While I was recapping my Gen Con adventures, I was not idle in my other projects. Things have been boiling under the surface and the time needed to prepare for Gen Con had stalled many other projects out. Now free to roam wild, I have set myself upon these languishing projects and worked them up into something useful.
Today is all about Test of Honour.
I received the 2nd edition of Test of Honour and, with great timing, finish up my long-running “small board.” To consider it “finished” (really 97% there) I painted up some framing pieces and a bottom around the foam terrain I made. This helped anchor it in place and protect the somewhat fragile foam edges.
In addition to the finalized board, I spiral-bound the new rules as well. This is now my first order of business on any paper rule book that won’t lie flat. FedEx Office cut a little too deep into the book but it didn’t completely wipe out any text and the ease of use of having the book bound this way is too great to worry about the binding creeping into the text or art.
Happily, I even got the chance to play through the new rules and board. I took my original 1st Edition Dojo Assault scenario and reconfigured it to the new rule set. The main changes were as follows:
Samurai (defender side):
- Sensei Kamiizumi-Kanchou
- Wise Samurai
Ninja (attacker side):
- Ninja Assassin
- Ninjas (3 base group)
- Ninjas (3 base group)
We used the 2e cards as-is with no additional bonuses or skill cards to try to balance things further. This left us with 11 points each. The draw bag was filled with seven samurai activations, two commoner activations, and the three fate tokens. As is probably obvious, this did not go as well as we’d hoped.
The objectives were the same as before- Assassinate the Sensei, steal the scroll objective in the Dojo, or poison the food and water supply. One of the objectives is drawn in secret by the Ninja player.
For the setup, we had the Sensei start on the “porch” of the Dojo and the Wise Samurai start at the bell temple. The Ninja could approach from the corner opposite the dojo, up to 12″ on either side of the corner (basically the low-lying areas of that corner of the board). The scroll objective was in the Dojo as was the food to be destroyed and the water supply objective was near the reeds. No samurai could enter the dojo unless occupied by the Ninja. Game would last 6 rounds with Night rules in play.
With the board set, we were ready to begin. The Ninja Assassin entered in near the river and climbed up the low cliff to head for the shrine in the bamboo.
Not knowing where to go exactly, I had the Sensei move to the middle to better guard against what direction the other Ninja may come in from.
The other ninja came in to try to cross the bridge but the Sensei greeted them with nothing but death. Actually he greeted them with the intent of death. What actually happened was a lot of whiffed blades hitting air.
One new element to 2nd edition is you can opt to play honorably or dishonorably (or both). I was eager to try this out so I took a penalty for attacking the Ninja who were unable to defend themselves properly. And got totally nothing for doing so. I was completely dissatisfied with my knowledge of doing the honorable thing.
While I was busy honoring myself, another group of plucky ninjas crossed the cliff and started to sneak in.
I couldn’t stay and fight the bridge ninjas so I fled to the hill to see that the Ninja Assassin was making his way to the dojo. The Wise Samurai also made a run for the dojo to protect whatever it was they were bent on destroying.
Content to let the Wise Samurai guard the dojo, the Sensei tried his luck against the other Ninja but to no avail. The Ninja blocked the blow easily.
The Ninja Assassin got to the dojo and decided to wait and see where the Wise Samurai was headed.
The Sensei’s furious but useless attacks drove the Ninja group back. I was not shaken in my use of honor so I continued taking the penalty and found some interesting honor cards for my luck. Unfortunately, none of them applied.
Later, the Wise Samurai and the Ninja Assassin met in the Dojo. The first attack saw the Samurai miss.
The Sensei did finally kill one of the ninja and forced them all to think about their life choices. During this introspection, they decided that they did not like what they saw so turned and fled off the board (failing multiple honor rolls to do so).
With one group of ninjas out of the way, the second group had made steady progress on getting to the water supply.
It was not going well for the Wise Samurai as the Ninja Assassin injured the old man with some naughty tricks. So dishonorable.
The Sensei charged down the hill and killed another ninja. This group stood its ground this time but all for naught. The end of round six was upon us and the ninja failed to meet their objective in time.
As a system, 2nd edition worked out great. Things seemed tightier, the rules were well written and easy to find, and some of the new options were fun. As a scenario, that didn’t go well. The Ninjas didn’t have the actions needed to complete the mission and the set up didn’t help them at all with too many objectives focused around the Samurai possibly turtling in the dojo the whole game. I didn’t do that but that is the obvious strategy.
A big issue is time and action availability. With two samurai, the samurai team has 5 activations to the ninja’s 4. Also with only two commoner activations, there is a good chance they may never act, especially if continuously hounded by the multiple activations of a samurai. The ninja player did get burned in a whole round that saw him draw all three fate tokens and never actually activate.
To go back and see how to correct things, I think I’d go back to the Sensei and Ninjas only. The idea of the set was born out of only using what came in that initial Dojo Assault set so sticking with it is likely the best course of action. This would make for two ninja groups and one lone ninja against the lone Sensei. It will have a slight point difference but that should be fine.
Next the set up should have only the scroll inside the dojo. The “destruction” objective should have an objective at the temple bell and the water supply so there is a possibility for the ninja to never need approach the dojo. The last two addendum would be that the search action is not stopped by the presence of an enemy within 3 inches and there is no round limit. Either the objective is met by the ninjas or they are wiped out (or the Sensei is eliminated- this would end in a draw for the ninja unless they had the assassination mission).