Bushido

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Review: Why isn't this game one of the most popular on the market?

September 26, 2018 by darkvoivod

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A few years ago GCT studios ran a highly succesfull kickstarter for there Rise of The Kage boardgame. I was sorry to not have the cash for it then, because it seemed cool.

Luckily I was able to buy a pledge some time later. And I was right. It's a very cool game.

The pledge also came with character cards for all models to use in the Bushido skirmish game. So I picked up the rulebook and gave it a try. Me and my regular gaming buddy where blown away. I've been playing wargames for over 20 years. In my gaming group I'm known as the rules guy. I figure out how the games work and explain them to the rest. This is the most elegant and deepest rule-set I have yet laid my eyes on.

The basic rules are 15 pages and there's plenty of examples in there. Then there's another 15 pages of abilities and status effects. While there's quite a few of these, most are simple enough that the stick after a few games and due to the nature of the game you wont need a lot of them during any one game.

Every model starts in the rested state. Players alternate activating models. You can take either a long action or a short action, which will cause them to get tired or exhausted. Tired models can activate again later in the turn and perform another short action.

Combat is wonderfull. Combatants have their dicepool which they secretly divide between attack and defence.  This dice pool is dependent on the characters melee skill and various other factors, like outnumbering and if the character is surprised/exhausted/prone. Dice are rolled simultanious. The highest dice is your score and you get to add +1 to this for up to two dice that aren't 1's. And another +1 for every 6 passed the first. The difference between the attackers score and the defenders score is the succes level and this effects the damage roll. Since both models can thrown attack dice, the character initiating combat might also suffer damage, so it pays to keep some dice for defence. After blows have landed both models become tired or exhausted if they already are so.
This already creates a wonderfull bluffing element to combat. You might very well charge an enemy, only to put all your dice in defence just to tie him up and deny him actions, or go gung-ho when you opponent doesn't expect it and try to kill an opponent when he expects you to be more conservative.

But models can also choose special attacks/defences. Most models have a few of these available. These might cost you a dice from your combat dice pool and are selected in secret. (There's a deck available, but you could also write it down). These range from pushing an opponent away, dragging them towards you, throwing them, sidestepping or more powerfull blows. There are some available that are quite situational, but they can very usefull.

Every model also gathers Ki every turn, depending on the model. These can be used to power more special abilities called Ki-feats. These can be rallying cries, special attacks, spells, you name it. Managing Ki is vital to the game, but once again very easy once you played a few games. Ki can sometimes also be used to boost melee, ranged skill or speed.

This all might seem like a lot, but due to how the rules are written it clicks into place extremely quickly and allows for a wealth of options in a very elegant system.

Games are played on a 2x2 table and are won by objectives. These might seem a bit abstract sometimes, but they do create very tactical games. It's very possibel to own in combat and still lose.

The warbands themselves are extremely managable. A starter army cost about 30 euro/pound and give you a fully playable faction of about 6 models. Add 2 or three more models and you have a standard size warband. Warbands are somewhere between 4 to 12 models. You might want to buy the faction card set for a little extra flexabily, but after that you can add models at will and simply switch between games
The models are lovely. Who amongst us doesn't like ninja's and samurai? But there's so much more to the factions. The evil spirits of the cult of Yurei, the demonic Oni of the Savage wave, shaoling monks, hengeyokai, yakuza, pirates, take you pick. There's a few older sculpts that could use an update in my mind, but overall the range is of very high quality and very characterfull.

I'm painting up my samurai of the prefecture and have my ninja's ready. The pirates will be next and I'm eyeing a cult force. The starter boxes and a few blisters are  basicly my hobby allowance for a month and give me a completly new army for the best made rules I've ever seen. I'm hooked. So why is the internet so quite on this game?
Go play it. This one is criminally underplayed.

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4 Comments on "Why isn’t this game one of the most popular on the market?"

growler78
Member
561xp

Agree 100%. Great game with loads of depth and varied factions to play with. I also really like the 2×2 play area as it is easy to play on almost any table size.
If skirmish games are indeed all the rage then this game deserves more people giving it a try.

innes
Member
1621xp

Love Bushido. I agree the rules are very elegant but the way they’re written isn’t great(i’m talking about the download-the physical book might be better). There are too many abilities, a lot of them only slightly different from one another. I find myself having to check the “small print” of them all the time. The format that the Ki feats are written in isn’t the easiest to decypher either. It just needs a bit of streamlining and tidying up which is what they are hopefully doing for the new edition. At the moment i think the rules seem too complex and it puts people off giving it a go. But you need to play it to figure out how good it is. Also, they are apparently bringing out a 2player starter set for the new edition which should make it a lot more accessible and popular.

theamazingmrg
Member
1316xp

Bushido is a game that I’ve always liked the look of but a) I have way too many games I don’t get to play already, and b)…

Well, b) is just a) again!