|That's a pretty hefty blister pack|
So yesterday I gave you a brief introduction to Bushido the game, and I know from the frantic emails some of you have sent me that I have piqued some of yours interests. Well I had to get these reviews done then didn't I? Good job I've got nothing better to do with my life (curse you economy). Word of extreme warning though, these miniatures are going up against the best of the best from Studio McVey so please, please, please don't get disheartened because these don't score 8's, 9's and 10's across the board. They won't because they're not the same quality as the specialist miniatures put out by the likes of Studio Mcvey, Kingdom Death and Bane Legions. They are however on a par with the stuff released by the likes of Wyrd miniatures. So they're not bad at all.
Well this starter set comes with a myriad of bits and bobs in the over-sized blister pack. Obviously it comes with some miniatures, handy that. First up we have Hiro Takashi, a bad ass looking samurai, who actually comes with two head options and two sword arm options. That's a nice touch, one head has a helmet or Kabuto to give it the proper term, the other does not. The two sword arms are just as dramatically different with one a simple Katana arm, meanwhile the other offers you a flaming Katana, great for roasting marshmallows and enemies alike. Next up we get Hanso, a Samurai drawing his Katana who comes moulded in a single piece, as do the spear or Yari carrying Yoshio and the rifle carrying Minuro. The only other multi-piece miniature in the starter set is the female Yari carrying Jin, who comes with a separate conical hat or Sugegasa Japanese fans or it could be the wood lacquered variety, in which case it's a Jingasa! Are you impressed with the research I've put into this review for you? I mean, it's educational as well as being informative! So all in all there are 10 parts to the miniatures altogether, with two of them being optional and left over to add to your bits box. You also luckily get 5 round lipped bases to mount your miniatures on, although I've ordered some special bases to mount my samurai on. There are the 5 full colour gaming cards to go with each of you miniatures, containing their vital statistic. You'll also get 6 white D6, 6 Black D6 and 1 red D6 and a printed copy of the rules.
Character 7.5 out of 10
Right, I'm going to be honest here and say as the 'bog standard' samurai faction these guys are hardly going to be the most inspiring of miniatures in the 'character' sense now are they? Sure their armour is in the right place and they certainly evoke the theme they are clearly supposed to, but they are samurai by numbers if you ask me. Now that's not a bad thing, I'm certainly not too sure I'd want my Samurai running around with a gunblade or a bazooka. They tick their individual stylistic briefs quite well I guess and that's all you can ask of them. True some of the miniatures in the starter box are certainly more evocative than others, but that's normally the case isn't it? I guess the issue I have is with how static and flat some of the poses appear to be. I would have liked a bit more dynamism I guess in how they are posed, but when you go down that route you're heading towards making delicate miniatures that might not be ideal to standing up to the rough and tumble of daily gaming. I'll go through each miniature one by one:
Now I know earlier on I called him a Samurai type, but well he's not. He's an Ashigaru, or light foot soldier. The Ashigaru were lightly armoured mainstays of many Japanese armies from the medieval period right up until the early 1800's. As for Hanso himself I actually think he strikes a rather nice pose, pulling his Katana from its sheath across his chest. It's a simple stance and an effective one, his face is well realised and looks just the right mount of stern. His armour is all present and correct and the Karuta tatami-dou (chest plate) is in keeping with the Ashigaru design and is nicely themed. As is the rest of his armour from his Kote (armoured sleeves) via his haidate (thigh protectors) and finally Suneate (shin guards). What I'm trying to say is that it's all in keeping and there doesn't appear to be much out of place to this amateurs eyes. Besides he looks cool and Olivier Nkweti deserves credit for not making him overly fussy, it's just right.
I think Yoshio is a bit of a disappointment to me personally. I like my miniatures to be telling a 'story' with their poses. Maybe have a bit of animation to them. Yoshio bless him is a bit static. His face is well sculpted which I can't say about his female companion Jin. Plus like his Sergeant Hanso, all those aforementioned armour pieces seem to be in exactly the right places. I even like the fact that he's wearing his Jingasa low over his eyes, it's a classic Japanese soldier look that has been perfected in many a Samurai film, anime and computer game. I just really, really wished that Olivier Nkweti had done a little bit more with the pose, rather than leave poor Yoshio standing there all static. Still he's not a bad sculpt, and in the context of the rest of the group he looks fine and fits in well.
And so onto Jin. Here we have a more animated Ashigaru, putting the static Yoshio to shame in terms of stance. She's thrusting her Yari (spear) out in front of her in a very threatening way. Again all the armour has been sculpted in keeping with the design brief, and the Karuta Tatami-Dou, Kote, Haidate and Suneate are all present and very much correct. I even like that she has her Jingasa slung over her shoulders and on her back with her hair flowing freely. It's a much more preferable stance over all to that of Yoshio... but... there is a downside to poor old Jin. She fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down and then unfortunately landed in the ugly bush! Her face just looks wrong. Honestly it might have been better is she'd kept her hat on bless her. It was so very nearly a very good sculpt, but the face does let it down somewhat for me.
Huzzah, we're getting there though. And where is there you ask? Well there is a nicely sculpted miniature. Minuro is the best of the three standard Ashigaru for me. He's dynamic like Jin and as well proportioned as Yoshio and it's combined to form a very nice overall package! Olivier Nkweti gets a thumbs up for this one. Unlike his companions Jin and Yoshio, Minuro isn't carrying a Yari, nope he comes armed with a rifle or to be more precise a matchlock. Now the Japanese called their matchlocks Tanegashima and the one Minuro is carrying is a very ornate one. It has a body of an oriental type dragon spiralling round its barrel culminating at the muzzle with the dragons head opening its maw to allow its deadly cargon to be shot at some poor sod standing in front of Minuro. I like the pose kneeling and aiming down the barrel off into the distance. Another nice pose.
Hiro Takashi (The Dragons Claw)
Finally, this scary looking chap is most definitely a samurai! Go on say it with me... BANZAI!!! Hiro is my second favourite miniature out of the Prefecture or Ryu starter set, and he certainly ran Hanso very, very close for that accolade. Lets face it samuri are cool. Sure the myth and reality aren't quite the same thing, but as anyone who has ever seen a good samurai film will attest, there is something pretty darn special about them as characters. Hiro is quite animated too, with his Katana drawn and his stance planting his feet firmly to deliver a strike. Again as before all the armour pieces seem in the right place and in keeping. Hiro does come with some different options though, you could give him his flaming sword arm, although I don't quite like the flaming sword look, as I think it's really hard to do well. The second option though with which head to go with is a far less easy choice to make. I obviously went for the Kabuto or helmet head, as all the stereotypical elements of classic samurai Kabuto were present, it just seemed rude not too. But the none helmet head is a good option too and I think the face looks very characterful, very angry and warrior like.
|Hiro Takeshi's optional flaming sword arm and head.|
Finally there are the gaming cards and the rulebook to consider. The rulebook is a perfectly serviceable pocket sized rulebook. It's not full colour, but there is a dash of colour here and there, but it's all very clear and does its job. The game cards are a different kettle of fish altogether though. I really like them and they look really cool. The artwork is nice and the design and aesthetic conjure up the visual style of Bushido beautifully, with what look like brush stoke calligraphy on parchment. The vial of blood to the left of the card is a really nice touch too. The cards are double sided and although packed with information don't appear crowded, I also like the fact that you use 'rice' to buy your troops in this game, instead of the usual points. This 'rice value' is represented on the reverse of these cards by a boil of steaming rice... hows that for character. GCT are certainly on the right tracks with their gaming cards and other more established companies should take a look at their own cards and compare them to these.
Detail 6.5 out of 10
Again I'd ask people to bear in mind what these miniatures are going up against, Ysidyra from Studio McVey. I'd again like to make it clear that in a 1 to 10 scale scoring method that I use 5 and 6 are average, and therefore 6.5 is slightly above average. But I'm not going to kid you, these are not as detailed or finely detailed as miniatures from the likes of Studio McVey, Bane Legions or Kingdom Death. Nor are they as detailed as Corvus Belli's Infinity range or the latest stuff from Cipher Studio's for Anima Tactics. Do I like them? Yes. Do I think they're perfectly fine gaming pieces? Yes. Would I recommend people to buy them? Yes. I think in terms of detail I'd place these alongside the stuff Wyrd miniatures put out for Malifaux, their poses are similarly static and two dimensional on the whole and the detail levels are very similar.
|The warriors of the Prefecture of Ryu gathered|
I might also be tempted to say they're certainly better than early Warmachine and Hordes miniatures, so GCT are not off to a bad start, they're also probably comparable with some of Privateer Presses average miniatures. What I'm saying is don't look at that score of 6.5 and think these are rubbish, because the previous miniatures I've reviewed have all been from Studio McVey. What lets these down are a few little bits and pieces, such as Jin's face or the odd clunky or chunky detail like the tips of the spears or Yari. The armour plates too could be slightly better defined for me personally and some of the fabric in particular doesn't seem to 'flow' as naturally as it should. But again, I'm nit picking because that's what you do when you review a product. Olivier Nkweti has done a good job with capturing the spirit of Ashigaru stye Japanese warriors and Samurai, and as a group of miniatures they do look good together.
|As you can see the cards are nicely detailed and artistic.|
The other bit of detail to consider is the gaming cards. Now these are are very pretty, as I've mentioned above. I find the type face really easy to read and as someone who is dyslexic I'm very grateful they're not overly cluttered. I'm also pleased that GCT have remembered that first and foremost the information, rules and stats are of paramount important. There are still nice details on them, like the faction symbol in the top right hand corner, a nice large piece of identifying artwork on the left. There's even some 'watermarked' type artwork of the relevant character in the background behind Traits and Feats of your character. It's all very tastefully done and nice and artistic while retaining functionality. The only detail that I personally find a little bit off would be the red wax type seals to the top right of the cards that represent Combat Pool (CP), Ranged Combat Pool (RCP), Movement (M) and Ki. From an aesthetic point of view they're finebut I'd like the identifying kanji in the center of the wax seals to be more defined, maybe with black print, so you can more easily see what they are. It's not a major hassle though as you soon get used to which seal represent which stat.
Quality 7.5 out of 10
I'm going to talk about those cards again first this time. They're on a good solid thick card, and put the recent Cipher Studio Hell Dorado Cards to shame. They're as good as the cards you get with games like Homachine and better than the fold out cards you get with Malifaux. The print quality is also very high so I have to give credit it where it is due. The miniatures themselves are made out of a white metal, and although the miniatures weren't covered in flash or mould lines, they did require some of them a fair bit of cleaning up. Nothing a good excato bladed craft knife and a decent set of files can't handle. Some of the mould lines were placed in awkward spot though running right through detail, which was a bit of a swine. But as long as you're patient and take your time it isn't too much trouble to clean up. There really aren't that many separate pieces, as most of the miniatures come in one piece. I decided to pin both Hiro's head and sword arm. The head was a piece of cake to do, but the sword arm wasn't at all easy as it was a very small contact point and not much depth was provided by the fine hand. I also found the metal a little bit 'soft' as I drilled using my pin vice. Nothing to be alarmed about, but certainly be aware of it.
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 cruely 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!
|The free rulebook that comes with the starter sets. It comes folded in half.|
Price 8 out of 10
I think for £27.95 it's not a bad deal at all. You get 5 nice gaming miniatures and some good quality gaming cards to go with them. They even throw in some dice and that printed rulebook. As a way into the game it's a very good little deal if you ask me and worth the asking price.
Overall 7.5 out of 10
I don't think that's a bad score for a starter set of gaming miniatures. These are never going to be as detailed as limited run specialist resin pieces from the likes of Studio McVey. They just aren't. The material for one means they're not able to be as finely detailed and the purpose of these as gaming pieces rather than display pieces also dictates that they need to have a more 'robust' design rather than the dainty and refined lines of the previous miniatures I've reviewed. The fact you get the cards, dice and rulebook in the pack as well also means that as long as you have a tape measure and an opponent you are good to go. I like the look of Bushido, and given that I know miniature companies tend to get better and better as they release more miniatures, I think GCT are off to a pretty good start. Peace out!