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.
The Blessed (theme)
Child of Orochi
Child of Orochi
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.