On the Cheap – Ivory Crab

So, it’s time to get going on those Ivory launch On the Cheap decks, and so I am – of course! – starting with Crab. They’re first alphabetically, so how could I not? Also, they are one of the more ‘centrist’ clans from a deckbuilding standpoint – they have the most common gold production values (4G with no modifiers) and they will certainly be pursuing the most common win condition (military). For the ground rules for deck construction, you can check back here, but the basics are that you get what comes in the Ivory Edition starter deck, any commons or uncommons you want, anything at all from Coils of Madness (because of the ‘there aren’t really any rares’ rarity system in that expansion), and that’s it.

At this stage of an arc, and especially with the exclusion of rare cards, Personalities are probably going to be our biggest limitation on deckbuilding. And what Personalities we have to work will be a strong influence on what the rest of the deck can do. As you’ll see below, the Holding selection is pretty constrained as well, but it probably won’t end up influencing things an awful lot – you simply aren’t going to have much choice in the Holdings.

Crab in Ivory are sporting Yasuki, but they lack their sensei and there probably just aren’t enough of them to make a deck work, so we’re going to be sticking with good old military here. The question we will be thinking about as we look at the Personalities, however, is whether we have any draw towards Todori Sensei and its requirement to play Followers.

Hida O-Ushi (inexperienced)
Hiruma Nikaru, the Flesh Eater
Nishoji, the Steel-Eyed
Kuni Renyu (experienced 2)
Hida Kisada, the Little Bear

We like fancy Uniques, right? Coils of Madness gives Crab a nice kick-off with the hyper-efficient Force of Nishoji and Hiruma Nikaru. Something to keep in mind with Nikaru, as fantastic as he is, is that I’m guessing that Nexus of Lies will be something like everywhere in a bushi league format, so there’s a reasonable chance he’ll really be tagging you for 5 Honor. O-Ushi is OK on her Force/Gold, but that ability is sweet. Renyu doesn’t get the undercosted Force of his Coils of madness clan-mates, but 10G for 6F (including the Follower protection) and an ability is reasonably attractive. And if we can’t use the Clan Champion here then, well, where can we?

Hida Iguchi
Hida Saiyuki
Hiruma Moritoki

You can’t make a deck with all non-Uniques, however, so we’ll need to go looking for efficient non-uniques. The Stronghold’s Force-boosting ability is very good, but we still need to make sure that we can force a battle, and we need printed Force for that. Hiruma Moritoki is a lot less attractive on the Force efficiency front, costing 2 more Gold for only 1 more Force. Which brings us to the Unaligned Personalities …

Myuken
Ogre Bushi
The Dark Naga (experienced)
The Shakash (experienced)

Our little actor is pretty handy here. He’s got that that magic 3F/4G, and his ability will let him gain Crab Clan and, therefore, use our box bonus. Ogre Bushi, on the other hand, I’d lean towards leaving out because the Crab Uniques already give us a healthy dose of more expensive, higher-Force Personalities. The Shakash xp, on the other hand, is too good to pass up, with that safe 6F for 9G and an ability.

Hiruma Itta
Kaiu Esumi (experienced)

These two are on the opposite end of the spectrum – lower Force, but good abilities. There are an awful lot of Ranged/Melee/Fear 2 effects running around at very little cost, so under normal circumstances I’m pretty hesitant about things like 2F/5G military Personalities. The +1F opposed Force for the Crab, however, makes that particular facet of Itta a non-issue. Still, both of these guys are really more than I want to pay.

Hiruma Fujito
Hiruma Tsurao

So, what about these guys who really want the Followers? Soul of Todori seems to have more potential – the Follower can be on anyone, not him, and with Todori Sensei (not exactly a coincidence, is it?) he removes the downside to wanting to bow your biggest Follower for a Ranged Attack. On the downside for Tsurao, if you’re playing the Sensei then he’s just a 2F even when opposed, and he’s going to get shot in the face if he doesn’t have his own Follower in tow. Fujito, on the other hand, is basically paying 2G to maybe have a Fear ability.

Hida Kurabi
Hida Toranosuke
Toritaka Iabuchi

Oh, and let’s not forget the little bit of ‘cheating’ from our starter deck, which gives us the possibility of adding any of these three rare Personalities. Kurabi basically costs 1G extra for a card and 1G extra for the option to play him half a turn early, and that’s a pretty solid deal. And Toranosuke has a pretty interesting ability on a reasonably priced package. Another Crab we’ll be happy to include. Iabuchi, on the other hand, is pretty underwhelming, having to pay a lot for his card draw and bow-to-ranged attack.

1x Hida Kisada, the Little Bear
1x Hida O-Ushi
1x Hiruma Nikaru, the Flesh Eater
1x Kuni Renyu (experienced 2)
1x Nishoji, the Steel-Eyed
1x The Shakash (experienced)
3x Hida Iguchi
3x Hida Saiyuki
1x Hida Kurabi
1x Hida Toranosuke

These 14 basically end up being the guys I’m pretty pumped to have in my deck. That’s obviously not enough (we’re going to want at least 20 Personalities), so let’s go looking to the second tier:

3x Hiruma Moritoki
3x Myuken
1x The Dark Naga (experienced)

We’ll go with good Force over weak Force and OK battle actions – this is a Crab deck, after all. Myuken rounds us up with 9 4G personalities, which is a nice price point for when we get ‘normal’ gold for the T2 buy instead of optimal gold. For example, with 8G after T1, you’re favorite T2 is probably to spend all of that on Holdings, but if you only have a couple of 2G Holdings show up you can still use the other 4G to pick up one of these Personalities. The card I’ll end up missing the most with this Personality selection is Advance Warning, which would be really handy with where this is headed.

The Dark Naga will be Personality #21 if we need him, which I’m guessing we will given the dearth of exciting Events at common and uncommon. Yeah, I left out Ogre Bushi because we didn’t need more high price Personalities, but the Dark Naga is beastly so long as we pack some ways to straighten him. And we’re going to need to pack ways to straighten anyway, given our relatively high quantity of big Force without actions.

At this point our Personality lineup does not give us any reason to run Todori Sensei. Maybe we could bring him in because we like the Followers anyway, but the sensei will have to rely on those to earn its way in. Speaking of that, since our particular Holding choices are going to be influenced by the Fate deck more than the other way around, let’s skip down there …

1x Khalimpeh-Jiak (rare in starter deck)
1x Strength of the Bear (rare in starter deck)
1x Ring of Air
1x Ring of Earth
1x Ring of Water
3x Deliberations

These ones kind of feel like “must includes” for us. Khalimpeh-Jiak is (here’s that word again) really efficient (sort of 4F for 3G at no tempo cost), and we’ve got enough printed 5F or more to use Strength of the Bear to good effect. Deliberations is reasonably efficient for kill in this environment – you have to pay more Gold than Force, but if you’re hitting anything but a Follower you’re very likely killing something that cost at least as much as you’re spending.

And there are some other cards that I’m really drawn to running:

Breaking the Rhythm
Return to Action/Back to the Front
Unholy Strike
Suffer the Consequences
Ritual Preparations
Fall Back!

There are a lot of Force pumps and Force penalties in this environment, and Breaking the Rhythm takes care of either one, even if you aren’t there any more (unlike some past editions, unopposed Force bonuses are absolutely a thing in Ivory Edition). Return to Action is one of the very few move-in cards that straightens as well (there isn’t a ton of send home, but Return to Action can just give us an extra Defender who would otherwise have been bowed at home). Back to the Front does as well, losing the ability to create pseudo-Conquerors, but gaining the ability to work on attack (not trivial against Crane). Suffer the Consequences is murder on Weapons and pretty good against Followers as well, and I’d anticipate a lot of those attachments showing up in bushi league (plus you can cycle it when they don’t). Ritual Preparations is hard to get too excited about, but we really want straighten in this deck, and since we have no Magistrates is slightly more versatile than Ivory Magistrate Outpost (although with a worse focus value). Fall Back! is a deceptively powerful card, with the move home looking like a price but very often being a bonus, letting you eject a second unit that was bowed anyway.

Justice of the Crane
Naga Remnants
Reinforced Parangu
Simple Spears
Ancestral Armor of the Crab Clan
Spitting Llama
Practicing Kata

There are some attachments in this category as well. Ancestral Armor of the Crab has a nice ability, but at 8G we’re kind of paying through the nose for it. Justice of the Crane is here because it (along with Family Sword, which we can’t use because it’s a promo) again provides the best Force bang for our buck if we’re directly adding to Personality Force, seemingly being designed under a slightly different costing scheme than the Ivory Edition proper Weapons (it’s also minor honor meta). Naga Remnants probably has the best ability of the 2F/2G Followers (Light Infantry is more efficient in theory, but it’s unclear how often we’ll have the exactly 1G to spend on it in our action phase). Reinforced Parangu has a worse ability, but unlike Naga Remnants it doesn’t open us up to small Fear/Attack effects (Simple Spears has no ability, but attachments are fragile, so expendable ones aren’t bad). Spitting Llama doesn’t look bad even though we’re paying for Cavalry we can’t use much, giving something like a 6-point Force swing for only 5G.

If we pass on the Naga Remnants for that reason (and at this point formally pass on Todori Sensei), rather than doubling down on Followers, we’ve got run to include all of that, and still be sitting at only 33 Fate cards. What we’re missing the most is probably good old “proactive” Battle actions – Attack effects, bowing, move-home, whatever we can get. A few more attachments could fit, although we don’t particularly need more. And our move-in is concentrated on defense. There’s some fate-side meta to be had, but most of it is too narrow. One exception is Terrains, where we might be well-served to pack a few of our own because they can provide another source of straighten or Force while also acting as terrain destruction. We also have the option of bringing in our one Determined Challenge (rare in the starter deck) to harpoon in pesky courtiers or shugenja who don’t dare to show their faces in battle.

Lakeside Retreat/The Eternal Rainbows/Contentious Terrain
Incapacitated/Block Supply Lines
A Small Favor/Holding Cells
Koan’s Staff
Akodo Kaiken

Since our guys are mostly static Force without abilities, the delayed straighten of Lakeside Retreat can be even better than Ritual Preparation, while have the dual advantage-disadvantage of being a Terrain (although this is a place where I need to be careful and not overload on straighten just because I’ve got big Personalities in the deck). The other two are generic Terrain meta. Incapacitated/Block helps demonstrate the dearth of send-home available, forcing us to choose between using it on attack or defense. Next up our basically our options for bow, which are not exciting given our keyword/personality base – and since we don’t want to go too much more into battle expenses (we’ve already got Deliberations and Suffer the Consequences)  . Koan’s Staff is an odd bird – its stats aren’t amazing, but it does provide an Attack effect at a much better price point than the Ivory Edition Yari. Akodo Kaiken is almost as good as our Khalimpeh-jiak, although again we’ve got to be careful not to go overboard on fateside cards with gold costs. Something to keep in mind when looking at these Weapons, however, is that there are a reasonable number that cost 3G, so we might be able to leverage Exotic Market for the 3G Weapons instead of sticking with Reinforced Parangu.

And any military deck with bigger units might want to keep its eye on:

Reprisal
Army Like a Tide

So our fateside might look something like:

1x Strength of the Bear
3x Deliberations
3x Breaking the Rhythm
2x Return to Action
2x Back to the Front
3x Unholy Strike
3x Suffer the Consequences
3x Ritual Preparation
3x Fall Back!
2x Contentious Terrain
2x Incapacitated
1x Determined Challenge

1x Ring of Air
1x Ring of Earth
1x Ring of Water

1x Ancestral Armor of the Crab Clan
1x Khalimpeh-Jiak
1x Koan’s Staff
3x Justice of the Crane
3x Akodo Kaiken

Well, with that looking est, let’s turn back to the dynasty deck, where we need to determine our Holdings. The first thing I’ll do is something I’m sure I’m going to end up doing for many of these decks, and just putting Nexus of Lies in the deck.

3x Nexus of Lies

The optimal number and type of Holdings to run in Ivory edition is a topic of great discussion right now, but one think I can say for certain is that “4-4-4” (that’s ‘4 gold produce 4 a cost of 4 gold’) Holdings can make your gold vastly more consistent than 2G Holdings or the 3/1 scheme. Of course, you don’t have the option to make a gold scheme out of all 4-4-4 Holdings even if you get to use rares and promos, much less in bushi league. But we can use Nexus of Lies, and we’ll do so here.

Now, even with Nexus of Lies in, the holding count we need is still pretty high. I think that 16 is your absolute minimum and here what I’m going to default to is 18, and then try to fit in some holdings that held us cycle to better dynasty flips later. But first, let’s look at some other “must have” Holdings:

3x Iron Mine
1x Counting House
1x Temple of Tengen

Card draw is king. Even when it’s just card cycle.

There are also some Holdings that can help with our attachments:

Colonial Temple
Exotic Market

We’ve got a bit of a trade-off here. Exotic Market just functions as a 2-4-2 no matter what. Colonial Temple gets us even more bang for our buck when we’re buying attachments, but it’s 3G cost and base 2G production make it really painful to buy on T1. This is one of the places that it really matters what our attachments cost. As currently assembled, the Justice of the Crane is the only card in the fate deck that really benefits from the increase to 4G for attachments (over Exotic Market’s 3G for items). So that leaves me inclined to leave out Exotic Market.

Kaeru Contractor

We do have several strategies with variable gold costs, so I’ll mention Kaeru Contractor here. However, Deliberations is the only one that’s likely to get use out of the Contractor. This is a place where going back and forth between the fate and dynasty decks could be pertinent, however, since Kaeru Contractor and A Small Favor are good friends.

Then we’ve got a few 2G Holdings that help with dynasty flow:

Fudoist Advisor
House of Exotic Goods
Family Library

House of Exotic Goods and Family Library are similar. In both cases you’re torching the Holding to lose unwanted cards that are in provinces and get something there that you want. Family Library is only one card, but you know exactly what the replacement will be. HoEG is two (or more), but you might get unlucky and just get more unwanted Holdings. Fudoist Advisor, on the other hand, has that handy Kharmic keyword (sadly, the 3-4-3 and 4-4-4 Kharmic Holdings are both off-limits to us). Fudoist Advisor is also vulnerable to Purge of Fudoism (as was Hiruma Nikaru), which is an event that might get played a bit given the relatively large portion of cards out there right now that are Fudo or Fallen.

Farmer’s Market
Ashigaru Fort
Coastal Pearl Bed

And here’s some random 2G Holdings with OK abilities/traits. Too bad the nifty Farm Holdings run out there, or maybe we’d have to take a look at Vast Paddy Fields.

Fudoist Temple
Jade Works

Speaking of Fudo cards … the Cavalry-granting ability on Fudoist Temple is just gravy for our purposes. These are the two 3-4-3 Holdings we have available, with Iron Mine also hanging out adjacent to these. Using the 3G Holdings, however, means we need to go looking for the 1G Holdings:

Abundant Farmlands
Deep Harbor
Secluded Shrine
Yuikihime’s Hot Springs

Abundant Farmland would be a lot nicer if the Discipline cost on Return to Action was only 1. We do have a couple of cards of our own with honor losses, but we just wouldn’t buy them against dishonor, so Secluded Shrine is a possible meta card. But Deep Harbor is probably the go-to 1G Holdings, since it can jazz up for gold production if you get it T1 (alas, no Jade Pearl Inn to tutor it up). And Yuikihime’s Hot Springs could be randomly handy if you don’t have anything else to do with that 1G.

Heavy Infantry Dojo
The Topaz Dojo

And then we have the two rare/promo Holdings from the starter deck that I am going to bother to write down. Both have the vexing characteristics of producing less gold than they cost and having to bow to use their abilities. On the other hand, you’ll be happy to lose the 3G if Heavy Infantry Dojo will win you a battle, and 11 of our Personalities can get the permanent boost from Topaz Dojo.

Ultimately, I think we’re best off being straightforward with the gold – run the Nexus of Lies and then mostly 2G Holdings, with a lot of things to let us cycle through the dynasty deck. And we’ll go ahead and include those two rares:

3x Nexus of Lies
3x Iron Mine
3x Exotic Market
2x Fudoist Advisor
2x Family Library
1x House of Exotic Goods
1x Counting House
1x Temple of Tengen
1x Heavy Infantry Dojo
1x The Topaz Dojo

And that leaves us with one more slot, which I’ve allocated to something that’s neither a Personality nor a Holdings (although you could also just make it a Personality). That’s mostly events, but it also includes those 1G Holdings that don’t bow to produce gold, but rather just have abilities. The Event selection is pretty limited because those tend to congregate at higher rarities:

Purge of Fudoism
Rampant Paranoia
The Asahina’s Shame

And, well, that’s basically it, unless you want to use a dynasty slot to draw a fate card, in which case you can add Dark Audience and Glimpse of the Unicorn back in. Purge of Fudoism is, as I mentioned, a possibility, but you can probably guess that it’s not going to get the nod here, given that I included Fudoist Advisor above. Rampant Paranoia is a possibility, although we’ve hopefully make a deck where our defenders are relatively resilient to being killed, especially given the smaller set of options in bushi league. And the Asahina’s Shame is a possibility for us for the same reason that Topaz Dojo was a possibility. Unfortunately, this will probably also be true of other bushi league decks, so it’s probably not that great.

The Breeding Ground

The lone 1G Holding that’ll help us in this category is The Breeding Ground, which will hand out Conqueror to whoever our biggest attacker is every turn. This deck does benefit from Conqueror (I suppose you could plump for the Oriole blade in the fate deck instead of the Akodo one), but I’m really torn between this and the Rampant Paranoia. I’m going to go with The Breeding Ground because I hope that it will be more consistently handy – it can make sure I have a defender in the first place, instead of just watching helplessly as my lone defender gets Force stabbed down and then killed in resolution anyway.

So, without further commentary, here’s our first take on an Ivory On the Cheap deck.

On the Cheap: Ivory Crab

Dynasty (40):

Holdings (19):
3x Exotic Market
3x Iron Mine
3x Nexus of Lies
2x Family Library
2x Fudoist Advisor
1x Counting House
1x Heavy Infantry Dojo
1x House of Exotic Goods
1x Temple of Tengen
1x The Breeding Grounds
1x The Topaz Dojo

Personalities (21):
3x Hida Iguchi
3x Hida Saiyuki
3x Hiruma Moritoki
3x Myuken
1x Hida Kisada, the Little Bear
1x Hida Kurabi
1x Hida O-Ushi (inexperienced)
1x Hida Toranosuke
1x Hiruma Nikaru, the Flesh Eater
1x Kuni Renyu (experienced 2)
1x Nishoji, the Steel-Eyed
1x The Dark Naga (experienced)
1x The Shakash (experienced)

Fate (40):

Items (9):
3x Akodo Kaiken
3x Justice of the Crane
1x Ancestral Armor of the Crab Clan
1x Khalimpeh-Jiak
1x Koan’s Staff

Rings (3):
1x Ring of Air
1x Ring of Earth
1x Ring of Water

Strategies (28):
3x Breaking the Rhythm
3x Deliberations
3x Fall Back!
3x Ritual Preparation
3x Suffer the Consequences
3x Unholy Strike
2x Back to the Front
2x Contentious Terrain
2x Incapacitated
2x Return to Action
1x Determined Challenge
1x Strength of the Bear

Please do use the comment box below, or e-mail, to let me know what you think of the presentation of the deck, or the deck itself (especially in this brand new day of Ivory Edition deckbuilding). Did I leave out something obvious? Did I include something foolish? Let us know!

11 thoughts on “On the Cheap – Ivory Crab

  1. Does Kaeru Contractor work with Deliberations? Kaeru Contractor reduces the cost by 3, but doesn’t actually make gold. And the RA strength of Deliberations is based on the amount of gold paid.

    I’m a bit surprised not to see Frontier Farmer, one of the best Commons in the environment (especially paired with Well-Defended Farm). But since you could easily play the Ashigaru scheme in pretty much every On the Cheap deck, I guess you’re saving it for Lion?

    1. Frankly, if Kaeru Contractor and Deliberations don’t work together, to me that’s kind of an intuition fail on the part of their ‘being straightforward’ rules goal. My thought was that Deliberations was just a natural language variant of “Pay X: Ranged (X-2) Attack.”

      I don’t have plans that specific on the other decks, but I do vaguely have the notion to try and not have all of the fate decks just end up the same. Although I’m not sure how well that goal will be achieved by the time they’re all done. For the Crab deck I just went with making the guys themselves big. Also I may not always remember every card every time. 🙂

        1. I love the immediate follow-up question about how if that’s how “the amount paid” works, then it seems to break all of the cards that reduce the cost for attachments and Personalities because both the Recruit and Equip actions are defined in terms of “the amount you paid.”

Leave a Reply