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 Spider, written by Duncan MacPhail.
Minions of the Shadow Dragon
“From darkness we shall reign.” – Goju Oyoto
The Minions of the Shadow Dragon theme is represented by Spider Clan • Shadowlands • Ninja Personalities from the Goju and Ninube families. They may sometimes have the Shugenja keyword also. These Personalities will typically trigger an honor loss for you when you bring them into play, though this is mitigated by the traits of some Spider Clan strongholds, such as the Shadow’s Lair which negates your honor losses from Ninja and Fate cards you own.
The Spider’s Lair Stronghold features an interesting mechanic, the return of a stronghold with 0 Province Strength. The ability, which may be used while bowed and without presence, mitigates this issue by moving home a whole army if it has less than 10 total Army Force. Alternatively, it can be used in an opposed battle to send one unit home. Remember the stronghold’s ability is sometimes an effective way to maneuver your own Ninja out of an opposed battle when things look grim. The Spider’s Lair’s ability can be used once per battle, making it an extremely versatile tool in the hands of a canny player.
The Spider Clan Ninja have a variety of interesting and strange powers granted by the Shadow Dragon. Some Ninja feature Reactions that alter the effects of enemy Battle actions, such as Goju Sawaki from Before the Dawn, who reacts when another player target’s him by destroying himself, thereby rending most of the enemy’s Battle action null, and creating two 1F/1C Ninja Personalities in his place. Some Spider Clan Ninja can remove other card’s abilities or even remove cards from play in non-traditional ways. Their effects can be very difficult to counter; there aren’t any Reactions to the effects of the Forgotten Legacy card Ninube Shiho’s Battle action, which puts cards at the bottom of their owner’s deck.
The Spider Clan Ninja can make use of Ninja strategy cards or other Fate cards that have an honor loss. They also make use of inexplicable effects granted by the Shadow Dragon, which will be explored in upcoming sets. Game mechanics will be varied as it is hard to define the Shadow Dragon’s influence, but may include effects such as cloning Personalities, taking control of Personalities, or attacks against a target’s Chi. The card Sly Deceiver from Before the Dawn is a perfect example. The Minions of the Shadow Dragon is intended to offer a complex set of options, so that your opponent can never be quite sure what you will do next. We expect the game mechanics of this theme to appeal to players who enjoy playing combinations of cards to achieve unexpected results.
“We are the scythe, and the world is as wheat before us.” – Daigotsu Misaki
The Spider Clan has been sent on a mission of conquest for the Empire. The Conquerors theme represents the military organization of the Spider Clan. The Personalities that represent Iweko’s Conquerors have the keywords Shadowlands • Commander • Conqueror. The Conquerors are well equipped to attack and defend. The Conqueror theme has several Personalities that feature a new mechanic, the Melee Attack; which is similar to the Ranged Attack, though it remains mechanically distinct.
Iweko’s Conquerors make their home in The Keep of the Dead. Iweko’s Conquerors can utilize the full range of Followers available in this edition (barring Clan-specific restrictions), as they can ignore both the honor requirements and the honor losses of Followers. The Keep of the Dead has a Battle action with a versatile movement effect. The stronghold must be unbowed to use the battle action, requiring care to use defensively though it is always valuable for offensive planning.
With some proper planning and the stronghold action, Iweko’s Conquerors have the ability to commit all of their resources to attack, and still have a size-able force to defend with. A Conqueror player will want to invest resources in his units because of this flexibility. A Follower with a Battle action has more opportunities to get into an opposed battle and use that action in a Conqueror deck, increasing its value and utility. Followers provide many advantages and drawbacks, and a Conqueror will have to understand all of the consequences of using them. Followers are designed to build a military threat in short order; your Followers may attach in the action phase immediately before you attack, granting you as much additional Force as a Personality of similar gold cost. As a Conqueror player, you will have to judge which resources you need to have to attack, and which resources you can save for later turns. The choice between attaching a Follower for this turn’s attack and saving that gold for a Personality later has always been difficult for military players, but for the Conqueror the analysis changes, because a Follower committed to an attack may still be available as a defensive resource too.
Paragons of Shourido
“All that has value can be seized by the worthy.” – Daigotsu Aya
The Paragons of the Spider Clan are Samurai that each have their own “Dark” keyword. Only one Paragon, Daigotsu Gyoken, is known as the Dark Death, and no other may claim that title. Many of the Dark Paragons have abilities that use or are improved by Dark Virtues. The Dark Paragons represent the pinnacle of achievement among the Spider Clan, masters of Shourido who serve as an example for all Spider Clan samurai to aspire to. There is no honor in following Shourido, so Spider Clan Paragons have very low personal honor which is almost always 0.
Steel Soul Dojo is the Spider Clan Stronghold in Emperor Edition that supports Shourido. The first time each phase you play a Dark Virtue, the stronghold trait lets you draw a card. Because it triggers each phase, Spider players would be wise to have a nice variety of sold Open, and Battle Dark Virtues, maximizing the card draw from this very giving stronghold. Vigilant Eyes is one such card, and it will be returning in the base set. A solid enough card on its own merits, it really shines when it immediately replaces itself out of this stronghold. Along with the Dark Virtues from expansions, such as Revenge from Before the Dawn and Cast Aside the Weak from Forgotten Legacy, these form the core strategy cards that Dark Paragons are expected to use. The card draw provided by the Dark Virtues allows these cards to supplement other strategies.
Steel Soul Dojo allows the Spider Clan player to ignore honor losses from his own Fate cards. The Dark Paragons can get use out of actions which are powerful but carry a risky honor loss. The Dark Paragons are willing to use whichever strategies will bring them victory, at any cost. This gives them easy access to classic strategy cards, which will be making a return in Emperor Edition.
“Will forges flesh into iron. Iron crushes the weak. What more need be said?” – Tetsuo
The Order of the Spider are the official representatives of the Spider Clan in the Empire. The Personalities of this Spider Clan theme all share the keywords Monk and Kensai. You will notice a distinct lack of the Shadowlands keyword among these Spiders; they are pure so that they may legally remain within the borders of the Empire. Unlike Dragon and Phoenix Clan Monks, the Monks of the Spider Clan do not have a strong connection to the elements, and so they have no elemental keywords.
The Spider’s Web is the first Emperor Edition stronghold for the Sohei. Unlike other Spider Clan strongholds, it does not have any traits to mitigate honor losses. The Spider Clan Sohei are wholly subject to the Empire’s laws and customs, so they must act with care. The stronghold allows you to attach Weapons to your Personalities as you bring them into play. The advantage is subtle, decreasing the vulnerability of your newly purchased Personalities. Additionally, due to the pure nature of the Spider Monks who remain, the Spider’s Web has a starting family honor of 1 instead of 0, so they have a slight advantage when pitted against other Spider Clan, and sometimes Scorpion Clan, strongholds.
The Sohei of the Spider Clan are designed to build a cohesive military force. Most of their abilities are Battle actions designed to work in synergy with their keywords. Many Sohei have Battle actions that have additional effects while they have a Weapon. They have access to Kiho, although they lack elemental keywords, and along with Kensai strategies they have access to a variety of battle actions. A few armed Sohei have all the Force one needs to threaten Provinces.