No apologies for unpainted figs when trying out a new game. None!
Sat down with Maurice a couple weeks back to try out Ronin. After falling in with IHMN, I've been eyeballing the rest of the Osprey line of games, and Ronin seemed to have a nifty take on a historical setting.So I cobbled together a couple small lists to go with some Clan War figs I've had around since, like, forever. (Legend of the Five Rings will always be one of my favorite settings. Always.)
Bandits vs. sword saints
Unfortunately, the emphasis in the above paragraph turned out to be on 'small.' I put together tiny lists, so we didn't get much into either scenario besides a couple combats. This was entirely my fault, as I erred on the side of keeping things easy with a low model count. Were I do plan ahead again, I'd definitely lean closer to 10-15 models per side.
That being said, we got a glance of how things work. The focus is definitely on the melee engagement. Apparently the rules aren't far off from Confrontation, a game which remains one of the holes in my spotted history with miniatures. You have a combat pool, which can be split between attacking and defending. You and your opponent reveal how much you're dedicating to which at the same time, which leads to some clever tactics and second-guessing. Gives real flavor to samurais and ninjas dueling.
I'd seen some complaints, in reading reviews, that the game won't lead to a lot of future growth, which is possible. But really, every game doesn't have to get multiple editions and codexes and what have you. IMHO, if you like the setting, cough in for the book. It's not expensive, and definitely has some opportunities for gaming in there. Were I to stick with it, I could see myself writing a fan-based Legend of the Five Rings expansion. Or at least talk about it, and hope someone else on the internet handles that.
Elsewhere: when I was looking for tips on trying out the game, I found a great report by Hachiman's Toy Chest, as well as these two threads on LAF and this one on TMP.
Bookkeeping: long-term readers may have noticed that, in addition to being really indecisive about what we play, my posse is also into trying out new games. I've been sticking with the 'and now' tag for these for a while, and I just went back and retagged the older posts on the blog with that, for posterity's sake.