At last Test of Honour is finally out and we can start looking through the huge mountain of cards and start working out what we’re going to field. Ever since the game was announced and Mark had a first look at it we’ve been waiting for this moment. Even playing the game at Warlord just hyped the game up so much more and made waiting no fun at all.
So let’s talk about our Options. ToH doesn’t have clans or force lists, although they sell add on packs themed in a certain direction you have a lot of freedom to create a force of your choosing. The Fate cards can also totally change a force, but we’ll talk about them later. If you watched Marks unboxing yesterday you’ll know just how much stuff you can get access to.
So how do I build a force?
The rules for construction are pretty simple, you must have 1 Hero. That’s you on the battlefield or your proxy. At least one third of your force must be made up of commoners and you can choose to recruit any commoner model (including Command Models) from any of the sets. You may add up to two additional Samurai, but you don’t have to.
Pretty easy on the base of it, if the force is 24pts then 8pts of it at least is going to be Commoners. The rules don’t say you can’t have multiple Samurai Heroes though points wise it’s going to be a big drain. Tadashi the Dishonoured is 6pts, plus a Standard Samurai hero, that’s another 6pts and maybe Masahiro for my 18pts of total badassery. It does only leave me 8pts for my commoners but hey that’s 3-4 units to act as speed bumps for my Samurai. What could go wrong?
It’s a thing like shiny toy syndrome that can make force selection fun and with such a free choice it’s really hard to decide what is worth taking. So let’s take a look at them on their own.
In this first part of the article were going to look at the commoners.
This is the area with the most choice and that shouldn’t be any surprise at all. But what do you take? The commoner’s area is broken down into single models or groups. Now a group of say three Spearmen is 2pts, if I take one its 1pt. Now why would I ever not take groups? This is a tricky decision, as we know each unit or samurai will put a certain amount of tokens into the activation pool. If I have some single models that’s going to increase the amount of chances I have to get something activated. Though it’s all still down to when those Fate tokens come out as well.
Stat wise a lot of the units are the same, they may gain a point in one location and lose a point in another. So often you’re going to have to think what’s best, if you plan on being dishonourable a lot the Loyal maybe the better option as they have higher Honour. If you plan on being a good Samurai then the Experienced units might work out better.
Commanders can give you an extra dynamic that can change how you work. If you plan on more spearmen than anything else take the Sergeant. After he’s moved he can order a friendly commoner unit with 6”, they gain a free action. Great way to plug a gap, push into a weakened enemy, grab an objective. The Banner bearer allows units within 6” another die on their roll to avoid an attack. If they are stood near a unit of Pauper Musketmen who already have an Agility of 4, that’s now going to be 5.
This game builds on one idea and gives you about 10 more.
Yumi or Teppo?
Another option that’s going to be down to personal choice. The Yumi (Bow) has a Max range of 24” though only 3 dice for damage, or 2 at ranges over 12”. The Teppo (Musket) has a Max range of 20”, but has a damage rating of 4. This alone makes you think sorry Yumi, why? Now comes the last thing, Yumi can fire every turn, Teppo need to be reloaded before they can fire again. So depending on your plans will depend on which one is going to work best for you. If you do go Bows then the Sergeant of Archery is a good option to think about. I’m really considering a single Teppo armed commoner to act as a sniper.
Beyond the Mounted Samurai, the Mounted Samurai box set also gives stats for Ashigaru on horseback with bows. Okay strictly speaking it’s not historically accurate. Samurai are well known for using bows from horseback. But it’s an option the game allows and we shouldn’t complain about the added flexibility. One thing to note with Mounted troops armed with Bows is that like normal foot troops they can only move 3″ and then fire. But you could certainly move them upto a location and then act as a screen.
So that’s it for the first part, in the second part we’ll look at Samurai and Fate cards.