A look at my new ‘Ronin’ samurai rules and figures

Much excitement here, as the order of North Star figures and Ronin rules for my samurai skirmish project arrived in the mail yesterday.

The figures
The North Star figures depict four ‘buntai’ (or groups) that you can use to play samurai games.  I’ve reported before on the exact make-up of these buntai in a previous post.  

The figures arrived in four clear plastic disc cases, one for each buntai.  These boxes looked very impressive and professional with their printed slip-covers, which include lots of eye-catching painting information.

In each box were the figures making up one of the buntai. These models look nicely sculpted and cast. They are all in lovely dynamic poses that exude ‘Japanese-ness’. The anatomy proportions look pretty realistic to my eye, though perhaps verging on the heroic in terms of weapon to figure size – but I like that.  Overall, they’re nice and appeal to me very much … and I am fussy!

There is going to be a little bit of clean-up work to do, with some jaggy bits from casting process to remove (somewhat similar to the way Perry figures often come). A few figures require some slight assembly, especially where scabbards and ‘sashimono’ (back banners) are concerned. But once cleaned up and assembled, these figures appear as if they’ll be a joy to paint.

I plan to base the figures individually on washers, as this is the ideal set-up for skirmish gaming. And I’m already thinking of ways to make these bases look Japanese – maybe adding a little stone lamp, or bonsai tree, or even a raked gravel garden effect!

Despite the very sturdy packaging of the figures in their disc cases, and the bubble-wrap bags containing the figures, sadly there was still one breakage in my order. (Such breakages always leave me in a quandary – do I ask for a replacement figure, in which case I feel mean at probably clawing back any profit the company has made from me; or do I live with a very fragile glued-together repair job – particularly as my talents don’t lie to replacing the long ‘naginata’ (sword-tipped polearm) with wire?).

All in all, though, a nice lot of very interesting figures.  They’ll be a fun challenge for me to paint, as I know next to nothing about feudal Japanese uniforms and armour!

The rules
I was looking forward to reading these rules. But in hindsight, I’m not sure why, as rules generally make my eyes glaze over. I’m not a numbers person, and I’m slow at picking up rules mechanisms. As a consequence, I just don’t enjoy reading rules (and this might also be why I am not that frequent a gamer, feeling happier just building up my forces for some imaginary game that never actually occurs for real!).

What I’m trying to say is that perhaps I’m the wrong person to review the rules because of the above. The rules were for me just as I find most other sets of rules I read – not at all my cup of tea as a reading experience.  Nevertheless, I suspect they are very good rules for those who do like the rules part of gaming. So I’m going to put a link here to another blog for those of you who want a more objective review on Hachiman’s Toy Chest.

Suffice to say, though, that the publication itself looks good, containing lots of juicy pictures of beautifully painted miniatures alternating with colourful artwork from other Osprey books on the period. So the book will be very inspiring for my painting and Japanese terrain-making.

Overall conclusion of the figures and rules? I would think most people interested in this period will love them. I’m certainly happy with them (even with the caveat about my own personal difficulty with reading wargames rules of any type!).



Filed under Books, North Star, Samurai

26 responses to “A look at my new ‘Ronin’ samurai rules and figures

  1. I’m not so sure about the miniatures, although Kevin Dallimore brought them tom life in the latest from North Star. I think that I’d be tempted to try and use the Perry miniature Samurai range in their place.


    • It was a tough decision – I was really torn between North Star and Perry (and also Kingsford). But if i like painting this period, I’ may eventually add some other makes as well.

      • I know what you mean. It’s all down to personal taste etc.

        I actually forgot about Kingsford Miniatures who do produce some really excellent miniatures and would probably fit the Ronin ethos better then the Perry stuff.


      • Are you not going to use them at all now?

        I love the Koryu and Sohei models from the north star range but the other two packs I could take or leave.

  2. Oh Like I need to be tempted by another period & project.. but this does look tempting. I’m a sucker for ‘self-contained’ skirmish games.

    • I don’t think i could ever start a new ‘big’ period from scratch. So skirmish games, or at least games that require only small armies (eg my New Zealand Wars period), are what I see myself doing from now on.

  3. All the best with the new project Ronin Roly. I’m sure it will keep you happily dreaming, scheming & painting and present a most spectacular sight. I’ll look forward to watching the progress here.

    I’m no expert on the Japanese or your new figures but they might make you look back to those happy days when all you had to worry about was painting a little piping on a collar or turnback! 8O)

    von Peter himself

  4. I have really enjoyed your series of articles on Ronin, good luck with your plan and I will look forward to seeing your figures.


    • Thanks, John. I’ll keep people posted on how I get on with this project. Already here have been some … interesting … developments – but more on that in a future posting.

  5. Looks like a fun new project.

  6. I’m really worried about the state of my will power with these stunning looking miniatures; can’t wait to see what you do with them.

  7. Looking forward to seeing what you do with them Roly!

  8. Hi,

    A few months ago there was an exposition here in Rotterdam about feudal Japan. They had these original suits of armour lined up, really awesome.
    And now it seems there is a game for this period as well…hmmm..

    Best of luck with the guys, and about the breakage…I would let it go, if it is just a small thing.

  9. Anonymous

    Found my way here via “a Little from Leofwine” (Alan Abby’s blog .who I happen to know in real life). My rules arrived this morning and Alan directed me here. I very much look forward to seeing further progress on this project and will be tuning in regularly.

  10. Thanks for that, Anonymous. I’ll have to look up that blog.

  11. Davy Henderson

    [not the same anonymous]
    Ah, Roly San! Strikes me that the background scenery won’t only require Japanese buildings, landscape, etc. but also a few chopped off arms and legs? Any scope for using the damaged figure thus? Looking forward to future progress. All the best.


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  13. Just found your post while starting work on my figures. I loved your comment: “As a consequence, I just don’t enjoy reading rules (and this might also be why I am not that frequent a gamer, feeling happier just building up my forces for some imaginary game that never actually occurs for real!).”

    That;s me too, that is!

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