Cards and minis? Where do I sign up?

Short Cuts: Warbands: Bushido

Cheaper than a bag of Perry miniatures, more bang for your buck than a Legend of the Five Rings starter deck; Warbands: Bushido is a lightning-quick slice of Early Access turn-based multiplayer tactics. And it is素晴らしい*.

* bloody good gear.

Warbands: Bushido, a debut effort from Russian outfit Red Unit Studios, is a compact and laser-focused squad-based strategy set in medieval Japan. Players select a small mob of units, ranging from basic peasant ashigaru to scowling swordsmen of the military aristocracy, and fight similar bands in condensed arenas. Cards power special abilities and augments; extra attack chances, specific movement bonuses, random events and the like. It’s a clean, efficient set of tactical mechanics. Combat dice rolls, morale, armour value, agility and area of control; Red Unit have done a good job in effecting the feeling of peering over a flocked gameboard and taking a punt with your 35mm pewter.

Where Warbands: Bushido shines is in its unit and card collection. Much like a CCG or something like Heroclix and MechWarrior: Dark Age, it caters to the addiction-prone and the obsessive with soldier and card unlocks. Winning matches award a palmful of in-game loot, the likes of which can be used to purchase either card packs or soldier boxes. Given Warbands: Bushido’s obvious emulation of tabletop physicality — the units don’t so much animate ambulation as they do divine repositioning — breaking open a freshly-snagged box of warriors milks a hearty dollop of dopamine from the pleasure duct.

Once you’ve got a stable of stone-faced Samurai, you can customise their colours and set about configuring their associated card decks. It’s not an expansive selection per squad, and the unit point cap keeps things fairly intimate, but meat is very much on the bone. Every battle that nets a squad at least one kill nets cumulative experience for the members. Once units level, they receive automatic upgrades like increased movement.

Right now, it’s all multiplayer. And if a game cannot be found with a fleshy opponent, substitute AI will fill the void. Warbands: Bushido sports a featherweight tutorial that won’t answer much of the nitty-gritty, and some might be put off with the current lack of single player campaign. There are still a few niggles with bugs, and I’ve had a few curious lock-ups here and there. But the snappiness of a throw-down — we’re talking mere minutes — makes this another fine little late-night morsel for the time-poor and parentcore.

Cupertino tableteers, fear thee not. While currently only on PC (Mac and SteamOS to come), Warbands: Bushido is also destined for iOS, with cross-platform play between the aforementioned. 良か, as they say. I’ll take it.

Warbands: Bushido is out now on Steam Early Access.

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Notable Replies

  1. Neep65 says:

    Am totally stoked for this game. Been playing on steam a bit and it's great, quick skirmish at first and it grows from there. Can't wait for it to hit iOS. Well worth some time to check out if anyone's on the fence.

  2. Yeah, terrific game. And a steal at that price.

  3. Neep65 says:

    There seems to be 3 single player campaigns as well as online skirmish. There doesn't seem to be any opportunity to spend more money after buying the app - I think everything else is bought with in game currency earnt by playing the game. I'm sure there's things which I don't get yet, like when I press gang 4 fighters into a war band but only 3 show up for the skirmish or it could be some teething trouble but am really enjoying it so far

  4. Yup I’ve not been able to get unit info open anywhere :frowning:
    Skirmish is against real people PVP, but if no one is available an AI will stand in, so I suppose timer kind of still applicable.

    This has great promise but needs a 0.9 release before it’s ready for 1.0

  5. If I'm correctly remembering the dev's Steam post, one receives a combat advantage in two ways:

    1. Having at least three units adjacent to the target, and/or

    2. Having two units adjacent to, and on opposite sides of, the target

    I believe each reduces the target's dice count by one to a minimum of one.

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