Wargaming: Defend the Village: ‘Seven Samurai’ style sword-play shenanigans


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01 June 2023
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Words by Allan Tidmarsh.

When I started my Samurai Armies project, the main decision was which figures to use, however I came across the Steve Barber Models 40mm range while web surfing. I have a addiction to 40mm figures, perhaps as they have more of a table presence, so the figure size choice was made. The scheme for the project would be that the bulk of the armies would be my own home-made figures, with the main command figures sourced from Steve Barber Models range.

While I was sculpting and casting up the two opposing armies I worked on accumulating all the scenics I would need for games with small and large forces. To keep my focus on that part of the project I decided on a target scenario to get everything ready for, I chose a defend the village game based on the classic Seven Samurai movie.

FIGURES & SCENERY

For the game I decided to source the 40mm figures I needed from both Steve Barber Models and Irregular Miniatures along with some of my home-made ones. For this project I sculpted some alternate heads and a rider to use for the mounted bandits. The horse for these chaps would be the one I made for my own mounted samurai. Some of the purchased figures were adapted and converted in some way, mostly head swaps, arm positioning and so on.

I obtained suitable buildings for the village from Oshiro Model Terrain plus some 3D printed ones from the Asian Adventures and Alien Worlds ranges. Buildings were the larger 28mm ones, which worked well with the 40mm figures as a backdrop. To improve the look of the game table set-up I used a Geek Villain game mat, cut up as needed, for use on parts of the game table. For paddy fields I used the larger ones from Timecast Miniatures and finished them in a mix of usage stages: a couple of dry fields, a couple flooded and the rest flooded but with some planting. Barricades and defences were scratch built as needed.

 

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SCENARIO DEFINITION

The village is set out at the centre of the table, with woods to the back on a hill, with paddy fields on the other side. The paddy fields near the village are flooded (shaded blue), whereas some of the outer ones are not (and are brown). Bandits start their mounted attacks down the road from point B. Bandits can infiltrate into the village at the points Ia, Ib, Ic, Id and Ie. Bandits may also attack on foot over the barricades and through flooded areas.

FORCES

  • The Seven Samurai (one bow armed), ten rounds of ammunition for the Samurai archer.
  • Twenty Villagers
  • Forty Bandits (including three armed with muskets), five rounds of ammunition for each musket armed bandit.

 

Rules

Use the rules of your choice to play this game: Ronin, Test of Honour or whatever takes your fancy. To speed up play I used a tailored version of my own ‘Simple Combat’ rules. Rather than detail my rules, for simplicity I have listed the nominal composition of each sides for the Osprey Ronin rules (in my rules, skill level is an approximate match for the Ronin rules Rank).

The Seven Samurai as a Bushi Faction (page 27). All have no armour, fighting on foot with one armed with a bow. The leader is Rank 5, three are Rank 4 and the other three Rank 3.

Villagers are Rank 0 (Peasant page 37); a couple armed with a short Yari, the rest bamboo spear (bamboo spear counts as Yari).

Bandits are Bandit Faction (page 36). All are nominally mounted to start with, however some will fight on foot. However, note that:

  • The leader is Rank 3 with heavy armour
  • The leader’s two lieutenants are Rank 2 with medium armour (Gashira)
  • All other are Rank 1, have no armour, most with Katana, ten with Yari, three with musket.

 

SPECIAL GAME MECHANICS

The game is organised around a sequence of attacks on the village, which includes mounted bandits through the breach and some on foot infiltrating the village perimeter.

  • Bandits must make their first two mounted attacks through the breach only; on the third attack they can make one infiltration, after that two per attack.
  • Bandit riders through the breach, but:
    • The defenders need at least six men to block the breach.
    • The number of bandits which get through, 1D3 + 1
    • For every defender under the six required to block the breach, add one more bandit that gets through.
  • Breach defenders action, as mounted bandits fall back to re-group.
    • 1D6: 1,2 hold position; 3,4 edge forward 3 inches; 5,6 attack and follow.
  • Bandit Infiltration
    • on foot thorough the village perimeter. Use the location chart:

 

 

 

  • The number of bandits which get in, 1D3 + 1
  • Bandits that infiltrate have the initiative on that move for actions.

 

Each attack with infiltrations is played through separately.

 

THE VILLAGE DEFENCES

These are some examples of the defences in the game

PLAY THROUGH

The bandits charged down the road and three made it through the breach (the gap at the top of the village). While the men blocking the breach held back the rest of the bandits, the three that got through were set upon; two villagers with bamboo spears and a samurai against a mounted bandit was sufficient to deal with them. The bandits fell back to regroup and made their second attack, four of the bandits get through this time. The defenders got to grips with three of them and dispatched them, the samurai armed with the bow picked off the fourth. The men blocking the breach got a bit adventurous and edged forward as the bandits fell back, they came under fire from bandits armed with muskets, one villager was shot and the rest fell back to cover.

Two bandits sneaked up into a blind spot in the village perimeter and found their way through. At the other end of the village mounted bandits were in again. The two bandits on foot attacked the nearby villagers: a villager was killed but they managed to kill one of the bandits. A samurai went after the other bandit and dispatched him. The three mounted bandits who got into the village got a tough reception and were soon dealt with. Following that, the bandits fell back to re-group.

The bandits attacked again: two of them got into the village on foot at the bottom end of the village with three more mounted ones through the breach. The mounted bandits were dealt with in the usual fashion, however a villager was shot as the defenders edged out from the breach to see off the bandits. Meanwhile at the other end of the village, the two bandits had been dealt with but another villager had gone down.

Hardly had the defenders caught their breath when they came under attack again: four bandits made their way into bottom part of the village on foot and three more mounted ones got through the breach. The lead samurai cut down one bandit as the others fought. A villager went down along with a bandit, but the fighting continued until the last two bandits were killed, though one of the samurai had been wounded. The mounted bandits who got through the breach were dealt with, but it took longer: finally, two villagers were shot as they moved out from the breach (the bandits armed with muskets were taking their toll).

With numbers about even the lead samurai decided it was time to let all the bandits into the village for the final showdown. The bandits attacked some mounted and some on foot, soon all men on each side were fighting. The bandits seemed to have the edge to start with, but the defenders held their ground. Then men on both sides started to go down as the fighting continued (this'd make a good film! Ed.). The bandits were losing more men than the defenders and the tide turned against the bandits: one by one they went down. The bandit leader was one of the last still fighting, but not for long: the struggle was over and the village was safe.

The final score: one samurai wounded, ten villagers dead and all the bandits dead. The result was perhaps as expected, although the seven samurai all survived; possibly I had given some of the seven main characters a bit too much capability (too higher Rank in Ronin terms). However if the numbers of bandits that managed to infiltrate the village perimeter on foot had been higher then it would probably not have gone so well. A great game to play and a good starter for my project.

 

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