In order to understand the origin of Bushido, you must first understand Rampage. Then, you should get to know Flanking. One of the best methods of getting to know Flanking is by reading this [author name="Mike Flores"]Mike Flores[/author] article. In any case, here’s the Comprehensive Rules definition:
502.3a Flanking is a triggered ability that triggers during the declare blockers step. “Flanking” means “Whenever this creature becomes blocked by a creature without flanking, the blocking creature gets -1/-1 until end of turn.”
502.3b If a creature has multiple instances of flanking, each triggers separately.
So, while it’s not fair to say that Flanking is only important on offense, it’s only important on defense when your opponent is attacking with another flanker. The simplest of the Flanking creatures is Mtenda Herder, a one-drop that is easily compared with Devoted Retainer. On defense, Devoted Retainer will nearly always be better than Mtenda Herder. Even if Devoted Retainer blocks a creature with Flanking, it will at least survive into the combat damage step as a vanilla 1/1, and if Devoted Retainer blocks a non-Flanking creature, it will be a 2/2 (not too shabby for a 1-drop). On offense, however, Mtenda Herder holds the advantage. Whereas both cards are equally deadly against a blocking Gray Ogre, Devoted Retainer would trade with a blocking Elvish Ranger even though Mtenda Herder would get through the same battle unscathed. Also, Bushido 1 is not cumulative (it does not trigger for each blocker like pseudo-Rampage), but Flanking’s -1/-1 will apply to every non-Flanking creature that blocks Mtenda Herder. A dozen otherwise deadly Elvish Archers will fall to a single attacking Mtenda Herder like never so many dominoes. This is the sort of feat usually reserved for Craw Giants, not one mana White creatures.
And so it goes. Jolrael’s Centaur doesn’t look like much, but imagine what happens when it squeezes under the counter canopy of your friend’s irritating Wizard deck. Those Temporal Adepts and Sigil of Sleep-enchanted Zuran Spellcasters that would be only mildly irked by an untargetable 2/2 with Bushido 1 suddenly seem no more than bits of cotton that have given up the ghost and flown off to sea like a flock of tired mixed metaphors. It’d cost two Patron Wizards to bring down that single Centaur. I know from experience: Against many utility weenie decks (Preacher
and Witch Hunter, anyone?) a resolved Jolrael’s Centaur will end the game.
Flanking, unlike Rampage, is conceptually and theoretically simple. In Mirage Block, there were 17 creatures with Flanking, 13 of which were Knights and two of which were Legendary Creatures that were Knights at heart. The other two (the Scout and the Centaur) we’ve already met in Mtenda Herder and Jolrael’s Centaur. As Flores notes, the majority of flankers are three-mana 2/2s; they’re even more concentrated at a single casting cost than the common Bushido creatures in Champions of Kamigawa. A side effect of this is that it’s difficult to build a Flanking-centric deck without burdening yourself with more three-drops than are attributed to the landlord’s daughter. If, however, Flanking and Bushido creatures are seen together, we can use the following:
4 Mtenda Herder
4 Devoted Retainer
3 Triangle of War
2 Sun Clasp
4 Samurai of the Pale Curtain
2 Longbow Archer
2 Jabari’s Banner
1 Sensei, Golden Tail
4 Knight of Valor
4 Zhalfirin Crusader
2 Zhalfirin Commander
1 Sidar Jabari
1 Nagao, Bound by Honor
Some White flankers like Zhalfirin Knight have been left out for no other reason than because, in a modern world filled with Kitsune Blademasters, they are no longer even marginally playable. Though a smidgen mana hungry, the above deck cranks out cheap attackers like a pasta machine does noodles. Since the Flanking Knights are sub-par blockers, Alarum provides a nice little trick. Remember, you can give a creature that already has Flanking and extra instance of Flanking with Jabari’s Banner, mimicking Knight of Valor‘s ability.
Thanks to the addition of an extra color, a B/R all-Mirage Block Flanking deck is easy enough to construct:
2 Funeral Charm
2 Hearth Charm
2 Chaos Charm
4 Shadow Guildmage
4 Fallen Askari
4 Cadaverous Knight
4 Searing Spear Askari
4 Suq’ata Lancer
2 Shadow Rider
This deck is should be played aggressively. Often, pinging with Chaos Charm or Shadow Guildmage before combat damage is dealt will, combined with Flanking, kill blockers. Placing Agility on Searing Spear Askari makes stopping the Knight painful. Here, of course, Telim’Tor is monstrous.
In general, Mirage Block was a good time for Aggro Black. Besides Fallen Askari, Black had Fledgling Djinn and Skulking Ghost, a pair of two-power flyers for two mana. Although Skulking Ghost’s disadvantage may seem significant, you must consider that there are not many frequently-played spells or abilities that could target a vanilla one-toughness creature and not kill it. The same can’t be said for Tar Pit Warrior, but Hidden Horror makes for an even more dangerous three-drop. All of the opposing creatures that your early spells kill make for good Bone Dancer fodder. When you hit five mana, the opportunities suddenly explode. Gallowbraid and Morinfen may be double-edged swords, but it isn’t hard to ensure that the sharpest edge points toward your opponent. By the same token, despite Aku Djinn’s massive disadvantage, something has already gone wrong with the game if your opponent has many surviving creatures by the time you cast it.
In closing, consider Necrosavant, the meanest 5/5 in Mirage Block. It may just look like a bad Gigapede, but unlike the Insect, a reviving Necrosavant can’t be countered. The Black creature also makes flavor-sense. It might not be a flavor you’d like to taste, but still.