Review: Bushi No Yume

Rating: 4 stars

Bushi No Yume (BNY) is a set of skirmish rules for fighting in ancient Japan, using either a historical of fantasy setting. They were written in 2010 by our friend Rich Jones.

BNY uses the same basic rules engine as Rich’s other set of rules, ‘Flying Lead’, so if you are a fan of any of those rules you will find much that is familiar.

To play Bushi No Yume, you will need several six-sided dice, a set of measuring sticks (size dependent upon miniature scale) 5-10 miniatures and area of play around 3′ x 3′ with some suitable scenery. You will also optionally need a set of Karma Cards. These cards can be found in the back of the rules – they will need to be removed, cut and placed in card prtocestors.

The three measuring sticks are of the following sizes

For 15-20mm

  • Short – 2″
  • Medium – 3″
  • Long – 4″

F0r 25-40mm

  • Short – 3″
  • Medium – 5″
  • Long – 7″

Models in the game have the following characteristics:

  • Kyu Grade – Overall indicator of physical abilities – the lower the better
  • Bujutsu – fighting ability
  • Buki – weapon
  • Noroku – abilities

bushi 1Players each set up a retinue, or Tomozei. This can be:

  • Bushi – Samurai and Ashigaru
  • Ronin
  • Ninja
  • Yamabushi (Warrior Monks)
  • Forces of Evil (Includiding fantasy and mythic creatures)

At the start of the game, players each roll 1D6, with the winner choosing whether to be the attacker or defender. The defender may then set up the board, with the attacker then choosing which table edge to deploy on. Defenders forces are placed first, followed by the attackers.

At the start of the game, players roll 1D6 each, the winner has initiative for the rest of the game. On each turn, first (if you are using them) players roll to see if either picks up a Karma card. Then, the player with the initiative chooses a model with which to take an action. Each model may take 1-3 actions – the player rolls 1D6 for each action he wishes the model to take – this is done simultaneously. For example, if a player wishes a model to attempt two actions, 2D6 are rolled. A success is scored for each dice that is equal or higher than the models Kyu Grade. For each success, an action can be taken. Actions include:

  • Medium Movement
  • Short Movement through dense terrain (2 Action)
  • Close Combat Attack
  • Powerful hand-to-hand attack (2 actions)
  • Aimed shot with a ranged weapon (2 actions)
  • Reload a weapon
  • Stand up
  • Cast a spell (1 – 3 actions)

Once a model has performed its available actions, the player may choose the next model to activate, and rolls the appropriate number of D6. However, if when attempting to activate a model, a player rolls two or three failures, then that players turn ends and play passes to the opponent. It is possible for certain group actions to be taken.

Movement takes place as a result of an action. Models are moved any distance along the appropriate measuring stick, up to its maximum length. However, all movement must be made in a straight line. Therefore, in order to turn a corner, multiple movement actions must be taken.

bushi 3Combat, whether hand-to-hand or ranged, takes place in a similar fashion in the form of an opposed dice roll. In close combat, either combatant can strike the other, whilst in ranged combat the target can effectively ‘dodge’ the incoming shot. One thing is really worthy of note – simply moving into base contact with an opponent does not automatically initiate a round of close combat, this is a separate action.

In close combat, each player has a combat total, which consists of the model’s Bujutsu value + the Buki of the weapon + combat modifiers + 1D6.

In ranged combat, only the firer adds the Buki and combat modifiers to the combat total. If the combat total of the target exceeds that of the firer, the shot has missed.


  • combat totals equal: Ranged = miss, Close combat = disengage
  • Win, but not double opponent: Ranged = target seeks cover, Close combat = loser recoils, winner may follow up, possible knock down
  • Win, double or more opponent: Loser is wounded, knocked down.
  • Win, triple or more opponent: Loser is killed outright (if this happens on a ‘6’, it is a gruesome death!)

At the beginning of the next turn, a player whose model has been wounded must make a wound check on 3D6. The number of successes determines how bad a wound has been inflicted, from a flesh wound to a mortal wound. The wound type can give modifiers to the model.

Morale has to be tested for individual models at certain points in the game – failure can cause that model to flee the board.

There are special rules covering different weapons and armour types in the game, as well as character skills.

As well as movement and fighting, models can perform other actions. These can be determined as easy, medium or hard, and therefore require a successful action, perhaps with a modifier, in order to be completed.

bushi 2There is a section of advanced rules which cover such things as Ki (fortune), Karma cards (essentially a random event  or bonus card), fighting at night and honour and prestige.

BNY also has 5 scenarios, and a small campaign system which  includes details of how models in a Tomozei can improve.

As I mentioned, the rules cater for both historical and fantasy play, so there are sections on the rules dedicated to monsters and the use of magic.

At 40 pages, Bushi No Yumi is quite a small and compact set of rules, but it is packed to overflowing with period flavour and detail, whether that be the details of individual weapons and armour, or the myriad of skills available which reflect the various talents and fighting styles of the period. Rich has obviously got a huge passion for the period, and this shines through on every page.

At its heart, BNY has a really simple push-your-luck activation system. You can be ultra-conservative, only attempt a single action for each of your models in your turn, and ensure almost everything gets activated – or you can play more high-risk. The rewards are greater, but you always risk handing the turn to your opponent. Whilst the combat system is simple, the large number of weapons and skills certainly adds variety and flavour – add the Karma cards for that little extra chaos, and you have a really good game on your hands.

Whilst it’s ideally suited for smaller warbands – 5 – 10 models – it can be played with more, though this does impact on player downtime. It’s also worthy of note that Rich is currently working on an updated version of these rules to include a reaction system, this making them more interactive.

In short, Bushi No Yume is a great little Samurai skirmish game. Cinematic in style and oozing period detail from every page. Fun and fast – well worth owning a set.

Rich has very kindly made the current set of the rules available to download for free.




2 Comments on Review: Bushi No Yume

  1. Great Review,
    I will get these Neil, I just need to write the unofficial 6-10mm rules expansion.
    Short – 1″
    Medium – 1.5″
    Long – 2″
    Job done 😉 / Per

  2. Mr Jones has actually decided to make these rules available to everyone, you can download them here

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