Game Title: Hideyoshi’s Battle at the Summit
Publisher: Simulations Journal / Game Journal Magazine
Game Designer: Tetsuya Nakamura
Game Theme: 2 critical battles for Toyotomi Hideyoshi that make him the re-unifiner of medieval Japan
Period: June 12, 1582 (Yamazaki), April 20-21, 1583 (Shizugatake)
Map : Around Ten-nohzan (Yamazaki), Along Kitaguni-kaido (Shizugatake)
Units : not specified
2 half-sized map (1 for each battle)
about 200 counters (in total)
32 cards (in total)
Background of History
June 2, 1582, Nobunaga Oda, the strongest candidate for re-unification was betrayed and killed by his subordinate general Mitsuhide Akechi. But, Akechi didn’t have a carefully planned strategy after this betrayal.
So, the most important point was who can kill Akechi for their killed leader Nobunaga.
Hideyoshi decided to stop the battle he was fighting and quickly go back to the central area to attack Akechi. This was the battle of Yamazaki which is often called “the Blitzkrieg” in Japan.
Since Hideyoshi killed Akechi successfully, he became the most advanced candidate for re-unifiner after Nobunaga. But, since Katsuie Shibata was the oldest and most important subordinate general for Nobunaga, it is unavoidable to finally decide which of Hideyoshi and Ktsuie to be the real successor of Nobunaga. This was the second battle of this game, Shizugatake.
Finally Hideyoshi killed Katsuie and became the re-unifiner of medievile Japan.
Later after death of Hideyoshi, Japan was divided into 2 armies at Sekigahara and finally Tokugawa Ieyasu won the battle against Mitsunari Ishida the most loyal subordinate of Hideyoshi and started Tokugawa Bakuhu which continues 300 years.
Though Hon-nohji (Akechi’s battle against Nobunaga) and Sekigahara is very famous and the latter is very common game thema, Yamazaki and Shizugatake have not been so popular and I’ve never seen these battles on games before.
Characteristic game mechanics
Basically, the game system is a mixture of
Every turn, each player select his hand from all of his cards in the game. Then player alternate conduct his action until both players pass consecutively.
Regularly player play one card and designate his group in one area and then move or attack with the group (not both).
But, your card has special ability. For example, “cordinated action” allow you to act with 2 groups not only one group. “Assault” allow you to act one group but 2 consecutive actions.
In principle, you must flip all your acted units to back side and they cannot do more action until they are flipped back. “Recovery” allow you to flip back 1 group. Othewise, the flipped units are flipped back during turnend procedure.
During turn end procedure, you can flip back all of your flipped units and you must gather all cards used during the turn. Then advance the turn marker one space and the new turn begins.
In addition to the radical cards shown above, this game has new innovation. In this game, you can play several cards together as one action. For example, if you play “Assault” and “Recovery”, you can move and attack in one action and finally you can flip back that group which enables the group one more action later in this turn.
This sounds too radical, maybe. But, there’s side effect for this powerful combo. You will exhaust your hand earlier than your opponent and now he will be free to do his action without intervening your action. This is a big risk.
Challenge for players
For Hideyoshi, the real enemy is not a Mitsuhide’s army. Since the victory condition requires him to succeed the attack against the main troop of Mitsuhide, the time is a real enemy.
Because Hideyoshi’s army enter the map from westend and Mitsuhide’s army loctes eastend, it is time-consuming to move the appropriate size of attacking force from west to east.
So that, Hideyoshi player must have a long-term plan and play the game with strong will.
On the other hand, the game system requires short-term decision such as card selection especially for Hideyoshi. This is because there are several different types of combo which is suitable to different situation. So that Hideyoshi must analyze current situation always very very carefully in both short-term and long-term. This is really a challenging game for Hideyoshi player.
In case of Mitsuhide player, he should have both long-term and short-term analysis, too. The card “Ambush” is a killer card for defender. This card allow your defending group to make a counterattack just after their area is entered by the enemy group before the enemy’s attack. This is often very critical to break attacker’s plan and/or combo.
So that Mitsuhide must carefully plan his tactics for the turn and decide what card he should have this turn. If you’d like to recover, then you should have more “Recovery” cards. If you’d like to stop attacker’s killer combo, “Ambush” is answer for you. If you’d like to be more aggressive, even “Assault” can be in your hand which will surprise Hideyoshi effectively.
According to my experience, the game blance is quite good. The victory will be determined during very end of the game, sometimes it is decided by the last card of Hideyoshi.
Mr. Nakamura has designed many “Storm over …” games.
Geme Journal #10 storm over Port Arthur
#17 strom over Sekigahara
#19 storm over Stalingrad
#24 storm over Layte gulf
#26 this game
#30 all quiet on the western front
But, this game is a real turning point for his series. After this game, we have already one more same system games on Game Journal. Now, it looks this system is a new standard for Japanese wargame or at least Mr. Nakamura’s game.
So far, I have described this review based on “Yamazaki”. I’ve never played “Shizugatake” yet. I will put some additional comments once I play another scenario.