The EPIC journey with Samurai Battles continues. The game made a great impression on me and Lukasz – we both are experienced players of Commands & Colors system but that installment is really great and well polished. So having another two weekend evenings free, we decided to take on another multi scenario battle, which spans across couple of chronologically connected engagements. What was it? Fourth Kawanakajima 1561 AD!

Samurai Battles Session reports:
Arita Castle 1517 AD - 2 scenarios
Okehazama 1560 AD - 2 scenarios
Koriyama Castle 1540 AD - 4 scenarios
Azukizaka 1542 & 1548 AD - 2 scenarios

The Game

Before jumping into the session report, let me first provide some more information about the game. Additionally, above I am adding one of my how-to-play videos.

The Commands & Colors: Samurai Battles game allow players to portray important engagements of Japanese history mainly regarding the XVI century. The battles, included in the thick scenario booklet, focus on the historical deployment of forces and important terrain features in level 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!

Let us move to AARs now!

1. Fourth Kawanakajima 1561 AD (Phase 1 – Uesugi Vanguard Attacks)

Historical Background

The battles of Kawanakajima is the story of two powerful clans each at the limits of their geographical power, but neither clan in the first three battles were willing to commit and therefore resulted in indecisive encounters. In 1561, Uesugi Kenshin marched to Kawanakajima determined to bring the fight to Takeda Shingen for a final and decisive battle. A series of signal-fires, however, alerted Shingen of Kenshin’s advance and he ordered his army to mobilize.

The two evenly matched armies were again in a very familiar position, until Yamamoto Kansuke, one of Shingen’s most trusted generals, proposed a plan called “Operation Woodpecker” which called for a flanking move and attack on the rear of the Uesugi army. Shingen approved, but Kenshin suspected something and after detaching a force to guard his flank, ordered is vanguard to attack the Takeda army that had crossed the Chikumagawa. As dawn broke, Takeda Nobushige, Shingen’s younger brother, was shocked to find that the Uesugi army was not retiring as planned, but was charging forward toward his vanguard.

Session Report

We decided – as always – that one player will lead particular side through all games. As the mini-campaign has scenarios favoring both sides at some particular part of the engagement – things were changing pretty rapidly there – we just rolled so see who gets which side. In the end I was to play the Takeda (blue blocks) while Lukasz was to be in charge of Uesugi army (red block). Let us see how it went!

Initial forces distribution in the first scenario (click to enlarge)
We are close to one another so Lukasz immediately attacks; he kills one block of my bowmen, but my battle back is one of the most fortunate – two red dice and half of cavalry dead! What a start!
But I have no respite. Uesugi are closing on me – evidently trying to outflank. I manage to repel some initial attacks…
…and then try to perform my own counter-attack but this proves to be a complete failure, with my foot leader dead!
We exchange blows now on the left wing, with both sides blooding themselves; but I cannot keep up with this attrition ratio.
In my last, desperate attempt I am encircling the exposed Samurai Spearmen and manage to rout the unit. But that is all I can do – an attack in the center will finish the game next turn.
The final situation on the battleground with Uesugi (historically!) triumphant. The center decided the game (click to enlarge)

Tough game for me with little to none place for maneuver. Even doing my best I simply could not turn the tide. Tick for Lukasz!

2. Fourth Kawanakajima 1561 AD (Phase 2 – Yamamoto Kansuke Charge)

Historical Background

As the battle developed, the Uesugi troops were deployed in a “Winding Wheel” formation as their forces advanced. This tactical formation allowed their front line units to be replaced by fresh troops as the forces moved forward. While the Takeda units, deployed in a “Crane Wing” formation and could not bring units forward as quickly.

Yamamoto Kansuke, seeing his army being pushed back, realized that “Operation Woodpecker” had failed. Accepting responsibility, he charged forward into the Uesugi lines in true Samurai fashion. He fought bravely until overcome by wounds and nally withdrew to commit seppuku.

Session Report
Initial forces positioning in the second scenario (click to enlarge)
Leadership Card allows Lukasz to execute two-prong attack. I am losing 8 blocks not killing anybody in return. Tough start.
I am trying to counter-attack but than another nasty surprise awaits me – Personal Challenge which my leader loses!
Time for desperate measures – “Shogun” card allows you to roll dice equal to Command and activate units with +1 dice. And it works pretty well, as one enemy unit & leader are being dispatched!
What is more, I have fantastic Dragon Card – Wise Advisor. Guess which Command Card will come-back to my hand? 🙂
Ewuipped with much better cards and trying to exploit the position I attack further. 3 Flags is rare result and forces opponent to retreat, losing 3 Honor & Fortune in the process!
I feel victory nearby and decide to play Shogun. Another, super-nasty surprise awaits me – First Strike. Not only I lose 2 leaders on Leader Checks, but also the whole scenario!
The final situation on the map – a very close game with Lukasz again victorious! (click to enlarge)

Again, a historical result and a very close game – probably much more than historically.


As you can see, the initial part of this battle really favored Uesugi. I was beaten by Lukasz twice in those pretty straightforward, head-on scenarios. The banner count at the end of this session was following:

  • Michal (Takeda) 8 Lukasz (Uesugi) 11

The continuation of this battle will come soon – stay tuned!