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Author Topic: Test of Honour Session report - The Spy  (Read 1327 times)

Offline Muzfish4

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Test of Honour Session report - The Spy
« on: April 03, 2018, 01:46:14 AM »
So, after a pretty ordinary first outing where fumbles and desultory skirmishing that seemed to go nowhere were the order of the day we decided to give Test of Honour another run. We’d asked around on various sites to see if we were doing anything wrong and got a bit of advice to suggest that our games would be better if they were objective-based rather than just a hack fest.

Other advice was around the value of having individual ashigaru as opposed to the one that come in batches of threes. On first glance, the three batch seems a ‘no brainer’ as they have an edge in combat while there are still two or three on the base and they’re a lot harder to kill needing three outright kills with the blood drop ‘resetting’ after each casualty is incurred. Advice we received suggested that the advantage of threes over single miniatures is compensated in activations of equal value. That is, the group of three still only gets one (augmented) activation while an individual ashigaru also get one activation.

So, taking this advice on board we elected to try Battle 4: The Spy as per the Battle Guide. In essence, this scenario has a small hamlet in the centre of the board and both sides looking for a spy in several possible designated locations. Once a miniature reached, or was within three inches of, a location it conducted a search (Test of Wits) and if it was successful, well, there was the spy. The spy then had to be escorted off your starting table edge for the win.

We decided to field slightly different forces. My opponent stuck with big ashigaru units commanded by a sergeant and two samurai whereas I went for three samurai and used whatever remaining points I had to recruit a couple of guys with teppos, a spearman and an archer. This gave us the same number of commoner activation tokens and I had a decided edge in noble activation tokens.


Above: Opposition warband - three big blocks of ashigaru and a sergeant support two samurai

As the game commenced, my opponent pushed forwards with his noble as per the activation tokens he received while I kept getting commoner activations and decided to push them up behind a low stone wall as a sort of firing line.


Above: Firing line of individual ashigaru

His samurai reached one of the possible locations for the spy first and was unsuccessful in searching whereas the next turn I found the spy with my first Test of Wits attempt.


Above: My Loyal Samurai locates the spy

As the location was quite close to my baseline (as per the setup) I started to shepherd her off the board, compelling my opponent to charge forward as activations allowed (i.e. piecemeal) to try to stop me. No scope for cautious moves in this circumstance.


Above: The Spy is located compelling the opposition force to charge ahead to prevent her extraction or lose the game


Above: My forces form a picquet line to screen the extraction of the spy

As his leader advanced, my leader stepped forward to valiantly oppose him in single combat. Plenty of effort was exerted by both sides for little result as neither leader managed to land a telling blow.


Above: The two leaders face off in less-than-mortal combat

At that point, one of my single ashigaru arquebusers was activated and I elected to shoot at the great man expecting to, at best, inconvenience him and burn one of his available activations in attempting to avoid. The shot hit, wasn't avoided and then killed him (actually, he fumbled his avoid attempt so if he wasn't killed he would have tripped over anyway).


Above: The age of gunpower is here - a single shot from a commoner with a firearm fells a mighty lord

There we were. One samurai lord down and as his other samurai fumbled the wound test against an ashigaru spearman screening the spy’s departure and was then cut down by one of my two available samurai the game played out pretty quickly after that.

This play of Test of Honour was a much better experience than our first game, the scenario was a bit flawed in the placement of the search locations and victory conditions suggesting a need for more extensive playtesting so it still wasn’t a stellar experience but we both agreed there was something to it and, more importantly, enjoyed the experience with some interesting decisions to be made around both force selection and how to best use activations.

Thinking about it afterwards, the possibility that a firearm can kill even a great leader in full battle regalia isn't such an absurd proposal. We both agreed this was a reasonable outcome though the game would have been improved if the scenario was a bit more challenging. Next game we'll play the follow-up scenario and I'll have to guide the spy across the table from edge to edge while keeping her safe from my opponent’s forces.

Should be fun.

Offline Codsticker

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Re: Test of Honour Session report - The Spy
« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2018, 11:06:02 PM »
Please keep us informed of your game expedience.  :D

Offline Muzfish4

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Test of Honour Session report - Breakthrough
« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2018, 12:31:18 PM »
Following on from the qualified success of ‘The Spy’ (detailed above) we decided to play the next scenario in the Battle Guide: ‘Breakthrough’. This scenario tasks the side that managed to extract the spy (in this case, mine) to traverse the board and shepherd the spy from their starting edge to that of the opponent using the ‘escort’ special rule. To keep things on a level playing field no skill cards were awarded for my previous victory.

Again, each side had 21 points to play with but over the last month we’d both been doing a little shopping. Naturally enough, we both added our new purchases into our force mix.

My opponent had picked up a set of Pauper Soldiers while I’d grabbed the Bandit Swordsmen.  The Pauper Soldiers comprised one metal hero miniature and ten plastic bowmen: the same multi-part and somewhat fiddly models that come with the basic game set. The Bandit Swordsmen were three rather well sculpted metal ne’eer do wells and their own unit base. Needless to say, I hadn’t gotten close to slopping some paint on them so I subbed in a trio of armed peasants from The Assault Group.


Above: Senzo the Thorn and friend

Having seen the advantage of having three samurai for the decided edge such a force composition confers in activation tokens I again had my hero joined by his loyal and devoted samurai. This took 13 points but seems to be well worth it both in terms of access to activations as well as potency in combat. I rounded my team off with the three bandits; I didn’t expect much from these guys but at two points I hoped they’d absorb a few arrows on behalf of their (social and competency) betters. To keep in the game, at least initially, with commoner activations I went with four single ashigaru - a couple of teppo armed musket men and two guys with yaris.


Above: My 21 point force with spy

I did toy with the idea of giving my lord a bow but the extra two points just didn’t seem worth it. I also picked up the ‘unarmoured samurai’ single figure blister which contains a dandy miniature but unsurprisingly it isn’t that great to be downgraded to ‘unarmoured’ in game terms. Slightly more surprising is that the slight advantage in agility is considered to be offset by ememies gaining +1 to all damage rolls and the card is points neutral.  If there was any sort of real advantage in points I may have considered it but as things stood no fancy additions for me.

My opponent chose two heroes. His force was led by the named hero from the Pauper Soldiers set - Senzo the Thorn who weighs in at a hefty seven points. His is about as good as a samurai hero but comes with a bow and a special skill card, ‘One with the Target’, that allows him to move 5” and shoot with a ‘shoot’ move rather than the normal movement allowance of 3”. Senzo was joined by a samurai offsider (loyal or devoted, can't remember which; they're pretty 'samey' as both cost four and are have minimal difference in their stats) and a sergeant of archers who confers a shooting bonus on any nearby bowman group. Rounding the force of was a three base of archers, a single archer and two men with a arquebuses. A very ‘shooty’ sort of list indeed.


Above: My opponent deployed in a loose picquet line

We deployed nobles first and then commoners. I elected to start in the centre along the road running through the hamlet  to give maximum flexibility for my ‘end run’ while my opponent was, in the main, opposite me but had a couple of shooters out on each side of his piquet line to deter, or at least slow up, and flanking manoeuvers.

The game started well enough and Senzo was activated sending an arrow into the midst of the bandits. They evaded (and used the only activation token they’d receive that turn so were essentially halted) and in turn one of my commons was activated. I pushed forward an arquebuser 3” and had a ‘speccy’ shot at the chap on out flank. Miss. Senzo then got another go and again attempted to pincushion the bandits. Another hit with no dodge this time but as he was firing from over 12” away the two dice to kill did him no favours and a simple blood drop was inflicted.

The next activation for me was another commoner and more out of a sense of not having anything better to do I pushed up the other ashgaru who discharged his teppo with more success than his fellow hitting the flankers, who failed his avoid and the four dice damage were enough to inflict the first casualty.


Above: First blood - arquebus fire clears the flank

The rest of the turn had more desultory shooting, the archer group rolling five dice with their Test of Aim under the guidance of the sergeant, they fumbled and hurt themselves, but at least they rolled plenty of dice. The other samurai skulked about making good use of the cautious move to keep an avoid action up their sleeve should they be shot at. The spy was also cautiously brought forward by her escort. Senzo used his final activation to, again, hit and not wound the bandits.

At the start of turn two I received two noble activations in a row and moved first cautiously and then charged the last few meters to the opposition samurai. The combat was quick as the yari stab was not avoided and the foeman fumbled losing his footing. This didn’t mean that much in game turns as he was thoroughly skewered with five hits. The nearby commoners failed their Tests of Honour which pushed them out of ‘follow-up’ range.


Above: Second blood - An opposition samurai is skewered by a yari

Senzo didn’t like this turn of events and used his 'One with the Target' skill to push forward to make his arrows roll three rather than two dice on a hit and attempted to loose a deadly shaft at my hero. The shot was fumbled and Senzo the Thorn, ace bowman and master archer managed to shoot himself in the foot (and, in game terms, acquired a blood drop).

Two of my activations, punctuated by my opponent drawing a ‘time’ counter, then got my samurai hero into hand-to-hand combat with Senzo who, like his offsider, fumbled his avoid and found out just how sharp a hero keeps his katana (answer for those playing along at home – very).


Above: Senzo pushes forwards to increase the effectiveness of his yumi


Above: Third (and final) blood - Senzo loses an argument with my hero's katana.

At this point my opponent conceded. With no heroes left and my force in a good position to escort the spy forwards his chances of victory were minimal. All this in a turn and a half.

So there we were. A win to me but one that was quite unsatisfying. A few poor die rolls really scuppered my opponent’s chances and at no stage did the result look in doubt.

Will we play again? In all honesty, I don’t know. This game was a bit of a let-down and two or three bad dice rolls really won it for me rather than any brilliant tactics or heroic actions from my bushi. The flow of the game just didn’t feel right either. Worst of, it wasn’t fun.
« Last Edit: April 10, 2018, 12:33:45 PM by Muzfish4 »

Offline craigjwoodfield

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Re: Test of Honour Session report - The Spy
« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2018, 04:21:22 AM »
Good, concise report, and reflects my views (as his unlucky opponent).

My take away is that the game is:

* Very random. Some randomness is a good thing in wargames, but too much, as is the case here, and you feel like there is little that you can do.
* Little period feel
* Poor points system
* Little differentiation between factions - don't bother buying the Pauper Soldiers expansion!
* Poor scenarios


Shame, really.

Cheers

CW

Offline Emphatz

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Re: Test of Honour Session report - The Spy
« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2018, 09:30:42 AM »
Hi guys, I really enjoyed reading your AAR's, Nice looking Minis by the way, Its funny I got a similar reaction to your conclusions just from reading your Session reports.....Oh Well perhaps a new rule set? I hear Ronin (Osprey) is supposed to be good (Not played, but have read the rules)

Offline olyreed

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Re: Test of Honour Session report - The Spy
« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2018, 10:28:33 AM »
Don't think I will bother with these rules, shame that it's got more interest than other, far better rules out there, Ronin and Dashio for instance, this period is really in need of a set of rules that sits between small skirmish and large scale battles, something along the size of Sharp practice,

Offline orc

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Re: Test of Honour Session report - The Spy
« Reply #6 on: April 16, 2018, 03:15:08 AM »
 Muzfish4 &  craigjwoodfield, Thanks for sharing your reports and feels about the game guys  ;). I'm agree with olyreed....we need something in the middle between Ronin and big scale battles games...and we need them fast  ;D.

Offline Muzfish4

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Re: Test of Honour Session report - The Spy
« Reply #7 on: May 06, 2018, 02:59:39 AM »
Thanks for the kind words. I'm glad these observations were useful.

By way of follow-up, in our most game we elected not to Play Test of Honour (ToH) but instead I was introduced to Ronin (by the author). The game played well and I did not find the same shortcomings as in ToH.

Our scenario was a Sengokujidai 'Search and Destroy' mission as a small band of regular soldiers led by two samurai (rank 3 & 4 respectively) searched a rural village for bandits. The samurai were fewer (but all were armoured) and had a couple of yumi equipped ashigaru whereas the bandits were unarmoured but led by a master swordsman (rank 5). The bandits had the option to conceal themselves in the various structures in the village or disguise themselves as villagers.

The game played well and offered interesting tactical decisions for both sides as the samurai had a limited period to clear the village while the bandits had to choose the optimal time to reveal themselves.

The scenario scoring also worked well (one point per rank) in that the bandits got the points of whatever enemy they killed and whatever of their force survived while the samurai got double the point value of their kills. There was a difference of only a couple of points at the end of the game which suggest a good, well-balanced scenario.

Things I liked from Ronin:

* Choices around when to use a missile weapon with a hurried shot being available in the move phase or a more considered shot in the action phase. Archery, which by its nature has a quicker rate of loosing arrows is able to be used in both phases.
* The melee system offers choice of stance' where players can choose how to concentrate their effort into either defence or offence or a mix of both.
* The more skilled warrior is at a definite advantage in melee as it should be. This superiority in represented through both an advantage in combat skill as well as a larger Combat Pool.
* Armour seems to be 'worth it' as it confers valuable protection that can make the difference between a wound and a 'save'. That said, no-one is invulnerable and there is always a chance of injury when being attacked.
* Miniatures that 'rest' actually get some benefit rather than standing around doing nothing.

So, after an entire one play, Ronin provided a superior playing experience to ToH. I am keen to try Ronin again but would need serious persuasion to play ToH. Olyreed is right in noting that it's good for gaming that a samurai skirmish game is being promoted with the resources of a major company, a pity that ToH while having some good ideas, is just not as deserving of this support as other offerings.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2018, 01:00:12 AM by Muzfish4 »

Offline NurgleHH

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Re: Test of Honour Session report - The Spy
« Reply #8 on: May 06, 2018, 10:02:23 AM »
Years ago there were these rules from Legend of the five rings for miniatures - Clan Wars. Did someone try them and can tell something about them? I love Daisho in the moment, but it is really skirmish with few figures. I will test the rules from AndyW (I think he stop developing his system) called Ronin Hood, but they are more roleplay with figures. The range is fantastic, but seems to be dead.
A skirmish like lion rampant with about 50 figures a side would be great, but not the 5th or 6th conversion from LR with a name like Ronins Lament or Sword of the East...

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Offline olyreed

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Re: Test of Honour Session report - The Spy
« Reply #9 on: May 06, 2018, 10:37:13 AM »
If you have the ear of the Ronin rules author, maybe you could ask him nicely to write a set of large scale skirmish rules, I have been looking at how to convert Sharp Practice and feel is shouldn't take to much but a dedicated set of rules would be great, and like nurgleHH says, not another version on Lion Rampant

Offline Franck

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Re: Test of Honour Session report - The Spy
« Reply #10 on: May 06, 2018, 10:43:58 AM »
Years ago there were these rules from Legend of the five rings for miniatures - Clan Wars. Did someone try them and can tell something about them? I love Daisho in the moment, but it is really skirmish with few figures. I will test the rules from AndyW (I think he stop developing his system) called Ronin Hood, but they are more roleplay with figures. The range is fantastic, but seems to be dead.
A skirmish like lion rampant with about 50 figures a side would be great, but not the 5th or 6th conversion from LR with a name like Ronins Lament or Sword of the East...

Hi NurgleHH,

50 minis a side is not skirmish anymore for me.
I think 30 figures max per side can be called skirmish and not more.
It is only my taste of course.
 :D
"Despite what your Moma told you, violence does solve problems..."
Chris Kyle, American philosopher

"A bad day on the golf course will always be better than a good day at work..."

Offline NurgleHH

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Re: Test of Honour Session report - The Spy
« Reply #11 on: May 06, 2018, 03:47:15 PM »
Sharpe Practice 2 may be a good system, but after 3 times trying we realized the fact, that we do not get in the game. A SP2-Light Version would help. To much rules for me.
@Franck: I remember a WSS-article from Rick Priestley about this, but not the number. Max of 30 is also ok, but a question of personal taste...


Offline nandrin

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Re: Test of Honour Session report - The Spy
« Reply #12 on: May 07, 2018, 08:38:48 AM »
Many years ago when L5R was hot I played a lot of Clan War battles and even some tournaments, but it is definitely an army system with about 6-8 battle groups of 12-24 figures each and some heroes. My Crane Army consists of 160 miniatures and was standard size.

The system uses a set of "battle cards" which can be customised and is an important part of army creation. It defines the style of the own army and give tactical advances (+1 attack for a battlegroup and the like, but more complicated actions also, like forcing two heroes into a duel) or hindrances for the enemy. It is very hero-oriented: Often a whole battlegroup was destroyed but the leader still remains on the battlefield, fighting heroically alone against whole battlegroups.

It plays different, but I think in many ways it was designed as a rival for Warhammer Fantasy.

When looking for a "mass skirmish" why not use SAGA? There is an unofficial version which is very detailed and fleshed out and there will be an official supplement in the near future.

nandrin

Offline Franck

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Re: Test of Honour Session report - The Spy
« Reply #13 on: May 07, 2018, 03:57:26 PM »
As far as i know, there will be an official Saga Samurai expansion
« Last Edit: May 07, 2018, 04:03:09 PM by Franck »

Offline olyreed

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Re: Test of Honour Session report - The Spy
« Reply #14 on: May 07, 2018, 06:18:25 PM »
Unfortunately, Im not a big fan of Saga