It did not take me long to bring the Samurai Battles to the table for another face-to-face session. The recently unboxed game makes really great impression – both from aesthetic but also game-play point of view. The initial AAR of Arita Castle 1517 AD was very well received among Dear Readers so today I would like to continue with picture-rich session reports, sharing here and there my observations about that position.

The Game

As always let me provide some more information about the game to those of you who hear about this title for first time – or did not have a chance to familiarize more deeply. Above unboxing with game components, below some more info on the theme and rules.

The Commands & Colors: Samurai Battles game allow players to portray important engagements of Japanese history mainly XVI century. The battles, included in the thick scenario booklet, focus on the historical deployment of forces and important terrain features in scale with the game system. The scale of the game is flexible and varies from battle to battle. For some scenarios, an infantry unit may represent an entire clan of soldiers, while in other scenarios a unit may represent just a few brave warriors.

The game follows the well-proven mechanics of Commands (cards driving the moves and creating Fog of War) and Colors (the units designation, having huge impact on battle results). The dices allows us to quickly resolve all battles and the components in the box allow for creation of countless scenarios. In essence, Richard Borg at his best!

So without further delays, let us move to reports!

Okehazama 1560 AD (Border Fort Marune)

Historical Background

In June of 1560, Imagawa Yoshimoto assembled a large army with a dream of rising above a local daimyo to become shogunate of all Japan. All that stood in his path to Kyoto, Japan’s capital city, was and old rival, Oda Nobunaga. Yoshomito’s first objective on the march was to secure the Oda controlled border forts. He ordered Motoyasu to attack Marune and after a sharp attack against teh fort, Motoyasu retired to a prepared position. The fort’s garrison unwisely pursued the retiring forces and Motoyasu sprung his trap and the garrison force was destroyed and the fort captured.

Session Report

One of the features of my C&C plays is grouping some of the scenarios into the linked, chronological and logically connected sets. This usually means some particular battle being separated into couple of phases. That process can be done based on timeline – as it will be in below example – with battle interlude, main action and final phase. But the split can be also based on troops location – like overview scenario, left flank, right flank, etc. I find both approaches enjoyable and allowing for much closer familiarization with the particular historical event.

This time I had a possibility to introduce new player to C&C Samurai Battles – Lukasz. We first played the Scenario 1 – the training one, and then plunged into the historical battle of Okehazama. This two-scenarios battle is quite well suited for the introductory games, with both sides having possibility to win at least one engagement. Not to mention it is historically important! Let us see how it went – Michal (Imagawa) vs Luaksz (Oda).

Initial forces distribution in first scenario (click to enlarge)
I started with pretty ineffective range fire. Lukasze moved back, divided his forces in two and to my surprise, charged uphills! I almost destroyed one of attacking units, but then a calamity happened – my leader died in close combat! Not a historical beginning!
Dragon Cards give a lot of flavor to the game. When I almost overrun Ashigaru Spearman, Lukasz played Desperate Charge and mauled by Samurai Cavalry!
But I also had surprises under my sleeve. My mounted charge did not go as planned and I was down to one block – but when Lukasz just planned to finish my unit off – with inspired Samurai Spearmen – a timely played First Strike set the score!
My cavalry in the end perished – you can see above how that wing was contested – so I pushed wit infantry. That gave me 2 points and I started to catch up with Lukasz Oda’s forces.
Final Countdown – it is 4-4, we are both one point from victory. Lukasz manages to encircle my Bowmen and I think – well, that is end of it. But they survive with one block…
and my counter-attack allowed me to score that one, missing point!
The final situation on the battleground with Imagawa barely triumphant (click to enlarge)

That was supposed to be a piece-of-cake for my forces but transformed into a very close engagement. Death of my leader who was defending the hills was critical here. Fortunately, in the end I managed to achieve historical result.

Okehazama 1560 AD (Dengakuhazama Gorge)

Historical Background

After his army’s success at capturing the Oda border forts of Marune and Washizu, the Imagawa army and its commander Yoshimoto took time to rest and celebrate their victories in a wooden gorge called Dengakuhazama. Nobunaga, hearing of this, quickly set into motion a plan to surprise the enemy’s camp. He first set up a dummy army with hundreds of Oda flags on a nearby hilltop, and then let 3000 men around behind Imagawa camp. A thunderstorm covered his movement and when the storm subsided, the Oda force fell on the camp. Yoshimoto was killed in his command tent and the Imagawa troops fled in all directions.

Session Report

The second part of Okehazama is a true race with time. You can see below in the set-up how my leader tent is exposed to quick and decisive attack from Lukasz forces. I have pretty good troops but majority of them is far away, at the baseline. Who will prevail?

Initial forces distribution in first scenario (click to enlarge)
I started with pretty short hand (2 cards) so was glad to see the White Dragon card to bring my Command up. Lukasz had abysmal start so I had time to bring some forces forward.
But an inevitable attack has come – two inspired Heavy Samurai Infantries. I thought – I should survive the first wave…
I was wrong. Despite the fact that is is really hard to kill Army Commander (two swords on two dices if any bodyguard is alive), and that I managed to dispatch enemy leader and 5 blocks, my forces were overrun. Yoshimoto was laying dead in his tent.
What that meant? An instant victory for Lukasz 5-1. The rule says scenario ends once the tent is occupied by enemy unit. Well, that was pretty short so we decided – giving of course victory to Lukasz – to play longer, to see what would happen if the rule says “occupy at the beginning of the turn”.
That was probably not surprising that the Tent was pivotal feature of that extended battle. Still, Oda’s forces weakened by the fight with the Bodyguards were overrun 5-2


I am so glad another of my friends was hooked by the Samurai Battles. The results were of secondary importance, the fun from game – a top priority. While the game is probably medium-complexity Commands & Colors position due to second deck, it is also pretty suitable for the new players.

The final score: Michal (Imagawa) 6 Lukasz (Oda) 9. A defeat but an expected one – both scenarios finished historically although was a true thriller in the end. More reports will come – stay tuned!