Today is the first of nine weekly installments of our Emperor Edition Design Diaries where one of the designers of L5R will explain our goals for the mechanics of a clan. We will also be previewing the four strongholds the clan will have when Emperor Edition begins. The first clan will be Lion, written by Gaël Schmidt-Cléach, better known as Loki.
Students of Akodo
“There is no more glorious pursuit, no more perfect art form, than war.” – Akodo Makotai
The Lion Clan is known throughout Rokugan for its military prowess, and particularly for its tacticians. The Students of Akodo are a military theme that makes use of the clan’s tacticians to outmaneuver its enemies on the battlefield.
Although other clans, notably the Crab and Unicorn, have their own tactical units, none can rival the Akodo. Lion tacticians are the masters of warfare, and are particularly adept at coming up with the perfect solution to every problem they encounter on the battlefield thanks to their intense preparation. Many (though far from all) Lion tacticians indeed have limited and open abilities that help them ensure that they are ready for whatever their enemies throw their way. A good tactician never goes into battle unprepared.
The Akodo’s emphasis on preparedness is showcased in their new Tactician Stronghold, Eternal Victory Dojo. The Dojo’s trait lets you play with up to 4 copies of any two non-Unique Battle Strategies, giving you more chance to draw into those powerful actions you will have chosen before the game begins. A Students of Akodo player must be as prepared as an Akodo tactician if he hopes to bring victory to the Lion Clan.
The Students of Akodo are also an adaptable bunch, and the ability of their stronghold will let you draw an additional card every turn you use a tactical ability, albeit with a slight delay. In addition to the stronghold, Lion tacticians will have access to other sources of card draw, letting them more easily splash for powerful but narrow strategies. The Akodo believe there is a right weapon for every enemy, and the Eternal Victory Dojo will help you access that weapon, if you’ve had the foresight to include it in your deck.
Although Akodo tacticians typically have relatively high personal honor, the Students of Akodo theme does not easily lend itself to pursuing an Honor victory. Instead it will let you crush your opponents not through brute force or sheer number, but through your mastery of warfare and superior tactics.
Paragons of Bushido
“An honorable victory is the only true pleasure in this life.” – Matsu Hana
All samurai are supposed to follow the Code of Bushido, but Lion paragons go further: they are the Code. Embodiments of the virtues of Bushido, they know that honor truly is a force more powerful than steel, and are always eager to prove it to their enemies.
Paragons of Bushido are extremely honorable warriors, but they are warriors nonetheless. Through years of training, they have learned to wield their honor as a weapon, and they are able to strike down less honorable enemies with ease. As a result, most Lion paragons have abilities that use their own personal honor either to benefit themselves or to harm their enemies. At the same time, they strive to bring honor to their clan in everything they do, and therefore have access to many battle strategies and abilities that will gain them honor.
Shamate Keep is the paragon’s stronghold, and it plays to their strengths perfectly. Its trait negates the rulebook effect that would reduce your paragon’s personal honor to 0 when they are dishonored, as Lion Paragons of Bushido are able to retain their honor even after losing faith in court. In CCG terms, this also helps them against militant dishonor decks, ensuring that you can play your cards even if your paragons are dishonored by your opponent’s underhanded tactics.
The stronghold’s ability perfectly illustrates the way Lion paragons fight: it uses your personality’s high personal honor against your enemies, and gains you honor in the process. As a result, the Paragons of Bushido theme has access to two different victory conditions, and although it is primarily a military deck, it can also win through Honor.
Shadow of the Pride
“As you wallow in defeat, wonder that you never even saw the instrument of your destruction.” – Ikoma Shinju
Every army needs scouts. The Lion Clan, the greatest army in the entire Empire, is no exception. Lion scouts are good with the bow, as are scouts of other clans, but their strength lies in their intimate knowledge of the land and their control of the terrain over which battles are fought.
Lion scouts pride themselves on their knowing how to exploit the terrain to their advantage; in CCG terms, they and their abilities get stronger when you control a terrain at their battlefield, and they can easily manipulate terrains in play, letting you find the perfect one to best beat your enemies.
The Pride’s stronghold, The Golden Plains, showcases just how good they are in that department. Its one ability is deceptive, as it does a lot of things at once. First of all, its reaction gives you reconnaissance before the battle even starts, turning on some of the best actions scouts have access to without having to spend any cards for it. Secondly, it puts a terrain into play at the current battlefield, and although that terrain doesn’t do anything by itself, its presence alone is enough to boost your scouts and turn on some of their abilities. Finally, that terrain can be destroyed and replaced by another one from your hand at will, ensuring that your opponent cannot prevent you from playing your terrains by dropping one first without stopping you from doing so.
Though they are undoubtedly Lion, the clan’s scouts are more pragmatic than their tactician and paragon counterparts. As a result, the Shadow of the Pride theme is a straightforward military deck with no switch option.
“One million times one million ancestors lend me their strength. Your end was written before you were born.” – Kitsu Suki
Among all the great clans, the Lion are perhaps the closest to their ancestors. The Kitsu shugenja, known as Sodan Senzo, are able to communicate with them… and sometimes to summon them forth into the physical world to assist their living descendants.
Lion shugenja all belong to the water school, giving them access to a large array of spells designed to protect themselves, or to boost the ancestors they summon. Those ancestors are all 2F/2C/3PH Lion Clan • Samurai • Ancestor • Spirit, and provide an army of expendable bodies to defend your provinces with as you climb to 40 honor. While ancestors go to battle to protect your land, shugenja stay at home and offer support.
All this is made possible by the Kitsu’s home, the Halls of Memory. Unlike all three other Lion strongholds, it doesn’t have any abilities; however, it does have a whopping three traits. The first one is actually a drawback, giving all your ancestors -1F while they are attacking, so you cannot use your armies of spirits to easily swarm and overwhelm your opponents—though that can be a possibility against a non-military opponent. Both of the stronghold’s other traits are beneficial, though.
The first one lets your shugenja use their base battle abilities from home, allowing them to support your ancestors without risking their neck. The other gives you 1 Honor every time one of your Ancestors is destroyed during a combat segment. Note that it doesn’t matter what causes the destruction, so you can blow up your own ancestors (say, with one of your shugenja’s ability) to gain some honor. It is also not limited to once per turn, though it only works during the combat segment. In other words, you won’t be able to defend with a bunch of ancestors and wait for battle resolution to gain a bunch of honor. The Ancestral Reverence theme is an honor one.