Ashigaru and taking his head.
The standings at the end of
Round Two were as follows…
Cory’s Bushi and Patrick’s Sohei
did battle in the Mountain Pass.
Patrick tried to approach under
cover and command the high ground to rain arrows down on Cory’s Bushi.
For the third game in a row
Patrick’s Grand Master met with the other rank five leader of the opposing
Buntai… Grievously wounded them… but was cheated out of victory points by the
game ending before he could finish them off! He took a win, but with zero victory
points, because Cory conceded to save his Bushou. Cory scored 6VP for killing a
sohei, an initiate and taking a head.
I think in future campaigns or
tournaments like this I may amend the scoring so that a losing buntai (or
warband or whatever) cannot score more VP than the winning buntai when they
concede a game…
Downstairs Paul and Gary decided
to try out the Duel scenario. One of Paul’s Hatamoto squared off against Gary’s
The Hatamoto was cut down in the
Things went from bad to worse
when Paul’s Bushou charged in to avenge his Hatamoto and was ALSO cut down by
the Grand Master!!
AT that point Paul sensibly
decided that the matter of honour had been resolved and carried off the bodies
of his dead. Gary scored a win and nine victory points.
Rick and Finnegan decided to
play a Capture scenario. Finnegan was the first to get to the item to capture
A couple of Finnegan’s peasants
tried to make off with the prize while the rest of the Ikko-Ikko clashed with
the samurai and Bushi.
After one of Rick’s Samurai
suffered a grievous injury and lost an Ashigaru, he decided that whatever was
in that crate just wasn’t worth it and conceded. Finnegan scored a win and six
victory points – one for the Ashigaru and five for controlling the prize when
the game was conceded. Rick managed to eke out his first two victory points for
killing a monto and two peasants…
For a second time Dave’s Bushi
met in battle with John’s peasants, this time at the river ford.
After sneaking around cover to
avoid the murderous fire of John’s Ronin archers, Dave’s Bushi launched a
violent assault on the peasant swarm.
The Bushou took down three
peasants and another Ronin before the Peasants decided they’d had enough. Dave
took another win and 5.5 more victory points. John scored 2.5 for killed a pair
of ashigaru and looting the body of one.
At the end of Round Three the
standings were as follows
The battles in the “War
Room/Hobby Bunker” Patrick’s Sohei met John’s Peasants in the Wooded Marsh and
Rick and Cory met once again at the River Ford.
Another shot of the battles in
the “War Room/Hobby Bunker”.
John and Patrick were playing a
Skirmish Scenario – by far the most popular scenario of the day. John’s minor
victory conditions were to control the table. Patrick’s was to destroy 75% of
Patrick saw the writing on the
wall pretty early in the game and after finding himself surrounded and having
one of this archers grievously wounded he packed it in, giving John the win,
but no one scoring any victory points.
Rick and Cory actually did
battle in their second engagement.
Maybe they were both hoping to
defeat the other with enough victory points so they wouldn’t end up in the same
places in the standings and have to play another game against each other!
In the end Cory lost four
Ashigaru (and a head) and Rick lost one Ashigaru. Rick finally scored a win and
five victory points!
Pauls’ Bushi and Finnegan’s
Ikko-Ikki did battle once again in the forest clearing.
It was a pretty exciting,
hard-fought battle, but paul just could not make a successful dice roll to save
his (or any of hid mini’s) life. Eventually Finnegan’s Ikko-Ikki got the better
of the Bushi and took down a Hatamoto, a Samurai and the Ronin for a win and
TEN victory points. Paul collected two victory points
Dave’s Bushi met Gary’s Sohei in
the Mountain Pass.
I think the only casualties
caused by teppo in the entire campaign were scored in this game when Gary and
Dave’s teppo gunners grievously wounded each other!!!
Dave’s Bushi chopped through
three of Gary’s Sohei and an initiate, leaving his buntai badly mauled. Dave
scored twelve victory points and another win and gary collected only two
The standings at the end of
Round four were as follows:
As Dave had a connading lead and
nothing anyone could do could upset a campaign win for him I offered to let
people play whoever they wanted as – according to the standings both John and
Dave and Cory and Rick would be fighting each other for a THIRD time in three
games. John actually said he’s like to battle Dave one more time just to see if
he could beat him. Everyone else was fine with playing who they would have
according to the standings, except for Rick and Cory who had no desire to play
another game with each other… so, instead, Cory fought Paul and Rick paired off
Far from the campaign being the
slaughterfest I feared with players starting with grossly understrength buntai
in the final game – I think Paul was the only one reduced to palying with
everything he had left – and even then he started the game with 146 points (I
Paul’s Buntai, once again, found
themselves in the forest clearing – this time facing another Bushi Buntai.
It was nice seeing these guys
get a game in!
They started by caustiously
approaching each other through the woods.
Paul’s Samurai eventually made a
dash across the clearing…
..and met Cory’s bushi in battle
in the woods opposite.
There, things went poorly for
I think he ended this final game
with ONE Samurai left in his buntai! He lost four out of the five remaining
samurai he started with, giving Cory the win and sixteen victory points! I’d
like to say they sold themselves dearly and gave as good as they got, but cory
only lost one Samruai…
Rick’s Bushi and Patrick’s Sohei
decided to play a Duel Scenario – with Patrick’s Grand Master dueling Rick’s
The Duelist’s face off across
the river ford.
The clashed in the middle of the
Patrick thought it would be
funny to end the tournament with three wins but negative victory points – as
you score negative points if anyone other than the duelists enter the dueling
area and/or if anyone other than the duelists initiates combat with anyone in
the opposing buntai. I pointed out this was unlikely as, to win the scenario he
would have to kill the Bushou and thus score five victory points.
The Bushou went down quickly and
Rick let Patrick play another round just so he could violate the rules of the
duel and score some negative victory points…?!
Gary’s Sohei and Finnegan’s
Ikko-Ikki fought a brief engagment with lots of movement and maneuvering.
Despite grievously injuring one
monk and lightly wounding another initiate, and being in a pretty good position
to surround and take down a couple of Gary’s heavy hitters, Finnegan abruptly
conceded when he found his Samurai surrounded for a turn and was a little too
worried about him dying… No victory points were scored by either combatant.
Finally Dave and John went at it
for a THIRD time!
Dave kept his guys pretty tight
to keep them from being separated and surrounded.
But, eventually it ended up
being a mess of a melee on the heights of the pass.
John lost four peasants, but
managed to take down a samurai and four ashigaru! John finally scored a win
against Dave and took nine and a half victory points.
The standings at the end of the
Campaign were as follows:
…and then I forgot to take a
picture of Dave and his swords… Ah well… Congratulations to Dave for his well
fought battles and well earned victory! I was worried about the Bushi – with
their heavy armour dominating the campaign, but that just wasn’t the case.
Rick’s Buntai was pretty much identical to Dave’s and ended up dead last. The
other two Bushi Buntai filled out the rest of the bottom half of the
I'd thought of having a Booby Prize for the lowest scoring player (like the "Future Necromancer Award" I had for the guy who lost the most elements in the very first HotT campaign we played). This should have been a Tanto (small knife - used for committing sepuku) but I didn't think of it in time to get one...
Thanks to everyone who played
(and brought so many cool gifts!) making this one of the best wargaming
birthday bashes yet! Now to start planning for #11...
I have to say compared to the many, many hours over the months of preparing for this weekend, the day felt like it flew by in the blink of an eye! I do hope we get to play some more Ronin in the not to distant future... but for the moment I'm pretty anxious to give A Song of Blades and Heroes and A Fistful of Kung Fu
Coming soon on Tim’s Miniature Wargaming Blog:
Another report of Sunday’s activities as the Warmging
Birthday Bash weekend rages on!