One of the brilliant mechanics in Musket & Tomahawks is the side plot idea. Which is a mini game within the scenario. SO I have nicked the principle and 'turned it Japanese' - virtual pint to first one who names the blatant reference to a certain song!
Ronin hit Enfield Gamers tonight with a plethora of interested parties looking on or playing.
With a Ronin night pencilled in for a couple of weeks time it lolled like we had a hit on our hands!
Perhaps equal to my love of Star Wars gaming is Samurai skirmish gaming. My search for a decent set of rules culminated with writing Bushi no Yume but then, as always, when I play them it seems like 'work' not fun and I end up continously thinking, "MMmm that would be better if..."
So I am always intrigued to see a new set of samurai rules come out and here was another - Ronin by Craig Woodfield. A slim and cheap volume published by Osprey Books under their 'Wargames' line of titles.
It is supported by a very tempting line of figures from Northstar as well. It is both a shame and a good job I already have a plentiful sufficiency of figures to use,
I rarely comment on the layout etc of published rules as they damn well should be good as Osprey have a lot of resources behind them. Also for around a tenner one can hardly gripe. I must admit I took the plunge solely on the fact they are written by an Aussie, I know not good logic but as I see myself as an honoury Aussie Dude it has to be done!
On first read through I was thoroughly underwhelmed by the book and the rules. Seemed solid but nothing to make me get my gaming stuff out and force people to play (which is what happens when I suspect a set is going to be awesome. But inbetween caring for the wifey (which is becoming a more and more time demanding job (curse of terminal cancer I am afraid) and a desperate attempt to lose weight and get fit before it is too big a job I managed to try out the mechanics. I thought these were aiming to be pretty boring to be honest. Seemed like the old humdrum of adding and subtracting modifiers to get a wound result. Maybe playing with the Edge of the Empire dice had spoilt me - I am now craving a narrative result all the time.
But half an hour later I was warming to the little Aussie rippas. The intitiative and combat pool saved the day big time, and not just because it suggests using GO stones. Initiative took me back to the good old days of early 2Hour Wargames NUTS... Individual rolling to see who goes first within each combat. Just a d6 (the game only uses d6) roll plus the initiative stat of the figure (which can be changed by being stunned or wounded) to determine who has the chance to pass or strike first. This remains the case even in multi figure combats. The actual combat roll is what I took as being pretty mundane, roll 2d6 v. 1d6 and add fight skill and a few modifiers based on weapon, status and armour of target. If the result is a plus to the attacker then they have hit, the wider the differential the better the effect (ranging from 1 = stunned to 6+ = dead). BUT and it is a big BUT good old Craig has thrown the combat pool into the mix. Each figure gets a combat pool rating of between, a norm, of 2 and 5, characters ganging up pool their 'pool'. The player secretly choose white or black stones to this amount (one is defensive use and the other offensive use) and then these are revealed. Note this is done before initiative is rolled, one can spend a stone to alter the initiative roll. When attacking the character who wone the initiative gets to choose if they want to attack or pass. If they attack they spend a stone... This gives them 2d6 to attack with (plus their fight etc) and the defender then chooses to defend with 1d6 (plus stuff) or spend a defence stone (if they chose to have any) to give them 2d6. A final decsision is then made by the attacker to power the attack by spending another attack stone which gives them the option of rolling 3d6 and discarding one. At this point the dice are rolled, modified and totaled and we are back to the slightly mundane. But the bit in the middle is surprisingly addictive and effective. Overall the figures do as they are supposed to do in a small level skirmish game, the better characters with more abilities can wade through the dross at a very chanbarra style rate. BUT they are always only a crap dice roll or mismanagement of the stones away from being taken out, especially if the dross is out in force,
This gives a WAY better samurai film type feel to the game than I thought it would. Turn sequence and movement, morale is fast and simple. Missile troops get the chance to fire twice (if they are capable) but at negatives (once in the move phase and once in the action phase - it goes move, combat, action, tidy up) or stay still and effectively aim until the action phase. Game play is kept simple and therefore very fast, There is no facing, morale is easy but effective and the only real thing to keep track of is wounds, but that will always be the case in a 'detailed' game, and what characteristics/abilities the better characters have.
Building your 'Buntai' from the lists provided is easy and fun to customise. One can choose from Bushi (samurai) who have a neat way of pulling a draw from the grasp of defeat by using 'seppuka', Koryu (like a traditional Ryuha or Bujutsu school) who can have a school specialization, Sohei (warrior monks types- mine will have to be Yamabushi of course), Ikko-Ikki (sort of a 'popular uprising' army) who have an interesting mix of troops and fanaticism (I am using my fantasy Japanese 'oni' army for these) and then a bandit bunkai - which you need to refight the seven samurai of course. Customisation comes from composition and giving abilities and bujutsu skills to the better rank troops. These are all well balanced and are really what give the game its feel.
Other lists are provided for the battles against the Koreans and Chinese as well as for later periods (Last samurai anyone?). Most of the 'buntai' can employ 'Swords for Hire' which include the reclusive wandering budo machine, think Musashi, and of course the stereo-typed Ninja (which can be deployed in disguise which is quite a laugh - the opponent knows there is a ninja, but just who is it).
There are rules for random time of day and weather for those who want them and seven interesting scenarios which all seem fun to play through. Threre is a ninja attack scenario so I was happy!
A small progression system for campaigns is followed by suggestions for holding a tournament. tI will be easy to make the campaign system more detailed and to be honest when it boils down to it I suspect the rules will be used primarily for pick up games. Lastly there is an advanced rules section for bringing in 'fatigue' for people who want to model this.
Size of forces (Buntai) - well it is suggested a small game is 100 points which means you are looking to field between 3 and 10 figures and we have been playing in 30-60 minutes. Suggested table size for this is 2'x2' and this means you are straight into combat (which is fairly brutal), short and fairly sweet. Personally I have been enjoying 150 points and this is still about an hour play time.
SO, final verdict?
Well I enjoy them, they are simple to pick up and play, looks like they may scale up to 200-300 points for a large game without bogging too much, but suspecting most games will be club pick up games at about 150 points on a 3'x3'. There are things that will not sit right with Nihon Bugei nerds but I think they will give almost everyone the feel they want from a samurai game without any real effort on their part. The NorthStar figure sets give starting buntai and the rules do the rest. I'll be playing them a lot when I don't feel like 'work'. :
Obviously they serve a purpose, obviously some people like them. Me, not really. Take yesterday, pleasant trip up to an X-Wing comp in Milton Keynes with a couple of good gaming buddies (who did well 2nd and 4th I think). A whole day of gaming with 5 games crammed in, should have been awesome... But came away jaded yet again by the wankers that comps attract. Two great games out of five, lost one won one... But the other games were mehhh even if I won 2 out of the 3 (more later).
Ok I took a very non comp list. I play Star Wars not a game with SW ships and my lists reflect that. Yesterday I went with the pimped up Falcon with chewwy, Han and Luke. Then the only other thing I could afford, an A-wing. Other than that it's normally Darth and Black squadron.
I admit I am different in the fact a good game to me is a action packed game where I can invent the narrative in my head (or out of it). But yesterday I had one ok comp player, one who took it WAY to serious and one who was blatently cheating...
So thanks to the two guys who made the day fun...
BLATANTLY NICKED FROM THE FFG FORUM - POSTED BY A BLOKE CALLED DESLOK.... Not written especially for EotE but has a lot of tho
Okay, you know the drill by now dear readers... Say it along with with Sheldon....
SPOILER ALERT; SPOILER ALERT - IF YOU ARE GOING TO PLAY THE LONG ARM OF THE HUTT AT ANY POINT STOP NOW....
Still reading ... You wicked Hutt you...
As we left the group at the end of Act II they were aboard the Lucky Guess trying to make friends with Orpa and Wex (the smugglers) and wondering how they were going to take down Teemo. On the journey they decided in their wisdom to try a couple of things to help out.
A) Try and fix/build a battledroid from the bits to help the assault.
B) Dobb Teemo into Jabba the Hutt and hope that Jabba did the job for them.
Path A was the first on the evenings agenda. Mathus tried to get into the sealed crate and bought Wex kicking and screaming into the cargo hold as the alarm went off. However, a bit of smooth talking from the group (got to love those advantages) saw Wex placated and even want in on the action a bit. However, the following mechanic rolls got the group no-where.
It was at this point that Pash used his streetwise skill to look through his little black book of contacts and manage to get a number off of a 'guy' which was guaranteed to get through to Jabba. However, it did get through, straight through to his private holo vid line in fact - just as he was in the final wobbles of enjoying a bit of a squidgy lap dance - he was not amused. In fact going from a roll of success with some threat for the number called to a diabolical roll as they tried to placate the Hutt, followed by another failed deception roll with more threats saw the group not only hung up on but Jabba recongnise them from wanted vids Teemo had sent round and the Lucky Guess being instantly tracked through the Hutt tracking network... OOPS.
Time for plan b, or was that d by now, was the general consensus. The group decided on a two pronged approach, one prong involved the smugglers taking Vex and the battledroids to visit Jabba in person (the smugglers knew a bloke who could get them in) to show him the treason by Teemo (to avoid a visit from various Bounty Hunters). The second prong involved rigging the plas-steel box up so the group could hide in it and get taken into Teemo's palace. Hoping that this would save precious time and aggravation.
Indeed, this went well and our intrepid heroes found themselves in the workshop area with no one else about.
It was quite late at night and the control room just next door was only manned by one geeked up droid. He instantly recognised the group but luckily only had fond memories for Mathus (who by now was turning into a bit of a droid fiend - rumour was he was starting the Outer Rim Droid Love group) and didn't equate their return with bad news. The group then not only managed to pull up the security images from around the palace but also disable all internal comms and lock down the access doors - the force certainly was with the groups dice pool rolls as triumph after triumph appeared.
Next they stormed the throne room. Surprise on their side they lobbed a few grenades in before the short but sweet fire fight began. For possibly the first time the group took a bit of damage before wading through the 2 minion groups and 2 rival bodyguards. Meanwhile Teemo had used this time to escape through a secret passage and slime off down the bolt hole as quick as his slimyness would allow; getting quite a head start on the group. Eventually the opposition was quelled, the secret passage found (after a few traps were triggered) and the CHASE was on. It proved quite hard for the group to gain any of the lost ground as the Hutt had quite a surprising turn of speed. They caught up after a couple of Triumphs were used slowing the Hutt down. It was decided that he got his tail caught on one particularly tricky corner.
The group caught up with Teemo and the fight was on. Lowthrik the Wookiee took the lead and used his exceptional rolls to run up the Hutts back and somersault to land in front of him, whacking him quite sucessfully with his vibro axe. The rest of the group were quite despondent as their blaster and slug shots seemed to disappear into the wobbly body without really doing anything. But the Wookiee kept on trading blows with the Hutt and slowing him down with a few crits. However, not without sacrifice as he was rendered unconscious by a series of stunning blows from the Hutt. But even Teemo succumbed to fire power in the end after a number of critical hits finally saw him slump to a messy pulp.
DING DONG THE HUTT IS DEAD...
Unfortunately this did little to deter the other Teemo thugs from trying to break through the doors to get to the group. Led by the spy who had been a plague to the group for a while Mathus and his new droid buddy were busy in the control room rolling opposed computer rolls to keep the spy from slicing the doors open... The group followed the secret passage which came up in the Docking platform where they found a Z95 and a laser equipped defence turret that could be turned onto the main doors to the platform.
Needless to say two laser cannons versus 4 groups of minions did not go very well for the minions.
Meanwhile Vex was relaying that more bad dice pool rolls with Jabba was not convincing him about Teemo's treachery and that he thought that Temmo was being set up and wanted more evidence. Evidence that was duly found and relayed back to Vex and the boys for the final roll of the evening to try and convince Jabba it was true - what could go wrong as they had lots of evidence adding boost dice and a good story to boot. Well maybe start with a couple of despair being rolled as well as net failures and threats... OOPS again.
Jabba went off... blaming the group for his cousins death and palace destruction (news was filtering through to him) and swearing and ranting that vengeance would be his... It was only by the skin of their teeth that the 'boys' managed to sneak away from the raging Hutt and take off quick. Returning to Teemo's palace to pick people up and leg out of system.
The adventure officially over the group set back to see how they had faired... Well the good news was that the Obligation to Teemo had been literally wiped out, they were 12000CR up and had made some new contacts in Wex and Orpa the smugglers. The bad news was they now had a VERY large bounty on their backs from Jabba the Hutt!
Time to leave the pre-gen characters to their fate and roll up some customs for the next adventure maybe!
My favourite podcast to listen to between sessions of Order 66 is the answer,http://potelbat.blogspot.co.uk/
Just like getting tickets to the event on the left, some things in life are a no brainer. One such thing is backing the Order 66 Podcast on Kickstarter to get them some new equipment for their awesome podcast. Always full of EotE goodness and usually with some FFG guest or two this is THE place to go for SW inspiration. All that and it is always a funny listen as well. If you are in the right time zone (I'm not) you can join in with them in the chat room.
Now the game is out and about to take the world by storm these guys are going to be the front runners in resources and inspiration so get in on the act!
Backing goodies include superb maps, t-shirts and other goodies plus a SKYPE game with the dudes themselves!
A crowded party where the group has to smooze to find out important information... Not a place for a Wookiee or a Rodian trigger happy bounty hunter? Read on and find out.
UNLESS YOU ARE GOING TO BE PLAYING THE LONG ARM OF THE HUTT - IN WHICH CASE DON'T - YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
We left the group with Ota the Bothan giving them a possible escape route. Attending a party with the Geonosian noble called Duke Piddok who sells arms on the side and has, so it is reported, recently pulled out of a deal with Teemo for some reason. Rumour has it the 'antiques' being sold to Teemo were Clone War leftover Battle Droids. But it appeared another noble called Duke Dimmok had stepped up the the plate and was in the final part of negotiations with the Hutt. Ota had an invite to send some associates to the party... An ideal opportunity perhaps.
Having a mere 14 hours to get there the group dropped their ship out of hyperspace and proceeded merrily towards the looming mass of Geonosis.
But wait... What was that in the distance? Pash the pilot was tapped on his shoulder by the Wookiee who 'arrred' and pointed towards a distant silhouette near to a hyperspace beacon. Scanning the object it appeared to be a beat up and inactive Imperial info/spy drone. Always hard to ignore the smuggler inner voice the drone was pulled aboard using the small tractor beam the ship was equipped with (a destiny point well spent there was the conclusion) the drone was soon sitting battered and shut down on the main cargo hold floor.
Sasha and his trusty, if somewhat over friendly and clingy, R5 unit, with a bit of help from Vex sliced into the drones system and started downloading some data (an net one success via a triumph but 3 threat was rolled on the assisted computer skill roll). A warning BEEP from the R5 unit was too late as the drone activated. Luckily Vex noticed the Imperial Emergency tracking unit seemed to sizzle and fry, make a grinding noise and then fall off (the triumph bit). But two short range defence blasters came out their slot... it was all on!
Sasha wasted no time in diving around to access his R5 units controls in a hope of slicing in again and shutting the drone down. R5 was still coupled to the drone via his groinal extension unit (Lowthrick the Wookie suspected he had been enjoying it far too much and was possibly the cause of the re-activation in the first place). As the drones lift began to work the droid was lifted up. In a display of crackles and sparks the R5 unit fell, still sparking, to the floor with a sad sounding BEEeeeeppppp which sounded a lot like 'Daddddyyyyyy..." (But Sasha had rolled an overall fail but with three advantages and decided to use one advantage to distract the drone from his first attack and to add two boost dice to the roll he would eventually make to try and repair the droid.
By this time other crew members had appeared. a couple did damaging blaster hits on the drone which left it looking very worse for wear. The drones first attacks missed due to the setback dice incurred earlier. Lowthrick then charged in with his vibro axe. Raising it high to one side the Wookkie swung towards the drone. An ear splitting sound rendered the air and the drone spun around like a spinning top blaster bolts going harmlessly everywhere. (Lowtrhick had failed his actual strike but had 3 advantages to spend - he put two boost dice on the next attack on the drone and one set back dice on the drones next attack; which was narrated as the drone spinning around from the powerful hit). It was at this point that Mathus, who had been woken from a nice sleep by all the racket, marched in levelled his blaster and blew the drone to bits before turning round and going back to bed. (Rob, who was playing Mathus rolled an incredible 7 successes and 2 advantages with the shot due to the boost dice! )
Before docking on Geonosis the droid was repaired, the data gained from the drone was looked at (a holo-vid of Piddock and Teemo talking about Teemo buying battle droids to use against Jabba the Hutt in an ambitious move to take over the Hutt empire and a vague reference to a missing Alderaan Masterpiece called 'Two Moons' which had a name, Sam'K, next to the pictures name; more information was garbled by the cut in the data stream,
This information was put on a couple of data pads and was well used in the forthcoming 'negotiations' with the Geonisians. In fact the party was not as much as a disaster as one could have been excused of thinking. Not that much information was found out apart from finding out the Kubaz spy who had been following them worked for Teemo as well and had been involved in a death pit match with a Geonosian envoy for Teemo's pleasure.
All this information was used to convince Dimmok to let the group use his light freighter (Lucky Guess) and the battle droid cargo as a way to get back to Mos Shuuta and pay a 'visit' to Teemo... Roll on the next session
The group enjoyed this session yet again and the use of the narrative dice meant that the party was actually good fun for them although there was no real action. They are all getting very used to the system and well up for putting the newly acquired core book to good use next session :)
Works in Education as a teacher and consultant.