Test of Honour Boot Camp Recap!
By Kieran Bryne.
It is very rare that a game grabs my interest as much as Test of Honour has, and with the opportunity to get to Warlord HQ and throw my clan warband into the fray with a number of honourable and not so honourable warbands, an added benefit of having the game designers on hand to answer any queries or interpretations, then why wouldn’t it be worth the early wake up time on a weekend and a quick journey to the lead belt.
The samurai interest has always been there from a young age remembering watching the classic sword movies on TV and I believe in the quite limited time I have had to play the game along with everyone else that Graham Davey and Andy Hobday have manged to capture the feel of those heroic tales to a tee in the game. So having made the rendezvous and loaded the fun bus with excited players, a notepad of questions, a camera, and some awesome looking warbands it was time for the off.
From when this Boot Camp was announced I was fully on board to go and had been burning the candle at both ends to get a warband, 21 points total, done and ready. But somewhere along the line 2 have been completed in time so I sat down beforehand and thought which do I want to take? Thing is this is not an event this is a learning day where you can get all those little points answered direct so thought you know what why not just take both! It actually worked out well because of running a couple of game at my club the weekend before a couple of people jumped on attending the event and rather than them stress trying to get stuff done I just said that we could swap and change between my 2 on the day.
The 2 warbands I have built I have done so to try and get as many different options on the table as possible so I can work out what I enjoy playing with before I crack on with the remaining stack of sprues and models I have left over.
This is my honourable samurai lord warband. Based around a core of archers bolstered with some of the command models such as the sergeant and banner bearer. The aim of this warband is to see the effect missile fire would have on the game: both in terms of kills and decision making.
My Ronin. I have always had a soft spot for these scruffy rogues and couldn’t wait to play them. This in more of a hand to hand fighting feel, the only missile option being the lone musket man. However with the leadership of Kadashi the Dishonored it would be fun to see how one of the special named characters from the expansion sets works in the game.
The set-up of the day was going to be working through the battle guide, so as you should always do we started at the beginning with Battle 1 of which the objective is to cut down your opponent’s hero.
I was very lucky to meet and play Neil from the Meeples and Miniatures podcast so it was a very relaxed and friendly start to the day.
Now whether through our own tactical choices or just the luck (or lack of) of the dice rolls myself and Neil managed to drag a battle that the on looking Graham had told us should only last about 20 minutes or so into an over an hour slugfest of strike, counter strike, avoidance, and minor cuts.
In fact it was those minor cuts that proved the decider as when Neil finally managed to get a solid blow through then the weight of all those blood came to bear and my hero was cut down to the cheers of the other players, maybe not for Neil but just for the case that we had finally finished.
Again another fabulous opponent in Terry, who had won his first game and as such had to deploy 80% of his force first with the rest to come on from the table edge when he could pass the test of wits to bring them on.
To my thoughts this unfortunately put him on a bit of a back footing straight away as I was able to charge for the 3 objectives on the table and then with an unsuccessful wits test on one of his units, preventing them from entering the board, it was always going to be an uphill struggle.
I used my Ronin for the battle and therefore this was my first chance to use the musket man who would be responsible for the killing shot against Terry’s Samurai hero. They are very strong when they hit!
The other mechanic to take away from this is how much an effect the ability of the Samurai in the game have to take multiple actions over the commoners. Terry had run his unit of muskets off the hill to contest one of the objectives but unfortunately they were met by my hero who probably still smarting for his take down in battle 1 set about them with vicious intent.
This was the first of the club match ups and I was up against Tim- a member of our club Infamous Wargaming who funnily enough I had demoed the game with the week before which didn’t at all come back to bite me!
For this battle there are a number of objectives that have to be searched and once done successfully add to your winning of the battle.
This was a very cagey affair at the start with both of us moving and counter moving position to not allow the other to search.
Both are heroes though then broke the deadlock meeting on the centre objective and having an epic duel over the bridge which ended with Tim’s hero cut down. My hero unfortunately had suffered a large amount of minor cuts which proved costly as a lone Ashigaru armed with a Yari impaled him.
The big game mechanic take away for the game was the use of the sergeants we both had: being used to get the additional free charge for the units of Ashigaru spearmen and it was in that attritional battle within the battle that finally swung it Tim’s way
My second club fight of the day against Bobby, of Genesis Models. In this battle it’s a race for the spy, to be able to find them and get them back to your table edge. Bobby not only found the spy first but also took first blood killing one of my devoted samurai in a flurry of swords. Unfortunately (for him, not me) though this only seemed to spur the rest of the Ronin into a killing spree. Several units converged on the samurai of Bobby’s that was escorting the spy and after dealing the killing blow to him where able to get said spy to safety.
This was not the big take away from this battle though. As a lot of the smaller little fights had caused a lot of the blood tokens to be taken, these are the ones that represent minor wounds and add dice to the wounding rolls after a successful attack has been made.
My hero pulled an activation token from the bag and charged one of these units. After the attack was landed and no avoid was made the number of dice rolled brought up the bonus for the roll, 5 swords or better, this means that the hero got a follow up move which is a free charge into a unit if they are close enough and they were. Not to put too much description on it but because of those blood drops on a number of units my hero basically carved through Bobby’s force taking a Samurai and 2 commoner units out with a single activation. Bobby agreed that it was brutal to watch but when you think about this game in terms of the samurai movie ethos that it makes total sense to the style of the game.
One of the cool mechanics of this game are the dishonor cards. These are taken when trying to make you attacks to give you extra dice and therefore a greater chance of hitting. A lot of the players had decided not to take these during the day but myself and another Infamous member and a Warlorder: Jamie Tranter were not two of them and only being separated by one card in total it was a fight for the title of most dishonorable in this final battle of the day.
Fighting over a Torii gate at the centre of a village it quickly became a fight solely between the samurai in our forces. Unfortunately for Jamie I was again making use of the Ronin and their special character is given a skill card that allows me to stop Jamie making and Test of agility to avoid a successful attack. This allowed me to quickly use dirty tricks (very dishonorable) to take down Jamie’s Samurai Lord. So with his hero dead we both shook hands and walked into the shop to see the Honorable Samurai lords battle it out amongst themselves for the affections of Lady Popo.
Overall with the great organisation from Martin and Conor at Warlords Store, Graham on hand to answer any questions (sorry if I asked too many!) and the other players meant this was a really enjoyable day and top marks to all involved. I know the Infamous boys thoroughly enjoyed it as in the happy bus afterwards all of us were buzzing with tales of epic moments that have sealed this game as a firm favorite going forward.
The real win for this type of day is you get to explore the mechanics of a game with a wider base of players so there may have been something you and your group read and interpret one way but another group is different. So I think it great to find out where those points are and have them ironed out by the game designers there and then which in turn means we as players then return to or own groups with the definitive information which can only advance the playing of the gamer wider than the 16 people who attended the day. The day ended with myself taking most dishonorable, Tim taking most dishonorable, and the only club member I didn’t clash katanas with: Rich taking the wooden spoon.
So when is the next one?
Test Your Honour!