TGN Review of Bushido: New Dawn

By Polar_Bear
In News
Sep 16th, 2012

Hey there, everyone. We’ve got another game review for you. This one is for Bushido: New Dawn. We’ve taken a look at the new rules just put out today by GCT Studios and have typed up a little ditty about it. Now, most of it is about the game, in general, and not specifically what changed (though we do talk about the new stuff, too), so if you’d not looked at the game before, don’t worry. It’s not all jargon you wouldn’t understand.

And GCT has been absolutely awesome in helping us with this. We’ve got another give-away. Details at the end of the review. So without further ado… Bushido: New Dawn.

Bushido: New Dawn is the updated version of the Bushido rules put put by GCT Studios. The update makes the game more granular and more deadly (in a good way). I must say, I’ve been playing Bushido for several months now, having picked it up over the summer, and while I was really happy with the game as it was, the updated version is better. So let’s get into it. We’ve got an overview of the rules and some impressions of things. I won’t go to detailed into what, exactly, changed, and instead focus on just how New Dawn plays. Because what good is it knowing the old version when the new one’s out?


Bushido is a skirmish-style game with a heavy influence on Far-Eastern aesthetics. The game takes place in the Jwar Isles, a fantasy land where demons and dragons roam the countryside and mighty emperors send their troops to battle against mystic monks. As mentioned, the influence is taken from Far-Eastern cultures, being a mix of Japanese, Chinese, and even Indian beliefs and mythology. The GCT guys have taken form a little bit of everywhere in order to create a rich world full of interesting characters.

The game is true skirmish-size with about 5-10 models per side being the norm for an average-sized game. The game is played on a rather small board as well, being played on just a 2’x2′ table. This means you don’t spend 2-3 turns just getting at the enemy, but instead can be fighting almost right away. The game is designed to be played on a table that’s got a good amount of terrain on it. Many minis games call for big, open areas to play. Bushido is really meant to feel like you’re playing in a small town or in a bamboo forest or some other exotic location. The game uses an “alternating activations” style, which readers will know is a big plus for me. Your turn is never far away and, in fact, even when being attacked, you get to attack back (more on that later). So there’s always something for you to be doing. None of this, “you do your turn. I’m going to go get dinner and we’ll trade out when I get back” nonsense.

When it’s your turn to do an activation, you choose one of your models and decide whether you want to do a simple or a complex action with them. A model, during a game round, can perform either 2 simple or 1 complex action. They can’t perform both a simple and a complex. Simple actions are things like move and attack. Running, too, is a simple action, but you incur penalties if you do. Complex actions are Charge and Focus. Focus involves Ki, the mystical power used in Bushido. More on Ki and its many uses later. But anyway, when you activate a model, you perform either a simple or complex action, resolve it, and then your opponent does the same. When everyone has either done 1 complex or 2 simple actions, a new round starts.

As for the battle system itself, Bushido uses d6s and a combat system based on target tests and opposed tests. Whenever a model makes an attack or tries to cast a spell on their enemy or whatnot, they roll a certain number of d6s, depending on the skill of the model, and needs to roll a certain target number for the action to be a success. Only one of the dice has to make it to the target number, so a larger pool of dice (provided by having greater skill) will mean more chance to roll the number you need. In opposed tests, both you and your opponent roll their skill and whomever rolls higher, wins. There’s a bit more than that to it, of course, but the system is fairly straight-forward like that. Roll a certain number of D6 and you need to get at least one of them equal to X. In an opposed roll, X = the highest die your opponent rolls.

Combat is a 2-step process involving both you and your opponent trying to out-think one-another. Every model has a Combat Pool that they secretly split into attack and defense dice (having 2 different colors of dice is a must). Both players do this simultaneously. As mentioned before, even on your opponent’s turn, you have a chance to deal damage and even kill your opponent’s figs. So you’ve each got your secret die pool. You both then roll your dice at the same time. You then compare highest dice. The model that has the Initiative (normally the model belonging to the active player, but special rules can change that, of course) checks their highest die they designated for attack versus the highest die their opponent designated for defense. If the attack die is higher, then you hit. There are several modifiers that apply to that number. For example, if you roll more than 1 attack die, you can add +1 to your total for each other die that rolled 2-5 and +2 for ones that rolled 6 (for up to two extra dice). Same for defense. So more dice is good. But more dice in one side of your combat pool leaves you more vulnerable on the other side. This is where the head-games can come in, trying to decide where you want to split up your dice, wondering how your opponent split theirs.

But anyway, so say you’ve rolled higher with your attack dice than your opponent’s defense dice. You then calculate how much you beat their total by. That number is your Success Level. For example, if I roll a 5 total in attack, and your total in defense is 3, then I have a Success Level of 2. After you find the Success Level, you check the Wound Chart and roll 2d6 (plus any modifiers). The success level gives you the column you look on, and the 2d6 tells you what row. The higher the number, either in column or row, the more wounds you do to your opponent. If you do enough wounds to kill your opponent, then they’re dead. If not, then you would check their attack dice versus your defense dice.

So, pretty straight-forward, really.

The real fun comes in with Ki and Special Attacks/Defenses.

I’ll start with the Special Attacks/Defenses (which are brand new in New Dawn). Special Attacks and Defenses are special moves a model can make in melee. Not every model can do all of the different types, but generally a model knows at least one, with melee masters knowing several. To use a special attack or defense, you declare your intention before you decide how you’re splitting up your Combat Pool. Special Attacks and Defenses have a cost associated with them. To do one, you subtract a certain number of dice from your overall combat pool. Each have different effects if they’re successful, ranging from pushing your opponent away, to throwing them, to possibly cutting their head off. Defenses work the same way, but succeed if you successfully ward off your opponent’s attack.

That brings us to Ki, the part of Bushido I find the most interesting. For those of you that have played Warmachine, Ki can be thought of along the same lines as Focus. Models in Bushido get a certain amount of Ki every turn that they can use to boost their combat stats, do “Ki Feats” (which are basically spells) and other various things. Ki can be stored up over the course of several turns (to a maximum depending on the model) and so your ok-fighter can, if necessary in a given turn, go all-out in hopes of doing some real damage.

I picked up Bushido because I wanted a true skirmish-sized game. I wanted a game I could play in 30-45min using just a few models. Bushido fits that niche perfectly. With only 5 or so models on the board and the back-and-forth turn sequences, along with being able to damage your opponent even on their turn, games are quick. The scenarios that have been released are pretty fun (my favorite being Idols) and make the game much more than just “beat your opponent down.” (though there is plenty of that, too) I absolutely adore the models. Mizuchi, the dragon for the Prefecture of Ryu, was specifically what sealed the deal that I was going to play the game. But others, like Master Ekusa for Temple of R-Kan, certainly turn heads as well.

At the risk of making this even longer, my personal thoughts on Bushido: New Dawn are that they made a good game better. In the original version, Success Levels for attacks were 0-2 much of the time. Now they’re in about 2-4, from my experiences so far. This does mean that things are more killy. A trained melee fighter getting into combat with someone trained to shoot a gun should be able to take them out rather efficiently. This wasn’t always the case in the original. Now, with the additional dice adding to your SL, you can finally start to do the wounds you should’ve been doing all along.
The Special Attacks/Defenses are a good trade from the old triggers. Before, triggers rarely, if ever, happened. And besides, by the time you got to where you would trigger something like an extra +1 to your wound roll, chances are good just being on the column that high up would already guarantee a dead opponent. Now, you can actually get a chance to throw or slam an enemy and be moderately sure you’ll be able to do it, rather than maybe a once-in-every-other-game chance.

GCT Studios’ recent Indiegogo campaign to release their 5th faction, the Ito, was a big success and I can’t wait to get mine in the mail. I know the guys are working as fast as they can, but it’s like a kid waiting for Christmas. “Soon enough” is simply not soon enough.

I look forward to seeing what the rest of New Dawn will bring for Bushido.

Now, for the giveaway. As mentioned, GCT has been absolutely awesome in helping with this. They’ve offered a free Ito Starter kit to one random person. All you gotta do is reply to the review and tell us what you think about Bushido.

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  • McMordain

    This game sounds like a lot of fun. The figures are really nice as well. I eyed this a long time now and I will buy some sooner rather than later:) Those Ro-Kan monks are great.
    Though most likely it will go on the shelf next to the other games I own, but couldn’t find opponents to play…

  • CrazyFish

    Polar Bear got me interested in Bushido, and seeing the concepts for the Ito sealed the deal. I’m in the process of assembling my Temple, but I already have plans for the Ito as well. Its an excellent game, and the new rules are fantastic!

  • I wanted the Ito as my faction, but wasn’t able to pledge as I was preparing my GenCon trip! I need to check what faction my GF wants and we are all in 🙂

    Nice review.

  • The game caught my attention last year. Playing a demo at a French convention and seeing the Ito concept finally convinced me. I am looking forward to trying the updated rules. Thanks for this review.

  • ibanezmark

    With all the tabletop games I already have I kinda stopped myself from bying any other game.
    Until… the starter sets of Bushido came along. I love the models and the gameplay. It’s really fun to play with fast gameplay.
    I love Anima tactics as well, but the kinda hard gameplay (calculating damage) doesn’t make it fast.

    I’m looking for more friends to join me in my Bushido adventure so we can have a bushidonight on weekly basis…..

    Nice review, gives a good impression about how the game is played. It’s hard to find such a review.

    Can’t wait for the next wave

  • blkdymnd

    Really cool models, browsing the rules though, they seem to be less than stellar. I really did the aesthetics though.

  • mangustheix

    Well, our club is doing a slow grow league for Bushido and I have been avoiding been tempted by it for a while. No longer I think. I saw some of the models in real life, and, dispite the website pictures been impressive, they don’t do the models justice.

  • Hieronymous

    been playing bushido since the first 4 starters came out, be interesting to see how these new rules differ from what weve been used too, oh if anyone gets the chance, have a look at their sketch book, saw it at salute and was very impressed !

  • ginalost

    Last week I put up the last of my 40k stuff on ebay for a starter box. If I had 2 I would be able to demo the game at Templecon in Feb!

  • Werewolf8

    Seems like a fun game, i was waiting on tax returns in the spring so i can try it out.

  • Borzag

    Not bad. I’ll have to speak to my gaming group/s about interest, as a lot of us already do a whole pile of different games. Still though I might pick up a model or two to paint if nothing else, as they’re lovely 🙂

  • Sythica

    I’m very excited to start playing this game. I’ve also been looking for a true skirmish game. I guess I’m going to need to get cracking on some japanese terrain.

  • tad

    What is there not to like about a skirmish game that has Mystic monks and dragons in it. I appreciate the review as this game has had my attention for awhile now. This explanation of the game torments me to play it now.


    My issue once again boils down to getting my group to read the .pdf and getting them hyped. I am aided by the fact that I own a few of there mini’s already, which look AWESOME and which a few of my circle have commented positively on. I am hoping that the review will also help me in this endeavor. It has the “info” that is needed to make a decision on trying a game or not, and not filled with too many “feelings” on why this game is good/bad. My hat is off to TGN on this review I look forward to many more on a variety of games.

  • kasin666

    i liked the original i just need to read new dawn

  • skrivanek

    I’m really very excited about these new rules. I’ve read the original and proxied a few games, but now these looks so much more like the game I’d like to play! The minis are fantastic and the setting just makes me want to build tons of terrain.


  • FaeFilidh

    As much as the rules sound worth checking out, I’ve only got one person in the area I live in with whom I get to play, and we’ve already got Infinity, Malifaux, Super Dungeon Explore, Firestorm Armada, etc., that we play. Still – the minis look snazzy, so they may just be worth picking up to paint for the fun of it. 🙂

  • McKB

    I was just looking at the rules and faq when I saw this new Dawn rule.
    What hooked me are : the simple/complex actions, alternating turns, the secret combat pool and the Ki.
    Now I can’t wait to get my clan ready and try it with my brother.
    Really nice review btw.

  • Normally if I like the look I’ll get into the rules…This seals it for me as well.

    Thanks for the review!

  • fear_the_squirrels

    Wonder how well this would translate to doing less fantastical samurai skirmish ala Seven Samurai.

    Good review though, a bit better than the bolt action one. Felt more like a review then just a highlight of a few mechanics. It would be nice to see a if you like A/B/C you’ll enjoy this set blurb though.

  • mkcontra

    Looking forward to reading this new version!

  • vitzh

    Solid Review. Posted it to my local forum so other can check it out.

    Can’t wait for Ito. Is there any sort of ETA?

  • Waxer

    I’m waiting for Maelstrom to start selling this range 🙂

  • Veritas

    I’ve been following this range for a while and I you’re review has just pushed me over the edge. I like the opposed rolls and success level mechanic idea quite a bit. Before I was just impressed with the pretty minis, but the game play sounds solid too. I think I’ll start with the Temple and hopefully win the Ito as my second force!

  • Barret

    Just got the rules thru BoW. Sounds fun an easy to get started.

  • Reaper_Steve

    Been eyeing this for a while, thanks to TTGN. A guy that frequents my local store has all 4 factions painted beautifully. I’ve been waiting for his work schedule to cool off so we can play. With the New Dawn rules, it looks like a great time to start!

  • Mungo

    Bushido is definately my favourite game at the moment.
    Really looking forward to trying out New Dawn!!

  • Malhorme

    Brilliant review!
    I have been playing bushido for a while, and truly like this simple but deep skirmish game.
    The new rules are quite shaking the game, with a lot of small modification that can actually change to way you play.
    Your review makes it quite simple actually, and many of my concernes vanished after reading! I’m now looking forwar my next game with even more impatience than before!

  • FLP

    Ito Faction is the fist faction from Bushido for me with a wahou effect! I Love the concept & first greens. It would be nice to start & discover the game with it in hands 😉

  • Thanks for the review! I’ve thought about starting Bushido for quite some time – I guess with the new ruleset (and, if possible, an Ito starter set) it’s just about time to dig in!

  • Lemminkaeinen

    Ito and the Temple are my favourites in the line. The game seems innovative and fun and the short time requirement sounds very intriguing.