"When ahead, get further ahead." - Artosis
My blog recently had a rather unusual spike in traffic, which I would normally attribute to an advertising bot, but looking at it people actually come visit from the Bushido forums. So... hi! I hope there's actually something useful in here that you guys find worth reading.
The Ito Clan forums seem to be having the revelation that early scenario play is important and some people are trying to gravitate away from straight up face-punching lists. Face-punching lists have always been the least interesting lists for me to play but I do wonder at how other people have been playing scenarios. Over here most games tend to be low-scoring (1-0 or 2-0 at most) as everyone tries to hotly contest the scenarios straight away. When we first started, some people would consider letting their opponent score and try to conserve their efforts for later scoring, but we quickly found many of the scenarios have a snowball effect: once you're in the lead, you just build on that lead, and there's very little your opponent can do about it. Ryodo is probably the main culprit of this as the scenario points do not reset at any time, but certain 'Idols' variants suffer the same problem. So people quickly learned to rush into the zones Warmachine/Hordes style, and contest them like there's no tomorrow, anything less and you end up playing from behind.
Here's some simple math for reaching middle objectives: a small base model needs to move 10" and a little bit, medium base models need to move just under 10", and large base models only need to move a tiny fraction over 9.25". If you have to run to get these distances, figure out if your opponent will arrive at the centre line able to fight or not, as if you had to run and are now exhausted, you're already down 2 dice and getting into a fight will probably not be a good idea. This most often comes up against forward deploying factions such as Temple or Cult. If you think you can survive quite adequately, just get your models up there. There are other methods to help avoid losing the early game but going into every possible option would take more time and text than I'm willing to put in just now, instead I'll talk about the Ito Clan for now as that is my main faction.
As an Ito Clan player who loves his shisai, I usually try figure out what the lynchpin of my opponent's list is for early scoring and hit them with Ayako's "Hypnotic Gaze". It's won me games simply because the key model would be out of position on turn 2. Of course, it does fail, but the reward for success shouldn't be underestimated. However, crafty opponents bring things like Darkness and Yurei's Breath which means I can't target anything on turn 1, in which case I bring all the Temple Bushi I can squeeze into a list - I take them simply because they have movement boosts and I find them to be more flexible than models like the Jade Mamba Guard. By giving them some Ki (3 Ki to one Bushi, 1 to the other) I can quite comfortably boost my movement high enough to penetrate quite deeply into enemy territory. Once again, be aware of having run and being exhausted at the same time while still being in the opponent's threat ranges. There's no point contesting your opponent if they're just going to flat out kill your over-extended models.
A real dynamic duo of the Ito Clan is Kenzo and Naoko. Both come on medium bases, and have a base move speed of 5, meaning they can walk twice and quite comfortably reach objectives on the centre line. Kenzo is one of the best all-rounder models in the game, and Naoko, while Impetuous (sadface), brings copious amounts of Blind and a high level of Fear. Between the two of them, they should be able to either reach an objective first, or get enemy models into their zone of control so that no scenario actions can be taken. Both are fairly intimidating to enter melee with, one having First Strike and good melee skill, the other one having Fear 5 - even better is that they both have Side Step Defence so can contest more of the scenario zones/objectives. When Yatsumata arrives, it presents an additional early option with its high move speed, large base, and fearsome combat abilities.
If you want to go down the more face-punching style list with lots of ashigaru and try to get the early scenario lead, then Sakura combined with Satoshi provide some very powerful options. MattT on the Ito Clan forums tried this type of list, and I've tried it several times, I found that it has a great turn 1, and then starts to fall apart quickly after that. His results indicate a similiar result though he was playing Reikan (a VIM scenario). It's worth noting that all my testing was prior to the Special Cards, so I'm willing to give it another ago to see how it works out with those - Satoshi pretty much requires an Elixir of Vigor so that he can use his Order on turn 1 and then still be relevant on turn 2 rather than still on your board edge, miles away from the ashigaru he wants to help out.
This post is already quite lengthy, so I'll end it here for now and bring up more general scenario techniques in the next post (and hopefully a battle report if there's time).