Commands & Colors

Samurai Battles


Designed by:    Richard Borg

SamuraiThe Commands & Colors Samurai Battles game allows players to refight important engagements of Medieval Japanese history. The battles included in the scenario booklet focus on the historical deployment of forces and important terrain features in scale with the game system.

The scale of the game is flexible and varies from battle to battle. For some scenarios, an infantry unit may represent an entire clan of soldiers, while in other scenarios a unit may represent just a few brave warriors.

The Commands & Colors Samurai Battles game is based on the highly successful Commands & Colors game system and by design it is not overly complex. The Command cards drive movement and creates a type of “fog of war” and presents players with many interesting challenges and opportunities, while the battle dice are used to resolve combat quickly and efficiently.

The Honor & Fortune game mechanic tasks players to maintain a balance and in a roundabout way serves to measure an army’s discipline, honor and the fortunes of war. Using Honor & Fortune tokens to play Dragon cards will also add suspense and surprise that can bend the rules and instantly change the course of a battle.


The contents of this game are;

  • 1 Commands & Colors Samurai Battles Rule Booklet
  • 1 Commands & Colors Samurai Battles Scenario Booklet
  • 1 Battlefield Game Board
  • 4 Punchboards
  • 45 Terrain Tiles (double-sided)
  • 30 Honor & Fortune Tokens
  • 18 Victory Banner Counters
  • 60 Samurai Command Cards
  • 40 Dragon Cards
  • 12 Battle Dice (laser printed)
  • 2 Unit Reference Sheets
  • 5 Block Label sheets


There are a total of 316 Blocks included with C&C Samurai Battles.  The Red Blocks represent red Samurai Army units and the  Blue Blocks represent blue Samurai Army units.  The Special Black Blocks represent Army Commanders and Bodyguards.  The breakdown of the blocks are as follows;

  • 220 Small blocks for foot units
  • 68 Medium blocks for cavalry units
  • 10 Medium rectangular blocks for foot Leaders
  • 8 Large rectangular blocks for mounted Leaders
  • 2 Medium rectangular blocks for Army Commanders
  • 8 Small blocks for Bodyguards

(Note: Some spare blocks are included.)

Block Sizes


  • All foot infantry unit blocks are small blocks 16x16x8mm in size.
  • All cavalry unit blocks are medium blocks 21x21x8mm in size.
  • All mounted Leader (cavalry Leader) blocks are large rectangular
  • blocks 21x26x8mm in size and are placed so the 26mm edge
  • runs vertically.
  • All foot Leader (infantry Leader) are medium rectangular
  • blocks 16x21x8mm in size and are placed so the 21mm edge
  • runs vertically.
  • All Army Commanders are medium rectangular blocks
  • 16x21x8mm in size and are placed so the 21mm edge runs
  • vertically.
  • All bodyguards are small blocks 16x16x8mm in size

Sequence of Play

The Sequence of Play that is followed every turn for each player is; Follow the sequence shown below. Each phase must be completed before proceeding to the next phase.

Phase 1. Play a Command card

Phase 2. Order Units and Leaders

Phase 3. Movement

Phase 4. Battle

Phase 5. End of Turn

Setting up the Game

You follow the sequence below when setting up a scenario to play the game.

1. Select a battle from the scenario booklet.

2. Each scenario specifies which army is at the top or bottom of the battlefield, and players should sit on the side closest to the army they will command.

3. Place the terrain tile hexes on the battlefield as indicated by the scenario’s battle map.

4. Place the unit blocks and Leaders onto the battlefield, matching the various units’ positions and Leaders to the scenario’s battle map. Each unit symbol represents an entire unit. Each warring army has its own distinctive block color.

5. Shuffle the Command card deck thoroughly and deal the number of Command cards to each player as indicated by the scenario’s battle notes. Keep the Command cards a secret from the opposing player. Set the remaining deck of Command cards facedown alongside the board within easy reach of the players.

6. Shuffle the Dragon card deck thoroughly and deal the number of Dragon cards to each player as indicated by the scenario’s battle notes. Keep the Dragon cards a secret from the opposing player. Set the remaining deck of Dragon cards facedown alongside the board within easy reach of the players.

7. Create a common Honor & Fortune token pool alongside of the battlefield. Each player takes the number of Honor & Fortune tokens from the common pool as indicated by the scenario’s battle notes and places these tokens in his own Honor & Fortune reserve pool in the area in front of him.

8. Set the Victory Banner counters alongside of the battlefield.

9. Place the battle dice within reach of both players.

10. Review any special rules and victory conditions that apply for the scenario.

11. The starting player, as indicated in the scenario’s battle notes, begins play.


Phase 1 – Play a Command Card

Command CardTactics CardAt the beginning of a turn, the player must play 1 Command card from his hand. The Player places it face up and reads it aloud. There are 2 types of Command cards, section cards and tactic cards:

Section cards (left, center, right) are recognizable by an iconic representation of the sections of the battlefield on the lower half of the card. These cards are used to order a set number of units and/or Leaders in a section or combination of sections highlighted by an arrow(s) and a number on the card.

Tactic cards feature an explicit description of the number and type of units that can be ordered by the play of the card and may allow the ordered units to move and/or battle in ways not normally allowed in the basic rules.

Phase 2 – Order Units and Leaders

After playing a Command card face up, the Phasing Player announces which eligible units or Leaders will receive orders.

Phase 3 – Movement

The Phasing Players Movements are announced and made sequentially, one unit and/or Leader at a time, in the sequence of a player’s choice. A player must complete one unit and/or Leader movement before beginning another.

Phase 4 – Battle

Battle Dice
Battle Dice

Battles are checked and resolved in the sequence of the player’s choice 1 ordered unit at a time.

Phase 5 – End of Turn

Victory Banner Counters
Victory Banners

After all the Phasing Players units’ movements and combats have been resolved, the active player discards the Command card just played face up next to the Command card deck and draws a new Command card. The active player has the choice of drawing 1 Dragon card or gaining 2 Honor & Fortune tokens regardless of whether a Dragon card was played during the turn. In addition, if the phasing active player did not play a Dragon card during his turn, 1 Dragon card may be discarded from his hand and 1 Honor & Fortune token can be collected.

A game ends the very moment that a player reaches his required number of Victory Banners. It doesn’t matter when this occurs during the game turn. This means that a game might even end on a successful battle back, with the Victory going to the active player’s opponent.

Honor & Fortune Tokens

Honor and Fortune Token

A Player (Army Commander) had to bring some measure of order to the chaos that constantly hung over a fighting Samurai army. The fighting force that maintained some measure of control and discipline was likely to be the army that won the day. Honor & Fortune in a roundabout way serves to measure an army’s discipline, its honor and the fortunes of war.

BuildingReference Sheets

The Reference Sheets are very important to this game. The Reference Sheet provides the player with the following information that they require to play the game.

  • Unit (Artwork, type, symbol, letter code, and number of blocks)
  • Movement in hexes
  • Fire Range in hexes
  • Ranged Combat Dice
  • Close Combat Dice
  • Close Combat may ignore
  • Retreat details and honor loss details
  • Special Notes


You are provided with a diverse selection of Scenarios that are included with Command and Colors Samurai Battles. There are a total of XX scenarios included with the game. The Scenarios included with Samurai Battles are:

  • First Samurai Skirmish
  • Fourth Kawanakajima 1561 (5 Scenarios)
  • Domyoji 1615 (2 Scenarios)
  • First Battle of Azukizaka 1542
  • Second Battle of Azukizaka 1548
  • Battle of Okehazama 1560 (2 Scenarios)
  • Arita Castle 1517 (2 Scenarios)
  • Koriyama Castle 1540-1541 (4 Scenarios)
  • Mikata-Go-Hara 1572
  • The Ravine Near Saigadake 1572
  • Okehazama 1560 (2 Scenarios)
  • Okehazama 1560
  • Anegawa 1570 (2 Scenarios)
  • Kizahikara 1572
  • Nagashino 1572 (3 Scenarios)
  • Mimigawa 1578
  • Okitanawate 1584
  • Hitadori 1585
  • Suriagehara 1589
  • Shiroishi 1600
  • Sekigahara 1600 (3 Scenarios)
  • Imafuku 1614
  • Shigino 1614
  • Tennoji 1615 (2 Scenarios)

As you can imagine, with a wide selection of 40 battles from which to choose, Samurai Battles is not a game that you will get easily bored.


Samurai Battles from GMT Games has a bit of a history. Samurai Battles was originally published as a game from Zvezda. Zvezda is primarily known for their high-quality models in all scales. As originally published, this game included 1/72nd scale plastic models of Samurai. However, a search on their website and you find that the game is no longer available and it is also difficult find on the net.

However, having said that, Samurai Battles does have a wide following on the internet. You can go to the Command and Colors Samurai Battles Website which is Home – Samurai Battles – Commands and Colors System. You will find all types of useful information on this website from a forum where you can ask questions, to looking at the different map where the battles were fought, to the rules of the game. This website is like the one-stop shopping location for information about the Samurai Battles game.

Finally. this is another game of ancient feudal Japan that I have taken a look at. An earlier review that I wrote was for the GMT Game that was the Unification of Japan, Sekigahara. You can read this review by clicking on the following link: Samurai Battles from GMT Games is a simple game with complex tactics that is highly enjoyable. It is a game that is easily learned but difficult to master with all its subtleties. As with Sekigahara, Samurai Battles from GMT Games is another excellent game that I know will become a best seller.


Command and Colors Samurai Battles is available from GMT Games and retails for $82.00.


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