This article describes making and painting 28mm Samurai figures for table top miniatures battles. First, a tale of adversaries meeting at a village in medieval Japan. Then a few closeup photos of the figures. Click on the photos for a larger gallery of these images.
Here are a group of Samurais training in a village in medieval Japan. The village is prosperous and can afford high ranking Samurai to live in and protect the town. This clan wears green which is symbolic of their love of farming and living in the green country.
The Daimyo in the center, who is wise and knows many fighting techniques, trains the warriors in fighting and all weapon styles. Two training warriors watch and learn the techniques as well.
Suddenly a rival Samurai group comes to the village. The yellow clan have a long history of issues with the green clan. The two ranking Daimyos have a discussion, but the other warriors want to have a fight.
Sorry about the camera focus. The meeting happened so quickly, and the emotions were so fast and elevated, there was hardly time to focus.
The green Daimyo wisely holds off the fighters and has another plan.
The green Daimyo has his home village to his advantage.
All the local green forces have come out to defend the village. There are archers, foot soldiers with katanas and pole weapons, and even a few muskets. This show of force looks like it will overwhelm the invaders. Perhaps it will dissuade them from violence.
The yellow Daimyo has expected a green defense force.
With a quick signal the yellow invader force appears from the bamboo forest. The forces appear about equal in numbers. Does one side have advantage in training or tactics? The fight is on.
The fight has gone on for most of the morning. There are many casualties on both sides.
At the end of the battle, the two senior Daimyos survive to decide the fate of battle. Whoever wins in this single combat will win the battle for their clan. With skill and determination, the last battle goes on for hours. Who will prevail?
Despite the bravery and skill of the green and yellow clans, a lightening strike hits!
The red Daimyo has been tracking both the green and yellow clan with many spies. The red Daimyo has known this battle has been in the making for many weeks.
Now with both the green and yellow clans diminished from fighting, the red clan appears in force and gives the final blows. Both the green and yellow Daimyos are executed. The red clan is victorious!
And so now that the battle story is done, here is a discussion of the miniature figures.
As is typical, I am a very slow painter. I don't like to do small warbands. I like to paint enough figures for a table top game. So it took me a while to assemble and paint up these miniatures.
The first edition of Warlord Games "Test of Honour" miniatures game has 35 plastic miniatures. There are for two opponents:
Warlord did a great miniature design, so you have plenty of heads, weapons, and command options to make a great variety of figures The designs are a bit fiddly, as you have to choose various helmets, decorations, flags, weapons, swords, and what-nots to make a completed figure. Variety is high. Organization is a must.
This photo show a Samurai leader center. There are also two Samurai warriors on the left and right flank. One has a yari (pole arm) and one has a katana (long curved blade). These three come from the Samurai leader plastic frame. Lots of great heads, decorations, and weapons to choose. You also get many sashimono identification flags worn on the back, and I have given to the two Samurai warriors on the flanks.
In the back row are two ashigaru (commonn) warriors from the foot soldier frames. The one yari soldier has a giant clan flag on which I have painted a Japanese character. My free hand painting is kind of wiggly, but I hope you get the idea.
This photo shows the Samurai missile weapons. There are enough parts to make an all-muskets or all-bow unit. You also have enogh spare parts for the weapons carriers (black backpack box) or the center figure here who is blowing on a conch shell.
These figures have no base for the legs. You must choose strong epoxy to ensure a strong hold between the tiny feet and your base.
This photo show a group of ashigari (common) foot soldiers. They are all decorated with the yari sprue options.
It is a bit blurry, but the two in the front have colored sticks, kind of like a wand to conduct an orchestra. I made about one of these squad leaders for about every three armed soldiers.
For my figure bases I use one inch steel fender washers. These fender washers are the same diameter as the (approximately 25 mm) plastic bases that are given in the box, but they are much heavier and help keep the plastic minis upright. The washers also fit sungly into the large plastic three-man group trays shown here.
Who is that mysterious gray Samurai in the center? More on this oddly neutrally colored warrior to follow, read on!
This photo shows the yellow Samurai leader in the center. He is flanked on the far left and right side by deadly Samurais. In the back are two ashigaru soldiers holding the flag of the yellow clan.
In the previous section, I mentioned a mysterious gray Samurai. In the original Test of Honour game, there is one sprue of Samurai warriors with five bodies, five pairs or legs, and many heads and arms. So you must allocate five Samurais to two war bands. I think it is fair to have two Samurais for each side, and one extra gray Samurai who could be added to any clan. Perhaps you give this Samurai to a newer player to help with play balance.
I thought two clans and 35 miniatures was not enough, so I bought the "Samurai Warband" box. It contains 20 more miniatures: one Samurai sprue (5 more Samurais), one Missile sprue (5 more missile soldiers), and two Ashigari sprues (10 more foot soldiers). This lets you have a total of 55 miniatures, 3 clans of 18 soldiers each (10 ashgari, 5 missle, 3 Samurais), and one extra Samurai. The mysterious gray Samurai can be added to any force.
This photo shows the yellow missile soldiers. Most people would assemble one complete bow band or one complete musket band. I opted for two bows, two musket, and one all purpose miniature. With this setup, a player could play the modeled weapons mix, or by agreement, could state that all five are either bow or musket. You could hide the models in the back who do not represent the proper weapons.
This photo show a group of the yellow ashigaru (common) foot soldiers. With each of my clans having 10 ashigaru, note that they don't go evenly into the three large three-soldier movement trays. Oh well, perhaps the tenth man just holds the clan flag at the back line of the battle.
This photo show the red Samurai leader center. One red Samurai is shown to the left. The rest of the figures are various commoners.
This photo shows the red Samurai missile soldiers.
A quick word about the scenery in these photos. The table is covered with an green felt mat. The square cardboard cutouts in the background are scenery from the "Test of Honour" game box. They are supposed to represent houses, but I hope to replace them with some of the excellent Japanese 3D miniature terrain.
In the far background is a forest of miniature bamboo and palm trees. Some companies sell these trees on Amazon as aquarum terrain. I bought about 20 palm trees and 60 bamboo trees for about $15. These I epoxed to heavy metal washers and fixed them to a base.
This photo show a group of red foot soldiers. A red Samurai missed his portrait with the red leader, so the red Samurai appears on the right side here.
And now, as a bonus, here is a photo of the box set of "Mounted Samurai". This box set give you six horses, five plastic horsemen, and one metal leader horsemen. I did not work them into the story line above, but these horsemen can make a powerful addition to any clan.
I decided to paint orange armor, so they could be added to any of the green, yellow, or red clans. Because the color is dissimilar, they would be a noticeable contrast and stand out on the battle field.
Like many acrylic paint sets, the Vallejo oranges are very translucent. In order to cover black primer, you need several coats of orange. It is probably easier to use white primer if you paint something translucent on top.
And yet another bonus, this photo shows the box set of "Daimyo's Retinue". The box give you six hoses, five plastic horsemen, and one metal leader. The bodies and horses of the "Mounted Samurai" and "Daimyo's Retinue" set are the same, but the "Daimyo's Retinue" set gives you additional metal heads seen here. I like the heads with the scary masks and elaborate helmets.
The blue color was selected to contrast with my green, yellow, and red clans.
Thanks for reading about my Warlord Games Test of Honour 28 mm miniatures.
Coming up soon, I hope to have a battle report or two using the Test of Honour rules
so stay tuned.