This is the tenth 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 (Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9).
The Dragon are up next. Like many of the prior clans’ keywords, the Dragon also have a lot of keyword consistency between Samurai and Celestial arcs – Monks, Duelists, Magistrates, Kensai. Unfortunately for the Dragon, those same keywords produced strikingly different decks in each arc, so the overlap is not what one would hope. In particular, there’s minimal synergy between the honor Monks of Samurai and the military Monks of Celestial. The overlap between the honor Magistrates of Celestial and the mostly military focused Magistrates of Samurai isn’t amazing either. Kensai has great overlap – but hasn’t been much good in either arc.
Straightforward stuff first – what dueling does Dragon pick up? Fusami is a good place to start there, basically bowing and moving home an attacking Personality. A great action, just don’t expect Fusami to still be around if your first normal action doesn’t abort her out of the battle. Most likely to show up in defensive decks, given the lack of Force.
Kei xp is pretty stellar as well. She Cavalry solos provinces, and there’s usually someone Unique around to gank. A must for any military dueling.
I don’t think that Ryosaki ever lived up to her billing in SE, but that’s partially because she didn’t fully sync up with the decks Dragon was actually playing. With harpoon at a premium in War of Honor, she deserves a look, but the competition is fierce and she’s overcosted if you can’t meet here HR.
There are a couple of generic military cards laying about. Ieshige still a good battle action, and the Force pump is handy as well. Should be in any military deck that doesn’t care too much about keywords, and even high keyword dependence doesn’t rule him out. Atsushi was good in his day, but feels less nifty now – but RA11 still gets a lot of jobs done.
If Scales of the Dragon isn’t an auto-include for military (or enlightenment), then it’s close. It was a powerful card when there were just two players, and doubling the number of action phases to straighten during pushes it even higher on the power curve.
Togashi Kazuki is a Monk, and is enhanced by Rings, so he could be put further down, but he’s also a Samurai and synergizes well with Weapons, Cavalry, small guys, and a variety of other things.
Mirumoto Taishuu played a role in Dragon dishonor bomb decks in Samurai arc, and showed up every once in a while (usually as a x1) in random other decks. But dishonor bomb isn’t functional in War of Honor, and there are too many things competing for slots to pay 5G for a guy just to not have a hand size.
Like I said, Dragon had Kensai in both arcs, but it hasn’t been terribly pretty in either. This is basically it for Dragon-specific stuff you get to add into Kensai (and, now that I think about it, the Gong isn’t actually Dragon-specific; you can use it in Scorpion or Spider Kensai just as well). Anything else that was any good was reprinted in CE.
I like Great Falls Castle better than Farthest Fortress. Always getting the Battle/Open equip, and always getting the card draw, beat the conditional bow action in my mind.
And, speaking of card draw, have you checked out the Dragon Clan’s resident goth? Card draw and infinite hand size? Plus OK stats and relevant keywords? Sign me up for some of that. Just make sure to pack your Wooden Barricades so you can actually transfer the Weapons away from her.
Gong of the High House makes three gold for your Kensai. I presume this does not confuse anyone.
Neither of these got any real play in Samurai, but they are at least tools that Dragon can decks can use to generate honor gains without regards to keywords. And the Jade Mirror is even a repeat effect.
Mayako gains honor, and is clearly a defensive card, so she pretty easily fits in with the default Dragon Honor Magistrate builds. Depending on what other decks are at your table, she might add up to quite a bit over the course of the game. Nagiken’s ability gets you a guaranteed 2, but he actually has to be at the fight when the guy gets dishonored, so it’s a lot more restrictive. Either way, both have the magical 4PH, which is at a premium in War of Honor to guarantee honor Path to Victory advances on your turn, and which Dragon has rather restricted choices for.
Kitsuki Ryushi doesn’t gain you honor, but repeat use Open bow is pretty fancy. Ryushi was good in Samurai, and has really powered up with the increased ease of dishonoring people and because Open abilities are good in WoH (duh).
Iweko (The Divine One, Child of the Heavens, Empress of all Rokugan, etc., etc.), on the other hand, doesn’t fit into that defensive honor build nicely. She’s loaded with keywords, and her ability is good enough, but it only helps you on the attack. Some CE Dragon Magistrate decks have switch potential, but they don’t rock out a lot of cards that can only be used on the offense.
Unpleasant Discovery doesn’t have any direct impact on the battle, and it doesn’t run your guy away – which is why it didn’t get much love, and Stay Your Blade and Knowledge got tons. But it still draws you draw two cards out of the top five on your deck, and that ain’t bad.
That was the relatively simple stuff for Dragon. Now we get to the messy. Dragon Monks has the tools to try and be military, to try and be honor, to try and be enlightenment. But how many of those can it be at once? The key SE honor-focused Monks aren’t good for much else. Anything that, like Mountain Summit Temple, makes it really easy to get Rings into play means that you’re giving up on enlightenment. But passing on MST means that the SE Ring-based cards won’t function as efficiently as they originally did.
With Dove Tattoo gone, this is the basic Dragon Monk honor package. That gives you seven Monks with 4PH and seven Monks who can generate Honor ever turn (for those who didn’t play back in SE, you use The Elements’ Path to staple Ring of Air’s ability onto Noritada, and then every turn you target and straighten someone else’s Personality as an Open). Tsuri suffers in the War of Honor format where gains of 1 honor are often meaningless. And Kanaye suffers as well, since your opponent will often be able to assess that giving you the honor won’t help you that turn, so you won’t get anything out of it.
Plus, they have a hard time contributing to other win conditions. None of them do anything but gain you honor and they need to be unbowed, so they aren’t much for helping advance military or the aspects of enlightenment that require you to show up in battle. And they really fight with enlightenment, since they’re at their best when fueled by cards that just drop Rings directly into play. All told, you have to give up a lot on your other fronts for a deck that is heavily dependent on getting a lot of these guys out at once.
I’ve thrown Silent Solace in here because there’s some chance you could find a friendly player to let you get the option you want. But I still wouldn’t play it.
Miyoko doesn’t explicitly have anything to do with honor or Rings, but she’s much more at home in that deck that anywhere else. She’s got great personal honor for her cost, and her stats are pretty awful if there isn’t a Temple in play – at which point she can’t attack.
This batch is cards that help you go get Rings. The first, Satsu xp4, exemplifies the tension between dropping Rings into play, and actually advancing the Path to Enlightenment. Under normal circumstances, you’d just drop a Ring into play (Ring of the Void, of course, unless you already have it out) and go to town. You get the Ring’s ability, you get your honor engine going, and you get your Force pumped up. But if you do that in War of Honor, then you just lost the ability to win via enlightenment.
Solving the Riddle doesn’t present as stark a choice, but its utility is restricted if you want to enlighten instead of just using MST to force the Ring into play. If you’ve got a Ring you can drop with Opens, then you’re still good to go (if it’s Void, then STR even counts as one of your actions). But STR is a scary card if there’s the possibility of enemy interaction stopping you from dropping the Ring – and when your opponent’s know exactly which one you’re trying to drop.
The rest only put the Ring in your hand anyway, so they’re great for any direction you’re going to go. Nyoko’s Daisho just grabs you a Ring every one of your turns. Well worth the 6G investment. K’mee made it into Ring Honor decks in SE, but he’s got a lot more competition with both arcs in play, with boxable meta around, and with an enlightenment deck’s need to actually win battles (or battle, I guess). Still, he’s repeat use Ring return from your discard pile, and Dragon doesn’t have access to things like One with the World.
You shouldn’t be playing with Togashi’s Shrine, FYI. Not worth it.
And these are the cards that benefit from you having a Ring in play – so they all fall into the category of “better out of MST than enlightenment.” Respected Mentor is the most important, since it can keep your one Ring (preferably Ring of the Void) bowing turn after turn to fuel Masujiro. Just remember that a Masujiro with a Respected Mentor is going to draw a lot of fire from anyone’s harpoon.
Koutetsu Mukei is basically a bad Respected Mentor. Don’t bother.
Muketsu xp was good enough in Ring Honor that he got played despite being out of clan and having a 5 point honor loss. In War of Honor, you don’t care about his honor loss and he gets to hand out -2C twice as much. He should absolutely be in any MST deck. Be very careful with the politics though, or he’s the sort of card that will get you whacked (especially if you’ve also got that aforementioned Masujiro + Respected Mentor out).
The Strike chain (Summit, Center, Base) is both really good and overrated. Together, they add up to “Bow your Ring, bow your Monk, and discard a card: Target and send someone home bowed. Target and bow a unit. Target and destroy a Personality without Followers.” That’s a pretty fantastic effect, but it gets overrated because the other players never see the times that you don’t have a Ring up or have only the second and third parts of the chain in your hand (the individual non-chained actions are terrible). Not that this should stop you from playing them. Unlike most other chains the game has done, it works because the cards actually fetch each other. In an MST deck, 2/1/1 is where I’d start with these.
“That other Strike card” isn’t as stellar. Again, you’re bowing a guy and a Ring, but this time you’re just bowing three guys. It looks like a good deal, but I played MST a ton in SE, and it doesn’t work out that way. A one-of at best.
Togashi Binya made it into SE decks as random cheap monk who wasn’t terrible (my SE Ring Honor deck actually ran this guy until Binya showed up). In this format, he might still be stuck in that deck. Yes, there are some cute combos you could do (Kazuki + Weapon copies Force onto Binya who copies Force to someone else), but mostly he’s a 0F guy who drops other people to 0F, and that’s a pretty defensive card. He could still help out with enlightenment, but even there he seems of marginal value at best.
Oh, look, Banish All Shadows – another card that probably should have been in the last article (since Shugenja can use it to), but it’s so ingrained in my memory and a Dragon dishonor bomb card that I automatically stuck it here. Obviously, no Dragon dishonor bomb in War of Honor, but Banish is still great card draw. It’s a solid way to help get Ring of Air without being in a battle, and there’s now Osawa to fuel it (yes, Osawa was around for the end of Samurai too, but Ring Honor was dead by then).
Unbiased Advice also saw the most play in Dragon dishonor bomb, but that was about it – the 2G cost just isn’t worth it otherwise. In War of Honor, it gains a little bit because only one other player gets the symmetrical benefit, and you get to pick who it is. Of such stuff friendships are made. Since it’s an Open, it could also be combined with Rich Coffers.
Turn of Fortune is another one that looks better than it plays. You obviously need to have both Samurai and Monks around, but the restriction on the Monk being unbowed matters more than you’d think.
So, there stand’s Dragon. Kensai gains little, although it could be part of an improved military deck that packs a lot of Cavalry and only cares a little about keywords. Magistrate Honor loses its amazing box, and gains little. The Monk military gains few Personalities, and the SE Monk Honor Personalities lack the battle oomph likely necessary to defend yourself if you get the Masujiro train rolling. There is a lot of improved Ring access to supplement the military Monks. The Dragon tiles, however, are geared towards enlightenment, and Ring of the Flame finally frees that victory condition from having to duel. In whatever flavor, I would expect the Lion’s share of Dragon War of Honor decks to be some sort of Monk, and often shooting for enlightenment, including switch options.
The countdown continues . . .