Decks to Beat: Scorpion (L5R LCG Imperial Cycle)

I know, I know, Disciples of the Void just came out, but all of the decks I’m using here are Imperial Cycle. Plus Scorpion gets all of one card (OK, two, considering Kami Unleashed), so I’m not sure how much Scorpion will be changing (although the one in-faction card is anti-Phoenix meta, so it could be relevant if lots of folks looking to try out the new thing show up). But it seemed high time that I did one of these Decks to Beat articles again (I think the last one was Android: Netrunner, and four years ago … so, yeah, it’s been a while).

The point of a “Decks to Beat” article is not so much to say “this is the best version of the deck and you should play it.” Rather, it’s a gauntlet deck – a deck that’s something you’ll need to be able to beat to do well in tournament play. So it isn’t even my opinion of the “best” version of the deck, but instead an attempt at a ‘standard’ version of the deck, based not on what I might play, but based on what has been played in successful tournament decks of this sort.

And the most successful deck in Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game so far is Scorpion splash Dragon (probably followed by something like Scorpion splash Crab).

Stronghold: City of the Open Hand
Role: Seeker of Void

Duh.

Provinces (5)
1x Pilgrimage (Void)
1x Shameful Display (Void)
1x Secret Cache (Air)
1x Meditations on the Tao (Fire)
1x Entrenched Position (Earth)

This is a firmly locked part of the gauntlet deck. Pilgrimage + Shameful Display is the raison d’être for Seeker of the Void, and Secret Cache’s Reaction-speed Impulse is a powerhouse. The fragmentation in the decklists is minimal, even after that. The most common option would be to lose the Fire or Earth province in favor of Rally to the Cause, but that’s too rare to disrupt the gauntlet deck.

Dynasty (40)

Holdings (7)
3x City of Lies
2x Favorable Ground
2x Back-Alley Hideaway

On the other hand, the precise Holding array is not much locked at all, and this array shows a weakness of the methodology here. For example, almost every deck that was running Back-Alley Hideaway was running two of them, and almost every deck that ran City of Lies ran three of them. But the ‘average’ of the decks examined would run 2x City, 2x Favorable Ground, 1x Hideaway, 1x Imperial Storehouse, and 1x The Imperial Palace (there did not appear to be any strong correlation between where these Holdings appeared and other features of the decks, such as quantity of Attachments, quantity of Conflict characters, or Dynasty Personality selection). But since more than half of the decks ran City of Lies, more than half ran Back-Alley Hideaway, and more than half ran Favorable ground (usually not as a 3x), the list above should be a better representation.

Characters (33)

3x Bayushi Liar
3x Soshi Illusionist
3x Yogo Hiroue
3x Bayushi Manipulator
3x Sinister Soshi
3x Bayushi Shoju
3x Yogo Outcast

These 21 characters are the bedrock of the Scorpion decks, appearing in every single one (every once in a while only as a 2x, but generally a 3x) – a cheap flood of characters (often with potent abilities) followed up by the powerhouse high-cost Hiroue and Shoju.

The final 12 are more fragmented:

3x Young Rumormonger
3x Bayushi Yunako
2x Blackmail Artist
2x Favored Niece
2x Shosuro Actress

Yunako appears in all decks, again usually as a 3x, but not always. The Young Rumormonger, Favored Niece, and Shosuro Actress appear in almost all relevant decks – the Rumormonger typically as a 3x and the Niece and Actress most often as a 2x. These four must be included in a gauntlet deck, and must be at least a 2x each, but a third copy of Rumormonger and Yunako may be appropriate. Blackmail Artist is in fewer decks than Favored Niece or Shosuro Actress, but is typically a 3x (the Blackmail Artist does not appear to strongly correlate with other ‘packages’ in the decks), making it harder to assess the correct gauntlet figure. The ‘average’ deck would also include singletons of Illustrious Plagiarist and Shosuro Miyako, but these are only included in the minority deck, making the ‘average’ deck on the strength of appearing 3x when they appear. As you can see, I went with the more common cards, upping the count on Rumormonger and Yunako to 3x. I left the Blackmail Artist at 2, although (as noted above) it usually appears as a 3x (axing the third Rumormonger would be the other way to go, since they both cost 2; I believe that the third Yunako as a higher-cost Dynasty card should remain for purposes of typical representation).

Conflict (40):

Attachments (2):

2x Cloud the Mind

This is the biggest ‘executive decision’ for this gauntlet deck. Every tournament successful Scorpion/Dragon deck I looked at ran two copies of Cloud the Mind. But the ‘average’ tournament successful Scorpion deck runs 4 attachments. The difference comes from a minority of decks that run 2-3 copies each of Ornate Fan and Fine Katana (and, in one case, also Fiery Madness). But there’s no deck that includes 1x Fine Katana and 1x Ornate Fan, making that ‘average’ highly unrepresentative. Since the standard configuration is just Cloud the Mind, we’ll go with that, adding in below as appropriate. Also note that the Katana/Fan package correlates with the inclusion of Banzai in the decks, which will affect the contents of this gauntlet deck.

Characters (8)

2x Unassuming Yojimbo
2x Bayushi Kachiko
2x Meek Informant
1x Adept of Shadows
1x Cunning Magistrate

The conflict characters were more fractured than I would have expected. The count was mostly commonly 8, but there were plenty of 6 and 4 as well. The average is 7, (not counting the one deck that used Tattooed Wanderer instead of Let Go, a clearly nonstandard choice that won’t be included in a gauntlet deck). Looking at 7 Conflict Characters seems reasonable. However, as noted above, there’s an optional Attachment package not being included in this deck, and that package correlates with the use of Banzai, and that’s going to leave some leeway in the events. That makes for a slightly higher Conflict Character count, at the most common figure of 8. But which ones? Adept of Shadows, Bayushi Kachiko, Cunning Magistrate, Meek Informant, and Unassuming Yojimbo all showed up. Yojimbo was by far the most common, but still not enough to warrant a 3x. Kachiko was often didn’t show up, but was there enough to get a 2x here (and her not showing up correlates with the Banzai/Fan/sword package). The same number of Adept of Shadows and Meek Informant showed up, but the Adept was typically a 1x, with the Meek Informant in fewer (but still most) decks as a 2x. Cunning Magistrate would be the first to go if this was the average of 7 conflict characters, but here is less-than-common appearances get him status as a singleton (alternatively, a third Unassuming Yojimbo could be used).

Events (30)

3x Court Games
3x For Shame!
3x Forged Edict
3x Mirumoto’s Fury (Dragon)
2x Let Go (Dragon)

These 14 are the almost-universals at max count (Let Go, of course, cannot appear as a 3x because of the influence limits). They are all of obvious power, and shouldn’t come as any surprise.

3x Way of the Scorpion
2x A Fate Worse Than Death
2x Charge!
2x Policy Debate
2x Assasination
2x Calling in Favors

Way of the Scorpion was also a universal inclusion, although decks were evenly split as to whether it should be a 2x or 3x. “Leaners” go in favor of including more copies of the more common cards (plus we’ve got those two extras), so this will clearly be a 3x for the gauntlet deck. A Fate Worse Than Death is usually a 3x, but sometimes a 2x and once didn’t appear at all. On the other hand, that was only in the outlier Tattooed Wanderer-packing deck. So while the raw numbers say only 2x AFWTD, our gauntlet will pack 3x. Charge is a universal inclusion, and usually as a 2x. Assassination, Policy Debate, and Calling in Favors aren’t quite universal as a 2x, but pretty close.

That ends the easy choices, with three slots remaining. Banzai shows up in half of the decks, but when it shows up it’s a 3x. Further, as discussed above, this build is not going with the attachment-heavy package. That would weigh against including Banzai at all in this deck. By averages, that would leave the final three ‘event’ slots as singletons of Censure, I Can Swim, and Mono no Aware. Since the former two are more spread out, they are reasonable. But Mono no Aware is another one of those cards that has an equivalent appearance rate by being less frequent but not showing up as a singleton.

1x I Can Swim
1x Censure

So, instead of throwing in a single copy of Mono no Oware, this will be a third copy of A Fate Worst Than Death. Because, let’s face it, you’re terrified of that card.

That makes the final deck as follows:

Stronghold: City of the Open Hand
Role: Seeker of Void

Provinces (5):
1x Secret Cache (Air)
1x Entrenched Position (Earth)
1x Meditations on the Tao (Fire)
1x Pilgrimage (Void)
1x Shameful Display (Void)

Dynasty (40)

Characters (33):
3x Bayushi Liar
3x Bayushi Manipulator
3x Bayushi Shoju
3x Bayushi Yunako
2x Blackmail Artist
2x Favored Niece
3x Soshi Illusionist
3x Yogo Hiroue
2x Shosuro Actress
3x Sinister Soshi
3x Yogo Outcast
3x Young Rumormonger

Holdings (7):
2x Back-Alley Hideaway
3x City of Lies
2x Favorable Ground

Conflict (40):

Attachments (2):
2x Cloud the Mind

Characters (8):
1x Adept of Shadows
2x Bayushi Kachiko
1x Cunning Magistrate
2x Meek Informant
2x Unassuming Yojimbo

Events (30):
3x A Fate Worse Than Death
2x Assasination
2x Calling in Favors
1x Censure
2x Charge!
3x Court Games
3x For Shame!
3x Forged Edict
1x I Can Swim
2x Let Go (Dragon)
3x Mirumoto’s Fury (Dragon)
2x Policy Debate
3x Way of the Scorpion

Alternative stat-boost package:
+3x Banzai!
+2x Fine Katana
+2x Ornate Fan
-1x Censure
-1x I Can Swim
-1x A Fate Worse Than Death
-1x Calling in Favors
-1x Cunning Magistrate
-2x Bayushi Kachiko

 

 

 

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