Title: March of Ohama-no-miko ( issue game of Wargame Japanese History #19 )
Designer: Donald Booth
“Jinshin revolution” happened in 672 in Japan. It was the oldest battle that has written record in Japan.
The revolution happened soon after the death of former emperor Tenchi.
In early days, the emperor Tenchi had shown the will that his successor should be his younger brother Ohama-no-miko. It was a standard idea for the succession.
But, after he had his own son Ohtomo-no-miko, the emperor Tenchi showed the will that he would like to relinquish his title to Ohtomo-no-miko. This was thought the reason for the revolution. But, the situation was not clear. There was information that Ohama-no-miko had agreed the emperor Tenchi’s new idea.
Anyway after the death of former emperor, there was a rumor that Ohtomo-no-miko would like to kill Ohama-no-miko. So, Ohama-no-miko decided to escape and gather his force against Ohtomo-no-miko. It was uncertain that this was a true situation or not.
1 rulebook ( 4 pages )
The game mechanics is somewhat irregular.
In each turn, each side can plot 3 actions, first, second and third. This plot is conducted by selecting one of his action chits for each action.
There are 5 types of actions.
The first is march that the player can move one of his forces to an adjacent box.
The second is recruiting that the player can recruit one unit in one of his occupied box with recruiting symbol.
The third is event-card that the player can conduct his available event-card for that turn.
The fourth is march by sacrificing the event-card. So, the player decided not to use the event-card for that turn and conduct a march by sacrificing the card.
The fifth is recruiting by sacrificing the event-card for that turn.
The important fact is that only one card is available for each player in a turn. So, one player can do either of the third, the fourth, or the fifth.
In addition, there is a critical difference for cards preparation. In this game, there are 20 cards. At the start, 9 cards are dealt to each player, thus the remaining 2 cards are removed without seeing. Then, Ohtomo-no-miko player cannot see his cards and place one card each to boxes from 1 to 9. This means that he has no information about his available card before he really plays the even-card action.
On the other hand, Ohama-no-miko player can check his cards once dealt. Then, he can arrange his cards into boxes from one to nine. This means that he has information about his available cards and even he can plan which card should be available for each turn.
Since this game has very limited number of units, even a small effect even-card can be a killer card. So, Ohama-no-miko player has a big advantage for the even-card. The designer explained that he designed this mechanics based on that Ohama-no-miko had prepared for the revolution.
The game map is a small point to point map covering the Ootsu ( capital at the date ), Wakyou ( former capital ) and Kuwana ( the place where Ohama-no-miko raised his force ).
Since the game starts at the very start of the revolution, both players have only leader units on the map at the start. So, players must first recruit his forces. And since recruitment is possible only at the boxes with recruitment symbol, those boxes are very important.
And all of force units are untried and includes 0 strength units. So, no player is sure that each stack is strong or not.
The combat mechanics are really unique. Combat is conducted if both forces are in the same box after a march. Then, each player reveals his strengths of units. The larger strength force wins the battle and the loser must retreat one box. If larger strength achieves the double of the loser’s, the loser must eliminate one unit and retreat. If achieving the triple, the loser must eliminate two units and retreat. Since the number of units is severely limited in this game, these criteria can be achieved very often than other wargames especially when zero strength appeared on the combat.
One more important rule is that if a player would like to conduct an event-card, he must control the Wakyo box. Since Ohtomo-no-miko occupies the box at the start, Ohama-no-miko must first conquer Wakyo box for using his planned event-card.
At last, the victory condition should be discussed. Each player can win the game as soon as he eliminates his enemy leader. Otherwise, Ohama-no-miko player can win if he controls both of Wakyo and Ootsu. But, both are controlled by Ohtomo-no-miko player at the start. The game ends the turn when both players used his last available card, thus the game ends 9 turns ( 27 actions ).
Challenge for players
So, Ohama-no-miko can have more information and utilize his event-cards, but must conquer both of Ootsu and Wakyo until the end of the game. That means he must have tangible schedule for the revolution and planned the event-cards and then conduct them effectively.
On the other hand, though Ohtomo-no-miko has only limited intelligence, he must carefully defend the critical boxes and if there is a chance he must conduct effective counterattack. Since the number of units is severely limited and the schedule is tight for Ohama-no-miko, he must sometimes risk his leader’s force without having enough amount of defending force units; there will be some chance of counterattack during the whole period of the game.
As a conclusion, this is a small but innovative and exciting game. So, Wargame Japanese History now has chrome.