Recommend
40 
 Thumb up
 Hide
11 Posts

Samurai Battles» Forums » Reviews

Subject: A review focusing more on the Art of Tactic system rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Simon
United Kingdom
Sheffield
South Yorkshire
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Normally I would wait a little longer before reviewing and get some more plays under my belt but people are asking questions about this game and I don't think theres a review focusing on the Art of Tactic side of Samurai Battles yet.

In this review I will look at;

The components

The Command and Colors very briefly

The Art of Tactic system


I've only played the C&C game once, and the AoT twice but feel I have enough to give some insight. I will update this review once i've played it more and if my views alter. I'm not going to explain the rules. If you want to hear a rules over view, watch the awesome drive thru review vid, or read the rule book (only C&C rules are online though I think). Due to the lack of info on this game, this review will be a bit more of an info dump than most reviews I write.




The components


The components will be devisive. You get a lot of plastic sprues with models that need to be clipped out, assembled/glued and then if you want, painted. It took me about 5-7 hours (I didn't count exactly) to assemble the models. I used to do Warhammer as a kid, and Airfix and i've assembled some pretty complex models in my time, these were up there in fiddliness. The plastic is the same as that used in Airfix (model planes) type models, as Zvezda is a similar company, they make plastic tanks etc. The plastic is therefore very brittle. I broke quite a few spears just clipping out the models (you might need a model knife to avoid this). Some of the models were tough to put together and needed a little trimming. I'm not going to make to many judgements here but realise this game requires some effort and commitment.

The cards used the C&C game are poor quality. They are the first cards i've considered sleaving. The art on them isn't great either. Compared with GMT this a bit of a let down, but Zvezda are new at this so perhaps this can be forgiven.

The board is passable. It comes in 6 mounted sections so they can be flipped to a reverse side with some rivers printed on them. The art work is attempting realism over stylised, which is a down side for me. I really like the stylised map of GMT's Sekigahara, same they couldn't have gone in that direction here. The plastic multi level hills are cool and the terrain hexes are decent quality. The dice are fine, you have to sticker the C&C 6 siders, and AoT uses 6 D20's. The wiped off marker pens and command cards for AoT are decent quality. The visual design of the AoT command cards makes them easy to used (they contain most of the rules you need which is great), and then player aids are swell as well.


The real issue here is are you willing to invest time in to assembling these models which will very likely break. Spear ends are long and fragile. I use a card board box that came with a A4 side RPG book in it for storage. I have it lined with bubble rap, and whilst better than baggies I still have suffered a few breakages. Short of buying a Games Workshop style carry case I don’t see how you can prevent the odd break.





Command and Colors

Richard Borg knows what he's doing. I have only played one game of this so far, but have played C&C napoleonics a lot and can say that the game is fundamentally sound. The real question is whether the scenarios are interesting / balanced enough. The game I played wasn't riveting but I can't call judgement yet. This game is more random than C&C nappy. You often have lower hit odds on the dice, and there are more cards with more variation in power, so the whole game is more random in my limited experience. It is thematically evocative and moving the plastic minis around isn't too irritating, but isn't as easy as wooden blocks either.

The major downer here is that you only get 8 scenarios, which is significantly less than the GMT games. I expect to see more realsed but I doubt this game will see more support than the GMT titles. It would be good promotion if the publisher publicly proved me wrong here.


If your only interest in this game is the C&C system I wouldn't pick it over one of the other titles unless your really into Samurai.




Art of Tactic

In my view this is what your really paying for here, the main deal. I've played two games, one was one of the worst gaming experiences I've ever had, the other was one of the best. Never have I played a game and had such polar experiences.

In brief, this is what some folks on this site might consider a proper war game. It has zones of control, rules for; moral, fatigue, terrain effects, leadership, out flanking, command and control etc. You have a card for each unit. Both players go through their cards and tick the order options they want for each unit, and detail the hex numbers they will target or move through, sort of like ordering room service breakfast in a hotel. These orders are then (unlike room service breakfast) carried out simultaneously. This creates the major draw and achievement of the game. You can achieve stunning, daring manoeuvres, if your opponent doesn't predict them. I strongly recommend this game to one group of people. Folks who love 'proper' more middle weight war games who can't get their friends to play with counters. This game has the rules of a more serious war game, but the attractive parts of a lighter game. I find this useful in luring in my gamer friends. Due to the rule book being reasonably well written (errors aside) and well designed cards and player aids I've managed to play the game with someone who would never sit down to a hex and counter game, could easily repeat the feat with a few of my other gamer friends. If someone will played twilight struggle, in terms of complexity I reckon you could coax them on to this.

Each game took me and a friend about 1-1.5 hours to set up and 2-3 hours to play. We played two of the longer scenarios with more units. This would have been increased if we had switched all the flags on the back of each mini around to the correct colour. Most scenarios have an unbalanced unit composition and several used all of the units. So if you want the perfect picture be prepare to tweezer flags back and forth before each play. Set up takes so long partly due to sorting out all the models, but partly because you have to match up all the board parts right, pick out the terrain tiles with the correct numbers on them, and read off the correct hill charts on a crappy table. The scenario booklet could be much better designed.

There are 7 scenarios, but the game doesn't include enough minis to played 2 of them. Which think is outrageous. I appreciate that more models would cost more, but at least design scenarios with what's in the box. Effectively you get 5 scenarios. From the two games I’ve played I'd say that its the scenarios that make or break this game as a fun experience.

The first game I played had two large forces paired up on a narrow board with little room for manoeuvres. My opponent charged, and I rearranged my line to try and maximise a few bonuses, avoid being out flanked. I got steam rollered, but that wasn't why I hated it. I spent about 4 hours on this game to be put in a position where the dice made most of the decisions. The hole thing was very long and procedural. There was too little room to make things interesting. We just chucked handfuls of d20s at each other for 2 hours until one side crumbled under the odds.


The second game I played was far wider and the units were spaced further apart. Both sides had very even forces in both size and distribution. Both players got more interesting decisions to make, more bluffs to read, more gambits to plan. Do I hold back my best troops in reserve, or break my foe with them before he is prepared. Do I gamble and cross the river beyond the bridge? The game regularly through up difficult choices, I need to stop those cavalry fast, but charging my these infantry exposes their flank, and leaves a hole in my centre, etc, you are forced to risk weakness for gain. This is where the games fog of war system really work. You can get away with very risky manoeuvres if your opponent doesn't expect them and if you can execute them cleanly. I lost one unit of Naginata Samurai when my opponent charged his cavalry across the line of fire of my gunners and archers. I didn't anticipate it, so I had already expended my fire power that turn, and he got away with what would otherwise been very costly.

There is a strategic learning curve. After two games it is obvious to me, that getting flank and rear attacks is critical, and using your archers in combination with melee attacks is important. Your archers are totally ineffective alone unless in high numbers at short range, but are handy in lowering enemy units defence points.

Combat is done with D20s, as are moral rolls. D20s, having more sides than the more popular d6 and d10 (popular in war games), consequently the odds take longer to roll out. This is a more random game than you might expect. Typically you will be trying to roll less than 6 or 8 with maybe 5 dice, and score 4 hits to do any damage if you haven't planned ahead well. Even in good conditions you might need 2 or more results less than 12 on those d20s to do anything. Particularly on moral roles the dice gods can shame you. I'm not an expert on Samurai history but presumably unpredictable out comes were common.

The system gives you a high degree of control over your troops, perhaps unrealistically. Each unit will do more or less exactly what you order, but the out come will rarely be what you envisaged as your opponent will do what you didn't expect and then the dice will hand you his lungs or shatter the perfect plan.

Whilst I have recommended this game to war gamers, it might be a bit much for some more casual gamers. Given that each unit moves simultaneously and there are order limitations based on the positions of your leaders you can really mess your turn up if you don't think things through. Having said this, the most complex war game I’d played prior to this was Hannibal Rome Vs Carthage, and this game is no heavier. Part of the reason my first game went so bad was rules errors. I misunderstood shooting rules and a few other minors, but by the second game I feel I’ve got it more or less nailed, even with the rule book errors (some things are mislabelled).


This has been rather long but in conclusion; This is game that requires considerable commitment from you, both in terms of set up and play. Some of the scenarios are under cooked, and there are fewer than there should be, but... when this game fires it is really awesome. Both systems C&C and AoT, deliver the feeling of being a Shogunate pretender. AoT can be a way of seducing lighter gamers into playing war games. I've made a lot of criticisms of this game, and after my first play I figured i'd probably end up selling it on after a couple more. After my second play, this game won't be leaving my shelf any time soon. It is worth the effort.
37 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Benjamin Symons
Belgium
Glabbeek
Vlaams-Brabant
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Very informative review. I'm glad someone finally did a more thorough review of the AoT side of the game, as I haven't dared dipping my toe in that ruleset yet.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
StevenE Smooth Sailing...
United States
Torrance
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
DukeofChutney wrote:


Each game took me and a friend about 1-1.5 hours to set up and 2-3 hours to play.

... This is a game that requires considerable commitment from you, both in terms of set up and play....


Which is probably why I have only read through the AoT rules.

I would consider trying AoT if I had someone who knew the rules... I don't get the impression AoT would play well solo, whereas C&C does fairly well.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Nicholas Gauthier
United States
Monticello
New York
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
I agree; thanks for giving the AOT flavor. The Big Question about this game is who it will appeal to. Even more important for marketing, will it create a crossover between the lovers of one version to the other? I heard a pal tell me he'd talked to a game dealer at a convention some time ago about Zveesda's Barbarossa game: although oeople who got it liked it, few were buying it. So I assume the Borg gambit was to attract board gamers who had never heard of Zvesda. I don't know if that will happen for them--but it won't if they don't improve their level of customer support.

I got the game for C&C. When my pals hear you have to give each unit orders for AOT, they lose interest in trying it with me. However, both you and someone who made a video said it was a good game of bluff, guessing, timing, and tactics. That sounds pretty good to me. But I probably won't try the AOT unless I get really curious about it. I did make a gesture though, I have held off on gluing the small banners so I can switch them around for AOT!

I hope you'll add more comments after more plays. I've gone through the C&C scenarios and enjoyed them very much.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Steven Goodknecht
United States
Bourbonnais
Illinois
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmb
Simon,

Very good review and as it is your third wargame review, you have been added to the BGG wargame reviewers geeklist here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/127822/in-praise-of-bg...
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ian Long
England
flag msg tools
Really interesting review, must admit I bought the game mainly for the AOT side of it. Still building and painting the minis but looking forward to getting stuck in.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Robert Kuster
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
"There are 7 scenarios, but the game doesn't include enough minis to played 2 of them. Which think is outrageous. I appreciate that more models would cost more, but at least design scenarios with what's in the box. Effectively you get 5 scenarios. From the two games I’ve played I'd say that its the scenarios that make or break this game as a fun experience."


I so agree, I remember reading your post with the above commment didn't check the scenarios. So yesterday we started setting up Scenario 1, and those who play AoT will realize it takes a bit of time to get all the units organized and the battlefield set up, when we noticed we were missing quite a few units. Not impressed at all. So we played Scenario 3 which by the way is brutal with the rivers, we both lost several units to drowning.
I prefer AoT over C&C rules which I find to random and luck based but they should've made all the scenarios playable for what you get in the box and later bring out more scenarios for larger armies.


1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bill Herbst
United States
Sayville
New York
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I may be wrong but I think the reviewer does not mean that the 20 sided die produces less random odds but that rolling definitive results takes longer. That was my impression of on play (introductory scenario) of this game -- units that hit on only a 1-4 on a 20 sided die means a lot of misses. In other words its takes longer to roll out.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United States
San Antonio
Texas
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Certainly no "longer" you are still rolling one die per attacking figure in the example given, unless you are counting the processing time of determining whether the AoT roll is a hit, but this is negligible. The more facets simply provide more nuanced capability for weapon variety in the game. C&C allows for re-rolls in some instances, cards that negate rolls, etc. Here is where we have inefficiency in regards to time.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.