The War of Honor is upon us, bringing with it two new twists to L5R tournaments. Obviously, it’s multiplayer. But also, because the GenCon War of Honor constructed tournament is Extended (current arc + last arc), a lot of local War of Honor play will probably also be in Extended. That means flipping the binders back 2-4 years for all those Samurai arc cards. But wait! Why go blind re-reading all those cards, when you’ve got us to do it (badly) for you?
The is the first in a series of posts about Samurai arc cards that might find a place in War of Honor decks – or maybe that would just be amusing in War of Honor decks (or, for a few, cards that might seem good but that probably shouldn’t be in a War of Honor deck). Some of them are pretty obvious (anything that comes up when you search for “ally” or “allies” on l5rsearch.com). Some of them are really obvious . . . if you played during Samurai arc.
Let’s start with some dishonor-related stuff first (you think maybe it has something to do with how Assigning Blame is both ridiculous and near the start of the alphabet?).
Straight-up dishonor was a strong deck at the end of Samurai Edition, and is a strong deck now as Celestial Edition is nearing the end. Much of the best dishonor meta is non-functional in War of Honor (and there’s no danger of going to time because there’s an honor deck out there). You think maybe there’s a pretty good dishonor deck out there in Extended? There are some additional synergies for dishonor – Dishonoring Personalities in Samurai Edition was really hard (you would fight all game to avoid having a dishonored guy on the board, and would almost always take the 3 Honor hit from Deception’s Veil Dojo rather than let your guy be dishonored). Dishonoring most Personalities in Celestial Edition is really easy. About the only drawback to dishonor has in War of Honor are structural – you always have to cause at least 40 points of honor loss, and you can’t bomb for it all on one turn.
Just look at the nasty things you can do to dishonorable guys – bow every single one of them, send every single one of them home, kill them and cause 2 honor loss, Limited kill them for only 4G, steal them, etc. Ouch. Keep an eye on Forest Cleansing, which has value even if you aren’t a military deck – you can always bow a Personality and zap a province to set up someone else’s attack (free Open bow is even better when the Personality can be shut down for up to four attack phases). And, of course, that’s pretty filthy if you’re playing a switch deck.
I suppose I’m defeating the purpose of leaving them off the list above by writing about them, but there are a number of dishonor-related cards that aren’t nearly as interesting in War of Honor as they were in Samurai – in particular, cards that said “Battle: Dishonor a guy.” You need to do more now that Open/Limited dishonor is so available. Mirumoto Agito? Yawn. Maybe there’s still some place for Imperial Magistrates, but I wouldn’t count on it. Even Jimen xp’s ability to prevent all rehonoring (even from battle resolution) seems like it could struggle to get in a deck.
Shosuro Maru xp2
Bayushi Kaukatsu xp2
Bayushi Paneki xp4
Does that seem like a long list? Well, it is. Scorpion dishonor had a lot of tools in Samurai. Bayushi Hisoka, however, is one that doesn’t survive the transition well – in normal constructed, you don’t care much when your opponent loses the honor, but in War of Honor your opponent may often get to bow that Holdings (or whatever) knowing that you can’t get 8 anyway this turn. Shosuro Maru xp2 survives better, but “bow me to bow you” effects are a lot more scalpel than hammer in War of Honor – you may be able to bow their guy down for multiple turns, but you might be bowing yours down for multiple turns as well. Or you can just use Gunso Hirobumi to ignore all those “bow my guy” costs.
Bayushi Saya, of course, is one of the Samurai arc headliners for this deck (oh, I feel sorry for a new player from Celestial who thought Bayushi Jutsushi was annoying). Open actions that you don’t bow for get a big boost. Not that Saya needed much of one. She gums up the works for everyone, not just military decks, and she has the potential to join your Open Fortress tile as a constant honor loss generator.
Speaking of the SE analogues of great CE Personalities – here’s Bayushi Kaukatsu. Why make your opponent lose 2 or dishonor a guy, when you can make them lose 3 and dishonor a guy? I’m unsure at this point how much 1 extra honor loss will matter when they usually come in chunks of 2, but it can’t hurt. Yogo Honami told me so. While we’re at it, add Shosuro Uyeda to the list of cards you’ll want to have to guarantee advancing your Path to Victory every single one of your turns.
And yet another analogue of a CE Personality (seriously, dishonor has about twice as many great cards as you can fit in a deck) – Shosuro Takuro. Built-in Words Have Strength, plus he replaces himself. Unlike Bayushi Jou, however, he’s vulnerable to send-home.
Shosuro Jimen xp may be lackluster in Extended, but Shosuro Jimen basic will be happy to delight in the pain of your enemies. Just like with Saya, Jimen’s Open just gets better and better with more opponents. His Reaction is just gravy (it’s probably weaker in War of Honor, since you may or may not get into battles that much).
Now, with all of these great guys you can use from home, a lot of War of Honor decks are going to want to pack ways of dealing with guys sitting at home. I’ll have a whole section on that at some point, but there are a couple of Scorpion-specific ones. Bayushi Irishi is probably still not worth it, given that his harpoon is conditional, but at least it’s something. More important, however, are probably the couple of ways Scorpion has to defend against that sort of thing. Shosuro Seibei will keep your Saya’s safe (although Jimen will have to watch out). And, while Pancake xp4 won’t save anyone, he will make your opponents pay over and over again. Plus you can use his ability to jack enemy Courtiers sitting at home (and Courtiers are, after all, a large portion of the dorks who sit at home and hide).
Pancake XP4 can also just be used to smash face in battles, and dishonor has a couple of Battle things that you never know might show up. Koutetsu Shinri’s gold cost might disqualify it from non-switch decks, but battle actions that dishonor and do something else might have a place (too bad that trait doesn’t let you play magistrate/courtier actions while bowed too). Powerful Accusation is more likely to see play in a defensive dishonor deck, seeing how its another “do something and make them lose honor” Strategy.
[This place reserved for Crane-centric Samurai arc dishonor-related cards. Oh, wait, there aren’t any.]
Tune in next time for more blindingly obvious blasts from the past.