One of the more popular sets of articles here on Strange Assembly over the last couple of years, and one penned by several different authors, is the On the Cheap series. These articles provide decklists (and explanations) for relatively inexpensive L5R decks. In the past, these articles have not always used the same standard for what makes a deck cheap enough, but many of them have followed a format similar to what is usually called “Bushi League” – no rares, no promos. And that’s what I’m going to go with as the default for On the Cheap decks for now. If we get more outside contributions to the series, those may vary in exactly what they’re using, and it will say that in the article, but the ones I write will use the what’s laid out in this post. Which will let me just link back here instead of repeating it out over and over again.
So, the basic rule is that you can’t use rares and promos. You can use any common or uncommon. And you can use any fixed card that comes in your Clan’s starter deck. Pretty straightforward. But Ivory does bring a couple of odd cases, which need to be addressed. Note that I may or may not be answering these cases in the same way as the semi-official Bushi League rules over at The Bushi Dojo, and they may not be the same as any Bushi League-like format your local store uses, so make sure to double-check.
First, Ivory Edition starter decks have 13 rare or promo cards in each deck (it’s advertised as 10, but there are also three copies of the Clan Personality from the 2012 Con Pack of promos). Each copy of a Clan’s starter deck has those exact 13 rares and promos. From where I stand, these are effectively fixed cards. So in the On the Cheap article series, I’ll treat these just like Clan armors or Clan Champions. A deck from Clan X gets access to exactly those 13 cards. Except for the 2012 Con pack promo Personality, that means only one copy, even if the card is Unique – your Scorpion deck gets one Productive Mine, but it’s hardly “on the cheap” to build decks with 3x Productive Mine. Similarly, only that one Clan gets those 13 cards – a lot of us will just get starter deck boxes and have everything, but On the Cheap isn’t written for those people. If you’re making a Spider Clan deck, I’m only going to assume that you’ve got the Spider Clan starter.
Second, there’s Coils of Madness. All of the Ivory-legal stuff is available in booster boxes, so the whole “direct to retailer” tin thing doesn’t matter at this point. But Coils boosters do have an unusual ‘rarity’ system. Instead of commons, uncommons, and rares, there are “unique” and “non-unique” slots in the packs – 2 of the former and 5 of the latter. I think it’s pretty clear that you’d include the non-Uniques here – it works out that they’re effectively uncommons, with a single booster box providing you with (on average) a playset of everything. But what about the uniques? By the time you shake out the number of different uniques, the number of them you get in a pack, the number of packs in a box, and so forth, it ends up taking a little more than a box to have a set (and therefore a playset) of the uniques (and if Coils was sold in 48-pack boxes like Gates of Chaos and Aftermath were, then you’d get better than a set per box). That’s a lot more easily obtainable than a normal rare playset. So I’m going to include the uniques in On the Cheap decks as well – effectively, anything Ivory-legal from Coils of Madness is allowed.
So, those are the basis ground rules we’ll be using. It’s my current plan to roll out a basic On the Cheap deck for each clan over the next … let’s say “few weeks.” Ideally it will happen more quickly, but you know what they say about good intentions. It’s my hope that these decks will provide some help for those getting into L5R with Ivory Edition and looking inspiration on what sort of deck to build even if they aren’t sinking a good chunk of change in up front.