Monday, February 24, 2014

10th Annual Wargaming Birthday Bash – Part Two

After the Ronin Campaign on Saturday, the gaming raged on into Sunday!

Starting at 10am we kicked the days gaming off with a game of Ikusa… Cory (from Calgary) Paul (of Sabre’s Edge in Winnipeg) and Curtis (a local pal) joined in.

It took us a while to get going as none of us had ever played... or perhaps Cory had played the original version a couple decades ago...? Anyway, took some figuring out, but it was a totally fun game and I would definitely play it again. Funner than Axis & Allies! 

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

Cory shows us how it’s done in Turn One by laying the smack down on EVERYONE!

A little more careful planning was required from Turn Two onwards…

Things looking bad for my Purple armies.

Paul took me down by assassinating my last daimyo with a Ninja and then cleaning up his army during the ensuing chaos. Fortunately for Paul I had a crapload of dudes that all quickly swore fealty to his Daimyos and kind of made the rest of the game a foregone conclusion…

Paul's Big Green Machine!

Feudal Japan was kind of the Big Theme of the weekend so I bought Samurai Swords for the winners of the Ronin Campaign and Ikusa.

We then cracked the copy of Smash Up Cory had brought me for my birthday – we all had a hearty laugh when I opened the rather large box to find only fourlittle decks within! (I guess they were planning for expansions...?) 

The game was a whole lot of fun. I think I ended up winning with my Zombie Leprechauns. It was a tight race as everyone else was within a point or two of winning.

Paul played Alien Wizards, Cory had Robot Dinosaurs, and Curtis ended up with Ninja Pirates!

After a quick supper out at Amigos we were back for more gaming. Starting with a game of Munchkin Conan

After that we finished that we had a go at the Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game that Paul had brought along!  

It seemed like a pretty slick system. Finnegan and I started off playing Pick Patrol – Finnegan was Pink Leader and I played Pink One and Pink Two – two rookie piolots that were out on a training mission when we happened to run into a flight of TIE-fighters piloted by Amanda and Keria

Amanda trying to crash her TIE-fighters into each other.

Quite the mess – I’m surprised no one actually DID collide and blow up!

I think this was shortly before Pink Leader went BOOM! I managed to take out one of the TIE-fighters with one of my Rookie Pilots before we had to call it a night… it was getting waaaaaaaay too late and we were pretty much all gamed out.!

Thanks again to Paul and Cory who came so far to make this weekend awesome!

Coming soon on Tim’s Miniature Wargaming Blog:

We now return to our regularly scheduled programming of miniature painting and slightly less epic game reports… ‘til then… 

10th Annual Wargaming Birthday Bash – Ronin Report


Where to begin…?

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/Tournament. By “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 multiple battles.

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 bad…

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. Paul brought the Samurai Sword 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 teppo-armed Ashigaru…

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…?)

Our heroes battled in the Mountain Pass.

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 taking heads.

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.

Dave played the Dragon Clan Bushi Buntai
Patrick played Sohei Buntai #2
Finnegan played the Ikko-Ikki Buntai
John played the Peasant Buntai
Rick played the Lion Clan Bushi Buntai
(no one ended up playing the Bandit Buntai

Paul Knowles (of Saber’s Edge) drove 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). 

Cory also drove a great distance (614 km, from Calgary, Alberta) and brought along HIS own Bushi Buntai as well (a mix of North Star Figures and Wargames Factory

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:

Ronin Campaign
Tim’s 10th Annual
Wargaming Birthday Bash

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 poet and all…) but no such luck…

I tried writing one:

Eight in this valley
Contest for the Daimyo’s Sword
Only one can win

(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 get underway.

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 Peasants!

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.

John and Dave.

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 bank!

Wow... I took a lot of pictures of this battle…

BLAM! Another shot from the teppo.

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 score any.

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 pass.

Paul’s five Samurai trying to hold the pass against Finnegan’s eight Ikko-Ikki.

Finnegan and Paul again.

The battle at the Height of the Pass.

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 frightened schoolgirls

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 guys….).

AT the end of the first round the standings were as follows

Dave – 1 Win, 10 VP
Paul – 1 Win, 9 VP
Gary – 1 Win, 3VP
John – 0 Wins, 6.5 VP
Finnegan – 0 Wins, 3 VP
Cory – 0 Wins, 0 VP
Rick  – 0 Wins, 0 VP
Patrick  – 0 Wins, 0 VP

(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 Bushi  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 there!

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 covered locations.

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…

Dave – 2 Wins, 18 VP
John – 1 Win, 18 VP
Paul – 1 Win, 11 VP
Gary – 1 Win, 3.5 VP
Cory – 1 Win, 1 VP
Patrick – 1 Win, 1 VP
Finnegan – 0 Wins, 3 VP
Rick – 0 Wins, 0 VP


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 Grand Master.

The Hatamoto was cut down in the first turn.

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

Dave – 3 wins, 23.5 VP
Gary – 2 wins, 12.5 VP
Patrick – 2 wins, 1VP!?
John – 1 win, 20.5 VP
Paul – 1 win, 11VP
Finnegan – 1 Win 9 VP
Cory – 1 win, 7 VP
Rick – 0 wins, 2 VP


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 John’s Buntai…

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 victory points.

The standings at the end of Round four were as follows:

Dave – 4 wins, 35.5 VP
John – 2 wins, 20.5 VP
Finnegan – 2 wins 19 VP
Gary – 2 wins, 14.5 VP
Patrick – 2 wins, 1VP!?
Paul – 1 win, 13 VP
Cory – 1 win, 8 VP
Rick – 1 win 7 VP

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 with Patrick.


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 think!?)

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 Paul…

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 Bushou.

The Duelist’s face off across the river ford.

The clashed in the middle of the ford!

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:

Dave – 4 winds, 37VP
John – 3 wins, 30 VP
Gary – 3 wins, 14.5 VP
Patrick – 3 Wins, 2 VP
Cory – 2 wins 24 VP
Finnegan – 2 wins, 19 VP
Paul – 1 win, 16 VP
Rick – 1 win, 7VP

…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 standings!? 

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!