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Jun 24 15 10:16 AM

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The question came up on another thread about using TtS for samurai armies, particularly in the Sengoku period. Although that period extends beyond the end of the period normally covered by TtS, I think TtS could work well because of the 'clan' nature of Sengoku armies. They didn't behave in the same way as European armies of similar dates. I should say at the outset that I'm no expert, and I'm sure people can put me right if I make mistakes.

The trouble is, the Sengoku period is a long one (about 1460 to 1615), and the armies changed. My understanding is that it started with samurai primarily being bowmen, as in earlier periods (Gempai, Kamakura) but later the sword and spear (yari) took over. So I suspect we'll need multiple lists. In any case, mounted samurai generally didn't do massed charges, so don't really fit with normal TtS cavalry.

Starting at the end of the period, one question is how arquebus (teppo) units fit in TtS. I believe the units were actually mostly mixed teppo and bowmen, with samurai or ashigaru 'officers'. Should such a unit be treated as archers, handgunners or even crossbowmen? I wonder about using crossbow characteristics, but giving the handgun effect at close range. Would that work?

Ashgaru with yari seem to fit as spearmen. Dismounted samurai with yari might be billmen, with some upgraded to veteran for hashimoto or similar, or maybe even dismounted knights. Ronin may be fanatics? Lots of heroes!

Mounted samurai are the most difficult. If they moved mounted, but dismounted to fight, there isn't a direct equivalent in the current TtS unit types. The 'mounted infantry' rule doesn't readily fit as they had horse-holders and could remount. in any case, i'm not sure how many there were around in the later Sengoku. The Takeda clan had lots, I think, but other armies may have had fewer, if the Osaka screens are anything to go by. I know that, on the other thread, Usagisuki suggested limiting samurai cavalry to a single move/charge per turn. Another option could be to allow them to move as cavalry (2 squares), but charge as infantry (one square only). They could then need a 'remount' activation to move again as cavalry after a charge, otherwise they continue to move as foot. I know the cavalry were supported by infantry, but I've heard the infantry just had to keep up.

And that's just thinging about later Sengoku. i've no idea how to model the earlier mounted bowmen.

All ideas and comments welcome.


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#1 [url]

Jun 24 15 11:54 AM

I don't think the 17th Century end date is necessarily an issue, unless massed arquebus is introduced, which TtS isn't designed to cope with.  

In terms of the mixed units I think bow counting as handgunners at close range might work.  I think dismounted knights might be good for Samurai.

Heroes would be a great way of representing small numbers of Samurai stifening units of Ashigaru.

As for the mixed cavalry/infantry, I have no idea!  I'm sure something could be done.  Maybe they move one box, charge 2 boxes as cavalry, but defend as spearmen.

Must dash, basing tonight!  But I think such a list woudl be very interesting.

Best, Simon

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#2 [url]

Jun 24 15 12:32 PM

In the later period, bows were mixed in with the teppos presumably in order to keep up some suppressive shooting while the teppos were reloading. Teppos only made up around 10-15% of armies however, and were usually distributed across the army. Even as separate units they were reliant on supporting units of spears, and the units in any case were small in respect to the size of the army. In the scale of a typical TTS army, they would perhaps be better modelled as spears with guns as a secondary weapon?

I think the 'move one box. charge as two' is better than my initial idea. I think also they should march move as cavalry and should be able to evade as cavalry. The key should be mobility (compared to infantry) rather than shock value.

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#3 [url]

Jun 25 15 1:46 AM

In that case either having the handguns as light troops, or extra hanguns on spears sounds like the way to go.

Re the march moves, I'd suggest treating them as infantry for consistency.  March moves are surprisingly rare, anyhow (I think a lot of people forget about them, but not me muwhahaha).   I think the evade as cavalry works.  

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#4 [url]

Jun 25 15 4:06 AM

Yes, I was thinking that Light Infantry to represent the arquebus/bow might be the best way to go.

I can see the justification for having them as extra missile weapons in a unit of ashigaru or samurai, but I suspect that would make the army a bit dull to play, as virtually all the units would be similar (spearmen or billmen plus or minus things like veteran, two-handed weapons). Mind you, that isn't far off the images I#'ve seen where there is a mass of troops with yari, teppo, and bow mixed up.

If the arquebus/bow were LI, then you could do other things, like giving them pavises, eg to protect the camp, or extra ammo. if they were placed in the same box as a unit of ashigaru/samurai they could use their shoot/move activation to move behind the ashigaru/samurai if danger threatened. If we said that samurai cavalry attack as infantry ( on the basis that they dismount to fight), then the arquebus/bow LI would have a relatively easy evade (again behind any ashigaru/samurai in the same box).

Would such LI be any different from LI (other) with handgun in the rules? I wonder if they should shoot further (3 boxes) and/or have the ability to shoot with 2 to-hit cards (volley fire), perhaps as a 'difficult' shooting activation (I know that would be a new in the rules).

I still need to think a bit more about the mounted samurai. How about move and evade as cavalry, fight as infantry, can remount (difficult activation?) after fighting? That has the feature that if you put your mounted samurai into a fight (and so they dismount) they can't evade until they remount, whereas if they are attacked whilst already mounted they will evade on 3+ (or 5+). If they fight as infantry you could say that there won't be any cavalry v cavalry melees; if the attacked cavalry doesn't attempt to evade (evasion isn't compulsory) both fight as infantry (they get off their horses and go at each other as samurai should).


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#5 [url]

Jun 25 15 5:19 AM

Fundamentally, it depends on whether you're going to do the Samurai list as a kind of 'stand-alone' module, where Samurai armies only fight each other or whether you want them to be able to fight other armies in the same rough period, or to be used in competitions. If the latter, then there's less scope for trying to capture the idiosyncrasies of the period and it may be better to go for a bare bones approach and let players use house rules as they wish. 16th century armies won't have any contemporaries in the ancient set anyway of course.

Given the low numbers of guns and cavalry a 12 unit army would look something like 2-3 ashigaru spear/gun, 1 or 2 cavalry, 3 samurai, 5-6 ashigaru spear. You probably want at least 4 generals to represent individual clans which would leave some clans looking a bit one-dimensional. Possibly all the units should be small to allow a better distribution?

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#6 [url]

Jun 25 15 6:51 AM

Hi both,

Re generals, it depends on the standard of generalship.  If this was generally good then four would be OK; 5 or more is strictly for professional armies.  

Re number of units and clans, if quite a few clans are present then it is probably a big battle that could be played by several gamers on each side.

Re the guns, some units could have them integral and others could be skirmish; my instinct says they should be mostly integral.  They are cheaper and more effective that way, too.  :-)    As far as ranges go they could extend to three boxes - the handguns in the rules are pre-1500 farly primitive.  The guns I see in Japanese films look more formidable!

I was thinking about knights yesterday, I really regret not giving them the option to mount/dismount during a battle.  If you want Samurai to have the option I don't see that would be an issue, especially as they will mostly be fighting Samurai.  This woudl be a difficult activation as Roger suggests.

Someone should write the list!  :-)

Best, Simon


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#7 [url]

Jun 26 15 4:50 AM

Usagitsuki, you are entirely right that any samurai list should be compatible with other lists so it could be used against non-historical opponents or even in a tournament. On the other hand, I think Simon is comfortable with a special rule or two. The trick is to choose the ponts so that any special rule isn't unbalancing.

If we say that mounted samurai cost 9 points, are cavalry without javelin and with double-handed weapons (2HCCW), must move as foot after fighting and can remount as a difficult activation, does that feel right? Billmen (foot with 2HCCW) are 7 points so you are paying 2 points for the mounted movement. Knights cost 11 points, have a better save, get the lance option and don't lose mounted movement. So 9 points seems a balance between billmen and knights. I assume they can be upgraded to veteran (hatamoto?) like other cavalry for the decrease in save value.

Otherwise I think we're happy that arquebus can be treated as equivalent to crossbow (range 3 boxes) and be depoyed either as LI or as extra weapons in a unit of ashigaru spearmen. I don't think yari ashigaru and samurai should be small units. I like the rally action as part of the game. Small units seem to melt away too easily, and I don't get the impression that sengoku forces were particularly manouverable.

We could also consider having a few (1 or 2) normal units of 'pure' arquebus/bow, again exactly the same as crossbowmen in terms of points and save values. I'll see if I can put together a list.

Simon, I have one question, which is a general one. If you have units with extra missile weapons, can you also give them extra ammunition, if the army list so permits? Presumably the cost would be the same as adding extra ammo to an LI unit?


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#8 [url]

Jun 26 15 6:41 AM

"If we say that mounted samurai cost 9 points, are cavalry without javelin and with double-handed weapons (2HCCW), must move as foot after fighting and can remount as a difficult activation, does that feel right? Billmen (foot with 2HCCW) are 7 points so you are paying 2 points for the mounted movement. Knights cost 11 points, have a better save, get the lance option and don't lose mounted movement. So 9 points seems a balance between billmen and knights. I assume they can be upgraded to veteran (hatamoto?) like other cavalry for the decrease in save value."

How will the semi-mounted units be represented?  Will they need to be both mounted and on foot?  Or a combination of elements, perhaps one mounted and two foot, the ones in front indication of the unit is mounted or on foot.

Roger extra ammunition goes into the camp and desn't need to be allocated to a unit.

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#9 [url]

Jun 26 15 9:11 AM

Hi Simon,

Thank you for putting me right about extra ammo.

I hadn't given much thought to the representation of the mounted/dismoounted units. You could use either of the options you mentioned, or just have a marker to indicate when they are dismounted. Perry do a samurai horseholder figure, but only as part of a set of figures, so probably not practical for multiple units. i hadn't seen the issue as any more difficult than the rhomboid/wedge special rules, where a unit changes formation after a round of melee and needs a difficult activation to reume its preferred formation. Do people actually rearrange the minitures in such cases, or just have a marker?

Back to thinking about a list....



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#10 [url]

Jun 27 15 4:09 AM

Hi Roger,

In an ideal world one could depict the single samurai element in each unit both mounted and on foot (perhaps with a single horse holder). This would look really good...

Best, Simon

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#11 [url]

Jun 30 15 1:14 AM

Usagitsuki, Roger has sent me a draft list, if you can email me I'll shared it with you (once I have formatted it).

Both- should the bows in a Samurai list be bows, or longbows?

Best, Simon

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#12 [url]

Jun 30 15 4:33 AM

Hi Simon,

A good question; there are arguments for each. Usagitsu, if you haven't seen my proposed list yet, I gave bows to some ashigaru and mounted samurai for armies befoer 1550.

I did think about this before doing my draft list. Since I was treating teppo as (mostly) equivalent to crossbow, I thought that bows rather than longbows for samurai armies before the arrival of the teppo gave a useful contrast. Teppo give greater range but slower fire than bows. if early sengoku armies were treated as having longbow, the shooting would effectively get worse with the use of teppo. Of course, if Usagitsuki or others would prefer to have lomgbow, I'm easily persuaded.

We'll need something else for very early samurai, before the sengoku era, but lets get the sengoku list sorted first.


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#13 [url]

Jun 30 15 6:54 AM

I'm curious as to how Samurai bows compared with longbow.  I have no idea!  :-)

Some armies shifted away from longbow to less effective arquebus or crossbow for reasons of economy and training; any peasant could be trained to use the latter.  So it might feasible to shift down to a less effective weapon...

BEst, Simon

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#14 [url]

Jun 30 15 1:48 PM

I think the one thing I would say is that I'm not sure if Samurai bow units should be shooting twice in one turn like the massed archery of the HYW, even in the early period I think this would make archery shooting too intense. The key advantage of the teppo was killing power, it's killing range was longer than the bow even if it's actual range was not. It's also worth noting that the Japanese developed the arquebus in a different way to the Europeans. Whereas the Europeans focussed on cutting down the reload time and maximising the output of shot, the Japanese focussed on making the weapon as accurate as possible. There's something to be said for counting teppo as handguns if foot samurai are dismounted knights to get the save minus, though a 3 box range would potentially force more saves. Either way I think teppo should either be outranging the bows, or if the same range, then should be more likely to inflict hits. Both of these means my vote goes to bow rather than longbow.

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#15 [url]

Jun 30 15 11:56 PM

Hi both,

From what Usagitsuki says it sounds like bow is the way to go, and handguns as currently in the rules.  They would both have the same range, and the teppo would have extra killing power vs. knights.

Also it sound like either light units or "extra" archers/handgunners are the way to go- for the moment I will put both alternatives in the list (ie players can pick one or the other).

Usagitsuki if you can mail me I'll fire the list off to you; I'd love to get your comments.  My email address is simonmiller60 at gmail dot com.

BEst, Simon

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#16 [url]

Jul 1 15 4:31 AM

Thanks for the list, Simon. First thoughts:

I don't think bows should disappear entirely into the teppo units after 1550. Teppos were only about 10-15% of armies and I'm sure archers would have remained. Similarly I don't think they should be bound by the 4 unit maximum rule.

I like the elegance of having one bow and one handgun shot in the two shots for teppo units, and it may do a good job of simulating the concerted effort of small dedicated teppo units as at Nagashino.

It'd be nice to fit in something about the honjin, (the static HQ for the commander where he sits on his stool in a screened enclosure). I have an idea for house-ruling it, but I don't know how to fit it in to the standard army list, other than just calling it a camp. It's such a classic element of the depiction of samurai warfare it might be nice to represent it in some way.

But the list looks good. I might even test out dedicated teppo units after all :).

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#17 [url]

Jul 1 15 4:56 AM

Hi Usagitsuki,

What do you think would be a good upper limit for missile units?  I usually reckon there might be around a dozen units in an army so a limit of six, for example, would make an army up to 50% "shooty".

I can take away the end date for bow armed units so that they can continue in parallel with the teppo.

The screened enclosures are perfect as camps; perhaps there should also be a senior general in them, which would make it even more painful to lose them.

Do you know whether camps were ever fortified?

Best, Simon

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#18 [url]

Jul 1 15 6:05 AM

You already have a 50% cap on archers in ashigaru units, so I guess that's OK as is. Maybe take away the option for adding bows to samurai (or reduce to 1) and get rid of the non-light archer units, but leave the option to add bows to up to 50% of ashigaru as secondary weapons? It's a difficult one as the number of guns increases throughout the period, and the bow decreases, so it's difficult to get an army list that reflects the rapid changes through the period (as it would be for 16th century Europe).

For the honjin, I was going to have it count as a camp (possibly the only camp available), with a small unit of veteran samurai as a hatamoto guard permanently stationed. The senior general would remain in the camp, but he would have 1 or 2 'Tsukai-ban' messenger figures who would act as his proxies on the battlefield. These would have a command span of 1 box, and be able to use the commander's once-per-turn re-roll ability. They'd have the 2 box free move as their movement. Probably a 3+ save, and when lost would be replaced at the honjin. Something like that anyway. But that's too much detail for an army list.

I can't recall anything about fortified camps. Oda famously attacked Imagawa in his camp at Okehazama and there was no mention there of any difficulty from fortifications. I would guess not.

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#19 [url]

Jul 1 15 9:08 AM

So do you think there would be formed ashigaru units entirely equipped with bow or guns?  It seems we have three variants on missile weapons, formed bows/arquebus, lights and formed samurai/ashigaru with extra bows/arquebus.  This is perhaps one too many.

Increasing guns during the period is feasible.

The honjin sounds very interesting.  Thanks re the camps, Roger thought not, too.

Best, SImoi

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#20 [url]

Jul 2 15 1:32 AM

For me, the thing with the teppo units is that they're very small, and probably interacted with the spears in such a way as to make them more like sub-units, hence my preference for extra weapons in spear units. Oda takes 1,000 teppos at Nagashino and forms them into 5 specialist units. But these are 200-man units in a 30,000 man army. So I guess it depends on the scale that the army list is aiming at. Personally, I think there's good reason to doubt the 'massed volley-firing Oda teppo' narrative at Nagashino, but this is still the prevalent view of the battle, and in that interpretation there would be some formed arquebus units. My interest is mainly in the period from the rise of Oda to the Korean invasion (1592), so I'm not entirely sure to what degree guns increase through Sekigahara (1600) and on to Osaka (1615).

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