This is the seventh in a series of posts about Samurai arc cards that might find a place in War of Honor decks – or maybe that would just be amusing in War of Honor decks (Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6).
This time we’ll look at the Crab. Crab decks at the end of Samurai usually didn’t follow thematic lines, but there are still plenty of Heroes, Scouts, and Berserkers from Samurai to match those Celestial themes.
The mainstay Crab Strongholds in Samurai, the “don’t die” of Razor of the Dawn was generally preferred over the kill action on Seventh Tower. With the increased power level of Strategies in Celestial and the fact that Seventh Tower doesn’t work when bowed, this preference is probably stronger now, although you can still combine Seventh Tower with Castle Barracks. Really, though, Shattered Peaks Castle is probably going to continue its streak of crushing the hopes of other Crab Strongholds.
Although Sozen may be more strongly remembered, Castle Barracks was arguably the defining card for Crab in Samurai Edition. Followers out of the discard pile isn’t shabby (hello, Dragon’s Guard City), and getting them for free sometimes is amazing – especially when you’re bringing back something like Taoist Archers that draws you a card every time you bring it back. Castle Barracks doesn’t even bow for its ability, so if you aren’t getting the Follower for free you can still use the extra gold production it gives.
It isn’t as flashy as Castle Barracks, but Front Gate still seems like an auto-include in any Crab deck. If players alter their Stronghold choice based on PS, then certainly they should be altering their Holding selection for it. Not only does Front Gate hand out a free +1PS for being Crab, but the conditional +1PS is easier to achieve since you only need one of the other three players to have more provinces than you.
Crab Heroes didn’t die any easier in SE than they do in CE. Sozen XP2 is a beast and, while Sozen xp isn’t nearly as good, he isn’t shabby either. People used to play Determination just to be able to kill them, although that was never a good strategic call, in my mind (you can still just bow them bow, after all). Don’t forget that Sozen is Enlightened, so he can get extra Force off of any random advances on the Path of Enlightenment that you happen to get.
Hida Daizu is basically the poor man’s version of Sozen – he doesn’t die once, and then he does for real (although he does come back from battle resolution, which Sozen is powerless against). Daizu xp also gets one death negation (and then one redirect), but it can be anyone. I’m not sure how exciting they are anymore, given that Gohachiro is comparable to Daizu xp, and he doesn’t get tons of play lately.
Hida Kuon xp5 is, of course, a Hero (and a Berserker). He was never the scary province-taker in Samurai that he is in Celestial, but he still brings a lot of Force and utility abilities. In particular, his Open is exceptionally good in War of Honor – combined with Shattered Peaks Castle, he means that you’ll almost always have a solid contingent to send to any battle. He’ll also stop your Force from getting completely shut down by the Phoenix Inquisitors.
Although not a Hero himself, Yasuki Jinn-Kuen is a must for Hero decks. I remember this guy protecting Kuon xp5 a lot. Plus, if you’re running the Followers to support Castle Barracks, then Jinn-Kuen held you pay for them.
With solid Force and two Battle abilities, Rikyu xp should also find a home in a lot of Hero and Berserker decks. Even if you’re playing Oni or another Crab deck, there will still generally be someone to bow down, and the chances of the second ability being blank are reduced with more opponents who might be running big attachments.
I’m not sure that Kaoru will make the grade, but you have to at least look at a guy who keeps coming back. Unlike Hachigoro, he’s never free, but he does have a good F/G ration the first time he comes out. Also a natural retarget choice for Take the Charge.
It costs gold, but One Final March has a lot of oomph for a movement card – it gets you two units and you don’t need someone already at the battle to target.
There are a lot of Crab Berserkers in Samurai arc. There are also a number of Berserker-specific Strategies. Most of them aren’t worth it. Rikyu xp and Kuon xp5 are, as mentioned above, Berserkers, there are only a couple more pure Berserkers of interest.
A lot of the cards that Crab can run will look for enemy Personalities with equal or lower Force. Ikkaku goes the other direction, giving Crab a way to kill high-Force enemy units – including ones with loads of attachments. Not hitting Uniques is a big deal in a format where people have so many Uniques they can cram into their deck if they want, but trading for a whole enemy unit is still effective.
Hiruma Tabarou is the Mini-Me to Hida Ikarukani‘s Doctor Evil, but he’s a lot less exciting – you can’t blow him up yourself, and your opponent has little reason to nuke the 3F spud.
Furious Assault was good enough to see play in non-Berserker decks, where it actually has a cost. It’s great in Berserker decks, although it might be less attractive than it was before, given the increased damage the enemy Personality might be able to do while it’s waiting to die. On the other hand, given the multiplayer nature of the format, people might be less willing to take that option.
Believe it or not, Scouts were primarily a Crane thing in Samurai, followed by the Unicorn. Oh, there were Crab Scouts and Lion Scouts and Mantis Scouts, but one didn’t make decks based around such things (observe the total lack of any non-Personality Scout-related cards in the list). Ikage is basically an earlier version of Hida Manoru, and a bonus for your Followers is probably more useful in most games than a penalty to Shadowlands Personalities (especially if you’re playing out of Kyuden Hida xp).
Hiruma Shotoku has an above-box honor requirement and joins the extensive Crab Scouts’ “oh God, please don’t play boxable meta” collection, but Rallying Cry is still a powerful effect. Jikagun is basically just another body if you’re trying to go Cavalry with your Scouts.
Hida Otoya was amazing, and he still is. Play him. Just don’t forget that he can’t use his ability from literally anywhere – he can’t use it from another battlefield if your armies are split.
Genji was a staple guy for Crab at the end of Samurai, but time has taken a lot of the shine off of him. “Bow a guy” is a pretty normal ability these days, and Genji has a pretty big condition (especially since your allies count against Genji).
Shoichi has the same limitation as Genji, but his ability is quite the beating when it goes off. He also makes it much, much harder for the other players to team up to prevent you from securing that final step on the military Path to Victory.
Hummingbird Wings no longer stands out like it used to, but copies 4-6 of Unorthodox Attack are pretty handy. Unbroken Blade Style isn’t unconditional bow, but it bows a lot of guys and has some added flexibility.
Twilight turns any of your guys into a province taker, makes them immune to being bowed, and gives you yet another way to always have multiple guys to go to battle with. What’s not to love?
Crab put in solid performances at the end of SE, and Crab has been competitive in CE. All of their cards focus on face-smashing. This bodes well. With that said, the non-Hero additions from SE are generally lackluster – SE just doesn’t give you much reason to go Berserkers or Scouts (and definitely not Commanders). I would anticipate seeing a lot of Hero decks (including decks with lots of hero and lots of random good Uniques) playing out of Shattered Peaks Castle. Basically a lot of what you see out of Crab in CE, but charged up with some old gold – Castle Barracks (w/ Followers), and possibly Farms.