Clocking in at a whopping 13 rice we have Itsunagi Ito, a samurai of the Ito clan. As you can tell from my previous game, I think that Itsunagi is a beast and totally worth his cost. He starts with a combat stat of 4 that he can boost for a tiny amount 2 Ki. Not only is the damage from his katanas is +1 (adding one to any damage roll made) but he also has a choice of a pretty good combat technique to aid his damage output. Without having to sacrifice a dice Itsunagi gains ‘combo strike’ which means that when (and I do mean when) Itsunagi wins in combat you make one damage roll at that success level, then another roll at the success level minus two and so on until the success level is less than zero.
Itsunagi can also gain ‘Sidestep Defence’ meaning that if he wins a defence roll, he can just step 1” away from the attacker and nimbly out of melee without having to sacrifice a dice. If that is a little too conservative for your taste, you can choose to sacrifice a dice to gain counter attack. This means that if Itsunagi manages to defend successfully then he gets to roll on the damage chart at his success level minus two which is a nasty surprise.
Looking at Ito’s traits, he has a nice mix of skills that will keep him alive. ‘Fearless’ means that he automatically passes any fear test meaning that a fear causing creature is going to have a tough time removing Itsunagi. Speaking of further traits that will keep Ito alive, ‘Iron Mind (1)’ grants him a +1 to any opposed Ki test, ‘Indomitable (1)’ means that he ignores the first model trying to outnumber him and ‘Ranged Defence (1)’ means ranges attacks suffer from a +1 modifier to the target number. Those comfortably protect him from all angles of attack. Just to make him a little more deadly in melee, Ito has ‘Martial Prowess (1)’ allowing Itsunagi to reroll one dice in a melee exchange picking either attack or defence to provide a bit of extra insurance.
Ito’s Ki feats are also pretty devastating. Spending two Ki gives Ito a myriad of options. If attack is the best form of defence, he can gain ‘Lightning Reflexes’ with Cobra Strike meaning that he always goes first in combat and it’s an instant feat meaning you can take advantage when he’s attacked rather than waiting for your turn. Playing a little more defensively, Ito can gain ‘Parry (1)’ with Umbrella Block to force an opponent to reroll one of the melee dice. Finally, Ito can also use Do Kote during his turn (it’s an active Feat) which grants him ‘Feint (1)’ which allows you to pick one of your opponents defence dice to reroll to make sure that combo hit is as brutal as possible.
All in all, Itsunagi Ito can easily handle any problems heading his way or just eliminate the threat before it gets going. I’m definitely a fan. Now, let’s add his final trick. At the start of the turn Ito can pick either ‘Armour Piercing’ (ignore an enemy’s armour when making a damage roll), ‘Evasive’ (the model ignores opponent model’s zone of control) or ‘Strong Mind (1)’ (gain another +1 to his opposed Ki tests) until the end of the turn which means he can play against his opponents strength. I will add the caveat that Itsunagi has no armour and 6 health. As you saw in my game against the Ito clan (see previous blog) that if you hit him he does go down easily.
Itsunagi was backed up in the game against my Jung Pirates by two Ashigaru in the form of Chiyo and the Temple Bushi.
They are two very similar profiles costing 6 and 5 rice respectively. They both have a melee stat of 3 but Chiyo has access to ‘side step defence’ for one dice. They both have armour 1 and ‘Bravery’ which allows them to reroll failed fear tests. Chiyo also has the Jump Up trait (see my blog on the Jung Pirates for this) and the ‘Leap’ trait which allows her to jump equal to her movement stat. Finally, for two Ki they both gain ‘Lightning reflexes’ until the current action is resolved meaning that they strike first in combat which is a nice defensive counter attack.
In the Jwar Isles, the Ito clan have always been viewed with some derision by the other ruling clans. It’s not a fact that has sat well with the ruler s of the clan and in an effort to gain power and influence, the Ito clan have sold their souls to Orochi, a snake like god who has given them access to some ‘helpful’ mutations. Sakura is a Shisai of the temple and for 7 rice you can recruit her to your warband. Let’s starts with the obvious, with a combat stat of 2, you don’t want really her in melee even if you can boost it with three Ki, her damage roll is modified by minus 1. That’s not ideal. Her first trait is ‘Blood of Orochi (1)’ which allows the Ito player to pool the poison tokens and hand them out at the start of the turn on their opponent’s models. She also has ‘Immunity (Poison)’ which means she can’t suffer poison effects herself. Finally, she has ‘Channel (6)’ allowing her to transfer six Ki tokens to an ally within six inches. It’s a nice little way to give a certain samurai a lot of combat options.
When Sakura is not engaged in combat she has access to ‘Psychic Venom’ which allows her to perform an opposed Ki test with a model within eight inches. If that model fails the test they gain poison tokens up to the number of Ki tokens spent to cast the Ki feat. It’s a nice way to put out a bit of damage. Poison tokens are removed at the start of each turn and deal damage for each one removed. If the model is suffering from more than one token, then the lowest one is removed to cause the damage while the next increases in value. I guess being poisoned is a long and painful death.
With a Ki stat of 2, ‘Psychic Venom’ is no game changer. I think it is very hit and miss whether she will actually cast it and you’ll waste those valuable Ki tokens with a failed attempt. However, for every other Shisai in the force with Sakura, she gains ‘Force of Will (X)’ which adds X to the highest dice roll in the opposed Ki test when she is the active model or ‘Iron Mind (X)’ when she is not. X being the number of additional Shisai in your force to a maximum of 2.
To keep the poison theme going, for three Ki tokens Sakura gains ‘Protect the mother’ which means all enemy models in base to base gain one poison token. This can only be cast in the active phase though so it’s not as defensive as you might think at first glance.
Aiding Sakura in her poisonous antics, is an Akimoto. He’s a measly 5 rice and as you would expect, not great on his own. He’s a melee two model with a minus one modifier too so he’s no combat monster. He does have ‘Blood of Orochi (2)’ which adds two poison tokens like Sakura and he too has ‘Immunity (poison)’. His big drawback is that he has the trait ‘Impetuous’. This means that the Akimoto has to be activated first in the turn which could cause some headaches in planning your turn. However, for two Ki the Akimoto can cast ‘Orochi’s visage’ as an instant feat. This gives him both ‘Fear (5)’ (meaning that an opponent must roll 5 or more on a Ki test to engage the Akimoto) and ‘Terror’ (which means that the opponent must reroll the first successful Fear test) which is a handy way of mitigating anybody heading towards the Akimoto. However, he can’t cast this if he’s moved or is in melee.
All in all, the Ito clan appear to be a clan based around their synergies. I think that if you are going to play with the Ito clan you need to decide whether you go for the destructive power of Itsunagi or the slow painful grind of the poison tokens from Orochi himself. If it’s the poison route, the Ito player should really invest in some more Shisai to back up Sakura but I think she can act as a very nice Ki generator for Itsunagi and the Ashigaru who prove that attack is the best form of defence with their access to striking first in combat via their Ki feats. The Ito Clan are a glass hammer. They will hit very hard but won’t stand up to constant punishment.
I hope this look at the Ito clan gives you some more insight into the skills within Bushido and an idea into how colourful the world of the Jwar isles can be. If you’ve got any questions, then let me know and I’ll try my best to answer them. If not, we’ll see what scrapes my Jung Pirates get into in the Jwar Isles. Until next time.