Today is the next installment of our Emperor Edition Design Diaries where one of the designers of L5R will explain our goals for the mechanics of a clan. This week’s clan will be Phoenix, written by Duncan MacPhail.
“Our purity is beyond question. Yours exists to be questioned.” – Asako Rinshi
The Inquisitors Phoenix Clan theme unites two keywords, Shugenja and Magistrate; all Inquisitors will have the keywords Shugenja • Inquisitor • Magistrate. In addition, in their role as Shugenja, Inquisitors will often have either the Air or Earth elemental keyword. Air Shugenja will tend to do their work outside of battle, while Earth Shugenja will do much of their work inside of battle.
Inquisitors can make use of the full range of Spell and Magistrate actions, but they have a few powerful effects that stand out. Unlike other Magistrates, Inquisitors will target their actions not on dishonorable Personalities, but rather Kolat, Ninja, and Shadowlands. These effects often give the Inquisitor player a choice to give his opponent an honor loss or to gain honor for himself. Inquisitor decks can be easily fine-tuned to achieve either an Honor or Dishonor Victory, or to switch between the two conditions depending on the strengths and weaknesses of the opponent.
The Temple of Purity Stronghold features several of these mechanics. The Open action may be used under any circumstance to give a Personality –4F, even while bowed. However, if you control an Inquisitor and you targeted an Kolat, Ninja, or Shadowlands Personality, then the action also gives you the option to gain 2 honor or make another player lose 2 honor. The Shugenja Asako Izuna and the Spell Seek the Stain, both from Before the Dawn, can be used to give any of those three keywords to another player’s Personalities, if he isn’t cooperative enough to play his own.
Inquisitors with Air give the theme better access to Political Spells, which can interact with disreputable Personalities, or give players honor gains or losses. Inquisitors with Earth give the theme better access to defensive battle Spells. Other Spells can may be able to give the deck important options that improve its weak points.
The Magistrate keyword gives all Inquisitors access to sets strategy cards that can be used in the action-phase and during a battle. Action-phase Magistrate actions tend to focus on interacting with dishonorable, Kolat, Ninja, or Shadowlands Personalities, and may cause honor gains and losses. Battle action strategies for Magistrates tend to focus on winning the battle, but often have extra effects when used against the same personalities.
Inquisitors generally do not need to attack to win the game, and they often have lower than average Force. Inquisitors may find that against many opponents, it is easier to achieve an Honor Victory, because Inquisitors tend to have high Personal Honor and many options to gain honor. Be warned though, that Inquisitor decks should consider pursuing a Dishonor strategy, at least as a switch option; when facing a dedicated Dishonor deck, the Honor Victory may become impossible to achieve, but you will be able to choose to use all your Inquisitor specific actions for Dishonor while you use Honor gains to stave off your opponent’s Victory.
Path of Man
“Seek the wisdom of the universe and walk the path of the gods themselves.” – Asako Niou
The Path of Man theme features Phoenix Clan • Henshin • Monk Personalities. The theme is designed for to pursue the Military victory condition, but it also has the potential to win through Enlightenment. The theme is distinguished by flavorful mechanics that represent Henshin adaptability. Each Henshin Monk features an elemental keyword also.
Henshin Monks can alter the essence of their own and others’ bodies. They can make a man stronger or weaker, emphasizing characteristics already present in all men. This is represented in the CCG by giving Henshin Monks access to effects that modify card stats, give cards new keywords or abilities, or remove existing keywords and abilities from cards. This ability to customize personalities gives the Path of Man deck plenty of strategic depth; you will have to judge which of your many abilities to call upon with great care.
The Monk keyword gives The Path of Man access to Kiho strategies. Kiho represent the spiritual and martial practices of Monks, which blur the line between training and magic. These strategies help Monks to compete in battle against more traditional armies.
The Path of Man theme is designed to attack. Monks tend to have equal Force to Samurai of the same gold cost. Coupled with the Henshin ability to manipulate Force, Phoenix Clan Monks can form a significant army, without investing in additional resources such as Followers or Items.
The Path of Man wouldn’t be complete without reincarnation mechanics; Henshin Monks can be reborn, and this is represented in the card game with the overlay mechanic. With certain card effects, such as the ability on the Stronghold Waystation of the Path, a Henshin may overlay one of your other Personalities, usually when he would be destroyed, though there may be effects that allow such an overlay under different conditions. In this way, the ancient wisdom of the Henshin is preserved throughout the ages.
“There is no greater power than that of the elements. Stand against them and be destroyed as if you never were.” – Isawa Norimichi
The Phoenix Clan are the undisputed masters of magical might. They train the mightiest Shugenja in the land, and they have over one thousand years of scholarly research on which to base this education. The theme of Elemental Destruction is about what the Phoenix Clan can do with their full power.
The Elemental Destruction Theme features Phoenix Clan • Shugenja which will usually have the Fire or Water elemental keyword. The Personalities designed for this theme tend to have Battle actions and less personal honor than average for Phoenix Clan Personalities. Water Shugenja may feature movement abilities or they may have the Cavalry or Naval keyword. Fire Shugenja are likely to have a Ranged Attack action or another kind of battle action that destroys enemy cards. However, in a pinch, any Shugenja who can attach a Spell will due.
The Elemental Destruction Theme has access to a wide range of Spells. Water and Fire Spells are likely to have the most synergy with your Shugenja, though other Spells may have valuable applications for your deck. This Theme makes full use of the new Equip Rules for Spells; in Emperor Edition, any player may use the Equip action as a Battle action to attach a Spell, and take an additional Battle action to use an ability on that Spell. Spells with Battle actions are as useful to the Phoenix Clan as Strategies, provided they can pay that Spell’s gold cost. The Library of Rebirth Stronghold assists with this, producing 4 gold for a Spell during a battle, even while bowed. Alternate sources of gold are also valuable to help pay for Spells, though at first glance there is little to select from in the Emperor Edition base set other than the Strategy card One Koku. From Before the Dawn, the rare Holding card Seaside Bazaar may help you manage your gold and upcoming expansion sets may hold other ways to get extra gold for your Spells.
The Elemental Destruction theme offers a lot of versatility in deck construction; it is easy to combine it with aspects of the Inquisitors, to give you some honor and dishonor options, or the Order of Chikai, to provide a few good Yojimbo to protect your most important Shugenja. You may also customize the deck by focusing on specific Spells or elemental traits, or perhaps just sheer efficiency in combat.
The Order of Chikai
“Live your life for another, and know the true meaning of both honor and freedom.” – Shiba Sansesuke
The Order of Chikai is composed of the elite Yojimbo of distinguished talent chosen to train to serve the Elemental Masters and other prominent Phoenix Shugenja. They set the standards of service which all Yojimbo of the Phoenix Clan strive to achieve. The armies of the Phoenix Clan are lead by those most dedicated to the Elemental Masters’ cause, the Yojimbo who gain spiritual strength from the Shugenja they protect.
The Order of Chikai Theme features Phoenix Clan • Samurai • Duelist • Yojimbo Personalities. These Samurai get stronger with the support of the Shugenja they protect; this is represented in abilities performed by your Samurai that have a bonus effect while you control a Shugenja. The Stronghold Shiro Shiba gives your Samurai an Attack effect new to Emperor Edition, the Melee Attack; while similar to the Ranged Attack, it is mechanically distinct. The Stronghold’s Melee Attack gets a bonus to its strength while you control a Shugenja.
Some of your Yojimbo share the ability to redirect actions to themselves, especially actions that would target your Shugenja. You may assign a select few Shugenja with important Battle actions or Spells to support your army directly. Another option is to use Shugenja with base abilities or Spells that can affect a Battle from home, while your Yojimbo provide presence.
The options presented by the Yojimbo themselves must not be overlooked either. They have access to Samurai and Duelist strategies, which provide many building blocks for a deck to use on the path to a Military victory. A Yojimbo deck may be built to feature the dueling strategies of Emperor Edition and support your Personalities with high Focus Value attachments; think carefully on Spells with effects that you must time for best effect, such as Contemplate the Void. Instead of Dueling, the Order of Chikai may pursue a more traditional military strategy, and use strategies and attachments with a wide range of focus values.
Finally, cards from this Theme have the option of being used to support a deck built around of one of the Phoenix Clan Shugenja themes, either Elemental Destruction or the Inquisitors. A single Yojimbo such as Shiba Sansesuke may be all that is required to protect your Shugenja in a battle long enough to take control of it.