War of Honor – A Look Back at Samurai Arc (Part 9)

This is the ninth 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 Part 7 Part 8).

The last four posts have been about clan-specific cards, but I’m going to use this post to pop back and finish off the rest of the non-clan specific cards. This collection is a bit of a mish-mash – the stuff that’s really strong already got mentioned in a prior post, so these are mostly second-string generic cards or thematic cards that cover more than one clan.

Mountain’s Heart Blade
Footman’s Pike
Katana of Twilight
My Grandfather’s Blade
Masters of Steel

This is the category that prompted me to interrupt the clan-specific posts – Weapons and a Kensai card. In Samurai, this was a Dragon-only thing, but in Celestial it expanded out to other clans.

Mountain’s Heart Blade is a no-ability Weapon that’s actually worth it. None of this “you may pay to get it back” nonsense (yeah, I’m talking to you, Blade of Perfection). Still, basically Kensai-only.

Footman’s Pike, however, is useful anywhere, especially with CE’s increased handing out of Cavalry. The real question is – how is it that Rokugani have only manufactured the one footman’s pike? You’d think someone would have figured out it’s pretty easy to put a sharp point on the end of a long stick.

Katana of Twilight requires that you’re dueling and probably that you want Weapons (if you don’t care about Force, it isn’t worth the 4G). That was pretty common with Kensai decks in Samurai, but as Celestial has progressed they’ve tended to move away from it. Still, it is a consideration for any military dueling deck.

My Grandfather’s Blade got light play in Samurai, and so is unlikely to make the transition to War of Honor, especially with the increased access to kill actions.

Masters of Steel, however, is quite playable (well, to whatever extent Kensai are playable) – it’s yet another death negation to pile on top of Hundred-Fold Cut and Muscle and Steel, plus a decent Battle action. Yet another use for Tsi Mokotsu tokens (sorry, created cards).

Heavenly Kobune of Suitengu
Lion Mempo

Imperial Cartographer
Soul Jar
Glory of the Shogun
Skilled Quartermaster

This batch finishes off the attachment-related cards for today. The Heavenly Kobune ends up here because two clans can use it, although it’s more handy for the Unicorn. If you’re Mantis, it makes your Naval guy Cavalry. If you’re Unicorn, it makes your Cavalry guy Naval. If you’re Unicorn, you can also use it to run away. Certainly a cheaper way to get Naval than Scourge of the Sea.

Lion Mempo gets better the better your Battle abilities are, and I hear that Battle abilities on Personalities have gotten pretty good in CE – plus there’s even more kill actions. Early kill actions are often used to take out Personalities with great abilities, and the Lion Mempo can ensure that you get the ability off regardless (probably because they have to kill the guy with the Mempo instead).

I’m not sure where Imperial Cartographer stands these days. On one hand, it’s already pretty easy to hit 8 honor on your turn, so there’s less of a premium on fate cards that only gain honor on your turn. On the other hand, it’s also now easier to assemble enough of those keywords for the Cartographer to be a 4 Honor gain, so you don’t need anything but that and a guy for full. Still, easier isn’t the same as easy, and I’m guessing it won’t be worth adjusting your deck to get it (poor Crane, if only it looked for the Market keyword too).

Soul Jar used to be involved in some broken shenanigans where you got to keep on bringing guys back and none of them ever dying. Or something like that. I think it involved transferring the Soul Jar back and forth, and which Personality the ability referenced at what point in time. But I’m pretty sure it doesn’t work anymore, and I don’t have the patience to go look up whatever it used to do.

I don’t like letting other people draw cards. It’s one thing when one other player might get to draw equal to yours. But with three other players in the game, and the popularity of big attachments, Glory seems way too likely to be helping someone else. But it is a doozy of an effect.

Speaking of big attachments, Skilled Quartermaster lets you get even more kill work out of them. The card never went much of anywhere in Samurai, but maybe the presence of all of those big items can lift its value enough.

Let Them Fight Their Dead
Hunger of the Dead

Once upon a time, the honor loss pushed Let Them Fight Their Dead out of any consideration for non-evil decks. But since Honor loss doesn’t matter so much in War of Honor, it deserves a second look if your shugenja don’t have honor requirements or if you’re Phoenix and that open tile will make your HRs irrelevant anyway. Free guys mid-battle are never to be scoffed at.

OK, Hunger of the Dead doesn’t have anything to do with Let Them Fight Their Dead other than the word “Dead,” but I’ll jam it here anyway. Straightforward card – “All Personalities in play gain a -1F/-1C Corruption token.” There’s already some chi-kill running around in the format and, regardless, shrinking everyone on the board is entertaining.

Usurpation
Wrist Lock

There are few Strategy cards from Samurai that tack the “gain 2 Honor” on at the end, especially ones that don’t require Courtiers, and Usurpation and Wrist Lock are in that category. Usurpation works with anyone, Wrist Lock works with Monks and Shugenja. Although it was great in its time, Usurpation is now probably reduced to filling in for honor decks that no longer received support once CE hit (e.g., Monk Honor). Wrist Lock should still be good enough to consider for any Monk or Shugenja-based Honor deck.

Unrequited Love
Utter Defeat

Probably should have crammed this back in when I talked about dishonor. Unrequired Love drew some interest for dishonor decks in Samurai, where it was basically a guaranteed bow. But it wasn’t great then, and it certainly isn’t now.

Utter Defeat should not even be a consideration for dishonor decks these days, but that doesn’t mean you can’t just use it to save your own guy. The honor loss is meaningless, and if someone cares about your guy being dishonored, he was going to get dishonored anyway.

Shrine to Bishamon
Imperial Dojo

Shrine to Bishamon has often been underrated, but it’s a handy little utility to be able to bow a guy who got sent home to pump up someone who is still in the battle and take a province (or bow your infantry guy to pump your Cavalry guy). But the vast selection of Holdings available will reduce the chances for it to get into a deck. Ditto Imperial Dojo. It lets you avoid a bunch of Holdings late game, but there’s a lot of competition and you may have Border Keep for that anyway (or you may be losing the game without losing any Holdings).

Under Suspicion
City of the Rich Frog

How about a couple more Force pumps? Under Suspicion is about the biggest one available to defensive Courtier decks. And City of the Rich Frog can enable some pretty impressive attacks (don’t miss the “once per battle.”) – fear the Phoenix military.

Eager to Fight
Redeployment

Alas for Eager to Fight, it’s a lot less good in War of Honor. A turn cycle of being locked down is a lot longer. More importantly, in a two-player game who can hope to Eager and then wipe their army – in War of Honor, you might wipe one army, only to have a different guy’s army smash you while your army is down.

Redeployment fares better, not only letting you defend against Cavalry, but also waiting and seeing where everyone else commits before assigning into a messy battle.

The Arrow Knows the Way
Ravaged Lands
True Strength
Unauthorized Duel

The Arrow Knows the Way lets you shoot through Followers. Pretty simple. Maybe in decks, shouldn’t be a 3x if it is though.

Ravaged Lands should have been back in the post with the other cards affected by the multiplayer nature of battles, but such is life. It’s probably affected in a negative way, since if there’s a coalition coming at you, then the Attacker can send home units to preserve everyone’s presence, so that they can quickly remove your presence before Ravaged Lands can do enough damage.

OK, you shouldn’t be playing with True Strength – the Battle action is bad, and the Reaction doesn’t happen enough. I guess this is here because I think it’s a cool Reaction, and maybe with three other players in the game one of them will be seduced by the Dark Side and be destroyed.

Unauthorized Duel isn’t as good as it was, given the relative increase in Strategy strength (and don’t forget Doomed Intentions is out there to punish you), but it does still kill a Personality without attachments, which isn’t constantly available just yet. UD also suffers from old templating – as a Celestial card, it would probably toast a card without attachments.

Nine down, six(?) more to go.

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