Following his defeat of the Takeda at Nagashino, Oda Nobunaga continued on his path to domination of central Japan. While continuing to fight the remnants of the still deadly Takeda, Oda turned his attention towards the Mori, dispatching Toyotomi Hideyoshi to deal with them. With news of the Takeda's destruction, and a request from Toyotomi for reinforcement to deal with the Mori fortification at Takamatsu, Oda dispatched all of his troops away from his side. Akechi Mitsuhide, one of Oda's generals, smarting from years of insults and humiliation chose this moment to strike, attacking Oda's palace (the Honno-ji) at Kyoto with his entire army, and installing himself as Shogun.
Thirteen days later, after a hasty and generous truce with the Mori and a lightening march from Tadakatsu, Toyotomi meets Akechi in battle on the road to Kyoto. Toyotomi's army outnumbers Akechi's by some 36,000 to 15,000, but Akechi has a defensive position, and Toyotomi must defeat him before more of Oda's generals arrive to claim vengeance.
A fordable stream runs between the two armies. On the Toyotomi right it becomes a more powerful river. On the Toyotomi left, is a large hill. The greater part of this hill. Covering most of the hill is a forest, however there is a road running from the Toyotomi left to the river over the hill.
To show the importance both sides placed on this road (running to the capital, Kyoto) any side holding it at the end of a turn would gain 1 morale chip. This would encourage the Akechi to make a historical attempt to take it, despite a strong defensive position.
I also made several slight adjustments to the historical scenario. The first and unintentional change was the lack of rain (it rained for the entire battle apparently!). The second was the absence of two bridges crossing the river. I was unsure of how to model this in Piquet, both in terms of combat and in terms of crossing them, especially since the usual Sequence Deck lacks Deployment Cards.
Also, and less importantly, is a Ninja raid on Akechi's camp the night before the battle, causing fires to tents, destroying supplies and provoking general chaos. Gives me some ideas for a Theatre of War Campaign – but that's another day!
Seeking swift vengeance for Oda Nobunaga's foul murder the entire Toyotomi Army surges forward. Kuroda's Cavalry wheel towards the summit of Mount Tennou, hoping to dominate the road to Kyoto. Such is their fervour that the advancing missile units begin to open up on the Akechi Army (far out of range).
The Tsuda Command responds, advancing up to the river, their Arquebusiers firing on the Kato Arquebusiers, having deadly effect. The Akechi Command also advanced, possibly unwisely missile units in the Toyotomi Army had yet to be affected by their but judging that the importance was in reaching the stream first.
On cue the other Toyotomi missile units shoot at the arrayed Akechi Command on the banks of the stream, none of them having much effect. The Toyotomi Command advances, its Bow units inclining to the flanks to let the Samurai Foot through the middle.
All other commands also advance, the Kato and the Kuroda both reaching the stream. The Toyotomi Leader takes personal command of one of his Samurai units, intending to force the crossing of the stream himself.
Obviously things are not going to plan for the Toyotomi as the entire Toyotomi Command withdraws in disorder, without their Leader directing them from behind a misheard order reverberated through the units.
The Kato Command is the model of efficiency. Their two Arquebusier units advance to the river, firing on the Tsuda Samurai, and on the Tsuda Arquebusiers, doing some damage.
This is the sort of thing Toyotomi Hideyoshi had in mind, reminding his men why they are here today "Remember the Honno-ji!"
The Akechi Army is shaken by the renewed fervour of their foe but knows exactly what is at stake in this battle.
The Tsuda Arquebusiers, unperturbed fire once more into the Kato Samurai but to no effect. The Akechi Army advances to the river, where the Tsuda Arquebusiers discharge once more into the Kato Samurai ranks, this time inflicting serious casualties.
With the Toyotomi centre is disarray, the Akechi Commander decides to strike - if it can turn against the Kuroda Levy units at the stream victory would surely follow. The Akechi Command crosses the stream.
While opposite the Kuroda Levy the Matsuda avalry units maintain their position, threatening and preventing the Kuroda Levy from turning to meet the Akechi, while also protecting from any future attempt by the Kuroda Cavalry to cut behind the Army (while also recognising that the fight against them would be very difficult)
The Tsuda Leader inspired his men to attempt the difficult crossing again. Once more they attempt to cross the river, succeeding and exultantly charging the Kato Arquebusiers.
With the enemy in sight the Akechi Commander must restrain his men. To add the necessary control the Akechi Leader advances to the stream and issues new orders. The Akechi swing to their right to threaten Kuroda flanks.
With the Toyotomi Army seriously at risk, the Kuroda Cavalry abandon their race for the hill's summit, wheeling towards the Akechi Command.
The Tsuda Arquebusiers volley continuously into the Kato Samurai eventually destroying the unit entirely, but being forced to call back to the baggage train for more ammunition.
The Kato Samurai flee the torrent of fire from the Tsuda
The Tsuda Samurai cross those final few yards, realising that the fire from the Kato Arquebusiers is ragged and uncoordinated and cuts through them, destroying them to the last man.
The Akechi Ashigaru charges the Kuroda Levy in the flank, and the Levy resists bravely, turning to face their enemy, but is pushed back, almost into the other Levy unit.
The Kuroda cavalry advance, coming down off the difficult terrain of Tennozan. The Cavalry then split up, charging the Akechi Samurai, and charging the Akechi Levy in the flank.
The Akechi Samurai counter-charge, but are pushed back. Beside them the Akechi Ashigaru plough into the Kuroda Levy, inflicting losses, and that pressure is too much for them – they flee!
As the chaotic situation across the river develops the Matsuda Cavalry fall back in disorder, no longer menacing the Kuroda Command.
The other Kuroda Cavalry have more effect, pushing the Akechi Samurai back, into the path of the oncoming Toyotomi Samurai. Seeing this danger the Akechi respond!
The Samurai, having absorbed the best effort of the Cavalry strike back with determination, even though they are disordered from the charge, and routing the unit. The Levy follows their example and routs their opponents also.
Toyotomi Hideyoshi, seeing the danger his army is in, decides to take a direct hand in matters. He supersedes control of the Toyotomi Command, and slowly asserts command over the Samurai units, and then rallies them, judging that he has neither the time nor the inclination to do so with the Bow units.
Without a steadying influence in their path the routing Cavalry and Levy units of the Kuroda Command leaves the battlefield.
Akechi Samurai and Kuroda cavalry battle on
The Toyotomi Samurai, with their Leader charging in front of them, impact on the flank of the Akechi Samurai, and by the pure shock effect routs them.
Akechi Samurai flee across the river
The Tsuda Arquebusiers finally receive ammunition from the rear area.
The Akechi Leader, shouting over the stream separating him from his Command, asserts his command of the Samurai, and slowly rallies them. The other Leaders in the Akechi Army follow suit, Tsuda bring his Samurai into command, and Matsuda bringing one of the Cavalry units into command.
The Tsuda wheel to face Toyotomi in centre.
Akechi recross river to be met by Toyotomi Samurai. With Battle Lust and a thirst to finish off their work, the Toyotomi Samurai charge the Akechi Samurai once more, this is a hard fought battle, but the heroism of Toyotomi's leadership tells.
The fighting continues, and the Akechi formation is so thinned and disordered that they cannot stand against the power of the Toyotomi.
The Tsuda Arquebusiers cross the river with very little trouble. And then they and the Tsuda Samurai wheel to face the main battle area, the Kato Leader sees no chance and charges the Tsuda Samurai, reciting his lineage and getting to his grandfather before 4 Samurai spear him like a dog! The Kato clan has disintegrated.
With only one unit left in his command, Akechi knows he must rally his Levy before the enemy contacts them, and does so despite the difficulties in commanding them over the stream. And eventually he decides to ride over there and take personal command of the unit. The Akechi Ashigaru then move to flank Toyotomi Samurai.
With the Akechi seemingly resurgent the Toyotomi Army becomes seriously doubtful that they can carry the day, but all stood. Akechi's Ashigaru are caught in rear by the Kuroda.
and they flee across river. Eventually and With true heroism, cutting down several of the Levy who are at the head of his routing Levy, the Akechi Leader finally rallies his unit.
The Tsuda Arquebusiers take a long shot at the second Toyotomi Samurai, but their enfilading fire has no effect. The Tsuda Samurai, hoping that their opponents will be reduced by that fire charge the Toyotomi unit in the flank, damaging them somewhat.
With the rear of the Kuroda Levy in sight, the out of command Matsuda Cavalry cannot restrain themselves and they charge.
Terror has been struck into the hearts of this Levy unit by the blood-thirsty Matsuda Cavalry and they rout.
Turning their back on those blood-thirsty Cavalry takes some will but the Toyotomi Samurai unit do so and charge the Tsuda Arquebusiers. These Arquebusiers have cut many notches in their guns today, and the Toyotomi Samurai must have nerves of steel to run blindly through the dense fog of black powder.
They meet those Arquebusiers with steel and give them one for Oda Nobunaga pushing them back. They follow up and this time there is no firing from the Tsuda unit, and they are destroyed.
Meanwhile the Toyotomi Samurai stand fast against the Tsuda unit, though the odds are against them.
Finally the weight of the Tsuda attackers prevails and the Toyotomi rout.
Again the Toyotomi Samurai wheel to face the Tsuda Samurai and charges them in the flank. These Tsuda are made of stern stuff however and although disordered realign themselves,
With anger at having been thwarted the Toyotomi renew their combat against the Tsuda and the Tsuda unit routs. As the rallied Akechi Levy advances, the Toyotomi Samurai are once more brought back into command (Remember the Honno-Ji!). Quickly they are wheeled around towards the Matsuda Cavalry, and advance towards their foe.
Emboldened by their leader's presence the Cavalry units charge the Toyotomi Samurai. The superior morale of the Samurai tells, and the Matsuda are pushed back. With this Heroic Samurai unit clearing the field against any opposition – the Matsuda cavalry are fearful, but stay. Meanwhile the Akechi Levy and the Tsuda Samurai race to catch that Toyotomi Samurai unit while still engaged.
Little hope of that, as they crush the Cavalry unit (how those Cavalry wish they hadn't been so brave!) They charge the routing Cavalry unit at the stream – cutting them down though not killing the Matsuda Leader.
The heroic Matsuda Leader decides to stand and fight, rallying his other unit of cavalry. Instead of reengaging the Toyotomi Samurai, he advances away from them , sweeping in behind the Toyotomi Bow units, and then wheeling to face their rear
The Cavalry then charges that unit, forgoing the option of charging Hideyoshi himself. destroying the archers in spectacular fashion
The Tsuda Samurai and the Akechi Levy continue their race to engage the Toyotomi Samurai; the Levy reaching the stream and crossing it easily to crash into the Samurai's flank. Surprised by this Levy units audacity the Samurai fall back before their assault.
Even with the combat going their way the Akechi Levy is fearful of this distinguished unit. With the bravery of their fellows shaming the noble warriors, the Tsuda Samurai and the Matsuda Cavalry charge the Toyotomi Samurai in flank and rear the Tsuda Samurai inflict damage on the unit, arriving there first, and even taking the head of the Toyotomi Leader. The rest of the brave Samurai are riden down.
With a single unit of Levy Bowmen left, Toyotomi Hideyoshi abandons the field of battle, knowing that Tokugawa Ieyasu will arrive soon, to avenge Oda Nobunaga. While Hideyoshi has more men, his star will not continue to rise after this debacle.
This battle, once more turned out contrary to history, yet in an interesting and believable fashion. Akechi took his chance in crossing the river when his opponent was in disarray, and that almost turned to disaster, with the Heroic Toyotomi unit running rampage in the centre. With some concentration of fire, and that extra Reload Card in the deck, the Akechi force crossed the difficult river with success. That, combined with the decision not to cross the stream with the Cavalry and allow
them to simply threaten, meant that the Akechi were forcing the Toyotomi to respond. I expected this battle to turn into a fight for the hill between cavalry and a fiercely contested crossing by the Toyotomi, but again sometimes opportunity
must take precedence over planning.