On the Cheap – Ivory Crane Honor Dueling

Yes, yes, this next installment of On the Cheap is staying with alphabetical order – Crane is hopefully going to be a rather different deck from Crab, so this won’t get too “same-y” (we’ll have to see about Dragon, which might just be another Weapon deck). Here’s your link to the ground rules, and away we go …

So, we really want this to be an honor deck. There’s only one other faction that’s really geared to having honor as its standard sort of thing (Phoenix), and if the Crane can’t make honor work in bushi league, then nobody else will. But first we’ll need to see if there’s actually enough honor gain and common and uncommon to let us cross quickly enough, even with the extra honor per turn from the Stronghold. If we can’t goldfish to cross at the end of our sixth turn pretty much every time then we’re going to have real trouble playing against a live opponent. So let’s start with anything that gains honor:

Kabuki Theater Troupe
Poorly-Placed Garden
The Turquoise Court (promo in starter deck)
Asahina Shigemitsu (experienced)
Doji Hakuseki (experienced 3)
Doji Makoto, the Smiling Blade (increases Proclaims by one)
Kakita Izumiko
Ikoma Aimi (experienced)
Kitsune Yuko
Susumu Neya
Iweko Shibatsu
Otomo Demiyah
Ancestral Armor of the Crane Clan
Court Scribe (rare in starter deck)
Disciples of Ganesh
Sparrow Clan Aide
Blessed Sword
Breaking the Rhythm
Delicate Gamble
Discretionary Valor
Favors (rare in starter deck)
Flashy Technique
Inexplicable Challenge (rare in starter deck)
Sanctioned Duel (rare in starter deck)
Wary Peace

Well, probably shouldn’t be surprised that they had to dip into rares a lot in that starter deck in order to round out the honor-gaining cards. We should be able to pretty much always gain 3 per turn from Proclaim and 3 per turn from Holdings starting on T3, to push us to 30 by the end of turn 6 without any effort. There should be more than enough in the list above to let us grab another 10 at some point over the course of those 4 turns (or 5 turns, if we’re lucky enough to get Soken or Yashinko on T2), so we’ll stick with our honor preference.

Also, a number of our potential honor gains come from duels and a number of our best Uniques focus on dueling, so we need to determine whether we’re going to be …. oh, who am I kidding, of course we’re dueling! If you’re not playing honor dueling, then what’s the point of playing the folks in powder blue?

So, what are our possible duels?

The Empire’s Foe Exposed
Doji Hakuseki (experienced 3)
Doji Hoturi (inexperienced)
Kakita Amiki
Isawa Tsuke (experienced CoM)
A Magistrate Falls
Come One at a Time
Do Not Delay!
Iaijutsu Dojo
Sanctioned Duel
Stand or Run
Weakness Exposed

Now, remember when you’re looking at all of these things that dueling is not some mega kill-fest these days. You’re mostly getting “Battle: Bow a guy.” Come One at a Time is your only Strategy duel that’s going to kill. And you’re not gaining much honor from the duels either – Sanctioned Duel is basically a variant of Favors, but that’s it (you cannot in any way rely on ever getting to activate the focus effects on Breaking the Rhythm and Flashy Technique).

So now we’ve got two lists of cards as potential includes. Some of them are going to be pretty clearly things we don’t want, and others are going to end up being things we want, but that we just have to move out so we have room for things that we need. So how much of our deck would be full if we put in all of the cards listed above that we want?

Dynasty (19):

Events (1):
1x The Empire’s Foe Exposed

Holdings (4/7):
3x Kabuki Theater Troupe
3x Poorly-Placed Garden
1x The Turquoise Court

Personalities (12):
1x Asahina Shigemitsu
1x Doji Hakuseki (experienced 3)
1x Doji Hoturi (inexperienced)
1x Doji Makoto, the Smiling Blade
3x Kakita Izumiko
1x Ikoma Aimi (experienced)
1x Iweko Shibatsu
3x Otomo Demiyah

Fate (44):

Followers (7):
1x Court Scribe (3)
3x Disciples of Ganesh (4)
3x Sparrow Clan Aide (2)

Items (4):
1x Ancestral Armor of the Crane Clan (4)
3x Blessed Sword (2)

Strategies (33):
3x Breaking the Rhythm (4)
3x Come One At A Time (1)
3x Delicate Gamble (1)
3x Discretionary Valor (3)
3x Do Not Delay! (3)
1x Favors (2)
3x Flashy Technique (4)
3x Iaijutsu Dojo (3)
1x Inexplicable Challenge (2)
1x Sanctioned Duel (3)
3x Stand or Run (2)
3x Wary Peace (4)

Well, that’s a problematic Fate size at this stage of construction! Also, most dueling players won’t like the average FV of under three. Clearly, we’re going to have to drastically cut some of this back. I’m guessing that cute attachments/Wary Peace package is going to end up taking some major casualties.

But before we do that, let’s see what we need/want to add in. First let’s take a look at the extra rares that our starter deck gives us:

Famous Bazaar
Daidoji Gensai
Doji Katata
Doji Soeka
Regual Furisode (4)
Utaku’s Destiny (3)

Bazaar is the best card here, and an auto-include. Soeka’s Open control will be invaluable as well. Katata and Furisode are floating in the same space. Katata is the more interesting, letting us take the Favor an extra time even in the middle of a battle and even when he’s at home, and then letting us use it an additional time. Doubling up on send home will likely run out most move-in. The Furisode is a tougher call, however. It’ll let us Favor cycle twice, but without ways to take the Favor back in battle won’t let us send home twice. And with the Kabuki Theater Troupes and Poorly Placed Gardens gumming up our economy, I’m not sure how many random guys we’ll have lying around to Lobby more than once. Utaku’s Destiny is nice but not what we’re looking for, while Gensai is something to keep an eye on, depending on how much defense we need to include.

What other cards might we want to shove in here?

A Fever in the Blood
Purge of Fudoism

Unlikely to make it in because our non-Personality/non-gold-producing-holding slots are already taken up by Poorly Placed Garden (and Kabuki Theater Troop is lousy on T1 as well). Purge of Fudoism is noted here because this deck probably isn’t going to have anyone who gets hit by it.

Counting House
Haiku School
Marketplace
Nexus of Lies
Temple to Tengen
Fudoist Advisor/Family Library/House of Exotic Goods

Everybody needs gold. This deck skeleton already has 7 “holdings” assigned to it, but 3 of those don’t produce gold and the other 3 are bad at producing gold. We also have the option of putting Yashinko and Soken in as pseudo-Holdings but, again, those are only for T2. So if we need 2x 2-4-2 Holdings on T1 (or one Nexus of Lies), how many do we need? Well, I’d probably like at least 15, if I have 3x Nexus in there. But that’s a crazy high amount of Holdings! I went with 18 in the Crab deck, but running 12 2-4-2 and 3 Nexus and 4x 3-4-2 honor Holdings and 3x Poorly Placed Garden would mean only 18 spots for Personalities! We’re just going to have to accept that we might have bad gold, and hope that our Stronghold can rescue us. So what we’re going to do is run 17 gold-producing Holdings and make sure that 4 of our Personalities are Soken and Yashinko. We’ll have to lose that copy of The Empire’s Foe Exposed though.

There’s a good argument to be made here that a better Crane bushi league deck would just forget about the honor, play Akagi Sensei, and go on the offensive – you’ve got at least 11 Crane available who have solid (or at least decent) Force for their cost, and (as we saw with the Crab) there are 10 out of Clan Personalities you can easily bring in to round out your army, or go with some of your better ability/lower Force Scouts. But then this initial slate would probably have no honor decks at all.

Anyhow, back to the deck we’re making, rather than the deck we might make … we need 13 more gold-producing Holdings, and Counting House, Haiku School, Marketplace, Nexus of Lies, Temple to Tengen, and our one Famous Bazaar takes us 12 of those slots. That leaves 1 for the dynasty-cycling 2-4-2s, which we’ll just call a Family Library.

Asahina Kitiaru (experienced)
Asukai, the Tireless
Daidoji Kinta
Daidoji Soken
Doji Dainagon
Doji Etsuki
Doji Kurohime
Doji Tatsuki xp
Kakita Ujirou
Suzume Shindo, the Final Blade
Yoritomo Yashinko

We’ve got something of a crunch on our Personalities here as well. With 20 slots available, we already had 18 assigned above! Before we get into it here, let’s go back and unassign at least a couple of those, and let’s start with some folks whose high honor requirements make them a bit unreliable early on (we have enough early game unreliability already). Asahina Shigemitsu’s honor-gaining ability might not even kick in until it’s too late in the game to matter, and his Cavalry is the most useful when he probably isn’t out. We’re going to axe Ikoma Aimi as well – she’s got the potential to throw out a lot of honor once she goes online, but she’s [em]really[/i] not coming out quickly. Finally there’s Iweko Shibatsu, who is probably less likely to die in bushi league, but can never be used to defend and basically loses you the game if he does get dragged into battle. And after we remove those 3 there are still another 4 in the deck with above-box Honor Requirements (our three uber-duelists and Doji Katata).

That leaves 5 slots to fill (just to remind you, the 15 slots already assigned are 3x Soken, Hakuseki, Hoturi, Katata, Makato, Soeka, 3x Izumiko, 1x Yashinko, and 3x Demiyah). Luckily, with this many it make sit slightly easier to exclude folks who are left. Asukai, Kinta, Etsuki, and Ujirou are really about mounting more of a defense, and we really don’t have room for that. That leaves:

Asahina Kitiara (experienced)
Doji Dainagon
Doji Kurohime
Doji Tatsuki xp
Suzume Shindo, the Final Blade

One factor we have kind of taken as a given to this point is the ability to duel, but as we get down here let me note that we really shouldn’t. Those 15 filled slots contain only 7 folks who can be relied on to duel (have at least 4C or are 3C Duelists). Soken, Katata, Yashinko and Demiyah are not going to excite anyone anytime soon. And we still want to help our Gold, and Kurohime will do that, and she isn’t going to duel by choice either. So we definitely want Suzume Shindo. Dainagon, as really really handy as being able to lobby as an open is, we are going to have to give up. Our remaining choices are (again!) at above-box honor requirements. But both are 5C for dueling and both have 4PH, which is pretty scarce. That’s helping both sides of the deck, so I’m going to go back and pull Doji Soeka out to make room for them. This leaves us in the weird spot of looking at yet another 5C/4PH Personality that we cut earlier – Shigemitsu. Again we’re in ‘pick your poison’ territory. We’re already at 6 above-box HR Personalities out of 20, and I really don’t want another. But we’re also only at 9 Personalities who can duel, and they have to go to battle and die so we need a reasonable number of them. Maybe it’s worth bringing Shigemitsu back in just for his 5C/4PH, and losing the otherwise very handy Doji Katata?

Anyhow, on to fate …

Ring of Air (4)
Ring of Earth (4)
Ring of Fire (4)

Ring of Air is about the only straighten we’re going to get for a 4FV. Ring of Earth is necessary because the Favor means we’re running send home. And Ring of Fire is still kill, even if it’s delayed. And, hey, 4FV.

Block Supply Lines (3)
Encircled Terrain (1)
Strategic Withdrawal (3)
Tactical Setback (2)

Well, here we get into some questions about how much we’re willing to tolerate in the way of bad FV. Encircled can win games, but not only is the 1FV painful but it can also be jacked by any Terrain and we’ve already got Come One At A Time playing that role. Block Supply Lines would give us some defense that isn’t a duel and still has a 3FV. Strategic Withdrawal could be very, very good for us, helping win a battle and saving a Personality and maybe every once in a while we get the focus effect. Tactical Setback is a handy card to keep in mind for any deck (although it’s no Outer Walls), but our FV are weak enough that it’s probably not going to make it. So let’s revisit what our Fate deck looks like:

Followers (4):
1x Court Scribe (3)
3x Disciples of Ganesh (4)

Items (1):
1x Ancestral Armor of the Crane Clan (4)

Rings (3):
1x Ring of Air (4)
1x Ring of Earth (4)
1x Ring of Fire (4)

Strategies (33):
3x Block Supply Lines (3)
3x Breaking the Rhythm (4)
3x Come One At A Time (1)
3x Delicate Gamble (1)
3x Discretionary Valor (3)
3x Do Not Delay! (3)
1x Favors (2)
3x Flashy Technique (4)
3x Iaijutsu Dojo (3)
1x Inexplicable Challenge (2)
1x Sanctioned Duel (3)
3x Stand or Run (2)
3x Strategic Withdrawal (3)

We’ve shuffled some things around, but we’re back at 41, and our average FV is still slightly under 3 (by way of comparison, the Crab deck last week had an average FV of 2.6). We’re going to need to kill those Delicate Gambles, as desirous as we are for honor gains. That’ll drop the Fate deck down to 38 and nudge the average FV back above 3. That Regal Furisode we weren’t too excited about before is a 4FV, and it synergizes with what we’re doing, so that can be #39. And let’s say … ummm … Fortune’s Charm (4) for card #40. And now we’ve got a 3.25 average FV, which should be good enough (if you’re one of those players who won’t play dueling unless his average FV is 3.5 or better then, well, good luck with that in this format).

That makes our rickety Crane honor dueling deck like so:

Ivory Crane – “Poorly Placed Garden”

The Exquisite Palace of the Crane

Dynasty (40):

Holdings (20):

1x Counting House
1x Family Library
1x Famous Bazaar
3x Haiku School
3x Kabuki Theater Troupe
3x Marketplace
3x Nexus of Lies
3x Poorly Placed Gardens
1x Temple of Tengen
1x The Turquoise Court

Personalities (20):
1x Asahina Kitiaru (experienced)
3x Daidoji Soken
1x Doji Hakuseki (experienced 3)
1x Doji Hoturi (inexperienced)
1x Doji Katata
3x Doji Kurohime
1x Doji Makoto, the Smiling Blade
1x Doji Tatsuki (experienced)
3x Kakita Izumiko
3x Otomo Demiyah
1x Suzume Shindo, the Final Blade
1x Yoritomo Yashinko (experienced)

Fate (40):

Followers (4):
1x Court Scribe (3)
3x Disciples of Ganesh (4)

Items (3):
1x Ancestral Armor of the Crane Clan (4)
1x Fortune’s Charm (4)
1x Regal Furisode (4)

Rings (3):
1x Ring of Air (4)
1x Ring of Earth (4)
1x Ring of Fire (4)

Strategies (30):
3x Block Supply Lines (3)
3x Breaking the Rhythm (4)
3x Come One At A Time (1)
3x Discretionary Valor (3)
3x Do Not Delay! (3)
1x Favors (2)
3x Flashy Technique (4)
3x Iaijutsu Dojo (3)
1x Inexplicable Challenge
1x Sanctioned Duel (3)
3x Stand or Run (2)
3x Strategic Withdrawal (3)

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