Like I promised earlier. I'm going to go deeper into the fine art of deck-building in L5R CCG. It is the key skill one needs to acquire to be successful at this game. It's not like MtG, where you can just copy/paste the deck from the net, spend a lot of cash and start owning. You need a deep, working knowledge of the game mechanics, timings and card pool to be at least a bit efficient.
Here's an article on a bad deck idea:
Although it has been written by an experienced player, and with good intentions, any veteran can tell you that in the long run, this deck is seriously flawed. Nevertheless it has some interesting insight on some of the card mechanics and it's still worth reading.
In this blog, I will try to show you how to build an effective and easy to play Crab Clan military deck.
You can look up all the cards mentioned at http://l5rsearch.com/ so you can see right away what I am talking about.
First of all, I must tell you about the keywords. This are some pretty important things, as many cards trigger off certain keywords and can therefore be used only with proper deck setup. Main keyword we will be using in this deck are:
- Samurai: for our military actions
- Hero: which gives us access to some more advanced military actions/reactions and which only a few decks can use
Now the most important card choice.
For this deck, we're going to opt for Shattered Peaks Castle. It is pretty strong, as it provides the deck with meta to bowing actions and (what's the most important) it can be used while bowed, which means that unlike with other clan/stronghold choices, we won't need to decide between economy and battle actions. We can use it to produce gold and still use its ability, awesome.
Our play-on-the-table cards. As we are building the military deck, we will have to take several things into consideration:
- speed: how fast our strength will develop. Should we go for a swarm-type deck, with a lot of cheap but weak personalities, or a hard-hitting big guys which are rather expensive and thus slow us down.
- economy: must adjust it so that we can spew out more peeps, give them attachements and still have money for certain battle actions.
- meta/bonuses: we can use some of the Dynasty side cards to meta against certain deck types and give us various bonuses, their number must be reasonable as to not slow us down.
Having considered this, we should include:
- speed: we'll go for the middleground leaning towards big guys here, as most of the Hero personalities go into the standard/high costs.
- economy: as we have pretty expensive personalities, we won't be using a lot of attachments, also, using Heroes opens some interesting extra options for us. I'll discuss this later.
- meta: there are 3 deck types that can pose a threat to us:
1. honor - this is always a threat to military decks, it's a race - will we destroy them before they reach the critical point?
2. dishonor - this type of control decks can unleash a world of hurt, it's also a race and it's very much disfavorable for us, as the dishonor threshold is lower than honor victory and dishonor can (and will) slow your economy down (your personalities will be more expensive if you drop down enough). There isn't much meta against this, fortunately Hero personalities have high personal honor, which can help a lot.
3. swarm/blitz - basically, military decks that are faster than us. Can't let them get too much advantage early on as our deck starts to shine mid/late game.
Let's start with meta/bonuses, as this will be really small part of our deck:
The War of Dark Fire: This event negates all honor gains from when it shows up, until the beginning of our next turn for one player. It can buy us 1-2 extra turns against honor decks, and that's all we really need.
Imperial Census: This event bows all cheap personalities and keeps them bowed for a while. It stops swarm/blitz cold and many honor/dishonor decks also use a lot of cheap personalities so it helps against them too.
Farmlands: This region creates a 1F follower each turn (have to pay for that) which we can attach to our personality. It might not seem like much, but trust me, it's invaluable as most actions that hurt us must target personalities without attachments.
Private Shrine: Force pump is nice. Always.
Now on to the economy:
Chugo Seido: This holding not only produces gold, but we can sacrifice it during a battle to redirect enemy action to different of our personalities. It can mess a lot with enemy battleplan and helps us keep our key personalities alive.
Traveling Peddler: In this edition card draw is very limited and anything that helps with that is priceless, that's our thing.
Counting House: Similar to Peddler, but only works if we have less provinces left than the enemy. Useful against other military decks.
Iron Mine: Our standard 2 for 3 holding (costs 2 gold, gives 3 gold).
Seiden Sanzo: Gives 3 gold for Hero personalities, also has an action that boosts one of our peeps for one turn (and then he'll die), you can use it to bust provinces early on or to swing battles in your favor later in the game.
Barley Farm: It would be a typical 2 for 2 holding if not it's special ability. You can either use it to produce 2 gold or use it twice to produce 1 gold. More than often you'll find its 1 gold production priceless.
Diamond Mine: The heavy duty gold producing holding. It costs 6 gold but produces 5. Very useful with our expensive personalities and attachments.
Now the core of the deck. Personalities.
Hida Kuon (Experienced 6): Our clan champion. In previous edition he was way to expensive to be useful. Right now he is just scary. 12 Force, negates enemy action if he's alone, can move himself or others to or from battlefields with a straightening effect. Also a Hero. The one man army.
Hiruma Aki (Experienced): Our big berserker that kills enemy followers. Very good overall.
Hida Hachimoto: 6 gold for 6F Hero personalit that's very hard to take down in duels. Solid.
Hida Tatsuma: Technically a 6 gold for 8F Hero. Can't go wrong with this one.
Hida Masatari: Another Hero. Not as strong as the others, but battle resolution does not bow him which is priceless against other military decks (most of the matchups).
Hida Kaoru: The cheapest Hero we get. Good statline but nothing special, just to speed things up. (Imperial Census hurts her)
Hiruma Gohachiro: Solid stats. Negates another of your personalitie's destruction.
Hida Eijiko: Solid stats. Can straighten your peeps during a battle. Very nice.
Hida Togeriso: Seems weak, but the ability to look at the cards your enemy has in his hand + force pump make him an invaluable addition to any Crab deck.
This concludes the Dynasty deck choice.
Now this part is a bit more tricky. Since it's the beginning of a new edition, our personality/holding pool is rather small, so some of the choices made in the previous section were pretty forced. However, when it comes to the Fate deck, the situation is quite the opposite. Not only you have a pretty large card pool to choose from, it is also often way more important, as this cards you hold in your hand and it's the main source of surprise during the game. The enemy can clearly see what you have on your table, and can act according to that. But he has to guess (basing on your play-on-the-table-cards) what you can possibly have in your hand and it can change everything.
Again we stand in front of a dillema, which cards to use, since they can serve many purposes. Do we want more meta against enemies or something that can aid us directly or indirectly. The card cycling is very important, we need to adjust our hand to the speed with which we draw/deplete it.
Let's start with thinking about what could we use, basing on what we have so far.
- we are running a military deck (the most important factor)
- all of our personalities are Samurai
- more than half of our personalities are Hero
- our personalities have pretty high Force average
According to this information, we can go with:
This is quite an important factor in any military deck. This cards are used to enhance our personalities in play in a variety of ways. We should balance those against our economy, card draw and overall hand quality. If we put too many, without the way of putting them into play, we're just cluttering our hand (which of course, has a limited size). If we put too few, our personalities may end up way behind enemy ones.
Since our personalities are pretty expensive and the best attachments can get quite expensive too, we'll settle for 8 of them, 1/5th of our Fate deck.
Heavenly Ono of the Crab: Our clan weapon. It costs 4 gold, gives our personality +3F and has an ability that can increase or decrease province strength. Very good item overall, nice stat bonuses and ability that is useful both during attack and defence.
Armor of the Ryu: 4 gold, +3F, personality gains cavalry trait and gets an action that can move it to or from the battlefield. Pity it's unique because this card awesomeness just can't be described.
Ronin Brotherhood: Quite expensive follower. It costs 7 gold, which is as much as a personality, but it has 4F which is standard strength for our personalities and 3(!) battle actions which is damn high. 2 of those actions are killing actions while the 3rd one lets our unit leave the battle if needed. One of the best (if not the best) followers out there. Most people think that the best is Taoist Archer (most commonly used) with its 8 gold cost, 5F, 1 killing action and self-replenishing effect (you draw a card when you put them into play), but I think that RB is way more versatile (and 2 kills instead of 1 can be significant).
Imperial Elite Guard: 7 gold, 4F and an action that says "destroy" somewhere along it's text. Solid card. Unlike two of the above, its killing action does not look at targets strength and attachments but just attachments.
Now that we're done with expensive stuff, let's focus on the cards that are free (at least most of them) and affect battles (nothing else really concerns us) instantly. We will need some movement. Many people playing L5R downgrade the role of mobility (especially in the US) but the truth is that movement was, is and (hopefully) will be king in this game. Some people think that if you put enough killing actions into your deck, you don't need to move. They can't be more wrong. Try to play the same deck with and without movement actions, you'll be surprised how many times you'd catch yourself thinking "if only I could move this dude, just once".
We will need some actions that get rid of enemy during the battle (there are 3 kinds: kill - obviously the best, bow - leaves enemy at the battle but cuts the number of actions he can perform drastically, send home - gets rid of the enemy but without doing any real harm. You can't play any actions during the battle, if you have no units there, unless they bring them there.). And some actions that help you survive enemy trying to do the above (Crab excell at that).
Let's go with movement first:
Unpredictable Strategy: When they first released this card, I could not believe my own eyes. It's pure awesome, made of win etc. etc. It lets you switch two unit locations with a straightening effect. It not only lets you swap places of your units (switching bowed unit in battle with stronger one at home and straightening them both) but also enemy units (switching his powerful military unit for a lowly courtier sitting cowardly at home). It has countless uses during a battle.
Unwavering Assault: Yes, it's downside is it costs gold, but it's so good that it's worth it. It lets you move your samurai from home to a battle and straighten his unit. It also lets you move into battles where enemy has no units (very rare stuff).
Relief: It's like US but without straightening and does not work on enemy. It works on multiple targets however. Not a particularly strong card, but definitely one that can suprise your opponent and swing a battle into your favor (it did for me on many occasions).
Defensive Screen: Leave one of your units in the battle and retreat with the rest. Right now the only way to save mass units from slaughter in a battle gone bad and thus save the game. Gamebreaking at times.
Now stuff that hurts:
Rout: Again, action that costs gold. But it's pure awesome, it gets rid of the enemy and destroys one of his attachments. Very strong.
Justly Earned Victory: Gamebreaker. It has 2 actions: 1 allows you to send enemy unit home, the other one negates all current force bonuses and penalites on units at the battle. It destroys swarm decks (which rely on blanket force bonuses in majority) and helps you get around defensive force reduction of some decks.
Stuff that helps:
Will: Lets you buy again your dead samurai during a battle at a discount price. You killed my huge dude? No problem, he's back and right in the thick of it!
Unexpected Arrival: The same as above in most parts, except you don't buy a dead dude, but the guy you didn't buy yet (waiting at a province, normally you buy peeps after the attack phase, this card lets you buy them directly into battle). Gamebreaker.
A Legion of One: Gives your peep a force boost depending on the number of enemy units opposing him and negates movement if he's a hero. Owns swarm decks. Pretty useful overall.
Insight: Lets you look at the top 3 cards and immediately play one if it's a battle action. Lets you dig through your Fate deck faster.
Setting Sun Strike: If they bow your guy, he gets a force boost and straightens. Very cool. Works only on Heroes.
Strength of the Bamboo: If they kill your guy, he doesn't die and gets a force boost. Uber cool. Works only on Heroes.
The Height of Courage: Minor force boost or movement negation. Priceless.
Incredible Resilience: Bow enemy personality if they try to do something bad to you. Very strong, unfortunately unique.
That concludes the card choice. The exact number of each card you should put into the deck can be seen in the spoiler.
As you probably noticed, this deck is pretty reaction heavy, despite that it plays very nice and smooth and covers many aspects of this game. Also I think it's pretty fun being themed towards some tough one man army guys that are incredibly hard to hurt, the heavy duty war machines if you like.
Hope you enjoyed this little explanation. Please do let me know if I can correct/enhance it in any way. All insight appreciated.
+ Show Spoiler [Deck List] +
Shattered Peaks Castle
1x Bamboo Harvesters
1x Border Keep
1x Imperial Census
1x The War of Dark Fire
1x Private Shrine
1x Chugo Seido
1x Counting House
1x Traveling Peddler
3x Barley Farm
3x Diamond Mine
3x Iron Mine
3x Seiden Sanzo
1x Hida Kuon xp6
1x Hiruma Aki xp
1x Hida Hachimoto
3x Hida Eijiko
3x Hida Masatari
3x Hida Kaoru
3x Hida Tatsuma
3x Hida Togeriso
3x Hiruma Gohachiro
1x Armor of the Ryu
1x Heavenly Ono of the Crab
3x Imperial Elite Guard
3x Ronin Brotherhood
1x Defensive Screen
1x Incredible Resilience
1x Unexpected Arrival
2x A Legion of One
3x Justly Earned Victory
3x Setting Sun Strike
3x Strength of the Bamboo
3x The Height of Courage
3x Unpredictable Strategy
3x Unwavering Assault