The Player Design Team is pleased to give players a look at the primary themes of each Clan, as they are planned for the Celestial Edition arc. Today a look at the Phoenix Clan.
Before we get started into Phoenix, it is necessary to explain that we have had a fundamental shift in how we design spells. In the past, spells have largely been viewed as the third type of attachment, which while technically true, is not entirely accurate, as they are often no more than Action cards, albeit sometimes quite powerful ones, in an attachment package. While generally reusable, they have to survive a battle, something which, more often than not, does not happen. This has lead to two fundamental flaws with spells.
1) They are costed as an attachment, even though they often times to do not provide force
2) They have to be put into play before a battle, allowing your opponent to work around their threat
These two factors have hampered spells for years, making them largely useless or utterly broken. We on the Design Team have taken great strides to analyze and fix this. Here is an example of two Samurai Edition cards, Greater Sacrifice and Fires that Cleanse (both can be viewed on L5Rsearch.com if you need their card text).
Greater Sacrifice is a battle action which destroys your Samurai to destroy an enemy unit with force equal to or less than your Samurai’s force plus personal honor (if you meet the small condition). For several clans, namely Crane, Lion, and Unicorn, this will allow you to destroy your boxable Samurai to destroy a 5-7 force unit. As a battle action, Greater Sacrifice can be played without your opponent knowing it is coming, giving it a surprise factor. It is also free.
Fires that Cleanse is a spell with a battle action which allows you to bow and destroy your Shugenja to destroy any unit. While it can potentially destroy bigger units, it will often time have the same effect as Greater Sacrifice. However, Fires that Cleanse costs four gold, and, as a spell, Fires that Cleanse loses that surprise factor.
So if we compare these two cards, we see that they mostly have the same effects, though Fires that Cleanse does have the potential to have a greater effect. Greater Sacrifice has two costs. The first is it costs you a Personality, and the second is it costs you a fate card (you will have one less fate card in your hand after playing it). Fires that Cleanse has four costs. It costs you a Personality, it costs you a fate card, it costs you four gold, and it costs you opportunity, in that you have to attach the spell before you go to battle, losing you the opportunity to surprise your opponent with it like you can with Greater Sacrifice.
So when you accurately analyze these two similar cards, it is easy to see why spells have long been the worst card type in the game. Our goal is to make spells an equal card type. This improvement to spells should have a snowball effect. With spells becoming stronger, the Shugenja class should in turn become stronger. This in turn should increase the power of Shugenja based decks, and none more so than Phoenix.
With that introduction out of the way, lets talk about the Phoenix’s themes.
Shugenja on their own are rather weak and unintimidating. They often do not have the sheer physical strength of a Samurai, nor do they possess the political power of a Courtier. However, when you give a Shugenja a spell, they can become as powerful as an Oni, sometimes even moreso. The Phoenix Shugenja military deck will use their Shugenja and spells to create a very powerful force to be dealt with.
This Phoenix Shugenja deck’s main focus for victory will not only be Military, but it will make your opponents province’s uninhabitable for the next 1000 years. This radioactive wasteland could possibly be your path to Enlightenment as well.
Shugenja are not only wielders of magic, they serve as priests linking the Celestial realm with the empire. Their relationship with the Kami and their maintenance of the glorious temples of the empire bring great honor to them. Those attacking places of prayer should ask themselves whether they can withstand the fury of the gods being leashed upon them through a Shugenja’s scroll.
This Phoenix Shugena deck’s main focus for victory will be Honor.
For years we have been trying to get the Samurai/Shugenja theme to mesh with varying degrees of success, some of which have fallen short. The problem has always been needing Shugenja when you have Samurai and needing Samurai when you have Shugenja. A clever opponent can target one of these two aspects and really hamstring a Pheonix player’s deck. In Samurai we tried a couple of things which worked, but not to the degree we would have liked. We have learned from past successes and failures and with Celestial, we are starting to take a new approach to this deck.
Now, instead of requiring your Samurai and Shugenja to fight side by side, your Samurai will be going to battle and will be enhanced by you simply controlling Shugenja who will be allowed to sit safely at home, aiding their Shiba brothers and sisters from a distance. A good example of this can be seen in Shiba Tsukimi’s trait, which gives force to the Samurai at her location for simply controlling a Shugenja.
The effect this should have is to reduce the need a Phoenix player has on their Shugenja, as they will not be in as much danger sitting safely at home. So instead of having to play 11 Samurai and 11 Shugenja in your deck, you can now play maybe 14 Samurai and 8 Shugenja, giving you much more versatility in your deck building process. This is another example of how we are rethinking Phoenix decks and their components.
The deck itself will focus heavily on the Shiba, the Phoenix clan’s Samurai and Yojimbo. The Shiba are the protectors of the Phoenix Shugenja and as such, will be enhanced by having Shugenja around. This is also the deck that will have a strong capacity for dueling. Often times, as the Yojimbo of the Shugenja, the Shiba are forced to duel on behalf of others, and as such many have become respectable duelists. Though since dueling is only one aspect of their job, they do not have the level of skill you will see in a Crane or Dragon duelist. Dueling will only be an option available to players who wish to use the Phoenix Yojimbos, it will not be mandatory.
The Phoenix Yojimbo/Duelist deck’s main focus for victory will be Military.
The Phoenix has always had a thirst for knowledge and in the past the price of that knowledge has been too great for both the Phoenix clan and the empire. Magistrate Inquisitors strive to keep the empire pure, free from corruption and free from the threat of corruption. The Inquisitors not only garner honor from protecting the temples of the empire, but also for keeping it pure. Where the Inquisitors separate themselves from other Magistrates is they are not looking to punish the dishonorable, and as such will have very few abilities relying on dishonorable opponents. They will focus more on interrogating their enemies, which can lead to their forces being hampered.
The Phoenix Magistrates deck’s main focus for victory will be Honor. Nobody expects the Phoenix Inquisitor.