Review- Test of Honor
While enjoying the Tabletop Minions Expo this weekend, Tim and I finally sat down to play a few rounds of Test of Honor by Warlord games. As this is a review of a new game, We decided to keep to what was in the box, so there are unpainted minis and flat terrain in use. Additionally, Tim is using Clan Wars minis, as he has not yet assembled his official Test of Honor minis.
The box set has sprues to create 35 minis! These are the old Wargames Factory samurai sprues. You can make 5 samurai, 20 spearmen, and 10 archers. There are plenty of parts to add variety. I have one spearman who is banging a drum, and 3 musketmen to replace archers if I'm feeling fancy. I managed to make each model look unique, and it was a lot of fun to work them into different poses. In this picture, you can also see the Samurai horse riders, which are from an upgrade box.
The main box also includes dice, tokens, terrain, and a campaign guide in addition to the minis, cards, and rulebook.
The campaign book is nice. It includes a number of scenarios. The first needs 2 archers, 3 spearmen, and a samurai. Each successive scenario builds on that group. Each unit has a number of stats. The stats tell you how many dice to roll when making that particular test. The dice are custom 6 sided dice with sword and X symbols. There are blank, X, 1 sword, and 2 sword sides. In order to pass ANY test in the game you need to roll 3 sword icons. The more dice you roll, the easier it will be. If you ever roll less than 3 swords, or more Xs than swords, you fail the test.
Each unit is either a samurai or a commoner, and each has a specific number of actions as outlined on their unit card. Activation is interesting: Each player adds up the total samurai and commoner actions and places a token to represent each one into a bag. 3 "fate" tokens are added to the bag. On your turn, you draw a token from the bag and assign it to the appropriate unit type to activate them. Then, play passes to your opponent. If you draw a token you can't use, your opponent gets to activate during your turn. Example: If your samurai has used up all his actions, and you draw another token on your turn, your opponent gets to steal your activation. When a fate token is drawn, you pass your activation, and when the 3rd fate is drawn, the round ends.
If you choose to shoot or charge, you must always select your nearest opposing model as the target. If you would like to attack a different model, you must succeed in a test. If your opponent attacks you, and you have an activation remaining, you MUST use it to try and defend. If you have no activations, or your fail to defend, the opponent rolls for damage. If they succeed in damaging you, that model is dead! If they hit but do not damage you, it is considered a "light wound", and that model receives a blood drop. Each blood drop adds to the number of dice your opponent roll to hit and wound. If a samurai gets killed, they may attempt a "test of honor", and if they succeed, they can stand back up, but are given an injury card that applies some sort of penalty. The loser in a melee is pushed back a base width.
Our first scenario was a simple battle between 2 hot headed young samurai to defend the honor of their clans. My samurai hero managed to defeat Tim's in battle. After the game, I received an honor card as a reward. It was an armor upgrade that allowed my samurai to shake off the first light wound of each future battle.
Because I won the first fight, I was assigned the defender role in the next scenario. I was tasked to protect my village, as Tim's force attacked to recover his lost honor. We were allowed to bring up to 15 points of models for this game. I brought a 2nd samurai, and an additional archer. Tim added a couple archers and upgraded his spearmen.
My 2nd samurai was quickly shot down by Tim's archers.
I managed to defeat Tim's hero and hold the line over the next 5 turns to win the game.
This samurai used to work for Burger King, I believe. He is preparing to wet his blade before the next battle.
I was very pleased with this game. It is fast playing and simple. The mechanics add a sense of random chaos that can trip up a carefully planned strategy, but I guess a real fight is the same way. I enjoyed the fact that I never had to think about what kind of test it was, or how I needed to roll to succeed. The minis are nice, and I am looking forward to painting them. The campaign system is simple, but it works well. I don't think Test of Honor will replace other more complex games, but it is very well done and would be a great choice for those days where you want to have some light fun with a beer and pretzels game.
I enjoy Test of Honour as a quick, simple skirmish game. The rules and campaign elements work well to present the theme without too much pretentious samurai worship. It seems to be selling well, so I look forward to the game developing further over the next few years. The reliance on special cards is a bit annoying, especially the stat cards for each model, since the stats of each miniature are so simple the cards are just extra stuff to get in the way. Also, I think we could benefit from a good reference sheet to remind us of the dice roll and weapon modifiers. I would like to finish the campaign that Josh and I started, so my samurai hero can take his revenge and make up for the losses of these first two games.