Final: BS03 Kawagoe Castle (1546)
Hojo (Red/Dan) Player: 4 Banners Won, 12 Blocks lost
Uesugi (Yellow/Todd) Player: 6 Banners Won, 10 Blocks lost
Uesugi (Yellow/Dan) Player: 2 Banners Won, 22 Blocks lost
Hojo (Red/Todd) Player: 6 Banners Won, 14 Blocks lost
From the scores above, may look like a relatively easy victory for Todd, but it was anything but. I've played a fair share of C&C Samurai Battles games, around 50+, I would guess, and I am still coming to terms with how quickly the tide can turn (often several times in a single game), how swingy the games can be. This was Dan and my first time with this scenario, and at first blush, it looks like an easy win for Red - starting the game with Panic, seemingly sealing the deal on claiming the Command tent within a few turns.
However, in the first game, Insult had been drawn by Uesugi/Yellow, and during the Panic turn, its play prevented Hojo/Red from inspiring the Naginata and Spearmen units, as well as robbing the Cavalry of an attack - total nerf of 7d. Furthermore, the 7d that were able to be rolled garnered 0 flags and only one Sword result (however, that Sword result did trigger a successful leader check...) This allowed the Uesugi side to win two Banners while losing the Command Tent.
The swing that ultimately decided the game was a desperate (and sloppy - glad Dan and I have played countless C&C games over the years, otherwise that sequence would have been awkward, at best) play of Turncoat. Seems I can only "win" these sort of situations when the odds are grossly against success. Dan's 6d resulted in 0 honour faces, my 3d got one. This enabled the now Yellow Spearmen to take the castle, and have chances elsewhere to get the banner total to 6 on the turn. An ambush was unable to save the 1-figure Hojo Naginata, which did fall to the 3d Spearmen attack, but the unsupported Archers were able to hold off the leader attached spearmen which tried to run them down. This would lead to a few exchanges, as card attrition impacted both sides. A total of 9d were rolled against the occupying now-Uesugi Spearmen, but not one of those were a flag to cause the Uesugi to lose the gained three banners - furthermore, only one was a hit. Eventually those archers did become the sixth banner for Yellow.
Game 2 seemed doubly hopeless for Yellow, as not only would an outright victory by Red tilt the decision of the two-game match in their favor, but even an unlikely victory would have to be by two or more banners. Red started cautiously, and instead of going for the Command Tent right away, attacked the Uesugi left flank first. The Naginata inspired itself, and the 5d on the Uesugi Spearmen resulted in three hits and a flag. "This was going to be easy", is what a less experienced player would think, but Red was right in feeling trepidation. The following 5d whiffed, and the 3d bb grabbed two hits, though the leader survived the check. Uesugi responded by using the Spirit of Haya-Ji to rush their own Naginata into the mix, and roll 5d on the weakened Hojo Naginata. Only one hit, however, and a vicious 3 hit battle back. Unfortunately for Hojo, card attrition was already setting in, and the action had to be shifted to the other flank.
Still not sure about the Command Tent, weaker units were targeted. Success for the first roll, as a full strength Uesugi Spearmen unit went down in a single 5d roll. Yet, when the Cavalry sized up the unsupported Archers (similar to the scenario in the last game...), only one hit was delivered in the 10d that were rolled. Short on cards, Cavalry Charge was played by the Uesugi Commander in order to activate the 1-figure Naginata on the left flank to finish the 1-figure Hojo Naginata. Just what Red wanted, holding First Strike! However, once again, Red had seen too many games, and correctly called the 5d whiff that ensued. The battle back rolled the necessary hit, but Tsunahige was able to slink away. A Yellow victory was becoming possible. Time to hit the Command Tent and end this... Foot Onslaught and Panic. Another nagging suspicion for Red though, as the positioning would not allow for any inspiration from Ujiyasu. Not that there was any Honour & Fortune to do that with - Red had let it go to zero with the Panic play and leader retreat from earlier. 6d from the Spearmen took two bodyguards, but a well-timed First Strike allowed the last to escape 4d from the 1-figure Hojo Naginata, and once again the game was in the balance, knotted at 2 banners apiece, with each side on the verge of collapse. And here is where the dice took sides - Advance Center was the play, allowing the Command unit and a three figured leader-attached Spearmen unit to go against two 3 figured Hojo Spearmen. The Uesugi Spearmen's 4d roll only resulted in a single hit and no flags. And the bb essentially won the game, as what initially was one hit, became two when the leader check hit, grabbing the third banner for Hojo/Red, and whittling the Uesugi Spearmen down to a leaderless single figure. With nothing much to lose, the Command unit rolled two dice against the 2 figure spearmen, and much like the former result, only one hit and no flags - the bb literally ending the game this time, a Sword result claiming the last bodyguard and the final three banners for a win.
Well played, Dan - always good to play with you, win or lose.
I think Samurai Battles works my nerves like no other C&C game - any roll can end in disaster, as was shown several times throughout these two games in particular, and the tournament at large. I had a lot of fun - thank you, Mark, for setting this up, and thanks to all who played, as much like the abandoned BattleLore, these Vassal tournaments are the only regular outlet I have for getting this game played with a variety of others. Looking forward to SBVT 2, and beyond