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Hi, I’m David (Matsu Mokashi to those who know me through L5R websites) and I have been asked to write up a little something about each clan and how things stand after the latest L5R set, The Plague Wars.

Having talked this over with Graham (Mr. Grinning Demon himself) it seemed like a good way to do this would be to pick an archetype deck for each clan and then comment on it, and, seeing as I have had the most experience with Lion, I believe I will start there and I will even write up my own deck list.

The deck type I am looking into is the Naked Lion build which traditionally relies on cheap personalities with good effects and a fate deck filled out with proactive battle actions. This set has carefully placed a few spanners in the spokes of the traditional Naked Lion build which would run out mostly (if not all) six cost and lower personalities, which with a fast enough deck, you probably could still plough through and keep a good tempo going but I decided I would try something a little different just to see how exactly it goes… read on.

Nearly Naked / slightly slower Lion!

Stronghold
Great Hall of Records

Dynasty deck (40 cards)

Guidance
1 X Akodo’s guidance

Events
1 X The New order

Regions
2 X Mountain Storehouse

Holdings (14)
3 X Copper mine
3 X Barely farm
3 X Akodo’s grave
1 X Head of Fudo
1 X Limbs of Fudo
1 X Belly of Fudo
1 X Traveling peddler
1 X Chugo Seido

Personalities (22)
1 X Akodo Tsudoken
1 X Akodo Ryozo
3 X Matsu Fumiyo
3 X Matsu Nishijo
3 X Kitsu Iwao
2 X Akodo Senzo
3 X Akodo Senichi
3 X Matsu Youko
3 X Matsu Kasei

Fate deck (40 cards)

Strategies
3 X Desperate rush
3 X Kami unleashed
3 X The cost of pride
3 X The height of courage
3 X Inexorable defeat
3 X Discretionary valor
3 X Proper deference
3 X Rout
3 X Sneak attack
2 X Honor’s hope
2 X Will
2 X Justly earned victory
1 X Deathly aura
1 X The Thriving light

Items
3 X Scout armor

Rings
1 X Ring of the Void
1 X Ring of Water

Just to start out, I picked the new stronghold, Great Hall of Records, for the straightening despite not being able to get the force bonus (no Heroes in this deck) as Central Castle would get no use from this deck and The Venerable Plains of the Ikoma might get some but I would be happier having an extra ability to Straighten my personalities.

Firstly I have to say about the holdings the Fudo triplets are just amazing, the amount of use I get out of them in an average game is phenomenal. When all three are out, using Belly of Fudo to straighten the Head which now produces four gold is always fun. Also I am still deliberating whether to take out The New order for a Counting house as the three Proper Deference might be enough Fate-side honor meta but until I get a chance to test this properly it will be staying as is.

The Personalities are heavily seven gold costed which may make it a little slower to get going but the spread of abilities covered covers straightening (Tsudoken), ranged attacks (Ryozo), send home (Fumiyo), force reduction (Nishijo), bowing (Youko) and moving in to battle (Kasei). Add in Senzo, who can double up the use of a personalities ability and Iwao who can copy the ability of one of your dead personalities and you have an incredibly strong set of personalities who are then protected from death effects by Senichi (who, by the way, can also be copied by Kitsu Iwao, meaning you can effectively have six personalities who can redirect death effects). There aren’t many six gold personalities in the Dynasty deck meaning it will be harder for you to be hit by the new ”Lion meta” cards but even if they do take down a couple of them you can still copy their effects on to Kitsu Iwao, making him very useful and someone you are going to be wanting to keep about if you can, infact his only down side is the lack of the Samurai or Courtier keywords meaning there is no Seppuku option in case of an emergency. Oh, I would also like to make note of Mountain Storehouse, a very welcome addition since the loss of Lightwater bay due to the errata on Central Castle. I believe Lions everywhere will finally be able to fill that empty slot with this nice piece of move in which is performed for the sake of cards like Deathly aura by the way.

On to the Fate deck… no real surprises here but I will give a little note on the cards in the deck.

Desperate rush – This has been a guilty pleasure card of mine for awhile and with the amount of high personal honor personalitiesin the deck it should always do some damage. The reason I enjoy this card so much is it isn’t a ranged attack and can’t be reduced by cards like Outer walls and The cost of pride, and even if it doesn’t kill its target it can bring them low enough for a follow up ranged attack.

Kami unleashed – Simple enough. Its a nice big ranged attack and the bowing shouldn’t be a problem, especially if you are using your personality with scout armor attached.

The cost of pride – The reaction is very nice for swatting down those big ranged attacks (Yeah I’m looking at you Mantis!!) but the battle effect is just as nice, especially since once you get your Guidance out, your personalities will always be a different force from your base force while attacking and you never know when its going to be useful for the odd bowing of an opposing personality who has been pumped up.

The Height of courage – Simply there for negating the movement away of my personalities.

Inexorable defeat – This card is a shining star from the latest set in my eyes, destroying a region or terrain or moving in to a battefield and straightening the unit AND negating any further movement there is just gold. Yes both effects cost two honor but that is a small price to pay for the awesome effects and can noramally be worked around anyway.

Discretionary valor – Now the focus effect to this card can be quite nice. If you know you are going to lose anyway, why not just throw a spanner in the works for your opponent but I have it in more for the battle effect. Sometimes you need to cut and run because its all gone to hell in a hand basket and this card nets you a card and an honor at the same time. Fall back may have been a better call for some decks with big units or little straightening but it fits this deck fine.

Proper deference – A great new honor meta card from The Plague wars set which can also grab you a card should you need it for slapping an honor runner back to where they were at the start of a turn (if they get eight or more honor in the turn that is) and the battle effect is still useful if you are up against a military deck, bringing people low enough for range attacks.

Rout – Very nice card for send home and attachment hate, after all I do hate attachments.

Sneak attack – Always nice to be able to get in a first action while attacking.

Honor’s hope – There are enough personalities with three and four personal honor that this will be able to make some decent sized ranged attacks and there is enough straightening that the bow will rarely be much of a cost. Also it is another ability, if for instance someone you have given it to is destroyed, for Iwao to copy.

Will – Nice to be able to bring back a key character who has since departed the field but the tempo loss can sometimes be a pain if you use it in the heat of battle.

Justly earned victory – I always try to run one or two of these as dishonor meta as they do seem to love their force reductions. Worse comes to worst it can still be used for the move home.

Deathly aura – In the deck for more sneaky-ness.

The Thriving light – A card to meta everything. Goes into every deck if you can get your hands on it.

Scout armor – Two force for two gold is very nice. Add in a little resilience to bowing to that card and you have something awesome. Its in here to make Kami unleashed stronger and free and also helps make the effect given from Honor’s hope a bit better too.

And then of course Ring of the Void and Ring of Water are in because they are achievable to get into play and their effects will help the deck.

I have yet to give this deck a proper testing but it should still be reasonably speedy I would think, just not as fast as the old fashioned Naked Lion decks. In all fairness though, the design team have been saying that they wanted to slow down Military rush and Honor rocket decks and I think they might have got their wish. The best advice I could give as far as playing this deck would be to mulligan hard, even mulligan out characters you would want to see on the board if you haven’t got any holdings first turn as you will be wanting to set your self up financially first over the first two turns by getting out as many holdings as you can (preferably three gold producers) and then just churn out the people as fast as possible and try to keep your opponent on the back foot with all the abilities that you can throw at them.

I hope you have enjoyed my first little foray into blogging and I haven’t bored you too much as I am supposed to be back for another eight of these!

See you all soon.

Matsu Mokashi.

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