Armoured Kairai (x2)
Large Rat Swarm
Small Rat Swarm (x3)
I opted to put my two big hitters with Light Footed behind the forest. This meant they had the option for going for either the mid or right objective depending on how hard Mark was going to contest the objectives. The shisai went into the middle so that they would be able to channel to models on either side of the board - it wasn't until after the game started when I figured out how to kill those stupid rat swarms. Finally the two bushi went on the left just so I'd have models to contest the objective.
Turn one consisted mainly of running straight for the objectives. I had two Pass Tokens to use since Mark's army brought the extra Small Rat Swarms. I used both tokens to delay the shisai activations until the two Small Rat Swarms on the left were in range for some 1 Ki Psychic Venom attacks. So both Small Rat Swarms died to the poison at the end of the turn, greatly limiting Nezumi's manoeuvrability. Mark spent the turn doing quite a bit of focusing too - both Nezumi and Ikiryo focused for more Ki.
I spent most of my early activations doing scenario actions as mark moves his Armoured Kairai up and getting his models into position to attack me. Naoko moved up to blind the Wraith and was attacked in turn by the Wraith. Luckily I managed to successfully defend with a Side Step Defence, allowing room for Kenzo to come in and absolutely murder the Wraith in a single hit.
Nezumi swaps in to position to attack Ayako - she was very far forward trying to steal some Ki from Ikiryo - but didn't roll enough damage for the first attack and then she managed a desperate defence and Side Step Defence her way out of further trouble. Kenzo decided that the annoying rat person trying to kill Ayako was an insult to my honour and stabs the yokai, putting a handy poison 2 token down. Unfortunately Nezumi lives through the turn on a single health and all my efforts to put a Psychic Poison on him fail miserably.
However, all three idols are friendly to me, and I got rid of the Wraith, easily the most directly threatening model in Mark's army. Naoko is in a position to deal with the rat swarms on the right idol, Kenzo is murdering everything under the sun in the middle of the board, and by some miracle Chiyo and the Temple Bushi are surviving against the Armoured Kairai.
I earn a Victory Point at the end of the turn.
At this point I forgot to take pictures.
Naoko uses Slither to move away from the Large Rat Swarm to Blind Ikiryo again. So far, so good, then I attack the Large Rat Swarm with her and forget they're durable... whoops. So I went all out attack and Mark just annihilates my precious snake-lady. Taking advantage of the vulnerability on my right flank with her sudden death Nezumi teleports to the last Small Rat Swarm and manages to rotate the objective back to neutral. The Large Rat Swarm moves into Sakura, and I have to sacrifice Kazuhiko to prevent her death.
Ikiryo experiences the wonders of being blind (again) and so just moved up to use the left objective, eventually making it friendly to Mark. The shisai both try to hit Nezumi with a 1 Ki Psychic Venom in an effort to finish him off and fail miserably. Kenzo murders the Armoured Kairai in the middle of the board and finishes off the Large Rat Swarm. The hebi-samurai is reaching for his rampage announcement.
I win the initiative (again) and manage to get Kenzo into melee with Nezumi before he can turn the idol in Mark's favour. Unfortunately the bloody yokai defends successfully (TWICE) and avoids all the Ki feats from Ayako. He finally succumbs to a single poison token to my last Psychic Venom from Sakura. Sakura rotates the idol back into my favour. On the left the Armoured Kairai gets mangled three times by the Temple Bushi and Chiyo combining their efforts before it finally fails a Rise check. Mark only has Ikiryo left and it's getting late so we call it quits.
I have finally found a use for Psychic Venom: killing monkeys and rats. It's also good for finishing off enemy models, but if I'm honest the two shisai do seem horrendously expensive for what they do. Ayako definitely doesn't feel like a 10 rice model. She probably just needs 1 more in her Ki stat. With 3 Ki she'd be a very powerful offensive utility piece.
Kenzo was a One Man Army, killing the Wraith, the Large Rat Swarm (eventually), and an Armoured Kairai. He was unlucky not to get Nezumi, despite attacking the yokai no less than 3 times in a row. However, Mark was just letting Kenzo run around doing his thing, letting such a mobile samurai model complete freedom is probably a bad idea, especially the Ito samurai with their cheap melee Ki boosts.
Naoko is just a great utility piece, the ranged attack that blinds was pretty much key to keeping Ikiryo from laser-gazing my models constantly. I'll just have to remember to put dice in defence against durable models. I love using Side Step Defence on her, it allows her to get out of combat and gob blind on key enemy models.
Chiyo and the Temple Bushi have always been solid performers, doing their job and tying up the objectives early. One of the two usually end up as MVP in my games so far, though I think Naoko earned it this game.
I'm quite happy with the performance of the list, though the models I could target with my shisai were rather limited, but I did find I was constantly trying to use their Ki feats - mainly Psychic Venom in an effort to clear the board of Small Rat Swarms. It does bode well for playing against other factions though, I'll be able to target a wider variety of models.
Mark list had a good mix of hitting power, durability, and mobility, but I think focusing on turn one with both Ikiryo and Nezumi was a mistake. This left both of them out of position for the early game, it was probably a good idea if there were more models that want to leech, but with only the two Armoured Kairai, it felt like a bit of a waste from my end. I did a good job with Naoko getting blind off on the Wraith and Ikiryo throughout the game (it's really hard to miss the Wraith) and Kenzo got very lucky murdering the Wraith in a single hit. Finally, I killed most of the Small Rat Swarms very early in the game with 1 Ki Psychic Venom attacks, this limited Nezumi's ability to teleport around the idols quite drastically.
I feel like I'm getting a better handle on the Ito Clan models and how they work now, especially the shisai. My painting goals for this week are to finish up Naoko (who has been 40% done for almost a fortnight now) and get one of the shisai completely done from start to finish.