Category Archives: Dynasty Warriors

Musou Missives Episode 5: Masamune Date


Welcome to Musou missives. Here I discuss the characters of Warriors Orochi 3, they’re strengths and weaknesses and make suggestions for playing them at higher levels.

For this episode, we had our winner determined by the Double Musou poll last month. So let’s talk a little about Masamune Date.


History and interpretation

Historically, Masamune Date is regarded as a fearsome tactician as well as a purveyor of culture; through my own research I’ve come to disagree with that sentiment. Masamune Date that I’ve read about was a pragmatists,perhaps to a fault.

Masamune Date’s cruel and fierce reputation likely comes two things — his eye patch and the slaying of his brother; both of these are interrelated.  Masamune lost his eye to a childhood illness of some kind.  The term ‘polio’ has been used before, but it’s unclear exactly what illness it was or how he lost the entire organ.  Due to this illness, his right to lead the clan was given to his brother, as he was deemed unfit to rule.  In response, he attacked his own brother and seized control of his clan forcibly.

I believe his skill at a tactician is a mite over-blown as well.  The most significant tactic he used was setting up a series of bunkers on hills that slowed the enemy advance enough that they gave up at the city walls.  This was more to do with Date’s opposition under threat of attack from another enemy as well.  This turn of events allowed his clan to survive, though barely.

Instead, most of Date’s tactical decisions were practical ones.  He joined forces with the Toyotomi at one point, and the Tokugawa at another;  these alliances were made primarily because Masamune Date had little alternative, as opposing either regime would inevitably result in the destruction of his clan.  Because of this, however, he was not very well trusted among his peers.  They were right not to trust him either, as the survival of his clan was his only paramount ideal.

The Orochi series portrays that aspect quite well, as Masamune Date frequently sides with Orochi and the demons due to their more substantial numbers. He only sides with our heroes when it seems to benefit his own power and survival.

So then, we should probably take a closer look at Masamune Date before he turns his guns on us.

Class and Officer Ability

Date is a technique class character. This grants him the ability to deal more damage to enemies while in a juggle-state, and gives him the ability to strafe– allowing him to move across the field quickly, while still guarding. This also makes it easier to setup counters with Date, which are crucial to his play-style as we’ll soon see.

His officer ability is Dexterity, which reduces the damage taken from enemy combos. This seems like a great defensive skill, but it mostly helps against enemy officers who tend to do more combos then any other enemies on the field.  Date’s Moveset also makes him far more effective against officers as well.


We’ll start with Date’s most versitile attacks and move down from there:

His charge five is one of his best options.  Date fires his guns on either side of him, knocking enemies upward on both sides. While this isn’t the best juggle setup for Date himself, it can be used as a swap cancel, to setup a juggle for an incoming teammate.  It’s also one of his most reliable area of effect attacks, but it comes so late in his combo string that it’s difficult to use expressly for that purpose.

His Charge 4 combo is a good aoe effect also.  In this attack Masamune Date performs several rapid slashes that ends with a pirouette of guns. The slashes at the start leave him relatively open to attack, so it’s better as a preventative measure rather than using it once he’s already surrounded.  It doesn’t set up juggles or swaps very well, however you can Musou afterward to pick up the enemies he knocked away.

His normal combo is one of the other mostly safe options, as he goes through the attacks quick enough to avoid damage much of the time.  At the end of the combo where he fires bullets directly in front him still leaves him quite vulnerable, however.

If you saw my Double Musou video, you probably saw a nifty trick Date can do with his air attack.  Masamune Date can fire his guns repeatedly in the air, slowing his descent to the ground.  Date can use this to fire bullets on unsuspecting enemies far below him as well. You can also go from his air normal into his air charge, to setup a juggle.  The air charge only hits a small number of enemies though. In spite of this being a unique trick with Date, it’s not viable very often, and is most effective on certain terrain. It can be used effectively after a midair somersault however.

His charge 2 and charge 1 combos are really effective as they juggle an opponents; in combination with his Technique Class ability of increasing damage from juggles, these can be his most devastating combos.  However, both of these leave Date quite vulnerable, so they can’t be used in large crowds very often. Also they tend not to setup swaps very well either, though with good timing it is possible with a charge 1 combo.

Date’s charge 3 is his most frustrating combo. He moves forward then fires shock waves in two directions twice. This seems like it should effectively knock away enemy hordes, but it misses the diagonals.  Also, if you turn Date in another direction, it may not hit all around him anyway. This move is bit unwieldy to use effectively against officers too, so it’s uses become extremely limited.

Musou/ Special

Date’s special is his saving grace in crowds as it moves him out of the horde and sprays enemies around him, setting up potential juggles. It’s best used, however, as a retreat from a bad situation.  My suggestion is to Swap cancel out of it to setup a character that performs better in crowds.

His Musou is his best area-of-effect option, but also is really good as an end to a long combo string.  It juggles a large area of enemies and can help finish off an officer whose eaten a heavy combo already.

Weapon Fusion Abilities

To get the most out of Date’s moves, you’ll want his weapons to have Flak and Blast, since he is very reliant on juggles and projectiles for damage.  Destruction is a must since all of Date’s combos should end in Musou when available.  Ice and Wind can help a more aggressive player.  Fire and Thunder can be useful in some situations.  No character is averse to Agility either.  Brawn can be useful, though Might maybe preferable under most situations.  Courage is neccessary to deal more damage to officers.  One might also consider Osmosis to build meter back after a musou, or Absorption for health, though these are very play-style dependent.  Since his special is used mostly to get out of situations rather than to do damage, Frenzy is a waste.

Team recommendations

Zhong Hui and Kaguya

Admittedly this is redundant from last installment.  The combination of Zhong hui and Kaguya is built around building team gauge with Zhong hui’s combos and Kaguya’s trinity ability, and using the team attack as often as possible. Zhong Hui then buffs both teammates with his Technique officer ability, increasing their stats.  Date takes some benefit from this team, but doesn’t provide much in return here.

Ieyasu Tokugawa and Tadakatsu Honda

This team has much better synergy than the previous one. Tadakatsu and Ieyasu are much better at clearing out the riff-raff, and Date swaps neatly into many of their combos. Ieyasu is especially good at setting up juggles for Date to capitalize on. This team combines several defensive skills (Solidarity, Fortitude, and Dexterity) making this a powerful defensive team, but may struggle to deal damage without a good offensive item load out, such as the Spear of Sacrifice.

Wang Yi and Kiyomori Taira

Ironically, Date’s competition in Double Musou is one of his better partners.  Wang Yi is quite good at clearing crowds on her own, but can struggle against singular opponents.  Masamune is just the opposite, so the two complement each other’s style rather well.  Plus, Wang Yi’s Efficacy ability makes Date even more effective against officers.
Kiyomori fits well as a bridge between the two. His powerful attacks have good range, and his solidarity skill makes the team much more sturdy. Also, his dash/swap-in attack allows him to pick up enemies from either Wang Yi’s area-of-effect attacks or Date’s juggle setups.

Nagamasa Azai, and Masanori Fukushima

A surprise for me, this team has a remarkable amount of synergy and make for an incredible experience to play as.  Fukushima serves as the teams point character, able to take abuse, as well as deliver powerful attacks in the meantime.  However, most of Fukushima’s charge attacks leave him open to attack afterward.  Swapping in Nagamasa can either get the team out of a sticky situation, or continue a devastating combo.  Date, meanwhile, serves best at the tail end of a long swap cancel combo as he can then concentrate on enemies with more health and clean up. Even so, the synergy on this team was good enough that I was able to go ‘around the world’ (i.e. swap cancel combo through all three teammates) twice before needing to end the combo.

Overall, Date is character that takes some skill and concentration to play. His style doesn’t allow him to charge in heedlessly, and requires some amount of care and thought. Once you’ve gotten accustomed to him though, he’s a wickedly powerful and fun character.

Be sure to like and follow.  Also, post in the comments who else should be featured in Musou Missives!

Next time I think we’ll be going back to ancient China …

Primary research was taken from


Theme month: Datevember


Since our winner of the Double Musou Poll is none other than Masamune Date, get ready for another theme month.  It’s Datevember!  This month Musou Missives will be showcasing the Japanese daimiyo, as well as being featured in a special Let’s Play of Sengoku Basara Samurai Heroes.

Get ready for a whole month of Date here on Punch, Kick, All in the Mind!

Musou Missives: A Primer, plus Cake Day!

As a celebration for this webzone’s anniversary, above I have posted a primer for the Musou Missives series.  This is to explain the terminology I use in my articles and will use in future videos.

I have trouble believing it’s been a year, in many ways it feels like it’s been much longer.  I attribute the feeling to it being a busy year.  I didn’t think the site would have made the jump to video yet, even if it has some bugs to work out still.  Not to mention the rocky debut of the next generation systems, which are due out soon.

What will another year bring?  I’m not sure, but I look forward to sharing it with everyone here at Punch, Kick, It’s All in the Mind!

If you have any feelings or ideas to share, let me know in the comments below.

I do not own Warriors Orochi, or any other TecmoKoei product included in this post.  The footage above is intended for educational purposes.

Dynasty Warriors 4 Dueling and Han Era Tactics

One of the arguments that gets weighed against the Dynasty Warriors series is that it’s premise is silly.  These high ranking generals would not be out in the center fighting off hoards of enemies so effortlessly.  In fact, in our modern age, it seems strange to think any of them would be anywhere near the battlefield.

While it is certainly romanticized for gameplay purposes, the idea that Later Han era generals would not be in the thick of the battle is a misconception.  Later Han era politics were tied to military rank, so an officer or general who was not skilled in martial combat was practically unheard of in this period.  This is evidenced most obviously by Liu Bei and his sworn brothers.  The three joined the fight against the Yellow Turbans and later against Dong Zhuo forces with as a volunteer and guest force respectively.  Liu Bei and company only rose through the ranks due to their prowess on the battlefield and Liu Bei’s family distant family ties to the Han emperor.

Therefore, Dynasty Warriors isn’t being as ridiculous as maybe if first seems.  So what other gameplay elements are actually based in Later Han / Three Kingdoms era military tactics.  One obvious one comes from Dynasty Warriors 4 — the duel system.

Dueling in the Later Han Era

Duels was one of the ways many of these generals would use their trained skills on the battlefield in this era.  Generally, when two armies met on the battlefield, an enemy officer would challenge the another to single combat.  This was typically mounted combat with spears or swords.  The two competitors would ride toward each other, exchange a few attacks, before riding back out, similar to jousting in someways.  It was a way to test each other’s skill as well as their mettle.  The idea was to boost the army’s morale by showing their commander’s strength in battle.  Afterward, the armies would either fully engage, or stand off if no winner was clearly determined.

There was one problem with duels, which became more and more apparent as the Han period began to wane, and it also explains why it fails as a game mechanic as well.  If your officer died in a duel one of two things would happen — a) the army becomes so frightened by the officer’s death that other officers cannot hold against the emboldened forces, leading to a route, or b) the army is left without a leader at all, resulting in confusion and an inevitable route.  The duel, while honorable, becomes a high stakes gamble depending on who you’re up against.

This is how Lu Bu became such a well known warrior in this age, as he could not be bested in single combat, in so much as dueling him was practically suicide.  It took Liu Bei, Zhang Fei, and Guan Yu fighting him together to put him at a disadvantage.  Lu Bu’s rise in rank and stature had everything to do with his strength and skill, and little to do with tactics or leadership, which will was evidenced as the chaos continued and as dueling became less and less the norm.

Dueling Dies

While dueling is heavily prevalent in the early pages of Romance of the Three Kingdoms, it slowly begins to subside as the new era wears on.  This is a result of three major changes, which would effect Chinese military tactics and appointments until the formation of the Qin dynasty.

1) Battle at Guan Du

The battle at Guan Du is the first major battle where strategy and tactics wins out over a significantly larger force.  Granted Guan Yu’s prowess is a significant boon in this battle for Cao Cao.  However, he would likely still have been overrun by Yuan Shao’s forces had Guo Jia’s strategy to destroy Yuan Shao’s supply lines failed.  Guo Jia’s strategies continued to prove useful as Cao Cao continued to decimate the Yuan family’s territory, despite their numerical advantage.

2) Execution of Lu Bu

This may be the most obvious of the three to be sure.  After Lu Bu captured Xia Pi from Zhang Fei while Liu Bei was away, Liu Bei had to beseech Cao Cao to take the city back.  While Lu Bu is a fearsome warrior, he was simply overwhelmed by Cao Cao’s army’s size and tactics.

Once captured, however, Cao Cao chose to end Lu Bu’s life rather than induct him into his own force.  There are multiple reasons for this, Lu Bu’s penchant for treachery amoung them.  However, at this point in time, being a strong and skilled warrior was starting to become less desirable.  Intelligence and fealty were deemed far more admirable qualities.  This is evidenced by Zhang Liao’s induction to Cao Cao’s force, despite his willingness to be executed alongside his master.

3) Liu Bei recruits Zhuge Liang

Zhuge Liang, despite his presence in Dynasty Warriors, was not a military hero or a renown warrior at the time Liu Bei came to him.  He was a scholar and man of learning.  He lived on his family farm, and was prone to wander off on his own for days — one of the reasons Liu Bei had to visit him multiple times.  At a time when Liu Bei’s force was little more than an itch Cao Cao would eventually have to scratch, Liu Bei spent a great amount of time trying to recruit a hermit.

Nevertheless, this proved to be the single greatest decision Liu Bei ever made.  Zhuge Liang’s guidance gave Liu Bei the edge he would need to face the far more powerful forces he was faced with in the Three Kingdom’s era.  Zhuge Liang’s position was critical despite never specifically engaging in battle himself.  His tactics would send Cao Cao’s large fleet fleeing from Chi Bi, snag the Jing province from under Zhou Yu’s nose, and bewilder Lu Xun’s forces while in hot pursuit of Liu Bei following defeat at Yi Ling.

The True Purpose of Duels

Dueling wasn’t completely done away with, but in the Three Kingdoms era proper, battles won solely from a series of duels was uncommon.  Dueling was intended to be an honorable way to engage in one-on-one combat in order to gauge one’s strength in battle.  It was used appropriately at Tian Shui, as Jiang Wei proved to be a match for Zhao Yun’s spear.  He would prove later to be comparable to Zhuge Liang in terms of strategy as well.

In a game like Dynasty Warriors 4, however, the dueling system has no particular place.  The player is not testing his skill by choosing to duel, as the player will already know if they are of high enough level or skill to take on the challenge or not.  Going into a duel a player cannot win does not effect his honor, and allied morale plays little role when one can wade through enemy forces on one’s own regardless.

I applaud Koei’s attempts to bring elements of the story and atmosphere of the era into the games, but they have to make sense from a design standpoint too.

I do not own Dynasty Warriors or any Koei properties mentioned here.  I am also not an expert on Chinese history or military strategy.  All research for this topic was taken from my own experience reading the Romance of the Three Kingdoms and related material.

Double Musou: Wang Yi versus Masamune Date

Please vote in our tie-breaking poll to see a full breakdown of one of our competitors!

Full breakdown will include normal, charge, special, and musou attacks, as well as weapon load-out and team recommendations!

Poll closes midnight October 30th, so cast votes now!

Blog Update 9-3-2013

Thought I would give a quick update on the status of the blog.  Since I have some new equipment, I plan to change the type of content produced on this site somewhat.  I still plan to run our current series, but I will be updating it to include video content as well, which I think will help significantly.


The Musou Missives poll is now closed, but unfortunately we have a tie between Wang Yi and Masamune Date!  I have an idea of how to remedy this, though it may result in some delays.  I still want to get this out in October however.


The Top 10 Warriors project will be delayed, due to a heavier load on Musou Missives and other personal reasons.  On the plus side, I will likely be able to do video content for it now.  A new date on that project will be determined soon.

I will be doing a Quick Impressions on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, and plan to add a short video supplement to try out a new style.  You can expect that in the next week or so.


In the meantime be sure to check out my Let’s Play of TMNT: Turtles in Time Re-Shelled, and let me know if you would like to see more Let’s Play content on this channel as well.

Coming Soon: Top 10 Warriors

In the shadow of the newest Dynasty Warriors game, and the popularity of the Dynasty Warriors topics on this blog, I’ve decided to start a new series featuring the Top 10 Warriors of the franchise.  However, narrowing down such a huge cast to only 10 characters seems a bit unfair.  So, instead, I will feature a top 10 for each of the 5 categories featured in the series to date (Shu, Wei, Wu, Jin, and Other Forces).  Characters will be judged on moveset (past and present), though historical significance, accuracy of representation, and design will factor in as well.  We will be rolling these out starting next month.

In the meantime, be sure to mention your favorite characters in the comments to let me know if there are some you really want included.