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This was another via-Skype game, as we finally reach the end of the Test of Honour 6-part basic campaign! Today's game was "Rescue", and involved the largest forces we had used so far.
"Word has reached Lord Hosokawa that his brother is being held captive in a remote valley deep in the territory of the Mori Clan. As Lord Hosokawa quickly assembles a rescue party, his captured spy priest, undergoing torture at the hands of the Mori Clan, finally reveals that the secret is out.
The Lady Momoko, eager to avenge the recent beheading of her father at the hands of the Lord Hosokawa, seizes her chance to finally bring a bloody end to their deadly feud, and lays a trap at the remote farmstead......"
£ This scenario requires a 3x3ft battlefield, with 3 central buildings that must be searched to locate the missing brother. Happily, we had exactly the right terrain to match the scenario map, even down to the low bamboo fences!
For those interested, this mat is a double-sided latex design called "Swamp" by PlayMats.eu, and has great photo-quality detail. Everything else, with the exception of the river in the far corner, is from our own 3D printed samurai collection.
£ The attackers start within 3" of one table edge (I chose the bottom edge) and must advance to the central buildings to search them for the missing brother. The 3 building objectives are marked in red. As soon as the first objective has been successfully searched, the defending player must reveal whether the captive is in that location (noted down by them before the game), and the attackers must continue to search more buildings until the brother is found, if necessary. The rescuers then have to carry him to safety.
The defenders, wanting to avenge the previous beheading of their clan lord, simply have to take down all enemy characters to win the game.
£ Liam split his force into two sections. The larger force could start the game anywhere on the board (except the enemy deployment zone), and included several missile troops, Lady Momoko to lead them, and her samurai retainer.... and Pochi the dog! No, really.
£ This smaller force would act as reinforcements, to join the game later on and close the trap!
£ Lord Hosokawa (in gold kimono) brought one samurai retainer and a few spearmen, but also hired the services of some ninja warriors, including a ninja lieutenant (on the rock, at the back).
Battle is joined!
£ Lord Hosokawa and his ninja allies advance cautiously into the farming village, but not even their soft footsteps can escape the notice of Pochi the dog, who starts barking a warning to the defending force.
* Pochi wasn't actually an in-game model at all, but worked well for story-telling purposes. So apologies for him photo-bombing almost every shot!
£ Lady Momoko responded to the barks by sprinting back to the small farmhouse and jumping through the low window, to quickly confer with her samurai lieutenant. That objective was going to be impossible to search until they were pushed out!
£ The defending archers behind the low fence quickly signalled to their waiting reinforcements, and the trap was sprung! A group of Mori spearmen (in red, on the right) jumped from cover in nearby bushes, and rushed onto the flank of the attacking force.
The group of ninja attackers responded by running into close range, and letting fly with their throwing knives at the flanking spearmen. Their renowned assassin skills were immediately shown to be complete rubbish, as they fumbled the throwing knives and managed to stab each other by mistake! Oops!
£ As the attacking force advanced into the village, a musketman popped up from behind the fence of the animal pen and fired! He cursed as the musketball passed harmlessly through one of the enemy backbanners, and quickly scrabbled for a reload.
Lady Momoko sent her samurai lieutenant forward to block the advance of the white spearmen, and stepped carefully forward to the doorway of the farmhouse.
£ The Mori Clan spearmen on the flank looked round desperately as a ninja lieutenant dashed forward to add his knives to the rain of sharp metal flying their way, wondering where their sergeant and archer had disappeared to! They'd have to hold position until more reinforcements arrived.
£ The Mori Clan samurai lieutenant decided to seize the initiative and charged boldly into the attacking spearmen. A quick kill caused the two remaining spearmen to flee back to safety!
Their fellow attackers fared little better, as the ninja assassins and the Hosokawa Clan samurai lieutenant (in white, on the left) in the animal pen both failed miserably to even scratch the desperate musketman trapped in the corner!
£ The blood-mad samurai lieutenant saw an opportunity to attack the unsupported Lord Hosokawa, and recklessly leapt forwards with a flurry of blows. Lord Hosokawa, taken off guard by this seemingly suicidal charge and distracted by Pochi the dog's wild barking, looked down in shock as a fine line of blood oozed through his beautiful kimono, and quickly retreated to the safety of his troops.
£ Over on the flank, the ninja lieutenant charged forwards into the flanking spearmen, giving his subordinates time to retreat and support the Lord Hosokawa. After all, they wouldn't get paid until the job was done!
£ Lord Hosokawa felt his temper rising, and stepped forward to teach the young upstart samurai a lesson. Did he know how much that kimono had cost?! His sword flashed out and the young samurai was dead before he even felt the killing blow.
* The young Mori-clan samurai had overextended himself and used all his actions in attack, so I chose to play Lord Hosokawa as the ultimate bad-guy and use "dishonour" cards whenever available. He got a massive 7 hits on the unlucky samurai!
£ Lady Momoko seized her chance and leapt to attack Lord Hosokawa, but was thrown back by his superior fencing skills. In return, Lord Hosokawa strode forward to the attack, again choosing to fight dishonourably. Leaping forwards, his katana sliced sideways through Pochi's ear, making the dog jump backwards into Lady Momoko! Hah!
His smile turned to a snarl as Lady Momoko dodged his lunge, and he spun around as cries of anguish rang out from behind him.....
£ It seems even his hard-bitten forces were appalled by this wanton act of cruelty against Pochi the dog, and as a man they turned and fled away from the scene of the crime! Lord Hosokawa, seeing himself left alone in the face of a furious Lady Momoko, dashed for the safety of the nearby rocks!
* Yes, I had indeed pulled the worst of the "Dishonour" cards, and as a result ALL of the nearby units failed their honour tests! Yikes!
£ Over on the flank, the ninja lieutenant had nipped around to the rear of the defending force, and let loose with his shuriken stars. Several hits on the archers gave him the boost to charge into combat and push them back further....
£ ... and then the lone banner bearer stepped forward from behind the archers... and clubbed the rampaging ninja to the floor!!! The ninja would not live to learn from his mistake, as he was killed outright!
£ Lord Hosokawa screamed at his troops to get back in the fight, and they begrudgingly stomped forward once again to force their way through to the objectives. As the ninja finally cut down the poor musketman in the animal pen, the nearby samurai lieutenant dashed past them into the doorway of the farmhouse to search for the missing brother!
Baskets and boxes were thrown everywhere inside the building, and after two fruitless attempts to find the missing brother, the samurai spun around to see a figure silhouetted against the doorway! Who...?
A sudden stab of pain, and the samurai lieutenant stared down in horror at the katana lodged in his stomach.... The enemy banner bearer looked down at him without pity, and as he strode away to the doorway cheerfully shouted out "Right, who's next, then?!!".
£ With all the supporting characters dealt with, the fate of the game would be decided by one final combat - between the injured Lady Momoko and the equally injured Lord Hosokawa!
Swords flashed back and forth, but neither could get past the other's exquisite defense! Suddenly they heard a yell of triumph from behind them as the ninja warriors finally cut down the enemy sergeant, forcing the red spearmen and archer reinforcements to flee the battlefield.
£ Seeing the Lady Momoko stranded without support, the ninja assassins leapt forwards into the fray...
£ The onslaught of flashing blades proved too much for the Lady Momoko, and she slumped to the ground as her blood soaked the pure white of her kimono. She died knowing her father would never be avenged.....
Lord Hosokawa stepped back with a grim smile on his face. As the enemy forces fled away from the carnage, he ordered his men forward to search the buildings for his missing brother.
We called the game over at this stage, as a victory for Lord Hosokawa and his ninja allies. His brother, by the way, was ultimately found in the farmhouse shed that had earlier been searched unsuccessfully (twice!). It's a good thing his lieutenant died in the fight, or Lord Hosokawa probably would have taken his head anyway!
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