Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Bushido Basics: Warband Construction

Constructing Your Warband

I'm going to assume you, the reader, is familiar with the basic mechanics of Bushido and you know how to throw together a warband. What you may not know is how to make a coherent warband rather than a big collection of all your random models. Random models can work, but that's most often by accident rather than intent.

Scenario, Scenario, Scenario
Before you even think about what to throw into your warband, think about the following things:
Do you have a good VIM model?
How would you like your list to function?
Can you contest zones?

The first question is the easiest to answer. Good VIMs are generally models that can avoid combat in some way. This could be from traits such as Fly, to Ki feats like “Mirage”. Some people like to take very tanky and tough VIMs, but a good number of VIM scenarios award victory points for damage caused to a VIM. From my own experience, the sneakier the VIM, the better.

The second question is a much more probing question in warband construction: How do you see your warband functioning? Is your list planning to roll up the table and kill things? Are you more about scenario denial? Is there some crazy tricks you can pull off with the list? You need to look at how your list will function as a cohesive whole. An excellent example of this was John Sinclair's list that I played against at Common Ground Games:

Temple of Ro-Kan (50 rice)
Master Ekusa
Grey Pilgrim + Prayer Beads
Minor Air Kami
Rice Farmer

The list focuses around a turn of being able to use kamikaze attacks at no risk while Aura of Serenity is up. The Shisa and the Grey Pilgrim are soulless models, so can utilize their dice as they like, whereas John's opponent will have to go full defence. John has a clear idea of what to do with the models in his list here. The warband has some bad match ups (anything with lots of soulless) but the list was built with clear intent and purpose, and there is clear synergy between many of the models.

There are many styles of lists, so think about how you want to achieve some scenario objectives. Is your warband planning to simply hope they can kill enemy models until you have the activation advantage? What happens when your opponent simply rolls all defence dice all the time and nothing dies? This is where knowing the scenario scoring conditions comes in handy, though be aware different factions have different flavours and methods of achieving their goals: the Ito Clan tends to just murder everything on the table, the Silvermoon Trade Syndicate usually relies on special cards, the Prefecture of Ryu will have lots of pass tokens, and so on.

Contesting zones is an interesting dilemma for most players (myself included a lot of the time) as you need models AND rice to hold zones. It means you can contest zones with lots of cheap models, or just a few very expensive ones. It takes a lot of thought about which zones you are going to attempt to hold, and which zones you will only move a token model towards. Certain models make really effective zone controllers, especially models with slams or throws as you can get enemy models away from the scoring requirements for zone control. Effects that give you control tokens on enemy models are incredibly powerful in scenarios with zones, as you flip an enemy model over to your warband for scoring purposes if they end the turn controlled.

You should be able to divide your warband into 3 components when you think about zones: defenders, fighters, tricksters.  Defenders are usually your cheapest or long-ranged models. They're only in your friendly zone for scoring purposes, the majority of their actions are about doing things to the other zones from within the friendly zone. Fighters are generally your best fighters (ironic eh?) as there will be the densest concentration of models in the middle zone or area of the board in most games and you want to be able to stay there for as long as possible. Tricksters are the elusive and difficult to attack models (they can usually be a good VIM) that can dance about and force your opponent to commit more models to defending their home zone.  Of course, some models can swap roles quite easily, such as the Shimogama Vipers for the Ito Clan; they're are so mobile they can shift between all three roles in a pinch.

So, have you picked a good VIM, are you aware of how you want your list to function, and can you contest zones?  If you can answer yes to all these questions, you should have a proper functional warband.

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