Bushido Risen Sun, the latest edition of Bushido, was released in August. We had a look at the brand new starter set, along with chatting to the development team in our first Start Collecting Bushido article. Bushido Risen Sun is a skirmish wargame, set in a fantasy feudal Japanese setting. In this article, we’re going to take a look at one of the starter sets, for Bushido’s newest faction, the Minimoto, along with chatting with some experienced Bushido players and getting their advice for new players.
The Minimoto are a brand new faction for Bushido, released with Risen Sun and as such, don’t have a large number of miniatures to catch up with from previous editions. Outside of the starter set, there are only a few extra miniatures released at the moment, along with a card expansion pack for some extra equipment and theme list cards.
The Minimoto are also extremely beginner-friendly because of their playstyle as well. Most of the warriors have high armor values, along with decent wound values. This makes them extremely forgiving in terms of combat and allows players to throw most, if not all of their dice into attack. They do lack in speed though, so positioning is an area that players will have to focus on with them.
The Minimoto starter set contains 5 warriors.
- Minimoto Yuri - Yuri is a powerhouse. Armour 4 lets them disregard all but the most concentrated of attacks. They also have Indomitable, which increases if they are alone, allowing Yuri to ignore being outnumbered by up to 2 additional enemies. 4 attack dice, one of which can be re-rolled means that Yuri will decimate enemy ranks. Focus on getting Yuri into a dominant position, because once there, Yuri is there to stay.
- Masaema Aya - Aya is a mini-Yuri. Armour 3 and 3 attack dice means they can still pile into combat. Endurance means no penalty for being exhausted and the Bear Stands Alone, giving Aya Indomitable 1 if there are no friendly warriors within ranges, gives your opponent a challenge if they want to bring Aya down. Yuri and Aya (if spaced out) can hold an area against much larger numbers of enemies.
- Masaema Yoshinobu - Yoshinobu is as armored and strong as Aya, but misses out on a couple of key abilities that make Aya stand out. Yoshinobu is great for holding objectives or spreading out the advancing line of the Minimoto as they go to war.
- Raiko - Raiko isn’t armored, but has some great abilities that offer good support. Raiko can ignore fear tests if they begin their activation in line of sight of a blacksmith (Hauru) and the Gang Ki ability gives them more attack dice if other ashigaru are in base to base contact with the same enemy. Aya and Yoshinobu are both ashigaru, so rushing in with extra attack dice if combat isn’t going their way can be very handy.
- Hauru - Hauru isn’t armored or particularly strong, but does have access to a couple of useful abilities. Cleansing Flames removes poison, blind, controlled, berserk and spirit block markers from all models within 6 inches, and gives them a fire marker. Great for removing markers from your own or setting fire to multiple enemies (and your own). Hauru can also give a warrior in base to base contact with them the weighted tetsubo equipment card, which reduces the armor of an opponent by 2.
The Army of the Minimoto Theme List card included in the starter set gives all Minimoto warriors +1 melee strength once per game and also lets the Ashigaru deploy a further 2 inches forward. With speed not being a strength of the Minimoto, this extra 2 inches can get your fighters into the combat they need to be in quicker.
Using the Minimoto out of the starter box gives a very powerful, easy to use force. Great for beginners because they’re forgiving and you can focus on positioning and smashing your opponents into the ground. A lot of the special abilities and traits are the same across all the fighters, so there aren’t a lot of skills to remember. Building up from the Starter Set means that you can play further into their strengths, or start to look at covering some of their maneuvering and mobility weaknesses.
We caught up with Ben Calvert-Lee and Lee Palmer for a chat about how they got into Bushido and to get their advice for new players getting into the game.
TechRaptor: Hey Ben and Lee. Thank you for talking to us. Tell us a little bit about your gaming background. When did you start playing tabletop games?
Ben Calvert-Lee: When I was 9, I saw a friend’s White Dwarf which he had brought in to school and was fascinated by the catalog at the back, showing assemblies for the Warhound titan miniature. My journey started shortly after with a copy of Space Marine and some poorly chosen Humbrol paints.
Lee Palmer: My father was a wargaming enthusiast, though I don't think I've ever seen him play against another person. I grew up with his giant terrain board on the balcony of the house and lots of 6mm WW2 models all over the place. It wasn't a giant leap for me to move into tabletop games from there. I think the first one I actually played was Warhammer, though it was hard to get hold of in Singapore during the 90's. Then we moved to the UK and suddenly Games Workshop was incredibly more accessible to me. Tabletop games took a bit of a hold for a while once I went to university and I moved more into role-playing games.
TR: When did you start playing Bushido?
LP: At some point during 2013. After hearing that GCT Studios had just ditched their original rules for the game and were working on making it better, I got a demo game with Mark Bonatti at G3. Pretty much continued from then onward.
TR: What first got you into Bushido?
BCL: I had seen some of the miniatures at my local club but hadn’t pursued it. When the IndieGoGo for the Ito faction launched, I took the opportunity to get involved.
LP: Ito Kenzo's sculpt and the melee exchange dice mechanics. I was really impressed at the depth just allocating dice between Attack and Defence could offer.
TR: Which Bushido factions do you play and why?
BCL: Mainly Ito as they were my first and are pretty enjoyable, with a few viable playstyles. I own the whole faction, so have plenty of options for experimenting. I’ve also added a couple of small themed warbands from Savage Wave and Temple of Ro-Kan.
LP: I play a few.
Ito Clan - The Snake Clan were my first love, but are one of the most popular factions. Tthe hebi were overpowered originally, but I really liked the combination of melee prowess and Ki-based control the faction offered. I almost exclusively play control-style warbands with the Ito Clan. Given their popularity though, I've moved onto other factions for now.
The Decension - I just liked the look of the Tengu. So I bought the Tengu. I almost won a Masters tournament with them too, only losing to the original free Kami version of Shepherds of White Mesa on the final table. Alas, it was not meant to be, and I feel James Hasker's model concept was vastly superior to anything I could have come up with at the time.
Jung Pirates - When I received Rise of the Kage and the expansion, Docks of Ryu, I saw the artwork for Minato and thought "this guy is badass." He had an eyepatch and an anchor for his weapon. So I picked up the faction purely on how cool Minato was. After I'd played a while though, I found I was much more in tune with Mari and how she functioned. Then Risen Sun came along and I nerfed my faction.
Prefecture of Ryuv - My latest faction, and I'm loving it. While we were working on Risen Sun, the Prefecture needed some better definition. When it came to Satou Kioshi (previously Kioshi Madoko or Kioshi Makoto, but we fixed that) we came up with the Hare clan's mechanic that ties in with one of the Prefecture's love affair with Tactician. So I made a warband just using Satou clan profiles and it's working out surprisingly well (won Daimyo of the South, came second at Benelux) for something that was thrown together.
TR: If a new player was looking to get into Bushido, how would you describe each faction? What are they good at, bad at, how do they play?
BCL: Each faction has multiple ways they can be played, with perhaps the exception of Minimoto at present, as they are a very new faction awaiting more releases.
LP: This is an incredibly expansive topic. There are a lot of ways to build warbands within a faction, and many strengths and weaknesses are hugely dependent on the warband.
BCL: Focussed on captains and their crews, this faction is a motley crew. Able to swarm with cheap profiles, tank attacks, and dish out massive damage, they are extremely versatile. No armor, but also effective counters to armored enemies.
LP: A large rabble of pirates and a menagerie of strange sea creature hybrids. The faction is actually very flexible in playstyle and warband composition. Generally, the captains (the Kancho) define their warbands, but I've seen a lot of warbands that don't use any kancho at all.
The Jung currently has an extremely hard time taking care of some of the "superwarrior" profiles like Tenbatsu. They simply don't bring a fighter of equal prowess, and they don't have the durable stats outside of the kanimiman (crabmen) to hold something like Yatsumata or Tenbatsu at bay.
BCL: Movement shenanigans and ranged threats form the birdmen, but they’re fragile. Human tribesmen offer tougher cheap profiles at the expense of movement options.
LP: The Tengu birdmen and the human tribes that defend the lands around the Tengu eyries. The Tengu are good at fighting and are incredibly mobile. They ignore almost all terrain, have a plethora of place effects, and can simply fly over the battleline to easily attack enemy support models. The tribesmen are more durable and tend to hit harder.
At the moment no one really has a clear idea on how to build Descension warbands. I've seen some interesting ideas, but they haven't been brought together into something glorious just yet. It's only a matter of time though.
Silvermoon Trade Syndicate
BCL: The gambling mechanic is core to many profiles in this faction. 3 main troop types make up the bulk of their options. Cheap profiles with effective ranged options, expensive ‘tank’ profiles, and disruption profiles. Lots of nasty event cards that disrupt your opponent’s plans.
LP: The special card faction. The STS like to gamble and manipulate dice. The faction warband tends to follow the themes quite strictly. What they're good and bad at is entirely based on the warband composition: a buto herd is weak against Ki-based attacks, but is incredibly difficult to beat in a straight-up fight, a Jade Rose themed warband is fragile but has ludicrous amounts of control.
BCL: Best armor in the game, but weak to Ki attacks.
LP: Durable. The Bear Clan have ludicrous Armour values and bring a lot of special cards that make damaging them very difficult. Be prepared for the long haul if your warband is focused on killing enemy models. They are slow and generally have low Ki stats. This makes them very vulnerable to Ki-based effects such as Obey or Heed My Word.
BCL: Ubiquitous glass-cannon faction. Fast and hard-hitting, with powerful poison abilities, they lack wounds and armor.
LP: Fast. So, so, so fast. With the faction's redesign, the Ito are aggressive on the table. They can easily attack the enemy warband on turn one. When you play against them, you definitely need a plan to take the alpha strike and then work to respond. For all their aggression, the faction is now much more fragile across the board. Careless play by an Ito player is easily punished.
One of the best things about the Ito Clan is the sheer variety of warband design they can conform to, such as shisai triads, control, melee monsters. All these warband archetypes are possible with the Ito Clan. Also, they're a gorgeous faction.
Prefecture of Ryu
BCL: Good armor, and play like a well-trained army. Use orders and cheap ashigaru profiles in combination with powerful samurai. They also have a dragon.
LP: The Prefecture is an army. It feels like an army. Traits like Tactician, Command, and Order are common in the faction, so learning to use these traits to full effect is vital to getting the most out of your warband. It's a popular faction for sure, has a decent skill floor and appears to have an incredibly high skill ceiling. The basic profiles of the faction are amongst the best in the game, no one can doubt the effectiveness of the humble Ryu Yariman.
Ultimately, the faction is predictable. It exercises almost no direct effects on enemy models, so a diligent opponent knows what the Prefecture will do every turn, and generally in what order.
BCL: Dangerous in melee, monks require Ki management to maximize their potential. No armor, but are able to effectively manipulate enemy positioning to their advantage. The peasants offer cheap models to assist.
LP: Kung-fu warriors and peasant villagers for the most part. The monks are fast, Ki-efficient, and capable fighters. The peasant villagers are, well peasants, don't expect miracles from them, but they are cheap. They have access to the largest pool of special attacks and defenses, and the master monks are terrifyingly good at what they do.
Cult of Yurei
BCL: Zombie horde is a very effective tarpit, but struggles with speed. Access to very fast options in the form of kami and ratmen.
LP: The serial killers of society and strange evil spirits of the realm. This is the faction of outcasts and misfits. It is the faction with the most powerful offensive Ki feats in the game. The Cult specializes in applying negative effects on their opponents and then dragging unfortunate souls to their doom. If this isn't enough, expect hordes of the walking dead.
BCL: Aggressive. Has powerful oni and hordes of weak bakemono, supported by beasts. The former are good at hitting stuff and tanking any retaliation, but can easily over-extend. The latter have strength in numbers and sneaky tricks to balance their frailty.
LP: Huge, savage oni, and endless hordes of bakemono. The bakemono allow the Savage Wave to generally have an activation advantage, while the oni are aggressive and powerful warriors. They have enough wounds to be practically impossible to kill in a single blow outside of Critical Strike. This means an oni can happily roll no Defence dice, take a lot of damage and then simply kill the enemy in return.
The bakemono are very vulnerable to Fear effects and damage at the end of the turn. They're not difficult to kill, and will often either spiral out of control either towards out-activating the opponent, or dropping dead. The oni are hefty rice investments in a warband, so losing one can be massively game-changing. Concentrating so many points into a single profile makes them big targets for removal effects, such as Critical Strike or Master Enos's unique attack.
Kaze Kage Zoku
BCL: Fragile but extremely effective. Hard to master. Essential for the player to dictate the terms of each engagement, or be trampled by outnumbering.
TR: What advice would you give to a player looking to get into Bushido?
BCL: Unless you have a playstyle you really want to avoid, I would look at the models and go for a starter set which looks cool. From there, expand that faction in the direction of your preferred playstyle. The game is deep and complex, but that complexity is not there for the sake of it. Allow yourself time to learn over the course of several games and the reward will be worth it.
LP: Read my blog (SHAMELESS PLUG: The Jumo Ring) and find the Bushido Basics articles. Build warbands to solve scenario problems, not to beat up the enemy warband.
TR: Any tips on the best faction for a beginner to start with?
BCL: I would avoid the ninjas, but all other factions are viable starting points. Go for the starter sets, especially the new ones for Risen Sun which include a ramp into the game and that box’s playstyle.
LP: To simply learn how the game works? Prefecture or Minimoto. Those factions don't do a whole lot to directly affect the enemy models, and their models are generally what I would call Ronseal Models (Does What it Says on the Tin™).
If you want to learn the full breadth of gameplay and only pick up one faction, then the Jung Pirates or the Ito Clan are a good bet.
TR: Any tips on Bushido list building?
BCL: Pick cool things, whether by theme or combos, then look at what threats you will struggle to counter. Start swapping in counters where possible, but don’t lose sight of what you thought would be fun about fielding your initial idea.
LP: Always have at least seven models. Dropping lower than this means you have to have a plan to eliminate enemy models very quickly or the opponent will simply out-activate and out-scenario you.
TR: Is there anything you wish you knew about Bushido when you first started playing?
BCL: Nothing comes to mind.
LP: Everything I know now? I'm responsible for large swathes of errata for New Dawn and we've worked like crazy to ensure these were fixed in Risen Sun.
TR: Any hints or tips for playing Bushido that could help a new player?
BCL: Defend and await a moment when the situation is in your favor before you go all-in. Play the scenario, don’t fixate on kills.
LP: Play games. Lots of games against as many different factions and warbands as possible. ALWAYS play with a scenario. When you want to choose a faction, simply pick the faction you think looks the coolest.
TR: Thank you very much for talking to us Ben and Lee. Hopefully, we'll see you across the game table sometime soon.
Do you play Bushido? Which is your favorite faction? Do you have any questions for our pro-players? What advice would you give to new Bushido players? Let us know in the comments below.
The copy of the Minimoto Starter Set used in this review was provided by GCT Studios.