"Honor and Death . . . ."
The rains finally stopped and for the first time in weeks Mirumoto
Yukihira could see the sun's beams breaking through the mountain tops. The air
was still moist, the ground wet and difficult to traverse. Had it not been
for the rains they would have left the Mountains days sooner . . . and
perhaps had a chance to avoid their pursuers.
"Have the Mountaineers returned yet?" he called out to Bunjun.
"Not a sign of them. It is not good, they are hours past due."
Yukihira nodded slowly. Agasha Mountaineers were some of the best
scouts in Rokugan, the fastest men and the best climbers. Their senses were honed
beyond all measure and their training amongst the best in the Dragon
There would be only one Clan whose men could move more silently, whose
men could kill so swiftly as to leave no trace and no chance for escape . . .
"Assume battle formation!!!" he cried to his men.
"They are here??" Togashi Mitsu cried out.
"Then I will take the lead - I have a point of honor to discuss with
Bayushi Yokuan. . . . ".
Standard tile setup for a 6x4 battlefield.
Shane chose the tiles and I set up most of the terrain. In the end the
board looked something like this:
We diced for table side and Shane picked the one with more hills. Since I had the higher honor (3 times the honor!) I had the hand of fate (determines who wins ties on things) for the first turn, and Shane had to place first.
Shane placed the Ninja Bowmen led by Soshi Bantaro in the middle on the
hill and I placed Agasha Tomori and his Yojimbo directly across from
them (it seemed appropriate). Wanting to place his straw targets last (I'm
guessing to ensure he could distract the bulk of my missile fire) he
next placed the house guard near the center while I placed the Dragon Talons
on my left flank. When all was said and done he had (going from right to
Peasant Archers, Scorpion's Claws, House Guard, Ninja Bowmen, Straw
Targets and Elite Spearmen. I had, to counter this, (from left to right)
Rocket Teams, Dragon Talons, Dragonscales, Medium Elite, Agasha Tomori and
Turn 1. The pieces are positioned.
Initiative was pretty much split across the board with the Scorpion not
surprisingly edging me out on a few units but as this was pretty much a
just a setup turn I wasn't too worried. Special Orders for the turn had
Togashi Mitsu call the power of the Dragonfly to help offset against any
Peasant or Ninja bowmen shooting, while blackmail started to fly around my army
(the Scorpion have access to tactical cards that limit the number of tactics
your army can use by blackmailing your characters). In movement my Dragon's
Flame failed their maneuver check to get into Archer Row, and that meant their
shooting would be wasted this turn - the price you pay for poorly led/trained troops.
Both my Dragon Talons and
Dragon Scales moved up fast with the aid of Wind Borne Speed to close
with the Scorpion as soon as possible - and to get out of the deviation area
of my own rocket teams. The medium elite moved up slowly around the other
side of the large hedge sections. In shooting, Shane's Ashigaru archers were
out of range against my Talons and the Ninja bowmen decided to stay hidden.
The Rocket teams fired off and 'deviation was a plenty' but in my favor as
they veered out of the way of the Straw targets and into the Scorpion's
Claws felling 3 of them - who easily passed their maneuver check.
Again my Dragon's Flame Archers failed to understand the
concept of Archers row, looking at their Gunso (unit leader) as if he was asking
them to walk on water. More units moved up and jockeyed for position. Hoping
to get a key charge in against the House Guard I attempted to cast Fires
of Purity on Mirumoto Yukihira only to have Soshi Bantaro scoff at me and
easily counterspell it. However, that left Agasha Nogata free to cast
Wind Borne Speed on the Dragon Scales forcing the House Guard to fall back
for fear of their charge.
Turn 3. Engage!
This was a pretty big turn as most of the units were close enough for
charges across the board. Shane used his Scorpion ability to modify his
initiative on his units this turn to ensure that he would at least partially control the flow of
battle. Special orders saw a bit more of blackmail being pressed into my leaders hands
and I tried cast the Fires of Purity again, only to have Shane's shugenja counterspell it,
which he did handily, but I had Agasha Nogata burn the counterspell from his mind (the tactical
card - Beyond Your Mastery). Nogata then cast Biting Steel on Mirumoto Bunjun
as he prepared for the advancing Elite Spearmen.
In movement, the Talons charged the Scorpion's Claw (I hated doing this
as it was a waste to charge a unit that takes away all of my charge
bonuses - but hey, better charge than be charged) and Shane's House Guard charged
the Dragonscales. In shooting the Scorpion Elite Spearmen hurled their Nage-Yari
into the Medium Elite dropping 2 and the Ninja bowmen leaped out of their
hiding holes in the ground and let loose with a hail of arrows dropping 2
more. Ouch! The Ashigaru got into range of the Rocket teams but failed
to wound anyone as only a few of their members were able to see. In turn,
the Rocket teams risked another volley and fired dead on target hitting the
peasants and dropping 2, causing the rest of the unit to run around in
a panic because some were still on fire (they become disorganized (unformed)).
On the left the Talons found the charge disrupted by lightning fast
responses of the Scorpion's Claws and only managed to drop one of their
number while Togashi Mitsu did the same. In turn Yokuan and the Claws
put 3 wounds(!) on the Talons dropping one and injuring another. Then Tomori
brought out his Writ of the Elements and cast Fires of Purity anyway on
Yukihira (burning the scroll in the process). The Dragonscales, led by
Yukihira, now fared better as he dropped one of the house guard with
his Yari of Air before he struck and the Dragonscales themselves wounded
another. In turn 2 Dragons fell to the combined blows of the Bayushi
Lord and his honor guard.
Turn 4. The Elite Spearmen moved up to the Dragon Medium Elite and the
Ninja Bowmen circled around toward the archers. In Special Orders the
Scorpion Shugenja cast Secrets on the Wind and yanked the very charge card I was
about to use out of hand for a turn! Without that, the Medium Elite
wound not being able to reach their foes and would have to endure one more
turn of ranged fire . . .
In shooting the Ninja and Spearmen opened up and dropped 7 (over half
the remaining unit) of the Medium Elite in one blow! Fearing a spy in my
ranks I dropped the tactical card Grim Determination (auto pass one morale
check) and hoped I could survive to get into HTH next turn. The Rocket teams
had no good LOS to any unit and fearing how the deviation could hit their own
units choose to move forward instead. In HTH, the Dragon Scales did a number
on the Bayushi House Guard, their ranks still intact from the first round
of combat - Yukihira killed one house guard, the Dragonscales killed 2
more (5 wounds total) and in turn only lost 3 of their number. Togashi Mitsu
reared back and hurled a ball of fire with his Dragon Tattoo directly in the
Scorpion's Claws and did an amazing 42 points of damage - which after
the defense of their leader meant he killed three Scorpions Claws. The
Talons killed 2 more and in turn only lost 2 of their number. Break checks for
both units. The Claws passed easily and the Talons nearly failed theirs
(made it by 1! - bless the Writ of Command) when a spy began shouting in their
ranks "we are routed! They have us beaten on all sides - flee! flee!".
Knowing no Talon would ever make such a cry the remaining Talons caught and killed
the spy silencing his treacherous words in one swift blow of a No-Dachi.
Turn 5. Fearing that my bowmen were about to flank his Elite Spearmen
when they were about to be engaged with the Medium Elite Shane moved his
Ninja bowmen around the corner and his straw target bearing men both to focus
on the Dragon archers. In shooting the Ninja opened up and dropped two out
of ten archers and Soshi Bantaro attempted to cast the Fury of Osano-Wo
(fireballs) to drop a few more to cause a panic check when Agasha Tomori stepped
forward and countered the spell.
Combat was fairly quiet as Shane's Courtier deflected some of the attacks from the charging
Medium Elite who killed only two of the enemy while losing 2 of their own.
Turn 6. This was the last turn and both sides decided to throw
everything into the fray. In movement the straw targets were engaged (why I did
this I will never know) by the Dragon's Flame while the Rocket teams moved up
to scare away any ideas the Ashigaru would have of flanking anyone. The
last Biting Steel was cast on Yukihira while everyone else sat back and
watched the final fights.
In shooting the Ninja bowmen poured fire into their own straw targets
who were in combat with the Dragons Flame (have they no honor??) - however
the ploy proved clever as only a single Straw target was injured and 3 Dragon
Archers died. Not surprisingly the Dragon archers fled (breaking on
the last turn!) and the game hung in the balance.
On the right flank the last remaining ranks of the Medium Elite showed
a fierce vengeance dealing four wounds to the Scorpion spearmen while
Bunjun in turn killed one more. They themselves took two more losses. In the
middle the Dragonscales and their leader killed three (roughly two
wounds each) of the house guard and lost only 2 more in return, while
Togashi Mitsu and the Medium Elite killed all but the last of the
Scorpion's Claws who stood bravely by his master and helped fell two more Talons
(one of which was injured). Both of us played Grim Determination on our two
most heavily hit units (the Claws and the Medium Elite) leaving the Scorpion
Elite Spearmen to . . .
FAIL their final break check. Despite the army commanders re-roll Shane
couldn't get his die to go above 3 and the spearmen broke on the last
turn, (meaning they would have to take even more damage from the parting shots
of the Medium Elite next turn).
Final Score - Dragon 10 - Scorpion 6. A GREAT game and well worth the
effort of playing.
Thanks to Shane for the game - I'm sure he'll get revenge next time.
(Scorpion Epilogue by Shane Yeager)
...Bayushi Yokuan limped off the field of battle, where the
celebrants of the victorious Dragon Clan raised their banner high. With a scowl, he
approached the Scorpion general, Bayushi Togai, with no knowledge of
how defeat would taste to the notoriously hot-tempered Togai.
"It is finished?" asked the ninja master.
Togai nodded in affirmation. "Yogo Asami performed her part to
perfection, as usual. The Spearmen were quite reluctant to leave the
Dragons alive, but she forced them to follow their orders. I
understand their reluctance, leaving the field to these fools." A Shadow
Assassin, unseen in his traditional black, seemed to materialize in front of
"Your commands have been carried out, Bayushi Togai. The Dragon
Mountaineers have been eradicated, and the Dragon Clan will have no
knowledge of our stronghold in the foothills." The raspy voice sneered
as he mentioned the Dragon's scout specialists. "But why will they not
press their advantage now that they hold the field?"
A flash of steel behind the ninja surprised even Togai, as Yokuan
slashed the throat of the young Scorpion. "Too bad. The fool had
talent. He should have known better than to ask such things." the
voice was devoid of emotion. As a few remaining Scorpion Claws scurried
forward to remove the corpse, Yokuan wiped the blood from his ninja-to.
A cackle erupted from the shugenja, enough to chill the blood of
anyone not familiar with Soshi Bantaro. Performing a little dance before
speaking, the unbalanced nature of the Scorpion's only living mage
showed clearly. He spoke to the corpse as if nothing was unusual, walking
alongside the Claws as they dragged the ninja away. "You see, dear
boy," he gibbered, "now the Dragon think we are beaten, and if they chase us,
they will chase us in a direction WE choose, and not think further on
why we were here in the first place. Now, young ninja, I have a use for
you. You don't think Master Shoji will let that precious blood go to waste,
now do you?"
Well played, Brian...