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New Game - Test of Honour

Played a quick game of Test of Honour by Warlord Games hosted by my friend Blake. Blake was running a demo at our new local store, Knight Watch Games. A great store! Be sure to visit if you are every in South Texas.
Me and friends at Knight's Watch

Test of Honour is a skirmish game set in feudal Japan. Each player takes a small force of 5-10 miniatures. Each force has a Samurai hero, some archers, and some Ashigaru (conscripts with spears) on a large, 3-man base. I will assume that most people reading this post are already familiar with the game and I'll won't go too deep in the game details.

While there are several scenarios of different types, the basic concept of each is to kill the enemy's Samurai.

Initiative and activations are done in the same way as most games by Warlord. You roll a 6-sided die to determine initiative. One token for representing each unit is placed in a bag. Then you draw from the bag and activate one unit. There are three fate tokens placed in the bag. When these are drawn, you must pick a card from the deck. Each card is an skill advantage that can be assigned you to your Samurai hero. Damage is represented by little blood drop tokens. As a unit accumulates blood drops, it becomes less effective.

So, Blake set up a table and an opponent for me. We played the simplest scenario, 'Kill the Samurai Hero'! with both of us using identical forces. The table was laid with a beautiful snowy battle mat and some nice Japanese themed building and fences.

On the first turn, I moved out my archers to start taking long distance shots at his hero. It worked for a while but he pushed his Ashigaru forward to threaten my Ashigaru. My archer fire was effective and did put a single blood drop on the enemy hero. But eventually, I had to bring my hero forward to deal with the enemy personally if I wanted to win!
Ashigaru

Archers

There is a rule that forces a Samurai to engage another Samurai if it gets within 6".  So, I rushed within 6" to meet his Samurai. The put my hero in a tight place between the edge of the map and a stand of trees. It was a poor decision on my part because his Ashigaru were closer to that point and my archers could not provide fire support in to a melee. The two Samuriai battled hard, with lots of help from card bonuses. The blood drop tokens started to accumulate. And ultimately, the other guy got a deadly hit on my Samurai before I could do the same to him and I lost the battle.
The two Samurai meet on the edge of the map

It is a fine game. But, as skirmish level games go, not very intriguing. I definitely felt the noir of the genre. There is lots of nice references to the 50's era Kurosawa films. There is plenty of blood imagery which gave the impression that being a warrior in this time was a very deadly occupation. While, I did like the game, it seemed like the rules were a bit too simplistic. I had hoped for a little more depth in the choice tactics. It seemed like the primary goal was to place as many hits on the enemy Samurai until the hero drops dead. That's not really a bad premise for a wargame but I had hoped for a little bit more nuance than that.

The figures that come with the box set are of mediocre quality. They are plastic with some very spindly parts that can break easily. However, it is nice that you get a bunch of figs in one purchase. I've had difficulty finding good Japanese figures and this set will give you a plenty for a reasonable price. Perhaps, I'll buy it and then use the figures in other games. I already have a copy of Ronin from Osprey publishing and I look forward to trying out that game as well.


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