by Bryan Reese
In today’s Focus on Emperor Edition, I am going to talk about two more goals of ours for Emperor: a better Draft environment and a better Sealed environment.
Draft is a very popular way to play other card games, but has never quite caught on with L5R. The main two reasons for this are 1) A lack of support and 2) The need for a draft pack. When I decided I wanted to tackle his problem, it was quite clear and simple how to solve the first issue. In Emperor Edition, you will find a more constructed focus from the company on the draft format, which will be debuted with the release of the Emperor Edition base set, as will be explained in a future article on Emperor Edition.
The second issue was a bit more difficult to resolve. The mechanics of L5R require you to start with a resource in play that you can use to buy other resources. Typically this is your Stronghold, but it could also be anything that produces gold. Since resources in L5R all cost other resources (Holdings themselves cost gold), there is no getting around this. You will also need more Holdings than you could possibly draft in the limited amount of booster packs you have available to you. This is where the draft pack came in. It gave you a Stronghold and the extra Holdings you were going to need in order to build a draft deck. Unfortunately, while the draft pack solved one problem, it created another. No longer did you simply need a few booster packs to play, you also needed this special pack that your local store had to now order, stock, and store, or else you could not play. This was a barrier few would surpass and the draft format was all but forgotten. So to solve this issue we created The Governor’s Estate.
The Governor’s Estate is the new draft Stronghold and solves the issues discussed above. It gives the player the ability to turn the Dynasty cards in his province face-down to turn them into Holdings, assuring that he will always have enough to build his deck. It retains the old abilities to help military and honor decks achieve their victories, as well as giving the player another ability to help him use fate cards in his hand which otherwise may have been dead cards.
But where will you get this Stronghold to use? Well, there are two options. First, proxies will be allowed in sanctioned tournaments, so you actually will not need to have one on hand. Secondly, and most importantly, there will be one in every single EE booster pack. You may have heard of the 16th card which will be found in every booster pack, known as the Premium slot. I will discuss the Premium slot more in a later article, but on the back of every card found in that slot will be The Governor’s Estate, as opposed to the normal Dynasty or Fate back.
There a few other familiar rules to draft that have been retained.
- Ideally you will use two Emperor Edition booster packs and two expansion booster packs to make up your deck, though if no Emperor Edition is available, five expansion booster packs may also be used. Decks are 20/20 minimum, though you may make them larger if you choose.
- When you run out of one of your decks, you reshuffle your appropriate discard pile, making a new deck. After a Celestial or Event enters a discard pile, it is removed from the game.
- You begin the game with four provinces and five fate cards in hand.
- The player who goes first does not draw a card at the end of his first turn.
- At the start of the tournament you declare two clans for which you belong. You may bring personalities into play from those clans following all standard rules for a personality of your clan enting play (Clan discount, Proclaim, paying extra to ignore honor requirements, etc).
- Standard drafting procedures apply, so you must open a pack, select one card, then pass the rest of the pack to your neighbor, selecting a card from the new pack just passed to you, then passing it on, repeating this process until no cards are left. You then open a new pack and repeat this process, alternating the direction you pass with each pack.
With the advent of The Governor’s Estate, it’s ability to turn any dynasty card into a Holding, and it being found in every Emperor Edition booster pack, draft will finally have a home in L5R which many player have desired for greatly. Not only is it a fun format which tests brand new skills, it is a great way to help you build your collection.
I would also like to talk to you about the Sealed Deck environment.
In Celestial Edition, sealed decks did not get the attention they deserved. This is my fault and something I have worked hard to correct going forward. First I have increased the number of people working on starter decks by six fold, giving each deck the time and attention they deserve. This increase in manpower has already done wonders to every aspect of the starter deck, something some of you have already seen with the Emperor Edition demo decks, and all of you will see when the decks release.
Second, myself and the others working on the decks have refocused on the true definition of what a starter deck should be. For too long the starter decks have simply been 78 cards to go with your stronghold and fixed personality. Starting with Emperor Edition, the starter decks will continue to have the same function our existing players care about, namely exclusive cards for your clan and a balanced play environment, and it will also be a great resource for a new player to start the game by being a fully functional, workable deck. All starter decks will have a theme and will function as that theme should, as opposed to being a random hodge podge of cards. So, for example, the Crab starter deck in Emperor will focus on the Berserkers, and by buying it, you will get a functional Crab Berserker deck. There may be some filler personalities in there as well, but they will be secondary. What you will not get is a Crab deck with some Berserkers, some Scouts, with a splash of Yasuki for control elements. While that type of deck may look interesting on paper, it tends to not make a very good introduction to the game.
I hope that you are as excited about these two new directions as I am. We have been promising that Emperor Edition is going to give a premium experience, and to do so it has required us to re-look at every aspect of the game. Draft and Starter Decks are two of those aspects, and just another example of how we are striving to deliver the experience we have promised you.
Make sure to check L5R.com and clan forums daily for new Emperor Edition previews, and check back next Tuesday when I will discuss the new Premium rarity in depth.