It was early last year that I first became consciously aware of a game called Bushido, which is a very cool table top skirmish miniatures game set in Japan in the age of the Samurai. Bushido is a very beautiful game: with gorgeous character/stat cards, exquisite (though costly) miniatures, and amazingly high quality components, such as attractive rule book, sublimely intricate dice sets (even the dice bag is aesthetically pleasing to the eye ) and the purchasable table top terrain for Bushido is almost out of this world, it`s so good. But I reiterate, it`s not an easy game to buy into, unless you have a fairly fluid surplus of spare cash to hand, or you are prepared to be patient and collect the game a bit at a time, over a long period of many months – or even longer.
though I knew I would never pick it up and collect it myself (the price was simply too rich for my wallet). BUT it is because of Andy`s endless enthusiasm for this subject, and his dogged focus on this game.. that I became aware of a far cheaper alternative which arrived on the shelf recently. When Warlord Games first released “Test of Honour ”the game literally sold out within the first two weeks of it hitting the shelves. The facebook page for the game started with 15 subscribers in the first hour, and by the end of the first day alone, had risen to 15000 people. So wow, this game immediately started to make its mark. Especially as the game is now (as of last week) available again… and Warlord Games have produced a `second wave` for all those not fortunate enough to have bought the starter set on the initial run. What`s more, they offered a special `bundle package` deal which meant that for £100 you could order the base box set game.. but you also got ALL the expansion sets with it. All included in that special one off price. I don’t think I need to spell it out too much for anyone. Basically, this deal has made it possible for a fledgling enthusiast (like me) wanting to get into Samurai style gaming, to be able to buy into the hobby as a one time (fairly affordable) purchase, without having to spend literally hundreds and hundreds of pounds to do it via the other.. far more expensive (but beautifully alternative) route.
Whereas Bushido is a lot more about fantasy and mythology, with the inclusion of monsters, and animals, and familiars, and magic, and all that kit and caboodle: Test of Honour is more of quasi historical, big cinematic block buster - Hollywood style (aka “The Last Samurai” and “The Seven Samurai”) type affair. And what more can I say, it`s pretty darn addictive, gripping, and stunningly attractive stuff.
What I like about this game is the way you don’t, right away, have to assemble all the 35 miniatures that come in the base starter box set. The first scenario calls for only 12. After that, you have various build options for each successive scenario you play in the introductory rule book five/six part campaign. Do you want commoner bowmen, musketeers, a banner -man, a sergeant, a musician, and so on and so on? So yeah, it`s actually wise not to assemble everything straight away, because you will have many decisions to make later on, just how you want to build your Warband(s) for future games…. the base set alone gives you lots of leeway for customising your two starter set forces. By the time you eventually add in the bumper deal expansion sets, oh man, you will have yourself one hell of a complete and eclectic collection. And with more expansions looming in the imminent horizon, we can look forward to Ninjas, The Imperial Army, female Samurai… and Lord knows what else Warlord Games has in the pipe line, to tempt and offer us in the foreseeable future.