As everyone surely aware by now, the Coils of Madness expansion for Legend of the Five Rings includes a “flashback” character for each of the Great Clans (well, unless you ask some Spider players). The story book that comes with the ‘complete’ set tin gives a short look at a time in the lives of each of these characters that the mad dragon, P’an Ku, sought to interfere with their path.
Today, however, we’re going to look at the card evolution of each of these folks. First off, the Crab:
In O-Ushi, we can see several references back to older cards. First, this card represents her before she ever appeared the first time, so her stats follow her original card:
The Coils version of O-Ushi has an ability that bows those of lower Force, which is also shared by a couple of prior versions:
The most clear call-back, however, is probably to the art on O-Ushi’s XP2:
Two words: Chafing. Ouch.
The Crane entry in this category is the clan’s participant in the Second Day of Thunder, Doji Hoturi:
With Hoturi we don’t have an art shout-out, but we do have a couple of mechanical ones. The first is a little weird, flavor-wise, but we’ll let it stand anyway. The card is Inexperienced and his appearance in the story book is actually before the Clan Wars. But the art and flavor text for Hoturi’s CoM card depict him killing his Egg of P’an Ku duplicate. I’m not sure what’s going on with that, but timeline-wise that would put Hoturi in between his basic and Experienced versions and let’s check out the stats:
Nice little blending there. And Hoturi’s new ability looks awfully similar to this one:
The Dragon entry, Togashi Mitsu … well, at least he’s got that same Fire token thing working:
The Lion entry is Matsu Nimuro …
Who has nothing to do with any of his prior versions, unless you count keywords. Nimuro’s card just depicts him making this guy:
Maybe we’ll do better with the Mantis?
So, where is this Tsuruchi in the life of the character? The art is too old, we know that – Tsuruchi isn’t that aged either when “Inexperienced” or as depicted in the fiction. This Tsuruchi is from really early in the Clan War era, and is Inexperienced because Tsuruchi basic did not appear in Imperial Edition. His first version was this:
That’s right – certainly no Mantis Clan, but not even a Yoritomo’s Alliance or Wasp Clan! The early L5R story was pretty fluid. Tsuruchi picked up Wasp Clan and Yoritomo’s Alliance in Jade Edition …
… and he’s picks up Mantis Clan in …. ummm … well, actually, the Coils of Madness version of Tsuruchi is the first one to actually say Mantis Clan (although “Yoritomo’s Alliance” and “Mantis Clan” were basically synonyms for gameplay purposes). Regardless, however, the Coils Tsuruchi has no real solid relation to the basic Tsuruchi, unless you can’t “they both can do multiple Ranged Attacks.” There’s more of a link-up with his XP version from Dark Journey Home:
… since both versions of Tsuruchi are 3F/3C for 8G (and 2HR and 2PH).
Appropriately enough (you’ll know why soon), Phoenix is next:
As we’ve seen before, Tsuke represents an “Experienced 0.5” version of the character, wedged between the original Imperial character and his next version:
As you can see, the CoM blends the stats and also picks up a similar ability! He’s consistent about that goofy headgear too.
The Scorpion get a new version of one of the most popular L5R characters ever:
There was some minor outcry that this art was too sexualized and did the character a disservice. We must disagree. Well, we agree that the art is shooting for “sexy” … but that’s always been a large part of the point of Kachiko. There’s a reason she’s got that “Seductress” keyword, after all.
The Spider (sort of) get Kokujin, who after a long career briefly founded an order of Spider monks before running off to start a failure of a peasant rebellion and get shanked by one of his underlings:
Hey, we finally got a guy who had the same artist for the original and the Coils of Madness version!
Also not the first time Kokujin has stolen guys with his ability … and I suppose I’ll throw another version like that up here, although I really can’t stand the art:
And last, but not least, it is time for your doooooooooooom:
Although his Karasu is a true Inexperienced version, the mechanical link to his basic version is pretty weak:
Lots of the same numbers, I guess, but not having the same Force kind of disrupts that part of it. And the abilities, ummm, both involving some sort of switching? Our Coils of Madness version has more in common with this guy:
That’s better – same Force/Chi, very similar abilities (also, check out when your home was still called your fief).
Well, that’s it for today’s history lesson. Stay tuned for a future Story Time episode of the Strange Assembly podcast, where we’ll give a little audio history lesson on the stories of these characters for those of you who haven’t been around for the last 17 years.