By Faber van Kraanen
Player Design Team
Back in 1999, when I first laid eyes on the Way of the Ratling and read about the Nezumi* cosmology and Tomorrow I couldn’t help but imagine this little curly red-headed freckled demon screeching ‘Tomorrow, Tomorrow, Tomorrow is only a day awaaaaay’. Since that thought was scary, I could sympathize with the poor buggers.
As a former Naga player and lover of all things nonhuman in fantasy settings (except elves!) I have been playing the Nezumi in the ccg ever since I got a Heroes of Rokugan set for my birthday. During Gold Edition, a time when quite a few people were playing the Rats from all sorts of strongholds except a regular Ratling one, I used the Warrens of the Nezumi with pride. I loved being the underdog and I loved the ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ people made when I did well with them. I got into the top 4 and finals of quite a few storyline events at the time, but was never able to pull in a win. I even used a Foil 3D Warrens of the Nezumi, made of off the 2002 European Championships participation promo. A friend had made it for me and nearly every opponent I played just had to pick it up for a closer look.
I continued playing the Nezumi in Diamond Edition, but after they got good at the end of that arc, I switched to Dragon. No fun playing with the underdog if he’s turned into a big nasty Doberman, eh? Besides, I was able to fight for the Naga at the time if I played Dragon, getting stories for the (Hitomi) Kazaq and Mirumoto Mareshi.
In Lotus Edition I had mainly played Dragon, because I had gotten the taste of victory and wanted to get as much story for my Naga friends as I could. I played Nezumi casually and won the Greek Mouzaka Championships and a German Kotei with them, one because I had flipped a coin between playing Dragon and Nezumi, and the other because I had accidentally left my Dragon deck at home…
So then it was time for the very first World Championships hosted in Europe, and I needed a deck to play. As always, I started analyzing the environment, which was pretty balanced and very diverse at the time, and came to the conclusion that the Dragon decks I had weren’t likely to take me all the way. Having play-tested a Nezumi honor deck, I knew there was some potential in Yotsu Dojo combined with the Shinbone engine. After the errata on the Test of Enlightenment cards and Chitik hit, I felt confident the field had slowed down enough for a deck that took 10 turns to win to be viable.
My only worry was other honor decks, which would certainly be faster as mine. Lucky for me, Shinbone Pack can’t be challenged and most honor decks at the time relied on duels to gain honor with. I designed my deck so that I was able to win militarily against these decks by only bringing out the packs and using their force, combined with some control elements provided by the fate deck, to keep the pressure on their provinces. Because I was still worried about other people playing Yotsu Dojo decks (Phoenix could build a decent one with the aid of Awakening the 8th) I packed 3 Explosives and Kanashimi Toshi.
I was only able to test the deck once, at the Frankfurt Regional championships. I won it, losing only 1 game from a Unicorn deck against which I had mistakenly murdered (Hired Killer) the wrong chap to be able to save my last province after crossing 40. Though I was happy with the result, I wasn’t very confident that the data acquired there was realistic for the environment as a whole. Basically, I kept on doubting the deck, up to the point where my friends from Team Imperial (a mainly German L5R playing group of friends) had to talk me into playing it. Thanks guys!
What happened at Worlds can be read in the tournament report I wrote, which can be found here, thanks to Zen Faulkes, who took it off the forums and hosts it at his site.
I am very thrilled by the Tomorrow product, and it is my hope people around the world will enjoy the flavor we so lovingly put into all the cards created from the story results of the Battle at the Tomb. I can’t wait to read all the alternate flavor texts the story team has put on the cards, or just to hold all those Foils and cry out ‘Shiny Shiny SQUEEEK’ until my girlfriend rolls her eyes at me!
Whatever Tomorrow may bring, as long as it isn’t a screeching curly red-headed demon, I’ll be there to stand up to it! And so will the rest of the One tribe, now and forever.
* Calling a Nezumi a Ratling is like calling an Inuit an Eskimo: very bad form.