I think the battle of Hachioji is not popular even in Japan. So, it is necessary to explain shortly the background of the battle.
First of all, this battle is a part of Hideyoshi’s Odawara campaign. The Odawara campaign is his last campaign of his reunification. Because of this background, Hideyoshi’s army is composed of most of Japanese Daimyo except his last enemy Hojo clans. Due to this situation, this campaign is believed that Hojo had surrendered by overwhelming enemy. But, battle of Hachioji is one of the 2 last fought battles before the final surrender and fought very bloody. The other is battle of Oshi-jou, and it didn’t fall until the end of campaign when Odawara castle surrendered.
Hachioji-jou was built by Hojo-clan for the defense against Takeda-clan. It was located near Kobotoke ridge where we now have Kobotoke tunnel, a very long tunnel of Chuo-highway. Due to the location, the castle was built on top of the ridge and the access was very limited especially from the West.
For some reasons, Ieyasu decided to abandon this castle after this battle. So, this location had ruined for hundreds of years during Edo era. Now, this place is known for many ghost stories of the battle. On the other hand, one of the best kept battle place of Sengoku era.
This game has unusual mechanics. Actually, this is very innovative game.
Usually most siege game uses very strong terrain benefit for the castle. But, in this game there is no terrain effect onto the combat. I think this sounds that attacking Hachioji-jou is easier task for the attacker. But, the fact is totally different.
I love the game map. The map has the taste of Japanese picture what is drawn by fude with black ink. The map uses point to point system. And each point has its own stacking limit. Also, there are red arrows which show the possible line of fire. These are the most important part of this game.
In this game, each player alternatively moves one of his forces. Each move can be done within the range of 2 spaces. But, this move must strictly keep the stacking limit in each point. So, if the first space has stacking limit of 2, you can move only 2 units via this point. And if the final space has bigger stacking limit and defended this bigger number of enemy units, this is a real problem for the attacker. Since the stacking limit of the route, he can move very limited number of units to the target point. And combat is fought after movement in the point where the both side occupy. Without any terrain modifier, still the defender has the critical benefit. Also, the fire lines are important. Fires are conducted instead of movement by using fire arrow. Usually this arrow is directed only one way, usually from the higher point to the lower point. Some points are really strong, because they have some outgoing arrows. Some points are very vulnerable, because they have only incoming arrows.
Based on these factors, the defender, Hojo side must carefully inspect the map and plan his set-up. Then, the Hideyoshi’s side starts the attack from the foot of the castle.
The game continues 14 turns. Hideyoshi’s side can win the game if he conquers the 2 most important points, Hon-maru and Goshuden until the end of game. Otherwise, Hojo-side wins.
The Hideyoshi’s side has much bigger and qualified army. But, as described above, the access route is really restricted and several points he must go over are really dangerous against the defender’s fires.
This game is totally different mechanics from the usual hex-based siege games. But, it has really excellent atmosphere of the difficult attack against this mountain-castle.
In advanced rule, all the units are set up on its reverse sides, so each player cannot know his enemy units until he first engage them by combat. This brings more atmosphere of this fog-shielded mountain castle, I believe.
Recently, we have 3 important battle games in Kantou area, Hachioji, Kawagoe, and Oshi-jou. Since most of important battles of Sengoku-era were fought area between Kyoto to Nagoya, battles in Kantou area have been neglected for years. But, now we have several interesting new games in this area that are familiar for us, residents of Kantou.
Also, I’d like to say, most of the games on Wargame Japanese History are simpler and smaller but strategically difficult. This one is a typical of this case.