Historical Background: The Sengoku or "Warring States" period of Japanese history lasted from 1467 - 1615 AD. During this time warlords and their samurai armies waged civil war. In 1590 Toyotomi Hideyoshi succeeded in uniting Japan under his rule. After his death there was a power struggle between a coalition of Eastern clans led by Tokugawa Ieyasu and a Western coalition led by Ishida Mitsunari. Their final showdown occurred near the town of Sekigahara in 1600 AD. The armies were evenly matched. Mitsunari deployed his army to block the vital Nakasendo road, with Kobayakawa Hideaki's large clan in position to threaten the Eastern army's left flank. However Hideaki had secretly promised Ieyasu that he would switch sides once the battle started. The Eastern army launched a determined attack and made good progress. Slowly the Western army drove them back and began to counterattack. Mitsunari and Ieyasu both tried to convince Hideaki to intervene on their side. Finally he made his decision and charged down the hill right into the flank of the Western army. His betrayal was decisive, and the Western army was routed. In the years following the battle Ieyasu was able to consolidate his power and become the Shogun of Japan. The Tokugawa Shogunate would last last until 1868, a time marked by peace, a strict caste system, and isolation from the outside world.
Battle 1: Both sides launched aggressive attacks on the flanks, but there was only some minor skirmishing in the center. This left little room to maneuver, and the two armies met head on, turning the battle into a brutal slugfest. The West sent a force of arquebusiers into the center of the field. The East declined to challenge them and the West chose not to push the advantage. This led both sides to send more men into the already overcrowded battles on both flanks. Both sides were taking tremendous casualties, and the battle remained a deadlock. Late in the day the Kobayakawa decided to fight for Tokugawa and his Eastern coalition. This gave Ieyasu a small edge, which he ruthlessly exploited. Eventually the East wore down the West through superior numbers, and won a narrow victory
Battle 2: The Kobayakawa clan chose to side with the East early in the battle. Their arquebusiers announced their decision by marching down the hill and blasting the Ukita clan samurai cavalry at point blank range, causing terrible casualties. Mitsunari had been expecting this and had kept a strong force in reserve. The Western forces on the right flank turned in fury and attacked the traitors, determined to destroy them. They left only a token force to hold the front line against the Eastern army. The East seized the opportunity and pressed hard on the flank, opening a gap in the enemy lines. A strong force of arquebusiers and archers moved into the gap, cutting off the West's right flank. The Hosokawa clan was assigned to finish off the trapped Western samurai. This battle would rage on all day until the exhausted Western survivors managed to defeat their enemies and break out of the encirclement.
The Western army had been stealthily massing their cavalry on the left flank. They sent the mounted samurai into battle, banking everything on their ability to achieve a breakthrough. The attack went well at first, but the Eastern army fed in a steady stream of reserves, which was able to eventually stop the momentum of the attack. Then the East counterattacked and succeeded in turning the flank. They began to roll up the West's left flank, forcing them to fall back and defend their headquarters. The Western attack faltered as the clan leaders began bickering over who should have the honor of attacking the headquarters. Ishida Mitsunari could see that his army was doomed and decided to die fighting. He mounted his horse and led a desperate counterattack, which swept through the enemy like a tornado. The Eastern army was on the brink of panic when Mitsunari was killed leading a charge, and the battle ended in a victory for Tokugawa Ieyasu and his Western coalition. Mitsunari was the guest of honor at Ieyasu's head viewing ceremony.
The Miniatures: The battle can be played with 1/72-scale plastics from Zvezda Samurai Infantry and Samurai Cavalry. The infantry should be mounted with two figures on bases 1.5" wide by .75" deep. Samurai cavalry units included retainers on foot, so the Cavalry bases were 1.5" square and included one mounted and one foot figure. Clan leaders led from horseback, they were mounted on bases 1.5" x 7.5". In my battle I used paper soldiers. Here are some paper soldiers you can print and use.
Formations: Infantry and cavalry units have six stands (double rank line).
Order of Battle: This is a simplified order of battle, combining some smaller clans into larger formations, and including only some of the clan leaders. I included equal numbers of archers and arquebusiers because that was the mix in the Zvezda boxes. Historically the arquebusiers would have been more numerous. If you want a more detailed OB check out the resources at the end for some sources. This OB makes for a crowded battlefield. If you have a smaller table, or fewer participants you might want to remove one clan from each army, an eliminate a unit of ashigaru spearmen from the Kobayakawa clan.
Tokugawa Ieyasu (Overall Commander)
Ii Naomasa (Red Devils)
Ishida Mitsunari (Overall Commander)
The Board: A 7.5 X 5 foot table was used. There were several mountains, which can be represented by pieces of felt, or simply drawn with marker. There were two rivers and a road on the battlefield, but they had little effect on the outcome of the battle and were omitted.
Deployment: The Eastern and Western armies deploy in the boxes indicated on the map. The archers and arquebusiers should be in front. Kobayakawa Hideaki and his army deploy on Mt. Matsuo, as indicated on the map. Each army should have a headquarters for their overall commander.
1. Treachery Die Roll
2. Eastern Army Moves
3. Eastern Army Shoots
4. Western Army Moves
5. Western Army Shoots
Treachery Die Roll: Kobayakawa Hideaki was part of the Western Army and had assured Mitsunari that he would do his part in the battle. However he was conflicted about which side he really wanted to support and had also told Ieyasu that he would fight on his side. At the start of each turn one player rolls a die to see if Hideaki has decided to join the fight on behalf of either side. If he does join one side then he is treated as a part of that army for the remainder of the game, and no further die rolls are necessary. On turn one skip the treachery roll, he won't choose either side. On turn two he will join the East on a roll of 6, otherwise he remains undecided. On turn three he joins the East on a 5-6, and joins the West on a roll of 1. On turn four and all succeeding turns he joins the East on a 4-6, and the West on a 1-2.
Movement: Cavalry and Infantry may move and charge up to 6". Commanders may move up to 12"
Shooting: Arquebusiers and Archer units can shoot 12". If any base in a unit is in range then all the bases in the unit may fire. Roll 1D6 per base, Each 6 rolled is a hit. The unit targeted removes one stand for each hit. Once a unit has fought a round of melee they may not shoot, or be shot at, until the melee is finished.
Charge into Melee: Both sides may charge into melee. This is the only way to get into hand-to-hand fighting. Units may charge up to 6" but only if they can reach an enemy unit. Charges must be made against enemies in front of the charging unit. If it makes a difference, the Eastern army charges first.
Melee: Each side rolls 1D6 for each base in the fight. The Melee table shows the number needed to score hits. Remove one enemy stand for every hit. Both sides roll simultaneously. If both units still have stands left they remain engaged and fight again next turn.
Flank Attacks: If a unit charges an enemy unit on the flank or rear it gains an advantage. The enemy unit may only fight back with two bases. This advantage applies only on the first turn of melee.
Remove the Last Stand: If a unit is reduced to one stand this last stand is removed immediately.
Leaders: Leaders may not be targeted individually. If they are attached to a unit they count as an extra base in melee (but not shooting). If the unit they are attached to loses one or more bases in melee roll 1D6. If the roll is a 6 then the leader is eliminated.
Personal Combat: If both sides have a leader involved in a melee they may chose to fight each other in personal combat. Both players must agree. Each side rolls one die to resolve the duel, high roll wins. Reroll ties. The loser is eliminated.
Resources: A search of the Internet, library, and Magweb, turned up some useful resources for wargaming Sekigahara