Tale of 7 Samurai

at Gamesday 07

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A game presented by the Coppull and Chorley Knights wargames club at the Gamesday, NEC, 2007 on the 23rd September 2007   Pay me securely with your Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express card through PayPal!
Sources for the game

Figure Suppliers

Terrain Suppliers

1st Corps (most of the Ashigaru) MIST Terrain for the terrain boards  
Perry Miniatures (the Lord, townsfolk and most of the atttackers) Oshiro made and painted the Japanese buildings  
Kingsford Miniatures (Lords bodyguard) Veni Vidi Vici for water effect gel (extra fine flocking gel) and game aids  



The storyline

Welcome to our game based on the story of the 47 ronin (masterless samurai). Read the real story of the 47 ronin here.

Two samurai lords, Asano and Kira, had been feuding for years. Finally whilst in the Shogun (military leader of Japan) palace, Kira insulted Asano, who drew his sword and attempted to kill Kira. The only sentence that could be passed was for Asano to commit seppuku (suicide) and for his family to be stripped of its lands.

Knowing that the samurai followers of Asano were honour-bound to avenge their master, Kira increased his security and waited for them to attack. However to everyone's great surprise, they did not. In fact they did nothing, except hide away and get drunk. So Kira, believing he was safe, relaxed his guard. On the anniversary of their masters death, Asanos followers dug out secret supplies of armour and weapons they had hidden and launched an attack on Kiras house. Although Kiras guards fought valiantly, they were overwhelmed and Kira was captured by the attackers.
Offered the chance to kill himself, Kira proved to be a coward and tried to escape. The leader of the attacks then slew Kira and took his head to the Shogun to prove their duty fulfilled.

Whilst praising the ronin for slaying their masters enemy, a crime had been committed and with due ceremony the ronin were themselves slain. Which seems to have made everyone happy (funny lot, those samurai).

So this is the basis for our game in which uses the Warhammer Ancients rules, for seven samurai heroes to enter a village, get through the defenders and either kill or capture the enemy lord. We have used the names of the famous characters in the film Seven Samurai and slightly modified the usual stats from the Samurai army list in the rulebook to better match the abilities of the heroes.

Each house in the village contains a small unit of 8 ashigaru (literally "light-foot", but the word most likely stems from "light armoured"), either archers or armed with naginata (halberds), which are randomly activated and the lords last defence is a unit of samurai bodyguard. The heroes choose from what side of the table they want to attack, then hack and slay until the objective is achieved.

Remember that win or lose, honour is satisfied that the attempt to avenge the dead Asano is made.

Intial work
close up at start
Basic surface prepared
The game was built on a 4 foot by 4 foot board, split into 2 sections for ease of transport. The terrain building was undertaken by Martin (left) and Alan above, who work as MIST Terrain. The main terrian is built out of a dense foam which is sculpted. All mounted on chipboard for strength   A close up of the hill, built of 3 layers of foam and the paddy fields and water feature actually dug out of the foam. We were looking to create a village with a road running down the middle, a hill on one side and a more open side (for the heroes to enter from)   Once the terrain was sculpted it was given a base coat of paint and the buildings and trees added, to give a feel of what the final layout would look like.
I think we made a mistake here by not painting the water features at this stage.
Close up
close up on the buildings
After flocking
A close up of the village area.   Focusing in on some of the houses.   Once the paint was dry the area was flocked green and extra fine flocking gel, used to create the water features. The flocking gel goes on as a white liquid but dries clear. Best applied in layers about 2mm deep.
Finished village
7 heroes
Lord and bodyguard
The village ready for action. All the buildings added and water effect areas painted to resemble deep water. Villagers are scattered around as 'eye candy' and as markers to show which buildings have units in them. (Beware this a big picture, to show all the details)   Our 7 samurai heroes used in the attack.   The target, the lord and his bodyguard.
Running the game
Running the game
Running the game
The first 'customers' for the game, including Rick Priestly (on the right).   All the C.A.C.K. team get involved in the first game.   Generally we found that the players were able to get in and kill the lord. Some took almost the full 8 turns to do it, some managed it in 3. A few failed to complete the mission entirely, but that was fairly rare.
End of game position
CACK club members
a list of the stats used in the game
The the end of the game for one mission. 5 samurai heroes stand in front of the lord, having wiped out his bodyguard. On the right, the master archer holds up a unit of Ashigaru, who are trying to break through.   Other members of C.A.C.K. also came along to add their support.   A link to the file of stats used for the game. Both the 7 attackers (plus Yojimbo) and the defenders.
Playing the Game        

Once we had the idea of 7 heroes entering the village, fighting and reaching the lord to kill or capture him, we had to refine the idea. What we eventually came up with was to use the stanard Warhammer Ancients rules (which include an army list for the Samurai), so that players got the experience of how the rules work.
The inital defenders are small units of 8 ashigaru (either archers or armed with naginata, just a random selection). The final bodyguard is 8 samurai warriors.
In order not to make it too hard for the attackers we only gave each ashigaru unit, a leader and musician (no standard bearer). The samurai bodyguard had full unit command of leader, standard and musician.

The attackers enter the village from the table edge and then the defenders roll each move, for each building in the village, to see if its defenders come out. If one of the attackers is within 8 inches of the building, the defending unit comes out on a 3 or more, otherwise they only come out if they roll a 5 or more.
The defenders are only allowed to contact an attacker on the turn they come out, if the attacker is within 40mm of the house (40mm is the depth of the defending unit in 2 ranks). Otherwise the defenders are allowed to move or shoot normally, when they exit the building. To keep track of which houses had 'used' their unit of defenders, at the beginning of the game we positioned a villager next to each house. If the unit inside the house was successfully rolled for, then the villager was removed and that house is no longer rolled for.

The variable nature of the defenders made each game different, some quickly won by the attackers and some more of a slog. The attackers also had the ability to enlist the aid of a wandering ronin (Yojimbo) who is also travelling through the village at the time (just go up and convince him of the justice of your cause).