A lot of you checked out the “Best” Personality Cards article from a couple of weeks ago. However, it seemed that many of you felt that this was, perhaps, not the list you were looking for – you wanted a look at the cards that were the most powerful, the strongest – not some list of cards that had great design, but weren’t tournament worldbeaters. And so this is an effort to give you what you want – what were the most powerful/strongest/impactful Personality Cards of Emperor Arc (anything with an Emperor bug but not an Ivory bug)? I add that last one – most impactful – because cards to not exist in a vacuum and so it is possible that a card that otherwise has a higher “raw” power level may not matter as much in an environment if, for example, they simply don’t have a deck to exist in.
As with last time, I will divide the picks by Clan (including Unaligned), and will also select one Unique and one non-Unique from each Clan.
Does anything need to be said about this guy? Well, I guess we have to at least have a couple of sentences. With efficient Force and a restrictionless ability to shut down opposing Personalities, Nikaru has basically been in every single non-Yasuki Crab deck for the entire arc. Add in Halls of the Forgotten to ensure that your opponent can’t possibly shut down Nikaru first? Ouch.
Honorable Mentions: N/A (Nikaru will chokeslam anyone who suggests that any other card could even be in consideration for this pick)
This was a much tougher one – the Crab have a number of solid Uniques, but none who have blown the doors off. And they tend to be segregated by theme – these guys are used in Berserker decks, those guys only show in Yasuki decks, and the that third group over there is only for Scouts. I’d probably just choose Kasuga Aizawa, if I wasn’t excluding folks with the Ivory bug. So I went with the Clan Champion, Hida Kisada, because he actually gets played despite a lack of relevant keywords (sorry, “Siege” is not actually a relevant keyword in tournament play … well, sort of, but not like, say, Berserker). Granted, he’s largely making it in the Scout decks because their Stronghold doesn’t care about keywords, but he’s still making it and none of the others are. Or maybe this should be Tsujiken? Even some Scorpion dishonor run that guy, and they don’t have a 5G-producing Stronghold.
Free Artisan for playing broken card. ‘Nuff said. Kakita Kae is probably the fan favorite, but free guys who make more free guys wins over indestructible presence. Asahina Turbo Honor has had real presence this arc, but their solid non-Uniques can’t stand up. Doji Genshin may look like an odd choice as an honorable mention, but I think that the non-Unique 5C (at a reasonable cost) has been vital for helping switch dueling be able to deal with things like Kensai and Clan Champions.
Yup, just snatching the favor as an Open is still that good, and Dainagon can be slipped into any Crane honor deck (which is still what most of them are, the relative success of TFC military notwithstanding). Asahina Nanae, with her impossibly versatile ability, serves as representative of the Asahina decks, and Hakuseki will headline the dueling Personalities, although a lot of the Dueling-centric Uniques are done in my the lack of a good honor dueling deck this arc (oh, what might have been, Makoto and Kazuo). As for the Scouts … well, there are a couple of good Uniques, but if nobody plays that deck, it’s hard to include them. OK, OK, I’ll include them, because they’re good and the Scouts need something, but don’t expect to see them in tournaments much.
There were a lot of really good Dragon Kensai this arc, but ultimately none of them let that deck play in the way that Mirumoto Houken does. Kojinrue, Kouzei, Michi – all are good, but all are replaceable. Houken is not. Houken got the nod over Tamori Kazushige, who is head-and-shoulders the best Personality around for Dragon honor decks because it was Kensai that propelled Dragon to its greatest tournament impact this arc.
Honorable Mentions: Tamori Kazushige
Besides, the defensive decks can get the spotlight with Tamori Ruya. Dragon’s Breath Castle became a strong favorite for Dragon decks once Kensai became unable to cope with the metagame changes, and Ruya is an auto-include in any deck out of DBC.
As much as I’d like to pick the Ancestor (there’s a reason it’s called a Lion Ancestor deck, right?), I’ll stick with a non-created card and go with the cheap and flexible tutoring of Ikoma Shizuka, who made pretty much every Lion player drool the moment he was previewed. Toolbox your Terrains, be they meta or combo-riffic (e.g., Wide Valley). Get Shinden Shorai and use it to immediately buy the best Personality in your provinces. And so on.
Limited kill or Limited card draw – what an exciting pair of options for your opponent. Gives a new meaning to “kill them with kindness.” Someone has got to stop letting Lion win the Turquoise Championship.
A tough, tough call between Rukia and Yoritomo Kanahashi. This time, I’ll go with the cards that’s more raw power on its own, rather than the cards that shone the most later in the arc because it better powered up a broken deck. Rukia was ludicrous when she was released, but lost some shine as the environment shifted to drastically reduce the number of real attachments for her to unsummon. But I will clear the Kitsune out of the honorable mentions list so Kanahashi can at least have that to herself.
Honorable Mentions: Yoritomo Kanahashi
The Thunder Dragon – making hash out of the story since the end of the Race for the Throne and making hash out of your opponent’s faces since Seeds of Decay. At the end of a big storyline about how the Celestial Heavens must restore everything to its proper place, get man out of Tengoku and get divine beings out of Ningen-do, there’s a divine Dragon who swaps spots with a mortal, and then proceeds to serve as some sort of magical power battery … and then the card version gets printed in a set titled Seeds of Decay. Coincidence or kharmic commentary? You be the judge (I already know what your answer is, Rukia xp). With Cavalry and Naval and 9F (and a built-in ability) the Thunder Dragon is nearly unstoppable early game. And if the game goes long enough to get a full-sized army on the table, then good luck having anything unbowed by the time its done. There are a lot of Personalities who are on the honorable mentions list because they synergized well with Kalani’s Landing, but the Thunder Dragon can outshine even those Personalities even in their own deck (although I suppose that Kalani’s Landing does synergize well with “expensive things” generally).
The ludicrous thing about this pick is that despite the fact that Karachu was so good that he got banned, I’m not sure that it shouldn’t be
Shiba Danjuro Shiba Sansesuke anyway. But Karachu was just a one-man wrecking crew for way too many sorts of decks, from enlightenment to blitz to mid-range military. His ability to ignore the cost of bowing for anything he does is so good that it laughs at Togashi Satsu’s more limited trait, and that guy was a Clan Champion who was an actual Dragon who you could build entire decks around.
Honorable Mentions: Shiba Sansesuke
ProTip: Any Personality who gets a Ring out of your deck and puts it directly into play is nuts (just go back and look at Test of Enlightenment). And he’s Cavalry. And he’s got move-in + unit straighten as a Reaction. In a time of Phoenix decks defined by Nonhumans, Chukage still made the grade.
Let’s see … dishonor decks need to causes honor losses, and need to dishonor your guys for some of their biggest hits. Kameyoi does both, and without bowing. There’s a reason she’s an auto-include. Thinking about Kameyoi, and about her place in relation to the Scorpion favor-taking non-Unique, and then looking at the Crane, you start to see why Scorpion courtier dishonor has gone so much further than Crane courtier honor. I’ll throw a Paragon duo on the honorable mentions list because those guys were really good, once upon a time – remember when mid-range Paragons seemed broken?
Kameyoi dishonors someone or causes an honor loss. Yoshihara xp does both, and turns off an ability (including the one card that honor is supposed to use to win against dishonor, Rugashi Bazaar). When a clan-aligned Personality card is an auto-include in different Clan’s deck, that’s usually a tip-off that she’s wildly underpriced. Shosuro Aroru has two amazing abilities of his own, but he still can’t compete with Yoshihara.
Honorable Mentions: Shosuro Aroru xp2
We’ll stick with the Ninja who was great out of just Spider instead of the Monk who was great out of Spider and Dragon. Spider’s most successful archetype in Emperor arc has been “Ninja,” and sometimes Onchi was the only actual Ninja you really wanted in the deck. Her Cavalry fit perfectly with the decks plan of sleazing provinces early, and synergized wonderfully with The Shadow’s Lair (and not just the fact that she has the Ninja keyword to make the ability unstoppable). Oh, and whatever ability you might have used to move in to oppose her will get turned off before it can be used. Although “Open: Produce 5 gold” is nothing to laugh at, either.
Honorable Mentions: Yamazaki
Listing the top Spider Uniques for Emperor arc is like listing a Who’s Who of most-imported Personalities, with only Daigotsu Gyoken not regularly showing up in non-Spider decks. The choice of Hotako is a difficult one. She’s probably got the most raw power for her gold cost of anyone here, but the very effective meta against her ability has essentially removed her from the environment (it doesn’t help that Spider Paragons are not exactly a favored theme). Still, they had to print meta cards that were almost just anti-Hotako, and that says a lot about her power level, as she could basically remove two enemy Personalities per attack (with her ability, and then with Naval). And despite the meta, she still gets played out-of-clan. On the other hand, while Fukuzo doesn’t have the raw power, he is always efficient. And there’s no stopping the Shadow Dragon, once you can afford him.
Honorable Mentions: Daigotsu Gyoken xp2, Daigotsu Hotako xp3, Fukuzo xp, Shadow Dragon xp2, Tetsuo
There’s a pretty strong contrast between the Unicorn non-Uniques and the Uniques. The Uniques are just brimming with powerful abilities, and the non-Uniques are almost entirely lacking them – more staple than all-star. But Sung-Ki demonstrates the power of what you can get these days if you forgo abilities. Buy her and honor gain off the box early, or any random holding for another body later in the game.
And then there are these guys, who have an array of abilities that are just silly – kill, kill, kill, tempo-less preemptive ability shutdown … and Liu-Xeung. Wait, how did she get in there? But Naleesh does it all – she shuts down down an entire unit, killing any attachments or the Personality if he was naked. She has the keywords for the actions for all of the Unicorn themes that don’t require being a Shugenja. She can solo provinces. And she can do it all again on defense, along with any attachment that she’s been blessed with. Truly a holy terror.
Let’s see … which of the three banned Unaligned Personalities takes the award here. Well, he’s kind of fading in the public consciousness (out of sight, out of mind), but before Quelsa was leading Lizard Wizards to repeated thrashings of everything in sight (that didn’t have 7+ family honor) Ki no Oni was single-handedly crushing provinces on turn 2. If by “single-handedly” you mean “with my clone over there and then we blow up and make stacks of baby Oni who will eat your face and oh look I was just feigning my death I’m still here to fight next turn.” That’s right, the banned 6G Personality who gave you extra Province Strength and an extra 3-4 Honor a turn is arguably only the third-strongest non-Unique Unaligned Personality in Emperor Edition. Otherwise fantastic Personalities like Gozaru no Oni and Tess’kss can’t even make the honorable mentions list against that kind of competition.
Honorable Mentions: Fresh Recruit, Quelsa, Seppun Jiramu
Because getting a 5F Personality with repeatable card tutoring and repeatable negation for only 3G is totally fair.
Well, there you have it – 20 choices, 20 places where you can disagree and voice your own opinion. What are your choices?