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.
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.
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:
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).
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.