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 Unicorn, written by Bryan Reese.
Children of the Four Winds
“The Empire once quaked at the mention of our family’s name. That day may come again.” – Moto Taha
The tacticians of the Unicorn Clan are some of the most brilliant minds in all of Rokugan, yet they are an enigma. In a clan full of master horsemen, they often times forgo their horsemanship training to spend more time studying warfare.
While not always true, the Unicorn tactician will often be infantry, creating an interesting choice. Should I stick to standard Unicorn tactics of attacking around my opponent, or should I telegraph where I plan to attack, using my cavalry to threaten reinforcements should my opponent be foolish enough to defend? The decision will ultimately be yours, but as you can see from the stronghold above, there is quite an incentive to play with that infantry tactician and leave him at home.
And home is where the Unicorn tacticians will frequently be the most useful. Many of their personalities, such as Shinjo Junpei, will be able to use their abilities from home. This will allow such personalities to activate the stronghold, drawing a card, yet still be able to function normally, getting the best of both worlds.
A good mix of infantry and cavalry will allow you to maximize the best of both worlds, keeping some of your army at home, collecting extra resources and planning battle, while your warriors ride off to battle, confident in the plans which have been given to them.
The standard keywords you will find on a Unicorn tactician are Samurai • Tactician, and sometimes Cavalry.
Paragons of Bushido
“Others fear the fire, the mountain, the sea. What they should fear is the wind.” – Utaku Ryoko
The Battle Maidens of the Utaku follow the tenets of Bushido like also samurai, but like the paragons of the Lion Clan, the Battle Maidens of the Utaku follow it to a degree almost unheard of in the Empire. One large difference between the Lion and the Unicorn is the tenet of Bushido to which they value the most. The Lion value the tenet of Honor above all else, while the Unicorn favor Compassion, even for those below your station. It is said that if a peasant crosses the path of a Lion on a horse, the Lion will trample the peasant rather than risk bad luck from an old Rokugani superstition. A Battle Maiden, on the other hand, not only would abhor this behavior, she would be very compassionate to the peasant, a trait you do not see often in a samurai.
These differences in philosophy play out in the game, showing how the Unicorn paragon deck differs from the Lion. As you can see above, the Battle Maiden stronghold is much more focused on gaining honor than it is on military, making the switch threat very viable. While you can certainly play a straight military deck, the stronghold will always give you a strong fall back option if you should need it. After all, Rokugan is a place where Honor is a force more powerful than Steel. And the abilities of the Battle Maidens will reflect this, allowing them to use their honor as a tool to bring down their enemies on the battlefield.
The standard keywords you will find on a Unicorn Battle Maiden are Samurai • Battle Maiden • Cavalry • Paragon.
Lord of the Plains
“That which is most often overlooked, overlooks nothing.” – Shinjo Horibe
The commanders of the Unicorn are one of the fiercest fighting forces in the Empire, and is what you are afraid of when you hear the phrase Unicorn army. Swift and absolutely lethal, the commanders use an array of tactics to bring down any foe they face.
While strong on their own, commanders truly show their worth when they are leading other men. A commander ability will often times require or get stronger when he has a follower attached. This is showcased above in the stronghold while does function if the personality has no followers, but gets better the more followers he has. The ability on the stronghold itself is actually very deceptively strong. While it is obvious that moving your enemy home is always good, what is not immediately obvious is the interaction with a cavalry army. It is difficult enough to try and defend against a cavalry army and now, even when you manage to move in a unit to oppose them, a Journey’s End Keep stronghold can now simply send you away at no cost, and there is little you can do about it. This creates a situation where they first couple of unopposed attacks are almost unstoppable, a very powerful tool in the right hands.
Unicorn commanders are not good just when they have followers attached. They are also extremely effective against fighting infantry armies, and this is reflected from time to time on the cards themselves by having abilities which improve when fighting infantry.
The standard keywords you will find on a Unicorn commander are Samurai • Cavalry • Commander.
Shi-Tien Yen-Wang Priests
“All the living must be judged by the dead. Your fall is an inevitability.” – Moto Rani
The Moto Death Priests are followers of the Gods of Death, the Shi-Tien Yen-Wang. Their worship of these Gods have brought them unique powers not understood by shugenja of other clans, even the Phoenix.
Their abilities will often revolve around the dead, but as you can see from The Temple of Death above, that should not be a problem. Personalities such as Moto Ming-Gwok showcase this perfectly. A very powerful ability based on having a dead personality in order to fuel his strength.
Death is not the only source of power for the Death Priests, however. In odd contrast, the Iuchi have an affinity for water, the element of life. The training in this element has now expanded beyond just the Iuchi, and now the Moto too tend to have an affinity for water. This allows them to get the full benefit of any water spell that has a special kicker for water shugenja. This ying and yang mix of life and death between the Moto and Iuchi creates a strange, yet powerful, juxtaposition that will be quite potent in the hands of a crafty player.
The standard keywords you will find on Unicorn shugenja are Water • Shugenja • Cavalry and sometimes Death Priest.