The battle of Fourth Kawanakajima 1561 AD was a long and multi-step engagement with incredible twists and turns of fate. The Samurai Battles game depicts it in 5 scenario mini-campaign, first part of which you can find here. Today I am presenting final 3 set-ups, which me and Lukasz had a chance to play just recently. So stay tuned for an exciting and shocking resolution of this battle!

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
Fourth Kawanakajima 1561 AD (Phase 1&2)

The Game

As always, just before report I am adding some more information about the game for those who have not heard about it. What is more, above you can find one of my how-to-play videos which even better presents the flow of the game.

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!

And now time for session reports!

3. Fourth Kawanakajima 1561 AD (Phase 3 – Attack against the Takeda Command Tent)

Historical Background

The Uesugi troops had pushed forward and were in sight of Takeda Shingen’s command tent. Shingen, unaware the enemy was so close, had been directing the battle when his headquarters and bodyguard were attacked. Not having time to draw his sword Shingen defended himself with his war-fan. Samurai rushed to aid Shingen and the assault on the Takeda command tent was repulsed.

Elsewhere, the Takeda battle line managed to hold against the fierce rotating attacks of the Uesugi army. The cost, however, was great as many brave Samurai leaders would fall in an effort to maintain the line.

Session Report

I really hoped to turn the tide of battle. My Takeda forces (blue blocks) were mercilessly beaten by Lukasz Uesugi (red block). So the time for payback come. But first, I had to defend my Command Tent!

Initial forces distribution in the third scenario (click to enlarge)
I knew I am grossly outnumbered and that I can win only local engagements. So without much hesitation, after couple turns of repositioning the units I hit with Cavalry Charge. And I hit hard.
The superior armor and status is a key in Samurai Battles. Lukasz will learn this the hard way trying to cut off one of my cavalry units!
Unbelievable! The weakened Uesugi units fall a victim to viscous cavalry attack. I score 4 VPs in one turn and the game ends!
The final situation on the battleground with Takeda – historically, but much more decisively than in reality – triumphant over Uesugi (click to enlarge)

It was definitely much more decisive result than I expected based on the forces disposition and set-up. I knew that Tent was historically successfully defended but to win 6-0 was surprise to us both!

4. Fourth Kawanakajima 1561 AD (Phase 4 – Ford of Amenomiya)

Historical Background

Through the night, the flanking force of “Operation Woodpecker” under the command of Kosaka had ascended Mt. Saijo only to find that the Uesugi troops had abandoned the position.  Hearing the sound of battle, Kosaka quickly moved to the ford of Amenomiya, which was guarded by Amakasu Omi-no-kami Kagemochi, one of Kenshin’s most reliable generals, and a small detachment of men.

The fighting was fierce as the Uesugi rearguard was almost wiped out trying in vain to stop the crossing.  When Kosaka and his men did cross the Chikumagawa the stage was set for a dramatic turn of fortunes, for Nobutaka’s “Operation Woodpecker” plan would surprise Kenshin and his army.

Session Report
Set-up of the fourth scenario (click to enlarge)
I knew I have superior numbers and can win war of attrition. But a small surprise when you move units faster than normal can unnerve even the best defenders!
While the middle ford defenses were crumbling, I also used my left-wing units to contest the crossing there. Lukasz had a great dilemma where to reposition his only reinforcements. And that exactly was a plan!
Really, the central ford was almost mine when...
..not only Lukasz disregarded my two range hits (Dragon cards can be very powerful!)...
…but also killed my unit with First Strike!
Enough of this! First, counter-attack gives me possibility to bring devastating fire on Uesugi troops.
And then infantry onslaught allows me to get their last arquebusier!
The final situation – almost no Uesugi troops left! (click to enlarge)

Again, a historical result, with fords captured by Takeda and Uesugi destroyed almost to a man. Bloody affair, preparing us for a final clash of armies!

5. Fourth Kawanakajima 1561 AD (Phase 5 – Takeda Pincer Attack)

Historical Background

Nobutaka’s “Operation Woodpecker” plan had turned what looked like a defeat into a Takeda victory. By midday Kosaka’s flanking force was across the Chikumagawa and charged into the rear of the Uesugi army.  Caught between Kosaka from the rear and Shingen, who had reformed the Takeda battle line, to their front, the Uesugi army began to fall back. Both sides had suffered an incredible number of casualties, and a lot of heads were to be viewed in Shingen’s triumphant head-viewing ceremony.

Session Report
Battle lines before the start of the final and decisive fifth scenario; see my flanking force top-left (click to enlarge)
First part of the game was focused on both armies repositioning – my encircling forces met up with the main body of army and Lukasz withdrew exposed units.
But then a surprise attack came – Lukasz charged with the Infantry Onslaught!
Again, that proved to be a little too much for his forces – they were encircled and mercilessly cut down! Of course, my leader also died in the process!
One more “last man standing” attack from Uesugi (Cavalry) proved to inflict serious loses on me.
The end of this story was peculiar. Lukasz used “Desperate Charge” (+2 dice for unit with 1 block) but after first attack had to succumb to my Ambush!
The time has come to attack finally the Commander Tent and nearby units. The battle was fierce and I won Personal Challenge finally!
A very tense and balanced scenario finished our 5 parts campaign (click to enlarge)


So that was another evening of decisive victories and crushing defeats – with exception of last engagement. All the scenarios went in historical order but I have a feeling that many-times, once you start to lose, a snowball effect starts. While first part of campaign went to Uesugi, the second was a decisive Takeda victory, with banner count as follows:

  • Michal (Takeda) 26 Lukasz (Uesugi) 17

More reports approaching – stay tuned!