As I talked about earlier, I first got into Test of Honour through the special expansion collection called the “Dojo Assault.” I also said how it was a missed opportunity to not include a scenario that could accommodate just the the material in that expansion so that others like me that used it as a starting point could get a taste for the game. Not one to sit around and wait for someone else to come up with a solution, I decided to try and make a scenario for it myself.
I copied the layout of the regular scenarios and got to work. The main inspiration also follows from where I first heard about the set: the preview on Tabletop Gaming News’ news feed. In their post, the author added in some story line intro of his own.
Kazmiizumi-kanchou, the famous sword master, sits in his dojo, quietly meditating. His sharp ears hear rustling outside. But it’s not simply the wind through the trees. Someone’s out there… multiple someones. He grabs his sword, ready to face whatever threat might be coming for him.
That quote really inspired me to jump into that set and try to recreate that simple story in game form. I wanted the element of “one vs many” and the intrigue of not really knowing what you’re up against or what is going on. To simulate the “one vs many,” I needed to balance things out a little bit. The master swordsman model has a point value of 7 while the main ninja leader alone had a value of 8. Even adding in a bunch of ninja lackeys, the master swordsman wouldn’t be able to compete. I decided to break with the normal force building restrictions and pit just a group of commoner ninjas against the named Master. This created a pretty even 8 points for the ninjas and 7 for the samurai.
There were a couple of other mechanics that work in this favor- the samurai has three activation tokens and the combination of 3 units of ninjas also have three tokens. When you create the activation pool, the number of activations are even for each side but still highly asymmetrical. It is a little awkward in that the main game has each player alternating who draws from the bag and since the activations are so different, it actually doesn’t matter who draws from the bag.
To create the intrigue, I decided to make several goals for the ninja and draw one secretly so that the samurai player wouldn’t know exactly which objective the ninjas needed to win. The hope is that this will have the Samurai do more than sit back and wait for to be attacked.
Even though I’m still packing for my move, I was able to keep somethings available enough to work on and one of them were my Test of Honour minis. I decided to put a mock test together using the most basic objective of “kill the Samurai” to see if the reduced model and activation counts were even possible.
I set up the sparse battlefield and ran through the rounds playing both sides (called “left hand vs right hand” soloing I found out while lurking on the solo gamer group on Facebook).
The game started with the Master, Kamiizumi-kanchou, emerging from the Dojo to see what was going on only to be immediately attacked by a group of ninjas chucking throwing stars. Using his Defensive Form and Deflect Arrows ability cards, Kamiizumi was able to block the attack and trigger his bonus, which allowed him to move 6″. It wasn’t enough to charge the ninjas but it was enough to get near enough for his next activation.
A lone ninja in the shadows came out and attacked Kamiizumi but failed and on the following activation, Kamiizumi cut him down quickly. The nearby ninja group did not waiver and held their ground. They knew death could come at any moment and were prepared.
In the next round, the ninjas engaged Kamiizumi and easily trigger their bonus attack but even with fewer dice (from the ninja’s bonus), Kam was able to dodge their attack.
A round later, the last ninja group was able to get into the fray. Again, they did great on their attack but Kam turned the attacks aside.
Now it was Kamiizumi’s turn. Since the group had already activated, Kamiizumi attacked them as they would be unable to defend. Using his master-work sword, he cut down the first ninja and triggered a follow up.
Which ended poorly for the next Ninja as well. Lucky for team Ninja, there wasn’t another followup but there was only one more activation token in the bag for them before the round reset and the last fate token pull would end the round.
They were able to pull the last token but their attack failed. Unfortunate too because Kamiizumi was out of activations and would have been unable to mount any kind of defense.
The ninjas start the next round but fail in their assault again.
Kamiizumi is able to activate next and scores a heavy cut but is blocked by the lone ninja. The result isn’t all bad though as it causes the ninja 2 blood and forces his activation to defend himself.
After his next attack failed, Kamiizumi activated again (three times in a row) and brutally cut down the last ninja of the group.
Loyal to a fault, the remaining ninja group maintains their honor and does not flee. Kamiizumi is able to followup against them.
But ultimately fails to cut anyone down. The game ends as Kamiizumi has cut down at least 5 VPs of enemy figures. The ninjas have failed and flee into the shadows.
I found that the scenario worked well. I was worried that the activations would be messed up with a token bag composed of three samurai, three commoner, and three fate tokens but it worked out very well and most rounds ended with only one extra token left in the bag. The scenario will need more testing but it didn’t seem terribly unbalanced. I think the ninjas can do better when their goal is secret and they can distract the samurai to achieve their goal.