Monday, 9 January 2012

Games that currently intrigue me: Bushido

This will be the third game in the series I'm doing on games that intrigue me. Yet again the aesthetic influences behind this product can be traced back to the Land of the Rising Sun, Japan. Maybe the wider orient in general including China, Korea etc. It isn't inspired by the usual sorts of anime I like to watch though, you know, things like Akira, Appleseed and all that sort of stuff. Although you could, I suppose argue it has been influenced by anime such as Ninja Scroll, with its Demons and Undead samurai vibe. Oh come on, give me a break it's not totally anime influenced! No, it was another sort of Japanese export that first sprang to mind when I saw this game. In particular a specific computer game series I loved on my PS2 called Onimusha. God I loved those games... I'm going to have to make a confession here. When I started writing this series late last year I got really deep into the details of some the games on my list, and GCTs (the company behind Bushido) openness and honesty won me over. Free rules? Check. Friendly employees? Check. Willingness to help me out and answer questions? Check. Some of their stuff may have found it's way onto my Christmas list I sent to Santa, and the spiffing chap that he is, he brought me some Bushido goodies... so this game more than intrigued me. It snared me.

Look it's an old dud on a giant turtle!!!

Company: The company behind Bushido, GCT, were founded in 2010, so they're a little over a year old now. So compared to some other companies in the list, like Dream Pod 9, they are mere pups taking their first fledgling steps. They're a British company that as far as I'm aware has four full time members of staff. Like all new companies they're obviously ambitious and want to succeed, because who sets up a new business with the hope to fail? But I may as well let them tell you their business aims in their own words:

'We are a group of individuals from a variety of backgrounds with a common love of table top gaming. We aim to design and produce games, that are both challenging for the strategist, fun for the casual gamer and provide exciting and dynamic sculpts to bring our worlds to life.'

Website: Bushido the Game

This is a big half eaten undead dude. Nice!

Starting cost: Well the rules are free, and although that might still be a current function of the fact that they're still a work in progress, they aim to maintain a set of free quick start rules for download off of their website. Also they give a printed set of the rules away within their starter packs. this will still be the case even after they've done a full launch for the completed rulebook. A very wise move if you ask this blogger, as having free quick start rules hasn't harmed Infinity or many others now has it? Plus it got me hooked. Everyone will buy the rules eventually anyway, because that's what us gamers are like. We want to buy the nice looking rulebooks, with their pretty pictures and shiny covers, the shinier the better. Mainly because we want to put them on a shelf with all our other books and hoard the hobby goodness! As for starter sets they are priced at £27.95 for roughly 5 or 6 miniatures and come with, as I said earlier, a printed set of the current rules included. I'll be doing a review of the two starter sets shortly for you so you can see what you get in them.

Game: Hey this is where Bushido has a clear advantage for me over the previous two games I've looked at. I could actually read the rules and do test games. Yeah sure my Dwarfs and Orcs weren't a perfect fit for my samurai and undead ninjas. But it got me interested and playing the game. Which, if you're anything like me is way more than half the battle won! Because once I've played something then invariably I'll want to own it. The game is an I go you go turn mechanic, which is something that would normally turn me off a little bit. However, it is a really small skirmish game with only a couple of models either side and is played on a 2' by 2' board. Or coffee table sized I guess. Again, I'm not going to go into too much detail on the rules because as I say you can download the rules for free from here. So you can make up your own minds. But I think it looks like a fun little game with some neat resource management mechanics and special rules. There's also some stuff about splitting you soldiers resources, dice, between attack and defence... look go read it for yourself! Explaining it roughly it's about not over exerting your troops and maintaining their Ki, holding station and then striking at the right moment. Each soldier you put down on the table has to count as well, and games always seem to be of a knife edge right down to the very last moment of the game. Download the free rules, use some proxy miniatures and give it a go!!! If you have any feedback do tell the guys at GCT though as it's very much a work in progress right now and so we still have a chance to shape the final product and make it better.

This Sumo is sporting an awesome paint job, by Alberto Gil, who you might know as SuoU

Miniatures: I actually quite like the range on the whole right now, even if it is quite small. However, given that they're a relatively new company with a new game that is hardly surprising now is it? As I've said above, I've actually got some of these miniatures in hand and they're not at all bad you know. In terms of sculpts they're not quite up there yet with the best on the market, like say Infinity or the latest stuff from Anima Tactics. But as gaming pieces they're more than serviceable and are on a par with things from Wyrd miniatures Malifaux range. I also really like the artistic direction of much of their stuff, and I personally feel that the range has a much tighter design brief than Malifaux, which shoots off all over the place looking for its inspiration. The Bushido miniatures are pretty well cast as well from what I've seen, with a small amount of clean up to do and not too much pinning, although I have discovered some fragile joints that could've been better. Now I know some of you Games Workshop gamers out there are now scared to death of metal, but seriously they're doesn't look to be much work in assembling these at all, and apart from one or two pieces that required more work than I personally would have liked, they're perfectly fine.

Look it's a foxy lady. Fans of furries rejoice!

Background: The game of Bushido is set in the fictional land of the Jwar Isles. There are a few short stories on the official website. As well as some brief Background on the four factions, the Prefecture of Ryu, Temple of Ro-Kan, the Cult of Yurei and finally the last faction the Savage Wave. There are apparently going to be more factions released eventually for Bushido, but for now this is it. The Jwar Isles are a mythical place, based around eastern or oriental mythology. I couldn't and wouldn't say the influences are purely Japanese. But the artwork I've seen would lead me to believe that it might loosely be themed around the early Edo period of Japan, maybe earlier. Possibly Azuchi-Momoyama or even Sengoku periods. I say this mainly because of the presence of black powder fire arms in the game. However, this is very much a fantasy setting and draws also on Chinese martial arts and mythology too. The Jwar Isles aren't a historical setting, they're a fully fledged fantasy setting with your typical magic replaced by Ki. This 'Ki' seems to be loosely based around chi I'd say, and that whole yin and yang thing. Luckily though so far I have yet to find any evidence of Feng Shui!

A really cool looking Japanese style Oni demon.

The first faction the Prefecture is the basic samurai faction if you will, and as such I kinda had to own them. Yep, this is my first faction. Based around the Dragon Clan who fought with their rivals, the Shiho Clan, for control of the Isles. Their grasp is weak though for a number of reasons. Not least of which is a natural disaster, a Tsunami and the fact that the other factions are around kicking up a stink. As well as the Shiho Clan, who are yet to be named as a faction, but hopefully will be! The second faction the Temple of Ro-Kan are your stereotypical Buddhist / Shinto type monks. Masters of Bushido's version of 'magic' Ki they're martial arts experts with an animalistic twist. Fans of furries might find much to excite them here! The second faction I own are the Cult of Yurei. They're pretty much the first openly evil faction as far as I'm concerned. Here you have your undead samurai, ghosts and other gribbly monsters. They're a secretive cult that not much is known about, so that means I don't have as much to write. Bonus! The final faction, the savage wave, are based around Japanese and maybe even some Chinese mythical folklore. They're openly called Oni though, which means they lean more firmly towards the Japanese side of that mythology. They're the cunning brutal demons that nobody understands. They're also what instantly made me think of Onimusha.


+ I love the stylings and the art direction.
+ I quite like the miniature range and the distinctive looks of each of the four factions so far.
+ Free rules, other games companies take note. Because of the free rules I felt they believed in their product and had the courage of their convictions. I was also able to read them and decide for myself that I liked them.
+ The community here in the UK appears to be growing quite rapidly. I was really surprised to find I actually knew some people who had brought Bushido stuff or were planning to.
+ Start up costs are very cheap.
+ Games are really quick to play through. It's fast and fluid but has a decent challenge to proceedings.


- It's a very new game and is just taking it's fledgling steps right now.
- It's so new they haven't finalised the rules. Although this could be a positive because if you get involved now you might be able to help shape the game into something better.
- The miniature range is quite small right now, although they are releasing new things for each faction every month so it's growing very steadily.

More stylishly masked undead weirdness!

So I guess you could say out of the games so far in this series, it's the one that has 'intrigued' me the most! Especially as I brought into the game, albeit via other people buying me Christmas presents. I guess the question many of you will be asking is why this and not some of the others so far? That's really easy question to be honest with you, free rules for starters. Plus they were open to answering my questions and it had a background I personally like. I really can't emphasise enough to other companies just how vitally important giving out free rules and information is for new, or more niche games. Plus having an easily navigable website with relevant information easy to hand. If you are fighting against more established products and other products that give the rules away for free, I'm going to play the game with free rules first before deciding to drop £30 plus on a blind buy for your rulebook or miniatures. It puts your game way down the list of games to try out if your website is poor or you don't show me your rules. So kudos to GCT for having the confidence in their game to put it out there. Believing the product would speak for itself and that we gamers would buy into it. I have, and if the rules and miniatures take your fancy as well, why not give it a blast? Next up is some high jinks on the high seas with pirates aplenty... erm... it's Freebooters Fate. Peace out!


  1. Ok, now you've got me. You sure you don't want to go into a career as a salesperson? Japanese Samurai-age fantasy? This is exactly my cup of tea when it comes to manga, and I didn't expect to be able to blend *that* hobby and wargaming anytime soon.
    Seriously though, fluffwise the factions fit fantastically into what I'm thinking of. Kickass monks, check; demons and goblins, check; organized samurai, check - and lastly the evil secret sect. Very orient. Kudos to them.

  2. Yep ive been hooked by this one as well. Santa was also nice to me and brought me a temple of ro kan starter box.

  3. Oh sure...
    'Just come check out a demo game.'
    'Take a look at the free stuffs.'

    ...IT'S A TRAP!
    ...Cool stuffs.
    Sigh, fine...I've got another leg to gnaw off if needs be.

  4. Good call, btw...the models are very Ninja Scroll, indeed- with a cool Shaw Bros thing goin' on, too, if you know what I mean.
    What a great inspiration to draw from!

    Hating you as I download these rules, y'know.
    I'm not gonna have any legs left, am I?

  5. @GoldenKaos, glad I could lead you into further gaming temptation!!! lol. My nickname really should be pusher. I'm reviewing the miniatures tomorrow and Wednesday I think. Don't want to rush it all at once. But advanced warning, these are being graded in the same way the truly awesome Studio McVey Miniatures are graded... so the scores might not look that great because of the competition they have. But they perfectly serviceable and nice enough. Certainly I like the 'character' of them.

    @The Colour Kiwi, Santa sounds like he was a busy chap. I'm liking the quicker smaller games right now as I can get multiple games in of an evening. I'm sure I'll want to go back to bigger scale games at some point but right now I'm happy playing all these skirmish games.

    @SinSynn, of course it's a trap. It's me we're talking about. Shesh, I thought you knew by now I'm an enabler of toy soldier crack. I'm an awful, awful influence on you all. But Bushido is fun!!! Play in on a coffee table as well. Sorted, no need to slog somewhere else to play a game you can play it in your front room. Fits in with city living in flats... sorry I really ought to be a salesmen. ;) Besides I thought you'd be more worried about cutting your tentacles off.

  6. Where did you find the character profile cards to proxy a game?

  7. @SinSynn, someone emailed me the stats ;) terribly nice of them!!! But then they knew I was going to buy the stuff :P

    If you're interested drop me an email and I'll sort you out matey as I know you'll be buying this stuff any way. You've already priced them up haven't you? lol.

  8. This is a fun game and plays pretty well too and even has its own gimick to make it a little different i have owned a cult starter since it launched but havent roped others in yet.

    Great preview FG

  9. @Ishibei, where are you based if you don't mind me asking? Perhaps we could meet up for a game or two?

  10. @FG southampton so not likely im afraid.

  11. @Ishibei, not as unlikely as you think. I know a few peeps in the southwest and if I make a trip down their soon I'll let you know if you fancy meeting up for a game.

  12. Downloaded the rules and it seems like a very fun game. Cant wait for more minis and factions. The samurai are also my fav factio

  13. I've had a short demo run through with jake. And i must say its a very nice skirmish game the minis are nice too. Jake has all four factions so i'd say he likes it. I'll be picking two starters up very soon. Great review.

  14. You can download both rules and cards from the Bushido GCT site

  15. @mr.d.smith, where can you download the cards?

    1. Hello People found the links for the gaming cards if you want to give the game a trial run with some proxies first. Give it a blast it's great fun.

      Prefecture of Ryu

      Cult of Yurei

      Savage Wave

      Temple of Ro-Kan

  16. They have a great rules mechanic too! I love how close combat, no matter whether you are on attack or defense, you choose to split your dice between attack and defense. Creates a very nice and simple "bluff" mechanic which I think many games are missing. I think any game which has another person you play against needs a what I call a "bluff" mechanic. So much fun!

    1. I'm not too sure of there being a need for all games to actively include a 'bluff mechanic', but they are a normally very entertaining when constructed properly and fully integrated into the system. My current favourite bluff mechanic would have to be the targeting system in Freebooters Fate though. It is honestly utter genius. We should also remember that Bushido is still very much a work in progress, but even so I feel like they've laid some very solid foundations.