The simulation of melee combat is central to many contemporary and traditional strategic games and simulations. In order to elevate this element of play from mere exercises of stats-comparison and dice rolling to a meaningful experience of play, strategy games rely on a rich plethora of cultural motives as deciding factors of their mechanic design. On the example of Samurai-themed skirmishing games, my talk elaborates on the impact that (popular) culture and other inspirations have on gaming experiences. It provides concrete examples from Japanese history, its traditional cinema, and postmodern Western reflections of Japanese cultural practices. Based on these insights, it compares four tabletop strategy games, muses on which phenomena they have adapted in their mechanics, and asks why or why not they may succeed in capturing a cultural essence via their rules. Ultimately, this comparative approach shall serve to decipher the interplay of dice mechanics and aesthetic properties as the longing for a dramatic ideal in tabletop gaming and encourage participants to reflect on the idea in a subsequent, shared gaming experience.