Japanese School Girls vs Oni

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Japanese School Girls take on Red Oni

Today we got a chance to run the 2nd edition of Japanese Art of War. I’ve been working on it for the past several years and preparing the manuscript to be released later this year.

One of the additions to the rules is to include fantasy elements. In this case we added Oni, or Japanese Demons if you prefer. The female figures are straight from the mad minds at Eureka Miniatures.

It has been about 10 years since I last published Japanese Art of  War. The first two revisions were historical only. Adding mythology into this edition was just part of the original plan. In the interim several Oni models and other Japanese mythological beings have appeared on the market. It isn’t too hard to find them and they are fun to paint.

Japanese Art of War is a unit based game. Units can be as small as 1 hero or a dan of up to 7 figures. Initiative determines who activates first, initiative winner choosing first. For each activated unit each figure is activated with some action being chosen (melee, movement, shooting, etc.) After any movement (you can move during melee) dice are rolled to determine how many offensive points and defensive points are generated. If in combat the opposing figure does the same thing. Then, priority is determined by weapon type, but generally the attacker’s offensive points are applied against the defender’s defense points first.

There are conventions for re-rolls, automatic conversions and so forth to simulate better armor, weapons and training from lesser examples of those. It is a very tactical game.

What we added today was the concept of Toughness where the Red Oni needed to be defeated by 2 offensive points, not one. That was it. The school girls and the brown Oni were described using the normal rules.

The first game was an interesting split – the toughest Onii went for the weakest unit of School Girls and vice versa. The first school girl to attack an Oni was literally speared out of the air as she came in with a flying kung-fu like kick. The Red Onii defeated them in order.

On the other side of the field the leader of the school girls and her hatomoto, or personal body guard, prepared to face off against the unworthy brown Onii. My poor friend Al had really bad luck with the dice. His skill was not lacking and his attack plan sound. Sometimes the dice go against you.

We ran it a second time to highlight the new terrain rules. The school girls plus some spearmen conscripts and the Head Master (spear and bow) took to stone stairs and defended from there. The Head Master put arrows into the Oni at a distance but didn’t kill any – however he did weaken a Red Oni which allowed the school girls to get some satisfaction. On the other side the Brown Onii made their way up against the retainers… It didn’t go very well. The first one managed to smash his way up using a tetsubo or war bat but the surviving retainers managed to push them off. The narrowness of the stairs prevented any decent flank attack.

Overall both battles were one sided and decided very quickly.  I’ll need more playtesting before I come to any conclusions. However the terrain rules worked out nicely and the toughness factor added a lot of tension and in some cases determinism to the math of the game.

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