2 Apr 2009

Samurai Armies 1467-1694

Samurai Armies 1467-1694 is the latest tome from Osprey in their Battle Orders series. Written by Stephen Turnbull (who along with Anthony Bryant has authored most of Osprey's range of Samurai books) this volume covers the period of Japanese history when the country was split into a multitude of rival princedoms and Samurai leaders fought for local - and eventually national - dominance.


The book itself is a weighty tome - no "8 pages of colour plates with some sketchy and largely irrelevant bonus text wrapped round it " Osprey this one!


This volume's 96 text-heavy pages do go into detail on Samurai history & politics of the period, giving an overview of how Japan changed and developed and highlighting the origins of the key players and clans. however - and most importantly for the likes of us gamers - there is absolutely stacks about warfare, battle tactics, uniforms, heraldry, with detailed maps and tactically astute accounts of battles and campaigns - in fact, everything from page 21 onwards is pretty much about the nitty gritty of warfare.

The book covers a number of key wargame-related topics in great detail, devoting many pages to each. The 17-page "Campaigns" section covers battlefield formations, communications, weaponry and how evolutions in weaponry (ie the arquebus) affected samurai tactics throughout this period.

20 Pages of "Strategic Engagement and Battlefield Movement" follows several key campaigns and uses them to highlight the classic array of formalized - and formula-busting - tactics used by key generals of the era.



A further 18 page section addresses in yet more detail the great battles of the Tokugawa Shoguns, from the unification of Japan through to the formation of the first real "Japanese" army and its abortive mission to subjugate Korea.

Summary:
For someone like myself for whom Samurai armies are not a passion, but something which fits into the "I'd like one one day just for the painting" the book is initially a somewhat challenging read, with a host of names of Japanese leaders and the rather confusing histories of various warring dynasties crammed into the first few pages.

However once this is out of the way (which it is quite soon) the book quickly kicks into a new life as something that almost seems to have been designed as a wargamers companion, and the speed at which I was able to take it all in increased dramatically.

By the time I'd finished I felt confident that the book had given me just enough history and background to put a context around what must be on many peoples "to do" lists, and shared enough pictures and uniform guides to inspire me to have a go at the uniforms, banners and flags as well. For a wargamer thinking of dipping their toe in Japanese waters then, it'd be hard to see how a one-volume guide to the period could be better put together.

Buy this book now from Amazon



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Broken Legions is a set of fantasy skirmish rules for a war unknown to history, fought in the shadows of the Roman Empire. Various factions recruit small warbands to fight in tight, scenario-driven battles that could secure the mystical power to defend or crush Rome. A points system allows factions to easily build a warband, and mercenaries and free agents may also be hired to bolster a force. Heroes and leaders may possess a range of skills, traits and magical abilities, but a henchman's blade can be just as sharp, and a campaign can see even the lowliest henchman become a hero of renown

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