Coming from Jung, whose models offer a wide variety of flavor and alter the options on the table, I struggled with the Ashigaru in Minimoto. Each one felt too similar to the last. I’m coming around to them, as Minimoto are more about consistency as a whole. They are meant to be similar, with each model bringing one or two unique traits. However, with Minimoto’s access to enhancements and equipment, you gain a versatile “build your own” soldier effect that can shift the feel of an army.
Minimoto Ashigau lists are one of the best starting points for players getting into Bushido. With the similarities, it’s fewer rules for them to focus on, and the resilience helps soften the blow of a lot of mistakes.
A cheaper Yuji, Yoshinobu follows a lot of the same tactics. He’s got 1 less armor, so being a little defensive is still necessary. He’s lost bravery, but with Steadfast it hurts a bit less and at 1 ki, he’s going to be benefitting from Steadfast frequently when fighting Fear heavy armies. With 3 melee dice, he’s got to time his swing a little more than Yuji does.
When he does get his punch in, Powerful Attack(1), Sweep Attack (1), and Push Attack (0) are will all see use. Gaining innate powerful attack is great, but unfortunately, at 1 ki, he’s likely to get to boost once and at the cost of his other ki feats.
Mountain Stance is often a “cast ASAP” feat. Immoveable with the resilience of Minimoto is extremely frustrating for your opponents. Conditioning gives him the Resistance(2) that Minimoto loves so much, and thankfully at 1 ki he can cast it when he needs it. Picking between boosting, immoveable and resistance is going to depend on your opponent and the list they bring.
In melee, he can follow Yuji’s example and roll 2 defense and 1 attack. He’ll take more damage, but he wants to be a bit more aggressive. Where Yuji wants to take half a dozen small blows in exchange for one big one, Yoshinobu is more geared towards surviving a medium hit to deliver a big one.
With Bear Arms and gaining Mighty Blow, you have access to just about everything Yuji brings, in a cheaper package.
See Yoshinobu, but cheaper and without Mountain Stance, Powerful Attack(1) and Push Attack (0).
These guys are typically bottom of the list fillers as Yoshinobu is only 2 rice more. To fit in the Garrison of the Damned theme, Minimoto will bring them, and make no mistake, they are fantastic at surviving just like Yuji and Yoshinobu, but with those two models already filling that role, dedicating 4 models to the same defensive slot is often more than it’s worth. Once other cheap Ashigaru work their way into the faction, The Jyoto Ashigaru will be harder to justify. If you’re running a numbers list with Minimoto, they make a great bang for their buck, but in a faction of already similar models, these guys really step on other people’s toes.
Unless you are running Finest Steel, there is no reason to not bring Aya. The very definition of hearty, Endurance and access to Veteran means she is almost always going to get her 3 dice, making her a great front runner. She shines either being aggressive or locking things down defensively. She can be a thorn in the side of your opponent that just won’t die. Stick her in a high traffic area and watch your enemy bottleneck in her Zone of Control.
In addition to the standard Ashigaru trait load-out, she has Fearless and Resistance (2) innately. She does not feel like a 1 Ki model, especially since her ki feats both cost 1. The biggest hurdles are boosting can’t happen as often as you want it to, and she can’t target Disguised models.
Military Training can help slow down the pace of the turn. Minimoto really enjoy going after exhausted models, so getting the edge on activations goes a long way. If she was a 2 ki model, this would get cast every turn. As it stands, its there for those moments where you just really want to pass.
She loves the Irokane Tetsubo, to put her alongside Yuji and Yoshinobu in terms of strength, and knocking damaged models Prone means she doesn’t have to worry about Sweep Attack. It won’t take too many hits with a Tetsubo to take down a Prone, Exhausted enemy.
Poor, squishy Raiko. A scenario runner and cheap numbers man, I struggle to find a use for him in most lists. If you’re bringing a blacksmith, bringing a fire kami or even second fire kami will often generate more results. He suffers most from conflicting strengths. Minimoto likes to stand apart and benefit from Bear Stands Alone, funneling your enemies where you want them. Raiko wants to participate in that too, but his ki feat grants him Co-ordinated Attack, so he wants to be close to others, negating their bonus. And at 1 ki, it’s not until turn 3 that he can pop the feat, without help from the Ice Totem.
He can be tough early on while learning the faction, as he goes against his peers and lacks any Armor and defenses, yet wants to be more aggressive with his Sweep Attack. Targeting models that Kimiko has Slowed, or waiting till he has the initiative and praying for a good attack roll is the best you can hope for in combat. Prone enemies are as good as dead against minimoto, but you’re probably going to have to sacrifice Raiko to get one.
Despite being an Ashigaru, Raiko wants to run with the Blacksmith. Witness Me! Is practically an auto-include. With Last Stand, Raiko becomes a time bomb. Sacrificing him turn 2 or 3 to take out an enemy early can make up his 11 point investment.
Overall, I enjoy the Ashigaru and they make for a tough attrition challenge for your opponent. I am looking forward to more releases fleshing out their variety a bit.