Friday, 15 November 2019

Ronin gaming aids

Here's a photo of my gaming aids for Ronin (28mm chanbara skirmish).  The nifty katana rulers are marked for inches (9" length).  They came as part of a set from Sarissa Precision which also includes some stone lanterns - I'm looking at getting some cell-powered LEDs for these...

The dice are the same ones I use for my Crossfire games, & I painted the katana rulers as red & blue factions to match.  The Stunned & Wound markers are Ø10mm laser-cut ply discs from Fenris Games, which I painted as parchment, & then used permanent fineliners to draw on 'Stunned' or 'Wounded' symbols.  The Stunned counters have a single spiral on one side, & two spirals on the other (counts as two Stunned counters).  Meanwhile the Wound counters have a single cut on one side (Light Wound), & a double cut on the other (Grievous Wound). I flicked red paint from a knackered old small brush on the Wound counters, & added a gloss finish to try & play-up the blood effect, but I'm not certain I'm satisfied with the slightly wavy lines.  I may try some thicker, straighter lines, or perhaps use my blood splat (Pinned / Suppressed) markers from Crossfire instead.  

I painted some other laser-cut discs in black & white for the Attack & Defence markers respectively.  A pool of combat counters this large isn't normally required, but this will be enough for larger games involving lots of elite fighters.  The puff of smoke is simply a small piece of pillow filling, used for marking when a matchlock has been fired (& thus requires reloading).

Sunday, 10 November 2019

Third Ronin game

Here's a short report on my third game of Ronin from last weekend, against my friend Tim.  For our third introductory game of Ronin, we kept our buntai values at 100pts, but I took on the role of the Koryû (sword school).  Unlike the generally low-skill katana-fodder of the Peasant & Yakuza factions, the Koryû are generally high-skill fighters.  This meant that I only had three figures against the nine of Tim's Yakuza mob!

The Black Hang gang had the same roster as in our second game - consisting of a Lieutenant with katana, a Thug with a tanegashima (matchlock) & katana, five Thugs with katanas, & two Ruffians with ararebō (clubs).  My Koryû meanwhile had a Sensei with the Fast & Intuitive Attributes, plus two Senpai, one with Fast, the other with Intuitive.  All three were armed with the weapons of their school - a katana & wakizashi (sword & short sword).  I liked the idea of each of the Sensei's senior students having focus in one area of his own mastery.

Friday, 8 November 2019

Second Ronin game

Last weekend I had my inaugural games of Ronin with Tim.  Here's a little report (with plenty of photos) on our second game.  We stuck with the basic Skirmish scenario, but upped our buntai to 100pts each, & swapped sides - I played the upstart Peasants, & Tim took on the role of the dastardly Yakuza this time.  I rolled the Minor Goal of controlling all quarters of the board at the end of the game (difficult!), while Tim rolled that he mustn't lose more than 25% of his force (Boss Matsuda was clearly displeased about losing so many of his goons in the last encounter!)

My plucky villagers of Sangawe consisted of local land-owner Ishida Mitsu 'The Red Widow' - a Samurai lady with katana & wakizashi (sword & short sword), her loyal bodyguard also with katana & wakizashi, Bokusui the eccentric Warrior Monk with bō (quarterstaff), a Peasant with bamboo yari (spear), and six more Peasants with improvised weapons.  Tim's Black Hand Yakuza mob consisted of a Lieutenant with katana, a Thug with a tanegashima (matchlock) & katana, five Thugs with katanas, & two Ruffians with ararebō (clubs).

The random starting zones resulted in us facing-off from opposite edges.  The Yakuza deployed their main group (including Lieutenant & matchlock gunner) centrally, while a single Thug & the two Ruffians were heading for the crop field on Tim's right flank.  My armed villagers were split into a group each side of the house, with the Samurai & Warrior Monk on my left flank, & most of the Peasants (including the one with spear) on my right.

Sunday, 3 November 2019

First Ronin game

Today I played my first three games of Ronin with Tim.  It was an enjoyable introduction, with the attack/defence counter pool mechanic adding nice granularity to melee, but still being fast to play.  Here is a quick report on our first game - a little 50pts Skirmish scenario between the Black Hand Yakuza (me), & the plucky villagers of Sangawe (Tim).

My Yakuza mob consisted of four Thugs (basic-level) with katana, plus a Ruffian (low-level) with araebō (club).  One of the Thugs acted as the Leader.  They were opposed by five Peasants (low-level), four with improvised weapons, & one with a bamboo yari (spear). The Peasant mob was led by a Warrior Monk (mid-level) armed with a bō (quarterstaff).

The starting zones were random, & resulted in our mobs beginning on opposite table edges.  We both formed tight groups, & advanced at pace along the track towards the central choke-point between the stable & house.

Sunday, 13 October 2019

Japanese rural scenery

My rural scenery set for Ronin is now more-or-less finished, other than completing a couple of rice silos.  Here are some photos of the 2' x 2' skirmish board featuring the rural pieces, with some peasants for scale.  The board itself is covered in brown felt, which cushions the underside on tables, as well as providing a quick & easy playing surface.  Haven't decided whether I will do any more to the board (e.g. dry brush with a lighter brown). 

The tracks & fields are simply cut from felt, with flock mixes glued on & fixed with matt varnish spray.  Seems to be minimising flock shedding so far.  The buildings are laser cut sets from Sarissa Precision Ltd (with removable roofs).  The crop fields are just sections sliced from a doormat - a very effective solution hat I have seen lots of wargamers use.  Lastly there is some of my scatter terrain pieces, made with real stones, a mixture of resin & plastic barrels & boxes, model trees, & a selection of flocks & Gamers Grass tufts.  The pile of firewood by the shed is off-cuts of plastic sprue.  The floor of the shed/stable is even lined with fake straw  :-)

I have a set of wider, straighter roads & a few more buildings (to be constructed) that will allow me to play village/town skirmishes.  I'd also like to get a lot more trees, so that I can run woodland fights.  Beyond that, I'd quite like a river with a traditional arched bridge, & boggy ground / rice paddies with raised walkways.  I'd also quite like to make a graveyard for an atmospheric chanbara showdown setting...

Saturday, 28 September 2019

Japanese village house

Today I finished painting my first building for Ronin (28mm-scale chanbara skirmish).  It's a Japanese Village House / Outhouse from Sarissa Precision.  These laser-cut kits are easy to assemble, & after a good coat of spray primer, they take acrylic paint well.  After base colours I used dark washes followed by simple dry brushing to quickly achieve a slightly weathered appearance, good enough for tabletop gaming.  The window shutters & door are perforated, allowing them to easily be cut from the main structure to position as desired. I chose to leave the door shut, & used a variety of positions for the shutters.

Monday, 5 August 2019

Noble & Minstrel

My finished Noble (& her Minstrel) for my Lustrian-themed Warhammer Quest collection.  When I saw the Maika von Ostwald sculpt from Hasslefree, I knew it would make an excellent Noble.  There is an alternate charging version of Maika, but I also picked a Barbarian figure in a similar pose, & think the relaxed confidence communicates her character better.  I'd been looking for figures to use for the WQ Warriors which befitted the tropical climate of Lustria - so this miniature, radiating privileged arrogance / relaxed heroic confidence, minus the cloak so often sported by fantasy heroes, & with a conquistador-vibe seemed perfect.  I also liked the twist that she was female, & quickly imagined a backstory for her. 

I have painted her as a Marienburger (so not technically an Imperial Noble), & see her as the daughter of a wealthy merchant lord of that archipelago city-state.  Bored of the sheltered dullness of elite trading guilds, & even duller courtiers, she paid for passage to the New World for a life of high adventure, planning to put her sword lessons under the tutleage of some of the finest Tilean duelists to good use.  She prefers to live (or at least dress) as a man, as it makes for more ready acceptance into the male-dominated world of adventuring, & avoids the unwelcome attractions of would-be suitors.

The Minstrel is an older Hasslefree Miniature that I bought quite a few years ago, & he required a repaint to match Maika's colours.  He travels along at Maika's heels, quite literally singing her praises & lyricising her many virtues & heroic escapades.  Much to the annoyance of her fellow adventurers.

Sunday, 4 August 2019

Yakuza gang complete

This weekend I finally completed work on my Yakuza buntai for Osprey's Ronin skirmish game.  This is a rarity for me, with my scattergun approach to the miniatures/wargames hobby - a finished force... it helps that Ronin requires fewer than a dozen figures a side!  I posted photos of this Yakuza buntai back in October last year, when it was a 95pts roster max, but since then I have expanded it slightly so that I can field 149pts for larger games. 

Ya-ku-za (8-9-3) is the worst losing hand in the game Oicho-Kabu, & alludes to the illegal gambling dens that were set up by local 'bosses' in late-Edo period Japan. These crime bosses would run gambling, loan-sharking, prostitution, & extortion rackets, preying like parasites upon the rural peasantry. Some Yakuza gangs grew in influence to encompass several districts, so that lesser bosses owed allegience to more senior ones.

The term Bakuto (gamblers) was also used to describe such gangs, and those who associated with them. Gambling was illegal, and regarded with disdain by society at large. Gambling dens would often be set-up at the edge of towns or villages, sometimes in abandoned temples or shrines.

Below are rosters for 50pts, 100pts, & 150pts games with this force.  In the biggest roster, the Yakuza have hired a pair of Ronin (masterless Samurai mercenaries) to bolster their mediocre abilities.

Saturday, 3 August 2019


Today I put the finishing touches to a pair of Ronin... for Ronin, the Osprey skirmish game!  These are two of the figures from North Star's Koryu Buntai, of which seven of the figures are based on the iconic ronin from Akira Kurosawa's 'Seven Samurai'.  The characters of my ronin suggested themselves to me as I considered the sculpts before deciding on paint schemes.  The one with the nodachi (great sword), with his pouch of coins & smart appearance suggested to me a fairly wealthy ronin.  A brash, showy character who splashes his money about on drink, gambling, & women.  By contrast, the more circumspect-looking ronin with the ragged-edged cloak & bare feet suggested to me a down-on-his-luck ronin, perhaps with an edge of bitterness about him.  I'm thinking that he may have been expelled from one of my other buntai, the Koryu (Sword School) in dishonour, & resents this treatment.

The wakazashi (short sword) on the ronin in the fancy white kimono is one of the 3D-printed katana that I bought for my figures that have them in the rules, but not on their sculpts (e.g. my Yakuza thugs with arquebuses).  I trimmed & filed it to a suitable length, & sculpted a sash loop for it using Green Stuff putty.

Most buntai in Ronin can make use of Hired Swords such as these wandering ronin, but I will mainly be using them as hired muscle for my Yakuza gang.