Leading up to Gencon, I was relatively certain I was going to scrub out.
I had not played more than 5 games all July and had played, at most, 10 games since Origins in mid-June. I was unaware of the new meta cards coming out of the first four packs for other clans, outside of Hawk Tattoo (which I had never played against) and I had very limited testing experience with the new Crab cards that I had put into my deck list the week prior to the tournament. I had just bought a house so all my free time during July was spent packing and looking at chandeliers…
So yea, very few expectations going into Gencon. In fact, on a whim, the night before the tournament, I took out one of Crab’s “marquee” cards from the first 4 packs, Spreading the Darkness. This was due, in part, to my Top 8 game in the Discord League S7 cup against Bayushi Nomen, where I had both copies in my hand all game and was never willing to spend the honor to play them, for fear of them being cancelled. However, it was that in addition to the fact that in the very little testing I had done with the card I was, generally, very unhappy with it compared to Banzai. 2 Honor is an enormous cost and would often come back to bite me, especially when cancelled.
I did the same thing with Flooded Waste, not having been satisfied with its performance to that point in the limited testing I did. After removing STD and Flooded Waste from my deck, I noticed that, with the exception of Kuni Yori (who I didn’t buy a single time all weekend) and a single Nezumi, my deck was Pack 1 legal (Kudaka being the only card from that pack I use). Not really relevant to my performance in the tournament, but it definitely was disappointing seeing just how little Crab has gotten from the cycle to that point. This was the list I ultimately went with. Max Williams, the Crab that got to the top 8 played the exact same deck except for 1 change: +1 Kisada, -1 Yori (He played on Friday, so I gave him my list and told him that was the one change I would make) But anyway, on to the game recaps!
Game 1 Win vs Crane Dragon
My first match was, all things considered, a relatively standard affair. My opponent was running Crane with Dragon splash and Policy Debate as the restricted card. He debated me all 3 times and took both of my Talismans, which made me sad (as Talisman is a game winning card. More on that later), but I was able to Spyglass up a Kaiu Shuichi (A common theme among my games) and work through his provinces, I Way of the Crabbed his Doji Challenger after (somewhat unexpectedly) winning favor to get rid of Shizue (the ultimate Way of the Crab blocker) and then breaking his stronghold right before time was called. He ran Test of Skill which he played twice and each time he revealed an Admit Defeat. That card definitely seems to lose some of its zeal when your opponent knows you have it haha. 1-0
Game 2 Win vs Crane Scorpion
This match was against the 2017 Worlds Runner Up, John Urbanek. I got to compliment him on his run last year. He got to pretend he knew who I was. It was great. He was running Scorpion splash, which I found out very early when he pulled the classic “Void Ring that dude and then AFWTD him to wipe him from the board” on turn 1. I don’t recall exactly, but I think it was a Shrewd Yasuki, because I don’t remember being terribly bent out of shape about it. More of just “Aw man. I wanted to keep him, hence the 2 fate.”
One funny moment, really quick. I had a Borderlands Defender with a Spyglass on it during one of the rounds and John Policy Debated me and saw that I had all 3 Mountain Does Not Fall in my hand. That was a pretty demoralizing moment for him, I think haha. He discarded one, but he said “I may as well get this started. Can’t let you have 3 of that card in hand.”
The following round, he AFWTD’d my Shuichi. Luckily, he had 3 fate on him (Because that’s what we do now, see my article on the high fate meta here), so a void ring would not have accomplished as much. It was painful to go a full round without Shuichi, but he stayed around for the rest of the game so it was okay. I put a spyglass and a Watch Commander on him and went to town. And using 2 AFWTD in 2 rounds really sapped John’s fate pool, which allowed me to abuse Way of the Crab to remove a few key characters. I believe a Challenger and Hotaru (or maybe Yoshi, I forget) bit the dust because of Way of the Crab in that game. 2-0
Game 3 Loss vs Lion Crane
This game was one of the more frustrating games for me. I am relatively confident in my deck’s ability to hold off and/or keep up with the new Lion stronghold’s ability to break provinces. So coming into this game I felt good as long as I didn’t make any overtly brash or risky plays. It started off well. I was keeping his board relatively thin with void rings (can’t sacrifice bushi all that often if I keep getting rid of them 😛 ). I had broken 2 of his provinces while giving up 2 breaks to him in kind. I had him at 3 honor and I had plenty of honor. It was all going according to plan. And then the final round happened. I was first player, I didn’t flip a holding but I had Shuichi and a Shrewd Yasuki out, so I rebuilt an Iron Mine prior to my first attack. I had already broken Art of War and Demonstrating Excellence and had run into Shameful Display before. So I knew his facedown province was Feast or Famine. I chose to attack Shameful Display because, you know…Feast or Famine. I had a fated Shuichi so it would have been better to not give up that fate. So I gave him an honored character and removed honored status from my character. I broke, so I’m up 3 provinces to 2.
He then attacked with his LPB and Toshiro with a fate. I was really happy to see that he played Legion of One on his Toshiro (I know, it’s an illegal play, but I missed it, so we continued on) because I had an assassination in hand. I knew he was running Crane splash because I saw that he had played a Curry Favor, Steward of Law and I hit a Noble Sacrifice out of his hand with an earth ring earlier in the game. So doing some quick mental math I thought “Well, he’s probably running at least 2x of each of those, probably 3 Curry Favors, so he almost certainly didn’t have Voice of Honor in his deck.” Oh how wrong I was. Apparently (verified by his list) he ran exactly 1 Voice of Honor, which he used to save his Toshiro. And, even worse, it was activated because I chose to attack Shameful Display rather than Feast or Famine during the previous conflict. So he had enough to break my third province with the Iron Mine on it. Well, being the genius I am, I decided to play my Talisman of the Sun to move the break over to the other unbroken province, because I’m a Crab and we like our Iron Mines. He only had 1 more ready character so no way can he flip Rally AND break it in the same turn, right? I attacked military just to get a keeper initiate and that’s when he played two Oathkeepers for losing a military conflict. Then he attacked stronghold with Honored General, triggered Rally, won, dishonored my keeper initiate and then played his second (or maybe third) Curry Favor to ready him. Then did an all in attack to break my stronghold. If I just waited on the Talisman until he was coming at the stronghold with breaking power, I 99% win that game. It was a great game though and an interesting variant for the HMT deck. Curry Favor does work, guys. 2-1
Game 4 Loss vs Dragon Crab.
Classic Dragon game. Swordsmith 2 fate turn 1, Finger of Jade. Cancel Shameful Display. Reprieve. He now has a WotC blocker for the rest of the game. Turn 2 Niten Master. 6 Swords over 3 turns (and 2 Let Gos for my 2 Clouds) later, he wins by breaking my stronghold. Nothing too noteworthy, just Dragon Being Dragon™. He Hawk Tattooed my Borderlands Defender into breaking Feast or Famine but I assassinated his only 0 fate guy, so FoF broke with no consequence. But it didn’t matter because Dragon is overpowered as shit. I wish there was more to say, but there honest to God is not. 2-2
Game 5 Win vs Dragon Crab.
Another game, another Dragon. However, I can’t blame this opponent for playing Dragon because his name is, literally, Dragon. So it just makes sense. Super nice guy as well. Due to a bad flop, he had to risk the Niten Master turn 1 play and hope I didn’t have a Way of the Crab. Unfortunately for him, I did. I was first player, so he did not have the opportunity to reprieve him before my draw phase Way of the Crab. From there, I was able to control the game pretty well and broke his stronghold a few rounds later. I also got Karada District. It’s kind of crazy how variance based that match up is. 3-2
Game 6 Win vs Phoenix Lion using the old Stronghold
Another alternate build from the meta. Unfortunately for me, he saw all three Haughty Magistrates, so I basically was unable to block a single attack. I did dishonor most of them so that many of the attacks did not result in a break, which was very helpful in stalling out the game long enough for me to win, but man was it sad just watching him attack and knowing I couldn’t do a single thing about it.
I drew over half my deck but didn’t see a single Cloud, so that sucked. But I was ultimately able to win because I had a geared up Shuichi (again) which helped me avoid relying on military. I saw a Charge bird in his row earlier in the game so I wanted to do most of my work in political conflicts, as I assumed that meant his restricted card was Charge. In the final round, we were both at each other’s strongholds with him being first player. he attacked my stronghold military, and I flipped it to political with Rally. Then, I attacked his stronghold political with Shuichi and a few others. It was not Rally (or if it was, I triggered it earlier in the game or something, I don’t remember). He conceded the victory and showed me his hand. It had all 3 charges. Then I looked at his provinces and there was Phoenix Clan Champ and another big character. So…that round could have gone very poorly for me if it weren’t for Rally and choosing Political on my attack back. 4-2.
Game 7 Win vs Scorpion Phoenix
This game I played against Mark Armitage. Now, it had been a rough day 1a for Crab. There were 3 4-2 Crabs by this point and no one at 5-1 or 6-0. I was the Top Crab going into round 7, so I had the inside edge (Thank you to Tom and Gabriel for continuing to win after beating me!) but I knew I still needed to win to advance. It was a really good game where he got me down to 3 honor at one point. He was running a Phoenix splash consisting of, as far as I could tell, Jurojin’s Curse, Display of Power and Seekers of Knowledge. There may have been more to it, but I didn’t see it. Early on he Display of Powered an air ring and triggered an additional air ring with Seeker of Knowledge, so I was getting pretty low on honor pretty fast. However, the following round I was able to win a pivotal Air Ring because I could use Banzai for +2 (I would not have won that conflict and likely the game if I had left in Spreading the Darkness.) He ultimately conceded when I had broken his 3rd province and had dragged myself out of honor trouble (back up to 6 honor I believe). I don’t know if the game was definitely over by then, but it was getting close so I understand why Mark conceded (He also mentioned that he felt bad about what happened to me at Origins, so maybe there was some pity in there too haha). 5-2
And, at 5-2, I was the top Crab of Day 1A. It didn’t feel great, because that meant Crab performed very poorly that day, especially since I felt like I punted 1 game pretty horribly earlier in the day, but I’ll take the hatamoto and a place in the top cut!
On Day 1b, Crab performed much better, with 3 Crabs making the cut naturally, 1 7-0 and 2 6-1s. A fourth made the cut as a challenger, giving us 5 Crabs in day 2.
Luke (from Discord) playing Crane Dragon.
On Friday night, the players who would make the cut were determined, but FFG did not generate the bracket before we left for the night. I wanted to see what I was going up against in the top 32 so I decided to make the bracket myself, using Strength of Schedule to determine seeding, as I assumed FFG would as well. After making the bracket, I saw that I was matched up against Luke. There was a combination of feelings, including “Yes! Crane is, like, my best match up,” “Wait, but then if I lose I’ll just feel like a dumbass for being excited now,” and “Plus there’s the whole knocking your friend out of the tournament thing…” I messaged him that night and this was literally the response I got back:
So yea, he was not thrilled.
The next day arrived and we saw that I had made the bracket correctly. Luke was less happy about that than I was. He and I are good friends so we were hanging out during the “round of 64.” We were openly talking about our decks before the game because we just assumed we were doing deck sharing. And then we found out that…nope. FFG decided not to do that because the event wasn’t being streamed so, apparently, there’s no concerns of scouting. Right guys? No danger of being scouted. I definitely didn’t tell my friends that I played against a Lion with Curry Favor in his deck or anything. So I’m sure that was a huge surprise for his opponents all day! Scouting = impossible without a stream. You can quote me and FFG on that.
We started the game and Luke got off to a quick start. With a combination of Assassinations, Admit Defeats and Steward of Law/For Shame combos, he got 3 breaks against me by the end of turn 2, as well as Letting Go my first Talisman. Luckily, that meant the Cloud the Mind I played stuck to his Yoshi, which was nice. After the third break when I had zero, I was starting to tilt a little bit, so I just took 30 seconds after the 2nd round just to steady my breathing and convince myself that I didn’t actually want to win this game anyway. Advancing in tournaments is for suckers.
The following round, he was first player. He declared a 22 strength conflict on my stronghold. I defended with 2 Shrewd Yasukis and Shuichi. He had that menacing Iron Warrior out with a Fine Katana, so I knew I only had one action before all my characters were essentially blanked. I used one of the Shrewd Yasuki, knowing I basically needed a miracle to stand a chance in this game. And, lo and behold, I found the 2nd Talisman! Don’t you love when stuff like that happens? So now the game was on! Due to our pre-game chat, I knew he only ran 2 Let Go (he had 2 Ancient Masters in there to help win the favor against other clans as well as 2 Hawk Tattoos), so I felt pretty confident the Talisman would stick. Besides, if he had the Let Go, he would have played it on the Cloud to draw more cards, right? I figured he had at least 1 cancel in his hand so I needed to draw that out. I played Banzai (despite knowing that it didn’t matter at all if I stopped this break or not because of Talisman), which he cancelled. Perfect. Then I played the Talisman and sent him to my final row province (read: what I should have done against the Lion in round 3). Then I Mountained Shuichi, which he did not have a cancel for and then the province broke. With my Mountained Shuichi, I broke a province. Then I played Gaijin Customs to ready him. Luke passed his second conflict, then Shuichi broke another province. He was down to 2 honor and 2 cards in hand. I voided his Yoshi so the only remaining character on the board for him was Doji Challenger. I Way of the Crabbed him. So he was starting his turn against Shuichi with Spyglasses and shit and he had no board. He played 2 characters, but I had a skirmisher in hand. I double coverted his characters with the Air Ring to win via dishonor. It was a crazy game that I probably deserved to lose, but Talisman is a pretty strong card, turns out.
Mirror vs Max Williams
Despite 5 Crabs making the cut, there were only 2 remaining after the top 32. And, would you look at that, he was my Top 16 opponent. Terrible luck for the Crab, but at least it guaranteed a top 8 Crab. The winner of the game was going to play Aneil, the ultimate winner of the Kotei, so I wasn’t all that enthused about having to spend an hour that way (or maybe that’s what I told myself?). We played a nice quick game.
I was first player (which sucks). Neither of us flipped Karada District, but I saw Satoshi. I bought a Hida Guardian with a fate. I actually immediately wanted to take the fate back, because as first player that only left me 5 fate to buy Satoshi. You know how you do something and then your brain turns on and starts screaming at you… However, he had already bought his own Hida Guardian right after I bought mine so the game had already advanced and I didn’t want to ask for a take back in a top 16 game. I also bought Satoshi with 1 fate and he passed so I was going into the conflict round with 0 fate. I used Satoshi’s ability, found a Satoshi dupe and dropped 2 Keeper initiates and 2 Iron Mines into the discard pile. My thinking was this: He only has 2 WotC and 2 Assassinations in that deck (I knew that because I built his deck). So what are the odds he has one of each in his opening 9 cards. Less than 20%, right? I didn’t have a hypergeometric calculator handy, but it couldn’t have been much higher than that. And even if he did, I would almost definitely draw a rebuild, so I can just rebuild an Iron Mine if it comes to that.
So, we both bid 5. I attacked Political Earth. Then he Assassinated the Guardian. I looked at my hand and there was no rebuild there. I passed. He WotC’d Satoshi. I conceded.
If I had just kept a fate instead of putting it on the guardian, I probably win that game because I had a conflict character in hand. I could have played the conflict character, won the conflict, got 2 Keeper initiates and then been basically immune to WotC for the rest of the game.
But yea, Max lost to Aneil in the next round, in what sounded very much like a “There is literally nothing I can do to win this game, why did we even play?” kind of way so it was all good. Max even gave me an acrylic stronghold for my trouble, so who was the real winner of our match? 😉
Overall, I was very happy with my performance in the Kotei. I made 2 absolutely BONEHEADED plays on the weekend (as well as several smaller ones, I’m sure), The Talisman in the Lion game and the fate on the guardian in the Crab game. But I met a lot of great people, talked Crab with several guys from the Discord Channel and Facebook and had a lot of fun with some good friends, including beating one of them in the top 32 and losing to one in the top 16 (and avoiding one in the top 8 by not winning in the top 16.) The classic Trifecta. Beat a friend, get beat by a friend, avoid playing a friend.
If I were to give the top 3 MVPs of the deck:
- Shuichi was amazing all day. His Covert won so many games and, over 9 games, I’d say he generated at least 10 fate, if not more.
- Shrewd Yasuki. I bought them every single time I saw them and they were money (and cards) all day.
- Talisman of the Sun. It won me (or should have won me) several games, including my Top 32 match. It was priority discarded in other games, leaving Mountains and such cards in my hands.
Honorable Mentions: The Mountain Does Not Fall, Steadfast Witch Hunter, Satoshi, Borderlands Defender, Vanguard Warrior. Honestly, the vast majority of my deck could fit on this list. It’s a strong fucking deck.
If I were to give the top 3 LVPs of the deck:
- Kuni Yori was never bought. I had multiple opportunities but Shuichi and my valuable low costers got in the way. This isn’t to say Yori was bad, but I just had other priorities.
- Kudaka also was never bought. Both just kept coming up when there were better things to buy. I will re-evaluate as more cards come out (Like the Water Shugenja for Mantis, perhaps? If we get Keeper of Water, of course…)
- While it wasn’t actually in my deck, I feel Spreading the Darkness deserves consideration here regardless. If I had left it in my deck, I probably don’t make the cut. The swap literally won the game for me in round 7, but it was also just a good card that I don’t think STD would have added anything to the deck in the games I played and would have just cost me more honor, which was relevant in many games, especially with the new cards, like Kuni Laboratory, coming up.
Outlook on the Second Cycle Cards
Finally, I thought I’d do a little overview of what we got in the second cycle and how I view the cards.
Third Tower Guard is a perfectly acceptable, if boring, 1 cost character for Crab. Due to the way I built my deck (halfof my 1 costers reside in my conflict deck, with higher cost guys in the dynasty side), I chose to forgo them in favor of the Hida Guardian. The reasoning for this: low costers are mostly valuable early in the game. And getting a particular ring (while not using this character because you want the buff for your next conflict) in order to power them up is more difficult in the early game because all it would take is one card from your opponent to win on defense. So a lot of times, Third Tower Guard is blank early in the game. Hida Guardian has the same problem early in the game of being blank, since it is not likely that you’ll be defending/attacking with 2 characters on turn 1. However, Hida Guardian has higher potential later in the game (I had a game during the S7 cup where I flopped 3 holdings and a Hida Guardian. Forced my opponent to cloud the Guardian because he represented +6 strength). If I wanted to lower my curve, I could throw a few of these into my deck, but I’m pretty impartial to it overall.
Hiruma Outpost is a good holding. Rebuilding it on a Shameful Display could cause some serious heartache for your opponent. However, with the prevalence of covert and Hawk Tattoos, I knew I needed 3 Favorable Grounds. I already had 3 Iron Mines, Karada and Palace, so that took up all my allocated 8 holding slots before I could get to the Outpost. I think, in the future, if Hawk Tattoo is errata’d to only characters you control, we could see Hiruma Outpost enter decks as a 1 or 2x. However, now it is also competing with Kuni Laboratories, which may be more potent overall. I could see it being very powerful in non-Iron Mine decks.
Apprentice Earthcaller is a card I don’t run and here’s why. The match ups it strengthens are already fairly strong and the match ups it is not helpful in are fairly weak.
Crab mirror: Hard match up, obviously (granted, a true 50/50) and will do very little. Many Crab decks run 15 to 20 attachments, so it’s pretty easy to deal with. In addition, StD cannot be reset.
Crane: Helpful dealing with honor tokens on high glory characters, but Crane is not a particularly hard match up right now (Swingy, but one of our better match ups. 3-0 on the weekend vs them.)
Dragon: Virtually worthless. Basically all their buffs are via attachments. And they have attachment fetch and a bunch of free attachments so there’s very little issue getting around him. Also this is our toughest match up and a true tier 1 clan right now.
Lion: Probably the most controversial. It is very helpful in this match up. Priot to HMT (New Lion SH), this was not a particularly difficult match up. Lion would high roll on occasion, of course, but it was typically manageable. With the new SH they may be tier 1 and they may be more difficult, though that will take more testing to confirm.
Phoenix: A little bit of a mixed bag. Strengths in that this helps against Supernatural Storm. However, weaknesses in that he is nonunique so he gets bowed by Uona and Kharmic Twisted. Also a shugenja so can be bowed by Against the Waves. Phoenix is a moderately difficult match up, but not tier 1 and not what’s standing in Crab’s way, as they have severe weaknesses to Way of the Crab.
Scorpion: Not only would it likely be relatively inconsequential because Scorpion runs very few strength buffs, but also may actively hurt because they can dishonor their characters so setting their skill may actually give them strength (which you wouldn’t do, unless you screwed up). Plus, they can steal our attachments to make their characters immune. This is the second major barrier to Crab in terms of success.
Unicorn: A ton of attachments. Also not a huge threat.
So to summarize: Strong vs Lion, Crane and potentially Phoenix. Weak (or just inconsequential) vs Crab, Dragon, Scorpion and Unicorn. The (arguably) top 3 difficult match ups show up in the weak list, hence me not running him.
Kuni Yori I run mainly because he’s a Shugenja (for Cloud). His ability also can ruin games for your opponent. Random discards are king. Highly recommend, despite the fact that I didn’t buy him this past weekend.
Spreading the Darkness was a last minute cut from my deck and, God, was I glad that I did. May be the most overrated card in the entire cycle. I’ve already spoken at length about it in the tournament report. 2 honor is an absolutely massive cost.
Hiruma Kogoe is a card that I would play if I didn’t already have, basically, a better version of her in Shrewd Yasuki. 3 card re-arrangement is okay (which, by the way, doesn’t even matter if you were planning on bidding 3 or more anyway), but look at top 2, draw one is definitely better. And I just don’t have space in my deck for both. I could see maybe a 1x, but even that is extremely hard to make room for. If a deck comes along that is running, basically, zero holdings I’d run her as more than a 1x, but until then her slot is taken.
Wicked Tetsubo and Tainted Hero I’m grouping together because they are Berserker cards. Tetsubo is a very powerful effect, but 2 fate for an attachment that’ll probably just be Let Go is very expensive. Add to that the attachment restrictions and you have a card that could be dead in hand/in play for multiple reasons until we get more Berserkers. Tainted Hero is a berserker, so that helps, but he isn’t particularly inspiring in terms of value. 6 military strength for 3 fate is good (not awe inspiring, but good), but having to sacrifice a character means you probably need to do a political attack or defense first and then sacrifice whoever was in that conflict. Otherwise, you’d be sacrificing a ready character. There will be board states where this guy cannot do anything the entire turn. As more berserkers arrive, both of these cards will become better, but they seem pretty janky for the time being.
Flooded Waste In my mind, you have a choice: Rally under SH, Defend the Wall in row or Ancestral Lands/Entrenched Position under SH, Flooded Waste in row. Once we aren’t Keeper of Earth, Upholding Authority also enters the realm of possibbility (and I think it has value for sure). I would never ever put Flooded Waste under my SH because it’d be a 5 strength SH, which could be broken by conflict characters played after the attack pretty easily. And your opponent will always just poke it prior to their big attack because they likely know it’s either FW or Rally. I like Rally a lot more because, typically, the conflict type is more important on the first attack. In my Phoenix Lion game, if I ran FW under SH, I lose that game because of Charge. Being able to pick the type of conflict to defend your stronghold based on your hand and the board state is way better, in my opinion. Alternatively, if you run FW in row, there’s a chance it blows your opponent out. There’s a chance it does nothing at all, for the same reasons it’s a bad stronghold province: conflict characters.
Nezumi Infiltrator is a perfectly wonderful 1 drop out of the conflict deck. He can help breaks/defend breaks and can be in either conflict. He’s also a surprise WotC target. Not a whole lot to say about him other than “he’s a good card.”
Fight On Probably the best card we’ve gotten in this cycle. And we can’t fucking play it yet! However, if we can get Keeper of Water either post Gencon or at Worlds, then this card becomes an automatic 3x in basically every Crab deck. Its value is pretty insane. Just…ignore Void Fist. Ignore AFWTD, Ignore the dreaded “I pull in your would-be defender with Hawk Tattoo now you have no defenders.” It just fixes so many problems. One of the biggest issues with Mountain (when you aren’t playing it on Borderlands Defender) is “What if I play it and then my opponent For shames the character to bow him, making Mountain worthless?” Well, guess what? Fight On fixes that problem too. We may as well call it the Honey Badger, because Fight On doesn’t give a shit.
Kuni Laboratory is a card I haven’t actually tested yet (prep for Gencon did not include this card), but I am very optimistic about this. One thing Kuni Yori has taught me is that a blanket +1/+1 is pretty crazy. And having that in all 4 conflicts in a round? Insane. 1 honor is a high cost, but removing Spreading the Darkness makes me feel better about playing 1 to 2 copies of this card. I’m not sure I would like to run 3 because that increases the amount of honor loss in the deck. However, you can always rebuild this card in the middle of the conflict phase to avoid the honor loss (since it triggers at the beginning of the conflict phase). I want to try this card at 2x to start (will remove a Favorable Ground and something else to fit it in).
Pragmatism I will not be running in my standard Unicorn splash deck. That said, I think it will pay dividends in decks that are not looking to honor pressure. Basically, it takes Watch Commander’s spot in aggro decks that can’t be bothered with honor pressure. It’s a guaranteed +1/+1 that could be +2/+2 if you’re spending honor like the cycle wants Crab to do (see Yori, Labs and Kogoe design). The inability to honor or dishonor them is also a nice little perk, making it good against Shameful Display and Scorpion.
Specialized Defenses is probably the worst card in the entire second cycle. I haven’t actually looked into that to verify, but it definitely feels like it. I don’t think this card will ever see play. How many hoops do they want you to jump through just for the weakest stat in the entire game? (Province strength).
Yasuki Broker is another card that I see potential for, but I don’t think I’ll play it right out of the gate. It’s basically just a better Taka. It has more restrictions, in that it only counts during conflicts in which it participates in, but that doesn’t make it all that more inflexible than Taka. Plus, it gives you cards, which is an extremely potent aspect of the card that could potentially make it the key part of a non-Unicorn splash deck (due to replacing Spyglasses’ card draw). All that said, saying a character is better than Taka is a lot like saying a food tastes better than rotten fruit, Tide pods or tilapia. It’s just not a high bar to hit. It really hurt when I found out this did not synergize with Force of the River though…
And with that, I’ve run out of things to say for the time being. I hope you enjoyed reading my ramblings :P. I’ll see you next time!