Bushido: Savage Wave Starter Unboxing and Analysis

I’m cracking into some more Bushido models, and discussing what makes them tick.

Hope you guys enjoyed my last Bushido unboxing. Instead of new releases, this time I’m going back to some of the first Bushido products with one of their starter packs. This time I’m doing the Savage Wave. The Savage Wave are a faction of demonic invaders, returning to the Jwar Isles after their first attempt at invasion was thwarted centuries ago.

There seem to be two distinct species. The Oni, red and massive, lord over the greenish Bakemono who range in size from a small child to a hulking full grown man. Any motives these creatures have beyond the utter subjugation of humanity are unknown.


If you’ve never seen a Bushido starter before, they all come packaged in these oversized blisters. While this starter set is one of the first products released for Bushido, it may still be new to a lot of you. Besides they’re very cool models and this is your chance to see how they look without the pretty studio paint job.

With seven models, the Savage Wave starter is larger than most. Zuba the All-Seeing leads a group of six Bakemono.

Here is Zuba in all his cyclopean glory. The massive hammer adds a lot of character as well.

Here’s a look at the other side.

The Bakemono have a few options for assembly to help add some individuality to each one. There are three torsos.

There are actually five different heads, although I didn’t realize it until after I had primed them. Here are four of them.


This large assortment of weapons will allow you to create up to four different types: Archer, Spearman, Beater, or Bushi.


Here are all the cards you’ll find in the pack. You can check them all out and read their rules on the Bushido website where all the model cards are available for free. I show them here mostly so you can see the gloss coating that allows you to mark directly on them with dry erase. Just don’t leave it on there for too long. After a week or so it gets a little tougher to remove.


Here is Zuba after I’ve assembled and primed him. At 13 points he can hit ridiculously hard thanks to Brutal, Strong, and the ability to upgrade to Powerful Attack for 1 melee die. He can also be pretty tough to kill with 10 Wounds and Toughness (1).

His ranged attack can also be very helpful even though it does no damage. It makes models Prone, and Prone models have to spend an activation getting up and suffer -1 attack until they do. He’s also a bit faster than most. Even just one extra inch of Speed is huge in Bushido where the table is only two feet across.

It’s not all good news though. Zuba suffers from the same disadvantages as the rest of his kind. His attack of 3 is not terrible but it’s pretty low for such an expensive model. Brutal helps a lot in this department but you’ll still usually find yourself putting only one die in Defense and going through Zuba’s ten Wounds that much faster as a consequence.

While we’re on the subject of Zuba’s wounds, it’s worth noting that his Huge Size also makes him a walking target. I’ve seen him get his head blown off by Ryu Guardsmen on multiple occasions (the only good here news is that one of those times I was the Ryu player). Fortunately the other models in this pack can help here.

One last point; always remember to hang onto one Ki for Consume Soul. I can’t stress that enough.

The Bakemono

These Bakemono Bushis have the option to make a Combo Attack if they sacrifice one of their paltry two combat dice. While having Combo Strike is better than not it’s very unlikely you’ll ever get any mileage out of it with their low attack and negative strength modifier.

In my games the Archers have gotten a couple kills but overall have had little luck as combatants. Nonetheless, they have done alright as objective grabbers. My games with Savage Wave have been played exclusively against Ryu, and this faction’s armor has proven a real hindrance. Against other factions these guys are apparently more reliable.

The spearmen have been the most effective of all the Bakemono in my experience. First Strike seems to be the best ability any of these creatures possesses. Unfortunately you can only field one of each card so this is the most you can get.

The fourth kind of Bakemono you can assemble from the parts in this kit is the Beater. Beaters lack Combo Attack, but don’t suffer a penalty to their damage rolls. I thought the Bushi would be better but their poor performace has me wishing I’d assembled them as Beaters.

The Horde

Individually the Bakemono are terrible – noticeably worse than four point models from other factions. Small size and Camoulflage (4), their key abilities, offer some help from ranged attacks. Just not enough to balance the fact that they only have four wounds. The Bakemono Horde card makes them worth it.

As explained on this card, All Bakemono group their Ki into a collective pool they can pull from. Don’t be tempted to boost their attacks with this Ki. You are always better off using one of the abilities on the card. Remember how I was just talking about Zuba being a walking target? Well your little Bakemono can use Darkness to protect their overlord.

Summon from the Shadows is even more amazing of course. Bushido is a small scale game so bringing in new models is great. In a recent game, a single Bakemono on his way to an enemy objective became three Bakemono by the time he got there due to Summon From the Shadows. I won this game through scenario VPs thanks to those reinforcements.

The final two Horde abilities aren’t quite as flashy but don’t neglect them. Shadow Walk can help you get to objectives closer if your Bakemono can keep out of sight, and it can definitely be worth spending the Ki on Mob Mentality if you really need to pass a Fear test.

On the Table

So how does the starter play? I have to be honest with you. It’s a pretty weak force just on it’s own. Even with all six of the Bakemono working together and trying to gang up they still have a hard time getting anything done. Zuba can pull a lot of weight but he can’t be everywhere at once.

Does that mean this Savage Wave starter is an inferior product not worth buying? Not at all. This set gives you Zuba, a great model, plus all the Bakemono you should ever need. There are other Bakemono with different rules and abilities all of whom can also use the Bakemono Horde card. You’ll definitely want some of them around and they may bring in some more Bakemono with Summon from the Shadows. And of course you’ll want to start with some of the regular Bakemono in play to fuel the Ki Feats of the other Bakemono varieties. Will you ever end up with all six of the Bakemono from the starter in play? Maybe… if you build an army around a summoning strategy.

Growing the Collection

The set pictured above has been much more successful for me than playing with just the contents of the starter. I’ve added Kano, an Onisho (young Oni), since he brings a lot of resilience and hitting power for just a few points. The other new model is Tra Peng. He’s one of these other Bakemono I’ve been talking about. He costs only one point more than the standard variety, and among other things he has a very handy ability that let’s him place a Stun Marker on a model within 8″. This costs him no Ki and succeeds automatically. He and the two other Bakemono in the list will have the Ki to summon a third by turn 2. You could theoretically get as many as five “generic” Bakemono on the table by turn 6.

One final thing worth noting is that this list is only 34 points. Since 35 is the minimum recommended size for playing Bushido, you will need one of the card upgrade packs to give you something to do with that last point. Or you can just play down a point. I have and it hasn’t seemed to cause any real problems. You could also swap Tra Peng for Uk-Kang or Zung Fu: two other character Bakemono that cost six points. I prefer Tra Peng, but it’s your call.

From there you have literally dozens of other models to choose from to get you to the other two standard sizes for a Bushido game: 42 and 50 points. Here are three of my favorites:

Final Thoughts

If looking at these models has you thinking hard about picking up Bushido, there is one more thing you need to know if you live in the U.S. There are only a few places in the country that carry this game. I know of only four online retailers: FRP Games, Noble Knight, Fantization, and Atomic Empire. And of course there’s always eBay.

The fact that I managed to track all these places down should show you just how far I’ll go to find models for this game. What’s even harder is to find one with all the models you want in stock at the same time. Of course if you’ve had luck with them in the past you can always order from Wayland Games. They’ll surely have the best prices right now with the current exchange rate on the Pound, but I’m always reluctant to have things shipped to me from outside the country. If you’re going outside the country anyway I’m sure GCT studios would be happy to take your money directly.

~ Hope you enjoyed the article. Do you already play Bushido? Have you considered picking it up? What do you think of the Savage Wave? Be on the lookout for more Bushido, I plan to do some more unboxings soon.

  • Jay Barton

    Warner Bros may be calling these guys…

    • ZeeLobby


  • ZeeLobby

    Still wanna get people locally into bushido. Looks like a lot of fun.

    • joox

      It’s fantastic!! Definitely give it a shot if you’re on the fence. The rules take a game or two to sink in but once you’ve got the basics down the game really opens up.

  • Chardun

    I played a demo at last years GenCon and it was pretty fun. Thanks for posting some US distributors to order product from.

    • Ryan Busby

      I demoed it at GenCon last year, too! 😉 I’m hopefully going to drum up interest in my local area and hopefully move some product into one or both of my FLGS.

  • Lance

    They had a small booth at Adepticon and were sold out of a lot of stuff very quickly. They said they were planning for a bigger booth next year. Seeing their models painted in the display case was an eye catcher. I wish I’d gagged my wallets opinion sooner. I need to move painting some Bushido models up in priority on the back log, thanks for a tease of the rules, it did the trick. I love that it affords the opportunity to make more detailed boards since the size is 2′ x 2′.