War of Honor – A Look Back at Samurai Arc (Part 2)

This is the second 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). This post will hit on some cards that relatively directly care about the multiplayer nature of War of Honor.

A Common Goal
My Ally’s Strength
Raising Heaven’s Banner
Righteous Doshin
Clan Rivalries
Allies Become Enemies
Unwanted Mediation
Borrowed Advisors

Let’s start with something that’s not quiet as obvious as cards that reference allies – cards that care about clan alignment. There were a series of cards in Samurai arc that rewarded you for playing with out of clan Personalities, and cards that punished your opponent for playing with out-of-clan Personalities (especially those power Uniques). Some of them don’t have any new relevance to War of Honor because they look at Personalities you control, or Personalities controlled by a specific player. Others, however, take on new value because they look for cards in an army together, which makes them much more likely to hit when allies are involved.

The first group saw almost no play during Samurai arc. Whether they see play in War of Honor is still questionable – if a card isn’t worth using unless you have an ally, it better be pretty good when you do. Out of A Common Goal, My Ally’s Strength, Raising Heaven’s Banner, and Righteous Doshin, the Follower is the only one that does anything if you don’t have an ally, and being a 3G/2F/RA2 spud is still pretty bad. I included Clan Rivalries for completeness sake, but it’s mostly just sad. Not looking good.

The cards that attack your opponents when they team up against you show more promise. To start, I prefer cards that help me when I’m down than when I’m already doing well – so I’m already more inclined towards cards that help me when I’m getting ganged up on than when I’ve got buddies (although the worse you’re doing in the game, the more likely you are to have buddies, so maybe it should flow the other way). Dissension is the clear winner here – destroy one guy, bow the other. And if your opponents of different Clans never ally against you, then you can just cycle it. It should see heavy, heavy play in War of Honor. Allies Become Enemies is just a bad Dissension – a good (but not as good) effect when it works, but not much use when there aren’t allies. Dissent, on the other hand, doesn’t have as strong an effect, but works even when you’re in a one-on-one fight. Dissent’s Follower clause is also worth nothing. CE cards most often hit “a card without attachments.” SE cards most commonly hit cards without Followers – those Spell and Weapons will provide a lot less protection.

There are two other “clan alignment” referencing cards that are worth noting, but that don’t fit into either category above. The first, Unwanted Mediation, is an anti-multi-clan card that only looks at one player’s Personalities – but it might be good enough to play anyway. The second, Borrowed Advisors, references clan alignment, but that’s not why you’ll play it. So long as there are at least 3 players in the game, it has “Battle/Open: Straighten this unit.” It doesn’t take a lot of insight to see the value in that.

Tides of Battle
Failure of Diplomacy
Combined Efforts
Differences Between Us
Salute of the Samurai
Essence of Water
False Alliance

Now these ones do explicitly care about allying. Tides of Battle is the headliner – whether you’re a military deck needing that last province, an Enlightenment that needs to drop a Ring, or a dishonor deck that wants to get some losses in, there’s always a reason to need to get into a battle, and that gets harder and harder as your get closer to victory, because no one wants to ally with you. Tides of Battle pretty handily takes care of that problem (the effect is, after all, good enough that the Unicorn Open tile has to blow itself up to do it). On a rules note, while I’m not positive, I think that you can’t use Tides of Battle to force a player to invite you if that invitation would otherwise be illegal (for example, if you don’t have an appropriately placed Fortress tile).

I’ve included Failure of Diplomacy on the list because, even if it isn’t playable, it’s weird enough to be amusing. Basically each player gets to pick one other guy who can’t ally against him (although it doesn’t stop them from just attacking you directly). This has some interesting tactical implications. Like Tides of Battle, it can potentially be used to seal the game – you want to make a final attack, but you can’t beat combined forces, and Failure of Diplomacy will let you prevent another player from jumping in to help with the defense. It can also, generally, stop players from ganging up on you quite as much. But I’m guessing that, if it sees play, it’s in military decks to help them get guaranteed provinces.

The most obvious application of Combined Efforts is as a Rallying Cry for your own allying force (if you aren’t the Attacker or Defender, all of your units are allying units) – you can be nice and target another guys units or not, as seems handy at the time. And that Rallying Cry effect will come up, as even defending allied units go home bowed. Only so much room, however, for effects that only work when you’re allying.

Differences Between Us and Salute of the Samurai both mess with who gains honor from battle resolution. Salute of the Samurai is pretty straightforward – if you’re the ally and you’re doing more to win the battle, then you get the honor. Differences Between Us is a little more wonky, because it only divides the honor gain up – which may or may not help you if you’re getting some of the honor, and may or may not stop the leader from advancing his track. Although military decks can get bonuses from advancing the Honor track (and there will be military/honor switch decks that advance both a lot), I’m not sure that these are worth playing to maybe interfere with that.

I could save Essence of Water for some Phoenix-specific article, but let’s just toss it in here. As with most Battle spells, it really likes being in City of Tears. It’s expensive. It only affects enemy allying units, but it affects them a lot. Not a bad option to have.

Mysterious Deaths
The General Falls
Sacrificial Lands
Test of the Emerald Champion
The Race Begins

The last batch for today are cards that are affected in some way by having lots of players in the game. Mysterious Deaths is pretty obvious – why kill one of your guys to kill one enemy guy when you can kill one of your guys to kill three enemies? The General Falls probably places too much power in the hands of the other players to be worth running, but ratchets up in a similar fashion to Mysterious Deaths, potentially bowing out three enemy Personalities (everyone gets in on the action, even if they don’t have units in the battle).

Sacrificial Lands becomes a much more effective finisher in multiplayer. Blow up a province (that you probably didn’t care about) to straighten four guys and draw four cards. There are a lot of military or enlightenment decks that would be happy to make that trade for a final attack. However, it doesn’t play nicely with attachments (pay 10G to draw three Followers, yay!). And, unlike things like Tides of Battle or Failure of Diplomacy, it has a much harder time finding a random use when you aren’t in a position to make a final attack.

If you’re a dueling deck, especially a dueling honor deck, Test of the Emerald Champion is a win-win for you. Of course, if no one faces off against you, then you get an extra province, which is always nice. And if they do face off against you, then that 3 Honor per opposing player adds up really fast.

Finally, there’s The Race Begins. I note this card because it checks your family honor and number of provinces against another player, but you only have to find one player who meets the conditions. If you’re a low honor clan and you’ve lost a province, there’s a decent chance someone will have more of both, now that you’ve got three other players to choose from. Probably still not worth running due to the randomness, but much better than in a two player game. Contrast this with something like Counting House, which only works if you meet the condition with respect to every other player, thus making the card much worse.

That’s it until Part 3, wherein we shall discuss the joys of farming.

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