Bushido is a skirmish wargame set in a fantasy feudal Japanese setting. It is set in the Jwar Isles, where different factions battle for supremacy, including warrior clans, pirates, martial artists, mythical creatures, and dark forces of horrifying creatures. Bushido is made by GCT Studios and the current edition is called Risen Sun.
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As a skirmish wargame, players select their factions from the forces available and then pick a scenario to play. Scenarios can be as simple as simply wiping out your opponent, or as complex as you and your opponents want to make them. In the Risen Sun rulebook, 2 types of scenarios are detailed, Scenario Objective, where units need to interact with objective pieces, and Zone Control, where players need to control areas to get victory points.
There are 2 core mechanics that make Bushido an interesting and tactical skirmish game. The first is the activation system. 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.
If a unit is attacked in melee combat, they take an action to defend themselves, with exhausted units suffering 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 second core mechanic is the combat system. Combat in Bushido is risk/reward. When units engage in combat, both units attack and defend simultaneously. So even though your unit attacked, it can still be damaged by the defender. Each unit has a combat stat, which details the amount of dice rolled when they engage in combat. These dice can be split between attack and defense however you choose, and the highest roll for each has to beat your opponent’s roll to hit them and dodge their own attack.
For example, if we rolled 2 dice, 1 for attack and 1 for defense, and got a 3 on both dice. Our opponent would have to roll 3 or more to defend against our 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 whose 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? It also makes attacking a risk, as you could fail to hit your opponent, but be dealt damage in return.
These two essential mechanics are what make up the core of Bushido’s rules. The depth of the game comes from the different abilities of the characters, Ki powers that some characters have, and the different attack and defense abilities of weapons. These add the detail and tactical elements to the game, and learning these for your own faction, along with those of your opponents gives you an edge in-game.
Bushido - What Do You Need To Play?
As a miniatures skirmish game, there are several components needed to play Bushido.
- Bushido Risen Sun Rulebook (available digitally free here, or physical purchase)
- 10x 6-sided dice (D6) - ideally of 2 different colors
- A measuring tool
- Bushido miniatures and their unit stat cards
- Tokens (which can be anything used for tracking including dice or the official token set)
- A 2 foot by 2 foot playing surface with terrain (this can be as basic as a floor or table with some books, or as detailed as a hobby board with high-quality scenery)
If you haven’t played Bushido before, the easiest way in is through the 2-player Starter Set. It contains the full rulebook, tokens set, 2 small forces to use, and all the cards required to start you playing. All you need to add are dice and a measuring tool. The 2 included forces are the Prefecture of Ryu, honorable and armored samurai, and the Ito Clan, who are tricky and sly snake-powered warriors. Both forces have 3 miniatures, and provide an interesting game against each other, allowing players to see 2 different play styles before deciding on their own faction. All the miniatures in the 2-player starter set are also single piece sculpts, so only requiring gluing onto their bases and you are ready to play.
Alternatively, you can buy a Faction Starter Set, the rulebook, and token sheet to get you going.
2 Player Starter Set
The 2-player starter set is the perfect entry into Bushido. It contains the full rulebook, token sheet, and 2 forces of the Prefecture of Ryu and the Ito Clan. The starter set also comes with the unit cards, a theme card, and some equipment cards to get you going.
We take a detailed look at the 2-Player starter Set, as well as getting beginner advice from the GCT Studios Team here.
Faction Starter Sets
There are 9 Faction Starter Sets available for Bushido. To learn about each faction, you can see our Faction section below.
Each Faction Starter contains 5 miniatures, their unit cards, a theme card, and some equipment cards to get you going. They are the perfect point to pick up a faction, and if you enjoy how they play, you can build up your force from there.
The Prefecture of Ryu and Ito Clan Faction Starter sets contain the same miniatures as the 2-Player Starter Set, plus 2 additional warriors. The cards from the 2-Player Starter Set are the same as those contained in the Prefecture and Ito Faction Starter Sets. If you already have the 2-Player Starter Set, you can buy the additional 2 warriors for each faction separately and it and you will still have the same content as if you bought both Faction Starter Sets.
We take a look at the Minimoto Faction Set here, as well as getting beginner advice from veteran players here.
The full range of miniatures, including those in the 2-Player Starter Set and the Faction Starter Sets are available individually, so if you prefer building up your force 1 miniature at a time, or if you don't want all of the specific miniatures from a box, you can do it this way.
There is also a huge range of individual miniatures available for each faction, and you can find their stat cards in the GCT Studios Online Store, so you can read up on the unit and see if it will fit into your army before you buy.
Bushido Card Packs
There are several different card packs available for Bushido Risen Sun and we describe each in detail below.
The Replacement Card decks are for players coming across to Risen Sun from previous editions of Bushido. They contain all the unit cards, along with cards from the Special Card decks below. If you don't have any Bushido miniatures or only those from the 2-Player Starter Set or Faction Packs, then you don't need the Replacement Decks, these are only for players coming across from older editions of Bushido.
Special Card Decks
There are several Special Card decks , one for each faction and they include 20 equipment, theme, and event cards for each faction. They also include cards not in the Replacement Decks. If you are building up from the 2-Player Starter Set, or a Faction Starter, then these decks are an essential purchase to build up your chosen faction.
Special Abilities Deck
The Special Abilities Deck is a printed version of the special abilities from the rulebook. They are great reference cards that stop the need to flick back and forward in the rulebook, but they are also extremely handy for use during combat, to show which abilities are active, allowing both players to see and plan based on which actions are being taken. This is not an essential purchase, as the infomation is published in the rulebook.
Risen Sun Cycle Deck
The Risen Sun Cycle deck is a brand new selection of cards. it contains some neutral cards that can be used by all factions, as well as 2 cards for each faction. It's not an essential purchase for new players, but after building up your force, having access to the cards for your faction or factions will be useful.
- Cult of Yurei - Evil spirits and monsters. Very cheap horde forces backed up by units that can apply negative effects through fear and control.
- Ito Clan - Lightly armored samurai and snakes. Extremely fast and aggressive faction.
- Jung Pirates - Pirates and sea creatures. Extremely versatile faction
- Minimoto Clan - Heavily armored and strong. Slow and very durable.
- Prefecture of Ryu - Stereotypical samurai. Very forgiving and beginner-friendly. Durable and strong.
- Savage Wave - Demons (Oni) and monsters - Brute strength horde army.
- Shadow Wind Clan - Ninjas. All the ninjas. Elite units that are always outnumbered.
- Silvermoon Trade Syndicate - Jwar Isles underworld. Entertainers and tricksters. Playstyle is very dependent on theme, but they like to manipulate dice.
- Temple of Ro-Kan - Kung-Fu Warriors and monks. Very special ability focused and great in combat.
- The Descension - Bird-hybrid warriors. Extremely mobile faction.
- Shiho Clan - A clan defeated by the Prefecture of Ryu, now fighting a guerrilla war. Teamwork boosts, mobility, and ganging up tactics.
- Ronin and Kami - Unaligned miniatures that can join multiple specific warbands. There some Ronin only theme cards available.
The Bushido products used to produce this article were provided by GCT Studios.