You can easily imagine your fighter executing the moves with their weapon as if they were in a movie or your favorite graphic novel.
Theme and What is it?
To test your mastership of martial arts, you must engage with another in a duel of honor. Bushido is known as the way of the warrior, the code in which you live and one day die. Today though you will pick your weapon, train, and fight.
Be the last one standing with health remaining at the end of the round.
Each player takes a Player Board, a deck of Weapons, a Hit Token (placed on 0 Hits), and Guard Token (off to the side to start). The other tokens and dice are placed in piles to the side.
This game has three phases (four with the expansion): (Prepare Weapon Selection), Train, Arm, and Duel.
Using the expansion for the Prepare Weapon Selection phase, shuffle your Weapon card deck (new Weapons are added in the expansion) and deal yourself three cards. You can look at these cards, using them to guide your choice of Technique cards during the Train phase.
During the Train phase, shuffle the Technique cards (the expansion adds new Technique cards) and deal four, face up, between the players. Each player chooses a card and discards the others. This is done five times.
In the Arm phase, select your Weapon from the available cards. Select your starting Guard and place the Guard token there.
Finally, during the Duel phase, the warriors take turns playing Techniques or changing their selected Guard in an effort to strike their opponent, evade Hits dealt to them, and replenish their defenses. The dice rolled are based upon the warrior’s selected Technique, Guard, Weapon, and tokens played.
There are also rules for playing in teams of two, but this requires two copies of the game and some additional rules to address how the phases and Duel works.
It took my son and I awhile to figure out all of the mechanics from the rules and a few test rounds. There was some missing notes for clarifying that players alternate turns in the Duel and what some of the cards were trying to say regarding this rule. Once we figured it out, the game went smoothly.
Game Build Quality
This game is made up of a Player Board, cards, dice, and tokens. The Player Board is made of thick, heavy duty cardboard with a gorgeous finish. Tokens are made of a lesser thickness cardboard but similar finish. The dice are custom made for the game with different arrangements of symbols based on the type of dice. The cards are of typical playing card stock.
The art on the cards and boxes is the work of three different artists, all providing a unique yet somehow cohesive vision for the game. The presentation on the boxes with the embossing and color really make the game’s presentation pop. I’m a fan of martial arts, anime, and the like so I’m quite impressed by it.
This game is about devising strategy between your available weapons and Technique cards played. Decide on a proper Guard and you could have a tough combination to beat. You can easily imagine your fighter executing the moves with their weapon as if they were in a movie or your favorite graphic novel.
Age Range & Weight
The stated age range is 14+ but it accessible mechanics-wise by younger players, only the theme of violence and type of components keeps it higher.
I like the mechanics of how each player sets up their warrior’s characteristics. The ability to select your Weapon and Techniques give the player some control of their destiny even though a lot of what is determined by the roll of dice. The randomness of the die results is also mitigated by planning by the players based on their ability to choose which Technique to play and/or Guard on a given turn. Changing your Guard, though, is annoying because you are likely relegated to only being able to roll two dice unless you have special Weapon abilities or Rage tokens to spend.
In the Rising Rage expansion, along with the new Weapon and Technique cards, an additional type of dice is added — Rage dice. These are unique from the other dice in their color and available results, including a new result to gain Rage tokens faster than before. Though the expansion is small in relation to new rules and components, the effect on the game improves something we thought was great already. I wouldn’t go back to playing the game without the expansion because it fills a hole that isn’t readily apparent. I’m curious to see where this game further expands.
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