Prompted by Mark's call to bring the true nature of Japanese warfare in this period to life I'm working on a number of aspects - including battle formations and the use of heroes.
The rules shown below are for PoW but equally can be applied to DBR or another rules set (based on DBA) which will give Japanese battles a true flavour of their own.
For any action that the player deems 'honourable' such as a unit charging in against overwhelming odds, heroic actions (see below), sublime trickery or killing sub-commanders / daimyos - the player gains Honour Points. Therefore it can mean that the battle can be lost but the honour gained means a moral victory (often just as important in those times). The referee can judge which is most important but it may be in the player's interests to gain honour where they can and even if losing aim to win the respect of all.
I've developed a range of cards (see below) which players can select at critical times of the battle. Most have some form of restriction on them and so are best used before getting to grips with the enemy or in critical situations (e.g. when attacking an enemy on a hill, when in danger of getting flanked etc.).
In order to change formation, this requires an order change from the C in C (the daimyo) and is acted upon as per normal order rules.
However, if a player wants to risk it, they can send a message instantly (given critical situations it may not be possible for a messenger to get to the commander in time) so I'm working up simple rules for the provision of orders through other means (i.e. flag / drum / conch).
Depending on distance from the daimyo and if the sub-commander is involved in combat or not (i.e. leading from the front) an order is received instantaneously (rather than having to wait 1 turn) BUT still requires pips to act upon it AND there is a danger of misrepresentation (i.e. the order hasn't been received properly).
Here I thought the best option is to pick out a formation change at random and apply it to the sub-commanders's units. If the restrictions prevent him from complying with the new formation, he doesn't get the bonus(es) and simply carries on with the original order. The daimyo can try to get his sub-commander to comply with the new order each turn until successful. Note that an army may choose an entirely wrong option for their next formation - such are the fortunes of war!
Example of a Formation Card
Order : Hold (i.e. sub-commander must be on Hold to use this formation)
* The army must fight on Hold orders for at least 2 turns before accepting an Attack order.
* The army MUST go on Attack order only (i.e. not Engage)
Can play an Attack formation card immediately (i.e. do not have to wait for the usual turn for an order to take effect) AND the sub-commander gets +3 pips for the turn the card is played.
Historic use : to counteract Crane's Wing and similar formations. The army pins the enemy giving the commander time to choose the most effective attacking strategy then goes for all-out attack.
In play, the player must fight on Hold for 2 turns (at least) - preferably behind pavises or stockades. At the start of their next Turn they can play their new formation card and act upon it at once (the extra pips help to give the attack impetus).
Tied in with this is the option (Russ would like this) where the daimyo can deem a sub-commander to be incompetent or lacking in samurai courage and order him to commit seppuku and replacing him with a (hopefully) more able replacement.
This can be invoked by any player at any time but the sub-commander MUST either have engaged in combat and lost 20% of his command OR rolled 1 pip consecutively 3 or more times (which would look like hanging back from the fray).
The seppuku order is like any other but must be sent by messenger ONLY. The commander can only be replaced if he is not engaged in combat (sneaky opponents may choose to attack a unit the sub-commander is attached to to prevent a poor general being replaced - but then run the risk of killing the same commander in battle).
As the loss of the sub-commander is planned the replacement takes place immediately and the replacement sub-commander is diced for at this point. So it looks like a win-win for the player - get rid of a poor commander and replace him with a better one! Well, yes and no.
Losing a clan leader in this way can have a positive or negative effect on the troops in the field. When the leader is replaced, have a morale roll for all units within 8" WITHOUT the usual leader bonus. A failure sees them go Shaken (or worse!). However, a pass is determined as having a significant boost to morale - all such units will get 1 strength point back.
|Pick an order. Any order. That's your order.|
|Two examples - one when on Hold, one when on Engage or Attack|
A third option will be that each samurai and sohei unit (cavalry and foot) will have a Hero attached to them. These will be denoted by an individual figure on a small base only when called on (otherwise they will be in the main body of the unit). They will appear on the army strength sheet.
The idea is that they can perform heroic actions but ONLY if facing other samurai / sohei units (no samurai would waste the opportunity for personal glory and honour taking on ashigaru!).
These are only possible therefore if it is the players' bound, and the hero's unit is within 4" of a sub-commander or a samurai / sohei unit. A heroic action takes 1 pip and all gain at least 1 Honour Point
The options are :
Engage an enemy champion (challenge the sub-commander OR enemy samurai hero to a duel). The duel does not need to be accepted but if it isn't, any enemy unit within 4" must make a morale roll and the usual implications apply. A refusal also reduces the Honour Point by 1 (wheras the challenging hero gains an Honour Point)
Rearguard : If the unit is under Retire orders or has Retired Shaken then the player can use his hero to hold up the opponent to give enough time to save the situation. If successful (a roll on 2d6) any attacking force within 6" will halt to watch the lone hero. If unsuccessful the enemy simply roll over him. But attempting a rearguard will gain 1 HP if attempted. The samurai will therefore hold up the opponent until he is unsuccessful (-2 on the dice each turn). There are bonuses if holding a bridge / ford or similar.
Glorious charge : the samurai charges forward and attempts to hack through the opposing front line to open a path for his comrades. If successful any unengaged unit within 6" can charge that unit without needing pips and with a +2 charge bonus. If he fails (2d6 roll) he is simply cut down and killed. Only a successful Glorious Charge results in honour points - but add +1 if the opposing unit is Shaken.
Take a famous head : the hero attempts to take out the opposing units hero or sub-commander attached to any unit within 6" of the hero's unit. If successful he takes the head - the sub-commander or hero dying in the process. This also means that the sub-commanders' command has no leader and so cannot do anything for the next turn.
If unsuccessful, the hero himself dies and is removed.
Honourable death : if the army itself has been defeated (i.e. victory conditions met or the army has lost 50% of units) then any remaining heros can attack any enemy unit in an effort to deflect the shame of defeat. If successful, he takes 1 strength off the unit attacked and forces a morale check. He then withdraws to commit seppuku (gaining honour for his clan in the process). If unsuccessful, he dies anonymously on the battlefield.
In the event that an attempt is neither successful nor unsuccessful (which is possible) then it is deemed that what they wanted to achieve was not possible that turn. The player can opt to attempt it next turn or circumstances may dictate that another action - or no action at all - is required.