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"Why is Killer Katanas II So Great?" Topic


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1,127 hits since 26 Dec 2017
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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian26 Dec 2017 1:48 p.m. PST

You recently voted Killer Katanas II as the best Samurai ruleset. What makes it superior to other rulesets for this period?

Nick B26 Dec 2017 2:06 p.m. PST

Strange I found them a bit clunky. A mass of great info and scenario stuff definitely but IMO not a particularly exciting or elegant rule set.

I don't think there are that many mass battle samurai rule sets out there – loads of skirmish sets certainly, but not large battle (and I'm discounting the manilla rules which cover every period from 5000BC to 1550AD such as DBX, ADLG etc but give no real Samurai period flavour).

Personally I prefer Peter Pigs Battles in the Age of War but each to your own.

Rabelais26 Dec 2017 2:20 p.m. PST

I agree with Nick. (hmm, reminds me of 2010…). I think Killer Katanas is a bit old-fashioned by today's standards. It's certainly not a set I'd want to struggle with.

I'd also go with Battles In The Age of War as about the best samurai battles tabletop set commercially available. But IMO there are no really good ones.

Garand26 Dec 2017 2:49 p.m. PST

Just curious but when talking about "mass battles" in this period, what was distinctive in a mass battle over other periods or cultures/civilizations that would require a special ruleset as opposed to using DBM or similar?

Damon.

Personal logo Bashytubits Supporting Member of TMP26 Dec 2017 3:09 p.m. PST

I don't know why you would find them clunky, we have played them and they give a pretty good feel for the Sengoku period battles, plus they are a fairly simple and relatively fast playing set. I give them a solid thumbs up.

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP26 Dec 2017 3:09 p.m. PST

There are those who sniff and say that Medieval knights or Roman Legions never faced samurai, meaning they would get whipped and beaten like a Government mule. To which I reply that samurai never faced Medieval knights or Roman Legions. Etc.
Some rules try to get around this by introducing special rules which reflect their own prejudices. To me, pre-Gunpowder is all the same.

Rabelais26 Dec 2017 3:19 p.m. PST

The organisation of 'units.' Traditionally, generic rulesets represent a Sengoku-Jidai army with units of ashigaru, samurai, cavalry etc all armed with one weapon type. Most samurai specific rulesets do this too.

Here's a 6mm representation in 1:1 scale of a unit similar to the one on the Kawanakajima battle screen. There are many sub-units of various sizes, composed of samurai, ashigaru or both, and armed with different weapons constituting 700 men under one commander.


It's much more sensible IMO to represent all Sengoku units as similar 'combined arms' types. This isn't something any wargames rules do as far as I know. I think it's also not something most people would want.

There's also the issue of command. The reliability of your various sub-commanders will depend on their relationship to you as the army commander. Are they family members? Hereditary vassals or vassals who up until last month were vassals of the person you're fighting?

Garand26 Dec 2017 3:42 p.m. PST

There's also the issue of command. The reliability of your various sub-commanders will depend on their relationship to you as the army commander. Are they family members? Hereditary vassals or vassals who up until last month were vassals of the person you're fighting?

Well I think that's an issue you would get with FREX Western European medieval armies as well, so that phenomenon shouldn't be strictly a Japanese issue IMHO.

With that said, do these rules use their own basing schemes, or could I use DBx basing should I choose to pick them up?

Damon.

Nick B26 Dec 2017 3:43 p.m. PST

@ Winston – The Sengku period was increasingly dominated by Ashigaru with arquibus so not sure of the relevance of your comment about "Pre-gun powder"?

Damon – as Rabelais says – formations were peculiar to this theatre. Both the use of stylised battle formations but predominantly the deployment of mixed troop types in essentially family/clan groups rather than regiments of pike/shotte etc.

Because of the use of both fire arms and more medieval type hand weapons the period often isn't well represented by eith Medieval or Pike & Shotte rules.

Add to all this the propensity for treachery in battles and single challenges makes it a great period to game but difficult to represent.

Rabelais26 Dec 2017 3:52 p.m. PST

"Well I think that's an issue you would get with FREX Western European medieval armies as well, so that phenomenon shouldn't be strictly a Japanese issue IMHO."

But that's not something I've seen modelled in 'generic' rules sets. It is something that appears in the Strongbow/Ironbow rules by Perfect Captain, where your sub-commanders' rank and personality will affect your battle-plan. But those rules are Medieval specific.

Killer Katanas has 40mm x 15mm bases for infantry (4 figures), and 25mm square bases for cavalry (2 figures). That's for 15mm. So I guess you could use DBM bases without too much trouble.

Garand26 Dec 2017 5:14 p.m. PST

Is KKII limited only TO Sengoku era battles, or does it cover a wider variety of Japanese conflicts. FREX I have a small (DBA) Nara-era Japanese army, would it support that army? Or should I stick to "generic" rulesets (especially since I got them with the idea of 3 Kingdoms Koreans as opponents, as well at T'ang Chinese…)?

Damon.

Lion in the Stars26 Dec 2017 5:23 p.m. PST

Killer Katanas is worth the price just for the supporting documentation. All the changes in weapons combinations (A% spear, B% bow, and C% teppo in the Ashigaru, X% spear, Y% bow, and Z% teppo in the samurai).

Just curious but when talking about "mass battles" in this period, what was distinctive in a mass battle over other periods or cultures/civilizations that would require a special ruleset as opposed to using DBM or similar?

Where to start…

Generally mixed formations, not pure weapons (particularly among the teppo troops). Especially if you're talking samurai.

Mixed foot and horse units.

No capturing opposing officers for ransom, kill them all.

battle plans falling apart because of the rewards for being the first one into combat.

treachery and the relationships between commander and subordinates.


@ Winston The Sengku period was increasingly dominated by Ashigaru with arquibus so not sure of the relevance of your comment about "Pre-gun powder"?

The Sengoku period was 300 years of war from the collapse of the Kamakura Shogunate in 1333 to the fall of Osaka Castle in 1615.

The first firearms in Japan were in 1542. Granted, the matchlocks very quickly dominated battles, but that's still maybe a quarter of the Sengoku where firearms actually were present!

platypus01au26 Dec 2017 11:17 p.m. PST

Well, sounds like you would like DBMM. It has all that. Mixed formations (including horse and foot), treachery, inpetuosity, untrustworthy sub generals, the lot!

It is a not true that DBMM can only be used in tournaments. It is far better when used with historical opponents. We've had some great Samurai battles using DBMM.

https://flic.kr/p/985MVD

JohnG
PS: I tried, but just can't get the Flickr picture to imbed…

Rabelais27 Dec 2017 2:40 a.m. PST

Is KKII limited only TO Sengoku era battles, or does it cover a wider variety of Japanese conflicts.

It's intended for the mid-16th century to the early 17th century.

takeda33327 Dec 2017 9:19 a.m. PST

While KK2 has a wealth of great info I'm going to try BAW soon. There is also a good free set called"Damiyo". I think they are still free in that free game rules site and have used them many times.
Some folks have made army lists for Pikemens Lament but I have not tried that yet.
Warlord has a new samurai box coming out with rules but I suspect it's little different from Pike/Shot.
KK2 is a good set that for some reason we could not wrap our head around and get decent results.

Personal logo miniMo Supporting Member of TMP27 Dec 2017 1:14 p.m. PST

I haven't played it, but it does have a great name!

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP27 Dec 2017 2:32 p.m. PST

Katanas are cool killer Katanas are even cooler and there's two of them.

Lion in the Stars27 Dec 2017 4:42 p.m. PST

I should add that I have both BAW and KK2. I think I like BAW better, but KK2 is worth the purchase price for the supporting info.

And Brian Bradford is a good guy.

Moderate Inactive Member28 Dec 2017 6:26 a.m. PST

The Sengoku period was 300 years of war from the collapse of the Kamakura Shogunate in 1333 to the fall of Osaka Castle in 1615

I've never heard the Sengoku era extended back to 1333 to include the Nanboku-chō period. 1467 and the Ōnin War is the rough start usually given.

As for Killer Katanas II being voted the best "samurai" ruleset, actually "none of these" romped it home.

TMP link

Perhaps gamers are sick of the "samurai" era being reduced to the 16th-17th century and completely ignoring hundreds of years of classic warfare going back to the revolt of Taira Masakado in the 10th century?

Lion in the Stars31 Dec 2017 5:37 p.m. PST

Even if you put the start of the Sengoku Jidai at 1467, there's still 2/3rds of it taking place before the introduction of firearms to Japan.

Funny enough, I actually like GW's War of the Ring rules for Gempei War battles (and the Hobbit/LotR rules for skirmishes). Heroes get to be heroes, but don't necessarily totally dominate the game.

setsuko06 Jan 2018 3:38 p.m. PST

Yeah, I mean there are a bunch of good attempts at samurai army level games, and I like a lot of parts of them. So I don't want to disrespect any of them. But compared to some of the games I play primarily these days, newer games for Napoleonics or WW2, they feel a bit… clunky.

There's little in them to convince my opponents (who are not into the period) to try them out based on neat gameplay, so to say. So my samurai armies keep collecting dust while we play other games with more rewarding gameplay mechanics.

Now, if there was something with unusually rewarding gameplay underneath the layer of theme, I could probably get them to play it. But pitching KK2 (even though it's a very well done and researched book) is hard when we usually play games like Chain of Command or Sharp Practice.

Rabelais08 Jan 2018 6:08 a.m. PST

I think Battles in the Age of War is pretty good for gameplay. The pre-battle sequence adds a bit of period flavour and the game itself plays fluidly. The activation system is pretty 'modern' too. It has all the usual dubious cliches in it, but then, that's a big part of what drives the genre IMO.

takeda33308 Jan 2018 3:03 p.m. PST

Having now tried BAW now, I agree that they capture the period pretty well,……so far until something more innovative comes along. My two koku.

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