Unbelievable, but that was already our 7th meeting with Lukasz where we play the newest Commands & Colors installment – Samurai Battles. This time we prepared something special for Dear Readers – session report from the largest pre-modern era battle on the Japanese soil – Sekigahara 1600 AD. At the same time one of the most fateful clashes, as it for good established Tokugawa Shogunate and – ironically, as achieved by immense bloodshed – an era of 250 years of peace.

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)
Fourth Kawanakajima 1561 AD (Phase 3,4&5)

The Game

Short How to Play video, presenting main game mechanics

By this time you should be pretty well familiar with the game concept and mechanics. But for those who are reading this as a first article in the series, couple of words. Commands & Colors: Samurai Battles game allow players to re-play important engagements of Japanese history mainly regarding the XVI century. The battles, included in huge 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.

Not surprisingly, the game follows the well-known mechanisms 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. Once again, Richard Borg at his best. Time for session reports!

1. Sekigahara 1600 AD (Opening Attack)

Historical Background

This battle was fought around the small village of Sekigahara, astride one of Japan’s key feudal-era roads. It was here that Ishida Mitsunari and his western allies planned to meet and stop the advance of Tokugawa Ieyasu and his eastern allies. Using the wooded hills between two mountains, the western army had a strong defensive position. Although Ieyasu had granted Fukushima Masanori the honor of opening the battle, it was Il Naomase’s mounted “Red Devils” that charged forward first. Masanori quickly followed and charged into the center of Mitsunari position. So the most famous Samurai Battle started!

Session Report

We rolled for sides – Lukasz took Tokugawa (blue blocks) while I led Ishida side (red block). I truly hoped to turn the historical tide of Sekigahara battle and achieve better result than the actual one 🙂 How did I do, below. But do not hold too much hope…

Initial forces deployment in the first scenario (click to enlarge)
The battle set-up is pretty confrontational. It is only a matter of time before cavalry endangered by range fire will charge the poor blue and green units.
Of course I will try to counter-attack but will be less than fortunate in my rolls.
Let me try once again – this time a true Mounted Charge! Two cavalry units decimated and Takeda general forced to commit Seppuku!
The end of battle was very exciting as each of us was only one banner from victory. A rush by Lukasz Samurais and perfect roll tipped the balance in the favor of Takeda. Congrats! (click to enlarge)

Close, exciting, fast and furious scenario – what we love in C&C system!

2. Sekigahara 1600 AD (East of Mt. Nangu)

Historical Background

East of Mount Nangu, Asano Yukinaga, hearing the sound of battle, charged his eastern samurai forward. They struck home on Natsuka Masaie’s position, which surprised the other western commanders, who for the most part just watched as the fight unfolded. Yukinaga was quickly gaining the upper hand, while the sizable forces of Masaie allies, Mori and Chosokabe, instead of joining the battle, choose to remain passive and just watch.This situation of loyalty of the western clans unfortunately would surface throughout the battle.

Session Report
Set-up of the second scenario; there are clearly visible Mori and Chosokabe units, who can be activated only by Order One Right/Left cards (click to enlarge)
It was obvious, that without Allies I was grossly outnumbered and that I can win only local engagements. I have tried to build a local superiority using forest hexes but a quick move forward by Lukasz started to dent my line!
When two powerful Samurai Units converge on you what can you do? Fight bravely and inflict twice as much causalities on enemy than they on you! Even, if your leader dies in the process…
Another feat of heroism – lonely Ashigaru Spearmen unit not only withstood two attacks, but killed 4 enemy blocks!
Unfortunately, in the end numbers started to tell and my troops were eliminated one by one. Heroism allowed them to stand only that much.
The last blow came from the charging cavalry who overrun poor bowmen (click to enlarge)

Again, a historical result, with Ishida forces crushed. But rest assured, the victors will remember the shameful display by the disloyal and inactive allies of their opponents. Especially Mori will pay the heavy price.

3. Sekigahara 1600 AD (Assault against Ishida Mitsunari)

Historical Background

Around 8:30 AM, Kuroda Nagamasa led several other eastern generals and their troops in a direct assault against Ishida Mitsunari’s command post. Mitsunari position, however, was guarded by the men of Gamo Bitchu and Shima Sakon. These units had taken cover behind some hurriedly constructed palisades and fought well even though outnumbered. Supported by blanketing fire of the eastern arquebusiers, Nagamasa redoubled his effort, but Mitsunari’s mend refused to pull back.

Session Report
Battle lines before the start of the final and decisive third scenario (click to enlarge)
I was supposed to defend in the palisades against numerously superior but much more cumbersome opponent. But why my Arquebusiers managed to kill two blocks while in the same time Lukasz reduced 4 of my ranged units to 1 block? The dice was definitely with Takeda on that day!
The range combat continued and truth to be told, I could either stay and die in trenches or move forward.
I decided the latter is more fun and honorable. So I left my entrenchments and with 3 units charged the full blue army. What a joy it was to be finally free from this range fire!
I knew it was last, hopeless charge but Lukasz counter-attack rolling 3 flags on 4 die with Shogun (which activate any unit) was too much even for me. The luck was evidently with Tokugawa!
After a pretty tense end, the Tokugawa prevailed (click to enlarge)

Well, that was very, very long scenario as Lukasz had 4 cards while I 6. Once he crushed my range units he gradually built position to move further (and with 4 cards it takes time) and just then I executed my desperate charge. All in all a completely not historical result 🙂


Three very great games which all went to Tokugawa / Lukasz. Try as I might, using different tactics and strategies, I was not able to prevail in a single battle. The history loves to repeat – and so it did also this time (with one exception :))!

Banner count was as follows:

  • Lukasz (Tokugawa) 15 Michal (Ishida) 9

More reports approaching – stay tuned!