Warlord games dropped the rules for their new game Test of Honour this week in a nice and condensed 16 page pdf. Let’s give it the ol’ Voracious Gamer treatment and ramble through the rulebook. Not sure what we’re in for here as I didn’t know about the game until the news of the rules being available. Another game to justify Eastern themed terrain for my Bushido boards can’t be a bad thing right? Looks like we’ve got a skirmish level game with 10-20 models per side. Each player selects a hero as well as a few samurai companions then fills out their force with clan soldiers, the game is played with alternating model activations as that’s all the rage these days. The rules come in the starter box and begin by detailing it’s contents.
We’ll begin the jaunt as normal with stat cards. In ToH they are called Recruitment cards and are used to build your warband before play. In the top left corner the symbol represents the type of warrior. There are three types Red is a samurai hero, white is a regular samurai and yellow are the commoners. The white circle below the character art means the Loyal Spearmen below can be deployed in groups of three and placed on one of the multi-bases that comes in the box. These are 50mm bases with three slots for 30mm dudes. The flag on the top right of the portrait is the Recruitment cost it ranges from 1-5 each scenario played gives the recruitment cost limit. Below the art and above the ability symbols we’ve got text like ‘3 left + 1(brown) these are the special rules for the warriors that apply, this space is also used for reminders necessary for the warriors. Looks like these guys are better at one thing with all three then another when they start taking casualties. Let’s define these abilities from left to right. We’ve got Aim(white) which is the number of dice rolled to strike foes. Agility(yellow) which is the number of dice rolled to avoid strikes and do other agile things. Strength(red) is the number of dice rolled for damage caused or strength tests. Wits(black) are the dice rolled for targeting enemies that aren’t the closest threat and other feats of the mind. Honour(brown) is the number rolled to keep in the fight and not go running from battle. Actions(grey) are the number of actions the warrior has per turn.
The game uses custom d6 shown above. As well as action tokens that are red for samurai and yellow for commoners. The tokens in game are put into a bag and drawn to determine what unit type can act next. There are blood drop tokens that represent light wounds and Fate Tokens with a lightning bolt on them these go in with the action tokens the third draw of a fate token ends the current turn. Nice! So variable turn length and an age old tested mechanic for unit activation combined really adds that element of surprise and such. There are objective markers used for scenario purposes too and some markers for reloading to represent a musket has fired and some for cautious to show that a warrior is being all sneaky. I mentioned the multi bases, it looks like they are only in groups of three and default for the commoner warriors (Ashigaru). The last bits are the Skill, Injury and Dishonour cards. The Skill cards allow samurai to do cool shit or use special equipment. The injury cards are for tracking purposes (I think) and the dishonour cards are gained by committing ‘shameful acts’ very flavorful for the theme. The game plays out on 3×3 foot board. The box comes with some flat terrain to use but we all know actual terrain makes every game that much cooler. Game setup is next!
All models in the game are referred to as warriors. Each player recruits their force according to the scenario. For each action(grey) in your force put an action token into the bag or cup use paying attention to use a red samurai and yellow commoner. Then deployment is done according to the scenario. Place your recruitment cards down along the edge of the table where you can reference them and track in game mechanics.
The Game turn is split in four parts. One player draws an action token without looking. They assign it to one of their warriors depending on which token was drawn. That warrior then completes their action and the token is placed on the associated recruitment card. Then their opponent goes through the same steps. Rinse and repeat until the third fate token is drawn which means the turn is over and all tokens are returned to the bag. The player that drew the third token gets to draw first on the next turn. Commoners can only take one action per turn so they can only be activated once. Samurai can make two or three actions per turn depending on the grey action icon on their card.
Throughout the game as warriors are slain you need to pull out a token of their color from the bag. If it’s a samurai you’ve got to take out the number of tokens = to their actions available. At the end of the turn make sure warriors are at least one inch from enemies if they are closer than that nudge them out so they are one inch apart. As far as ending the game you win when your opponent is wiped off the board or when you reach the goals laid out by the scenario played.
Ability tests are based off the ability scores (colored icons) a player rolls the number next to the icon when making an associated test. Dice are added and subtracted from the pool being rolled based on in game modifiers and card specific mechanics. Three or more swords on the dice means you’ve got a pass. Less than three swords is a failure. The X on the dice is no bueno, if you’ve got more X than swords on the roll (even if you had three swords) then the roll is a failure.
Warriors can do things and stuff during the course of the game. They can move 6″, move 3″ and shoot, Charge 6″ and melee attack, Avoid – As a reaction to an enemy attack, Cautious move 3″, get to their feet and move 3″ and reload. Moving warriors can go in any direction with no limit to their turns or facing changes. They cannot end within one inch of an enemy when moving and cannot move off the table edge unless scenario specific rules allow for it. Measuring can be done at any time on the table. For line of sight warriors need to draw a straight line from their base to their targets base without crossing any other bases. There are some mechanics to give warriors free actions which do not count against that warriors total action count. On the other side of that there are some mechanics that cause a warrior to lose an action in which case you remove on of their color from the token bag and place it on their card.
We’ll touch on each action option briefly. When shooting range is 24″ for bows and 20″ for muskets, the range can be checked before declaring the shot. Charge is next, when charging you’ve got to charge the nearest warrior you can see. You get to move up to 6″ to get into base-to-base. We’ll cover the actual attack mechanics shortly. Warriors can pass a wits test to shoot at or charge other warriors whom are not the closest models. If you fail you’ve got shoot/charge the closest model. Avoiding actions are next if the defending warrior still has an action remaining he attempts to dodge or block (note if actions are remaining on defending warriors they must dodge. Ain’t nobody going to take a katana to the head for honour.) There are specifics for dodging attacks of the melee or ranged variations.
Earlier I mentioned Cautious markers warriors can move up to 3″ and place a cautious move marker on the recruitment card or next to the model on the table. This gives the warrior a free action to attempt the avoids from the last paragraph. The Get you your feet action lets the warrior stand after which he can move three inches. Reload actions must be taken after firing a musket and a warrior may not fire and reload.
Shooting and melee actions are similar with a few caveats. First the attacker makes a strike roll to see if he hits his target. If the test is passed the defender can make an avoid roll if they have the action to do so the avoid roll is a test of agility if the defender succeeds the action end if he fails he takes an arrow to the knee or the aforementioned katana to the head. For damage the attacker makes a test of strength. For shooting attacks the number of dice in the pool depends on the weapons strength rather than the attackers’. IF the test is passed the target suffers a heavy wound and is cut down. If the test id failed the target takes a light wound. Place a blood drop next to the model on the table. For each blood drop on a model the attacker gains +1 dice to damage them. If the target takes damage but is not slain they are forced back from the attack one inch. In melee if you miss on the attack you are forced an inch back from your target. Move friendlies behind you to accommodate this however enemies may trap you in.
Seeing your buddy on the end of a spear is never a good thing when a warrior is cut down all friendlies within 6″ must make a test of honour. If they fail they fall back 6″ away from the enemy that just did the slaying. Injured warriors (with blood drops) lose one die per blood drop from their Honour dice (pool). If an enemy lies in the retreat path or your model would end up within one inch of any enemy while retreating the warrior gains a blood drop and stops one inch away from the enemy. If forced off the table in this way leave the warrior at the point he left. He may make a second honour test, if failed he’s considered slain if passed on his next action he can make a regular or cautious move back on the table anywhere within 9″ of the point he left.
There are some specifics for the grouped warriors on multi bases. The group shares all the ability scores. The group can avoid attacks like a single warrior if it’s action hasn’t been used. The benefit of using groups is the bonus die they get listed on their cards. Groups can blood drops as a group. IF the group takes a heavy wound remove one of the models. When there is only one warrior left remove the multi base and the warrior is no longer considered a group. Only when the final warrior of a group is cut down does it’s death cause loss of nerve tests in allies.
Both shooting and charging can be hindered if other warriors are in the way. Line of sight is considered hindered if anything gets in the way. When shooting is hindered by friendlies the action is not allowed. You can pass a nerve test to attempt to shoot past enemies in which case your shot is at -1 dice for each enemy hindering the shot. When charging hindered is determined the same way. Warriors can charge past friends hindering the charge but not enemies. Nudge friendlies out of the way the bare minimum. Each friend hindering a charge loses 1 die from the strike roll.
That’s basically the whole damn thing. The box set comes with some 2D terrain to use if you don’t have actual tabletop terrain. All terrain qualifies as Barrier: blocks LoS and reduces movement by 1″ or Rough Terrain: warriors can see up to one inch in it and cannot move more than 3″ if any part of their move is in rough terrain. Hills: block LoS if models are on opposite sides of the hill. Warriors on hills can be seen over barriers. Buildings: cannot be entered like rough terrain and block LoS in all cases. Terrain hinders shooting like enemy warriors, if a warrior charges around terrain they may make a single turn in the charge but they lose a die on the strike roll for doing so. If shooting or charging from a higher position than the target the warrior gains +1 on their strike roll. During a force back or loss of nerve move warriors cannot go through or into terrain and must stop at the edge of it. Rough terrain however has no effect on force back and loss of nerve moves are reduced to 3″ if they go through it.
In the game warriors only have one type of weapon and the weapon must be clearly represented on the model. If you want a samurai to have a ranged weapon you’ve got to spend some recruitment points on it. When warriors armed with ranged weapons get in melee they are counted as having a dagger.
Specific weapons gain bonuses if their strike roll is passed with 5 or more swords. The exact bonus depends on the weapon and the roll that was being made. Here’s a few from the chart in the book below the details are listed on page 15 of the quickstart rules. IF there are more crosses on the strike roll then there are swords not only is the test failed but a fumble occurs and something bad happens based on the type of test that was being taken. The bad things can be counter attacks, force backs or falling down. Warriors knocked to the ground can only take avoid actions or get to their feet. Melee attacks get +1 dice against them, lay the model down to represent knocked down or use a counter to protect your fancy models from wear and tear of laying them down.
I don’t know if the game has a release date yet but I can dig it, the historical aspects and game mechanics are unique yet familiar what with grouped bases and the action choices. I like the dice mechanics as well throwing that bit of chance into your warriors actions and things. To learn more about the game head over to Warlords’ site. As always follow my rambley ranty ass @vorgames for all the gaming news and bits or even check out my podcast here which is like many things in life a work in progress.
Cheers friends go forth to battle with honour and make your ancestors proud!