“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat. “We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”
– Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Coils of Madness hits shelves on May 13 and tournaments on June 12, but Strange Assembly is glad to get you in on the preview action much earlier than that. Coils of Madness focuses on the “antics” of P’an Ku, the Mad Dragon, and everything we’ve got to show you today focuses on that. For reference, you’ll be running all of these out of the P’an Ku Stronghold from Coils, which was the first card previewed by AEG:
Check out the borders! Swirls of some sort of mysteriousness on top, blood spatter on the bottom. I’d never, ever want to go back to identifying sets just by the border (and these don’t), but still cool. Foothold of the Mad, and our previews today, also highlight a number of the changes being made for Ivory Edition. Foothold, for example, introduces the new “bow this card” icon, and features the now-you-can-actually-see-them legality bugs (Foothold, like most Strongholds in dual-bugged sets, is not legal for the new edition).
Also, you see all of those zeros? Get used to it. P’an Ku has trouble in non-binary mathematical systems.
Our first preview is, like the Foothold of Madness, only Emperor-legal, which is why this Event does not follow the new template, but just resolves when it shows up:
Look, it’s the Kotei playmat art! So, is like set like “let’s fit KYD into normal Rokugan by having it be a dream,” except for P’an Ku instead of Fu Leng? Or maybe P’an Ku Eggs the entire universe and then floods this real one with copies from his crazy one? And, wow, is Hannah’s art here still great or what? Not “on a giant playmat you got for winning a Kotei this year” great, but still great. I’m guessing this will probably be more cute than anything (alternative win condition cards usually aren’t designed to actually work in tournament play these days) … but there are a good number of ways to get Madness tokens just in this set (as you’ll see below). Note a minor distinction, however – you can put Madness tokens on any card, but An Empire of Madness only looks for Madness tokens on Personalities. Still, blitz or some sort of massive economy seem like more obvious Foothold of Madness decks. And speaking of madness …
Now, here’s an non-Ivory card that might actually mean something! Yes, really, that’s the first thing I think about when I look at this. Not the cool art. Not the massive boost it clearly gives to any sort of Madness-token strategy. Events are changing, it seems, so that they don’t resolve when flipped, but instead have abilities on them that let you play them from your provinces (probably mostly Limited). So, if you’re getting rid of Events just resolving right away … what does that say for Celestials? And here we get a Celestial, and he’s not Ivory-legal. Are Celestials finished as a card type? Or is this just a holdover using the old template, like An Empire of Madness is? Or are Celestials going to escape the New World Order? Good thing we’ve got Reese on speed dial … I feel another L5R designer update episode coming on ….
“Madness is rare in individuals, but in groups, parties, nations and ages it is the rule.”
– Friedrich Nietzsche
Temple of Madness is pretty straightforward. You’ll run it if that Foothold of the Mad is actually a Madness deck. You won’t if you’re just doing Holding blitz or some version of Big Oni. Oh, and look, we’re in the part of the previews where everything has that purple Ivory bug.
But now, a short break to look at a card that lets Madness tokens do something other than be a swarm of Force penalties:
After you’ve had your Bitter Lies Kensai flashback, I’d suggest first skipping to the end of the ability – “Battle: send a unit home if there’s a card in it without attachments and with a Madness token.” So, to my mind, that’s really what you’ve got to judge the card by (oh, and let this be a lesson to anyone who thinks that L5R is getting dumbed down for Ivory Edition – this things has how many conditions on it?). That’s pretty terrible in Emperor but, hey, I want Ivory-legal card cards to be bad by Emperor standards, so hooray!
Only one more Fate card today:
Well … this is kind of slightly better in some ways that a +2F for 4G. Which doesn’t mean it’s good. Also, on a personal note, this officially crushes my hopes that with IE they’d revisit having that honking sword in the middle of the frame for all the Item cards. Sad face.
But, I said eight previews, and that was the fifth card and last Fate card, so basic math tells us there’s three Dynasty cards to go, starting with Mr. Creepy here:
Yeah, I think creepy is definitely a good word for the followers of P’an Ku. *shudders* So … is Brash gone? I know that this is not the same as Brash (the draw is mandatory, in multiplayer you still draw the card even if you aren’t the Defender), but it seems close enough that you’d use it like you did on Soshi Shinoko. Not that I’m going to cry if Brash is gone, but just curious. Don’t forget that, because he’s Fallen, he gets a “Clan discount” in Foothold of the Mad.
Also, Akumasa may break my comment about P’an Ku only dealing in 0s and 1s, but this guy follows it:
Yeah, still creepy. Maybe Brash is gone, but Expendable is in (it appeared on a Unicorn preview already, also a Fallen guy). From my not-so-humble perspective on design, Expendable is a much better mechanic, because it’s all upside, and since a lot of people like their cards to be all upside, Expendable is better suited to widespread use (not that you can’t have downside text on a card, but it’s less suited to being all over the place and being a keyword). Also, there’s that Engage word – for those who haven’t seen the design diaries, that’s one of the two replacements for Reaction and it gets played exactly when you’d think it would – which makes this ability much more attractive than the one on Armor of the Mad.
Oh, and then there’s this wall of text:
No, wait, wrong version:
There, that’s better. P’an the Man has stopped copying stuff in order to really focus on that “Mad” keyword – he hands it out, and then he takes advantage of it. I predict a simultaneous heaping of praise from some players for “making honor matter” and at the same time a round of complaints from Spider and Scorpion folks about how their guys are too easy to steal (although the Paragon theme is mostly immune to this). The slow-developing nature of the ability if it doesn’t have any support may take this out of consideration outside of a Madness token deck. If your opponent is kind enough to have 0PH Personalities, then you can steal one next turn, but otherwise you’re going to have to wait (possibly a while). My first thought is that EE moves too fast for that sort of thing. In Foothold of the Mad, however, he’s two cheaper and that ability should come on line pretty much right away.