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"RONIN - any early reviews yet?" Topic

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Mr Canuck23 Jul 2013 9:30 a.m. PST

I understand the RONIN rules might be available at some of the UK shows already.

Just wondering if anyone has had a chance to purchase a copy yet, and if so, what they think of the rules?


Isangeles23 Jul 2013 11:07 a.m. PST

I purchased the rules at Historicon and have given them a quick read-through (The rules portion is only about 16 pages). Currently my gaming group plans a play-through in a couple of weeks, so a detailed review of how it plays would have to wait until then, but I can say they look promising.

Quick rundown-
Players determine priority at the beginning of the turn and then move on to the movement phase. It is IGO-UGO during this phase with the priority player moving a model and then the non-priority and then back and forth. Shooting can also take place during this phase, but it is considered a "hurried shot" that suffers a minus to hit. The priortiy phase is also where your force checks morale to see if they go from steady to wavering or wavering to routing. Depending on their status, a model has a chance of not doing what you want it to that turn.

Next is the combat phase, and this is where I like what the rules author has done. Each model is assigned a rank from 0 to 5 to reflect training and skill (0=peasant, 5 = legendary warrior) in combat each model can play a number of combat chits = to their rank. They can either be offensive chits or defensive chits). They are selected secretly prior to combat and then revealed simultaneously. The players then determine who has initiative and that player can spent an attack chit he played to, well, attack. (He can also pass). The defending player will automatically get a defense roll, but if the defending player has played a defense chit, he can play that to give him an "enhanced defense" (he can also pass, and if the attacker also passed then combat is over). If the defender enhances, then the attacker can spend another chit to enhance his attack. Based on the above, each player rolls a small number of d6s (1-3) and the totals are compared, factoring in a short list of modifiers from weapons, armor and the like. If the defender's total is less than the attackers, he is either stunned or takes a wound (determined by a result roll on a wound chart.) If either side has chits remaining, the fight continues. As each combat is resolved, you move on to the next.

Next is the action phase where non-combat actions are taken, and shooters can get an unmodified first shot, or a second shot if they shot earlier (again this will incur a penalty to hit.)

The end phase is just some minor "bookkeeping."

Again, I have not played the rules yet, but they seem straight-forward and uncomplicated. The attack/defese chit system adds some spice to the combat phase and makes it more than just a "add up modifiers and roll-off" event. It is similar to a system I had been toying around with for my home-brew samurai skirmish rules, and forces the same kind of attack/defense decisions, but is admittedly more streamlined and workable than what I had come up with. Various modifers for different kind of weapons, special rules for bannermen and ninjas, as well as some other aspects help give the rules a period/cultural flavor.

The rules also have army lists and costs for various factions found in feudal japan as well as Korea and China, then a number of scenarios. Overall the 64 page book is also good-looking and well written with well-explained examples where needed.

If there is one thing I would have liked to see that was not included, it would have been optional rules that allow you to play a more "Chanbara" of Japanese samurai film style of game, as opposed to "playing it straight" but that's something that can be grafted on with a little time and imagination on the part of a GM.

So there is my "haven't played them yet" review. Hope this answers your question.


Isangeles23 Jul 2013 11:14 a.m. PST

Oh, I should also note, the rules are primarily written to cover the Sengoku Jidai period, but also have some added rules/faction info for the Kamakura and late-Edo periods as well (including stats for firearms beyond the basic teppo for use during the latter).

Wulfgar23 Jul 2013 11:24 a.m. PST

Thank you for the kind summary, Isangeles.

May I ask if morale plays a part in the rules, either for individuals or for the group?

Mr Canuck23 Jul 2013 11:41 a.m. PST

Thank-you for the input, Isangeles!

Isangeles23 Jul 2013 11:41 a.m. PST

Wulfgar, it does. It is group morale and checks are brought on by the usual suspects -- force losses, loss of a leader, etc.

You can be one of three levels of morale: steady wavering or routing. failing moreale tests will move you down the line, and while a success can get you from wavering back to steady, once you are routing, you are stuck there.

If your force is wavering or routing, you will have to test each model before you do anything with them to see if you can do what you want with them that turn, thus it is possible for models in a routing unit to still initiate combat, though not all of them will and if a model fails the test it will run towards the board edge (a failure with a wavering model will not result in it running away, but you can't initiate combat with them.)

Personal logo Stosstruppen Supporting Member of TMP23 Jul 2013 2:13 p.m. PST

Cool I can't wait to get my set next month. Already have some 28mm Samurai in the painting line up.

Harkonnen13 Supporting Member of TMP23 Jul 2013 2:16 p.m. PST

Thanks for the info, Isangeles. I'm painting Perry samurai and will be ready to play not too long after the game's general release.

Any chance you could post the the names of the factions/buntai listed in the rules?

Isangeles23 Jul 2013 2:31 p.m. PST


I think a lot of folks are painting up some Perry's. When I hit up the Architects of War booth at Historicon on Saturday they were pretty much cleaned out (good thing I have a bunch of single based painted minis from my "big battle" samurai forces that I can use).

Anyway, here are the factions from the Sengoku Jidai period:
Ming Chinese
There is also a category called "swords for hire." These cover different types of troops, (i.e. ronin, ninja, etc.) and they are available to different factions in various combinations.

In the Kamakura period, some lists are adjusted, some eliminated, and the Mongols are added.

In the Late-Edo period, some lists are adjusted, some are eliminated, and the Shinsengumi, Imperialists, Shogunate troops, and Yakuza are added.

Harkonnen13 Supporting Member of TMP23 Jul 2013 2:48 p.m. PST

Thanks a lot for posting that. Good selection of factions. I'm glad they have a Ikko-Ikki list and had no idea that the late Edo period was covered. Good and good.

Wulfgar23 Jul 2013 5:03 p.m. PST

Good news on the morale rules, and for the lists as well. Its a very pleasant surprise to learn about the inclusion of the Koreans, Ming, and late Edo. I hope this will be a boost for Cavalcade's Ming and Bac Ninh's Boshin War lines.

Thank you, Isangeles. Very helpful.

Ancestral Hamster23 Jul 2013 5:21 p.m. PST

domo arigato Isangeles-san.

Lawn Dart23 Jul 2013 6:24 p.m. PST

Are there any campaign rules for running a Legends of the Old West or Necromunda type of campaign?

Glengarry523 Jul 2013 6:24 p.m. PST

Does it cover combat on horseback?

Isangeles24 Jul 2013 4:10 a.m. PST

Glengarry: Yes, the rules cover mounted combat.

Lawn Dart: There is a page of campaign rules that cover giving models experience after games and how they can progress up through the troop ranks through linked games. The campaign rules are not particularly extensive, and you'll have to come up with your own scenarios/over-arching storyline. Unfortunately, since I have not played either of the games you mentioned, I can't speak to how "Ronin" compares.

Shootmenow29 Jul 2013 3:29 a.m. PST

Thanks Isangeles, very useful info. I've pre-ordered a while ago so fingers crossed they might be dispatched sooner than later.

Does it matter whether figures are based on round or square bases? I usually use round unless arcs are particularly important in a ruleset.

Thanks again.

craigjwoodfield30 Jul 2013 10:16 p.m. PST

"Does it matter whether figures are based on round or square bases? "

No, there is no frontage as such, so base shape doesn't matter.



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