OHW Samurai Rules

Samurai 1550-1615 OHW Wargame Rules

These rules started out as a variant of Neil Thomas’ One-Hour Wargame Pike and Shot rules which have been gradually modified over time. The rules are geared towards the latter part of the Sengoku period (1467-1615) when Japan was in a state of near-constant civil war and saw the introduction of the arquebus into the armies.

The armies of this period were quite fluid with units having a mix of troop types. This creates difficulties from a wargaming perspective, therefore these rules only have 3 unit types reflecting the role they play.

Unit Types

Foot Samurai. These units were the main heavy infantry to perform shock tactics. They were well armoured and wielded a variety of weapons such as swords, polearms and spears. Often Samurai would arrive on horse and would often fight dismounted due to the terrain in Japan.

Mounted Samurai. Mounted samurai were a type of medium cavalry that was used for a variety of purposes, including skirmishing, pursuing retreating enemies, and attacking enemy flanks. They were also capable of dismounting and fighting on foot, using their bows and arrows to harass enemy units.

Ashigaru. These units formed the backbone of samurai armies during this period. They wear lighter armour than Samurai and are armed with spears (yari) for defence and arquebus (teppo) for their firepower.

General (Daimyo). Samurai armies still remained quite feudal and their Generals (Daimyo) would be attended by his personal bodyguard of samurai (Hatamoto). A general must be attached to a foot samurai unit.

Sequence of play

The following sequence:

  1. Movement

  2. Shooting

  3. Hand-to-hand combat

  4. Eliminating units

The game ends after 15 turns.


Movement allowances are variable depending how well the orders were understood and acted upon.

Orders. Roll a D6. On a score of 3+ the units can move its full movement allowance. Otherwise, units subtract 3” from their movement allowance. When a unit has sustained half its allowed hits, a score or 4+ is required to use the full movement allowance.

Movement Allowances. The movement distances listed below during their turn:


  • Ashigaru - 6”

  • Mounted Samurai Skirmishers - 12”

  • Foot Samurai - 9”

Turning. Units turn by pivoting on their central point. They may do so at the start and/or end of their move.

Terrain. Units are affected by terrain as follows:

  1. Woods. Impassible and block line of sight.

  2. Towns. Units in towns are treated as being in cover.

  3. Marshland and lakes. These are impassable to all units

  4. Rivers - These may only be crossed via bridges and fords

  5. Roads - Units moving by road increase their movement distance by 3” if their entire move is spent on the road. This bonus may not be received if charging.

  6. Hills - Units defending hills benefit in hand to hand combat..

Interpenetration. Only Skirmishers may pass through other units (and vice versa).

Charge Moves. Charges are resolved by moving the attacking unit into contact with its target. They are subject to the following restrictions:

  1. Turning. A charging unit may turn once, at the start of its move. This evolution may not exceed 45 degrees.

  2. Limited Engagement. Only one attacking unit may contact each face of the target (these being Front, Left Flank, Right Flank, and Rear).

  3. Fighting. Combat is resolved during the Hand-to-Hand Combat phase.


Only Samurai Skirmishers and Ashigaru may shoot, the procedure for which is as follows:

Adjudge Field of Fire. Units may only shoot at a single target within 45 degrees of their frontal facing.

Measure Range. Skirmishers and Ashigaru have a range of 12”.

Assess Casualties. Roll a D6. Ashigaru units use the unmodified score, and skirmishers subtract 2 from their score. The final score gives the number of hits the target acquires, which is modified as follows:

  • Cover. Units in towns or behind Tate (wooden shields) only suffer half the registered number of hits (any fractions are rounded in favour of the unit shooting).

Hand-to-Hand Combat

The procedure for Hand-to-Hand Combat is as follows:

One sided combat. Units only inflict casualties during their own player turn.

Assess Casualties. Units roll a D6. Ashigaru and Samurai Skirmishers subtract 2 from the result, and foot Samurai add 2 to the result. The final score gives the number of hits the target acquires, which is modified as follows:

  1. Ashigaru. Only suffer half the number of registered hits if attacked frontally (rounding any fractions in favour of the attacking unit).

  2. Terrain Advantage. Defenders in towns, on a hill, or defending a river crossing, only suffer half the indicated number of hits (rounding any fractions in favour of the attacking unit).

  3. Flank of Rear Attacks. Units engaging the enemy flank or rear inflict double the registered number of hits.

Movement Within Combat. Units may turn to face an attack upon their flank or rear, but only if they are not simultaneously being frontally engaged. Units can also retire from combat, moving directly away a full move and not engaging with any enemy units.

Eliminating Units

Units are eliminated upon the acquisition of 15 or more hits.

General (Daimyo)

A general is assigned to a samurai foot unit at the start of the game and must remain attached for the duration of the game. If their assigned unit is eliminated, they are also removed from play.

Commanders can re-roll any dice roll, but must accept the re-rolled value.

Defences (Field Fortifications)

Tate - wooden shields were used throughout the samurai period. They were planted in the ground and provided protection against missile attacks. Treat these as immobile and remove from play if the unit moves. All missile attacks are halved.

Bamboo Palisades - Loosely constructed bamboo palisades protect against melee but not missiles. Treat these as immobile and remove from play if the unit moves. All hand-to-hand attacks are halved.



Samurai Warfare, Dr Stephen Turnbull

Samurai Armies 1550-1615, Osprey Men-at-Arms Series, S.R.Turnbull

Samurai, Osprey Warrior Series, A.J. Bryant and A. McBride

Useful websites:




No comments:

Post a Comment