Goonhammer Historicals: Getting Started with Bushido – Prefecture of Ryu Faction Focus

Welcome back to our series exploring Bushido Risen Sun. Just like the previous article on the Minimoto clan, this is designed to help you get started with the awesome game of Bushido and the fantastic world of the Jwar Isles.


The Prefecture of Ryu rule the isles of Jwar in the name of the greater Empire located on the mainland. Their capital is the city of Ryu, the largest city on the isles, built on and around a big, inactive volcano that’s said to contain a sleeping fire dragon whose awakening will bring an end to the world.

Prefecture of Ryu starter set. Credit: @locobilbo

The Prefecture was once ruled by the Shiho clan, but the former Daimyo (warlord and clan leader) of the Takashi clan felt they lacked honor and control. They petitioned the Empire for permission to claim the Prefecture for the Takashi. The Empire accepted, and on paper the Takashi had gained the right to rule.

But the Daimyo of the Shiho didn’t fancy stepping back, so the situation escalated into a full blown civil war, which the Takashi and their allies duly won. The Shiho were almost eradicated and are still persecuted. Still today the clans are enemies. The recent return of Hiroto, the heir to the title of Daimyo of the Shiho, has led to an ongoing guerrilla war against the prefecture.

Ryoko-Sha, a Samurai with the power to control time. Credit: @edchopp

So what made the Takashi so special and valuable to the empire that they would tolerate a civil war to put them into power?

The Takashi wear thick armour of hardened wood and lacquer, wield Katanas, and follow a doctrine of absolute honour and obedience. They are superb tacticians, lead large armies of well-trained Ashigaru warriors (non-noble Soldiers) and even have access to Arquebuses (the predecessor of the Musket). That makes their army a very strong asset for the Empire, and they fight in its name without remorse and make the enemies of the Empire know fear.

Secondly, the Takashi’s blade fighting school, the “Takashi Koryu”, is one of the best in the known world. It relies on perfected single strikes that can kill almost every enemy in just one strike, no matter how huge or well armoured the opponent is.

Takashi Akio, the sword master of the Takashi, painted by @edchopp

Play Style

The Prefecture of Ryu is a great faction to start playing Bushido with, but has sufficient depth to make it extremely satisfying for more advanced play. There are very easy and forgiving lists for beginners, but you will never stop finding new combos or list concepts.

The Prefecture has one of the widest pools of models of any faction in the game – 46 at last count, not including Ronin. Naturally, not all lists from such a vast collection work the same. On the table, this means you can choose from a wide variety of playstyles.

You can choose if you want mid-cost soldiers with black powder guns and spears, assisted by scouts with dogs, or elite Samurai warriors that sometimes feel like you’re just playing super humans.

The Prefecture even has a dragon available, as well as some spellcasters that can manipulate time, throw opponents around using telekinesis or summon the spirits of their ancestors to guide the living.

Most Prefecture lists follow a similar archetype, relying on synergies of model traits, buffing friends and de-buffing enemies and last but not least, the option to go for a nasty alpha strike. The Prefecture may be the best turn 1 alpha striking force in the game, whether using guns to shoot across the board, or lightning fast samurai flying over terrain to jump on exhausted opponents with a katana.

Takashi Katsumoto and Takashi Mako making battle plans. Credit: @sceptic_mantis



  • Very strong and reliable melee fighters.
  • Hard hitting high ranged weaponry.
  • Tactical advantage, resulting in usually getting the initiative.
  • The option of shifting activation markers between models, making elite models even stronger.
  • Insane number of synergies and buff options; complex list building.
  • Uncle Iroh-eeh Mako, and a Dragon.



  • Ashigaru lists (regular soldiers) tend to die easily and need good positioning.
  • Low model count on elite lists (although this makes the entry cheaper).
  • Pretty slow and easily countered by difficult terrain if you don’t include the right tools.
  • Some lists are clearly better and more competitive then others – the one same list concept is basically played by 80% of all Prefecture tournament players.
  • Pretty “basic” Samurai in an otherwise very colourful fantasy setting.


Top Profiles

As already mentioned above, there are solid options from both the Samurai and the Ashigaru range. Usually, those are played separately – with a few exceptions that do synergize quite well with both ways of playing the Prefecture.

First, I’d like to mention the stand-out profiles that you basically always want to get sooner or later.

The first entry on the list is Takashi Katsumoto. He costs a solid 23 “rice,” which makes him an elite choice for sure, but not because he’s a superior fighter: he is the Prefecture’s master tactician, and he will almost guarantee that you may choose to go first or second every turn.

Katsumoto is one of the best support models in the game. He can hand out bonus activations to all other models, (no matter how elite they are), buffs other model’s melee or ranged stats, and lets you activate multiple models at once without the opposing player being abled to react.

You may be wondering why a support model is my first pick. In my view he embodies what the Prefecture is from a gameplay perspective – a model that synergizes, makes your list stronger, gives you options and clear advantages. Katsumoto is the Prefecture.

Next up, Takashi Hagane, 19 Rice. She is the fastest, hardest hitting and most efficient profile available to the faction, and by far the best beat stick you can have in Prefecture lists. She and Takashi Hiro both have an old and a new sculpt – choose the one you prefer, but be aware that the new one (see image below) has the most up to date enhancement cards.

Takashi Hagane. Credit: @chard

And as a third and last “special mention:” Takashi Hiro, 22 Rice. He is the Daimyo of the Takashi and current head of the Prefecture. He is a very scary brawler, but also offers vital support to Ashigaru lists. You could see him as the leader of a unit of common soldiers, leading by example and buffing his soldiers. If you want him to, he fits in every list and theme and every combination, and always is worth his price.

Takashi Hiro. Credit: @edchopp

After getting the big three out of the way, I will show you a few other recommendations, now separated into Samurai and Ashigaru options, since usually you want to play “either, or” after putting Hiro and Katsumoto aside who work well with both Ashigaru and Samurai alongside them.

More Samurai?

In the Samurai category, the next most cost-efficient options are Takashi Genji (16 Rice), Takashi Kumiko (16 Rice) and Takashi Eiji (13 Rice). All of these are just great, reliable fighters that can stand their ground by themselves and make great fillers for every elite list. There are a lot of other, almost equally good profiles, but those are usually considered to be the best.

From left to right: Takashi Katsumoto, Eiji, Hagane and Genji. Credit: @sceptic_mantis

More Ashigaru?

Even more then the Samurai, Prefecture Ashigaru lists rely on synergies, good list concepts and supporters.

Many Prefecture Ashigaru players enjoy running black powder gun lines using the fearsome Arquebus profiles available to the faction. Both named shooters are great in their way, the unnamed “Guardsman of Ryu” on the other hand is not as strong. So, if you want to have guns, buy Minuro or Kokkio (12 Rice each) – or even both. A third gun is rarely seen in Prefecture lists.

Next, you want a way to augment the killing power of those guns – and here, the best option right now is Hanso (18 Rice). He is both another great Tactician that controls the flow of the battlefield and one of the better fighters available to the Ashigaru caste. He is a must have for every Ashigaru player.

Hanso. Credits: @bohmi

And again, what makes the Prefecture unique is its access to support profiles that make your heavy hitters hit even harder. Junichi (10 Rice) and Edogawa (11 Rice), or better: his trained scout dog Aki (5 Rice) give you access to the ability to hand out bonus activations to your fighters and gunners, which is something quite rare in most other factions. You paid 20+ rice for a elite Samurai or you want to shoot another bullet? Great, play your best models with 3 instead of the regular 2 activations per turn!

Edogawa and his Trained Dogs. Credit: @edchopp

Lastly, I must mention Mizuchi, the dragon (30 Rice). One of the most expensive models in the game in in-game currency, and not quite the most optimized, but he is a dragon, so whatever, he is great nonetheless! If you want to play the Prefecture, go pick up yourself a dragon. He’s just too much fun to not play him!

Mizuchi. Credits: @bohmi



Example Lists

 The first two lists featured here are for beginning to collect the models and to learn the basic rules. The third and fourth list are advanced lists that could be played in a tournament and need a little deeper knowledge of the game and understanding of its base mechanics.

I will go a little bit deeper into keywords and mechanics using Italics. If you’re not (yet) interested in that, just skip those paragraphs.

Starting Samurai

Theme card: Blood of the Dragon

Takashi Eiji [13 Rice]

Takashi Genji [16 Rice]

Takashi Hiro [23 Rice]: “Daimyo of the Takashi” Enhancement card

Takashi Kumiko [16 Rice]

Takashi Akira [18 Rice]

Takashi Mika [14 Rice]

For your first few games, you can also just drop Genji and Mika and play the rest as a 70 Rice list (the smaller list format for faster games).

This is a super simple Samurai list to start playing as a beginner. Every model is solid by itself, and you got 6 bodies on the board to make up for some mistakes. What you’re “missing” is the synergy-trick play that you usually incorporate into your lists, but for a first list, I recommend just starting up with good profiles and learning the game before worrying about learning the faction.

Takashi Eiji and Takashi Genji come from the same blister, so you need that one twice – but anyways, all models in this list are go-to models anyways, so nothing wasted.

In addition to the models above you need just one enhancement card from the Weeping Sky cycle deck. When starting out just use the (free) companion app as a reference instead of purchasing the whole deck for just 1 card – Daimyo of the Takashi, which makes Hiro even just a little bit stronger.

It’s easy, it’s forgiving, and it’s fun. If you want to play Samurai and are new to the game, start here!

Takashi Kumiko. Credits: @bohmi


Starting Ashigaru

Theme card: Prefecture Patrol

Takashi Mako [18 Rice]

Takashi Hiro [23 Rice] : “Teachings of Yasushi” Enhancement card

Minuro [12 Rice]

Kokkio [12 Rice]

Jin [13 Rice]

Ryu Yariman [11 Rice]

Madoka [6 Rice]

Goshi [5 Rice]

For a 70r quick play list, drop Kokkio and Mako.

A simple list with mostly Ashigaru soldiers. You have 2 Arquebus gunners, some cheap objective runners and two samurai to do some fighting. Mako also helps the Ashigaru against failed fear tests, (and he is a reference to Avatar’s uncle Iroh – why wouldn’t you want him)? In this list, you utilize the “Teachings of Yasushi” enhancement card from the Prefecture of Ryu special card deck to gain access to the Tactician ability to make it more likely to win the initiative. As in the list above, just open that card in your companion app – no need to purchase the whole deck right away!

Jin, Minuro and the Ryu Yariman are a 3-model bundle that is worth getting.

Credit: @sceptic_mantis


The Hagane Bomb

Theme cards: Blood of the Dragon.

Takashi Hagane [24 Rice]: Heir by Deed, Vial of Raijin’s Breath, Finesse

Takashi Katsumoto [26 Rice]: Dragon’s Vigour, Pacifism

Takashi Eiji [16 Rice]: Patient Dragon, Minimoto Steel Blade

Takashi Genji [16 Rice]

Takashi Kumiko [16 Rice]: Battle Plans

Events: Year of the Risen Sun [1 Rice]

Terrain: Rice Bale Barricade [1 Rice]

This is one variant of the most well known, competitive, Ryu Samurai list and arguably the strongest list available to the faction. WARNING: Do not play this list into new players that don’t yet know how the game works to avoid killing off their interest in the game. This list brutally effective, yet quite easy to understand and hits like an absolute unit. Only ever use this in a competitive meta or against opponents that know their way around this game!

Everyone knows it after playing Bushido for a while. This is a nasty Alpha Strike list. You use Pass Tokens and spare activations to wait until the opposing player is out of activations in turn 1 and all their models are exhausted. In the meantime, you buff up Hagane and give her extra melee dice and an extra activation. Then, when your opponent is done, you throw Hagane in his backline. They can’t really react anymore, and she tries to kill one or two models in the first turn – usually successfully. Then Katsumoto claims the initiative in turn 2, and she strikes again. Sometimes by this point, the game is already won. If not, the list still contains only of very strong and reliable individual models.

We had some useful feedback on our last article that we jumped into more complex details that assumed in depth game knowledge without warning – which some readers loved, but others found confusing. I’ve gone into some technical detail below about exactly how you make this list tick, for those readers who know a bit about Bushido or just want to get more of a sense how the game works. This builds on the detail in my Faction Guide, pinned in the faction channel on GCT’s Discord server. Feel free to skip the sections in italics below if you’re not there yet!

How to play the list

Use the Year of the Risen Sun Event card in Turn 1’s Ki generation step. All models besides Eiji will have 6 Ki now, Eiji starts at 4 Ki, as the Theme Bonus doubles Ki gained during the first turn’s Ki generation step.

Katsumoto can use Order to hand out a third activation to Hagane, Eiji and Genji. He then uses the Dragon’s Vigour Equipment card and runs forward 6” to be in range for Turn 2. He uses Inspiration on Hagane. Usually all models in Bushido only have 2 activation counters per turn, so having 3 makes a model much stronger, especially since you’re getting a debuff once the model is out of activations!

Eiji runs forward once and then uses a wait action once or twice depending on how many models there are in the enemy warband. Like this, he generates up to 6 extra Pass Tokens while still staying at Katsumoto’s side to protect him if necessary. Pass Tokens let you choose to not activate a model but to skip your turn of activating a model, meaning that you also don’t spend an activation marker. This leads to the enemy models being exhausted and thus de-buffed, while you keep your Activations for later on! He can use his Idolize Ki feat on either Genji if he gets in fighting range, or Hagane.

Oka can use up her two activations for whatever but using her Active Ki Feat “Emnity” on Hagane. She and Eiji are your objective runners.

Genji has 3 activations and is used to threaten the enemy from coming too close to the middle line. Only use Idolize on him if you do get into fighting range. If not, he has done his job already.

After the enemy has used up all his activations – at this point your opponent will have spent up to 15 activations already while you were using those Pass Tokens and spare activations – you activate Hagane for the first time. If not done already, you throw all possible buffs on her. This takes her to;

6 Melee dice from Idolize + Inspiration – (elite models usually have 4), Vengeance Enemy (Brutal +1 and Damage +2 on her Katana in total) which makes you hit more reliably and harder, 3 Activations, 6 Ki.

She can either walk or run forward once now so that she gets into 12” of an exhausted target. Then, with her second activation, she uses Vial of Raijin’s Breath [Equipment card] and Banzai, a skill that allows to do a charge double action using twice the movement value in just one simple action, to Cloudwalk-Charge 12” in one huge leap into combat. (Cloudwalk lets you ignore terrain pieces).

Additionally, the Vial of Raijins Breath also adds +2 to your movement value for that activation, so like this Hagane can charge 2x(4″+2″)=12″ in just 1 simple action, which is significant given the fact that the board is only 24″x24″!

Going all-out attack, Hagane has Combo Attack (0) meaning with one attack she can hit multiple times, Brutal 2, this adds 2 to her attack roll and 5 dice plus the charge damage bonus even after running. This makes for a pretty reliable one-shot against every mid-class model that is exhausted, sitting on 1 or 2 dice now, worst case even having run unaware of the danger. And after hitting that first time, Hagane still has another activation left, either charging another 8” at another model, or finishing off the first one.

Then, at the start of Turn 2, Katsumoto with Tactician (2) makes it likely that Hagane strikes a third time in a row, potentially even already Inspired and Idolized again since those are active Ki feats, usable even while you’re activating Hagane. Tactician adds the bracketed number of dice to your initiative test. Yes, you’re reading right: you roll 3 dice instead of the usual 1 to see who gets the initiative. Nobody said this list is fair.

“The Gunline” – 100 Rice total.

Theme cards: Claws of the Dragon

Hanso [18 Rice]

Minuro [12 Rice]

Kokkio [12 Rice]

Fujitaka [11 Rice]

Junichi [11 Rice]: Battle Plans Equipment

Takashi Hiro [23 Rice]: Heir by Blood Enhancement

Events: Inspiring Words [3 Rice], Ranked Fire Drill [3 Rice], Year of the Risen Sun [1 Rice], Vanguard: (used on Minuro, Kokkio, Hiro, Hanso and Junichi) [6 Rice]

This list is another Alpha Strike concept, this time utilizing mainly Ashigaru. Here, it’s an Arquebus “Gunline” (containing of 2 guns) that shoots right into the enemy deployment zone with your very first activation of the game. To make this possible, you make use of a lot of different events, models and synergies.

How to play the list

You forward-deploy your key models 6 Inch up the board with the scout mechanic gained by the “Vanguard” Event card and the Theme card “Claws of the Dragon”. Then you use Hanso’s “Command” ability to make Minuro and Kokkio, your gunners, activate alongside with him in the same single activation – you basically “group activate” like you would in “Necromunda” or “Frostgrave”.

Now the magic happens: just before you end Hanso’s own activation, you play two event cards to gain Ki: “Year of the risen Sun” and “Inspiring Words”. Hanso sits at 4 Ki tokens now and uses his “Active” Ki Feat “Move it!” outside of any activation (in other words, before you continue your group activation).

This lets you move the gunners and Takashi Hiro alongside with them another 4” forward, ending that move within the “Medium” range band of the Arquebus weapons. Only now you continue the group activation with Kokkio and Minuro, who now shoot on a reliable challenge level number without any handicaps due to range band or movement.

Finally, Junichi uses the Ki gained by the Events to use his Ki Feat to gain the “Order” ability to feed the guns the activations to reload their Arquebuses so that they’re ready for another salvo turn 2.

As you can see – Ryu synergy play and list-building offers a lot of great options and you can put a lot of time into composing such incredible results that are impossible for almost every other faction in the game! (Editors note: @bohmi makes it sound like they’re invincible. Ryu lists are like clockwork. Just like clockwork, when you hit them with a big club, they tend to fall apart!)

Fujitaka, Ryu’s Banner bearer. Credit: @edchopp

For more lists and insights, check out the Ryu Faction guide that is pinned in GCT’s Bushido Discord channel in the “Prefecture of Ryu” sub-channel.

Final Words

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 more Bushido content as we go through the factions available to play.

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