These ladies here are Warrior Nuns from the computer game Total War: Shogun 2. They’re DLC units, but still, I think this is a good example of how you can portray female warriors in a way that shows they’re women without going over the top. As for these ladies’ combat statistics, they’re superior to their male counterparts, the Naginata Warrior Monks, in nearly every way save for their numbers (NWM come in units of 160, while WN come in units of 100). You are also only allowed 4 units of Warrior Nuns for some reason. While the Warrior Nuns are incredible fighters, like the NWM they have low armor and won’t take arrows well. So keep them away from those archers and they’ll do great things for you.
The in-game encyclopedia adds this to their description: “There was a long tradition of samurai women defending their castles and homes when their men were on campaign. Women who became nuns did not necessarily retire from the world like their European, Christian counterparts. Their religious devotion did not interfere with caring about their families’ fate and defence. The last hurrah of women warriors was in 1868, during the violent struggles that accompanied the Meiji Restoration. The women of Aizu stood alongside their men in opposing the new central government, and fought to the last; twenty-two of them eventually committed suicide rather than be captured.”
This is the Onna Bushi Heroine (she doesn’t fight alone, she has a bodyguard of elite female warriors) from the Rise of the Samurai expansion to Total War: Shogun 2.
The Onna Bushi Heroine is an expert in both archery and melee combat, making her a versatile and useful unit. If dealing with enemy melee infantry, she can pepper them with arrows. If dealing with archers, she can charge them and cause them to scatter. Her naginata gives her a large boost to fighting cavalry, and stories have been told of Onna Bushi Heroines charging enemy General Bodyguard units (Generals are very important in Total War, and thus they have some of the best warriors defending them) and killing them all without a scratch on the Onna Bushi Heroines. Additionally, she possesses the Banzai ability, which will increase her speed, charge bonus, and melee ability, as well as making her morale unbreakable.
The Onna Bushi Heroine will lose to her male counterpart, the Mounted Samurai Hero, at range but in close quarters combat she will annihilate him.
Like all elite units, her commander is wise not to send her into a hail of arrows or explosives. That’s what your levy are for.
This is another unit from Shogun 2, Gozen’s Hime Heroines. Another elite unit, these ladies have a morale of 40 (for comparison, the Naginata Warrior Monks, considered to be some of the most fanatical warriors in the game, have a morale rating of 15), meaning it would an absolute catastrophe to break them. They excel in melee combat, easily beating enemy infantry. They also have incredible armor, allowing to shrug off most arrow fire. Their one weakness is gunfire, so don’t charge into a line of matchlocks. They also have the Stand Firm ability, so if you order these girls to hold a position, they will hold it.
These units all look really badass and it’s really a shame that once again, developers seem to have waited until after the game has been released to think about adding badass warrior women.
Seriously guys, the demand is there – don’t be shy!