Well all that experimenting hasn't been for nothing, though you honestly couldn't tell with tonight's game as Martin left Zuba hugely exposed at the end of turn 1, and compounded his error immediately at the start of turn 2, which meant my first three activations were "kill Zuba" and Kenzo did just that (two success level 6 attacks will do that). It was a short, short game.
I'm starting to adopt a 'tri-core line up' in my lists, it feels like a very MOBA thing to do actually. I bring Kenzo, Naoko, and Saburo, then design my list around that. If I can't bring Saburo, I bring along Chiyo now because I'm finding her ability to use leap undeniably useful. I do like Yatsumata, but find her limited against targets with decent amounts of armour or toughness; whereas with Kenzo you just activate powerful attack. "But what about Masunagi/Takeji?" you may ask. I like moving around the board as much as possible, being stuck in a straight fight means I'm not working on scenarios, and having models that are faster than my opponent is a big deal. So is having steady now that I think about it. That means if the model isn't a hebi or has boostable movement, I'm probably not interested in it. That and I didn't get into the Ito Clan for the 'normal' people, I got into it for the crazy snake cult!
Speaking about Zuba and the Savage Wave, I'm vaguely concerned about how people play the oni. When Ricki first started playing he was amazingly aggressive with his oni, they were smushing things left and right - I haven't played Ricki but I'd like to think he continues to play this way. Martin plays his oni like they're the most fragile eggshells ever created that need to be cherished and unharmed (this last game notwithstanding). Personally I think that oni should be played as near suicidal models, you need to have a success level 8 hit to have a chance to one-shot an oni. So yes, you just did a heap of damage to that oni that didn't roll defence dice, but you're just flat out dead if the oni hits back. Oh, and it ate your soul to heal up a bit. My opinion is that if the oni survives a game on 1 health but killed at least one model, it's doing it's job. They should be able to sustain quite a lot of combat. Also why don't I see more of Bobata?! Holy crap he's baller levels of awesome. Except for his moobs.
That's not to say you should be stupid with your oni, in that last game Martin was aggressive with Zuba, he just made some terrible, terrible choices as to where he was going to leave Zuba standing, and when to activate Zuba... ok, let's just say Martin had an off day. I think Tenbatsu suits Martin's playstyle much better than Zuba - I don't think I've ever seen Martin use Zuba's slam, and Martin tends to try for a straight up fight. I think Tenbatsu will be easier to navigate through his screening bakemono and being a samurai, he's a pretty damn good fighter. It's very tempting to get some Savage Wave to see if I can get some different results.