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Hogen Rebellion AAR

Guns of August ran this past weekend with a theme of "Knights and Knaves", specified to focus on Medieval battles, vice, say, current politics and pretty much any country on the planet.

I decided to take a stab at the Hōgen Rebellion as I feel it perfectly embodies the spirit of the knights and knaves concept. It is set against a background of truly knavish politics and when it erupts into war, it sets the stage for the rise of the samurai from basically low-class mercenaries to a professional military class, heavily influencing national affairs.

I picked two battles, and set them up for a small table 3'x3' using our QILS ruleset. I think this combo makes the game ideal for convention play. It's easy to walk up and play. Players focus on tacitcs, not mechanics. You can have a significant tactical engagement in a couple of hours.

The first pic is the setup of the attack on Sutoku's palace by Go-Shirikawa's forces. The entire board is the palace. Go-Shirikawa's forces will enter the board progressively through the gate in the raised garden and try to burn down the palace.

From this view, we see inside the inner fortress, where former Emperor Sutoku starts. His side is trying to repel the invaders, put out the fires, and protect Sutoku. They begin the game scattered about the board.

It's slow going at the start for Go-Shirikawa's forces as they press through the gate. Still, they being with a swell of success because there is a tight knot of fighters against an initially dispersed defendig force.

Here the defending archers are trying to thin out the invaders while the rest of the fortress comes together to concentrate power.

This run did turn out with exactly the historical result. Sutoku mounted a valiant defense, but was eventually overwhelmed, in part due to Go-Shirikawa's forces burning the bridge to the garden, making it harder for Sutoku to surround them.

I guess the rebellion would have ended here, since without the bridge, Sutoku was not able to escape the destruction of his palace.

The second was a naval infantry battle in which Sutoku's forces were the aggressor. A commercial port is being raided by a small flotilla of large ships carrying a samurai battle party. The defense was only some locals.

One of the keys for this conflct was that while the samurai were an outmatch for the local defenders, Sutoku's forces had limited sailors, while all the locals were seafarers. If the defenders can swarm, board, and take out the sailors, the samurai will be stranded.

Another key aspect of the real battle was that the attackers came in with the tide behind them, but during the assault, the tide shifted and worked agaisnt them. This allowed the small boats to swarm and protect the harbor.

I used a pseudo-random card driven mechanic to run the tides. Both sides knew generally which way the tides would go and that generally they would start strong, ebb, and reverse. But turn to turn, they weren't sure what the specific effects would be until they had to deal with them.

Both the combatants and boats got QILS dice and moved and fought under the basic rules. The only two special rules were: (1) only boats attack boats, and (2) boats must have one sailor onboard to move and attack with their dice. Farily intuitive and pretty simple to play.

We ended up running this scenario twice in four hours with different opponents.

This is a dramatic shot of a lone sailor standing his ground while a military ship bears down on him. In this run, the defenders didn't get out quickly enough and clog the through passage. So they got picked off by archers and finished off by swords and ramming.

In the second run, the big dragon ship lost all its sailors, but the green junk was able to break up and sink the boat that was blocking its way.