Hodo Tanaka strode forth into the mist-shrouded bamboo grove, katana gripped firmly in his hand, his brow furrowed in concentration. Furtive movements in the undergrowth signalled that the thrice-cursed dogs of Clan Chouda were skulking – dishonourably – amongst the greenery…

The mist parted and revealed Toshiburo Chouda, his lacquered armour glinting with moisture and his face set in a perpetual sneer. “So, Tanaka, you have come to defend the honour of your clan” he spat, “such a shame that the purse-strings of your clan are so tight, for as you can see…I have brought some of my friends.”

The mists disgorged many forms – ashigaru armed with yari, yuma and tanegashima, shaven-headed monks, shugenja and the lumbering form of a red-skinned Oni. Tanaka swallowed nervously….

If only he’d taken advantage of the the special offers at Salute, he would now not be so seriously outnumbered…”

The problem with a lot of modern miniatures games is that not only do you have to purchase the rules, but the companies that publish the rules also produce the “official” miniatures, which usually come with a full-colour stat card, detailing that particular figure’s abilities within the game. And these are usually quite expensive.

Not such a problem if you have a healthy gaming budget, but for a lot of us (myself included), we can only enviously look on at the beautiful miniatures and wish for winning numbers on the lottery.

However, with a little bit of lateral and out-of-the-box thinking, you can still play the game, if you’re prepared to be a little…inventive.

As from now until the end of July, the Buffet will have a distinctive Oriental flavour, the game I will be looking at in this post is Bushido, from GCT Studios. The reason I’ve selected this particular game is that Andy, over at the da Gobbo’s Grotto, has been waxing lyrical about the game and has graced us with lots of wonderful eye-candy, scratch-built scenery and some batreps, which has made a lot of people sit up and take notice.

Now, should you wish to ‘invest’ in this game, a copy of the rules will set you back £24.95 and a faction starter set, containing 5 miniatures, has a recommended retail price of £29.95. So, your basic outlay is £54.90. Additional faction specific ‘characters’ retail at £7.95 each

As regular followers of my blog will know, as my gaming budget is quite small, I like to find alternative options, so what if I tell you that you can have a copy of the official rules, the necessary official faction cards and a reasonably sized ‘faction’ for less than £25.00? Intrigued? Read on…

Okay, first things first – the rules. If you go to the GCT Studios website and click on the ‘Bushido’ option on the top banner, on the far right you will see a menu entitled ‘Downloads’. The first item listed is ‘Bushido Rules’ – click on this and it will bring up this page. The first available download is the official Bushido rules – for free! Boom, just saved you £25.00…

At the bottom of the same menu is an option entitled ‘English Cards that can be downloaded from our Store.’ Following this link takes you to the GCT Studios Store, but doesn’t really give you any indication as to what you do next…

It’s very simple – click on the particular character whose card you want, then click on the small image of the card below the picture of the model. This will pop up in a separate window. Now simply copy this image and paste it into the word processing application of your choice, then save and print as many copies as you want. Here’s one I prepared earlier…

There, you’ve now got the rules and whatever cards you want for a grand total of…nothing! Now, that’s what I call a bargain.

“But Jez…” I hear you cry, “It’s a miniatures game. We may have the rules and the cards, but we can’t play unless we have some figures…” And you would be correct, so now it’s time to get a little inventive.

Unless you’re playing in an officially sanctioned Bushido tournament, who says you have to use the official miniatures? That’s right – no-one. As long as your opponent is happy for you to use a ‘proxy’ figure in place of an official figure, utilising the same stat card and playing under the same rules, you can use whatever you want. However, it’s probably best to stick to 28mm Japanese figures, although a game of Bushido using just ‘My Little Pony’ figures would be pretty amusing…

Okay, so the last part of this post is to point you in the direction of inexpensive Oriental figures, all of which are definitely less than £7.95 each.

First up is the small range of Oriental Blades figures from Moonraker Miniatures. Whilst there are only 10 figures in this range, we have armoured and unarmoured samurai, ronin and shugenja and it does included two female figures. Each figure is £1.50 each and oozes character, as you can see below.

Next we have Black Hat Miniatures, who have two ranges of interest – the 25mm Samurai range and the 28mm Tales of the Dragon Kings range. Do not be fooled by the listed scales, as they are both roughly the same size.

The 25mm Samurai range has 14 packs, covering ninja, peasants with bamboo spears, unarmoured samurai with a variety of weapons and ronin in piecemeal armour, also variously armed. The ronin would make good bandits. Now the sculpting has been described as slightly ‘cartoony’, but looking at the pictures, I think this just adds character. Best of all, each pack is £3.00, for which you get 3 figures – that’s right, they’re a pound a figure! Even if you only use one of the figures from the pack, you’ve still saved yourself £4.00 in comparison to buying an official miniature. Here’s a picture of one of the Ronin packs, with a particularly characterful bunch.

Sam09 Ronin with Katana

Next up is the 28mm Tales of the Dragon Kings range. Now, this is primarily influenced by Chinese myth and legend, but does have a few specific Japanese creatures, such as the Oni below, who retails at £7.00.

DK020 - Japanese Ogre

The figures can be bought as packs of 4 for £9.00, such as this pack – Chinese Heroes III, which works out as £2.25 a figure:

Or about 60% of the range can be bought as individual miniatures, at £2.50 each, such as this one – Chinese Wizard 5:

Whilst not strictly Japanese, they’re Oriental enough that with some careful figure selection and an appropriate paint-job, who will know?

For really cheap, we turn to Heroclix, which has a surprisingly number of useful figures. You might be thinking “Ah, yes…Silver Samurai…um…that’s all I got…”

Well, we also have DC Heroclix Flash #010 – Samuroid:

DC Heroclix Flash #010 Samuroid

Currently retailing at 29p on Blue Rat Games. Yes, you read that right…29p. We also have, from left to right; Indy Heroclix Tomoe #005 (29p), Indy Heroclix Arashi #031 (29p), Marvel Heroclix Xplosion #019 – Typhoid Mary (49p) and DC Heroclix Justice League Trinity War #004 – Katana (49p).

Indy Heroclix Tomoe #005

Indy Heroclix Arashi #031

Marvel Heroclix Xplosion Typhoid Mary 019

DC Heroclix Justice League Trinity War #004 Katana

And that’s just a brief selection – not taking into account Hand ninja’s, Psylocke, Elektra or Gorgon. Browse with an open mind and who knows what you’ll discover.

Finally, we shall be looking at one of the older manufacturers of Samurai figures – Dixon Miniatures. This company has been around since 1976 and has quite a comprehensive range of samurai, warrior monks, ninja, Oriental goblins, Oni, Dai-Oni and Naga. And whilst their catalogue is a little archaic and their figures are quite ‘stocky’, you can’t argue with the prices. This Sumo Wrestler retails for £1.30.

Whilst this Dai-Oni is £2.25.

So, hopefully this post has opened your eyes to being able to play Bushido without breaking the bank, or as I like to call it, ‘Budgeto! (pronounced ‘Bud-Gee -To‘), hence the post’s title.

That’s all for now – join me next time, when we’ll either be back in the Super Chibification Workshop, attempting to reduce the stack of Oriental figures I still have to paint or looking at the highly mysterious…Way of the Crow.


38 thoughts on “BUDGETO!

  1. What a great article, Jez. You’re thinking along the same lines as me. First up, I, too, have been inspired to try out “Bushido” because of Andy’s wonderful posts and genuine enthusiasm for the game. But, like you, I don’t want to spend a fortune on it. I have downloaded the free rulebook but no character stat cards yet. My own solution for figures and scenery is to use my Chibi figures and game boards from my “Ninja All Stars” game. I’ve already bought the game and the figures so why not get double usage out of them? The Bushido factions used in a game tend to be small in numbers (about 5-6 per side) and the game board is usually just 2′ square. This fits in perfectly with the NAS game board and clan factions. Does it really matter if I use Chibi figures instead of normal 28mm scale figures? Alternatively, I could use many of the figures that I collected and made for the original “Bushido” RPG by Fantasy Games Unlimited. I have a couple of hundred of them, all painted. Yes, playing the new “Bushido” game on a budget is a very definite possibility for me. Plus, it won’t cost me anything extra. A win-win situation!


    • Thanks Bryan. Due to Andy’s enthusiasm, I thought I’d investigate the game and discovered that I could effectively play it for free with the miniatures I’ve already got. And we both know I like free… 😉


    • They are pretty cool, Kaptain. I especially like the oni, nopperabo and doratabo. The latter two I’ll have to look up, as whilst I’ve heard of the first, I thought it was something else. Certainly haven’t seen figures of them before, so thanks for that.


  2. This is one of the most interesting and informative posts I have read on line in a very long time. Stevie and Hilary have been trying (very successfully) to show me this approach for a long time now. They actually go a step further and patiently show me that (once upon a time, not so very long ago actually) ALL games were like this. You simply bought a preferred set of rules for your chosen gaming ethos, or if you were able, made up your own; and then spent happy hours, days and weeks putting together your own miniatures collection from across the various ranges available – making an entirely unique personalised collection, totally unlike those of your friend(s).. who in turn would possess an equally unique collection.

    Stevie and Hil then pointed out to me that the phenomena of using stat cards for everything is also new to the field. Once upon a time, you just wrote your own stats up on index cards or on paper, and away you would go.

    Stat cards is a recent thing which has flooded the market (so much so that people almost think it unthinkable of playing games anymore without them).

    Your post on DIY Bushido is inspirational, delightful and very moor-ish. I absolutely LOVE it, and is so comfortable to read, it feels like it should be gracing the pages of Wargames Monthly or some similar professional publication. I am absolutely enthralled by your article and thank you warmly for having made my day reading such a cool insightful missive.


    • Thank you very much, Tarot. As Stevie and Hil have told you, back at the dawn of time, when dinosaurs ruled the Earth and TV only came in two colours and three channels, this was the way of gaming, both in RPGs and wragaming.

      I object to being told that I MUST have a specific figure with its own pre-printed stat card, that I MUST have a stack of tokens next to each figure to represent whether it is wounded/exhausted/on fire/mind-controlled, etc. and that the majority of rules appear to have been run through Google translate at least twice AND in points-based games, how you calculate the cost of the individual figures uses some arcane formula, to prevent you from creating your own characters.

      And if you agree with the above, Karasudo or ‘The Way of the Crow’, which is the Oriental fantasy version of my own set of skirmish rules should be right up your alley. This will be revealed over the next month or so, in bite-sized chunks. Mainly because the majority of it exists in my head, although it has been play-tested and is simple enough that a complete wargaming virgin picked it up in one evening…and gave me a thorough trouncing. Curse you, Black Pharaoh, curse you!

      Once it’s all done, I will post the complete rules as a nested document on the blog, so everyone can download and use ’em. I shall also be running a batrep (sorry Hil!) using them, to give people and idea of how they work. Yes, it’s all go here at the Crow’s Nest…


      • Well, well, I came to look at this because you seem to have caused quite a stir back at ye olde castle here in sunny County Cork: and I must say, I can see why. You`ve really stirred my tribe up, so much so that you have got Stevie all re-hyped and thinking `old school` and `imagi-nation gaming, and all the regular jargon. Tarot is sitting with daughter Tiffany (on line handle – Lillith Cardwin) talking ten to the dozen about our new campaign which incidentally (talk about co-incidences and timing) is ALL about, what Tar` aptly called, DIY gaming: and the there`s me..

        ..You`ve got me nodding my head and smiling ear to ear at hearing your words: and if I may just quote a few of your words:

        {{I object to being told that I MUST have a specific figure with its own pre-printed stat card, that I MUST have a stack of tokens next to each figure to represent whether it is wounded/exhausted/on fire/mind-controlled, etc. and that the majority of rules appear to have been run through Google translate at least twice AND in points-based games, how you calculate the cost of the individual figures uses some arcane formula, to prevent you from creating your own characters}}

        SO VERY WELL SAID I almost feel like waving a flag and cheering. Yes, yes, yesssssss!!!! to everything you say. I would be.. WILL be.. one of the first in line thoroughly to play with your new rules when you make them available. I am massively looking forward to trying them now I know about them. May we please play out a few battle reports and write up one or two on the other blog, so we can showcase them properly, Jez? Or better still YOU obviously have the talent to write one or two yourself (why not write a few for us).. Amazingly talented man that you are.

        Thank you for such a wonderful article.



        • Thanks Hil. The rules were originally written with superhero skirmish gaming in mind, but as this covers nearly every conceivable type of gaming, they’ve also been play-tested with dwarves versus ratmen (dwarves won – boo!) and zombies versus survivors (survivors survived – mostly…). Each different genre showcased where tweaks were needed and the final (Hah!) version was used to run a solo game of Scooby Doo, which I posted the batrep fro on my blog in October last year.


          Of course, this didn’t detail the rules and had specific Scooby Doo-ish rules, but it was quite entertaining to play and write about and proved the rules versatility.


  3. Tremendously well-written and researched article Jez, and something I wish I had done with both “Guild Ball” and “Frostgrave” if I’m honest. You’ve certainly given me food for thought, though strangely the minis for this game I have bought, were purchased because I liked the sculpt rather than my having any intention of actually playing the game. Looking forward to the next posting in this series 🙂


    • Thanks Simon. I have to admit to liking quite a few of the Bushido miniatures, I just don’t like the prices. When I can get an equivalent figure for half the cost or less, it seems silly to buy an ‘official’ figure, especially when the sculpt’s not all that great. Case in point is the Prefecture of Ryu’s Conch blower – single figure, in armour blowing a conch…for just under 8 quid!? Especially when I can get what is essentially the same figure, along with a Taiko (big-ass drum) AND drummer for 6.25 sterling from A W Miniatures.


      Right, I must climb down off my soapbox now…


    • Its interesting you say that Kleric. I was reading some reviews on “Frostgrave” and thinking the same thing. I`m sure the rules look suitably wonderful and atmospheric, but I found myself questioning “Why go pay so much money for a series of rule sets, when there are others you could get for fee on line, which are (in all honesty) just as good.” What IS it about shiny glossy covers and interior art that has made so so so many gamers turn away from excellent free or cheap, or home made rules, in favour for BEING TOLD HOW TO PLAY by commercially average sets of rules on the market?

      “Frostgrave” is a perfectly adequate set of rules (since reading the reviews, I`ve since seen it played at the club), but its simply not worth its market entrance price… plus the expansion sets, ££££. I`ve seen many home made sets of rules out there which (lets face it) are better.


    • Thank you very much, Steve. Coming from a professinal, that means a lot.

      To be honest, it’s not the first post of this type I’ve written, as during the Ghostbusters Project (to be continued), I did a series of posts regarding specific films or stories that I felt ‘fit’ within what I dubbed the “Expanded Ghostbusters Universe”, then ‘cast’ them in 28mm.

      Of course, I also decided to do the same for the original cast of Rentaghost AND stuck jelly babies on flight stands, but that’s because I wanted to AND it made me laugh…


      • HAHAHA, this I`d have liked to seen the jelly babies on flight stands. I should put you onto Alan Abbey (a really excellent pro rules writer) who thinks just like you. At Gen Con last he played a table demo game of French Indian Wars Skirmish using home baked miniatures. Every time you put down an enemy, you got to eat the mini…. tasty soldier shaped biscuits they were too hahaha.

        never got into Ghost Busters the films/movies, but I think would have enjoyed reading your Expanded Ghostbusters Universe…. do you still have it available to read?


        • It’s on the blog – just select ‘Ghostbusters’ as the category from the drop down on the right-hand side and it’ll bring up every post with that selected. I think the first was at the beginning of December last year and it ran for a couple of months…


  4. Agreed. I do VERY much like the official Bushido range of minis, but then again I really REALLY like my adequately extensive range (29p each) of converted MageKnight/HeroClix Orientals, and my very cool HeroScape Samurai, Ninjas (and Chinese fighting Monks). I think my Oriental collection cost me less than £10 and runs into about 50 figures.



      • That’s it, I`m moving in! Thank you for that Jez, I took a good look. I wanted to reply on the relevant thread but it wouldn’t let me leave any comments there, however hard I tried (I laughed so hard at the title Oni the Lonely). I actually think your conversion is marvellous. I also checked out your Kappa & Tengu: superb.

        I also agree what you ay about authors not liking to make pieces which can`t easily be sculpted by manufacturers. I think one of the exceptions (when it comes to rules for this genre) might be Ken Crawford`s “Scarlet Heroes” which, although doesn’t exactly help us at all when it coms to MAKING these models, does at least cover a lot of the more esoteric critters for our games.

        This set or rules is free by the way (in its basic form) from Drive thru rpg.


        • I don’t think I have enough wardrobe space…*tee hee* Yes, apologies for that – basically WordPress ‘locks’ a Post after a specified period of time, so no further comments can be made. I’ve been familiarising myself with some of the options and spotted that one in passing. Doesn’t matter where the comment is made, as long as it’s positive. 😉
          And I’ll certainly check out the rules you mentioned, although My rules will allow you to ‘build’ what you want…


      • “Because who needs two Hulks?” – Quite right Jez, you need at least five of them like me!! Green Hulk, and original Grey Hulk. Plus then there’s the Red Hulk, the Maestro (future Hulk), and World War Hulk (Gladiator Hulk) 😛


      • “Does A-Bomb count as Blue Hulk? And if we’re going for diversity, shouldn’t we have Rainbow Hulk too?” – A-Bomb is part of the Hulk family, Jez. And of course now you mention diversity, then surely Bryan’s favourite She-Hulk would be in there too!!


    • I’ve had super-clowns versus genetically enhanced Nazis, with the clowns not only winning, but stuffing the Nazi super-soldier head-first into a dumpster, after giving him a wedgie.
      I’ve had a bunch of street punks attempting to steal a car from a shopping mall showroom, only to face the walking dead.
      I’ve had a force of dwarves cleaning out an infestation of ratmen from a medieval village.
      I’ve had the supremely over-confident Kid Comet being sand-blasted by the Black Pharaoh, who then went on to pound the rest of the heroes into a pulp.
      And I’ve had the members of Enigma Investigations solving the mystery of the Wendigo.
      I even speculatively wrote up a version where the ‘characters’ were heavily armed and armoured narrow boats…entitled “Pirates of the River Thames”. So, yes, I’ say they’re pretty generic… 🙂

      And thank you – it was my first attempt at one and it came out pretty well, seeing as the whole post was done via my mobile ‘phone, which took a while.


  5. Mate, I don’t even know where to start…. Seriously, no idea!

    Erm brilliant doesn’t seem to cover it…

    **Ok, ok, ok calm down Andy. No problem, just cos Jez nailed it in his first Budgeto post it doesn’t mean anything, you can try harder, keep going, surely he’ll slip up with the next one….**

    This was amazing buddy, absolutely loved it! So many brilliant minis, a well researched article and your usual sideways take on the subject. I’m so glad I got the terrific bargains I did for the official minis at least 60% off for the first batch and a stupendous bargain at Salute otherwise I would feel gutted at paying the full price for them (although they are amazing models imho) after seeing your suggestions I would not be surprised to see this cracking game take off on various blogs that we frequent. Also cannot wait to read your home brew rules as I’m sure they’re going to be just as good as the minis you’ve offered up.

    ps Tarot

    Steve and Hil are spot on, this is how we did it back in the day when the mini ranges were soooo limited you just made your own x


    • Cheers Andy. If not for your inspiring posts, there would have been no “Budgeto!”. It seems to have struck a chord with a large number of folk, so we might get a flurry of Oriental goodness across a few blogs. I think Bryan may be planning a Chibi version (Chibisho? Chibudo?), which should be entertaining.

      And did you see the previous post? The Super Chibification Workshop has opened! AND I’ve promised a set of rules too!

      What on Earth have I let myself in for?


  6. QUOTE: “What on Earth have I let myself in for?” I’d have to say… a lot of fun!
    You do it because you love it, Jez. It’s that simple and it’s why we enjoy this hobby of ours so much. Having fun and sharing ideas to inspire others.

    I’m going to have to pinch that name, “Chibisho” and get it copyrighted! 😉


  7. Bryan did mention that he wanted to chibify Bushido as he had downloaded the rules and wanted to substitute in Chibi from SDE (I think that’s the game anyway? I’m sure B will clarify) I think it’s a great idea, imho the rules are there to be used by everyone otherwise why leave them up there on the site for free download? The “official” minis are there for the company to survive and thrive and good luck to them because they are great bunch and the minis are lush but as you, Steve, Hil, B and I have said ‘back in the day’ you had to make or convert almost everything other than a very few basic minis, terrain and rules AND that was ok! In fact it was more than Ok! I started back in the 80’s when I was 14 and my first 40k battles had about two dozen actual minis and the rest were makeshift and we fought over a battlefield with plastic till receipt roll holders for trees (I had a Saturday morning job in retail and recycled them!), loads of piles of stones from the road and a big polystyrene sheet hill – unpainted because I couldn’t afford to… Halcyon days brother, halcyon days.

    Nowadays my gaming budget is a little healthier but not excessively so, I still prefer to game frugally – waiting for sales, or buy at shows or on eBay, stripping and repurposing old minis and to make my own terrain (which I enjoy doing anyway) although to be fair my home made terrain is a little better than back then….lol


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