Bushido Breaker – A Stab ‘Em Up

You know what’s great? Board games.

You know what’s not great? Spending an excessive amount of time setting up certain games. Seriously, it can take upwards of an hour before you can even play.

Bushido Breaker

For those times when one doesn’t have an entire day to devote to a game, there are lots of small amd easy games one can bash out in a short period of time. This is what I thought I was in for when I was given a game from Zach & White called Bushido Breaker.

Bushido Breaker is a card-based game for 2 – 4 players that is stated to take 30 – 90 minutes. As the name suggests, the game has a Japanese theme. Here is the story blurb:

an era of great unrest within the gravely compromised Empire of feudal Japan. Your Emperor is nothing but a figurehead while the Shogun holds the true power. There are many men who desire to hold the title of Shogun and then there is You…

Will you be the noble Samurai, following the Bushido code of honor, who is entrusted with protecting your Shogun at all costs? Understanding the fragility of the current government and the distrust of the Daimyos’ motives, you must be prepared for the impending storm.

Will you be the Ninja, the stealthy mercenary, trained in the art of espionage and assassination? As the Ninja, you have been hired by a traitorous Daimyo who desires you execute the Shogun. You must now sneak into the Shogun’s fortress in order to kill him and anyone who gets in your way.
It is up to you to protect your Shogun or end him…

As the blurb describes, the players are either Ninjas or Samurai; with one trying to kill the Shogun, and the other trying to protect him. Bushido Breaker is played with two decks – with the cards that represent the fortress being placed on the table, while others are held in the player’s hands to use throughout the game. One of the main mechanics is stealth, as where those playing the Samurai do not know where the Ninja is at any given time.

The Ninja must complete certain tasks, such as killing all the Samurai or disabling several alarms to be able to kill the Shogun and win the game. The Samurai just have to stop the Ninja, either by killing the Ninja or preventing the death of the Shogun for a certain amount of turns.

A basic rundown of a turn is as follows:

  1. The Ninja(s) choose an action from their hand and place(s) it face down on the table then note(s) the action on the provided pad.
  2. The Samurai player(s) choose(s) an action to counter the Ninja’s action.
  3. The actions are revealed and resolved and the game progresses.

One may think it sounds pretty easy, but this is where it gets tricky. Bushido Breaker requires the players to employ complex strategy and the ability to read one’s opponents. The Ninja must choose actions carefully so as to not be discovered and the Samurai must try to anticipate what actions the Ninja will use and counter-act them.

I will freely admit I am terrible at strategy and I couldn’t read someone even if they had what they were thinking written on their forehead. This game is not for me. I played with two others, one the Ninja and the other a Samurai like me. While we managed to win, I think it was more fluke than skill. The one who played the Ninja very much enjoyed the game, but he also enjoys playing Chess, so the strategy and reading the opponent is appealing.

The card art is really well done, while being very simple at the same time. It is very stylistic, utilizing bold lines, little to no fine detail and a few simple colours. I quite like the striking style as I am a fan of Minimalist design and Bushido Breaker fits in well with that.

At the end of the day, Bushido Breaker is a deeply strategic game that will appeal greatly to a certain type of people, mainly those who like Chess or Risk. It is a game for thinkers, for those who enjoy puzzling over what the opponent is doing and how to best them.

Maybe this says something about me…

A Kickstarter is currently in the works to hopefully get this game out there, but is not currently active, so keep an eye out for it when it goes live. Otherwise, Zach & White have a site too.

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