War of Honor – A Look Back at Samurai Arc (Part 14)

This is the 14th 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 Part 11 Part 12 Part 13).

So, since this is the last one, am I allowed to use a senior skip day and just post a list of Crane cards without bothering to sort or say anything about them? I mean, Crane are going to win GenCon anyway, right? They don’t need any help with picking a side event to, do they?

Shizuka Toshi
Double Bind

The only of the Crane Strongholds worth mentioning, Shizuka Toshi feeds into what most of the cards in this post will relate to – Courtier/Magistrate Honor (Crane didn’t really do dishonor much in SE). Shizuka Toshi is the Crane version of Deception’s Veil Dojo, which I didn’t even bother mentioning in the Scorpion section because it’s basically just Palace of Crimson Shadows with an out for your opponent (although it has been suggested to me that you can try to use DVD to get people to mess up and give you the honor loss when they shouldn’t, or to let a friendly player let you have the honor loss). With the ease of advancing honor on your own turn, getting the three honor might not be as handy as it seems – especially since, when you really do need the three Honor, your opponents will just take the dishonor. With that said, Crane still has a harder time getting people dishonored than Scorpion does. More attractive than DVD is to Scorpion, but still not too exciting.

If you want a Shizuka Toshi-esque fate card, you do have the option of Double Bind, which is sure to dishonor a swath of Personalities (if it doesn’t, they’re basically handing you an advance on your Path to Victory).

Asahina Beniha
Asahina Naoki

Unlike Celestial, Crane honor decks in Samurai got to play with some shugenja. Although much less remembered and loathed, Beniha’s basic version is Crane’s answer to Bayushi Saya. No, she doesn’t dishonor or stop people from performing actions, but she can be used semi-offensively – target a guy, then kill him in the action phase to get your 3 Honor. Like Saya and Jutsushi, she can be used to bog the game down by targeting someone every single turn, forcing military decks to choose between helping you and helping themselves.

Naoki may not be the auto-include that Beniha is, but he’s still pretty handy, especially if his ability isn’t the only use you have for your Marketplaces/Dockside Markets every turn.

Doji Nagori xp
Doji Jun’ai
Doji Domotai XP3
Kakita Noritoshi xp2

Crane honor also picks up a cavalcade of excellent Uniques from Samurai arc. Doji Nagori and Naoharu force an opponent to give you honor or give you card advantage. Nagori is stronger by far – he doesn’t bow, you can always pick a 4FV card, and in a political multiplayer format, helping yourself is usually a better idea than maybe hampering someone else.

Doji Jun’ai was great in Samurai, and she’s even better in War of Honor. Of course, she sends the enemy Personality home and prevents him from coming back in. But she also prevents him from attacking anyone else until your next turn, so no trying to pick up military pips by allying. And because Jun’ai sends herself home without bowing as well, she can defend you from repeated attacks in one turn cycle. Add in her 4PH, and she should be in every Crane honor deck.

One of the common complaints about the CE version of Domotai is that she dies to anything. While a naked Domotai defending may still get taken down, the SE version gives herself – and the rest of your army – some protection in the form of her massive Force bonus. There are a lot fewer ways to shoot Domotai in the face when she’s got 9F. And she still has a lethal, honor-gaining duel and that 5PH.

Noritoshi xp2 shares a lot in common with Noritoshi xp3, but comes out worse in almost all respects. He costs 3G more, has less Force, and has to bow to use his kill action. Kill actions are more common now, and the 13G Noritoshi xp2 commands just isn’t worth it.

Doji Hitomaro
Kakita Noriko

Doji Noboru
Kakita Katsuro

Hitomaro looks interesting – doing nothing but gaining 2 Honor isn’t great, but if you get in a fight the fact that he gains the Honor at the start of the battle can help ensure that you get enough 2 Honor actions to get up to 8. I’m guessing that use isn’t going to get him into a deck with tons of options.

Kakita Noriko was a workhorse for Crane decks in Samurai, not just for when your opponent blows up your Personalities, but also from suicide dueling (Exploding Crane, as it were) – issue a challenge to someone with equal Chi, focus a Hamstrung, gain 8. In addition, like Hitomaro, Noriko lets you gain honor in battle without using up tempo. Unlike Hitomaro, he’ll can actually make the grade.

Noboru is in a similar spot. His ability gains honor, and it isn’t that bad. It’s biggest strength might be that he works unopposed, so you might be able to sneak an extra 2 Honor without losing more guys. But he has no helpful keywords, his Battle action does nothing right away when you use it, and it doesn’t stop kill actions, which are a lot more common these days.

Katsuro really solidifies this grouping as Noriko and the also-runs. Katsuro’s got some cute aspects, but he doesn’t do anything to advance your victory condition beyond having PH, or anything really amazing on defense. Take a pass.

Governor’s Court
Doji Kohaku
Gunso Chitose
Koutetsu Meiyo

Governor’s Court is still a great card, even in War of Honor. Its Open action gives you plenty of opportunities to mess things up or gain honor. The downside is that you still need someone to bow every time you use it, and that could leave you pretty vulnerable when the player to your right comes up. Doji Kohaku can help you here, straightening every turn (just don’t bother bowing him for that non-so-helpful action he has). Gunso Chitose, however, is probably a better investment than Kohaku – it’s just more versatile.

Since it’s the only other attachment, I’ll stick the clan armor in here. In normal L5R, Meiyo’s best attribute is gaining you an extra 4-5 Honor when you attach it. One the bright side, that plus a guy is your advance for the turn. On the down side, it does nothing when you’ve already got a couple of Honor generators on the table. Well, OK, it gives you yet another way to use the favor on your turn, but that isn’t too exciting on a 4G item.

The Shogun’s Peace

The Shogun’s Peace was an auto-include in 1-on-1 decks – no choice but for a military deck to attack you and let you have the three Honor. Here, you might not get attacked, but not getting beat down early isn’t exactly a bad thing.

The Empress’ Address
Shielding the Command Group
A Surprising Tale
The Crane’s Strength

The Address brings one of your Personalities back into play, for free, and it gains you two Honor. Play with it.

Shielding the Command Group could well make into decks – that’s a lot of Force, plus some Honor (on another action you can use unopposed). Don’t forget that it isn’t limited to defense – you might be able to pick up a pip on the military track every once in a while.

A Surprising Tale is another one of those cards that has a good narrow use, but won’t come up enough to matter. If you get stymied at 6 Honor, it can be a huge deal – if the guy whose turn it is happens to be going for honor as well. Too random.

The Crane’s Strength is kill, but fairly narrow kill. You can assume having a 4PH guy, so the Strength lets you tag (1)most guys without attachments; (2) some guys with just a Tsi Mokotsu token; and (3) most shugenja, even if they have spells. There are a good chunk of guys it can’t touch, and it might be nice to have something that doesn’t care about dishonor, but Crane also get a stack of lethal battle duels if they want. Probably can’t find a spot for this one.

Doji Doukohito

One of the few Crane dishonor-related cards that isn’t only suitable to honor decks, Doukohito should have been in the dishonor post, but I glazed over him. Doukohito (like Hunting the Prohphet and Insolence Punished) has the sort of “jack of all dishonored guys” that doesn’t get used on Celestial, with its easy-to-cause-dishonor style. If you can hand out the dishonorable status like candy, it’s hard to argue with including this Magistrate in your deck

Haiku School
Imperial Summons
The Heart Speaks

Although it isn’t as packed as Celestial, Samurai adds a few more options for making use of Crane’s constant shuffling of the Imperial favor. Probably more important though is The Heart Speaks, which gives you another way to fetch the favor every single turn (and another reason to play with Kohaku or Chitose).


Free Holding for your Artisan deck, but it’s a lousy card if you don’t get it right away. Not going to make the grade.

Daidoji Kikaze xp
Daidoji Gempachi
Daidoji Barashi

Daidoji Eitoku
Daidoji Teruo

Are you actually playing Crane Scout in War of Honor? Here’s some guys for that. Good luck.

P.S. You should play with Kikaze xp even if you aren’t Scouts. Guy’s a beast.

Crane in War of Honor should mostly be going with the obvious – honor, honor, honor. Yes, their tiles are as equipped for dishonor, but they get so much more out of Samurai for honor (and they’re better in CE at honor anyway). Appropriately, Crane (along with Scorpion and Phoenix) will depend a lot on politics – you aren’t going to survive getting ganged up on, so you have to make sure that the rest of your table isn’t in a “smash the control deck” sort of mood.

And I’m spent. See you at GenCon.

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