by Julien Boles
Ahoy and welcome aboard the Mantis Clan Themes Previews!
The Mantis is a very diverse clan, due to its very nature as an amalgamation of different minor clans. But the core of the clan’s identity has always been tied to its largest family, the one that gave its name to their alliance, the Yoritomo (sorry Wasp, Fox and Centipede fans). And, since the very beginning of the game and the Alliance’s first strongholds, one thing’s been clear: the Yoritomo loves money.
Step 1: Collect koku, Step 2: ??, Step 3: Win. What this stronghold does is filling that second step, by giving you a very good use of that gold you have. Few things are better than drawing extra cards, especially at the bargain price of three gold. This also highlights two very key aspects of who the Mantis are at their core. Yes, they are a clan that loves money and knows how to use, but they are also a Clan you can’t keep down. The Mantis have earned their place among the Great Clans. Yoritomo was able to do this. However the other Clans still look down on them. They still snub their noses at the Mantis. They push the Mantis down. But the Mantis will not stay down. No matter how you try, no matter how little you respect the Clan, they will continue to get back up and fight. This is combined with their use of many to be reflected in the Stronghold as you see above. Nothing is better at getting you back in the game when you are behind as extra cards, and the Mantis know when to spend it.
Now of course, having use for the money is all well and good, but without ways to get that money in the first place, we’re putting the cart before the horses. Do not worry, the Fruitful Ports of the Mantis have that need covered.
Now onto the real juicy part. It is, of course, that first line of text. For years Bamboo Harvester, and A Favor Returned before that, showed how good starting with two more gold could be. This two gold boost is different. Unlike these holdings, this boost is not a permanent source of two gold income; however, it can work on your first turn, allowing more aggressive gold starts, which in this slower Ivory environment can make a big difference. Just imagine going turn one Kobune Port and Nexus of Lies! With its superior gold production and its card drawing ability, The Fruitful Ports of the Mantis seems destined for great things.
But it won’t be the only impressive tool in the Mantis arsenal. As always, they can count on a very impactful Yoritomo Hiromi!
This version of Hiromi is all about helping one other defining characteristics of the Mantis, their Ranged Attack’s efficiency, courtesy of the Tsuruchi family. The blanket force penalty, as long as you can find a use for Hiromi’s or any other personalities Naval keyword, is surprisingly efficient at putting personalities in Ranged Attack’s range in an environment where most naked personalities won’t go above 4 Force. Then, to add insult to injury, Hiromi will boost every single Ranged Attack at his battlefield, even if he somehow gets removed from it, which his 4 Force and Kensai keyword will make more difficult. Other clans will have a difficult time taking down their enemies. Whether they are resilient Crabs or denizens of Jigoku, Hiromi will highlight the strength of the Tsuruchi and turn even a Ranged 3 Attack into a force that can take down some of the toughest 5 Force Crabs around. And all that for the low, low price of 10 Gold, with a 4 Honor Requirement that you won’t have any trouble getting to, generally needing one or at worst 2 proclaims to get there. Hiromi will be out on T3, along with other Mantis most of the game. And he will be a force to be reckoned with.
And, as always, so will the Mantis Clan.