Welcome to the world of Bushido, a miniature skirmish game which hooked me on the theme alone.
Set in ancient Japan in a world rift with demons, ghosts, oni, ogres and magic, the game was an automatic one for me.
The game's website sums up the game nicely. "Bushido is an oriental fantasy tabletop miniature battle game for two players. Each player commands a force of no more than a handful of individuals, represented by 32mm metal miniatures. These forces meet on the battlefield and the commanders (the players, that is) try to outwit, outfight and outlive the opposing force and fulfil their battle objectives while denying the enemy theirs.
"If you have played tabletop miniature games before, Bushido falls into the 'skirmish game' category: all miniatures represent individuals and your force consists of a small group of unique characters rather than a big faceless army. A game of Bushido is fast-moving, flexible and filled with strategizing, counter-strategizing and counter-counter-strategizing. Your tactical acumen is important, but as dice add an element of randomness, so too is your ability to think on your feet.
"A typical game of Bushido takes between one and two hours to play – more if you are new to the game, less if you are a seasoned veteran."
I was of course curious what drew developers to create Bushido?
"We had played, loved and lost a few skirmish games in the past and frustrations with the latest game we were playing, always waiting for the promised release that never materialized, were a big factor," explained Odin Mentlak.
I will interject here that with Bushido miniature expansions show up with amazing regularity, growing the game options for players in the process.
"This combined with a certain amount of ambition to create a truly great game, a game that we would like to play and be proud to be connected with set us on the track of developing Bushido," said Odin.
Since I received my Bushido before the full rulebook, this review is based off a shortened rule set available online allowing players to get their feet wet as the final rulebook was hammered out.
That is one thing about miniature wargaming, offerings are more of a 'living' creation then that of the average board game.
Buy a copy on Monopoly and the rules are set, the game finite in design.
That is the case with most board games, although more recent releases are becoming more like fantasy novels and successful movies, offering additions and sequels to cash in.
It arrived on the scene with a few amazing minis, a great theme, some art work, and a vision for a game.
Over the early development phase more miniatures were brought to life, basic rules released, and players were in business.
Bushido started with four factions, again pretty typical of a skirmish game launch. Four distinct 'teams' with players gravitating to a favourite which works nicely.
I went for the Cult of Yurei. The Cult represents the darkest side of Oriental lore, and while not my usual choice in gaming terms, sometimes you want to stretch your gaming view a bit. That is another great aspect of skirmish gaming. You can be good elves in one, common humans in another, and evil oni in a third, so that each night at the gaming table offers you something different.
It didn't hurt that the models in the Cult of Yurei are amazing. All right to be truthful the entire Bushido range is pretty fantastic. Sure like any game there will be a mini or two individuals may not fancy, but in general terms the detail offered in the Bushido range is about as good as it gets.
Bushido offers starter boxes for each faction, the Cult set coming with five models. If you have never sat down at a table to glue minis (yes they often come in multiple pieces), then the Yurei will be a challenge. Getting a raven to glue on one of the character's shoulder required some pretty fine gluing, as did a marionette for a second character.
And then there was Taka & Wrath, additional characters bought for the Cult. Taka went together lickety-split. Wrath looked simple enough until I realized each clawed finger on both hands had to be glued on individually. It was a two-hour process, gluing one, letting it sit to dry, then adding another..
Of course such detailed gluing does leave you with highly detailed minis for the gaming table once you have persevered through the gluing.
Then comes the painting, an aspect of the hobby I have zero skills for. Luckily my better half is darned good with a brush (you'll see her work in the photos). Painted minis on a gaming table simply put, a wonderful thing to behold.
"Well at launch the game had been in existence for about a year, it went through various incarnations, followed by small changes, to minor tweaks before we had a system that we enjoyed and wanted to share with the world," he said.
"But for the Bushido ruleset that was by no means the end of its evolution. We made it clear from the start that we wanted early adaptors and fans to help us forge the rules into a system that was truly understandable, worth playing and fundamentally fun. After 18 months of global feedback this culminated in the Bushido 'New Dawn' rules."
Allowing players to have some say in a game's ruleset is a great way to build a dedicated fan base. It's also a good way to avoid pitfalls in rules. Players have a habit of looking for ways to twist rules to the best advantage, often creating game strategies which get termed 'broken' because they seem unfair, even if they do fall within the rule set. The more players testing a game, the more likely the end rules will not allow broken strategies to emerge.
"Our hard copy of our rulebook goes into some delightful explanations of the Jwar Isles and the different factions that inhabit it, anyone interested in the world we have created should get their hands on a copy," said Odin.
"A little teaser is that our next faction will almost certainly be the Tengu. Depending on when this is released players can keep an eye out for new scenarios coming out regularly, there are currently seven and we will be ramping this up to a tournament supporting 12 in the coming months."
"Bushido is a game of savage battles, of cunning stratagems and last-ditch defences, and where debts of honour are paid in blood. In Bushido, the fate of the world hangs not on armies but on individual heroes, men and women of extraordinary capacity, attuned to the all-permeating life force known as Ki. This force is the very fabric of the universe, and those with the appropriate training or natural talent can tap into this energy source and gain seemingly superhuman powers. And the final word goes to Odin, who has been more than helpful in arranging this review.
"Thanks for reviewing our game, I believe if people give Bushido a chance they will be drawn in initially by the quick and intuitive rules and then won over in the long term by the depth in the strategical possibilities," he said.
Check out the game at www.bushido-thegame.com
If anyone is interested feel free to contact calmar...@sasktel.net