About game:

GMTs Commands & Colors Samurai Battles is a great re-implementation of this classic title from Zvezda company. The game allow players to portray important engagements of Japanese history – mainly 15th century AD. The battles, included in the 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.

What I really like 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 with battle interlude, main action and final phase. But we shall also see the split 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.

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). 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!

Would you stand-up to the task and manage to prevail against your opponent, securing Japan for your clan?

Number of players:

As with the all Base Versions of the Commands & Colors games, this is purely 2 player position. I expect – just like with Ancients or Napoleonics – that with time we will get the EPIC expansion, increasing possible number of players to 4-8. I also hope that GMT One initiative will create a playable solo version for that title.

Playing time:

The usual scenarios take on average 45-60 minutes. There are some larger set-ups which can go over that threshold, but all in all, this is rather a short wargame. Thus you play a lot of scenarios in one evening!


Definitely a medium-complex C&C game – mainly due two decks of cards. Slightly more rules then in Ancient, much less then in Napoleonic, similar in numbers to Medieval. However, in comparison to other Wargames, this is definitely light position.

What I like:
  • Relatively simple set of rules allowing for wide array of possible tactics and strategies; in other words, a game easy to learn but difficult to really master.
  • Scenarios – tons of scenarios as already in the Base Game we get 40! That really allows for tens of hours of wargaming fun!
  • I usually play boardgames for theme and historical appeal. I really like to learn about past events. C&C Samurai Battles offers me a great insight into the Japanese history of 16th and 17th century. I am deeply immersed in all those battles once I get one to the table and see a chronological and causal flow of history when playing several in one go.
  • Fantastic components – while some might prefer minis, here blocks are great – both from the usability perspective, aesthetics and the period – they fit well and I can image Samurai / Ashigaru formations organized exactly like portrayed by Samurai Battles.
  • Replayability – with so many scenarios, two decks of cards and multiple strategies and tactics available you have endless hours of joy before you get through the whole content. And most of scenarios you want to play more than once, so interesting and engrossing they are!
  • Finally, a small but neat feature, as already in the base game we have fantastic-quality, laser-cut dice.
What I do not like or would like to see in the game:
  • As far as rules are concerned, I sometimes would like to see how the “time pressure” rule would work – we have such implementations in couple of C&C positions, like The Great War for example. That would really force one side to more decisive actions.

  • Some luck factor which can be pretty annoying at times. This is especially visible as Samurai Battles – with no Leader symbol on dice – are less lethal then Ancients and even the best prepared attacks can go awry.
For whom?

Of course, first and foremost for C&C fans – specifically the ones willing to learn more about Japan history. But in the end, this is a fantastic light wargame for everybody. Especially if you want to encourage somebody to our hobby! 

More about the game:

And now let us have a look at the components – all pictures & videos from my plays:

Short Video on How to Play Samurai Battles
A typical set-up of Samurai Battles scenario (click to enlarge)
Both sides ready to charge at each other!
When you just crossed the steam and enemy prepared a counter-attack on you….
Did you know range warfare was critical during Samurai Battles? A clear evidence – and effects – above.



The Commands Colors Samurai Battles by GMT Games is definitely very good, logical continuation of those light wargames family. It is beautiful game – a vivid red and blue blocks looks fantastic on the pastel board, it has already 40 scenarios in base game, it features two card decks and allows for a really close and enjoyable plays!

I can definitely recommend this both to veterans of the system but also to new players who would like to familiarize themselves with fantastic world of Commands and Colors. Strongly recommended! See you in another game review!