Samurai Battles session reports – Nagashino 1575 AD – The Boardgames Chronicle

One more time I had occasion to play C&C Samurai Battles game as a series of a consecutive, geographically connected sets of scenarios. Today I am presenting one of the greatest tactical feats of Oda Nobunaga – a true genius of his times. With much smaller forces, using the clever strategy, he crushed so far unstoppable Samurai Cavalry army. All this in Nagashino 1575 AD – a 4 scenario mini-campaign, featuring:

  • main battle overview
  • central attack
  • right wing
  • left wing

It is really great to play an overview version, and then zoom on some aspects of this clash. Enjoy the picture-rich session report plus historical background!


Other Samurai Battles Session reports:
- Arita Castle 1517 AD - 2 scenarios
- Okehazama 1560 AD - 2 scenarios
- Koriyama Castle 1540 AD - 4 scenarios 
- Azukizaka 1542 & 1548 AD - 2 scenarios
- Fourth Kawanakajima 1561 AD (Phase 1&2)
- Fourth Kawanakajima 1561 AD (Phase 3,4&5)
- Sekigahara 1600 AD - 3 scenarios
- Anegawa 1570 AD - 3 scenarios

The Game

Short How to Play video, presenting main game mechanics

First things first, some more information about the game for those who have not heard about it (I hope there are not too many players like this anymore!) On top of this, above you can find one of my how-to-play videos which clearly presents the flow of the game.

The Commands & Colors: Samurai Battles The game allows players to portray important engagements of Japanese history mainly from the XVI century, before the Tokugawa Shogunate. The scale of the game is flexible and varies from battle to battle. For some scenarios, an infantry unit may represent an entire clan of soldiers, while in other scenarios a unit may represent just a few brave warriors. The game follows the well-proven mechanics of Commands (cards driving the moves and creating Fog of War) and Colors (the units designation, having huge impact on battle results). The dices allows us to quickly resolve all battles and the components in the box allow for creation of countless scenarios. In essence, Richard Borg at his best!

Without further delay, let us jump to this wonderful campaign!

1. Nagashino 1575AD (Battle Overview)

Historical Background

In the summer of 1575 Takeda Katsuyori led his army into the Tokugawa domain and besieged Nagashino Castle. Oda Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu led a combined army to relieve the siege. They established their position on the plain of Shitirabara. Their army contained 3,000 Teppo with European arquebuses purchased from Portuguese traders. Even though Takeda Katsuyori was faced with a numerically superior force, Katsuyori, over the objects of his veteran commanders, opted to attack.

War of the Takeda cavalry charge, Oda Nobunaga constructed wooden palisades, interspersed with breaks to allow counterattacks. When the Katsuyori attack force emerged from the forest, counting on the Oda gunpowder being wet from the recent rains, Katsuyori saw an opportunity to defeat his enemies and ordered his cavalry to charge.

Firing by rank, the Teppo decimated the first wave of cavalry as they tried to close for the kill. Takeda’s pride became his downfall. Time and again, he ordered new charges that all failed. Thousands of Takeda cavalry dies as a result. Unable to breach the Oda defenses by mid-afternoon, the Takeda were forced to retire and the siege was lifted. This battle marked the end of the unchallenged ascendancy of the mounted samurai.

Session Report
Initial force deployment in the overview scenario; Click to enlarge and see the Oda palisades.
Except for the palisades, the river is a key feature in this game and most of the fighting will take place near to it. Lukasz manages to make a crossing on his left – without a scratch from my range fire!
But then the things went awry. Not only I managed to play Serpent Command, inflicting high Consequence in the range combat, but also push back charging cavalry inflicting Lack of Honor. What a painful turn for Takeda!
But Lukasz was relentless and tried on the other wing. This time approach was expected and some of the cavalry laid dead before crossing the river.
Even difficult terrain did not stop Takeda charge. But even that feat did not prevent the final collapse of his forces.
The end of battle – Takeda crossed the river on both flanks and on both were checked/repelled. The result was pretty historical.

2. Nagashino 1575 AD (Takeda Center Attack)

Historical Background

Even though Takeda Katsuyori was faced with a numerically superior force, Katsuyori, over the objectives of his veteran commanders, opted to attack. Wary of the Takeda cavalry charge, Oda Nobunaga constructed wooden palisades, interspersed with breaks to allow counterattacks. In the center, when the Katsuyori attack force emerged from the forest, he saw an opportunity to defeat his enemies and ordered his cavalry to charge. It was a straightforward fight, with Naito Masatoyo and Takeda Nobukado leading the attack.

The Oda-Tokugawa line, held out in the face of a series of Takeda cavalry charges, which could not break the gunner’s resolve. Unable to breach the Oda defenses by mid-afternoon, the Takeda were forced to retire and the siege was lifted. The victory was a measure of revenge for Tokugawa Ieyasu who had lost an army to the Takeda cavalry earlier at Mikata-Ga-Hara.

Session Report
Set-up of the second scenario; many more forest tiles – will this be enough cover for the cavalry?
Let the game begin! We will obliterate enemy with our range attack!
Turncoat – a very expensive card which we never played in our games… so far! That will be a game changer – a Samurai Spearmen at the enemy baseline is a force to recon with!
Lukasz had to act both in the front, crossing the river but also at the back, fighting the Turncoat. It did not end well…
When my Spearmen rolled 4 dice and outright killed the enemy cavalry that was simply too much for Takeda army. They surrendered!
End of scenario three – what a game, with so many twists and turns, but in the determining end Oda Victory.

3. Nagashino 1575 AD (Takeda Right Attack)

Historical Background

On the right, when Baba Nobuharu’s attack force emerged from the forest, he also saw an opportunity to defeat his enemies and ordered his cavalry to charge. But because of the forested hill to his right, he could not outflank Oda Nobunaga’s defensive position. After receiving heavy consequence Baba’s vanguard withdrew. The forces of Sanada Nobutsuma and Tsuchiya Masatsungu, however, continued the attack and momentarily broke through the Oda line. The advance came to a halt, when a number of leaders perished in the hand-to-hand combat. Unable to breach the Oda defenses by mid-afternoon, the Takeda were forced to retire and the siege was lifted.

Session Report
Battle lines before the start of the third scenario. We decided to switch sides so I could experience “charge through the river under the muskets fire”!
I decided to approach on the right, amassing four of my cavalry units. The fight for control of palisades was fierce, First Strike was even used!
But I managed to break through! Hurrah! With significant losses but in good position for final attack on the hills.
Still, first Lukasz tired his last chance attack. He got my 1-block cavalry but also killed his leader in the process!
In the end the game was very, very close with tons of 1 and 2 block units. Still, concentrated Oda attack get the final point to Lukasz.
After a pretty furious end, Oda prevailed. What a fantastic scenario!

4. Nagashino 1575 AD (Takeda Left Attack)

Historical Background

The extreme right of the Oda-Tokugawa army was not protected by wooden pallisades, as were the center and left. So when Yamagata Masakage and Hera Masatane charged forward it became one huge melee. Although Yamagata Masakage was skilled in combat, which was also proved this day, he was no match for a hail of bullets, which shot him from his horse. At this point in the battle Takeda Katsuyori ordered a general attack, but even this assault could not break the Oda-Tokugawa lines.

Session Report
The set-up for the last of the battles. Seems the most open for cavalry charge. Let us see!
I am again focusing on the right and this is a good choice, as with minimal losses my cavalry crosses the river.
Cavalry Charge is such a lovely card. Not only plus +1 dice in combat but also +1 to move. Still, timely played ambush from Lukasz kills one of my units!
You might think I pasted same picture twice! Nothing like this! I actually had the second one and followed up with devastating effect!
Of course Oda counter-attacked and even managed to kill my cavalry leader!
A close, brutal, furious and interesting scenario! With first Taked victory in four scenarios!

Summary

That was a very interesting historical campaign, although charging as Takeda could be frustrating at times. It took a lot of planning to cross river and even then it was extremely difficult to overwhelm palisades. It worked twice, but only in one instance Takeda has won.

Banner count was as follows:

  • Player perspective: Lukasz 18 Michael 25
  • Historical sides perspective: 25 Takeda 18

More reports approaching – stay tuned!

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