by Jay Earle
After seeing military deck on top of military deck in these “on the cheap” articles I felt it was time for another honor deck. Today we’ll be doing another bushi league deck, this one ToP Honor. The main lack bushi league honor decks have over their more expensive cousins is all of those nice actions to the effect of “Battle: do something totally awesome. Oh, and by the way have 2 honor because you’re awesome, and you spent 30 dollars on this card. But mostly the awesome bit.” This lack leaves you about a turn slower than you’d really like to be against Kotei tuned decks, but for your local FNL5R you should be fine.
Some general words on honor strategy before discussing the specifics of the deck:
Cowardly Defense (or “they misspelled the keyword as Courtier”)
The strongest Battle actions a military deck can take require opposition. As such we want to deny them opposition wherever possible. While most of the abort cards are rares, we do still have options for presenceless defense. As such you should only bother to show up at a battle if you know that your gains will be better than theirs. i.e. surety of saving the province, or gaining lots of honor. Another part of this is that your strongest actions require presence, and the attacker knows this. As such he will attempt to remove your presence too. Assume defenders will die.
When to defend (or “save the province save the world”)
Sometimes you do want to defend. Maybe a warm body is the difference between province and no province. Maybe you’ve got a handful of honor gains you’d like to use. Maybe you have Ring of Fire and they’re attacking with some super unit you can off. Sometimes you just gotta defend. When figuring out if the battle is worth getting involved in, just assume that each warm body you show up with will be good for one action before being killed and weigh the situation accordingly. This applies to the last battle too (where you want to go all in, cause why not) so you want to save as many warm bodies for later as possible. Always assume anyone who shows up in battle will die.
How to play defensive actions (or “stop helping them!”)
If you do need to go to battle, and you have two actions: one that requires presence (the favor) and one that will remove your presence (Ring of Fire) then you can defend with two people. Take the one that requires presence first, then after they kill one of your guys use the action that will remove the other. Bam! Two strong actions leaving no opposition. Even if the removes your presence action is stronger you should heed this order as the other way doesn’t work out well. Mainly because anyone who shows up at the battle will die.
Consistency (consistency in inconsistency doesn’t count.)
One of the keys of a strong deck is consistency. Where you want that consistency differs by deck. A Kensai deck wants consistent weapons. A blitz deck wants a consistent province turn 2. As an honor deck you want to consistently gain honor. And this deck has two pieces for that. All honor decks want to consistently proclaim for 3-4 honor each turn. The other consistent honor gain is the box. However, it’s consistency requires more setup and is the reason we have so many cards to smear the opposition. Also, consistency in mentioning that defending personalities should be treated as already dead. This way you feel lucky if your opponent foolishly spares them.
On to the cards in the deck:
Temple of Purity is amazingly strong. Gaining two honor each turn cycle is nothing to be scoffed at, especially since we need every honor we can get lacking as we are those 45 dollar cards. As such you always want to be hitting its honor gain. Make sure you can make at least one of their guys a Snork (Shadowlands, Ninja OR Kolat) and you have an inquisitor on board. And should you be unfortunate to not be able to swing that, don’t forget the -4f is not contingent on those factors, so do be sure to share. It can and will save provinces by itself if used intelligently. (and sometimes even unintelligently)
Border Keep: While we are stuck with the basic Border Keep, that’s actually ok. As mentioned in consistency, we want to proclaim each turn. Baby border keep makes your dynasty more consistent, thus lending itself to that goal.
Bamboo Harvesters: You’ll rarely see this card, so why say anything? It’s not like we have a choice here anyways.
Shiba’s is a military. All the good honor ones are rares or super promos. Next.
Again we have a problem of the juiciest honor events being rare. There are a few left in our price range, however. Boastful is good for three honor, and timed right can steal a game. And Delayed Arrivals keep those mean Snorks off of your provinces for a goodly while.
Mostly added for personal flavor (and to have a region) The Distant Reaches does add a nice effect: most decks are running attachments these days and shutting two off before they attack is never bad. Laugh maniacally if it somehow shuts down followers.
Honor gets you some nice diversity from the military bushi holdings. All of these holdings gain you honor or are silver mine. Gaining honor is good. “But where is Rugashi Bazaar? It’s the bees knees for dishonor meta” you might ask. To which I would respond: firstly, the bee’s knees? Is this the 20s grandpa? Get some new slang. And secondly, while other honor decks are supposed to switch to military against the dishonor deck, you can show them their own medicine. When facing a dishonor deck, simply use your switchable honor changes to ding them. Combined with your proclaiming you should drag them down faster than they drag you down. Just don’t forget to seppuku. We can’t rise from the ashes if we’re not dead after all.
Honestly not changed much. There just aren’t that many rare peeps that the honor deck cares about. We do have a mix of Inquisitors and Courtiers, so you will need to pay attention: when choosing a sacrificial lamb always try to keep your threshold of one of each intact. And Tomohiro is almost worthless once you’ve gotten her 4 honor (she is void to dig out seek. But so is Moeru and he’s an Inquisitor)
Here’s where things get rough. Again, many of the traditional (and strongest) cards are rares and thus excluded. Of course, some of the staples aren’t so we’ll pack them in (Seek, House Guard, Heavily)
The House Guard is amazing. 2 honor a turn cycle, plus dropping a Kensai to nothing? Yes please. The Singh Remnants are one of the weaker cards in the deck for the proposed playstyle simply because you shouldn’t need them. If, however, you prefer a more active roll in your defense they are great, as they provide some protection (i.e. hopefully another action) for a small cost and gained you some honor. At worst they are worth an extra honor for 2 gold once.
The favor is good. Getting the favor from Crane or Scorpion is very good. Dazzling Attire allows you to do this. It is good. (Not great. Good)
Earth is brainless: we like presenceless defense. Fire is also easy: with your high chi it’s an amazingly effective way of dealing with nasty problems from your opponent – it’s one of the few kill cards available – plus it removes your guy so they lose some options.
Seek is an auto include. The other good spells are rare. Next!
Firstly, I like to play a plethora of strategies that I’m on the fence about and slowly through playtesting determine what becomes a three of and what gets cut. This is why there are a number of 2s in the strategy section: see what works for you (and add more) and what doesn’t (and cut).
Here’s where we see large discrepancies from the fully funded cousin, not to mention some just plain weird cards. Since we want honor as much as possible there are some cards that you’d normally not see. Remember Your Ancestors will almost assuredly be gain 3 honor and strip a card. Unless you’re at 37 honor. Don’t think of it as kill. Unimpeachable on the other hand is a strong card: battle honor or dishonor meta. Interference is primarily Shiro Chugo meta, though most strongholds have something worth turning off for a turn. And if not favor cycle it. One Koku should help with the chunkiness of the gold scheme. (Most of the holdings produce even amounts. Most of the people cost odd amounts) and can be used for the amazing first turn of Temple Fortress, Silver Nine, Well Tended.
Rhetoric, of course, is needed to beat other honor decks. Stealing a 4 point honor gain is an 8 point honor swing, which is more than you’ll see in most turns. The Host’s Advantage is one of your few methods of dealing with attachments. Most of the rest of the cards are there to keep the Snorks off of your provinces. (Jerks, always trying to destroy my provinces. This is why we can’t have nice things!)
Where do we go from here?
If you’re using this as a jumping point to invest in the game instead of as a strict bushi league deck there are a number of rares and promos that can shore up the deck quite nicely, hopefully without breaking the bank. Don’t be afraid to run just one or two copies of a card if that’s all you have. It’s better than none.
Wall of Honor: one comes in the War of Honor box set. The rest are expensive, but as an abort action that gains honor it’s totally worth trying to get your hands on.
Seeking the Way: another abort +2 honor, as an honor spell you’ll probably be able to get a playset by trading in your local playgroup.
Imperial Gift: 2 honor and an item? Yes please. Since it’s been around a while (including a spot in CE15) and is a Unique it shouldn’t be too hard to come by.
Ebisu’s Honesty: another Unique rare so hopefully not too hard to acquire. Definitely the best honor Celestial if you can get a copy.
Favors, Governor’s Court, Winds of Dismissal, Discovering a Conspiracy: or as i’ve been calling them, the 45 dollar cards. These are all amazing cards for the deck, but don’t expect to see them. If you luck into opening one go ahead and slot it in. But if you think it’s worth getting a playset of any or all of these you’re reading the wrong article.
Actual Deck List:
Pre-Game – (3)
Stronghold – (1)
1x Temple of Purity
Holding – (2)
1x Bamboo Harvesters
1x Border Keep
Dynasty – (42)
Event – (4)
1x Boastful Proclamation
3x Delayed Arrival
Holding – (15)
3x Indomitable Home
3x Silver Mine
3x Temple Fortress
3x Temple of Hotei
3x Well-Tended Farm
Personality – (22)
3x Agasha Kodo
3x Asako Izuna
3x Asako Moeru
3x Asako Rinshi
3x Asako Tsunefusa
1x Isawa Sakonoko
3x Isawa Tomohiro
3x Otomo Demiyah
Region – (1)
1x The Distant Reaches
Fate – (42)
Follower – (3)
1x Asako House Guard
2x Singh Remnants
Item – (2)
2x Dazzling Attire
Ring – (2)
1x Ring of Earth
1x Ring of Fire
Spell – (3)
3x Seek the Stain
Strategy – (32)
2x Block Supply Lines
3x Flooded Pass
3x Heavily Engaged
3x One Koku
2x Remember Your Ancestors
2x Rocky Terrain
1x Seeking the Question
2x Sheathing the Sword
2x The Bite of Winter
3x The Honesty of the Phoenix
2x The Host’s Advantage
2x Unimpeachable Name
That’s the deck. Bushi league makes major losses to your fate deck and Events, but the core of ToP should still be strong enough to overcome that. At the very least you can throw this together cheaply and learn how an honor deck plays. Just remember the traditional honor deck war cry: “NOT IN THE FACE! NOT IN THE FACE!”