One of the most distinctive troops types in Japanese (and some other eastern Asian) armies are the warrior monks. The original martial artists these guys were not shy about stepping off the temple grounds to go and bust heads, and had a pretty fearsome reputation as warriors.

They’re a mix of Perry and The Assault Group miniatures. Essentially the best fighters have armour and are the Perrys, while the unarmoured lads are TAG. There’s a bit of a size mismatch between TAG and Perry, but they’re the same height.

The Sohei are a pretty elite force in my preferred samurai game, Ronin. They’ve got the option to load up on high-ranked characters and all but the lowliest of temple-sweeping lackeys have the attribute “fearless”. This does pretty much what it says on the tin; you never have to test for saggy morale. These guys will fight to the last man if you want. This makes games with sohei very bloody. They just don’t quit.

Ronin warband

At only seven models for 200pts this is a small, punchy force. I’ve equipped them with naginata right across the board, as it’s something of a signature weapon for monks, and does a good job of turning people into sushi. Missile troops in Ronin are really just there to support the hand-to-hand fighters, so I thought sod it, let’s dominate the up-close fight.

Leading the charge is a rank 5 grandmaster. All my top characters have “naginata-jutsu” meaning they’re experts with that weapon and get rerolls on every attack and defence (very nasty!) but I also gave this guy the slightly less pointy attributes “acrobatic” and “senjo-jutsu”. The latter makes him more likely to win the initiative for the sohei each turn (an appropriately subtle and philosophical advantage for a monk) while the former makes him a bit of a slippery customer.

Backing up the boss are two senior monks (Rank 4), again with naginata-jutsu, one taking the offensive upgrade “powerful” and one the defensive one “intuition”.

Rounding out the warband are two regular monks with naginata-jutsu, but lacking armour. The lack of armour means they’re relying on their weapon skills, but they should be about equal to a basic samurai in armour.

The last two models are young initiates. Again lacking armour, but this time also without the weapon skills these guys are the least able fighters, but at Rank 2 are still more than a match for your average bandit or monto, and could definitely take down ashigaru, too.

I’ve also done a few monks with bows, too, so I could do a shooty variant. Four senior monks with bows and kyujutsu, backed up by four initiates with naginata comes in just under 200pts, and is probably about as shooty as you can get in Ronin. I’ve not actually tried that in a game, but it could be fun and a bit different.