I always thought this theme was inferior to the Blessed with all the bonuses for bringing BoO. But now, looking at all the activity on the FB Group with all these key models being talked about, I´m starting to believe we´re approaching a critical mass of stuff that you likely will meet on the table. One thing that jumps out is all the Key Feats that people rely upon; Hail of Steel, Inspiration, re-roll aura Wrath summoning and rat summoning to mention a few.
Now then, is there anything you can do against that? In fact there are a number of tools, but Ito has a real good one in this theme: a start of turn ability that forces a Ki test on 5 where fail means the testing model cannot use Ki Feats until the end of turn. BAM!
I think this is quite good. Is it worth giving up The Blessed for? I´d argue it is because this is also the Samurai theme and if there´s one thing that stands above everything else in Bushido it is Samurais (or really their Martial Prowess). E.g. take a list like this:
Jade Mamba Guard
This has first turn Praying ability with three guys (Ancestor Channels Ki to Satoshi). Bonus Assassin skills to dole out, bonus Fear 4 (for when Tengu shows up) and three Samurais with an extra pseudo Samurai who auto disengages, walks through anything and is Fearless. Wasupu is a goner as is Sanjakubo, Ikiryo, Oda and Taka and whoever scrawny support model covering behind a line of fighters. There´s three replacement effects and Leadership. On top of everything they get Ki from killing enemies and the Ancestor from when his mates fall. You could shift the Bushi into a Okoy Archer for Assassin shooting in a wannabe Kaihime style or something else. There´s alot of design space.
The theme is far from as bad as I initially thought. Interesting when you look at it