The samurai was the 4th army I made for AoA. It is also one of my favorites. The list is quite different from other human armies, and has a lot of unique unit types which makes it somewhat difficult to get used to, but makes it really fun to play. When I finally saw the models that I could get from Old Glory 15s so cheaply, I bit the bullet and dove in. I still have about 100 or so more figures to paint up and add to the army.
The army as it currently stands measures out to the following strength.
100 Ashigaru with naginata
25 Royal Samurai
50 Ashigaru Archers
50 Samurai Archers
40 Mounted Samurai
16 Samurai Horse Archers
That gives me a little under 14000 points in core troops. This is not counting any characters or monsters.
Peasant: The fodder of the mighty samurai. Peasants are dirt cheap but very poor combat troops as you would expect. I find them best used as a “mass” unit (meaning they are their to help apply significant morale penalties to an already engaged unit) or as a missile screen. I typically field them in a giant 50 man block. They care a great unit to cast flame breath on.
The models are peasants from old glory 15’s samurai range.
Ashigaru: These are skill 2 troops that can be armed with sword or long weapon. I have only used the long weapon variety, as that’s the only models I own. I field these in the 5x5 block of 24 men plus a hero. I often like to help them with fire magic, flaming weapons or fire breath being the two most common spells cast on them. You definitely need some of these units to help soak up wounds because most of the Samurai army is made of expensive units. Their lack of shield makes them a little more vulnerable to missile fire. You can compensate with good use of terrain or guardian wind if necessary.
The models are early style ashigaru (with the cone hats) from old glory 15’s samurai range.
Samurai: An overall very good infantry unit. They have a relatively low armor at (2) and no shield, but a very good first strike skill 3 attack and fearless morale. I have used them in both RnF and skirmished formations, and I’m not sure which I prefer. If they are supported by other units, I would run them skirmished so you take full advantage of all the first strike. I run them in units of 20 or 24 plus a hero or shogun.
The models are dismounted samurai from old glory 15’s samurai range.
Royal Samurai: Like normal samurai but with two wounds and 2 attacks. They are so expensive that I run them in small units so there is usually no reason to run RnF. I use them in a supporting role, surrounding an already engaged unit causing serious damage with their multiple first strike attacks. I run them in units of 10-13; there 8 fearless morale allows them to operate effectively without a leader.
The models are female samurai from old glory 15’s samurai range.
Ninja: A specialized samurai unit. I use them almost exclusively as infiltrators. They can pop in and use their missile attack at a critical time. Be very wary of enemy mages using magic that doesn’t require hits(i.e. firespray). This goes right through the evasion and can be very costly. I typically field these in small units of 8-13.
The models are ninja from old glory 15’s samurai range.
Sohei(monk): Another specialized unit. The 2 wounds and evasion 2 makes these guys very difficult for your opponent to get rid of. I use them much like royal samurai—small units that are helping out other units by dealing lots of damage. They come out of your elite points so they don’t see the battlefield every fight, but they are a fun unit to play with.
The models are unarmored samurai from Old Glory 15’s samurai range.
Ashigaru with Longbow: Not as feared as samurai longbowmen, but can be effective if fielded in larger numbers. If I don’t have the elite points to take samurai archers, then these guys see the field. Usually in units from 16-24; I will often put a wizard in my missile units. This helps protect the expensive missile unit from magic attacks and gives the wizard line of site to many things (as my missile units are placed in spots with good LOS).
The models are ashigaru archers from Old Glory 15’s samurai range.
Samurai with Longbow: The best missile unit in the game, period. However, they come out of your elite pool, so you can’t have too many. Not only do samurai archers pummel you with arrows while you try to get to them, they then smack you with a skill 3 first strike attack when you finally get there; Oh by the way, their fearless also. Fielded in whatever unit size I can afford out of my elite pool, from 14-24. I will often place a wizard with them for the reasons mentioned above.
The models are samurai archers from Old Glory 15’s samurai range.
Samurai Cavalry with bow: Another great missile unit. Because I started playing with high elves, I don’t think I have mastered horse archer tactics. I am too used to putting archers on high ground and leaving them there. However, when I’m not playing, I can always think of great ways to utilize mobile missile troops. One of these days I’ll get it right during a game. These guys lose some range compared with the foot sloggers, but get a ton more mobility. They also come out of the elite points. I field them as a unit of 16, because that is how many came in the bag.
The models are mounted samurai with bows from Old Glory 15’s samurai range.
Rockets: I made some models out of balsa wood, but have not played with too much. With all the other elite point option in this army, it’s hard to take any. Seem to be a decent artillery choice, especially against slow infantry armies.
Samurai Cavalry: Good skill 3 cav with the benefit of being fearless. Give them a leader and they get real staying power. They are little on the slow side at 14” but they give the army some nice mobility. I field them in units of 16 or 20 plus a hero. They can also be fielded without a hero but once they break they will be “iffy” to rally at a 7.
The models are mounted samurai with yari and naginata as well as mounted female samurai from Old Glory 15’s samurai range.
The models are from Eureka Miniatures samurai range.
Some Complimenting Monsters: Here are some typical monsters that get fielded as Samurai Allies. There are often no elite points to spend on these because of the elite options in the army.
General Tactics: Well don’t take these as gospel but here’s some thoughts. The army is composed of some very good damage dealers. If you can tie up units with your non damage dealers (peasants, ashigaru, and maybe samurai), you can then skirmish your damage dealers(royal samurai, sohei) to help. The damage dealers cause enough wounds and the non damage dealers help put a penalty on for any morale tests.
The cav can be used to guard a flank, or roll up a flank if you have a battle line. The missile units are best used like any other missile unit. Put them on a hill or in the front of forest and deal pain to the best target.
For the most part, samurai just have to very careful going up against good missile enemies(elves and other samurai). They have relatively low armor and no shields, but unlike the wolfen who have the same problem they aren’t as fast. So it takes longer to get across the battlefield. Make good use of cover and use guardian wind and fog clouds to block enemy missile units.
I have yet to play this army with the new list Thane put together, so this is all based on the original list.