Terminology and Tweaks
Not the most exciting start, but important! The old system of dividing warriors into Samurai and Commoners was fine for the starter set but broke down with things like monks and ninjas, who needed leaders but clearly weren't samurai. Equally in sets like the Daimyo's Retinue, all the models are designed as samurai but some of them had to be lower-level warriors. So here are the new terms:
- v1 samurai are characters in v2
- v1 commoners are followers in v2
- Your samurai hero is now just your hero
- Your non-hero characters are called companions
Of course there are also lots of minor tweaks and clarifications in the new book, making sure the v1 FAQs are properly covered, etc, but let's just get to the tasty stuff:
Honour and Dishonour
While 1st edition gave you the temptation of pursuing the Dark Side and following the path of dishonour, what about players who like to be good guys?
2nd edition has both Honour and Dishonour cards.
All your characters can gain them now, not just your hero. However, you can't just take one when you want any more, instead you make the decision whenever a character attacks an enemy who cannot avoid. At this point, imagine you can either sneak forward and stab them in the back or announce yourself and give the opponent a second to react. This will give you +1 or -1 dice plus the appropriate card. (You can also choose neither and attack normally.)
There is more variety in the cards now - 4 different for Honour and the same for Dishonour. As you'd expect, the Dishonour cards make your troops start to lose faith in their leader, while Honour cards do the opposite, giving your force bonuses and even free actions. It's a tricky dilemma between a short term boost or a long term gain!
Cavalry and the Triangle
In v1, groups were dominant, while single warriors and in particular mounted warriors were seen as under-powered. So there are a few important changes to get things more in balance.
Firstly cavalry are more nippy than before: they charge 9" and can move 6" and shoot. Infantry with long pointy weapons still get a bonus against them, though reduced from before - spears only in defence and naginatas only on the attack.
These bonuses now form part of a 'tactical triangle' (game designer-speak) - so melee infantry (with the right weapons) have an advantage against cavalry, cavalry get +1 attacking missile troops and missile troops get +1 firing at groups.
The result is to make manoeuvring your troops against the right opponents more important, rewarding good tactics and making the game more exciting!
Trait cards are a new element in the game that allow you to upgrade your followers (commoners as was).
They are chosen when you pick your force and each cost 1 Recruitment point. Each card upgrades 1 group or 2 followers, and gives those warriors new abilities. For example, they could become Pathfinders, able to find hidden tracks through the woods, Fast Cavalry for some expert horse-archery, or even Drunkards!
Trait cards will start appearing in the various sets we produce. If you bought the Veteran Ashigaru card set then you'll already have the Coordination trait, and there's one in the Unlikely Allies set too.