Ever since Piquet-Theatre of War reached us we have been itching to give it a go and play a campaign. Work and other pressures delayed getting started by over three months. Very recently, Gonsalvo aka Peter Anderson published a detailed description of his ToW campaign in the Piquet eGroup which was so inspiring as to make us find time for a game of our own.
Given that we were playing mostly Renaissance games when ToW came in it was but inevitable that our campaign too be played using Piquet-Band of Brothers. The game is based on a hypothetical Spanish invasion of feudal Japan. The premises for such an invasion are based on an incident in Japan where Spanish Missionaries were hanged(Crucified?) for propagating Christianity. Ravi had came across this piece of information some time back, but we never guessed it would come of use in such an interesting way!
From the dispatches of Spanish Historian Juan Fernando, in the year of the Lord 1547-48.
Spring, 1547, Madrid: "Senor Mohan y Cardoza has never ceased to amaze his contemporaries with his deeds, even those who were experts in the mechanisms of the Royal court. The latest in his long series of adventures was however considered too dangerous for his own good by his peers. After all one cannot expect to get away with an affair with a woman of the Royal Court, especailly when the woman happens to be the Queen of the land! The events which must have happened to give rise to the various rumours circulating in the Royal circuit were not known to many, the Senor, Her Majesty the Queen and His majesty the King being the only three whom this writer can confirm as having credible information on what actually happend. The respectable Senor Cardoza was not known to speak on palace intrigues save in the most confusing of ways, and one could simply dare not presume the freedom to ask the other two involved the details of the scandal, however juicy."
"As it was, the courtiers were lapping up any information they could get, which was not much. There was expectation amongst their ranks that some sort of Royal action was forthcoming against Senor Mohan y Cardoza. When the Royal Court met next, even those normally non attendant had made it their business to grab a seat in the throne room. The business started as usual with the King being appraised of the events in his dominions and elsewhere. While this was usually a chore, on this particular day there was some exciting news : His Holiness Father Abel Cassendro, preacher supreme and a blood relative of the king had been slain by heathens!! Senor Cardoza and his deeds were forgotten for a moment as the court discussed the ramifications of this campaign . His majesty however remained calm, and upon consultation with his advisers decalred that this act of devilry would be punished swiftly in exemplary ways. Without even the slightest hesitation, the King ordered an invasion of these heathen lands, however far they were, and proclaimed his best General, Senor Cardoza, the recipient of the honour to lead the armies of Spain for the event. The murmurs in the court started again, and as the King announced the name of Senor Manuelo Muerelo to aid Senor Cardoza, they reached quite high levels. Silence fell when the King finished and the two nominees stepped forward to bow to His Majesty, who smiled Graciously. If Senors Cardoza and Muerelo thought anything of it they didn't show it. One was reminded of the fact that they had remained quite as calm in the very court when accused of ignoble relations with the Royal Twins, the two nieces of His Majesty, a year earlier. But then, the accuser had been found dead two days later in a tavern brawl, and they still had but smiled solemnly..."
Summer 1547, Royal Seaport, Puerto Antonio: "In retrospect of the events of those fateful days, I have come to the conclusion that it was not wise on my part to make a poem of it and circulate it among court wenches. As I realised later, it must certainly have had to do with why I was chosen to record the exploits of the Noble Senors in the unknown lands. I, who had a fear of the sea and had never used a fire arm in all my life."
"Back to my narrative. The Senores have gathered a veritable fleet of Galleys and are setting forth today evening. My education is as modern as my family circumstances permit, but I must admit that Senor Copernicus's views hold no hope for me. Every learned man knows that the sea ends 1000 leagues from the Spanish coast, beyond which Heaven only knows what monsters lurk. It is therefore not surprising why the King chose such a unique mission for us lot. I am certain that His Holiness the Father Cassendro was not slain by heathens, but eaten up by just one such monster."
Spring 1548, "Nippo": It is indeed a miracle that we are still alive despite travelling so far from the Spanish coast. Surely the map makers must have been wrong. We have come across strange lands called "Nippo" by its inhabitants, and as one aide of Father Cassandra's confirmed these were indeed the people who had ordered his death. Senor Cardoza has chosen to download the army at once and proceed with reducing their lands and capturing their capital. We are at present aiming for the City of Hiroshima, fabled for it's rice cakes and strange wine, what the natives call "Sakae". His intent is clear even to such an amateur military historian such as I - to divide the land in two and thereby prevent any gathering of forces by the enemy from different parts of the Islands (Did I mention that there are too many islands to count hereabouts?)
From 'The Book of the Cherry Blossom' by Nobuko Obuchi, Monk of the order of Ikko Ikki
"The petal of the Cherry Blossom, Vibrant in youth, so rich, It falls, The Way of life."
"When those ordained to fight can not, it falls upon those committed to peace to take up the arms in their place. As a senior monk of the noble order of the Ikko Ikki, my own personal experience has not been much different. For how could I sit and watch when the Sacred Land of the Gods is being violated by Gaijin? A culture so ancient, a land so divine being devoured by barbarians? "
"Nippon has been attacked by the worst of foes imaginable. Instead of appreciating the nobility of our act in putting those captured to an honourable death, these barbarians are screaming for revenge, and hence, creating more disturbance in the delicate cosmic balance of life. For the past weeks, our warriors have been forced to unite, their feudal loyalties and rivalries forgotten for the time being. Shogun Manojama has called for a gathering of all the Samurai and any levies the feudal lords can manage to find. For a generation which has largely ignored the need to understand and apprecaite the Way of the Sword, for whom bushido is valued below feudal loyalties, this is an occasion granted by divine providence to make a significant change."
"The forces of Nippon amassed at three vital points in Honshu - Nagoya in the North, Kobe in Central Honshu, and Yamaguchi in the South. And then, the enemy struck. Their landing at Hiroshima and the subsequent thrust up North has effectively split the disposition in two, isolating the force at Yamaguchi. The Shogun told me - when I met him for offering the sevices of my school - that he couldn't find enough mules and ox carts to move his troops out of Yamaguchi and across Shimonoseki. Ox carts! I say! Are our Warriors too lazy to protect their own lives and country? Or is it that savouring feudal pleasures all life long have made them unfit for even the least difficult of marches? In any event, the enemy demonstrated amply that they could find the means when their chance to march came, and force marched not one but two groups to Yamaguchi and threatned with battle."
"I later came to know that we had sent out spies to the Spanish camp. Unfortunetely for Nippon, their accent gave them away and they were captured and burnt at the stake. Amida! What was the Shogun doing? He sat serene in his throne, doing nothing as the Spaniards surged through the country side, with every intention of forcing battle with the Samurai stopped in Yamaguchi. First Hiroshima, now Fukuyama and Oda have also fallen to the barbarians! The natives and local troops - a superstitious lot - have been spreading rumors of a monster(enrolled in the Spanish Army to boot! Ha! Whoever heard of monsters in the army!) called the Te-su-ho which murdered them by the hundreds! Bah! Superstition is the curse of the unlearned, and ours are no exception. Alas, is this the destiny of the Holy Land, I asked the Buddha without receiving any answers. It was as if the divine has chosen not to interfere in the affairs of men."
"After wasting many days searching in vain for mules(Buddha! Did he not have enough in his court?) the Shogun finally manages to get the forces in Yanaguchi to Shimonoseki, barely escaping the Spanish thunderbolt. And now, if I am right, this man will wait for boats! Boats! Can the Samurai not swim? Is it not possible for them to cross the straits without boats?"
From the dispatches of Spanish Historian Juan Fernando, detailing the events from Hiroshima
Summer 1548, Hiroshima: "The entire army has been thrown into a frenzy for the past five weeks. Ever since our landing at Hiroshima, Senor Cardoza has been actively executing his plans with meticulous care. The army has been split into four and each of these groups have been assigned specific targets. Our first victory came when one of the groups entered Fukuyama and captured the town without any trouble. Two of the groups have been sent south when it was learned that the Shogun's (That is what they call their leader) forces were lurking in the south. It became evident that they were in a hurry to get out when our army seized a large consignment of mules destined for Yamaguchi. However, despite the best efforts of our forces, the Shogun's army of the south gave us the slip and made it to Shimonoseki and across to Kitakyushu. What could have become a decisive battle was averted, but we did seize Yamaguchi."
"Word has come far north that more forces of the Enemy are en route, and that the were blocking our further advance at Okayama. The ever courteous Senor Cardoza invited me to accompany him to Okayama, an offer I was only too glad to accept."
A few days later: "I have learned the hard way that travelling with a battle train is not a pleasure trip. Something eventful did happen en route - Senor Cardoza had what the soldeirs called "a stroke of the divine", what less superstitious men like me would call a brain wave. Asked about it by many, the General refused to answer and smiled enigmatically. Anyhow, the soldiers morale went up and we made good time from Fukuyama to Okayama. From what I understood of his intentions, General Cardoza wanted to force a battle and defeat the vanguard of the Shogun's army before the rest of the enemy could arrive."
"Events progressed swiftly after we made it to Okayama. Senor Cardoza has predicted battle on the morrow, and it looks as if the Shogun's forces also know it. I can spot breastworks going up around the villages and soldiers manning their new positions. We enjoy a trength in numbers and the advantage of being led by a veteran such as Cardoza himself. "
Okayama Falls to the Spanish!
Okayama has fallen to the Spaniards! Read more about the battle in Yoshiwara Blues - an eyewitness report from Okayama.
From the dispatches of Spanish Historian Juan Fernando, travelling to Kobe
Spanish Barracks, two days after the battle of Okayama : "It was indeed inspiring to see our forces succeed in the field. If I had any doubts about the sucess of this campaign, they have vanished after our spectacular victory at Okayama. In fact I would wager that inside of a year we'll establish a colony here."
"Senor Cardoza gave the army a well deserved rest. This slowed us down, but was something which could not be avoided. After a few days of rest, the battlegroup is en route again. I am told that our destination is most likely to be Kyoto, the capital of the Samurai King. I am sure that many amazing sights await us in Kyoto."
A week of marching later, in the outskirts ok Kobe : "Contrary to popular theories and rumors, the army has marched to Kobe instead of Kyoto. In retrospect, Senor Cardoza's decision to leave Kyoto alone makes sense even to a writer like me. The Senor explained over dinner to me that he wanted to catch the tired defenders of Okayama, now camping in Kobe, before the Shogun could send them help. As I see it, once Kobe falls it should only be a matter of time before Kyoto capitulates.
From 'The Book of the Cherry Blossom' by Nobuko Obuchi, Monk of the order of Ikko Ikki
"O' reader of the future, be informed that there were a few monks who took up arms to defend their land from the gaijin till the last. Who am I, you might ask. Let me explain. Despite warning from our priests that Okayama was not a good place to fight, our troops fought there are were defeated. Many thousand of Nippons youth perished in what can only be described as proof of Divine Wrath. Those left alive fled to our monastery in Kobe and sought sanctury. I am outraged by the calousness of many of our so called Feudal Lords. Is not the Shogun seeing all this?"
"In any case, word has come to us that the Gaijin are gaining on Kobe, with every intention of giving battle here. This one time, the monks of the Ikko Ikki will not sit idle. We have sent a deputation to the Shogun claiming a rig
ht to fight; even now, hundreds of our brethren are assembling near the monstry to enlist in our ranks. Our outrage will be our Weapon, Our faith our shield."
Kobe Falls to the Spanish!
Kobe has fallen!!! The
Japanese Emperor Native Ruler has been imprisoned by the Spanish! Nippon Little Spain is now the property of The Spanish Emperor.
Read more about the battle in The Kami's Blessing - a report from Kobe.