As it's our birthday, I thought it would be good to look back over the game's development and how we got here...
How it Started...
Cue wibbly camera effect as we go back about 6 years to a time with slightly more hair...
I was working in a small dusty office at Warlord Games when a certain Andy Hobday mentioned that he'd like to play a samurai tabletop game. That night I came up basic mechanic for combat where warriors didn't get 'locked' in melee, trying to recreate that fluid, swirling fighting style of the old samurai movies we both remembered. We carried on developing the game over the following months until we had a rather fun system (using normal D6s back then).
It was around then that Warlord bought the rights to a variety of Wargames Factory plastic kits, which included Samurai and Ashigaru, and they approached us about using our system to create and publish a boxed game - naturally we jumped at the chance.
A lot of late nights ensued as the game was converted to using special dice with the addition of Dishonour cards and acquiring Skill cards during play (previously this was just a campaign thing).
When the game was released, 5 years ago this week, it's popularity surprised everyone - the first print run sold out within a month! This spurred us on to make a number of expansion sets with metal models including ninjas, bandits and Onna Bugeisha.
Early champions of the game were the Jez, Keiran and Matt who created the 3 Swordsmen podcast and have helped immensely over the years - thanks guys!
Grey For Now Games
Fast forward a few years and Andy and I had both left Warlord, but still wanted to look after the game and develop it further. I set up Grey For Now Games and we agreed with Warlord to take over as publisher, with Footsore Miniatures doing the casting.
The new edition allowed me to polish up the rules based on gamer feedback, and add a few new elements such as Honour cards (for those players who didn't want to be no-good backstabbing ronin). There was also a revised look to the game with the fantastic artwork of Carmen Cerra.
Of course I was aware that a lot of players would still want to use their 1st ed models so I updated all the cards into the Clan and Enemy Forces packs so everything would still be useable.
Back to the Movies
As 1st edition had focussed on military style, armoured samurai, I made the Unlikely Allies to represent the eclectic cast of characters you might find in a classic samurai movie for a more story-driven approach. Still my favourite set!
More fantastic models added to the range, each with new cards that gave a unique character to how they play in the game.
The Sengoku expansion book allowed me to add a huge amount of depth to the game, with extra rules and historical information for the most famous clans of Japan. There are also 20 new scenarios, new weapons and rules for burning buildings!
Back to the Start
Lockdown brought the unexpected effect of giving me time to try my hand at digital sculpting, and after discovering I rather enjoyed it, I designed some new sets. With quite a few years gone by since 1st edition, I decided it was time to go 'back to basics' and do some Samurai and Ashigaru. These are all one-piece models apart from the sashimonos, simply because I get fed up with sticking together fiddly parts!
I still have a long list of sets I want to do for the game and a sketch book full of designs, so there is plenty more on the way for Test of Honour.