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"Best Samurai Ruleset?" Topic

34 Posts

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Action Log

09 Dec 2017 1:09 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

  • Removed from TMP Poll Suggestions board

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4,925 hits since 16 Jun 2016
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian16 Jun 2016 3:19 p.m. PST

Which ruleset does the best job, in your judgment, for historical warfare in the era of the Samurai?

RudyNelson16 Jun 2016 4:18 p.m. PST

For small skirmish battles, i have seen more than one group use SAGA

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian16 Jun 2016 4:39 p.m. PST

Are you speaking in general, massed battles, skirmish, or what exactly?

Yes evil grin

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP16 Jun 2016 4:41 p.m. PST
Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP16 Jun 2016 5:39 p.m. PST



Volstagg Vanir17 Jun 2016 4:12 a.m. PST

Currently I am looking very hard at the Osprey 'Ronin' rules for small skirmish cinematic gaming,
but I haven't played that as yet.
In descending order of my desire to play them again:

Warmaster/ Warmaster Ancients (ease of use 10/10)

Killer Katanas II (research & supplements 9/10)

Taiko (flexibility of scale, C&C 8/10)

Road to Osaka (ok 15mm skirmish 7/10)

Chrysanthemum Throne ( 6/10)

Daimyo (… 5/10)

No-Dachi (very silly skirmish 4/10)

Katana (meh 3/10)

Katana to Yari (bleh 2/10)

Samurai Wargame Rules (very dated 1/10)

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP17 Jun 2016 6:03 a.m. PST

Care to elaborate beyond what is on the product pages?

Path of Bones uses dominoes as the randomization mechanism to support simultaneous engagement. I like simultaneous engagement for Medieval era Japanese warfare; it gives a different flavor to maneuver and command and control.

The cycle of removing and replacing bones from the bonepile creates and ebb and flow to the opportunities in battle. I think the gradual change from wildly random outcomes to a focused band of outcomes also reflects what I have read of such battles.

PoB also has a "bonus system" (which I usually don't like or put into games) that supports warfighting specialization, which I believe is characteristic of the genre. Those specializations are tied back to a martial arts "style" system, which I believe increases the period flavor.

The bonus system also allows you to go beyond the historical genre and create a cinematic feel, if that is the type of game you want. Beside the history, I also enjoy Toshiro Mifune movies.

boy wundyr x17 Jun 2016 7:30 a.m. PST

Ronin and Rich Jone's SoBH-based skirmish game. I'm not sure I'll ever get into bigger battles but KK2 or Chrysanthemum Throne are two sets I have and would look to use.

Samurai Elb17 Jun 2016 7:36 a.m. PST

In 1999 I have done an adaption of Volley&Bayonet 1st edition for Samurai Armies 1550 to 1615. This is for mass battles. YouŽll need an copy of the rules for it. If interested do a look here: link

Wulfgar17 Jun 2016 10:53 a.m. PST

For battles, I've found that Nicholas Wright's "Irregular Wars: Conflict at the World's End" suits the time and place very well.

Each base represents a small company, and therefore it works well with the elaborate formations shown in Turnbull's books. Since a normal game only makes use of from 10 to 15 bases, its perfect for campaigns between small clans. Larger armies can easily work without straining the structure of the rules too much.

The 2nd edition has lists for Joseon Korean, Sengoku era armies, Ming Chinese, and Manchurians. I've also been using the rules to refight historical battles. They hold up pretty well.

Sean D Clark18 Jun 2016 2:29 p.m. PST

Battles in the Age of War. Everything you ever needd.

BelgianRay18 Jun 2016 3:52 p.m. PST

We've been down this road before. Forget all the "possible" ones which are not what you need if you want to keep it hitorical and playable.
Only 2 solutions : Killer Katanas II and Taiko. Everything else is a "would do for playing" but that's about it.
Sorry for being blunt but that's the only way I can put it.

martin goddard Sponsoring Member of TMP19 Jun 2016 2:15 a.m. PST

Yes "battles in the Age of War" is specifically written for samurai battles in the age of war(sengoku). I would not say it is the best as that is an opinion and not a fact. We have had several competitions using these rules and they were much enjoyed. BAW also includes a battle scenario generator, scenarios ,a complete scenery and victory point schedule. This is not meant to offend anyone who prefers a specific set, but does give better information. There is probably a similar thing available for other rule sets that cover this interesting period. If I have time I will look about for a detailed description of how the other rule sets mentioned work. I would expect that as a minimum?
On the PP website there is a link on the rules page to a detailed explanation of the samurai period rules.
Good gaming


martin goddard Sponsoring Member of TMP19 Jun 2016 2:32 a.m. PST

PDF link

Here is a link to a KK review


jwebster20 Jun 2016 10:43 p.m. PST

Ronin is a fun game. The main focus is the combat system, other mechanisms are rudimentary. Very small scale skirmish, I have done fun games with 4-5 models on each side. The Teppo (musket) is far more accurate than it would have been – hence the cinematic element.


Lion in the Stars20 Jun 2016 11:18 p.m. PST

Killer Katanas should be on every samurai gamer's shelf, just for the research info alone.

I also have Battles in the Age of War, I really like the pre-battle setup.

I've been kicking around a modification of GW's War of the Ring rules for the Gempei War, but that's technically pre-samurai. Unit-based, but still with some heroes able to make big changes to the battle.

Legends of the Rising Sun is a mod of the (oop) Legends of the High Seas gang skirmish, I'm working on it for Bakumatsu gaming in Kyoto. Challenge is statting up the major characters.

I also have Daisho for skirmishing. It's a cousin to In Her Majesty's Name, but modified for mythic Japan.

nonsenseminiatures22 Jun 2016 5:31 a.m. PST

Try with Kensei, they have a new ruleset very easy to use

CAPTAIN BEEFHEART22 Jun 2016 3:09 p.m. PST

Hails Ceaser-it works.

GGouveia29 Jun 2016 10:07 p.m. PST

Martin Goddard rules Battles in the Age of War gets my vote. 2nd Killer Katanas.

Personal logo Bowman Supporting Member of TMP30 Jun 2016 9:21 a.m. PST

Only 2 solutions : Killer Katanas II and Taiko.

Are either available?

dddd9930 Jun 2016 9:34 p.m. PST

Yes, both are available I believe.

One, Taiko, offers pdf download and instant gratification: link

The other, Killer Katanas 2, is available on ebay, searching "Brian Bradford Killer Katanas". I bought it directly from the author @ $35 USD USD and it arrived within 5 days.

I have both and indeed KK2 is the best, but Taiko is cool too.

Mac163801 Jul 2016 2:19 a.m. PST

Both FOG R and DBR are not suited for Samurai warfare.

BelgianRay13 Jul 2016 1:10 p.m. PST

Hail Cesar : no, it doesn't work.

Capt Flash08 Nov 2016 10:35 p.m. PST

WHFB 6th. Use the Empire book and proxy your units as you see fit.
Mighty Armies- High Elves
Age Of Sigmar- Grand Alliance Order; I've proxied various units as Samurai, including some of the Dark Elf units..

Narcisista12 Nov 2016 5:00 a.m. PST

"Battles in the Age of War" for me.

KKII is great for the information but I'm not too keen on the rules themselves.

Taiko is serviceable, but I prefere element based games rather than individual figure games.

Warmaster is ridiculously easy to use and adapt but is, of course, very generic.

Personal logo Bowman Supporting Member of TMP04 Dec 2016 7:27 a.m. PST

Hail Cesar : no, it doesn't work

After looking through the review of Killer Katanas, I'm at a loss to see why it's basic mechanisms of "sequential movement" and its firing and melee mechanisms make it work, but not Hail Caesar. Especially with the warfare in the later Senguko period.

On the flip side, the reviewer mentions that there is no ammo supply, no shooting reactions and no countercharges. These all existed in the Sengoku period are are covered in Hail Caesar.

It looks to me that both rule sets depend on special rules to create flavour (challenges, seppuku, shifting loyalties, fanatical monks, etc.). I see this as a good thing. It is one reason I like Hail Caesar, a skeletal system that can be fleshed out to simulate various different styles of combat.

Belgian Ray, I know it's not fair to compare a game that I have often played to one that I have simply read a review of………I'll readily admit that. If you could expand on your comment above, I'd be much obliged.

CAPTAIN BEEFHEART12 Feb 2017 5:14 a.m. PST

When you think of warfare in the 1580's in Japan, it seems to be a dichotomy between blade/spear and shot. The rules allow you to put in various factors to design many various statistics that reflect your biais in your historical readings. If you look at scroll paintings, it is obvious that Samurai routed. I don't think that Japan specific rules are any better then generic rules are called for.

Ney Ney12 Feb 2017 1:03 p.m. PST

We use Lion Rampant with the mods found online

takeda33321 May 2017 2:04 a.m. PST

B.A.W. ticks alot of boxes, Daimyo is fun till you make one sour morale check. Played Taiko for along time,can be a little slow playing but has some good detlail. hope that helps some.

Oldgrumbler Supporting Member of TMP03 Jul 2018 11:22 a.m. PST

Pike & Shotte (of the Hail Caesar family) apparently has Samurai lists available.

Uesugi Kenshin Supporting Member of TMP23 Jul 2018 8:42 a.m. PST

15-20 years ago it was Killer Katanas. Now I haven't tried it but I'm looking at Hail Caesar.

GGouveia30 Jul 2018 5:36 p.m. PST

What difference does KK2 have over KK1? I did get the original.

Uesugi Kenshin Supporting Member of TMP31 Jul 2018 1:12 p.m. PST

Long time since I read both books. Only change I can recall was to some of the army lists, unit classifications and scenarios he changed in the 2nd edition.

The 2nd volume is a tremendous scenario builder resource, chock full of info whether you use the rules or not. I highly recommend it along with his 5-6 scenario books.

The only downside to the majority of his scenarios is that they are not evenly balanced. But that's the way those battles were historically.

I'm currently in the process of converting his scenario for Mimigawa to Pike & Shotte rules. I estimate the army painting alone will take me 2 years.

Personal logo Bobgnar Supporting Member of TMP10 Nov 2018 12:59 p.m. PST

How does Test of Honor fit in?

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