Wednesday, 1 November 2017

All Things Bright and Beautiful

So what have I been doing recently?  Writing things.  Lots of things.  Not as many things as Jason Enos though.  I managed to get some testing of the Ito Clan things this week and was quite impressed by the results.  That midline on the table is a such a dangerzone.

I’ve put together a draft of the power structures and organisations of the Jwar Isles.  It’s very interesting to see where individual characters intersect with rules and lore.  For instance, Hagane and Itsunagi went to the same koryu (sword school), which only accepts left-handed students and is also why they both use dual katanas.

The setting timeline is still quite jumbled, but it’s getting there.  The most accurate history comes concerns the Takashi and Ito families; the other factions have fairly abstract event timings.  A lot of recent events have no order to them.  There's also a lot of different sources for the information, from store blurbs to tidbits from the short stories.  Here's Minato Jung's background from Rise of the Kage, combined with his blurb from the store:

A hulking beast of a man. Minato cuts an imposing figure as he strolls across the docks of Ryu casually swinging his most unusual of weapon choice, a message to those that would defy the peace he is entreated to ensure. For long years though Minato was the scourge of many a dock across the Jwar Isles. Nowhere he dropped anchor could truly be considered a safe harbor when he was drinking. Finding himself in a cell awaiting punishment for his latest crime, he was to be shipped to one of the Dragon clan’s labour camps; a fate far worse than execution. The Takashi’s though, upon hearing of his exploits, performed a masterstroke when they offered Minato a position with their guard. His fearsome reputation and background allowed him to quickly rise through the ranks and he now runs his own guards with the same success he used to have for causing trouble.

Although trained in the ways of the Samurai, Minato was always destined to follow his own unique path. A brute of a man, more at home in a water house than the courts. His body tells the stories of countless battles, wearing each scar proudly as a mark of honour to his physical prowess. That is not to say that he is all brawn, a cunning and clever leader, hiding from the Prefecture in plain sight. In battle he wields his trademark anchor, launching it through the air making it appear as light as a Tengu feather. Those unlucky enough to be caught by his attentions sent sprawling, dazed and disorientated.

Okay, what does this tell us about the timeline?  Minato terrorized the docks of a lot of different places until he was captured by the Prefecture.  He was given control of the docks of Ryu and charged with bringing them to order, which he did.  All the time though, he maintained loyalty to the Jung.  There's no mention of the Dragon Wars, which ended a decade ago, but Minato is probably in his late thirties or early forties, so he would have lived through that time period.  He was in Ryu when the Tsunami washed over Takashi clan territory, and probably began to move more openly in support of the Jung in the chaotic period that followed the natural disaster.

As for recent events, the Tsunami is only mentioned in the Prefecture faction description, and a lot of the characters should be grounded in the Dragon War - nearly all the characters in the game were alive during the Dragon Wars, most of them are old enough to be active participants in it.  Once the storyline gets introduced (if it gets introduced) I would expect both events to come to the forefront and have a much larger gravitas on how a lot of characters behave.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Sibling Rivalry

This last wave of releases has been rather unique with the release of two sets of very different Ronin models.  The first set is the Blood Brothers and their servant.  They committed some terrible crime on the mainland and have fled to the Jwar Isles.  Pursuing them are the Sworn Sisters, who are honour bound to hunt down the Blood Brothers and bring them to justice.

The two sets play very differently to each other and tend to avoid working for the same factions, with the exception of the Ito Clan and the Silvermoon Trade Syndicate - those factions have access to both the Blood Brothers and Sworn Sisters.

Blood Brothers
There is a very specific technique to how the Blood Brothers start the game.   At some point on turn 1, Ying-Jian will end up in base-to-base with Baichi and use "Saihai" to get the Blood Brothers moving up the table.  The only time this might not happen is if the scenario is a VIM scenario and the Blood Brothers player feels they can be greedy on turn 1 - it's still a bad play in my opinion though.

After that the Blood Brothers occupy part of the board and form something of an immovable object - they function as MS3, Tireless models with Indomitable (1), so trying to drop their dice pools down requires some serious effort.

The main drawback of the Blood Brothers is their lack of activations - their other drawback is how much they don't like getting shot by ranged attacks.  They're perfectly happy allowing your opponent to flail away at them,  but getting the Blood Brothers to actually do things is quite hard.  You need to build a warband with plenty of models that can do scenario actions and function without support to compensate for the amount of Rice the Blood Brothers eat up.  The factions that do this best are the Jung Pirates and the Silvermoon Trade Syndicate as they both have MS3 profiles that start at a cheap 4 Rice - Kyoaku-Han and Kohanin.  This means you can fill up the warband and still have rice left over for a utility special card or two.

Of the factions that can use the Blood Brothers, the Ito Clan and the Savage Wave probably have the hardest time.  For the Savage Wave it's a problem with filling the rest of the warband with profiles that could function away from the Blood Brothers.  For the Ito Clan it's more of a play style problem; the Ito Clan typically has a smaller warband than the current meta and relies on being incredibly aggressive to reduce the opposing warband's model count.  Being that aggressive is hard work with the Blood Brothers.

In conclusion, use the Blood Brothers to take and hold part of the board, once they're in position they're incredibly hard to shift as long as none of them get shot.  Don't expect them to do scenario actions unless there is literally nothing else for them to do.  Finally, once one falls, things go downhill in a real hurry.

Sworn Sisters
More versatile than the Blood Brothers, the Sworn Sisters are similar in that they work together, but the similarity ends quickly as they don't lose out on function if you don't feel like taking the full trio.  I can see several factions just taking Yanjing for her incredibly powerful ranged attack.

The Sworn Sisters were designed to present their player with a plethora of options every turn, and succeed at that design goal with style.  You can setup some very chess-like traps by leaving one "exposed" and then utilising Bodyguard or Sister's Succour to force your opponent into fighting the Sworn Sister of your choice.  Or you can use Command to bring out full on aggression and take the fight to your opponent.  Or you can use the Sworn Sisters Ki feat and play the activation game.  Don't be fooled by their MS3 stat either, they tend to sit at MS4 in reality as long as at least two of the Sworn Sisters are still on the board.  The skill ceiling for the Sworn Sisters is incredibly high, so expect to continually be caught out by them fairly often.

With the changes to the Golden Sentinels - they are now ludicrously good value at 8 Rice - and Yukio Koshimori, you can now build warbands made up entirely by Imperial models.  It's certainly powerful, and the Silvermoon Trade Syndicate probably works best with them due to the variety of their special cards, but the Ito Clan also does extremely well if you swap a Golden Sentinel for an Ancestor Spirit to help fuel Yukio and the Sworn Sisters.  Control Imperial Ito is actually a thing, you have been warned.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Control Ito

I pulled out my super-dirty control Ito Clan warband last night.  Jim conceded on turn 2 with his Savage Wave after I Controlled the two Oni in his warband.  It's been a *long* time since I've played "control Ito" with Mizuki.  I tuned the warband that I took to my second UK Masters and it seems to work rather well.  Here's the breakdown of what's in it, and what they do.

Control Ito
The Blessed (theme)
Mizuki Ito
Kenzo Ito
Child of Orochi
Child of Orochi
Shimogamo Viper

Dark Secrets (2)

We'll start with the theme bonuses.  Kyou starts with double Ki because he's a shisai.  It's not a big deal since he's pretty Ki efficient simply because of his unique effect, but extra Ki is extra Ki.  The "choose one" benefit of the Blessed is potentially extremely powerful.  Kenzo with Camouflage (2) can avoid a lot of stuff, or improving Kyou's melee weapon strength.  No one really cares or notices the last benefit of the theme, but it can sometimes matter if the board setup is horrific.

Why the two Children of Orochi?  They serve a lot of purposes in the warband.  Mizuki is incredibly greedy for Ki.  Having 5 Ki on turn 1 allows you to begin stocking up on Blessings of Orochi and throw out a cheeky Obey at the end of turn 1.  Controlling an enemy model at the end of turn 1 can literally win you the game, especially in zone scenarios.  For additional synergy with Mizuki, you give her Strong Mind (1) when you use Spiritual Conduit since the latest errata, so dicing off against that Master Monk is just that little bit easier.

They also work well with Kyou, as they can Self-Sacrifice for him if they are close enough.  If something particularly scary comes charging in to Kyou, you can safely go full attack dice and just let a Child of Orochi take the hit.  I wouldn't recommend going overboard with this, you still need models to do scenario actions.  That segues into their final purpose, they can do scenario actions and I don't feel guilty about it.  Orochi cries a little every time you do a scenario action with Kenzo.

Kenzo, Kyou, and Saburo are the melee powerhouses of the warband.  Their job is to get stuff killed.  Kenzo does the most aggressive work, while Kyou serves as the anchor of the warband - it's extremely difficult to drop his melee dice below 2.  Saburo is more of an opportunist but is scary because of his built-in Feint.

The Shimogamo Viper is there because sometimes you just need a Dark Secrets delivery service, or something to knock off an opponent's activation.  Sometimes you just need to kill Aiko.

Mizuki Ito is where the warband really starts to shine though.  She is the engine of the warband and should work towards making your opponent miserable.  On turn 1 you nearly always give her the first Blessing of Orochi so that she can activate Auto-Disengage in emergencies or gain Sixth Sense against opponents with lots of Camouflage.  You should be attempting to get Obey off every turn, and occasionally get more Blessings of Orochi onto your fighting models.  Paralyze should be saved for an enemy model that you want to keep fighting against one of your melee models since models in melee cannot simply remove Held, they have to make the dice roll every time.  Mizuki's real purpose is to make your opponent chew through their own activations so that you can offset the low number of melee models.

Between Obey and Dark Secrets, if you can get a turn where you throw down all 3 control markers you've set yourself up for the win.  3 Control markers is generally the tipping point where the game tends to break.  If you can sustain the Control markers each turn, then the game should quite easily be yours.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Kyousou 3 - Out Pirating Some Pirates

Jim and I went down to Stockport over the weekend to play  in Kyousou 3, a Bushido tournament run by James Hasker.  Jim put together a rather unusual Cult warband the night before and I used the Jung Queen of the Waves theme warband I listed in an earlier post - though I was debating between a Shisai-triad Ito warband or my previous UK Masters Tengu Wind Watchers warband before settling on using my pirates.  That's a different faction for each tournament I've participated in.  Go me.

I was rather surprised at how well the warband did.  I was expecting to run into something that I simply wouldn't be able to cope with.  Fortunately for me, the warband just seemed to crush my opponents.

Mari Jung gaining Order (3/Kaizoku/6) and the change to Leadership are actually pretty massive changes.  She gives you incredible flexibility on how to operate your warband on any given turn.  In the one game where she died, there was a real noticeable deterioration in the performance of my warband.  It does pinpoint her as the weak link of the warband, so that's something to keep in mind for future reference.

Kyousou 3 itself was fairly small, there were a couple of drop-outs due to car trouble, but I got to play 3 games against people who were Not-Jim and were not using Cult.  Generally good conditions for me, and so far all the Bushido players I've met are really pleasant, even when losing.

My first game was against Jason Enos and his Temple.  It did not go well for him.  My warband only received a total of 4 damage, and that was because I was killing the two earth kami he was using.  When he did roll well, the Queen of the Waves reroll usually nerfed Jason's attacks into the ground.

My second game was against a Buto Herd run by George Lees.  He made some strategically suspect decisions with his ranged models on the Kamikaze turn, then I simply out-activated him until everything on his side of the board died.

The last game was a Jung vs Jung game against Chris Hales.  We were both running Queen of the Waves, which led to some interesting interactions between the different rerolls and place effects, but ultimately I think my choice of special cards countered a lot of his warband.  Chris had brought Temo, I brought a 1 rice Kamikaze.  In the end (after guessing the wrong model as Chris' VIM) a Kohanin stomped on Temo and that was that.

So a gold coin for me, and I am declared the most piraty of the pirate players (all two of us).  Huzzah.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Errata 2017 - the Rundown

There are a few mechanical fixes in the errata, you can ignore the majority of those since they're just clarifying how a particular mechanic works.  This blog post is aimed at covering the most interesting changes going on.

The addition of a new type of sub-faction to the game is pretty big.  Ronin type profiles are profiles that have the ronin symbol and can be used across multiple factions.  The next set of releases (GenCon) are of small groups of ronin: the Blood Brothers and Sworn Sisters.  The story is that the Blood Brothers are on the run for some crime they committed on the mainland of the setting, and the Sworn Sisters are chasing them down.

Back to the mechanics of ronin though!  You can't take them in themes, so ronin profiles are usually ahead of the power curve for their rice cost.  That also means you can't take them in an Ordered for Battle warband, as that is still a theme.  So if you bring ronin, you're fully committed.

Yukio Koshimori and the Golden Sentinel profiles have been changed to ronin profiles.  Yukio has been condensed into the Silvermoon Trade Syndicate version, and the Golden Sentinel now has an additional wound track (you can take 2) and is ludicrously good for their rice value.  There's a new Golden Sentinel sculpt that will be available at some point after GenCon.

Slight change to the Bodyguard trait.  It now triggers on action declaration, so Fear has some interaction with being able to trigger the Bodyguard now.  If the bodyguard (the model, not the trait) wants to use Bodyguard to save a model from an enemy Fear-causing model, then the bodyguard will have to pass a Fear test first.  This makes the unique effects of the Jade Mamba and Takashi Retainers actually do something.

The model with Command can't target itself now.

This trait now does a lot more on the whole.  Certain factions would construct entire warbands using 2+ Ki profiles so the old Leadership wasn't doing anything.  Now the +1 bonus (remember that it applies to the model with Leadership too) makes most Fear values less intimidating.  It raises the value of just about all the models with Leadership.

Now applies to anything with a built-in move in addition to all the previous actions.

Notable Balance Changes

There are other changes, but they're almost not worth mentioning since they don't change what's brought to the table.

The biggest change for me is that the Kappa is a ronin profile and brings all the baggage associated with it.  No longer can I abuse the yokai in themes.  Sad, sad times.

Claws of the Dragon theme (Prefecture)
You can now bring Shinobu the dog in the theme.  People can stop moaning about not being able to bring Atsuchi & Shinobu on the forums.  It's actually quite a big change since Shinobu can perform scenario actions and can also teleport around the board.

Elixir of Vigor
Now a Prefecture only enhancement card.

Rigtheous Warriors theme (Temple)
No free kami anymore.  Hurrah!  It was such a stupid theme benefit.  Instead Master Monks get cheaper.

Mo Ises (Cult)
Rice cost reduced to 6.  He doesn't feel heinously expensive for what he does not.

Alphas theme (Savage Wave)
Fear 6 changed to Terror and you have to choose a different Oni each turn.  This makes assaulting the scary Oni each turn a lot easier.  Fear 6 was one of those weird values that could often stop samurai and monks

Kaihei Alpha
The "Alpha tax" has been dropped and it gained Dodge (1), so expect to see a number of Kaihei warbands proliferating with Savage Wave players as the full Kaihei pack improves its value.  You could see a shift towards a much earlier aggression style of warband construction from the Savage Wave, but we'll have to see, it's definitely one of the least played factions at a competitive level.

Mari Jung
She's gained Order, and with the change to Leadership the pirate queen has received a buff.  Nothing that really helps herself out though, so we'll have to wait and see how much of an impact the addition of Order brings to her.  It means she'll be further back for most people instead of trying to lead the charge and sacrificing the odd kaizoku.

Queen of the Waves theme (Jung)
The inclusion of ronin kami allows me to continue using the Kami of Reflection, which is amazing against swarms and is the anti-Ki tech I like to bring.  I did ask for this change with the introduction of ronin, so hurrah!

He's gained an additional place effect, which can be used when a model (friendly or enemy) moves into BtB with the big shisai.  This significantly increases his ability to survive.  I'm still probably never going to use him though.

Shepherds of White Mesa theme (Tengu)
The second most popular theme in the game has had quite a few changes.  The free kami has been changed to friendly kami healing 1 Ki on turn 3.  This is pretty big for Kami of the Strong Western Wind or the Kami of Reflection.

The other big change is that the Slow unique effect needs to be applied to a different model each turn, and your opponent chooses.  It's a big of a waste against high model Cult warbands with a bajillion Small Rat Swarms, but low model count warbands could suffer.

The Winners & Losers

I feel that the Prefecture of Ryu came out the best in this errata, simply because everyone else lost the Elixir of Vigor.  They can also use a lot of ronin profiles with no real loss of options during warband construction, but that's more of a "who won Wave 36?" thing than the errata.

Other contenders for being in the black this errata are the Cult of Yurei and the Savage Wave, both of which saw heavy discounts for an underused model.  Mari Jung made off like the pirate queen she is this errata: Leadership got buffed, her theme still allows the inclusion of ronin kami, and she gained an additional trait.

The Temple of Ro-Kan and the Tengu Decension ate the nerf bats on the most common themes, but it's not surprising.  Both themes were stupidly overpowered with the free kami.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Iterative Process

My experiments with the Jung Pirates continue.  I've started to branch out and use cards I was generally skipping over.  I built a combo play with using Arata, Queen of the Waves, and the Taunt enhancement - it's pretty self-explanatory if you know what the cards do.  I don't really like Arata though, as the Impetuous really makes me grind my teeth.  Taunt on the other hand, functions as a very useful, activation-free way to skew an enemy model's dice and helps me deal with the "higher model count, roll all defence dice" meta.

The main power of the Jung Pirates is the sheer number of low rice cost profiles with decent Melee stats.  They may not be as amazing as Kyoaku-Han but the Jung are only a tiny sliver off.  I don't really leave home without taking double Kohanin and Sho as the baseline for my warband.  You get a lot of bodies for not a lot of rice.

Here's my current iteration of my Jung Pirates warband:

Queen of the Waves (theme)

Mari Jung + Taunt
Kami of Reflection
Kohanin x2

Hotei's Blessing
Kamikaze (1)

Lua can be shifted out for quite a large number of different models, but I just appreciate how much hitting power and durability he brings to the warband.  I really like the Queen of the Waves theme.  The reroll can be used on either player's dice and allows Suiren to really flourish.  The place effect is well... it's a place effect so it's extremely powerful.  Between the place effect and the reroll you can really put into motion the means to delete an enemy model.

The Kami of Reflection deals with Ki-based assaults as they are a glaring weakness of Jung Pirates warbands, and since I play primarily against Cult, I get a LOT of offensive Ki tactics thrown at me.  It's also decent at holding its own in a fight so far between Parry (1) and Durable.

My plan is to get that particular warband fully painted by the end of the month - it shouldn't take that long, but I've been working on other projects.  So far I'm 50% complete with Suiren, Sho, and both Kohanin done.  The kami will take about 30 mins, and most of the other models have significant amounts of paints on them already.  I do like rocking up with the fully painted warband, this is a game that really benefits from it.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

UK Masters 2017

The UK Masters have come and gone.  As a tournament it was tremendously smooth except for an incident where two players filled in the other's sheet thinking it was their own.  This year I chose to forgo playing in the event and opted to help judge and do general legwork running the tournament.

We saw a number of really quite unexpected themes appear this year: two players ran Claws of the Dragon Prefecture warbands, one ran Lords of Izu Ito, and Jack Holking even ran a Bastions of the Mountain warband.  The usual suspects were there in abundance of course, Righteous Warriors and White Mesa were the two most popular themes.  No surprise given that they give a free 4 rice model.

I was a little surprised no one brought the Jung Pirates though, as their warbands are pretty easy to build, though most people build very unsophisticated warbands with them.  I have only just started to fit all the pieces together recently to make some cool combos, so I think they'll appear next year once the player base develops their warband construction.  There were no ninjas this year either, but that was not surprising given how recently repeated ranged attacks were nerfed and how most people seemed to be building warbands that heavily relied on Hail of Steel and Shurikens.  It's another faction where warband construction is still evolving.

Chris Hales won again this year with his Alphas Savage Wave warband.  He was the only Savage Wave player too, though he did have to dodge a few bullets.  He managed to avoid a Death and Decay Cult warband, and his VIM avoided the Dim Mak from Master Enos despite being on fewer dice.  Other than that though, his warband looked heinously difficult to deal with, having 3 oni in it and a decent amount of expendable chaff.  He even brought 2 copies of Unearthly Rage, which is something I wasn't expecting to see.

After the tournament there were some spoilers about the Minimoto Clan: release roughly slated in for GenCon next year.  They wear metal armour, and one of them will have Armour (4).  They also bring their smiths to battle and that will have some form of mechanic associated with it.  Of course there will be a bear at some point, it may even have armour.

I did get to spend a good deal of time chatting with Gordon and Jason of GCT though, and it was nice getting the scoop on what's in the future.  I also got to bounce some ideas off them, which were well received but I think they're things for the fairly distant future.  A common player discussion point was whether there was so much errata now that a new edition of Bushido would be on the table, so I think that's been added to the GCT list of Things To Do.

Sunday, 1 January 2017


Hey guys (whomever reads this anyway).

I haven't posted in a while, and if I'm honest, there's not much I can post that's Bushido-related.  The Facebook group has really taken off and anything you want to know can be found there in a hurry by simply asking or posting the wrong answer (see Cunningham's Law).  So I don't think this blog has anything left to offer the scene.  I'll leave it up for those who want to find the Bushido Basics posts I made, but I don't think I'll be putting any new updates up until after the odd tournament or big update.  If you require rules resolutions, merely enter my name on Facebook and I shall be invoked.

As for what's in the works, we've currently added 4-6 pages to the errata, and hopefully we'll see it all posted at the start of the new year.  The big fix is ranged attacks.  I had to cross out huge swathes of that section in order to clearly define the differences between a declared Ranged Attack action, and just a Ranged Attack.  No more strange requests for resolution on how many ammo or reload tokens people will now get.

This year I expect the UK Masters to be maxed out, possibly with additional spots with just how fast the game has grown over the last year.  I'd be interested to look at the sales data to see the level of growth.  Anyway, as all my games clocked out early due to my chatting and everyone else asking me rules things, I'm going to be a there as a Retainer this year and just handle rules malarkey.