I dropped in on Bruce Tuesday night for some samurai gaming. hH had made some new foam-core and paper terrain to go along with the minis he painted.
First up, we tried Ronin from Osprey. This is a skirmish game with 5-12 minis per side. The objective was to control the bridge. Set up offered some opportunity for fun, with the attacker influencing defending figure positions (can't recall exact details).
Basic game is initiative, move/shoot, melee, and morale/administrivia. The combat mechanics offer some interesting ideas (shifting initiative, some pre-planning of attacks and defense through action selection, the opportunity to trade number of attacks for more effective attacks).
Combat is fixed combat factors (different calculation for attacker and defender) plus die rolls with difference equating to damage. The mods on the QRS were initially fiddly but, after a few rounds, they were memorized so that issue dropped away.
Our game saw the defenders picked apart and things coming down to a fight between two samurai on the bridge. It was pretty dramatic!
Then we switched systems to Tribal where two teams compete to gain the most honour points. You get honour for combat, kills, and victory point captures. This creates a meta-game that drives tabletop strategy.
Typical turn sequence is initiative then alternating moves with combat resolved as contact happens. The interesting mechanic is that it is all done with playing cards. Each unit is assigned a card at the beginning from a randomly drawn hand. If the unit combats that turn, the assigned card is the first card played in combat (so you need to think about where contact is going to be that turn).
Assuming the unit survives the first card comparison, then players can play cards from randomly drawn combat hands (black is attack and red and defence) with card value determining winner (no dice in combat).
This sounds clunky but creates an interesting microgame of hard decisions in combat that was quite engaging (especially as units got ground down and there were fewer cards to choose from).
Overall, I enjoyed Tribal more than Ronin, but both were fun and fine games. I think we tied in Tribal when we tallied honour points at the end (again, recollection is shaky--it was fun though).