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 Dragon, written by Thomas Kwong.
“Flee from justice if you like. We are as inevitable as the sunrise.” – Kitsuki Daisuke
Kitsuki Investigators is a Magistrate theme that revolves around dishonoring Personalities and then interacting with them; either to gain honor or to cause an honor loss. This duality makes the Kitsuki a formidable foe and it will not be uncommon to see a Kitsuki deck climbing their way to 40 while simultaneously threatening to knock their opponent below -20.
Much like their Crane counterparts, the Kitsuki are also duelists, and dueling will be a central part of the theme. The Dragon dueling technique is represented through abilities to manipulate the cards focused in a duel. For example: a Dragon magistrate may alter the number of times players may focus or interact with focus effects. The Kitsuki stand out from other Magistrate themes by being the only one with the Courtier keyword. In fact, like the Kitsuki Investigator school in the RPG, the Kitsuki Investigators will be almost exclusivley Courtiers. This opens up several Action Phase options not available to other magistrates, but also restricts them from several potent Battle actions, creating a unique experience.
Watchful Eye Dojo works on every part of the Kitsuki theme. Winning the duel gives the Kitsuki an action phase control that will help them interfere with an opposing clock deck or stave off a military opponent long enough to win. On the other side of the coin, opponents who refuse the duel not only directly further a Kituski player’s honor victory, but expose themselves to further dishonor punishment.
Our goals is to create unique decks that, though they may share a keyword, feel and play differently than similar decks in other clans. We believe we have done this with the Kitsuki Investigators, giving them the same tools as other magistrate decks, while simultaneously keeping them unique and fresh. With their access to courtier based strategies, the Kitsuki Investigators will have lots of options to create the optimal deck for your play style.
Warrior Monks of Togashi
“Sheath your flesh in ink, your soul in fire, your mind in freedom. You are a weapon that cannot be stopped.” – Togashi Torazu
The tattooed monks of the Togashi Order and the Dragon Clan are so synonymous; it is hard to imagine L5R without them. While nominally a military deck, access to Kihos will also give them the ability to win by enlightenment if built properly. It will not be uncommon to see Dragon monks with interactions with rings, which will allow some decks to feint enlightenment to throw off their opponents.
Dragon monks will have an elemental keyword and most kihos will have a bonus effect when performed by a Monk with the same keyword. Dragon monks have several distinguishing characteristics. The most obvious is the tattooed keyword. Dragon monks will have access to special tattoo strategies that represent a Dragon monk tapping into these mystical markings. Dragon monks – more than any other monk theme – focus on utilizing their chi, so it will be rare to see Dragon monk with less than three chi and four chi will be commonplace. Dragon monks will use their chi, their inner strength, as a weapon to defeat weaker enemies.
The final distinguishing characteristic of the Togashi is captured in the return of Pillars of Virtue. Dragon monks are renowned for being supernaturally fast. Dragon monks will continue to specialize in chaining together several actions, frequently kihos, which helps counteract their more restricted access to other strategies. It will also be incredibly useful for enlightenment to drop needed actions to fulfill ring entering-play requirements as quickly as possible.
Masters of Niten
“I fill both hands with steel in the name of my Empress. An empty hand serves her not.” – Mirumoto Gobashi
Dragon kensai will build upon the principles which worked for them in Celestial Edition, learning from from the principles which did work. One of the main principles that we have worked from is giving kensai personalities with abilities that are improved by attaching weapons to them. While they may be weaker without a weapon that your average samurai, they are far stronger when they are equipped. Another principle that did work well was creating strategies that have a multiple actions or effects to offset the deck building constraints of including weapons. When a deck needs to contain 12-15 weapons, that leaves little room for battle actions and meta cards to help them fight their weak matches.
Kensai will tend to have average force and chi, with the expectation that their stats will be improved through weapons. They will have a wide range of actions, but they will generally be improved by having a weapon attached. Some actions may still require a weapon, but most will simply produce weaker effects or have a smaller number of targeting possibilities.
Foothills Keep is built to further reduce problems caused by having to run a fate deck with many attachments. The trait changes weapons into attachments that can be deployed at any time, preventing them from being dead weight. Unbowed gold can quickly turn into province taking force, opening the opportunity to bluff your way to easy provinces. It gives a Kensai player flexibility in spending their money. Normally, equipping the weapon to take a province may leave enough gold left to only buy one personality, leaving unspent gold just sitting there. With Foothills Keep, a weapon can be equipped to a newly purchased personality, making him more potent on the defense or ready to attack on the next turn. The ability on Foothills Keep is designed to ameliorate the destruction of your weapons. The capability to attach from your discard pile gives you more room to be aggressive or to freely discard a weapon in your hand without forever losing access to the cards your Kensai need.
Defender of the Mountains
“Only time can destroy a mountain, and with our aid, even that will not succeed.” – Tamori Muzu
The Tamori are stepping out of the background in Emperor Edition. Dragon Clan shugenja are a little unusual when compared to a classical honor decks, in that they are designed to gain honor heavily in battle, fighting face to face those who would dare invade their lands. Those who do not wish to attack will quickly find themselves giving a Tamori deck lots of free honor with cards like Dragon’s Breath Castle and Tamori Kazushige.
Tamori shugenja will usually have the earth keyword. A traditional element affinity for the Tamori, it is a perfect conceptual fit with their desired mechanical function. Earth is the element of sturdy, unmovable, tough defenses. Earth spells will continue to focus on resisting other player’s effects, bowing, province strength manipulation, and defending. This means that the Tamori will be able to go to battle with the expectation of winning the battle and gaining honor during resolution as opposed to putting up a token, sacrificial defense to save the province. In order to stay competitive against other honor decks, you will see some Tamori with abilities designed to provoke their opponent into attacking, thus allowing them to stay on an even footing. This will obviously have some impact in games against military players too; potentially forcing smaller units to attack you when their controller would not otherwise assign them.
It should be no surprise that Dragon’s Breath Castle is returning as the home for the Tamori. A trait that forces players to attack or give their opponent honor is a strong incentive for normal clock decks to consider assigning at least a token attacker and punishes cautious military players. The reaction also gives the deck a presence-less defensive action or a powerful tempo tool in opposed battles.