Hopefully, you all enjoyed part one of the article so let’s not beat around the bush and get straight on with the second part.
Like Bowmen, I always have a least 1 unit of spearmen in any game I play. Normally, if I’m not trying out some insane idea I have 2. These are going to be the people that get a lot of the work done for you. I try to keep them close together so they can support each other and more often than not I have a Sgt with them as well. His free charge action is often forgotten by the enemy and it’s funny when they think you’re out of actions and you charge the tired Samurai who can’t defend himself.
Spearmen are not friends of the Mounted force, their spears give them +1 on Strike and Avoid rolls. Whilst that’s great and a lot of people think it’s amazing, you can only evade if you have an action. No action and you’re going to get thumped by the Cavalry.
As groups move them together to support each other as I’ve said. Don’t because of the fact that tokens don’t come up in the right order feel you need to charge 1 unit away from another and leave it on its own. If you do when the fighting starts you could be without any help and quickly cut down by another spearmen unit with Samurai support.
Terrain dependant and also if my enemy has a few bits of Cavalry I will move the bowmen with the spearmen as well. If you’re doing this, remember that they can start being hindered and lose some effective strike capability.
Yes I know these are commoners and Yes they have their own Musket units, but they also have Thugs which don’t really match anything else we have already discussed. They also come armed with Katana for starters which give them a fair bit of use. The extra Blood Spot done on a critical hit is very nice and can help to weaken a samurai or even finish one off.
The Ronin are very cheap to use and this means they could well be used for grabbing objectives or because they are so cheap they could be sent around the flanks to draw people away from another fight or to change a person’s focus from the main issue. At 1 point if you draw off a 3 point unit who tries to chase you down what does it matter?
The slight down on them is if they are called to make a test of honour roll with such low honour they could well run. It’s an issue easy to deal with by using either the Banner or not bunching them up so that one fail doesn’t trip onto others.
I thought I would save the best for last. Japanese cavalry doesn’t work the way a lot of people think. We’re not talking the same horses that could carry a heavily armoured knight across the battlefield into a fight and then carry them home again. Samurai war horses were about the same as a European riding horse, in certain areas they were even worse, due to poor grazing and lack of good horse management.
With all that in mind don’t expect Cavalry on its own to win the battle and neither should they. Their best use is against units that can’t fight back. One’s you’ve already tired out with your bowmen or who you’ve attacked already with another unit.
Cavalry for the moment is either a mounted Samurai of some sort (Hero or Normal) or Mounted Archers. Taking a mounted samurai is a lot of points, but because of the bonuses gained from certain fate cards, they will stomp all over things. Fate cards like Power Charge, Master-Forged Weapon are going to really mean that a charge from a Samurai can hurt.
With Cavalry always look for units that have activated, you know they can’t evade so as long as you hit you’re onto a damage roll. If they are injured even better that’s an extra dice to damage them this time. Also, don’t sit in the fight unless you have to. My hero tends to move to a good position in a turn, charges in the following turn using 1-2 actions depending on the situation and then I move back to safety.
Mounted archers are still great to use because they can get somewhere quick and also they can get away quick as well. Now although all cavalry can move 9”, your charge range is still only 6” and if you have a bow you can only move 3” and still fire.
Terrain and how you use it can really affect how your units can work. Units on hills will have a +1 Strike Value to those lower down. So getting your Mounted Archers to a hill so they can sit and shoot from it, is a great idea. If you’re using foot Bowmen then a Unit with a Sgt of Archery is devastating sat on a Hill shooting away at anyone stupid enough to get within range. Don’t even get me started on how dangerous Musket units could well be, it’s one of those moments when I’m glad they don’t benefit from the Archery Sgt. Strike 6 at up to 20” would be horrid.
If you charge from a hill you also have +1 strike. It’s why I keep saying that cavalry is dangerous. Though a lot of people feel they need a +1 strike as a matter of course. Yes because my Samurai Lord charging off the hill needs to be rolling at least 7 dice to attack.
Now pushing defeated units around can lead to some clever gameplay, models that are forced to retreat have to stop when they hit terrain, nearly as bad as when you retreat with enemy models nearby. So you can box models in if you attack from the right angle. If you can box them between a piece of terrain and a unit you’ll be able to add extra blood spots if you’re not killing them.
Attacking from the other side of rough terrain makes it a lot harder for the enemy to get you, the movement is reduced by half so it will mean that it could be two turns before someone gets to you. Even longer if you retreat whilst shooting.
Who do I kill first?
This is really what a lot of people think about when gaming. It’s only natural that we look at who are the biggest threats and try to either lock them down or get rid of them early on.
If you set a plan on who you’re going to get rid of first be prepared to be flexible if that unit stays back, goes out of range or line of sight, you could become fixated on it.
Enemy missile troops or units about to engage in combat are those I go for first, normally locking them down with my archers or ronin thugs. As we’ve said earlier these can then be attacked by other commoner units or Samurai. Because of the random draw, you’re always going to be forced to act with a unit and normally a lot sooner than you want to be as well, your choice only being what unit to activate with the token you’ve drawn. Try not to tire your Hero out unless you have to, he’s going to get a lot of attacks coming his way and I’d rather save the chance to dodge an attack if I can, I try to use up activations on my other Samurai first. You can though be in a horrid position and forced to attack someone over being attacked. So being flexible is key..
Samurai are key to your success in this game, no one else can get the amount of actions they can and also you have all those nice fate cards. So this will mean that your enemies Samurai can be your greatest threat for the same reason. We’ve already discussed how we can get them to use actions and be attacked by other units.