An Emperor Edition strategy article by Randy Slaven:
So it’s Emperor Edition and you’re playing L5R. Perhaps you’ve played in a few tournaments, perhaps you haven’t. In either case, here are a few basic truisms of the environment as is.
1. Expect Military with a focus on the battle action phase.
2. Expect Attachments (and be ready to deal with them).
3. Expect fast, brutal games.
Expect Military with a focus on the battle action phase.
Out of the gate, military will be dominant over honor and dishonor. Decks like Shiro Chugo Paragons or Mantis Thunder-females have incredibly strong anti-honor meta baked in and will be popular/successful. Anyone testing an honor deck needs to know these decks exist, and should test against them regularly. (I highly suggest using Legendary’s proxy deck generation tool as it is about a million times easier than using the Kolat PDF or making your own proxies) As an honor player, the difficulty of facing a deck which slows your gains dramatically (Chugo) or that will always kill your first defender, always (Thunderladies) should not be underestimated. On the other side of the honor coin, limited phase dishonor without Den of Iniquity is a joke. The rules change that essentially gave military an extra attack phase against dishonor makes trying to blitz your opponent to -20 (while ignoring your defense) a poor strategy with the card pool available. If you are a new player, I highly suggest you switch to military for the time being.
As a result of military’s early dominance, it’s going to be very important to achieve supremacy over the battle phase. The vast majority of cards in your deck need to be battle related; you will be a speed-bump if you’re playing garbage like Bend Like A Reed, Footsteps of Madness, Plans Within Plans, etc. Similarly, your Personalities need to be as battle focused as possible.
Expect Attachments (and be ready to deal with them).
Mean things happen to Personalities without attachments (please see every action ever). To avoid this, and to enable your own mean actions, you’re going to have to use attachments, and plan to remove your opponent’s attachments. Cards such as Sundering Strike, Strength in Terror, Broken Alliance, and Reckless Rush are all going to see a considerable amount of play. Brothers in Battle is noteworthy. Right now a majority of ranged attacks are at 4 strength, so BiB puts your 4F guys out of the range of many threats while giving you something effective to remove your opponent’s Followers/low force Personalities. With many of the decks in the field seeking to remove attachments to gain access to nekkid personalities, cards like Nakanu Technique, Grateful Reward, Near Miss or Satoshi’s Dual Warfans are all going to see play as a means of protecting your own personalities or attachments for a low cost. If you do run large attachments like Wyrmbone Katana or Cursed Relic, run Near Miss so they’re not nuked immediately.
Early results have shown the strength of Paragons and Water-Shugenja, and attachments figure into the strength of both decks. Paragons have access to a great suite of attachment related cards (Grateful Reward, Strength in Terror, Cast Aside the Weak). Shugenja based decks have greatly benefited from the new rules regarding in-battle attachment of spells, and have a large variety of strong attachments. Spells like A Dragon’s Favor, Stormless Fury, or Unnatural Flood are all solid, free spells. Katana of Fire clothes two of your personalities -and- destroys attachments/the unclothed.
Expect fast, brutal games.
This is a simple enough concept, but I still see people building decks that take an extravagantly long time to get setup and going. The environment is already very high powered and the best decks are very mature for this point in an arc. You cannot afford to ‘slow build’ and you’re definitely not going to establish a limited-phase lockdown of your opponent. You are not a unique snowflake, do not try and dishonor with clans that weren’t meant to.