Still catching up with various ideas from recent weeks. This post was inspired by a thread on the AEG forums, where I mentioned something about bushi schools having dead ranks (i.e. ranks with terrible techniques) and someone asking which ones … which I never answered there.
Why not answer it here?
This is a very basic analysis to start out with. No paths, no advanced schools, only the major clan bushi schools in the main book, no kata. What is included is a non-quantified adjustment for things like: superior Honor; superior equipment (mostly heavy armor); superior starting skills (as trivial as this sort of thing is).
12. (tie) Kakita Bushi & Mirumoto Bushi
Yes, two of the most iconic bushi … no … schools period in the game are at the bottom. Unplayably bad? No, of course not. Just inferior to every other option.
Mirumoto Bushi got the big end of the nerf hammer from 3e to 4e, as most folks know. What did it in was a dead rank 2 technique since dueling is not only nowhere near as common as people expect – it’s flat out rare in both my experience and based on responses in a thread I started asking how common dueling is in other people’s games. Its rank 1 is often the subject of discussion. It’s weak early, which is where most of campaigns are played at (which will get mentioned again). The spell part is the best part, and that’s hard to quantify. None of its techniques are actually that good – I don’t even rate the third attack at rank 5 that highly.
Kakita Bushi gets the dull side of the blade for being way too dueling oriented and its rank 1 (seemingly) being highly overrated. It too gets no real special technique. It’s really a school set up for archery, yet why not just play a Tsuruchi at that point?
11. Moto Bushi
I thought Moto would do worse, to be honest. Every time I read the school, I’m incredibly unimpressed. But, unlike the Kakita, it gets simple attacks at rank 3, which is long before rank 4 in my experience. Its rank 5 is actually good, unlike ranks 1, 2, and 4.
10. Bayushi Bushi
A hard school for me to quantify … got to stop saying quantify … judge. If you want to go strictly by combat ability, this could be put behind Moto. But, I see this school as having a lot of play value beyond combat. A Soshi Bayushi double stacks Intelligence to be a party brain. The school skills include highly useful social skills. The rank 1 is good, better IMO than Kakita rank 1. Just hurt by poor rank 2, 3, and rank 5 and not getting simple attacks until rank 4.
9. Yoritomo Bushi
The most “weak early, strong late” of the schools. Unfortunate for it in my rankings, in point valuing all of the techniques and doing some averaging/summing, I only counted rank 4 and rank 5 techniques for half the number of points. The double kama thing is really not worth it until you get up to rank 4, as kama just do less damage than swords.
8. Utaku Battle Maiden
The opposite problem from Yoritomo. The first two techniques are mighty. Then, you get into the “must be mounted” punishment part of the school. Only the Akodo and Iron Warrior compare in the first two ranks. Because of my weighting toward early career, shiotome gets a break. Also, choice of riding armor and you get a free bushi with your warhorse. In a home campaign, one assumes that the GM will allow mounted combat a good amount of the time, so it’s not completely falling off a cliff after rank 2. And, if I ever do more advanced analysis, pathing into Calm Heart Duelist or whatever is entirely viable.
7. Hiruma Bushi
I really like the rank 1 ability as I’ve often enough been in situations without food, jade, or whatever. I can’t, in good conscience, however, say that it’s a good technique. However, every other technique is. Only the Shiba Bushi is more consistent throughout all ranks.
6. Shiba Bushi
Mister consistency. While the rank 1’s Void Point thing is terrible for combat, it’s a SOP for key rolls outside of combat. I make the assumption that there’s at least one shugenja in the party to rate the rank 2 tech, otherwise not a school out of the box I’d expect anyone to play.
5. Tsuruchi Archer
Personally, I find this school to be the dullest in the game. I just don’t “feel” a focused archery build in a game about katana carriers and doing stuff outside of combat. Sure, there’s doing Perception related stuff and being manhunty …
Getting away from the point of this post. Given that I don’t think that highly of the rank 1, and the rank 4 and 5 are, respectively, bad and mediocre, why so high? Simple attacks at rank 3. Simple attacks with a bow. If you are going to take advantage of ranged combat, nothing says taking advantage like barrages of deadly missiles. Strong rank 2, as well.
4. Akodo Bushi
Everything is great, except for the awfulness that is rank 4. By great, I mean excellent (4’s on my 1-5 rating scale). The rank 2 is versatile. The rank 5 is supercool. Other schools have similarly good rank 1’s, but only one school has better.
3. Hida Bushi
I found it tough to decide between Akodo, Hida, and #2. Hida gets the edge over Akodo by virtue of much better simple attacks (Akodo is limited to samurai weapons, ruling out k3 or k4 weapons), heavy armor, and having no dead rank.
2. Matsu Beserker
The best rank 1. Tied for the best rank 3. Excellent rank 4 and 5. Terrible rank 2. Now, I don’t play in games where tactical movement is that important, nor would I run one. It’s just too situational given that a Matsu is usually going to inflict so much damage with any successful attack that the victim isn’t likely to be all that important. Or, if it’s something like a spirit or big bad or something terrifying like a bear, why is freezing it in place important? Might not even matter due to the die roll to break out of it.
1. Daidoji Iron Warrior
Sure, its rank 5 is crap, just a dead rank. By then, one figures you found something better to do than go to rank 5 in this school. Utterly broken rank 2. Heavy armor, high Honor, high money. Just the sweetest early career bushi school.
|Daidoji Iron Warrior||1|
|Utaku Battle Maiden||8|
By rating (1 to 5):
|Daidoji Iron Warrior||5|
|Utaku Battle Maiden||3|
Each school rank (1-5):
|School||Rank 1||Rank 2||Rank 3||Rank 4||Rank 5|
|Daidoji Iron Warrior||4||5||4||3||0|
|Utaku Battle Maiden||4||4||2||2||2|
Obviously, there are paths to avoid the most egregious techniques. Jade Legionnaire is a fantastic path to sub at rank 2 for those that don’t have a specific clan option. But, that’s analysis for another day.