Friday, February 27, 2015

Chaos Samurai, Podcast and Battle Lore

First of all the second episode of War Journal: Flames of War is up at (you can also get it at iTunes). In our Off Topic segment we talk about the game Samurai Battles. This game has been occupying my attention lately and I wanted to go into a little more detail about it here as well as mention my future plans concerning it.

Samurai Battles is more of a board game that has miniatures than a more "traditional" miniature game that I normally play. It is actually two separate games: Art of Tactics and Command & Colors. When we were talking about how much we love the game, we were talking about Art of Tactics. At the time it was the only one of the two I had played and it was the reason I started buying packs. Since recording the podcast I have played BattleLore which uses the same system as Command & Colors so I now have an understanding of both games. While I enjoy Art of Tactics much more, I still think BattleLore/Command & Colors is a very fun game that plays much faster than Art of Tactics. Both systems is something I will be investing in.

Here is a short descriptions how each game plays. Both games uses multiple troops on a hex map board. In Art of Tactics models are place in trays to form units. How many models per tray is based on unit type. Each unit has its own stat card that describes what actions it can take and its game stats. If you have multiple units of the same type, each unit would need its own copy of that stat card. Each model in the unit attacks so casualties reduce the units effectiveness. At the beginning of each turn both players write down their orders for every unit in secret. When both are done, everything is reveal and all actions are resolve at the same time in a specific order. In Command & Colors models are usually group in units of four and are place directly on the hex map. The game map is split into three sections which is a major element of the game. There is a deck of cards called command cards. Each player has a hand of these command cards and at the beginning of their turn will play one. These command cards decides what units are able to act and after resolving those units actions the player will draw a replacement command card and it is now the next player's turn. The number of dice used for attacking is determine by unit type and its not affected by casualties unlike Art of Tactics. One model in the unit will carry a banner and they are the last one to die. When the banner model is lost, it is claimed by the opponent and count as victory points. The first player to reach a per-determined number of victory points wins the game. Here is a picture of how each game arranges its units:

Art of Tactics on the left, Command & Colors on the right

Any game that interest me enough to play more than once is a game I'm looking for ways I can craft stories with it through the use of campaigns. And it is no different for Samurai Battles. The story line I'm thinking about at this point is pretty simple. A Chaos force (and maybe a few other armies depending who I can get to join) invades a new land across the sea. This new land has its defenders but the power of Chaos is relentless and its touch is corrupting. Very bare bones now but it will be greatly expanded upon as my Chaos Lore grows. Now taking a story that has been portrayed with Warhammer Fantasy and then start using Samurai Battles with it is a multi-step process. The first step is to stay with Warhammer. Beside the 15 playable armies in the Warhammer game, Games Workshop has mention many more nations in the background that they have never given rules to. The blog site Warhammer Armies Project has made and playtested fan rules for many of these nations. Of the many armies they have up there, they have two that interest me; Nippon and Cathay. They are pretty much fantasy Japan and China respectively. Using their fan made Nippon rules I can play out the initial battles with the Warhammer Fantasy system. With the setting of the story move to one the that is based on historic Japan, using Samurai Battles to represent some of the battles makes sense, at least battles with no supernatural element. As for doing battles with supernatural elements, I have two options for that (besides just playing Warhammer). One is to create a magic system for Art of Tactics. I briefly talked about working on magic rules in the podcast and I think if done right would create some interesting games. The other options is to pick up another game, BattleLore Second Edition. BattleLore has a fantasy setting that is somewhat similar to Warhamer with knights, monsters and magic (even has their on version of Chaos). With a little work I should be able to adjust the Command & Color system of both BattleLore and Samurai Battles to have them work together.

This may seem like a lot of work just for a game and it is. However I think when done right campaigns adds so much to your average game that it will make all this work well worth it. Campaigns allow players to craft stories around their games and building a campaign upon the history of others makes the experience even richer. Another reason to make a campaign around three different games is that it will allow more people to be involved. My friends that would be interested in playing BattleLore and Samaurai Battles is mostly not the same group who would be interested in playing Warhammer Fantasy. This will allows my friends to share a gaming experience they normally wouldn't share together. Nevertheless I'm a ways off from being able to put this campaign together. I need to pick up more Samurai Battles figures, buy a copy of BattleLore Second Edition and build a decent size Nippon army from the ground up. I will be talking about this project off and on as I am sure a lot of these models will be up on my gallery page.

If any of the games I've talk about interest you, feel free to check them out at the links below.

Warhammer Fantasy
BattleLore Second Edition
Samurai Battles

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