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 Crab, written by Bryan Reese.
“What need have I for steel? Gold is so much more powerful.” – Yasuki Tono
The Yasuki of the Crab Clan have long been relegated to the shadows, the unsung heroes of the Crab Clan. They do not fight valiantly on the wall, giving their life in the defense of the empire, but they do fund the army, a very important, if often overlooked, aspect of any clan.
In Emperor Edition, we are going to shed some light onto what it truly means to be a Yasuki in the card game. The Yasuki are constantly at war, much like the rest of the clan, but it is a hidden war, a war of economics. The Yasuki use this to amass great amounts of wealth, wealth they can then use to destroy their enemies, both legally in the court, and… through other means.
Mechanically in the game, this will be represented in several ways. Bribery will be one of these ways, where they use money to influence their enemies, directly attacking their gold cost or by paying gold to get the result they wish. Another way this shall be represented is by attacking their enemy’s resources, specifically their holdings. Now, resource denial is one of the least fun aspects of any game. Preventing your opponent from being able to play by destroying his basic resources is simply not a good game mechanic. This is why the Economic Warfare theme will not be about resource denial, but rather resource hampering.
Take Scars of War for instance. Certainly nothing is stopping your opponent from using the holding it targets. You have not destroyed it. However, you have given your opponent a bad choice; either bow the holding and get closer to -20 Honor, or don’t bow the holding and be able to purchase less cards that turn. It is a lose/lose situation, but still creates a different scenario than if the Yasuki deck were able to completely destroy all of your holdings. With cards like Scars of War, Economic Manipulation, and the Yasuki Crime Boss, the Yasuki deck will have the tools to hamper your opponent’s economy, but will never have enough tools for a complete denial strategy.
Another tool of the Yasuki will be their superior economy, allowing them to bribe their enemies into submission. By paying a little gold, or forcing their enemies to pay a little, the Yasuki will be able to manipulate almost any situation into a lose/lose scenario, where the enemies of the Yasuki will have no good options. This is showcased by the home of the Yasuki, as seen above. With its 5 gold production, it can play superior production holdings, such as Silk Works. And while it is not as strong as the other Crab strongholds, with its 7 Province Strength, it has an ability that allows them to flex their koku muscles, paying their enemies off, even if they are not present, and then showing the court how dishonorable their enemy was, allowing themselves to be paid off.
Holding warfare is only one piece of the Yasuki puzzle, but it is one of the main differences between the Crab Economic Warfare theme and the Mantis Economic Warfare theme. The two themes will have overlap for sure, especially in the cards that deal directly with personalities, but the Yasuki are more focused on getting all of the money, shaming their enemy in court to better take his holdings, while the Mantis are more focused on obliterating their enemies in the more traditional sense. This difference in philosophy will lead these two clans down very different roads, even if they use similar means.
The Yasuki will be made up of primarily Courtier • Merchant Personalities.
Sons of Hida
“When all others fail, when no one else is equal to the task, the sons of Hida shall win the day.” – Hida Kisada
These brave soldiers are your archetypical Crab soldiers. Tough, gruff, virtually indestructible, yet they care very little for their own lives. A Crab berserker goes to battle knowing he will die, yet stubbornly refuses too until all of his enemies are vanquished.
To this end, mechanically, you will see that Crab berserkers are very large and very difficult to remove from battle, in any form. To compensate for these massive advantages in both force and resilience, the Crab berserkers will tend to have fewer proactive battle actions available to them. This is not to say that they will just go to battle and pass, having nothing to do but stand there, but they will have less need for battle actions, as high force plus resiliency can be more powerful than many battle actions.
This resiliency can be seen in their stronghold, Halls of the Forgotten. This stronghold allows a Berserker to temporarily ignore the effects of the enemy’s action until after the battle ends, making kill actions less useful and rendering bow, movement, and force reduction actions almost irrelevant.
Now while Crab is the only clan in Emperor Edition with berserkers, they will not be the only people in town with high force. A berserker’s high force will give him access to a special set of actions tailored made to those strong enough to literally snap their enemies in half, such as Oni. Their similarities with Onis end there though, on many levels. While they share the ability to throw around their enemies like sacks of rice, they have very little else in common.
If you are a Crab player, these are the strong, durable, obnoxious berserkers that you have come to know and love over the years.
“To build an Empire or destroy one… it all requires stone.” – Kaiu Hideaki
The Kaiu of the Crab clan are known throughout the empire as the best engineers Rokugan has to offer. Over the past 25 years, the Kaiu have helped to rebuild an empire in ruins, crippled from decades of war.
These efforts have had several effects. First, it has shown the honor of the Crab in selflessly rebuilding the other clans’ defenses. Second, it has improved their skills, allowing them to build even better defenses for themselves than previously imaginable. And lastly, but possibly most importantly, it has given the Kaiu intimate knowledge of the strengths, and weaknesses, of the other clans defenses.
Mechanically the Siege Warfare theme will be a military deck that will have the ability to switch to honor, though not at the speed of a standard honor deck. Their ability to switch to honor will usually be a secondary resort when they have reached a stale mate with their military opponent. The Kaiu engineers use their tactical prowess and combine it with their knowledge of their enemies defenses to institute very effective siege warfare. This will be represented in several ways, including ranged attacks, province strength manipulation, and ways to deal with their enemies based on the strengths and weaknesses of the defenses.
The Kaiu engineers will largely be tacticians as well, though their tactical ability comes from a different type of training than other clans. While other clans study battles and warfare with armies, a Kaiu gets his tactical abilities from studying the weakest points in the enemy’s defenses. This will allow Kaiu tacticians to use their tactical prowess in different ways than the tacticians of other clans. While they will largely have access to the same fate cards, the abilities on a Kaiu tactician will deal more with his knowledge base: Defenses and siege warfare. This will often, but not exclusively, represent itself in the card game with province strength manipulation, ranged attacks, and dealing with units based on the strengths and weaknesses of the province’s defenses.
Kaiu engineers will usually have the Samurai • Siege • Tactician keywords, and the Siege Warfare deck will get extra use of Castle holdings.
“The right shot with a single arrow can accomplish more than a thousand swinging tetsubos.” – Hiruma Nitani
The scouts of the Hiruma family are survivors, living for long periods of time beyond the great carpenter wall. When forced to live like this, you learn to rely on those with you for survival. Due to this, the Hiruma scouts have come to thrive when working in units. When equipped with followers, the scouts of the Hiruma function exceptionally well, as they know how to get the absolute most out of their followers.
This can be seen above, in Kyuden Hida experienced, which equips three of your personalities with scout followers. The scout aspect of this is quite important, allowing them to pay the cost of powerful actions, such as Disrupting Communication.
These followers are also important for the Crab scouts themselves, such as Nijugun, Hiruma Tensin, and Toritaka Chokichi, the latter two showing the superior marksmanship of the Crab scouts. Toritaka Chokichi especially, shows how deadly a well trained Crab scout can be when he has a spotter (his follower) to help him deliver a precise shot, bypassing the followers of the enemy.
In fact, many would say that the Hiruma rival the Tsuruchi in their archery prowess. They are foolish, of course, but the fact that this is even debated in some places simply shows just how remarkable the Hiruma Snipers truly are.
Mechanically you can expect to see the Hiruma Snipers having a lot of interaction with both ranged attacks and followers, relying heavily, but not exclusively, on ranged attacks.
Hiruma Snipers will usually have the Samurai • Scout keywords.