PB and I got together for a weekend of testing each others honour with 28mm feudal Japanese miniatures.
Ancestry was besmirched, heads were divorced from bodies and many, many vocal impersonations of the sound of arterial spray filled the gaming dojo.
Samples of appropriate arterial spray sounds impersonated can be found in the clip of research material above.
In between watching Ninja Scroll, Shogun Assassin and Rogue One, PB and I got five games of ToH played this weekend. The game is rapid to play, cleverly written and a lot of fun.
With a model count of approximately ten per side, ToH was tempting to me as soon as I heard about it. With my ever expanding Shonen Knives pseudo feudal Japanese force and the associated Kuripu Jima terrain set, I had more or less everything required ready to go.
The Shonen Knives provided models for both sides this time, but as PB and P Biddy begin working on their buntai that will change. Plans are also being made for squeezing Mr Saturdays Lo Pan and teracotta warrior Shadow Empire force into one of the factions.
I read the rulebook PDF and a little bit about the game development before I convinced P Biddy to split the pre-order bundle deal with me.
Obviously promotional information needs to be viewed with caution, its about convincing people to make purchases after all. The release of the core ToH rules PDF in addition to some good articles on the Warlord Games site explaining the thinking behind the mechanics of the game, meant that I was pretty confident that I would enjoy ToH.
All the same, it was nice to play ToH this weekend and find out that it is as good as I had hoped.
Miniature games (and some boardgames) fall into a couple of camps. Assuming that poor rulesets are simply ignored, miniature battle games are often either strategic or tactical. Some are both.
Theoretically I enjoy both varieties.
In practice I enjoy painting whatever miniatures I feel like painting and gaming with those, rather than painting X squad because it will be good in a meta game Y or whatever. That also means that in practice I tend to favour tactical games that are not decided at the army list making stage.
ToH is a tactical game rather than a strategic one. While its certainly possible to hone a force for maximum efficiency beforehand, its not the sort of game where you can be sure that – for example – your archers can take up a high point and provide reliable covering fore for the duration of the game.
They might, but it cant be guaranteed. Plans dont tend to survive contact with the enemy.
There are real decisions to be made when playing ToH of course, but they are made based on precisely what is happening at that moment in the game.
I dont want to go into too much detail, but engagements feel opportunistic and scrappy and unformed, requiring improvisation and risk management. This is not a bad thing and in fact, it evokes exactly the sort of atmosphere seen in much of the chanbara genre, such as in this 13 Assassins scene below.
The implementation of narrative elements in ToH is lean and slick. Its a lot of fun and its a great way to get a series of linked games played together. The ongoing Quests, the shadow of Dishonour and a robust and sensible experience system for your samurai are of precisely the right rules weight for the game.
ToH feels like a game that has actually been played and tested critically and honed due to that criticism. Its very difficult to write a simple game that is evocative of its chosen theme and fun and interesting to play, but the authors have done it here.
In short PB and I had a great weekends gaming with Test of Honour and we finished up with a list of models that we each would like to get painted ready for our next get together.
Considering that this enthusiasm remained on the weekend that a copy of Shadow War: Armageddon arrived in the house, Test of Honour needed to be decent to keep any of our focus on it, but it did. ToH is great.