|Look. It's another huge blister pack filled with Bushido goodies!|
Well after yesterdays rather detailed and informative review of my first Bushido starter set it's the turn of the Cult of Yurei today. Now these guys are a little bit less rooted in reality than the Prefecture of Ryu, or I hope they are. I'm not too sure how I'd cope with the idea that undead zombie samurai are actually roaming about the world, hacking people to death. I'd have to completely re-write my survival plan for the zombie apocalypse, and I'm just not too sure I've got the bloody time to do it! Any way, these guys in case you hadn't guessed are the undead faction in Bushido. As such they have ghosts, Zombies and other gribbly monsters in their ranks.
As was the case yesterday, this starter set comes in a rather large plastic clam shell blister pack. As before the pack contains a good number of gaming cards, 7 this time to be precise, a printed rulebook and 13 D6 (6 Black, 6 White and 1 Red). But I'm guessing it's the miniatures you're all really interested in right? Well there are 5 main miniatures in this boxed set, Kato Kubiashi the puppet master with a ghost whispering sweat nothings into his ear, there is the parasol wielding dead geisha girl Ikiryo, there are two Kairai (or puppet) villagers and a Kairai Ashigaru who comes carrying to Katana for twice the choppy action. The first thing to note is that all of the miniatures in the Cult of Yurei starter set are all multi-part, even if it's only two parts, that is very much different to the Prefecture of Ryu set, where the majority of the miniatures were single piece sculpts. There is also a small marionette, and a few other bits and bobs like the odd raven on a branch too.
|Extra doohikeys to stick on bases and shoulders and stuff.|
Character 8 out of 10
Right Japanese fact fans, the Cult of Yerei mixes a few Japanese folk lore, myths and Legends to actually quite good effect. The word Yurei in Japanese means ghost or spirit in English, not always necessarily the soul of a deceased person. Japanese ghost mythology is heavily played upon in both Kabuki Theatre and Japanese Noh musical theatre.Ah did I say Noh? Why yes you did Frontline Gamer, well Noh musical theatre also has a strong tradition of its actors wearing weirdly shaped and styled 'Noh' masks to 'become' the character. Trust me some of them are properly creepy if you ever get to see them in the flesh. This is a highly popular theme in Japanese horror stories, where the wearing of the mask either allows the individual to do terrible things as somebody else, or be taken over by the mask itself or a malevolent spirit or Yurei that resides in the mask... bam! Full circle people, we're back to ghosts. The Japanese also have a thing for puppets or Kairai and there is actually a fairly well trodden path in Japanese literature of what we in the West would term zombies, but the Japanese call Kairai. The idea the the dead can be made to dance like puppets, and there we have it, the background character to the creepy Cult of Yurei! I think yesterdays format for the reviewing of The Prefecture of Ryu starter actually went quite well.
Kato Kubiashi - The Puppet Master
He's a pretty creepy looking bald dude with a ghost attached to his head. I wander if there's a treatment for that on the NHS? Any way there's a fair old amount going on with this miniature, his two arms are separate pieces. His right arm holding is holding a marionette paddle control device, while his left arm looks to be holding a pipe. An opium pipe. That will give him nightmares, especially with the aforementioned ghost whispering into his ear constantly. It's any wander he's sane... come to think of it he doesn't actually look very sane. He looks a little bit haggard and ramshackled. His robes have certainly seen better days and his bald scalp accentuates his drawn face, he's not even bothering with growing enough hair anymore for a comb over! On the front of his robes are lots of nice little details, like throwing knives belts and the ever present Noh masks. The final part of the miniature is the ghost or Yurei. She appears to actually be coalescing out of the smoke coming from the opium pipe and is wrapping herself around his back and is controlling the puppeteer, to this blogger it seems she's the puppet master. I really like this miniature and he has bags of character. Good job David Ayral.
Ah yes, one of the quintessential Japanese ikon's, the Dead Geisha Girl... wait what... did I just type that? Why yes I did. The image of a Geisha Girl all wrapped up in a Kimono white face paint on standing slim and proud parasol in hands is strongly associated with the land of the rising sun. I'm just not too sure she is meant to be dead! Ikiryo is a pretty straight up and down sculpt and the pose is quite simplistic and captures the spirit and character it's supposed to very well. I even like the idea of the parasol. However, please for the love of God can sculptors please learn that if you are going to do the whole parasol / umbrella thing then for the sanity of all involved make it so I can replace the weak and prone to snap brolly shaft with brass rod. I love the look of Ikiryo I really do, but the placement of her hands make slotting a brass rod in there pretty damn impossible. Or to be precise far too fiddly for me to bother. Its a weak point that's already got a stress fracture, however she does look all spooky dead and cool so I'll deal with it.
This is actually my favourite miniature out of the Cult of Yurei starter set. I think he looks utterly fabulous. And has a real puppet or marionette vibe to his stance. His arms, both of which come separately and can be posed within reason actually look like they're controlled by strings. As yesterday all the Japanese armour pieces are present and correct, but there is no question that the star of this sculpt is the excellent Noh mask he's wearing with that really creepy blank expression and massively over sized nose. It looks weird and I don't mind admitting it's quite a spooky idea and I think on this miniature it has been executed very, very well. I like that he's striding forward sword arms held out in front of him, it's a deliberately mechanical and awkward pose, not sure you could call it 'dynamic' exactly but it's without a shadow of a doubt characterful and has that uncanny marionette vibe David Ayal was obviously going for. Very cool.
Kairai Villager (Naginata)
Yesterday I educated you all on the name of the Japanese spear weapon used by the Prefecture of Ryu forces, the Yari. What I didn't tell you was that the Yari was an evolution on the Naginata, a bladed weapon on a long haft that was used in a similar weapon to the Halberd. It fell out of use as massed ranks of troops started to appear in Japanese warfare. They became too cumbersome and easy for Katana and Wakizashi wielding samurai to bypass and cut down. The weapon was designed primarily for solitary combat to keep assailants at by so the wielder could be lightly armoured and nimble. Wow, that was long rambling preamble tell you that this Kairai Villager is carrying a Naginata! He doesn't look too bad, I like the Naginata ad sort of like that he's trying to thrust the weapon out in front of him. I also like the fact there's a rat on his left shoulder clearly trying to gnaw at some dead flesh. The Noh mask is wonderfully blank as well, just not overly sold on how his robes fall and his stance. However, he's a nice miniature overall and I am more than happy to work with that.
Kairai Villager (Hoe)
OK lets clear this up right now, that title doesn't mean that this is the undead trashy, hooker, 'hoe' in the village. Oh no, it refers to the fact that this villager is utilising a popular farming implement as a weapon. I personally applaud there decision to improvise a weapon, all to often I find the undead tend to use proper weapons these days, it kind of detracts from that creepy vibe you get when farmer George or should that be Genkei? Comes at you with a farming implement to cave your skull in! Again this sculpt is a bit static, but it almost works in its favour here as it is after all meant to be a zombie. I also prefer the fact that he's wielding an everyday object a rice farmer might use instead of a Naginata, which to be honest seems a bit incongruous in the hands of a villager, even an undead one. Yet again the blank expression on the Noh mask works really, really well as do the missing chunks of decaying flesh. Again the robes could do with being a little, I don't know, better realised? Any way I like the model and again I think it works well.
|The artwork on the cards really adds to the games vibe|
In yesterdays review I got all gushing about how nice the gaming cards were from a character or design perspective. Unsurprisingly these cards are exactly the same, huzzah for consistency! Again we have this parchment effect going on in the background with lots of lovely artwork all over them. There are those artist calligraphy brush strokes and nifty design features I mentioned before like the vial of blood, red wax seals and the really cut bowl of steaming boiled rice. No need to go over old ground again, I really like the look of them.
Detail 7.5 out of 10
For me this starter set actually is a slight step up in terms of detail and dynamic poses from yesterdays review of the Prefecture of Ryu. The poses just seem better realised I guess, especially Ikiryo, the Kairai Ashigaru and Kato Kubiashi. They're more complex miniatures and have more going on with them and just seem to be carrying more details on them. They certainly occupy their 'space' better than the Prefecture miniatures and seem to evoke the spirit of the original concept art more closely. The face masks could have been a really clumsly design decision in the wrong hands, but here they're pulled off pretty darn well and really add a nice level of detail and vibe. Ture the robes on the villagers could be improved, the bottom just doesn't seem to 'sit' right on either villager, but Ikiryo's Kimono and Kato's robe are much more fluid looking and certain appear more fabric like. But it's the pantaloons on the Kairai Ashigaru that again pips it for me, they're just right.
|A group shot for you all. To see how they look grouped!|
The cards are obviously very similar in detail to the Prefecture of Ryu cards. All the details are present and correct and the cards themselves are easy to use and not overly cluttered. The only thing that I'd change as I said yesterday would be making the Kanji it the red wax seals more visible, but hey that's just me being a picky sod!
Quality 6.5 out of 10
Ah you see it hasn't all been great to be honest with you. I had a slight mishap with one of the Kairai Ashigaru's swords. It snapped while cleaning flash and a mould line off of the back of the blade. Hopefully this picture will show you the issue, the hand on the grip part of the hilt does go all the way up to the guard part of the hilt. So between the hand and the guard there is a very thin part of the grip, which is a weak point. I chose to file this down and pin the guard right onto the hand to make a stronger bond. also looking at the piece, I'm guessing that in terms of metal flowing through the mould, this little section might be a slight bottle neck where voids or bubbles might collect. So be careful when cleaning them. I also have a crack as I've mentioned on the shaft of Ikiryo's parasol. So it too is a weak point.
|I really like the character artwork for the Cult of Yurei cards|
Both of the Kairai Ashigaru's weapons and arms also come separately, which shouldn't be a problem. Except that to get both arms into the shoulder sockets meant bending their respective weapons out of shape and then back into shape to fit the miniature. I don't like doing this as it weakens parts, although I did my usual trick of heating the middle of the weapons up with some very hot water. Seriously if you do this be very careful A) not to scold yourself and B) not to over heat the thin weapon hafts themselves and snap them. I probably could have got away with just bending them with a bit of brute force and ignorance, but I felt heating the metal up would help out just a little bit. As before though the cards are really good quality. Print quality is high and the card itself is a nice thick card. They're not cheap cards at all and should hold up to a bit of tabletop rough and tumble. Slot them into sleeve protectors though and they'll last a decent amount of time.
Service 8.5 out of 10
Santa Claus didn't really bring me these at all, it was our local Royal Mail employee. I know when these were ordered, and I know that they were at my home not 2 days later. I also know that they came well packaged and were whisked cruelly away from my grasping hands by my better half to be wrapped and placed up the Christmas tree taunting me!!! As I say though delivery was quick and they looked to be well packaged. Not at all bad!
Price 8 out of 10
I think for £27.95 isn't a bad price, which is what I said about the Prefecture of Ryu starter set. You get 5 nice gaming miniatures and a tiny little marionette as well as some extra piece to stick on the miniatures here and there. There's also the printed rulebook, those dice and the character stat cards too.
|Yay! It's a free printed rulebook.|
Overall 7.5 out of 10
Like yesterday I think 7.5 is a fair score for this starter set. Hey I'm going to be honest and say I actually prefer my Cult of Yurei miniatures to the Prefecture of Ryu stuff I own. So why don't they get a slightly higher score than the Prefecture of Ryu set? The slight quality issues I've had with them. They're by no means a pain in the arse to put together, but there are some quite delicate and brittle joints here and there, and realistically I should have put some brass rod in places to strengthen various bits and pieces... but I really couldn't be bothered. Yeah I know I'm turning into a lazy so and so! So that's it so far for my Bushido hit. I've reviewed the two starter sets I own. I'll be back though and I'll certainly be covering the game some more. Peace out!