Hello and Welcome to Wardens of the Midwest!
The silence is broken! After nearly 3 months with no new cards, the Phoenix Clan Pack, Disciples of the Void, will finally be releasing at some point between now and…sometime after now. Okay, so we don’t have an official date yet, but it can’t be too much longer now, right? RIGHT?!?!
Well, the fact that FFG is sending out spoiler images again leads me to believe that it’s right around the corner. Maybe Late March – Early April? Purely conjecture on my part, but I’ve had a good amount of experience spoiling cards for FFG now and that is generally the timeline that they set out: They give you just enough time to post an article/video for your spoiler before the pack releases and your content is irrelevant 😛 .
On to the spoiler!
So, this card was kind of leaked about a month ago. I’m not sure where the leak originally came from (though it was posted on CardgameDB), but it was only in text form (and was missing a big part; the fact that it is a forced reaction). I’ve seen the leak called a wide variety of things, from “too unpredictable and swingy” to “so broken it’s ridiculous” to the point that people refused to believe the leak was real due to how strong they perceived the card to be (“There’s no way FFG would release such a powerful card!”…looks at A Fate Worse Than Death…)
I personally fall somewhere in the middle. I think there will be situations where Amoro will feel completely abusive to your opponent. If you’ve been able to control their board and they can barely afford to defend your conflicts let alone declare two of their own, Amoro can basically lock the game. There will also be times where he flips up and you just groan. You absolutely never want to see his face when you are behind on board state. If your opponent is playing a keeper role and has keeper initiates cycling in and out, it is also pretty inconsequential. However, the big play potential of this card is noteworthy. If you gain a slight advantage on your opponent, this card can be used to absolutely bury your opponent. And it’s in that regard that I think it will see its most value. Will that be enough to warrant slots in your deck? It may be a little too early to tell, but it certainly is fun to think about.
As for the stats on the card, I am pretty pleased by them. 4 military strength for 3 fate is above curve. Crab are one of only 2 clans in the game that has a printed 4 strength value on a 3 or lower cost character. The other clan being Phoenix with the Shiba Peacemaker (who can’t participate as an attacker at all). Amoro gives the Crab a total of three such characters (Intimidating Hida and Hiruma Yojimbo being the other two). The reason this is significant is because 4 is the magic number when it comes to breaking the vast majority of provinces, as 4 province strength is the most common province strength in the game by a wide margin. Currently, there are six 3 strength, five 5 strength, one 8 strength, one 2 strength (lol Unicorn), and fourteen 4 strength provinces prior to this Phoenix Clan Pack’s release. So an unmodified attack from Amoro forces opposition or an answer of some kind, or else the province is likely to break. This makes defending against him more important and, in a bit of wonderful synergy, decreases the odds of your opponent being able to declare two conflicts in that round if they are compelled to use their characters to defend.
As for his political stat, I don’t mind the dash as much as I would have in the core set meta. Nowadays, with nearly every deck in the meta running at least 2 Policy Debates (and often 3), having a dash political skill is actually not that bad. It makes Amoro a little less flexible in his ability to declare and defend conflicts but, under normal circumstances, you’d never want him in a political conflict if he had a 0 or 1 in political anyway. His political dash does make it so that when he attacks or defends your opponent will not be able to use, say, a 2/4 character to debate you during a military conflict, which they would be able to if he had a 0 or 1 (and would be a virtual guaranteed win). When the Hiruma Skirmisher was first released, I was a little disappointed that she didn’t have a 0 political so that she could covert in political as well. However, after getting into the meta a bit more, her dash political has made her even more valuable in that she can be used with Charge! without having to worry about it being Policy Debated from your hand (attack with just her, then charge in Kisada or a Witch Hunter). If you attempt that same attack with a Kaiu Envoy, your opponent could easily policy debate it as their first action and remove the charge from your hand. Also, you can’t have your strength flipped by Yunako or Along the River of Gold :). So there are definitely a few pros to having a dash political, despite the obvious weaknesses it comes with.
I could wax poetic for a while about the possibilities that this card opens up for you. I think I’ve made it clear, through my (now, admittedly, outdated) article on How I play Crab, as well as subsequent interactions with the community via Facebook and Discord, that I love the event, Way of the Crab. It is a tempo card that doubles as a board control card that triples as a threat that, by its very nature, forces your opponent to play suboptimally (by putting additional fate on their low costers in an attempt to prevent the fate phase Way of the Crab, hence making them more attractive Assassination targets and costing your opponent unnecessary fate). Well, Amoro pairs so well with Way of the Crab that it’s not even funny. Coming up with theoretical situations is a dicey topic, since the theorist is inevitably biased towards the point they’re trying to prove, but it isn’t hard to imagine scenarios where his ability can put your opponent between a rock and a hard place. If your opponent has a modest board (let’s say 2 to 3 characters) and you declare an attack with a Kaiu Envoy, they are now faced with the decision of defending a conflict that they could likely win on defense, which then gives them fewer characters with which to attack, or letting the conflict go unopposed in order to keep their characters ready so that they don’t have to suffer Amoro’s reaction. If they choose to let it go unopposed, you gain a virtually free ring as well as unopposed honor pressure. And now you have a character that you can use with Way of the Crab to give them another difficult decision to make! This could potentially be turned around on you, as Amoro’s reaction affects you as well but, with The Mountain Does Not Fall available to use, this tactic isn’t as effective against Crab as it is against many other clans. Or, if they attack/defend with a fateless low cost character and then use them to sacrifice to Amoro’s ability if they can’t declare both conflicts, that may open up their board to a Way of the Crab on a more valuable target, so win-win.
I am not ready to pronounce Amoro an auto-include or a 5 out of 5 card by any means, but he is support for a more aggressive play style revolving around board control that I think a lot of Crab players, especially those from the original CCG who were enamored with the Berserker style decks back then, will enjoy testing and trying to build around. And, if Crab gets any more board control or if they choose to splash for more board control (perhaps Pacifism?), he could be part of a pretty potent deck set on wiping its opponent’s board as often as possible. Plus, being an answer to the plodding, control-y nature of several decks that are popular in the meta right now isn’t bad either. Just because Crab has a Wall doesn’t mean they always have to play defensively, after all :D.
All of this and I haven’t even mentioned how thematic this ability is either! I won’t spend a lot of time discussing what Hida Amoro was in the old CCG, but you can see on his Wikipedia page that…killing everything on the battlefield was kind of “his thing.” A quick quote to prove my point: “He would go into a white hot frenzy that started as soon as he entered the battlefield. The frenzy would not stop until long after the battle ended. He would howl like a banshee, slaughtering friends and foe alike.” Yea…seems about right.
If you have any additional thoughts on the card, feel free to comment in the Facebook thread, or Reddit thread or wherever you found it or if have any other general comments about the game, the website or anything else, I’ll be glad to listen!
Until next time, folks!
Thanks for the spoil & analysis (and more generally for the good pieces of advice to your fellow Crabs).
The release is announced for April 6th in France on FFG website. I guess it should be the same in the US.