I finally got to try out Test of Honour yesterday, playing through the first two of six linked scenarios from the core boxed set.
The main rules are downloadable for free from Warlord Games in several languages so I won’t describe the mechanics again here, other than to make a few observations.
There were a couple of ambiguities not covered by the rules or FAQ, such as the sequence of performing Follow-Up moves vs Test of Honour checks for seeing a friendly model cut down (we did the ToH checks first), but otherwise the game flowed smoothly and we felt comfortable with all the mechanics in pretty short order.
The random activation method adds a little uncertainty and tension and keeps both players engaged all the time while the simple dice mechanic and unit cards mean that you don’t need to refer back to the rule book once you’ve got through the first few turns of the game. I can see that once you start paying with more than a handful of miniatures you’re going to need a mechanism of identifying your ashigaru troops so that the miniatures on the table can easily be matched to their corresponding recruitment cards.
Probably the only rule I wasn’t totally happy with was the use of the fate deck to add skills and equipment to your samurai as the scenario unfolds which felt a bit odd as they would progressively ‘remember’ skills or additional equipment as the game went on but I see that they balance out the drawing of fate tokens early in the game so not sure I would tinker with it.
There are some free downloadable optional rules and quite a few expansion sets to add new troop types and rules to the game so I think there’s a lot of scope for using it as a relatively lightweight but still tactically challenging and engaging system for 28mm Samurai skirmish games. Prospective players should be aware that the ex- Wargame Factory plastic models in the main game and some of the expansions are not the best, prompting me to replace them with metal models from elsewhere. The same isn’t true of some of the more recent expansion sets which have all new metal models and I’ll post reviews of the expansions as I start to add them into my games.
Overall – recommended and a game I’m looking forward to playing regularly (hopefully next weekend in fact!)
A quick run-down of what’s on the table:
- The playmat is a 3′ x 3′ neoprene mat I got as part of the Song of Blades Axe & Brimstone Kickstarter last year
- The buildings are pre-painted Japanese post-town resin models from Oshiro Model Buildings in the UK (sadly no longer available pre-painted but excellent quality)
- The figures are are all Perry metal models, painted by EZ Painter in the UK and based by me
- Trees are from eBay and based by me
- Walls are 3D prints of files from Printable Scenery
- Hedges are scratch built
- Tokens, cards, etc. are all from the Test of Honour core box