My freshly painted and based, Samurai army saw its first battle against Danes’ veteran Samurai army in a 300 point per side epic struggle.
The terrain table was 17 hexes wide by 15 deep or just under 6ft by 4ft, which provided plenty of room for both sides to deploy and manoeuvre. There was a three way road intersection near the centre of the table adjacent to a 4 hex wooded area with roads leading of both table edges (deployment zones). Two areas of elevated ground were situated either side of the central open area, both with forested areas on top. A few small woods and hills were also widely spaced which provided for plenty of open ground.
I chose the table edge which I felt would provide the best cover and therefore offer some much needed cover from Danes ’artillery. Dane had 2 units of heavy cannon and 2 units of short range bombards whereas I had no artillery but I did have a few more ashigaru infantry units. Because I had choice of table edge I deployed first, up to 4 hexes in from the table edge and across the entire width of the table. Once my deployment was complete, Dane, as I had feared, deployed his dreaded heavy guns on the small central hill near his table edge with the rest of his army quite compact and centralised giving him options to shift troops to either flank. Dane also had first move in which he pushed his missile troops forward most of which were carrying pavisses for protection from bowfire.
The first shots from heavy cannon sent one of my ashigaru units fleeing back disrupted with the loss of a stand. This was to be repeated in Danes’ next shooting phase and it soon became apparent that to advance my troops into the central open area would simply provide more cannon fodder for the guns. As a consequence of this I decided to split my forces in two; the reds and the blues. The reds, therefore moved to the high ground on the left and the blue clad chaps hid behind the large wooded hill on the right.
After studying the relative quantity, quality and position of Danes’ troops across the field I decided that my attack must be launched through the woods on the high ground to my left while I kept my ‘blue’ force safely behind the hill and woods on my right and await an opportunity for them attack. The reds advanced through the woods on the right, missile troops to the fore and three units of foot samurai and one mounted following close behind. The plan was to smash Danes’ right wing and then charge towards his cannon in the centre sheltered from cannon fire, hopefully, by Danes retreating units. Then when the opportunity presented itself, charge the blue forces from their wing towards the centre lead by three units of mounted samurai.
The plan should have worked but my red missile troops were not shooting straight and two six stand units of fast moving Ikko Ikki fanatics smashed into them causing havoc and taking all the momentum out of my attack. I then spent three game turns trying to deal with these nutters, which gave Dane the time to reinforce his right wing and force my tattered red attack back into the woods. I lost 4 units of red infantry including one samurai and my mounted unit of samurai was forced back into the woods and died the following game turn along with one of my precious generals.
At this stage of the battle I had lost a lot of samurai units and Danes’ confidence was rising as he now advanced his left wing towards my blues on my right which were still sheltering from cannon fire behind the large hill and woods. Much to my opponents frustration I had pulled my infantry back into the woods to avoid being charged by his mounted samurai and slowly advancing infantry. Meanwhile, on the other wing my red forces had suffered more losses: my casualty tray now had eight and a half units most with red uniforms and the few red units of ashigaru hand gunners that had so far survived were still in peril.
Danes left wing had three lines of troops; missile troops with pavisses, then 3 units of mounted samurai and finally a back line of 4 units of ashigaru with yari. Against these I charged three units of mounted samurai, one foot samurai and a unit of ashigaru archers with other units following in support. At this stage of the battle it was an ‘all or nothing’ attack with no point of holding back so I committed both the ‘blue’ generals into the front line hand-to-hand combat. Thankfully, 4 missile units failed to stop the charge and they were smashed resulting in a cavalry v cavalry confrontation, which, with the help of the two generals was won by the blues. This only left the line of ashigaru between my cavalry and the cannon. The carnage on this side of the field had turned the tide of the battle in my favour. I had lost 10 units, more than 40% of my army, but Dane had now lost slightly over 50% due to the collapse of his left wing and a win, if only a marginal one to my side. However, a quick scan of the battle field showed that Dane could claim a victory on his right wing although his centre and his ‘bl---y’ guns would soon fall to the onslaught of my samurai cavalry.
Many thanks to Dane for a thoroughly enjoyable and absorbing oriental game - I’m sure a return match will follow soon!
Battle report written by Paul K.