Learnin’ Bushido: Part 1, Stat Cards and Mechanics

Hey all welcome to my 3-5 part series on Learnin’ Bushido. I’d like to take you through the game in a longform journalism kind of way. You won’t find any tl;dr here it’s a verbose slog but quite an informative and I hope helpful one. I review and write as I read to simulate the process of learning\asking\discovering. Should be interesting to go through a system this way. Here’s part one!

*** I’ve been informed that some of this post is incorrect due to errata. I will change it once I read and do a blog post on the Errata. Please keep the corrections coming friends!***

So, Bushido. You’ve heard of it? Well I have and I’ve been watching it for a year or so just waiting  to find that mythical ‘second player’ to convince me to buy into it. Well I found that player and I chose the Tengu without reading much of anything else. I also ordered The Hilltribe Warrior and a cool looking bird wizard named Sanjakubo. All I know is that the game is scenario based (think Malifaux style scoring) and it plays out on a 2×2 using a d6 system and some kind of magic or special ability resource known as Ki. I do want to point out something I like about this game there is NO pre-measuring, yup, neckbeards rejoice we can watch our lesser foes fumble at accurately guessing four inches! Ahem, I mean I really like this rule in wargames, it adds some predictable unpredictability and some good fun. I like pre-measuring too obviously you can line up crazy combos with that but I don’t play any games that ban it right now. Also you’ve got a 180 degree facing.

Models are on 30, 40 50mm bases and classified as tiny, small medium, large, huge. You play with a Warband that consists of the models you control and special cards. Each model has a zone of control ZoC, extending 1 inch from its base. In bushido if you enter the enemies ZoC (melee range) or start in it you must move towards the enemy.

To play we’ll need the aforementioned warband, a tape measure (to see how foolish your distance estimates were), several d6 in two different colors. Solid for attack and marble for defense according to the rules. (the faction dice they make are really sweet.) Some counters and things, a marker and card sleeves (think Malifaux\Warmachine) a 2×2 board (sweet!!) and 6 pieces of terrain with no single piece larger than 9×9.


Next let’s check out a stat card (dark creepy bird wizard enter stage left)



So his name as we know is Sanjakubo. His model type is ‘Tengu Shugenja’. Stats are the four wax stamped values off to the right. The first of which is melee he’s got a 2. The three circles next to this stat are ki boost costs, the number of ki it costs to boost the stat by 1 for  one movement or opposed test. A player may increase a stat to a max of double the base value. So Sanjakubo could theoretically spend 6 ki points to have a melee skill value of 4.

  • Melee Skill MS – number of dice used to resolve an opposed melee test – 2
  • Ranged Attack Skill RAS – number of dice used to resolve a ranged attack action – 3
  • Move – distance the model can move in inches – 4
  • Ki – 2/8 – the first number 2 is the ki generated by each model during the starting phase and the number dice used for ki tests. The second number 8, is the max number of ki tokens the model can have at once


Next you’ve got the wounds track, the bottle of blood\wine? Beneath the stats. At 0 a model is removed from the table. The Traits on the front of the card are in game effects and abilities. Feats are powered via Ki. Beneath the feats are the weapon grids for melee and ranged weapons. Sanjakubo only has a ranged weapon and the 2/4/6 is the short/medium/long range of the attack. Ranged attacks declared beyond long range auto fail. Weapon grids could have (sp) indicating special effects and\or attack\defense texts. A Model with no melee grid like our example here halves the number of wounds it inflicts on melee damage rolls. The faction symbol is in the top right of the card. On the back of the card feats are defined in greater detail as are unique effects. The Whit number in the bottom right is the ‘rice cost’ (points) of the model. I think games are played at 50 rice?

There are also ‘special cards’ that can be bought for rice while building the warband. They each have a faction association and a type specifying whether it’s an event\Enhancement\Terrain card as well as a description. Enhancement special cards are attached individual models. Each can have only one, the effects last while the card is attached. Event cards are played once at a specified time. Terrain cards allow players to place specific terrain elements. There are some other restrictions and bits on special cards that will pertain to your faction and model selection.

Now that we know about stats and things let’s figure out how this beast actually works. Models are activated alternatively one by one a-la-malifaux style where they choose to take a simple or complex action. There are three conditions that models cycle through which affect their activation; Rested, Tired, and Exhausted. Models start as rested each round, models with a tired counter can only declare simple actions and models with an exhausted counter cannot be activated. Exhausted models also suffer a penalty to melee attack dice and ranged defenses. The interesting bit here is after an action is resolved both players change the conditions of the models that participated in the action. ALL models that participate in a melee gain the tired marker even when they were the defender.


Simple actions net the model a tired marker, complex actions (and simple actions while already tired) exhaust the model. We’ll go into more detail on the available simple and complex actions later. For now simple activations are Disengage, Ki Feat, Melee, Ranged Attack, Reload, Run, Simple Scenario, Stand Up, Wait and Walk. Complex actions include Charge, Ki Feat, Focus and Complex Scenario.
Now every miniatures game normally comes down to tests. There are two types of tests in Bushido Simple and Opposed a natural 1 on a die is an auto fail for that dice and a roll of all natural one is a fail for the test. All 6’s after the first add an additional +1 to the final result of a test. Even if a model’s stat value is 0 due to modifiers and effects the player still rolls a single die for tests. Opposed tests give an additional +1 for every 1 an enemies stat decreases below 0. (confusing a bit but I think it’ll smooth out as we go). When declaring ki boosts and ki feats the active model or the model with initiative chooses and declares second!

There’s some ordering\timing surrounding declared rerolls and really everything in this game. I think it’s going to be one where actions are declared and calculated before any action is actually taken. From mini movement to dice rolls. After re-rolls on an opposed test the higher result wins, the difference of the two results is the success level of the test. On a tie the player who rolled the highest number of dice excluding 1’s wins, if that’s tied then the active player wins. If you’re only taking a targeted test then you have a target number to equal or exceed with the success via your models stats. If no stat is specified then roll a single d6.


A little out of order here but bear with me as we figure this out together. There is a wound table with 10 columns and 12 rows. The success level (difference between opposed duels) indicates the column to look at on the wound table. The wounding player rolls 2d6 for a damage roll and consults that row on the chart matching the success level’s column. (note 1’s are allowed here). Remember you deal half that in wounds if you have no melee weapon. So Sanjakubo winning an opposed melee duel with success level 1 (he beat his opponents number of successes by one) rolls 2d6 and gets an 8. Looking at the chart for damage roll 8 success level 2 he deals 1 wound but his card has no melee weapons listed so he halves that and numbers are always rounded down in bushido so whiff. (check errata for current modifiers)
Next We’ll cover ranged attacks and melee ‘exchanges’ as they’re called. I declare a ranged attack, I can move any direction up to my move stat of 4 first, then I’ll measure the distance to my declared target. If beyond long range then the shot fails. If it hits then calculate a target number for the attack based on modifiers and the weapon in general. The attacker rolls his pool to meet TN conducting any rerolls and choosing two additonal dice rolled which were not 1’s. Each of these add +1 to the highest dice rolled. Each additonal 6, rolled after the first grants another +1 the final is the result of the test. If the attack succeeds then the defender can nominate a different target if the attack crosses other targets ZoC before reaching the original target. The nominated new target cannot be exhausted and must have LoS to the attacker. If those conditions are met the nominated model is the new target and the attacker rolls 2 d6 damge roll against it. Then if the model hasn’t already it may move or change facing also gaining reload markers and removing ammo markers if applicable. The ranged attack action is now resolved and the active attackign model’s condition worsens by a degree from rested -> tired -> exhausted.

There are many mods to ranged attacks which is where the crunchy seems to kick in but it should streamline after a few plays. (check errata for current modifiers)


If the target is in Base to base then after the defender can nominate a new target the attacker must make an additional ranged attack skill target test (5) with the following mods: (check errata for current modifiers)

If the test succeeds proceed with attacking the original target. If it fails the attack hits the nearest ‘Friendly’ model (now I don’t know if it scatters to a model friendly to the target or friendly to the attacker here??). So let’s say sanjakubo declares a ranged simple action he moves 2 inches and shoots at a model three inches out putting it in medium range. To determine the target number we look at our chart and see that the base Target for a medium range shot is 5. Let’s say our target is large so -1 and sanjakubo moved this turn so +1 and he will move again after the shot (his remaining two inches) so the target number is 7 and he rolls his 3 d6 getting 4, 3 and 5. Here’s the tricky bit he gets to pick two of the dice that didn’t roll a one to add to the highest dice rolled. So the 4 and 3 are chosen and add a cumulative +2 to the 5 getting 7 which is a hit! Sanjakubo is the next robin hood folks.

On to melee exchanges!

Model with initiative is the attacker. The attacker checks attack dice first and declares ki use second. They do it in 11 steps I’m going to try and use sentences albeit less than 11 because I’m bad at punctuation. Start by rotating both models to face each other then calculate dice pools using the Melee Skill stat applying modifiers. Then starting with the defender they declare use of ki boosts or feats. After pools are calculated they both secretly decide how much to allocate to attack and how mush to defense. This is why you need two colors of d6 as one is attack and the other defense. For example my melee skill of two I can roll 2 attack dice or 2 defense or 1 of each. Players announce together if they are using special attack or defense, then roll simultaneously. After rerolls both plays tally up their results using the same mechanic for ranged dice for their attack and defense pool. (choosing the two lowest non-1 dice and adding +1 or +2 to the highest dice rolled to get a total number) yikes it’s hard to put that into words. Then if the attacker’s attack number beats the defenders success pool they deal damage like normal where the players declare ki feats then the attacker makes his damage roll consulting the wound table with his success level in mind. THEN the tables turn and the defenders attack dice (remember you allocate your MS in dice to attack and\or defense) are compared to the attackers defense to potentially deal some wounds. After that the action is resolved and both models’ condition worsens by a degree. (check errata for current modifiers)


Special abilities have been mentioned now let’s try to figure out what they are eh? They come in the form of special attacks and special defenses listed on the cards. You have to pay for these with MS dice when allocating your pools during the melee exchange action. You can only perform one special per melee exchange. If models are pushed into a model larger then them they stop in BtB if they push into the same size model both models are prone if they push into smaller models move the smaller model the minimum amount of distance to allow the pushed model to pass the contacted model becomes prone. Unless of course you run into impassable terrain in which case the model just stops.

So I think this game just got awesome. My eyes are getting bigger as I read about these special attacks that are generally available for anybody to choose from. We’ll have to go into more detail on another post. But the special attacks include Slam, Throw, Sweep, Powerful, Combo, Defender, Critical Strike, Push Attack and Force Back and the special defenses are Counter attack, Throw, sweep, side step, push and drag. All of these have some kind of movement shenanigans some move you a few inches and knock prone or just moves an inch or so. In a game played out on such a small board I think these will be a big deal but it’s hard to say without playing a bit. I do need to add the special attacks and defense deck to my next order though!

Next let’s talk model states: These are effects that are a result of actions in game like Bersek, Blind, Controlled, Frightened, On Fire, Poisoned, Prone, spirit block, stunned and surprised! We’ll save these for another post down the line too! 🙂
Ki Feats are next. Each is preceded on it’s card with a series of symbols that are actually pretty easy to interpret once you take a look at the guide. I guess the symbols and interpretation can be expanded on in part two of this series too. Suffice it to say that the feats can either be complex or simple, they can be used instantly anytime or only when you’re the active player. There are pulses and target spells as well as specials described on the cards. The white spheres next to each feat are the number of ki tokens to use the feat. Ki boosts are ki feats that apply to one of the models stat after spending the 3 ki for sanjakubo’s melee skill he’s now MS 3 for one test.

Well that’s basically bushido. In the next part of the series we’ll discuss the individual simple and complex actions that can be taken including the special attacks and defenses available as well as the details on reading your ki feats. Then for part three we’ll discuss game play and the tournament pack containing 12 scenarios! Until next time friends, I hope you enjoyed the read. Let me know if I’ve got anything wrong and let’s keep on keepin; on with the Learnin’ Bushido. Great games need great folks to get involved after all!

Follow my antics @VorGames


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