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.

Activations alternate between players on a figure-by-figure basis in Ronin, which breaks-up the usual I-Go-You-Go format a bit. My mob of Peasants hastily moved up to the fence line as the Yakuza advanced into their village. the matchlock gunner let off a shot at the spear-wielder that splintered the fence & narrowly missed him, causing a point of Shock.  Meanwhile, my Warrior Monk used his Acrobatic Attribute to speed through the Difficult Terrain (over some boulders & into the crop field), heading alone towards the trio of outlying Yakuza.  Ishida Mitsu & her bodyguard hurried between the stable & house in the centre, while a pair of Peasants protected their rear near the pile of firewood.

The Warrior Monk rashly dashed through the wheat field, & vaulted the fence to attack Tim's right flank, & was promptly set-upon & slain by four Yakuza, including the Lieutenant.  The two Peasants lurking behind the stable charged forwards to try & support the Monk, but ended-up dueling two more Yakuza Thugs who moved to block them.  Ishida Mitsu & her bodyguard hurried out of cover to join the fight, & after reloading, Tim's matchlock gunner took a shot at the bodyguard, which missed.

Another Peasant fell as the Samurai maneuvered to engage the Yakuza. Meanwhile the main line of Peasants had lagged back a bit, but finally rushed in to the fray.  Initially Mitsu was dueling a pair of Thugs, but then one of her Peasants rushed in to draw away one of her opponents, fighting across the fence.  The Peasants with mallet & spear fared badly when they ganged-up on one Thug, both being slain by the ruthless gangster.  Mitsu's bodyguard battled the Lieutenant & one of his Thugs, Grievously Wounding the former before being killed himself.  Mitsu despatched her opponent, & glanced across the bloody confusion of the melee to spot her next target: the badly-wounded Lieutenant withdrawing to safety.

In the centre of the battle, a Lightly Wounded Peasant with adze was furiously exchanging swipes with a pair of club-swinging Ruffians, wounding one in return.

Meanwhile on Tim's left flank, at the corner of the wheat field, his matchlock gunner had rushed to the aid of a Thug fighting the remaining two Peasants, evening the odds to one-on-one.  The gunner quickly slew his opponent, while the Thug & Peasant fighting amidst the crops Grievously Wounded each other.  Her Peasants almost wiped from the field of battle now, Mitsu swept towards the Lieutenant with vengeance in her heart... but two Thugs rushed to support their leader, & outnumbered, Mitsu fell to their blades. Given such dire circumstances, my last two figures - a pair of Grievously Wounded Peasants - finally lost their morale! They tried to escape, but with their movement slowed by their wounds, they were easily caught & slain by the Yakuza.  The final Victory Point score was 7 - 2 to Tim!

We enjoyed our second game, which turned into a horrifically brutal bloodbath.  It was interesting introducing ballistic weapons to the game - they're literally hit-&-miss, but a few of these in the skirmishes will add some more depth to the micro-tactics.  One thing we decided that we would interpret differently to the apparent intention in the rules is to make the Morale Tests less forgiving - only the loss of a buntai's Leader or 25%+ of their starting strength in a single round causes a test - meaning that the Peasants could handle losing a couple figures each turn easily, & only the sight of their beloved Samurai lady being killed finally broke the last two surviving Peasants.


  1. I like Ronin too - thought it never got its due, or any ongoing support
    Unfortunately, I could never could find local opponents to play

  2. To explain the flow of this game a little from the yakuza perspective.

    The recklessness of the monk definitely won me the game, as I was able to easily take down one of Mar's most powerful figures. I had a hope of doing something with my firearm, when I managed to line up a shot at the bodyguard, but unfortunately it missed again.

    I thought turn 3 was going to be decisive for me. I managed to engage on my terms - one-on-one with peasants and outnumbering the bodyguard. Aside from the sacrificial thug fighting Lady Mitsu, every fight was in my favour.

    At the end of the turn... I'd achieved absolutely nothing. All those fights had either been stalemates or resulted in injuries for me. In the next turn, the whole peasant force engaged and I thought I'd missed my chance for a win.

    However bit-by-bit my brave gangsters started to pull it back. Even two-on-one the peasants barely match them. It turned into a question of whether I could finish off enough peasants before Lady Mitsu sliced through too much of my gang. Which I was just able to.

    Had the monk attacked with the rest of the peasant force I definitely would have lost, because then they'd have had another good fighter chewing through my men.