Bushido Risen Sun is the brand new edition of Bushido, the fantasy samurai wargame from GCT Studios. We’ve covered a couple of the different faction core packs available in the previous edition of Bushido, but this article will give an overview of Bushido Risen Sun and a look at the different ways in for new and veteran Bushido players and will end with an interview with the development team. This new edition includes a more streamlined ruleset and some brand new sculpts and warriors for the available factions.
Bushido is played on a 2-foot by 2-foot board. This small scale play area allows players to get into the action straight away. Each warrior has their own character card, which details all of their abilities and stats. Some of the foot soldiers are combined on one card, but all of the unique named characters all have their own.
Bushido Risen Sun is an alternative activation game, which means players take it in turns to use one of their miniatures. Where Bushido differs from traditional wargames, though, is the activation mechanic. Units have three stages of activation: Unactivated, Tired, and Exhausted. When a unit activates, it can complete either a simple or a complex action. A simple action makes an Unactivated unit Tired, or a Tired unit Exhausted. A complex action makes an Unactivated unit Exhausted.
This gives you some flexibility in terms of how you control your units, and you don’t need to complete all of a single unit’s activations in one go. This means that you can activate a unit to simple action move, then your opponent activates a unit and you can then either activate the same unit again to simple action move or attack, or a completely different unit.
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If a unit is attacked in melee combat, they take an action to defend themselves, and exhausted units suffer a modifier to their rolls. This means that you can swarm heroes and hard-hitting units with lesser units, soaking up their activations and making them exhausted before you move in for the kill with another unit.
The combat mechanic is also a risk/reward system. Each character has a combat stat and that details the amount of dice you roll when you attack. Those dice can be split between attack and defense however you choose, and the highest roll for each has to beat your opponents to hit them and dodge their attack. For example, if we rolled 2 dice, 1 for attack and 1 for defense and get a 3 on both dice. Our opponent would have to roll 3 or more to defend against out attack, and 3 or more to beat our defense. Ties are decided by whoever rolled the most dice for the encounter and if that is a draw, the active player. the player whos model is making the action, wins.
Up to 2 additional dice rolled, that aren't 1's, can be used to add +1 to the dice roll. So 3 dice of 2, 3 and 4 in attack, would add +2 to the highest roll of 4 to make 6. If no dice are rolled for attack or defense, the roll is counted as 0. This dice mechanic means that you have to not only read your opponent’s intent but judge the odds for attacking. Do you go all-in for attack or defense, or spread the odds across both?
These two essential mechanics are what make up the core of Bushido’s rules. The real depth comes from the different abilities of the characters, Ki powers that some characters have and the different attack and defense abilities of weapons. These are what add the detail and tactical elements to the game, and learning these for your own faction, along with those of your opponents can really give you an edge in game.
We’ll look in detail at some of the different fighters and their abilities in future articles, including our next article on beginner list building, with advice from some experienced Bushido players.
Brand new in this edition is the 2-Player Starter Set, which includes the full rulebook, in digest size, which we love as it fits in all of our skirmish game carry cases, tokens and 2 forces for the Ito Clan and Prefecture of Ryu. Each faction also has a new starter set, which we will look at below, but the 2 starter set forces contain 3 of the 5 miniatures from the Ito and Ryu faction starters.
The 2-Player Starter Set is the best way in for new players, as they get to experience 2 very different factions. The Prefecture of Ryu are the perfect beginner faction. They’re the stereotypical samurai and are armed and armored as such. 2 of the 3 starter box miniatures have the armor trait, which protects against damage from every attack. This makes them extremely forgiving to play, as mistakes can sometimes be ridden out. The Ito Clan, however, are very combination orientated, and rely on their poison and control effects, rather than direct combat. This means that leaving them out of position and exposed, especially against the hard-hitting Ryu, can be fatal. They are fun to play and are great once you have the hang of the rules.
The starter set comes with a few upgrade cards, as well as a Theme card for each faction.
It's also worth noting that the miniatures in the 2-Player Starter Set are single-piece metal sculpts. That means that all you need to do is glue them onto the bases. The sculpts, considering they're single piece are great and full of dynamic detail.
All you need to add to the box to get going is a tape measure and dice. Players will ideally need 2 sets of different colored dice for attack and defense rolls.
If you already know what faction you’d like to play, you can go straight in with a Bushido Faction Starter. These all have 5 miniatures, along with all the stat and some upgrade cards to get you going. These cards are unique to these sets.
Alternatively, if you’ve played previous versions of Bushido, you can buy Clan Card Packs that bring all of your old miniatures into Bushido Risen Sun. These packs also include all the upgrade and theme cards you need for your faction.
The rulebook and all stat cards will be available through the GCT website. We will update this article when they are.
Bushido Risen Sun Developer InterviewWe caught up with Jason Enos, one of the Bushido Risen Sun design and developers and Odin Mentlak one of the Bushido background designers.
TechRaptor: Hi Jason, once a player has explored the Introductory Starter Set, what’s their next step?Jason Enos: We will be producing a box to add to the 2-player set to make it equal to the Faction Starter boxes. That's 70 Rice per side and allows a new player to build up towards a full-size list at their own pace.
TR: Any advice for new players on creating their force?JE: Theme lists can offer a structure to follow as they usually focus on a particular part of a Faction rather than the whole thing.
TR: Any advice for new players on playing the game? What should they watch out for? Any handy tips/tricks?JE: Get a Dice Cup! As for playing, remember Bushido is a game of objectives and tactics; killing enemy models is important but doesn’t win the game. Always play the scenario.
TR: Bushido Risen Sun is a brand new edition of the game. What has been the biggest change since the last edition?JE: We consolidated all the different tests into one mechanic, so once you learn how the dice rolls are used to resolve a test you have basically learned the game. We were also able to incorporate the Ronin models into the game properly, rather than as an add on.
TR: Bushido is a skirmish game played on a relatively small tablespace. Was this always the focus you wanted for the game over larger sized wargames?JE: Certainly since I have been involved. The Skirmish scale means we can concentrate on every model being important and having unique character with their abilities and background.
TR: Obviously a lot of inspiration has been pulled from Oriental myths, legends, and history. What was the biggest inspiration for Bushido?JE: Luckily by the time I started work on Bushido they had already created a lot of the world of the Jwar Isles so I only had to build on that, taking stuff from the actual folklore, movies, and other sources to add to the backstory of the characters or to create new profiles.
TR: There are lots of new sculpts in this edition. Were there some changes in production coinciding with the new rules?JE: Not just with the new edition but we have been making efforts specifically to make sure all parts of production from concepting, profiling, art, sculpting, and promotion are all communicated across the whole team. This has lead to more feedback and better coordination to improve the final product.
TR: What are the future plans for Bushido? What’s the next step?JE: My first response would be, A Lot! Lets just say we have several years worth of releases in various stages of discussion, concept, profiling, and production.
The one I will say is the last-named Faction from the old rulebook, Shiho, are well in hand... but not as you may expect.
TR: Which is your favorite Bushido faction and why?
- Odin Mentlak: Temple of Ro-Kan I'm always drawn to the good guys and I love the animal sculpts in the Temple. I also think Ekusa on his turtle is still, after all these years, an iconic design.
- Jason Enos: Minimoto. The Bears were the faction I had the most hand in creating and my first new faction as a developer. I spent a lot of time with them working out their place in the game as well as filling out their backstory and thinking about the motivations for them to become involved more in the ongoing Jwar Isles conflicts.
TR: Which is your favorite Bushido miniature and why?
- OM: - A tricky question but probably Kato, the Puppet Master, you see more and more little details every time you look at him.
- JE: – Master Koju was an original concept of mine, when I saw the first art piece the artist and later the sculptor had gone way beyond the little brief I started with to make such an iconic and amazing model.
TR: Which is your favorite piece of samurai media (book, comic, film, anime, tv show)?
- OM: Another toughie, I'd have to say 'Ninja Scroll' a stunning piece of Anime that has stood the test of time remarkably well. Shinobi (more ninjas in fairness) at the arcade and I can't remember whether it was the Sega Master System or Mega Drive was incredible. I want to write about another 25 more :-)
- JE: I love Afro Samurai but little of that makes it to Bushido! Samurai may take a lot of inspiration from cinema, for example, Yojimbo directly inspired Toshiro, the mysterious wanderer who disrupts both sides in a conflict. I like a lot of 80s Ninja movies (Dudiko is my homage to the American Ninja series) but especially The Last Ninja and I have to mention Ninja3: The Abomination and they inspired many of the Shadow Wind Clan’s Special cards. The Hunted, with Christopher Lambert, is also a good Ninja movie.
TR: Thank you both for your time. We look forward to seeing what comes next for Bushido.
Have you played Bushido Risen Sun or any previous versions? Which is your favorite clan? What do you like about Bushido? Let us know in the comments below.
The copies of the Bushido Risen Sun products used in this article were provided by GCT Studios.