On the Cheap – Two Hands (Ivory Dragon)

The last of our On the Cheap articles for Ivory launch is Dragon, and that means we’re somewhat back where we started with Weapons. With the exception of some Uniques, Dragon’s Personality base essentially splits into three categories: (1) Kensai; (2) guys who duel; and (3) bad Personalities who you don’t want to play in your deck. OK, OK, that last one is a bit of an exaggeration, but you can see that Weapons are kind of integral to what Dragon’s Personalities are trying to do here. The Kensai are mostly overcosted if you aren’t taking advantage of the Kensai keyword, and you take advantage of the Kensai keyword by playing specific Strategy cards, and all of those look for Weapons. And Dragon’s dueling Sensei explicitly requires a Weapon to trigger. And if you are not doing either of those things then your deck is looking pretty sad. So we will be using Weapons today.

Of the two options, we’re going to go with Kensai here in On the Cheap. The primary use for Hojatsu Sensei is to play Limited duels to bow guys before attacking, but most of those Limited duels are rare, so that doesn’t help us here. Which, by process of elimination, leaves Kensai and Weapons (the Dragon starter deck runs Kensai stuff and dueling stuff, and ends up with an average Focus Value of 2.7, which is not a good idea). So, what do we have that cares about Kensai?

Brothers of Jade
A Ready Soul
Disrupting the Rhythm
Grasp the Swords
In Stillness, Forge the Soul
Swift Sword Cut

Hey, look, every single card that cares about Kensai is a Common or Uncommon. The juiciest ones here are In Stillness, which is pretty bonkers, and Swift Sword Cut, which is actual kill. But before we go figuring out how many of those Kensai-requiring cards we want, let’s see how many actual Kensai we’d have to play with.

Mirumoto Hatsuto
Mirumoto Higaru
Mirumoto Kazuya
Mirumoto Niwa
Mirumoto Omero
Mirumoto Shikei, the Laughing Dragon
Mirumoto Tsukazu

That’s 19 potential in-clan Kensai. However, since we aren’t dueling we lose Niwa, and because I’m terrified of Nexus of Lies in this format, we lose Mirumoto Kazuya. So down to 13. There are some out-of-clan Kensai, but none who are worth it. Although good old Myuken would be a possibility, since he could copy Kensai if needed to support your Strategies in hand, but also Conqueror or Cavalry from time to time.

But this might be a good time to see what rares we’re getting from that starter deck:

Secluded Outpost
Shrine to Hachiman
Togashi Ogure
Mirumoto Hikuryo
Mirumoto Yasushi
Lost Blade of the Maharaja
Tiger Claw
Versatile Blade
Aligned With The Elements
Claiming the Ruins

So, maybe guys who are playable, but no Kensai. Still, with at least 13 Kensai that’s enough to run a solid number of Kensai strategies. Forge the Soul is an Open, and at this quantity of Kensai, we can just toss it in. We can, at a minimum, run six of the Battle actions, and the first three will be Swift Sword Cut. Whether Grasp the Swords or Disrupting the Rhythm is better will hinge on what sort of actions our Weapons get.

And speaking of Weapons, we’re going to need to load up, because all of these Kensai actions (plus Tsukazu plus Tonfajutsu, which we’ll also want to play with) all require Weapons.

1x Lost Blade of the Maharaja
1x Tiger Claw
1x Versatile Blade
1x Koan’s Staff
3x Akodo Kaiken
3x Justice of the Crane
3x Storm-Forged Blade

Normally I’d give a lost of more options and then narrow it down, but especially when we aren’t looking for +2C boosts to support dueling, I think that the Weapons listed above will serve us much better than all of the random Spears floating around Ivory Edition.

So, our fate deck so far has something like 13 Weapons, 9 Kensai cards, and 3 Tonfajutsu. That leaves 15 slots left, and there are some Dragon-specific things we need to take a look at. The Dragon deck starts with a Ring in play, and for military that’s usually Ring of Air and for honor it’s usually Ring of Earth (Ring of Earth is very handy against military as well, but I think Ring of Air gets more mileage over the course of the game, especially because it works as an Open).

1x Ring of Air
1x Ring of Earth

In addition, we can play cards that rely on having Rings in play. Beyond some Personalities, there’s:

Ancestral Armor of the Dragon Clan (Experienced)
Aligned with the Elements
Find Your Center
Nubane’s Defense

The most important of these is Find Your Center, as it will let us use the Ring of Air multiple times in a single battle (or once in a battle, and then have it ready again for use as an Open). It’s worth running two copies of. Aligned with the Elements is more borderline. Its first action, depriving us of some straighten, is not exciting. The second action is more handy, but more conditional – if one of our Weapons is bowed, there’s a good chance we already used the ability, so AwtE is mostly just giving us another use of Ring of Air. Ultimately, out deck is tight enough that we will skip it.

Note that we are not going to play with Wisdom Gained here. Yes, it’s Ring-related, but we get to start with our best Ring in play already, and our opponent is certainly going to have a Ring (or Rings) in his or her deck as well. So Wisdom Gained is just not going to help anything.

That leaves 11 spots left, and we’ve got some holes to fill. Most pressing is the need for some move-in. Ring of Air (and hopefully Find Your Center) provide a lot of straighten, but Incapacitated, Block Supply Lines, and Soul’s Sacrifice will be all over the place.

3x Back to the Front

Here’s what else we don’t have so far – terrain meta, send home, eject buttons from hand (we do have Storm-Forged Blade), or enough kill.

1x Ring of Water
2x Contentious Terrain
3x Unholy Strike
2x Incapacitated

That should take us up to 40 in the fate, and we already have a lot of attachments to spend gold on, so let’s move on to dynasty without throwing in anything like Deliberations or Suffer the Consequences. On the Personality front we have the Kensai we mentioned before:

3x Mirumoto Hatsuto
3x Mirumoto Higaru
3x Mirumoto Omero
1x Mirumoto Shikei, the Laughing Dragon
3x Mirumoto Tsukazu

and some non-Kensai to include:

1x Kimura, Forgiver of Sins (free with Ring of Air)
1x Mirumoto Hikuryo
1x Togashi Mitsu (Inexperienced)
1x Togashi Nobaru (Experienced 2)
1x The Shakash (Experienced)

Mirumoto Tsuda
Mirumoto Yasushi
Togashi Ogure
Myuken
Zansho (Experienced)

Note that if your bushi league environment is not overrun with Nexus of Lies, Togashi Nobaru’s Fallen version is pretty strong but I am, again, going to avoid inflicting honor losses on myself in this format (Nexus is overshadowed by Jade Pearl Inn and Productive Mine in normal constructed). You could also go with the really high-end Dark Naga (Experienced). He’s got an honor loss, but he’s not an early game Personality anyway so you can build up a buffer. And because you start with Ring of Air in play, you have an efficient way to straighten him after you bow for that massive Ranged Attack.

So we’re at 18 Personalities, with a few remaining few slots available for the efficient Myuken or some other options.

On the Holding front, we will definitely use our two rares, and build from there:

1x Secluded Outpost
1x Shrine to Hachiman
1x Counting House
3x Exotic Market
3x Gold Mine
3x Nexus of Lies
1x Temple to Tengen
5x Family Library/House of Exotic Goods

Most of this should be pretty familiar by now to those who have been reading the On the Cheap articles. Efficient gold and card draw where possible, and round out the mix with Dynasty cycle. I’ve just taken Fudoist Advisor off of the list here – I like Family Library and House of Exotic Good better anyway, and there’s now a greater chance that someone will randomly be running Purge of Fudoism. Plus any good Dragon should know better than to be seduced by such a false path (really, you could justify running Triple Purge of Fudoism on flavor grounds alone). Exotic Market doesn’t help all of our Weapons, but it helps enough to be worth running.

With 18 Holdings that gives us 4 slots for some of the unspecified Personalities above, or for something like Breeding Ground to keep one of our weapon-ized units upright. For the last four I’m going to go back to the well with Myuken, a little bit because he can be another Kensai, but more because he’s more efficient than the other options. And the last slot will be Zansho because Conqueror is really good even if we can’t use his ability.

The Remote Monastery of the Dragon

Dynasty (40):

Holdings (18):
1x Counting House
3x Exotic Market
3x Gold Mine
3x Nexus of Lies
1x Secluded Outpost
1x Shrine to Hachiman
1x Temple to Tengen
2x House of Exotic Goods
3x Family Library

Personalities (22):
1x Kimura, Forgiver of Sins
3x Mirumoto Hatsuto
3x Mirumoto Higaru
3x Mirumoto Omero
1x Mirumoto Shikei, the Laughing Dragon
3x Mirumoto Tsukazu
1x Mirumoto Hikuryo
1x Togashi Mitsu (Inexperienced)
1x Togashi Nobaru (Experienced 2)
3x Myuken
1x The Shakash (Experienced)
1x Zansho (Experienced)

Fate (40):

Items (13):
1x Lost Blade of the Maharaja
1x Tiger Claw
1x Versatile Blade
1x Koan’s Staff
3x Akodo Kaiken
3x Justice of the Crane
3x Storm-Forged Blade

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

Strategies (24):
3x Back to the Front
2x Contentious Terrain
1x Disrupting the Rhythm
2x Find Your Center
2x Grasp the Swords
3x Unholy Strike
3x In Stillness, Forge the Soul
2x Incapacitated
3x Swift Sword Cut
3x Tonfajutsu

2 thoughts on “On the Cheap – Two Hands (Ivory Dragon)

  1. Great article, will you make new “On The Cheap” articles with Twenty Festivals starter decks? I would like to see them!

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