When we decided to start all clans with four strongholds from the onset of Emperor Edition, we set two goals for the strongholds in the expansions. They would either work at fixing an earlier stronghold that did not work out as intended or give a new take on an existing theme. In The Shadow’s Embrace, all three strongholds fall into the latter category.
The first stronghold to look at today is Bishamon’s Tower, a new stronghold for the Crab Clan with an emphasis on berserkers. Crab berserkers do two things really well; smash things and not caring when they get smashed. In Emperor Edition, Halls of the Forgotten showed off one side of this equation. Using this stronghold and other tools available to you, a Crab berserker deck can be made into a monstrously resilient machine. You knock them down 10 times and they get back up 11. Bishamon’s Tower focuses on that other craft of the Crab berserker, smashing things. The Crab berserker is, in fact, so good at smashing things, that smashing stuff could be said to be the one art they appreciate. Perhaps berserkers should be artisans? But I digress, as you can see Bishamon’s Tower is clearly meant for the berserkers of the clan. However, it is flexible enough to allow any large member of the clan the ability to destroy the weaklings other clans toss in their path. We always strive whenever possible to make our strongholds enhance a theme, rather than restrict it. Bishamon’s Tower is a great representation of this. It also, in a subtle way, shows a berserker’s resilience, as berserkers may perform this action even if they bowed, fighting through the pain that would immobilize a lesser man so they may vanquish their foe. With the advent of Bishamon’s Tower, it will be quite interesting to see which stronghold Crab players prefer in the tournament scene.
Next is Twin Forks City, the new stronghold for the Crane Clan. Unlike Bishamon’s Tower for the Crab, Twin Forks City does not cater to a specific theme of the Crane, but rather opens up new options for a classic Crane theme, dueling. And options you have aplenty with this stronghold. Whether you are shooting for forty honor or to destroy all of your opponent provinces, being immune to almost all of your enemy’s tactics has an abundance of uses. It will also give you multiple ways to build your deck. Maybe you just want to get as many battle actions off with a lone defender in your honor deck. Or maybe perhaps you want to fight those who would dare storm your castles and defeat them on the field of battle. Or perhaps instead you want to show the power of Crane’s military might and make those who would mock you regret their words. All of these are completely valid options with this versatile stronghold. I have even heard rumors of profane shugenja using maho magic to summon onis, but I will not discuss those evils here.
And now for something completely different. The New Foundries give us a glimpse of how the alchemists of the Agasha can turn traditional spells into new, and devastating, spells with dire effects. In the colonies the Agasha have built these new foundries, and they give the Phoenix a new way to use their spells. The New Foundries offer not only a new use for spells that may otherwise not be useful in a particular game, it also offers additional uses for spells you may have otherwise not considered for your deck, it gives great flexibility to spells with multiple elemental keywords (such as Tempest of Flame and Set the Fields Aflame), and it also increases your hand size by the number of spells under your stronghold. This incredible versatility may not be easy to instantly recognize, but it creates more deck building options than possibly any other stronghold in Emperor Edition.
With this we have our new strongholds for The Shadow’s Embrace. They will add a new dynamic into the field that I am personally looking very forward to seeing in action. Enjoy!