Bushido Risen Sun: Getting Started with the Minimoto Clan

Welcome to the next in our series exploring Bushido Risen Sun. These “Getting Started” articles are meant to help new and (maybe) more experienced players by bringing together an assessment of some of the different profiles, examples of paint jobs and some list examples and reflections from competitive players. Where it exists, we’ll also do our best to provide links to content like battle reports or podcasts that shed more light on how a given faction plays. If we’ve missed your content – comment or @us on discord. We’re still working out how these can be most useful to players, so expect the format to evolve as we go on.

First up, the Minimoto clan.

Credit and copyright: GCT Studios
Image source: https://gctstudios.com/content/welcome-bushido-0


So who are the Minimoto? “Once allied to the Takashi Clan during the Dragon Wars, the Minimoto now have their very own ambitions. There is a strange wind that winds its way through the Iron Mountains and their home Jyoto, and whether it blows fair or foul remains to be seen, but the Minimoto Clan are nothing if not patient. Never one to seek the fineries and fripperies of court life, they are more than satisfied to spend their days’ blacksmithing, fighting, and singing the Songs of the Weaponsmiths. The rulers of the Iron Mountains may be slow to anger, but they are even more reluctant to forgive.” (Source: GCT Studios.com )

Credit: Mike Kean, @brushknightpainting, Drew_GB


If you like the idea of heavily-armoured warriors that can brawl with some of the best fighters in the game, tank damage that would one-shot most other faction profiles, and happily go to to toe with a 13 wound Oni with a gigantic armoured bear as your backup…well then, Minimoto might be your style. These guys, gals and amazing bears love a straight-up fight and smashing face.

Credit: Alasdair Johnstone, Sceptic_Mantis

There are a small number of (okay) ranged attack profiles & (not good at time of this writing, although there are whispers of change afoot) casters available within the clan. If you want to compete in a ranged duel, sling spells or create a list built around subterfuge and sneaky tricks – read on anyway, but you probably won’t want to run Minimoto!


  • Great in melee
  • Awesome damage resistance, with 7 wounds, Armour 3 or 4 almost as standard (and EXTREMELY powerful damage reduction cards)
  • Brilliant on Zones missions
  • Good access to Aware (360 zone of control, makes it harder to surprise or pass them)
  • Lots of Resistance to opposed ki (sneaky magic and trickery)
  • Almost universal Steadfast (useful ability to activate even if you’re frightened)
  • Some of the best value Samurai in the game for their rice

Compared to some other factions in the game, particularly for newer players, Minimoto can feel oppressive to face in a stand up fight. Their incredible durability means they can out-brawl brawlers like Savage Wave Oni or Ryu Samurai, shrug off fear or opposed ki tests from factions like Cult of Yurei, or even let sneaky ninjas stab them in the back then turn around and slap them. Perhaps counterintuitively, they only get more dangerous when wounded. Minimoto Samurai and bears have individual special abilities and powers that only initiate when they have 4 marked wound boxes, including the ability to do auto wounds, access new special melee attacks and more.

Niko, Credit: Dan Cates


  • Extremely slow, with no access to movement boosts or cards that boost movement on faction model
  • Typically lower activation and model count
  • Circle objective missions (six idol) – because Minimoto lists tend to have fewer activations, and are slower to get around the board, other factions often get there first.
  • Very limited or cost combo-attack (critical for fighting Kami, skeletons and other durable models)

Those who face Minimoto often grumble they are not slow, as the majority move 4”. This is true. They argue that this is the same as most of the other human samurai/ashigaru profiles in the game (and usually tell us to stop whining). This is also true.

However, unlike all other factions Minimoto have zero access to any sort of move boosts, cards or equipment, no ways of adding additional activations, very tricky, restricted and situational access to tireless (meaning you don’t lose an activation when engaged by an enemy), and few easy ways to disengage like side step attack/defence. In fact, they have no special melee defences of any kind – every special melee ability is attack based. This is a hyper aggressive faction; to even play it defensively, for example by pushing an opponent away with a push attack, you will probably need to roll more in attack than defense. Which even for Minimoto, can be risky.

Credit: Mike Kean, @brushknightpainting, Drew_GB

This is a deliberate design choice by the developers, not some oversight. And it’s because once a Minimoto model holds ground, it tends to be very hard to shift. Facing Minimoto head on is meant to be very tough as a new or even experienced player – your best melee bounces off their armour, your arrows land but do nothing, and your magic fizzles out against their unshakeable will.

However at higher levels of play, Minimoto face being out manoeuvred and out activated. In fact it’s something you should plan for. If your terrain pool includes ideal terrain – own it. Place it somewhere where you can hopefully reach it T1, typically 4″-6″ from your baseline, and use it. Each time you activate and cross ideal terrain, you get +2″ to your move. For Minimoto this is a game changer.

Wounds are a resource that Minimoto players sometimes sacrifice for positioning. Many factions will avoid running in early turns, in case it opens them up to a melee attack while down melee dice. Minimoto can relatively confidently manage the damage they know they risk taking with cards like Just a Scratch, or even gambling on their armour to protect them.

Minimoto’s best combat abilities are only really available when they’re the ‘active’ model or player, so ensuring you get the chance to strike on your terms is even more critical than it is usually in Bushido. When you start competitive play, you may feel it takes time to get going in early scoring games and end up losing that first VP. But Minimoto does have many solutions, and only some of those involve killing the enemy.

Cards exist to level the playing field, including cards to remove Cloudwalk (basically flying) on enemy models, restricting their movement, or Blizzard – a 1 rice card that slows down almost every other model in the game in the first turn apart from Minimoto bears (unfortunately it slows down many Minimoto humans too which mostly renders it useless but ho hum). In addition, competitive Minimoto players often make use of some of the great Ronin profiles available to the faction, like Grey Pilgrim for her Sixth Sense (see sneaky ninjas) or Karu, or even build entire secondary Ronin lists in two list formats.

Credit: Mike Kean, @brushknightpainting, Drew_GB

Top Profiles

This section aims to summarize the most useful models in any given faction.  If you’re like us, your hobby budget is finite. It’s annoying to buy something you end up rarely playing. We hope to avoid you doing that with our suggestions and points of view below.
We’ve all got opinions. They differ. We guarantee we’ll leave out someone’s favourite. In fact justjack and I disagree on some of these. The good news is the power is in your hands, dear reader. Do well, e.g. podium at a decent sized, GCT endorsed tournament recorded on longshanks and we’ll revise (if the editors let us). These might come in the form of competitive innovations style articles, or updates to this article.

Samurai (Scir_waeter)

If you’re new to the game, start here. In fact even if you’re not, this is probably still where you get the core of most of your Minimoto lists. Minimoto are blessed with some of the strongest, best-priced armoured samurai in the game. They are simple to play, tough, forgiving, and good in melee.

L to R – Niko, Yuji, Reo, Odamu. Credit Tom Claridge

At time of writing there are five, with more on the way. Minimoto Reo (17 rice, more on him below), Hoshi Odamu (21 rice, armour 4, 4 dice in melee, with the ability to auto wound and hold his opponents as well as powerful attack for +3 damage), and Minimoto Niko (18 rice, armour 4, 4 dice in melee, access to combo attack (hit once, do multiple damage rolls) and split attack (attack more than 1 model in the same activation) are profiles that any faction would envy. Minimoto Yuji is also strong (20r, armour 4, 4 dice melee, access to sweep attack (0), stun attack (0) and push attack (0) and the ability to buy strong is also brilliant, but Yuji tends to be chosen 4th out of the samurai. That (0) after those attacks is a very good thing; it means you don’t have to spend one of your melee dice to access it.

Recently a new samurai profile, Minimoto Akasuki (18r) was released to much excitement. She was designed to shore up some of the faction’s weaknesses – being bogged down and out activated by hordes, or stuck in combat with durable models. Unfortunately, with aggressive (forcing you to roll at least as many in attack as defence), three dice, and combo (1) (which is bad – you have to give up one of your three precious melee dice for the privilege) she’s been largely dismissed by the competitive Minimoto community. She’s widely viewed as offering poorer value and less general utility than Minimoto Niko for the same rice.

Jury is out from our side, as neither of us have played with her yet in this form. (Though Jack play-tested her when she was apparently excellent. So it’s probably his fault she got nerfed before ever seeing real play…) The profile does not look worth the rice on paper when compared with our other samurai, but table time is the only way to really test.

Unlike some other Samurai factions, there are no faction models with native (on profile card) access to tactician (enabling you to roll more dice when deciding who goes first each turn). For that you’ll need to buy a two rice card, Teachings of Yashushi. When I equip it (every list) it goes on Hoshi Odamu, my personal MVP.  But opinions differ…

Credit: Alasdair Johnstone, Sceptic_Mantis

Minimoto MVP (justjack)

If you are lucky enough to know me personally then what I am about to say is probably not a surprise. There is one model that is an auto include in every Minimoto list I write, and that is Minimoto Reo!

Minimoto Samura in armour
Minimoto Reo. Credit: GCT Studios

With the release of the Weeping Sky cycle deck, my love for Reo exploded. If you stick Aspect of the Bear (a card making the profile it is attached to count as two models) on him he is just too much for people to handle. He was once described to me by a good friend Wandler, as the fastest model in the faction. You can charge T2 with little fear of him being vulnerable to whatever your opponent throws at you. Unless your opponent has a combo attack, and as long as you still have your hasty bear event, you should (almost) never roll in defense.

With the ability to gain Durable, Immovable, Armour 3, access to Brutal 2 & Powerful attack, Reo really does just have it all. With a ki stat of 2 and no resistance, his only major weakness is Opposed Ki, but give him the Absolute Loyalty card for 1 rice and he becomes immune to control.

With a little effort T2 you can have Reo charging someone with 3 dice, brutal 2 from his ki feat Cleave and +10 melee strength, reducing your opponent’s dice by one by outnumbering them. You should easily hit success level two or three. You won’t even have to roll dice to do max damage. For this, you will need a couple of cards and both your fire kami, and whilst this feels like a big investment, it really is not, the cards are great options for him anyway, and well, the fire kami are just awesome. The cards in question are Ice Totem, Aspect of the Bear and Irokane Tetsubo.

Blacksmiths… Are They Worth It? (justjack)

A good blacksmith can completely change the way your list plays. Each smith can provide a different buff to the rest of the models. For example, Kinzoku really pairs well with unblessed. So it is very important that when you have your list idea you know which smith is going to support the models you plan to use. Mismatch and you may as well not have brought one.

Minimoto Blacksmiths. Credit: Tom Claridge

The go-to smith is Minimoto Kaijya. (On this justjack and I agree entirely, though I tend to think all other blacksmiths aren’t worth the rice or synergies). I honestly think for nine rice, you are going to struggle to find a profile in the whole of Bushido which is as good. So what makes him so good?

Kajiya, Credit: Mike Kean, @brushknightpainting, Drew_GB

Like all Blacksmiths he enables the use of both fire and iron kami in faction theme lists. Unlike the other Blacksmiths he can inspire them for 2ki. Three dice melee or ranged on a fire kami is great, particularly when you pair that with the fact people don’t like hitting fire kami they will take a fire token in return. You are often free to roll everything you have in attack (unless you’re up against someone with combo attack).

Next, Blade Dedication. I honestly think when the guys at GCT sat down and designed the faction they thought, “Hmm how do we make Minimoto fight harder and rub salt into the enemy’s wounds… I know let’s give them access to unblockable 2!!!” This ki feat is bonkers good however, it is very situational. I would say in all the time I have been playing Minimoto, I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve actually pulled this off, but hey it is still an option!

When it comes to opposed ki there is no non-soulless model in the game that is as good as Kajiya at defending themselves against dirty witches, disgustingly tricksy foxes/kitsune (Scir_waeter here – possibly a bit broken, not just tricksy) or everything in between. He is essentially three dice +2, and literally laughs in the face of anyone who tries with him.

All this guy needs in my humble opinion is the metal totem card (durable for a turn) and he’s set to go. Obviously, he has to have a negative, and that’s simply the fact he is move three with no opportunity to boost. He sits at the back, (or occasionally struggles to the midline), makes kami V strong and is generally a nuisance.

BEARS! (Scir_waeter & justjack)

At present, we are blessed with two awesome and thematic bears, Yuyokuma (25r) and Tetsu (16r). Both fit in any Minimoto theme even if not explicitly permitted.
So what do these bears actually offer? These are Minimoto’s distraction carnifexes. They’re animals, so they can’t do scenarios. What they do is suck up activations and kill. And they do it well.

Credit: Alasdair Johnstone, Sceptic_Mantis

Do not be fooled by their cute models. The bears hit really hard. Both cause fear 6, an awesome way to reduce your opponent’s defense dice, and both can prone models just by getting into base to base with them. They’re tough 1 or 2 (this means the subtract 1 or 2 from total wounds done to them) They’re also resistant to opposed ki.

If you target the right people you will delete models and strip your opponents activations. Don’t use them to try and target big, scary hard hitting samurai, or models immune to prone. That’s what your Samurai are for. When you’re playing bears, be a predator. Pick off the weak.

Bushido is very scenario focused. If you can delete your opponent’s scenario runners, you’re forcing them to play the scenario with their fighters, and they just don’t want to do that.

Tetsu was the OG bae, (I’m going with “her”), her profile is just solid, she’s built for charging thanks to her charging bonus that creates auto prone, paired with her fear your opponent should be at -2. when you hit. She’s 16 rice and has one job, charge something weak and eat it. She has good durability with armour one and tough one, she’s good at fighting off opposed ki with two dice and resistance two. As animal profiles go she is really good. But it turns out we can do a lot better…just for another 9 rice.

Yuyokuma is a large model that looks like a grizzly on hind legs (some hate for the sculpt, I love it), and is a blast to play. He has access to a wide range of awesome special attacks and traits, he can auto-prone people in melee, he can cause terror when at four wounds, he destroys terrain by walking into it. and he has armour 1, and tough 2…. the list is just never-ending.

But like almost everything in Bushido, bears have some hard counters. Ranged combo or rapid fire attacks are not fun for Yuyokuma, because large models are easier to hit. Nor are immovable, or immune prone models. We both love Yuyokuma on zones missions, but for other scenario play he hoovers up 25 rice and is an insignificant model – meaning you don’t have as many people to push buttons. I really want him in every list I make, but I rarely end up take him competitively. However @justjack has made him work brilliantly. We have a list including him below.

Credit: Mike Kean, @brushknightpainting, Drew_GB

Ashigaru (Scir_waeter)

Minimoto have access to a number of good ashigaru. I’ll topline 3 of the best / most interesting in our view. The biggest argument against the ashigaru is simply how strong the samurai are in faction, but that shouldn’t stop you getting these profiles on the tabletop.

Maesama Aya

Aya is incredible value at 14r, with 3 dice in melee, armour 3, Fearless, inbuilt resistance to opp ki, and endurance meaning she doesn’t drop dice when exhausted. Her veteran ki feat means even if you do get a negative state on her, she can ignore it. She’s a great cheap tank in a faction of tanks. In addition, she has the closest thing to a strategic ki feat we get in faction for 1 ki – ‘Military training’, meaning you gain a pass token when you use it. In a faction starved for activations this is a gift in early turns, or cagey games. Slap the ‘Mountain Moves’ card on her from the risen cycle deck and she becomes a serious threat, gaining brutal when 3” from any friendly model. Maesama Yoshinobu is another great 14 rice ‘beater’ ashigaru. The generic versions of Aya and Yoshinobu are called Jyoto Ashigaru, and are ok value at 12r with armour 3.


Akemi (15r) is the best ranged model in the faction, with the ability to throw Eban’nage (death frisbees) a whole 6 inches ,9 with a ki feat. Though this may seem short, Eban’nage are lightweight weapons, meaning the wielder gets to move and shoot without penalty, so the effective range is 10” / 13” with the feat. He’s also armour 3. With three dice in both melee and ranged, and immunity to prone, a great all rounder. However with a ki stat of only 1, he’s very vulnerable to opposed ki. Generic Eban’nage ashigaru also exist at 13r, but Akemi is far superior to them.

Masesama Yama

You’re taking Yama (14r) for one reason, and that’s because you’re trying to make the Mountain Banner (2r) work. When equipped “while this model is within 6” of any enemy model, any friendly Ashigaru or Samurai model within 3” that have LOS to this model gains Tireless”. As we’ve said a few times, Minimoto are often starved of activations. We also need to be active player to do what we do best, so having access to a piece of equipment that allows you to ignore it when enemy models try and strip activations by engaging you rocks.

In practice, (as you can probably tell from the number of caveats in the rules above) it can be extremely hard to get off. In fact, one former Grand Master has judged it next to impossible to do. If you’re running this, you’re probably also running the aware (360 line of sight) models in the faction, Sora (14r), Ashigaru of the peaks (13r) and Hoshi Odamu (21r) with Minimoto Reo (17r) who is immovable meaning an enemy will find it harder to stop you seeing the banner.

Shugenja (justjack and Scir_waeter)

Minimoto Shugenja are beautiful models that almost never see table time outside of casual games, and even then grudgingly. We’ve checked in Longshanks over the last year of registered events. Of 47 tournaments (not all of which featured Minimoto, some of which were casual), lists with Kimiko or Rinko featured three times. Two out of three times, the player using an ice witch finished either last, or second last overall in their event. The third example was a former Bushido Grand Master, who managed to get to 8th in the January 2024 Grand Masters – and his verdict is that both witches are 2-4 rice over-costed. They do not have good synergies with the rest of the faction. Which is a real shame, because they should open up completely different list building and ways to play. Over to justjack for a bit of detail.

Rinko, Credit: Dan Cates

Within Minimoto, we have two Shugenja. These are ice witches that allow Kami of reflection into your lists. and thanks to the mirror tokens can really protect your most vulnerable pieces from opki tests. Except we mostly don’t need that protection with the amount of access to resistance and spirit we have.

Rinko is the most expensive at 19 rice. On paper she looks like she has great feats. She can give out durable ranged, or pop up a blizzard for 3 ki. However, Blizzard as a complex action means you almost never use it in your already activation starved list. Rinko has an ok and can really provide protection for the bears. At a few rice less and with lightweight ranged I think she would see more regular play. Another model we want to get on the table, but can’t justify.

I really try to be positive about everything. Unfortunately, Hoshi Kimiko has to be one of the worst profiles in the faction at 15 rice. She needs you to invest in Peacocks Influence (1r) to allow her to boost.  She can only boost every other turn as she is 2ki, yes, she brings an ice patch of difficult terrain, but I’m still not sure why I would want to change into a Kami of Reflection. With the card, she’s 15 rice, I think I would just rather have an Ashigaru. If you can convince me (us) otherwise, please do!

Example Lists

List building can be tough to get your head around. We’ve gathered a few different examples of lists to guide beginners.

justjack’s “Beginners Expansion”

Theme: Army of the Minimoto
Hauru [11 Rice]: Metal Totem [1r]
Masaema Aya [16 Rice]:  Hotai’s Coin [2r]
Masaema Yoshinobu [15 Rice]: Ice Totem [1r]
Minimoto Reo [20 Rice]: Absolute Loyalty [1r] , Aspect of the Bear [2r]
Minimoto Yuji [22 Rice]:  Triangle Knife [2 Ricer]]
Raiko [10 Rice]
+ Faction Event Cards +
Hasty Bear [1 Rice]
Just a Scratch [2 Rice]
Just a Scratch [2 Rice]
Weeping Sky [1 Rice]

So I have tried to keep this simple. I’m assuming you are new, or maybe you’ve had a few games and are looking to expand to a 100 rice list. I’ve used the full Starter set box and only added one additional model in the form of Reo. I’ve added cards to help expand your list potential at dealing with different scenarios such as – Yuji taking a triangle knife to get combo attack, if you come across heavy durable lists. Yoshinobu takes the Ice totem so she has the ki to become immovable, Aya takes ‘hotai’s coin’ to allow her to re-roll 1s, effectively making her a mini samurai, and Haru takes the metal totem card to give him durable so that for one turn he can roll all in attack. With this list, to maximise your initial box all you need Reo, the Minimoto Special card deck, and both the Risen Sun and Weeping sky cycle decks. All cards are available as hard copy from GCT or for free on the app

Scir_Waeters “Samurai Spectacular”

Faction: Minimoto

Theme: The Finest Steel

Hoshi Odamu, [21 Rice]:  Teachings of Yashushi, [2 Rice]

Minimoto Yuji, [20 Rice]

Minimoto Niko, [18 Rice]

Minimoto Reo, [17 Rice]: Aspect of the Bear, [2 Rice]

Minimoto Kajiya, [9 Rice]

Kami of the evening Flame A [8 Rice]

Event Cards;

Just a Scratch , [2 Rice]

Hasty Bear, [1 Rice]

Total: [100 Rice]

I’ve taken this list my last two tournaments. It’s got me to 3rd and 4th place respectively (alongside an Imperial march Ronin list). It’s very unsubtle. It likes to hit people, tank damage, then hit them again. But it also has a few tricks. Key points: Tactician from the ‘Teachings of Yashushi’ card gives you better odds of activating first when it matters. ‘Aspect of the bear’ on Reo helps mitigate against his three dice by usually causing him to outnumber his opponent. ‘Just a scratch’ halves damage on a critical damage roll against you. ‘Hasty bear’ either allows Odamu to do two auto wounds when first damaged, or gives Reo durable allowing you to go all in attack. The fire Kami brings cloudwalk and ranged, as well as combo attack and fire. I sometimes like to explode it in the middle of a cluster of enemies to either do a load of fire damage, or force my opponent to waste activations putting it out. It’s a decent all comers list with a lot of durability.

Finest Steel list. Credit: Tom Claridge

justjack’s “Bear and Unblessed”

Theme: Army of the Minimoto
Reference Card: Blessing of Steel

Kinzoku [14]: Ice Totem [1r] Metal Totem [1r]

Minimoto Niko [18r]

Minimoto Reo [19r]: Aspect of the Bear [2r]

Raiko [10r ]

Unblessed Ashigaru [8r]: Unblessed Ashigaru A

Yuyokuma [25r]

Event Cards;

Blizzard [1r]

Hasty Bear [1r]

Just a Scratch [2r]
Just a Scratch [2r]

This list has loads of threats, including our best value samurai and Yuyokuma (big bear), and two weak chaff for running scenarios (Raiko and unblessed) that get buffed by the blacksmith into something more tanky.

Adepticon 2024: Grand Masters 4th Placed List by Alex Perrywinkle

Theme: Army of the Minimoto
Niko [18r]: Aspect of the bear [2r]
Odamu [21r]
Maesama Yoshinobu [14r]
Maesama Aya [14r]
Jyoto Ashigaru [12r]
Akemi [15r]

Dharmic Path [2r]
Implacable advance [2r]

This list placed fourth at the Adepticon Grand Masters winning three and losing just one (vs the eventual winner). It is a great mix of Armour 4, 4 dice samurai and armour 3, 3 dice ashigaru. The theme benefit from Army of the Minimoto allows your Ashigaru to start 2” up the board – really handy in a faction without ways to boost movement.

It’s really interesting to see a high scoring list not making use of Just a scratch or hasty bear, classic Minimoto crutches. Dharmic Path is a great card, if situational, that gives you a scenario point every time your opponent plays an event – this can shut down factions like Silvermoon or Kitsune (foxes) that tend to rely on event cards on the right scenario. Implacable advance is a card that enables you to remove all prone markers and, until the end phase roll an additional dice during move and size tests. Handy if you’re facing Temple monks or villagers, or Silvermoon buto – indeed anyone who likes to toss you about.

Raiko, about to be ambushed. Credit: Mike Kean, @brushknightpainting, Drew_GB

The end, Nearly

If you’re new to the game, we hope this has helped you get a sense of how the faction plays and some of the models to consider. If you’re more experienced, we hope you’ve enjoyed the read, even if you don’t agree with all of it. Either way, let us know!

Watch this space for overviews of a few other factions, coming soon. If you can’t wait, check out some of the great video and podcast content from the Bushido community, like Glory Goals, Gaming with the guys or Gitsapalooza for battle reports, Wulpertinger if you’re a German speaker or Arashi’s Fanboys, Bushido Cast, and Robot Dice Explosion if podcasts are more your thing.

Questions, comments, suggestions? Get in touch via contact@goonhammer.com or leave a comment below