Welcome to my new series of articles, Building On a Budget. The goal of this series is to help players wanting to start a new faction to quickly build different tournament viable lists for less than $101 while still giving you the option to play the master you desire. The pricing is based off the Wyrd store site pre-tax, so no special online discounts. Additionally, I do include some of the general upgrades in the crews which you’ll need to buy the generalist upgrade packs for the cards and those costs aren’t included in the pricing.

In these articles I’ll be breaking down my purchases into bundles with 4 tiers of recommendation. My tier 1 bundles are, in my opinion, the best place to start a new faction. The tier 2 bundles are fine places to start, but usually are limited in options. The tier 3 bundles are not the best place to start a crew, but if you really want to play a given master, it gives you a place to start. Finally the 4th tier is limited to the masters that you can’t make a decent crew while staying within my price point.

As an additional notes, I purposely avoid spending money on models that can be found in another master’s box, as I believe it to be wasteful spending if you are planning on eventually buying that other master’s box. So with that all cleared up, let’s get underway with the Ten Thunders.


Tier 1
Masters: All Ten Thunders masters minus Brewmaster

Bundle 1: Jacob Lynch +1 ($91 – $96)

Thanks to the low cost of Lynch’s box and the versatility of the illuminated, you can actually make two decent crews with Lynch and any other Ten Thunders master other then Brewmaster (due to his crew being all gremlins Lynch can’t take).

  • Dark Debts (Lynch Box) – $40
  • Other Masters Box – $40-$50
  • The Lone Swordsman / Izamu / Mr. Graves (take your pick) – $11

(1)Jakob Lynch — 4-7ss cache
+The Rising Sun – 2ss
+Woke Up With A Hand – 2ss
+Wanna See A Trick – 1ss
(2)Hungering Darkness – 0ss
+Addict – 1ss
(3)The Illuminated – 7ss
(4)The Illuminated – 7ss
(5)The Illuminated – 7ss
+17 – 20ss from the second box

(1)Asami Tanaka — 7ss cache
+A Heavenly Design – 2ss
+Grasping Strands – 1ss
(2)Amanjaku – 3ss
(3)Ohaguro Bettari – 8ss
+A Taste For Flesh – 1ss
+Smoke Grenades – 1ss
(4)Mr. Graves – 8ss
(5)The Illuminated – 7ss
(6)The Illuminated – 7ss
(7)The Illuminated – 7ss

(1)Lucas McCabe — 6ss cache
+Badge Of Speed – 2ss
+Glowing Saber – 2ss
+Promises – 1ss
(2)Luna – 4ss
(3)Sidir Alchibal – 9ss
+By Your Side – 1ss
(4)The Illuminated – 7ss
(5)The Illuminated – 7ss
(6)The Lone Swordsman – 8ss
+Smoke Grenades – 1ss
(7)Wastrel – 4ss

(1)Mei Feng — 6ss cache
+Hard Worker – 1ss
+Recalled Training – 1ss
+Seismic Claws – 1ss
(2)Emberling – 3ss
(3)Kang – 9ss
+Recalled Training – 1ss
(4)Rail Worker – 5ss
(5)Rail Worker – 5ss
(6)Rail Worker – 5ss
(7)The Illuminated – 7ss
(8)The Lone Swordsman – 8ss
+Recalled Training – 1ss

(1)Misaki — 5ss cache
+Misdirection – 2ss
+Recalled Training – 1ss
+Stalking Bisento – 2ss
(2)Shang – 3ss
(3)Ototo – 10ss
(4)The Illuminated – 7ss
(5)The Illuminated – 7ss
(6)The Lone Swordsman – 8ss
+Recalled Training – 1ss
(7)Torakage – 6ss

(1)Shenlong — 6ss cache
+Wandering River Style – 2ss
+Recalled Training – 1ss
(2)Peasant – 2ss
(3)Sensei Yu – 9ss
+Promising Disciple – 2ss
(4)The Illuminated – 7ss
(5)The Illuminated – 7ss
(6)The Illuminated – 7ss
(7)The Lone Swordsman – 8ss
+Recalled Training – 1ss

(1)Yan Lo — 6ss cache
+Fortify The Spirit – 1ss
+Reliquary – 1ss
(2)Soul Porter – 3ss
(3)Ashigaru – 5ss
(4)Chiaki The Niece – 6ss
+Pull Of The Grave – 1ss
(5)Izamu The Armor – 10ss
(6)The Illuminated – 7ss
(7)The Illuminated – 7ss
(8)The Illuminated – 7ss

Playing Lynch is all about abusing his hand control while letting hungering darkness (commonly referred to as Huggy) do the heavy lifting. Lynch typically activates last in the crew so you can draw two extra cards (but don’t make bad choices in activation just for the extra cards) and to maximize your chances of flipping more aces (which you get to keep). When Lynch activates he usually picks a single target to do the pay for blood-final debt combination to deal significant damage. This can be even more brutal if your close enough to use the 52 card pickup ability with multiple aces. A word of warning though, Lynch is very fragile and will easily die if your too aggressive with him. In the meantime Huggy is charging into the enemy and dealing as much damage as possibly while tying enemies up. You can play a bit more reckless with him because you don’t care if he “dies” since you can bring him back so long as Lynch is alive. The illuminated are great models who can both take a beating (thanks built in healing and armor) and deal it back out (especially if the target has the brilliance condition). The main thing this crew lacks is a good interactor model, so that is what you’ll be looking to bring into the crew from the other master’s box.

Since there is so many lists here, I’ll cover how to play the other crews in the following  bundles. Generally speaking though, the illuminated are great models at surviving and dealing damage, but can fill most roles in a pinch. Then Izamu/Graves/lone swordsman fill the damage dealing role for any crew that contains them.

Bundle 2: Shenlong + Mei Feng/Misaki ($96)

The Shenlong box mixes well enough with your pick of Mei Feng or Misaki and allows you to make a couple of good crews while giving you access to at least one key model often found in may thunders crews, Sensei Yu.

  • Temple of The Dawn (Shenlong Box) – $45
  • Rail Crew or The Thunder (Mei Feng / Misaki) – $40
  • The Lone Swordsman – $11

(1)Shenlong — 5 to 7ss cache
+Wandering River Style – 2ss
(2)Peasant – 2ss
(3)Sensei Yu – 9ss
+Promising Disciple – 2ss
(4)The Lone Swordsman – 8ss
+Recalled Training – 1ss
23ss left to spend on the other henchman, upgrades, and minions

(1)Misaki — 5ss cache
+Misdirection – 2ss
+Stalking Bisento – 2ss
+Recalled Training – 1ss
(2)Shang – 3ss
(3)Monk Of High River – 6ss
(4)Sensei Yu – 9ss
+Wandering River Style – 2ss
+Promising Disciple – 2ss
(5)The Lone Swordsman – 8ss
(6)Torakage – 6ss
(7)Torakage – 6ss

(1)Mei Feng — 7ss cache
+Hard Worker – 1ss
+Seismic Claws – 1ss
+Recalled Training – 1ss
(2)Emberling – 3ss
(3)Kang – 9ss
+Recalled Training – 1ss
(4)Monk Of High River – 6ss
(5)Rail Worker – 5ss
(6)Rail Worker – 5ss
(7)Rail Worker – 5ss
(8)The Lone Swordsman – 8ss
+Recalled Training – 1ss

Shenlong is a strong and versatile master, but hard to fully explain in this short space.  The most common way to play him is as a support piece that gives other models in his crew the ability to take the focus or defensive action as a (0). Typically his first turn is spent moving models around with mighty gust and then “throwing” the upgrade to Sensei Yu when Shenlong switches styles (usually to High River or Low River). At that point he can continue to support his crew with healing (Low River) or go offensive (High River). Sensei Yu then takes up the job of moving around the rest of the crew and any scheme markers (again with mighty gust). The peasants are there for free interacts or briefly typing up enemies before dying and turning into a soulstone (always try to keep one alive). The lone swordsman is there to take out any troublesome enemies. As for the rest of the crew you may hire; rail workers are good point holders and deal good damage, torakage are your interactors, monks of the high river are more generalists, and the other Henchmen are primarily point holders and damage dealers.

Misaki is an assassination master. She wants to get to her target, quickly take it out, and then retreat or move to the next victim. Stalking Bisento allows her to get up the board faster (or makes the opponent not do anything with the stalked target) to get to her target. Typically, she discards recalled training (After Yu pushes her up the board and gives her fast) and goes on a rampage by blasting all over the enemy crew or taking out an individual target with 6 damage severes with a chance of auto-killing the model. Once in the enemy crew, she relies on the Misdirection upgrade to try and keep her alive until she can get out via diving charge or friendly pushes. As for the rest of the crew, they operate as previously mentioned.

Mei Feng is a bit more versatile master that can protect her crew from SH and CA attacks, rapidly move around the board (if you set up things properly for her), and deal good damage to multiple models at a time (via triggers). How you play the rest of your crew depends on what you need Mei to be doing for the game. If your opponent is relying heavily on range attacks, your crew will want to huddle around Mei while she vents steam to protect them. If your opponent is more melee focused, then you will want to spread your construct models out a little more so Mei can railwalk to where she needs to be for the turn. The emberling can help with this by dropping scrap marker around the board before either tying up enemies or helping with schemes (note he is a minion totem). I want to also make a note that monks of the high river synergize with this crew due to the burning theme within it.


Tier 2
Masters: Asami, McCabe, Mei Feng, Misaki, Shenlong, Yan Lo

Bundle 1: Solo Asami ($101)

Asami is a very strong master, but due to our budget she is stuck in Tier 2 because she can’t live up to her full potential due to key models missing (namely Jorogumo). Still this list does provide a couple good summoning options she can effectively utilize.

  • An Oni’s Wrath (Asami Box) – $50
  • Obsidian Oni – $24
  • Ama No Zako – $16
  • Mr. Tannen – $11

(1)Asami Tanaka — 6ss cache
+A Heavenly Design – 2ss
(2)Amanjaku – 3ss
(3)Ohaguro Bettari – 8ss
+Smoke Grenades – 1ss
(4)Ama No Zako – 9ss
+Equality – 1ss
(4)Mr. Tannen – 6ss
(5)Yokai – 5ss
(6)Obsidian Oni – 6ss
(7)Obsidian Oni – 6ss

Asami is an offensive summoner who primary defense is being able to (0) teleport from cover to cover while summoning in Yokai to do the damage for her. Her summoning works a bit differently the the rest because all her summons come in with the Flicker condition which lowers each turn and ultimately cause the model to “flicker out” and sacrifice themselves when the condition is reduced to 0. As far as her summons, the Yokai aren’t impressive upon first look, but once you’ve seen a couple of these summon in and immediately start 1AP charging into the enemy with (+) flips you’ll see how good they really are. The  Obsidian Oni can also be summoned in if you need something that can take some hits and tie up opposing models. Also don’t forget they can generate scrap markers with their ranged attack if you want to summon in models are higher flicker counts. Ama No Zako is in the list as a mobile beater that can (0) obey an oni near Asami to charge for 1AP. Oharguro is a fragile model, but thanks to her ability to charge through terrain, models, and without line of sight lets her kills enemy models hiding behind the rest of the opposing crew. Also don’t forget she gives all other oni’s flay which can be quite key in the right situation. Finally we have Mr. Tannen who is an interesting tech choice for an Asami crew. His Leave It To Luck ability gives Asami +2 to all her masks which she uses to summon in Yokai and Obsidian Oni and he can annoy opponents with his Chatty aura (enemies can’t interact) and Cooler aura (enemies can’t cheat).

Bundle 1: Solo McCabe ($92)

McCabe is an amazing master that can make the models around him significantly better with his upgrades. The primarily reason for him being in tier 2 is because he really wants guild hounds to function at full strength, but none of your other thunders crews can use them. The hounds of course also limit your budget so you need to take Sidir, who I think is a bit expensive for what he does.

  • Relic Hunters (McCabe Box) – $45
  • Guild Hounds – $21
  • Dawn Serpent – $15
  • The Lone Swordsman – $11

(1)Lucas McCabe — 5ss cache
+Badge Of Speed – 2ss
+Glowing Saber – 2ss
+Promises – 1ss
(2)Luna – 4ss
(3)Dawn Serpent – 10ss
(4)Guild Hound – 3ss
(5)Guild Hound – 3ss
(6)Guild Hound – 3ss
(7)Sidir Alchibal – 9ss
+By Your Side – 1ss
(8)The Lone Swordsman – 8ss
+Recalled Training – 1ss

McCabe improves the rest of his crew by “throwing” his upgrades to other models as a (0) action. Typically his turn starts by using Black Flash on a minion (dawn serpent is your main target in this crew) which reactivates it for the turn. He can then throw out the Badge of Speed to give a model nimble or later the glowing saber which turns a weak model into a killing machine that ignores most defenses in the game. You will want to keep McCabe near the models with the upgrades if you want them back (or not to lose them if that model dies) so he typically is in a more central location. Beyond improving those around him, he is probably best used tying up enemy minions and taking them out one by one (do note if you are burning stones and have rams in hand, he can hit quite hard). The dawn serpent and the lone swordsman are your primary damage dealers, but thanks the the glowing saber even your lowly guild hounds can wreck much higher costed models. Sidir is primarily a bodyguard for your other key models and he can also deal with swarms of models with his Empty The Magazine ability. Finally, Luna and the hounds are your primary interactors for the crew.

Bundle 2: Solo Mei Feng ($87)

This crew list is solid, but in an optimal build you wouldn’t want so many rail workers since they are slow. The list could also use more Komainu in case your summoning engine is working at full power.

  • Rail Crew (Mei Feng Box) – $40
  • Mechanical Porkchop – $18
  • Komainu – $18
  • Toshiro – $11

(1)Mei Feng — 7ss
+Seismic Claws – 1ss
+Hard Worker – 1ss
(2)Emberling – 3ss
(3)Kang – 9ss
(4)Mechanized Porkchop – 7ss
(5)Rail Worker – 5ss
(6)Rail Worker – 5ss
(7)Rail Worker – 5ss
(8)Toshiro The Daimyo – 9ss
+Command The Graves – 1ss

Mei Feng and her box pretty much operates the same as I wrote about in the previous section, but the different with this build is the summoning engine within it. The engine works by having the emberling and porkchop drop scrap markers, which allows Toshiro to summon multiple Komainu into the game. This makes this crew a good choice for strategies like reconnoiter and interference since you can swarm the board with tougher minions.

Bundle 3: Solo Misaki ($91)

The main reason this is only tier 2 is because Misaki really wants the Shadow Emissary in her crew so she can operate at her “full power”.

  • The Thunder (Misaki Box) – $40
  • Jorogumo – $40
  • Yamaziko – $11

(1)Misaki — 6ss
+Stalking Bisento – 2ss
+Misdirection – 2ss
+Recalled Training – 1ss
(2)Shang – 3ss
(3)Jorogumo – 9ss
(4)Jorogumo – 9ss
(5)Torakage – 6ss
(6)Torakage – 6ss
(7)Yamaziko – 7ss
+Smoke & Shadows – 1ss

Misaki operates the same as previously mentioned, but this crew allows her to abuse the Smoke & Shadows upgrade. This upgrade gives all your other last blossom minion models (jorogumo and torakage) the abilites to put up 50mm smoke markers (to block LoS) and to teleport next to other friendly models. This allows your jorogumo to surprise your opponents with all the attack vectors they can take while your Torakage can easily get to where they need to be for interacting.

Bundle 4: Solo Shenlong ($93)

Shenlong like Misaki really wants his emissary in the list and that is what keeps this list from making it into a higher tier. Still the list is quite versatile and capable of dealing with most situations.

  • Temple of The Dawn (Shenlong Box) – $45
  • Samurai – $24
  • Ten Thunders Brothers – $24

(1)Shenlong — 6ss
+Wandering River Style – 2ss
(2)Peasant – 2ss
(3)Samurai – 8ss
+Favor Of Jigoku – 0ss
(4)Samurai – 8ss
+Favor Of Earth – 0ss
(5)Sensei Yu – 9ss
+Promising Disciple – 2ss
(6)Ten Thunders Brother – 5ss
(7)Ten Thunders Brother – 5ss
(8)Ten Thunders Brother – 5ss

The Shenlong crew works the same as previously mentioned, but this time adds samurai and ten thunders brothers. The samurai are good models for both damage dealing (especially vs high armor targets) and for holding points thanks their armor +2. The ten thunder brothers are both great interactors due to their (0) ability to do a 3″ place and great point holders thanks to a high defense when they have the defensive condition.

Bundle 5: Solo Yan Lo ($83)

While ten thunder brothers are great, you really don’t need three of them in any list, but they are a good use of your budget to fill out a crew. Yan would also like access to a couple other models (like wastrels) to help built up his chi quickly.

  • Masters of The Path (Yan Lo Box) – $40
  • Ten Thunders Brothers – $21
  • Izamu – $11
  • Toshiro – $11

(1)Yan Lo — 7ss
+Fortify The Spirit – 1ss
+Reliquary – 1ss
(2)Soul Porter – 3ss
(3)Chiaki The Niece – 6ss
+Pull Of The Grave – 1ss
(4)Izamu The Armor – 10ss
(5)Ten Thunders Brother – 5ss
(6)Ten Thunders Brother – 5ss
(7)Ten Thunders Brother – 5ss
(8)Toshiro The Daimyo – 9ss
+Command The Graves – 1ss

Yan Lo wants to build his chi as quickly as possible so he can start grabbing his special upgrades that allow him to play more aggressively. So his immediate goal in the game is to gain at least chi +2  and grab the 2ss upgrade Spirit Ascendant. The first chi is easy to gain by simply discarding a card when he activates, but the second is a bit trickier. Typically, it involves Yan Lo attacking one of his own models (and not relenting) to gain a chi off his melee trigger when dealing severe damage. Once he does have Spirit Ascendant (and ideally Ash Ascendant) he will be primarily using lightning dance to reposition models and healing friendly models with Instill Youth. Soul Porter can help out with building up chi (but I wouldn’t count on it), but his main goal is to speed up models like Izamu with his Empower Ancestor action. Izamu is your primary damage dealer and a solid point holder with armor +2 and plenty of healing. Toshiro can fill different roles as needed such as summoning, buffing, or point holding. Chiaki serves primarily as a debuffer (giving out slow), but can also remove conditions if needed. Finally, the ten thunders brothers are your primary interactors and point holders.

Tier 3
Masters: Brewmaster

Bundle 1: Solo Brewmaster ($85)

Brewmaster is stuck in tier 3 because his box is a gremlin box that includes many less then ideal models for him. This combined with our budget really limits the crews you can build with him.

  • Closing Time (Brewmaster Box) – $45
  • Komainu – $18
  • Izamu – $11
  • Yin – $11

(1)The Brewmaster — 6ss
+Binge – 1ss
+Running Tab – 2ss
(2)Apprentice Wesley – 3ss
(3)Izamu The Armor – 10ss
+Recalled Training – 1ss
(4)Komainu – 5ss
(5)Komainu – 5ss
(6)Moon Shinobi – 6ss
(7)Moon Shinobi – 6ss
(8)Yin The Penangalan – 8ss

Ten Thunder Brewmaster is all about obeying models, putting the nasty Swill condition on enemies, and eating the opponents hand with Binge. Early in the game, Brewmaster will be using obey to help speed up slow models like Yin and Izamu. Once enemies start getting into range, Brewmaster can switch up to putting Swill on enemies you want to kill (this puts them a minus flips on all duels and flips) and then binging repeated to eat the enemies control hand. Wesley simply stays in safety near Brewmaster, in case the enemy manages to kill your master (in which case Wesley turns into Brewmaster). Izamu is your primary damage dealer and he will typically be going after models suffering from the Swill condition for easy kills. Yin will server as a debuffer by putting Gnawing Fear on enemies that Brewmaster wants to target and using the No Escape trigger to prevent hard hitting enemies for charging. The komainu are your primary interactors and can serve as point holders due to their toughness. Finally, the moon shinobi are all purpose models that can help fill whatever role is needed.

Closing Thoughts
The Ten Thunders faction actually proved to be the hardest of all the factions to write this article for because of the sheer amount of variety you can include due to the overall lower costs of the box sets. In fact, I know there are plenty of other ways you could build many of these crews (on a budget) and I’m sure you’ll all let me know which ones you think are better then what I have listed.

So think you have some better lists then the ones I presented? Then post them here and give me the breakdown on why they are better. If I like them then I’ll add them to the list and change the current option.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed the article. Also if you really enjoy my work, check out the S&S podcast here and my new Patreon site here.

Advertisements