By Mark Thompson
An article dedicated to help new players create inexpensive competitive decks.
Emperor Edition has created a lot of buzz at our local card shop. We have had a lot of new people try the demo decks and others purchase starters. These people want to play L5R. The problem comes when they try and take the next step.
They go from playing against another demo deck where the game is balanced to games against players that have a large card pool and a stronger knowledge of how to build a deck. On top of that is the amount of cash you must invest to acquire the powerful cards you need.
Here is where we lose players. We always list the great changes Emperor Edition has brought to make the game clearer and easier to play. However, let’s take a quick look at what a new player has to face when trying to start in L5R (the black eyes as I like to call them):
A steep learning curve
A player base that is well educated well versed in strategy
A large card pool to pick from
A weak Limited (sealed/draft) Format
Due to a lack of a Limited Format, we lose the ability to help new players play competitively without a large investment in certain things like Forgotten Legacy and the latest promos from the Kotei. This also hurts a new player grow a card pool from sealed/draft events.
So How We Can Help
We can help combat the steep learning curve by helping our new players learn and understand the rules. We need to carry a deck or two that are in the medium range of skill and abilities.
To help new players, I will choose a clan and build one deck. The deck list will be posted. Here is the catch. I will build this deck for under $80.00 via cards from L5RSearch.com’s pricing. I will not take into account commons and uncommons into the cost as hopefully, the store and player base will help new players acquire those cards. What they can’t get from the people they can hopefully buy from the store for less than $20.00. The point is to show that with a small investment, and the starter deck, you can have a competitive l5r deck.
To help the mid-ranged player, I will post alternative cards to consider if you have the money to spend or the card pool to trade for. This section I hope will generate the most discussion at the bottom of the article. It’s good for new people to see chatter about why card A is better than card B. Or why you would consider running three Yasuki Jekku’s in your main berserker deck!
Fun for Everyone
I will play this deck during the week at my local store and give a write up on how each match went. This will give you an idea of how well the deck works. I will play it against new players as well as Kotei level decks. This should provide insight on its flaws and strengths.
Deck Du Jour
|Halls of the Forgotten|
|2||Too Close to Home||0|
|2||Heavy Infantry Dojo||2.75||5.5|
|2||Caught in the Act||4||8|
|2||Gold and Steel||0|
|3||Spirit of the Berserker||0|
|3||The Duty of the Crab||0|
|3||The Height of Courage||0|
|1||Ring of the Void||0|
|1||Ring of Water||0|
Proof in the Pudding
Game 1 Unicorn Journey’s End Keep
This player was new to the game. He bought 2 holdings turn 1 and I got 3 (Small Farm), he bought 2 cavalry (Utaku Mai / Shinjo Byung) turn 2. Turn 3 he doesn’t attack. (This became a teaching moment) Turn 3 I attack with Bushotsu and Mimori and he defends (this becomes another teaching moment). He assigns both Mai and Byung to the battle. He Mai’s Mimori, I Fortitude Byung, he bows Mimori, I Reckless Rush Byung w/ Bushotsu, he passes, I Tireless Efforts Bushotsu. He has no straighten abilities left in his hand. I crush, he never recovers. 1-0
Game 2 Mantis Thunder Shugenja
On turn 1, I play Bushotsu (I have blind Rage and a Spirit in hand) and a Small Farm. He drops Courage of the Mantis and Holdings. This makes things scary as that is a great static for a Celestial. I drop Nikaru; he can’t recover from the early province smash. 2-0
Game 3 Thunder Shugenja
I don’t get the blitz draw… it gets scary when he gets out Hiromi on turn 3. I have to use 3 Rets in hand to kill his in province Sachina because of box and his shugenja sending me home. The tempo swing is enough to win the game. 3-0
I get 2 Jekku’s but he has 2 of the Kakita Seishi’s on the board to keep the honor train moving. He had 3 provinces when he crossed…. He had the infamous 1 after my battle phase and won. 3-1 for the night
In-House Tournament on Friday
Dragon Honor Dueling
He got gold screwed, was able to take the last province as he hit 32. He’s a good player; he just had a bad start. 1-0
Crab Carpenter Castle
I hear Retribution is pretty good against military decks…. 2-0. This player was new and we discussed his deck options and things to look for that will help his deck synergize better. It was a good learning experience for him. 2-0
Crane Honor Rematch from the night before
He gets 3 Seishi’s on turn one with a Prosperous Village. But after turn 3 he was at 18 honor and I had cracked a province. He made a play mistake with his defense and it cost him the game when I went for 3 of his one turn… looking back on it, it might have been too risky what I did. I took 2 of the 3 and left him with 2 provinces. I cracked the next one, and then the final one when he was at 32 honor. 3-0
Top 4 Matchup
Dragon Honor Dueling Rematch
I get the gold screw this time but I come back… I do get 2 Jekku’s out that make this a tight match.
Turn 4 I try and swing to take a province, he defends with his champion and a couple others. His 2nd to last card kills my last personality at the battlefield and left him with a bowed champion. I debate what to do. I had a Ring of Water in hand. He had 1 card in hand. Yasuki Jekku was my only valid target due to actions played on other personalities. I risked it, and RoW him to the battle field. He had nothing to stop me. Jekku straight up murdered Mr. Clean. It was amazing! He actually says concede at this point but I talk him out of it…. Bad move.
He gets to 36 honor. He has 3 provinces; I send Kisada Mimori and Nikaru to one. I send Yamadera, Bushotsu and Esumi to another. We resolve the battle where he has presence first. After actions that take out peoples, I am left with Bushotsu that will die at the end of battle delayed by Spirit of the Berserker with my box ability still up. He plays Steel on Steel. I have Sundering Strike, Immovable Object, Gold and Steel, Ancient Feud and Caught in the Act in Hand. His force is 11 at the battle field my current force is 9. His only other 2 personalities on the table are 2 dishonored Tamori Kazushige. I choose to accept the duel….. I fish for a Duty of the Crab to delay the effects he drops 2 discovering the conspiracy and crosses.
The correct play for that sequence is as follows:
Him: Steel on Steel
Me: CARDS IN HAND!?!?!?!?!
Me: giggle and delay and strike
Bow down one of his force guys, win the battle but miss the province. I then have Kisada, Nikaru, Yamadera and Mimori left plus another Nikaru and Yamadera to purchase to crack 2 provinces before he crosses
I messed up. Even with a bad start, I could’ve and should’ve won this game. But I didn’t. 3rd place.
There are definitely cards I would take out. First off, the one Horu out like a fat kid in dodge ball and in goes Daigotsu Hotako. She is amazing. I also consider other cards like Hida Fubatsu on Dynasty.
From fate side there is a lot of cards to consider: Brawl, another Immovable Object, Your Clan Needs You!, A Brave New World, Broken Alliance. A Game of Dice and Creating Order are two other cards that belong in this deck. Here is a shameless plug to all the new players out there for Forgotten Legacy: “Buy it! It’s not just an amazing deck box!”
On that note, I would also go with Bamboo Harvesters XP and Border Keep XP. Strange Assembly put a gold scheme calculator out a few months ago. It shows the power of Border Keep XP and more than once I had a hand of 2 Ret’s and a Hidden Defenses against the honor runners. It would’ve been nice to cycle them. Also, you wouldn’t normally expect a military deck to truly consider Bamboo Harvesters XP but your Berserkers are expensive so you won’t have a lot of printed battle actions at the fight. You need cards to play.
For this deck I have 3 resounding MVP’s
- Hiruma Nikaru – If he is not in your Crab deck, you need to reconsider your Crab deck. Berserkers? Yes Please. Scouts? Uh-huh. Tacticians? Why Not. Yasuki Dishonor…. I can make a strong case! He’s so good that I may try and fit him in my Crane deck next week!
- Yasuki Jekku – Originally added because I didn’t have another Berserker and I wasn’t going to run Hida Horu’s. He turned out to be money in my honor matchups. He was a little disheartening in my military matchup, but he became Kisada’s Recruitment Officer Token. Still, he did his part to keep the honor gains lower and to help turn off future gains.
- Retribution – The tempo you earn with this card is amazing. You can totally screw up a person’s dynasty phase and defense for the next turn with the right timing on Retribution.
I liked this deck. It’s fun to drop big force guys on the table that just won’t die and it’s fun singing Berzerker from Clerks to put you in the mood. Also, when one personality is strong enough to take a province by himself and it’s NOT your clan champion? That’s pretty cool too!
Next week – Crane…