Test of Honour – Force Construction (Part 1)

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.

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.

Mounted Troops

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.

4 Comments

  1. Couldnt disagree more about the Cavalry. They are overpriced, underpowered, disadvantaged garbage that arent worth the plastic they’re made out of. Yeah, they can move 9″… get WAAY out in front of your army, and promptly get slaughtered as they just became a prime target. Every game Ive even tried using them, they’ve never accomplished 1 notable feat. A stand of Archers does more damage, has more aim, and costs LESS, *and* they have no vulnerabilities.

    Single guns are also a complete and utter waste of points. That many points for a 3 aim model that can only (mostly) fire every other round, and wastes an ENTIRE activation every other turn just standing there to reload. Forcing you to give up a potentially much better activation in the desperate hopes that “maybe next turn they’ll HIT something!”

    This game is great, but it’s far from perfect, and needs a few updated rules to bring it up to the next level.

    • Hi John, first off thanks for the reply always good to get feedback.

      I’d have to disagree with you on Cavalry as I’ve found my Mounted samurai to be a total beast. I often keep him back and then use him against a unit that’s already damaged knowing that I get extra dice and I can finish them off. If I’ve been lucky and picked up the Powerful charge card its even more devastating. But they aren’t units to go off hap haphazardly on there own.

      I don’t often use the single Teppo guy as damage its more to suppress a unit. That way I know its used its order and can’t evade when something else comes crashing in.

      As for perfect, I don’t think any game will ever reach that lofty goal, my reasoning behind that is that what is perfect for one person isn’t for another. We all have different ideas on what works and no game can cater to that widespread a demographic.

    • I think with cavalry you’re partially right. The faster movement is situational but getting them “WAAY out in front” is your decision, they don’t operate under their own command. On the flip side they don’t really get much of a bonus in comparison to the spears do against them. My understanding is though that a Japanese ‘warhorse’ was not comparable to a European charger so perhaps this is somewhat of a nod to history. Are they worth their points? I’m unsure but feel that their speed (especially for Samurai) shouldn’t be sniffed at.
      As for single guns I’m on the fence here, I think Jez is correct when he said ‘why would you not take a group’ and yes one lone guy isn’t going to change the game but remember that high ground will help and possibly a one off shot might be enough to kill the enemies hero if he’s being overwhelmed by other hits. The odds (with the bonus dice for high ground on scoring a hit are roughly 63% I think – though I’m struggling a bit because of the crosses!) so if the target has no actions left you have a decent chance of wounding him with one guy.
      I would say that your last comment seems knee jerk in itself, perhaps there is more balance here than any of us (no matter how many/few games we have under our belts) can know at the moment. I personally am going to try all sorts of builds over the coming weeks to find out what does and does not work and am thoroughly looking forward to it.

    • The creator of the game has been on the Facebook page, already creating and gathering info for errata.

      One of those is that he intended for the horse archers to be able to move the full 9” and fire, to reflect that grater training and skill.

      Also allowances for Spearman to have Naginata at no additional cost, and Samurai to take the rifle for 3 points (bow is 2)

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