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TGN Review of Bushido: New Dawn

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.