In this article, four Phoenix Hatamoto discuss the Phoenix and Neutral cards and their favorite decks from Disciples of the Void so far from the Phoenix perspective. We hope you find it enlightening and productive to your own Phoenix play and that it helps you ground yourself with so many new cards being released.


Travis Fights Dragons aka Travis McDaniel- I’m a long time card game player and was first introduced to L5R 12 years ago in junior high school through the RPG. I didn’t play the CCG until emperor edition and have followed L5R as a card game since. I made Hatamoto for the Phoenix originally at Gencon during the Kiku Matsuri and again at Worlds 2017 for the Toshi Ranbo season.

Sotomatic aka Nick Soto- Been a long time gamer (PC, console, card games, board games) and nerd.  Played 05R as Phoenix from 95-98 when WoTc picked it up and turned it to poop.  Was double Hatamoto and role picker at Gencon and finished T16 at Worlds.

Shiba “Sandybell” Inu aka Tarek Alatrach-  An all around geek. If it’s a game, I’ve probably played it at one point. I got into L5R through the tabletop RPG, where I exclusively played Crane samurai. I picked up the LCG on release, played phoenix because my favorite color is orange, and never looked back. I became Hatamoto at the Paris Grand Kotei 2018.

Algahra aka Matthew Beck- I am an avid player of competitive board games and card games. I started playing the CCG version back near the end of Diamond and became loyal to the Phoenix once I had read the Seven Thunders fiction (Hint: Isawa is a badass). I managed to win Hatamoto at Gencon during the launch event.


Card Ratings

Cards are rated according to the following scale and also given a concise description why each rating is given.

Rating Scale

Auto-include: Ubiquitously good, a card for all Phoenix decks

Staple: A very good card that is crucial to a specific build or multiple builds

Flex: A card that you run based on the meta or a card that is included to preference

Binder: A card that doesn’t work out as well right now, but one to keep an eye on.

Coaster: Unfortunately not all cards are created equal; these cards most of all


Kyuden Isawa

(Group Rating: Staple)

Travis Fights Dragons – A very strong effect that can be loosely interpreted as “Draw and play a spell event” during a conflict, which is phenomenal compared to many other strongholds. Phoenix have a large number of spell events and quite a few of them are good, so being able to re-use them also seems good enough for this to be a common sight on the tabletop. Only +1 to Province strength is a small price to pay for the versatility this has to offer. (Rating: Staple)

Soto –  One of 3 cards that scales with a larger card pool to possible broken levels of good and will cause potential design issues through the form of a spell tax or limited spell event usefulness.  Is this box better than core box right now? I think it is but there are builds that would prefer the core box right now. Is this card a mistake in design? Probably. I think the limit of it only being usable during conflicts is a good restriction but only time will tell if even that isn’t enough. (Rating: Staple)

Sandybell – A stronghold that provides card advantage every turn is extremely strong and I suspect will always be relevant until it rotates. It is not necessary to build around this card in all of your decks, but using this SH elevates certain spells from Flex into Staples (example: Supernatural Storm). Needless to say, this SH will get better as more spells are released. As it is now, however, it may need to have more eligible targets, as generally, we do not like casting ATW inside of Conflicts. (Rating: Staple)

Algahra – Recursion is strong and only ever gets stronger. This box will almost certainly be broken one day but today is not yet that day. The current spell pool only has 2 easy targets (supernatural storm and clarity of purpose) and the rest are situational. Addon the extremely useful nature of Isawa Mori Seidō in the current meta, Kyuden Isawa is a solid box but not an auto run. (Rating: Staple)


Sanpuku Seido

(Group Rating: Flex)

Travis Fights Dragons – This is a very interesting province that is probably quite powerful despite not providing any sort of board altering ability we have come to expect from provinces so far. Your opponent attacking into this will almost certainly have the conflict easily nullified by just 1 defender from the Phoenix, and it will require some tricky maneuvering of the board state to land a break later. As such, I expect this province to mostly not be attacked unless the phoenix player makes a mistake or your opponent draws enough bows or send homes to break through. This slots perfectly into the pacifist style control phoenix that rarely attacks for anything more than pokes and aims to dishonor the opponent out of the game. (Rating: Flex)

Soto – Man will crabs hate us!  This mixed with KM just poops all over crab not splashing Captive Audience.  Oddly enough this province works better in the old meta when we were stuck using mostly 2+ glory characters but this pack introduces a large swath of strong 1 glory characters it might not be run with the new box.  Obvious synergy with core box and/or getting any +str holding to make it INCREDIBLY hard to break, god forbid you Satoshi a Kanjo onto this. I’ll be curious to see how this holds up in the new meta. Certainly one to keep an eye on.  (Rating: Flex)

Sandybell – This province is a tough nut to crack with our glory stronghold. It is very resistant to conflict characters (Playable conflict characters with 1+ glory are Kachiko and Hiruma Skirmisher). Meditations on the tao, being our better viable option at the moment, has the problem of only hitting someone once, after which it becomes easy to play around. Thus, I do believe that there is a strong case for this province. It would be a staple with Isawa Mori Seido, and a flex pick with Kyuden Isawa. (Rating: Flex)

Algahra – A province that interacts with glory is great (for Phoenix). With only two ways to increase glory, clans will have to rely on bows and send home to take the province. As a fire province, it makes seeker of fire a legit great option for Phoenix. (Rating: Staple)


Fire Tensai Initiate

(Group Rating: Flex)

Travis Fights Dragons This card is super lackluster as a baseline, but a glory stick for favor who is also a shugenja for Supernatural Storm and Benten’s Touch attached to a body if you just need one is not absolutely unplayable. I figure the next 1 cost shugenja we get will replace this, but for now it fills a slot that I think many Phoenix decks would like to fill. (Rating: Flex)

Soto –  On the surface this card looks terrible when compared to other 1 cost characters.  No ability, no skill, 2 glory and mediocre keywords. However there are some uses for this card, its good for scouting, forcing defence if you are running Banzai or Supernatural Storm.  It’s another battery to enable cards like Twist and Benten’s Touch. I think there will be a lot of initial testing to see if the card is worth the slot over something like Meddling Mediator as her stats and abilities are obviously better for only 1 extra fate with only downside of not being a shugenja.  Another card that I think can go either way. I don’t see this card being played in the old box but it could have have uses with the new one. (Rating: Flex)

Sandybell – Our long-awaited low cost shugenja is rather… underwhelming. Let’s face it, in general, very few of our 1-2 drops can win defensive conflicts by their own against most of the clans, thus, the 0/0 stat line does not bother me as much. Her being a scholar is relevant as Tsuki is a staple, and I sometimes struggle to find another target to honor with her. 2 Glory is relevant, especially with the Kyuden Isawa, which lacks a way to glory boost to claim the favor. Overall, I think this card is Flex for Isawa Mori Seido, and a Staple for Kyuden Isawa because the latter will likely run 3x Supernatural Storm, which this card just makes so much better. (Rating: Flex)

Algahra – Honestly this card bothers me. Right away you have to compare it to Solemn Scholar, who has the same traits switching earth for fire,  has -1 glory and +1/+1 and a good ability. You could say the fire trait is better but really it’s an expensive glory bot. Phoenix needed another low cost shugenja (for Supernatural Storm and Benten) so it will see play; begrudgingly in my case. (Rating: Flex)


Pacifist Philosopher

(Group Rating: Coaster)

Travis Fights Dragons – An interesting card overall, Pacifist Philosopher gives a fate generating effect on a body that is worth about 0.5 fate on it’s own. The courtier trait does have significant value, making him a great target for Forged Edict and allowing the use of For Shame and he may even be a good enough reason to run Tattered Missive. Trying to get 2 fate a turn out of him is probably not worth going out of the way for, as if you declare a conflict you probably also get the 1 fate anyways off the ring. I think he’s fine if you get just 1 use out of him per turn, and pretty alright if you get more. I’m optimistic he’s better than people give him credit for. (Rating: Flex)

Soto – Oh boy.  This card has already been hotly debated in the Phoenix clan chat but I still hold that I don’t think this card is worth playing.  At 2 cost its fighting with Tetsu, Adept of the Wave, Medling Mediator, Tsuki and Diplomat and I don’t see it being run over any of those cards currently.  Even in a courtier heavy deck it’s still competing with Mediator, Tsuki and Diplomat not to mention the tempo loss a -/1 gives you. If you REALLY want fate generating options this is not how you want to do it. (Rating: Coaster)

Sandybell – I think this card is completely unusable. At 2 fate base cost, and max 2 triggers per turn, the best case scenario is getting a free -/1 courtier for 1 turn, 1 fate back for 4 conflicts passed in 2 turns, or 2 fate back for 3 turns, and so on. Even if you intend to go on a full courtier list for some god forsaken reason, we still have quite a lot of options you’d want to play before you even consider playing this terrible character. (Rating: Coaster)

Algahra – Let’s get this out of the way, 2 for a -/1/1 courtier is bad. The ability is cool but after turn 1 (where I am can see getting value as pretty easy), each progressive turn is much worst. Often it could mean giving up fate on rings and thereby giving your opponent a fate advantage. In addition, there already exist cards that punish this ability (Intimidating Hida and Hida Amoro). This is made worse by all the fate generation that exists in Phoenix already. Hard pass. (Rating: Coaster)  


Shiba Tetsu

(Group Rating: Staple)

Travis Fights Dragons – Tetsu is a proverbial beast of a 2 drop. When he hits the board, your opponent needs to take care to not underestimate him as Tetsu could easily boost up to province busting levels if underestimated. Using just 1 copy of Supernatural Storm from hand with just 1 shugenja along with Kyuden Isawa makes him a 6/5 for just 1 card, and that’s the minimalist scenario! Tetsu is definitely one of the better cards of the pack. If your deck has spells you should probably slot him in. (Rating: Staple)

Soto –  In the immortal words of Babbling Book from Hearthstone – “I want to cast a spell”  Wow, this is a 2 drop! We wanted more powerful low drop options, FFG delivered, probably to a fault.  This is another card that has the potential to scale totally out of control and is possibly a mistake in design.  Honestly any ability that can trigger more than once IMO are mistakes let alone those that have unlimited uses. In the new box with our current spells this character is NUTS and will only get more broken as more and more staple spells get printed as the card pool grows.  I, along with many phoenix players, have been whining for more ways to WIN conflicts and this character certainly does that. Another card to watch to see if it, along with the new box and Shrine Maiden, are simply too powerful as the card pool growns. (Rating: Staple)

Sandybell – A 2/2/1/1 is an almost base-line character stat-line. However, I believe his ability takes him from a binder-level card, into a staple, especially when running him with Kyuden Isawa. Even the most spell-deprived phoenix lists run 8-9 spells at the very least. Spells that we play almost every turn, and sometimes more than once a turn. Essentially, you are looking at a baseline 2/3/2/1 here. At 2 base fate cost, this is a character you will generally not regret seeing in your dynasty flop, and rarely mull him if you do. I’d run him with both our SH options, and even with just 9 spells. (Rating: Staple)

Algahra – Given that the majority of spells are utility, Tetsu is able to make them conflict winning actions. Even better it’s not just events, so he can profit from cloud the mind and embrace the void as well. Finally, supernatural storm and Kyuden Isawa, make him just awesome. For a clan looking for threatening 2 drops, Tetsu hits the bar. (Rating: Staple)   


Inquisitive Ishika

(Group Rating: Flex)

Travis Fights Dragons – I like this card a lot, even if it is a little underwhelming if you compare it to some of the other 3 drops out there. The effect is very interesting and rewards careful planning of the conflict phase, and the stats are only slightly subpar for an economy card compared to Pacifist Philosopher. Considering the other option for a 3 cost Shugenja for Phoenix is Masahiro, I think it’s safe to say she’s good enough to fill that slot for the time being. (Rating: Flex)

Soto – Fate Generating Potato.  I’ve never been a fan of any character that can just get straight 0/0d by a stray DH which are prevalent in the current meta.  Our 3 drops are pretty weak already and I don’t see this character changing that. Honestly I’m not a huge fan of this card but maybe someone can make her work.   (Rating: Flex)

Sandybell – An interesting character at first glance. You get a below-curve stat-line for an economy effect. To play such a character, I would want to get at least 1 fate a turn back from her, and ideally 2 fate a turn. I generally dislike cards that encourage you to do conflicts in certain rings before you get certain effects (such as henshin disciple). However, I would be willing to give Inquisitive Ishika the benefit of the doubt and try her out and see how she fares, as I believe her bottom line is not too hard to achieve. (Rating: Flex)

Algahra – Hey look, another economy card in Phoenix. Once again it has under costed stats, but nowhere near as bad as Pacifist Philosopher. The ability is static, so presence isn’t required(for those lovely fire ring/display of powers) and means you can benefit from it in every conflict potentially. Given Kyuden Isawa still requires you to pay the cost of the spell, this is definitely the preferred dynasty econ. I don’t think she fixes the need for a mid-range shugenja, but she beats out Masahiro. If she had better stats(ie. Doji Challenger level), she’d be an auto include. For now, I think she will find a place into a lot of decks. (Rating: Staple)


Fire Elemental Guard

(Group Rating: Coaster)

Travis Fights Dragons – Oh hey, we get attachment hate; oh wait, it’s super restrictive and easy to play around and attached to a body in our most congested cost slot. Looking at the current meta, this doesn’t even begin to tackle most of the attachments you want to remove: Reprieve is played outside of conflicts and usually after all conflicts have been declared, Talisman of the Sun will definitely still screw you over before you play the spells to charge this up, you have to play into Watch Commander in order to remove it, Spyglass will have already drawn them a card, and it’s okay against Pathfinder’s Blade assuming they don’t hit an “On Reveal” or “On declaration” province. That’s before even considering the clunkiness of playing 3 spells in 1 conflict without feeling like you are wasting them. Oh, and your opponent can still play Cloud the Mind on it after you’ve commit your 3 spells to make it all for not. (Rating: Binder)

Soto – Fire Elemental Guard provides you with a really interesting challenge and tactical board state, and that feels really rewarding when you do it right. It provides you with a puzzle that’s always fun in every iteration. (Rating: Coaster)

Sandybell – The only redeeming feature of this card is it’s 4 military power, making it a good charge target. Alas, that is not enough to save it from being a coaster, as our 4-cost character slot is extremely competitive. You will need to save 3 spells to be played in a single conflict, during which your opponent can cloud this character. There are very few conflicts where you’ll want to dump 3+ spells. (Rating: Coaster)

Algahra – I wanted Phoenix to get attachment hate but this card is bad. An ok stat line, a double-edged trait that leans negative at this time(The only negative attachment your likely to see is cloud the mind), and the only one played  and an expensive and situational ability. I can deal with 3 spells requirement, the fact it has to be used in a conflict means dangerous attachments (Watch Commander, Talisman of the Sun and Reprieve) will be mostly safe. Add in our 4 drops are all currently better, this card is a coaster.(Rating: Coaster)


Kaito Temple Protector

(Group Rating: Flex)

Travis Fights Dragons – This card is pretty cool for a more defensive oriented Phoenix deck, and it can be very difficult to break a province through him and the imperial favor. The key to playing this guy is to force cards out of your opponent before using his ability to secure a win on defense. Be wary of bow effects such as Admit Defeat and Kachiko, which can deal with this card handily. While nice as a block of text and numbers, the monk trait isn’t very useful for Phoenix right now and he is competing in the most competitive card slot. (Rating: Flex)

Soto – This is a REALLY interesting character that I’m not sure how to rate to be honest.  Its ability is potentially REALLY strong and its primary use would be in a DH deck but due to it being able to be bowed in conflicts, its weaker than I would like, especially considering what it’s going up against in the 4+ drop spot in phoenix.  Lack of useful keywords certainly don’t help its cause. I think people will try to make this card work but I don’t see it currently making the cut. (Rating: Binder)

Sandybell – This is a very interesting card. Raw, it will never win a conflict, but will prevent a break. Of course this assumes you fire off it’s action at the last possible moment. It being on the floor means that your opponent will never overcommit in the first place. This is a rather good deterrent if you want to focus on a more defensive style deck. He shines more when you have a way to buff him (such as with equipment or being honored), in addition to defending with him into a larger character. Unfortunately, I think his downfall is that he is bowable, hence, is vulnerable to kachiko, Lion’s Pride Brawler, and Admit Defeat. Thus, I see this guy as a flex pick, to be chosen only if the other 4 drops do not satisfy your needs, which is a very tall order. (Rating: Flex)

Algahra – As the card pool increases, I believe send home will become more and more frequent to get rid of characters with participating effects (like Kosori, the magistrates) or to get around annoying effects such as Sanpuku Seido, making ability one solid and ability two is just plain good. By changing his base stats, you never waste katana or a banzai! and by copying your opponents current values you make any investment from your opponent more expensive. While he doesn’t have protection from bowing, the pack also has an answer for that (Clarity of Purpose). Downsides are it’s a monk, so no valuable traits, doesn’t do anything attacking besides stats and is fighting for what is Phoenix’s best spot which is the 4 drop. I don’t know if he has earned a place right now, but will definitely be worth considering in the future. (Rating: Flex)      


Isawa Tadaka

(Group Rating: Auto-Include)

Travis Fights Dragons – Tadaka is a stellar card in the current meta. Almost every deck is at least 50% events as the neutral staples are still finding slots everywhere, so from turn 2 onward you can just look at your opponent’s discard pile and cross off probably 4-5 cards you no longer need to play around. Tadaka’s statline is also great – 5 military makes him exceptional with charge and his relatively low glory makes him still a formidable body even when dishonored. The best part is that your opponent will feel obligated to try and claim the Earth ring turn after turn which you can deny through Way of the Phoenix or, more likely, Display of Power. I’m very excited to see how much this one card shores up our typically middling match-ups against Scorpion and Crane (Rating: Auto-Include)

Soto –Ahoguarataguatagua!!!” – Raiden, Mortal Kombat doing the superman.  WOW wow wow. This is probably the premier card in this pack especially in the current meta with the sheer number of events being run.  Obvious synergy with with charge at 5 mil, Policy Debate to get event cards into the discard , Display of Power when your opponent REALLY wants that earth ring to enable their events and he’s the first 5 drop in Phoenix that doesn’t get potatoed when DH.  This is a character that will likely get run in every phoenix deck right now. Maybe there’s something out there that doesn’t want it but I’m really not seeing it (Rating: Auto-Include)

Sandybell – As surgical a strike as phoenix can get for the meta. With most clans, save Crab and Dragon to a lesser extent, running a full complement of events that you do not want to be at the receiving end of. Him simply being in the deck will change the way your opponents approach casting their events. His 5/3/2 stat line is respectable and makes him a worthy charge target. Tadaka’s mere presence in the deck or on the board warps the entire way your opponent approaches the match. His shugenja keyword is just a cherry on top. (Rating: Auto-Include)

Algahra – Now this is what I wanted from an elemental master. A powerful game changing effect that requires your opponent to play differently. A stat line that is solid, with military focus to make for powerful charges. Tadaka is essentially good at all stages of game. Early game he is certainly at his weakest, but he still breaks a province with a charge, while each turn he gets progressively better. While I can see decks that decide not run him, I still think Tadaka will be run in 99% of Phoenix decks for a longtime. (Rating: Auto-Include)  



(Group Rating: Auto-Include)

Travis Fights Dragons – A great card with a solid body for it’s cost. You effectively get an extra turn out of it for free because of the (probably huge) body it brings back, and this makes it extremely high value when combined with Charge. It’s also got 0 glory which makes it not very valuable to dishonor – a rare sight for Phoenix. No attachments may look bad at first, but it makes the bird immune to negative attachments as well, most notably Cloud the Mind. I’m pretty sure every Phoenix deck could make room for Fushicho and not lose much doing so (Rating: Auto-Include)

Soto – ALL HAIL OUR FIERY LORD AND SAVIOR!!  If you want another reason why Charge! Is a poorly designed card that’s going to cause issues for this foreseeable future this takes the cake.  1 fate for a 6/6 that bring back something from the dead. High roll phoenix anyone? (Rating: Auto-include)

Sandybell – A terrifying 6/6 dishonor-immune body that brings your best dynasty character back into play when it leaves. Incredible with charge, viable even without. This card will be a terror until it rotates out. With a monster 6 Political power, he is a chief Policy Debate duelist to boot. His worst case scenario is him being Furied T1 as your Dynasty pile will not have any targets for him, usually. That is a pretty mild worst-case scenario, if you ask me. Charge! Is one of the most powerful conflict cards in the game, and having access to this card is a sweet incentive to run all 3 copies (And if you aren’t running at least 1-2 charges in your deck as it is, you’re doing it wrong). (Rating: Auto-include)

Algahra – 6/6/0 for 6 is solid, though still unlikely to be purchased. Likely Charge! exists and Fushicho’s ability wants him to die. The ability itself, is obviously fantastic for keeping board presence and bringing back other threats. Now downsides is he has no useful traits, he doesn’t impact conflicts beyond his stats and need people worth reviving to be in the discard pile. These aren’t the biggest downsides, but do think it stops him from being an auto include. (Rating: Staple)  


Secluded Shrine

(Group Rating: Binder)

Travis Fights Dragons – This cards value is determined strictly off the effects it enables. Right now this turns on Solemn Scholar, Henshin Disciple, Prodigy of the Waves, and Katana of Fire. Out of all of those, the best is Solemn Scholar while the rest are just okay and not quite at a level I’d expect from my holdings clogging a province slot. Unfortunately as well, there’s a lot of competition for sustained holdings within Phoenix decks as we already want Libraries, Kanjo District, and the Imperial Palace in most decks. This one is one for the future. (Rating: Binder)

Soto – Secluded shrine, I think you have a really nice personality but I’m just not ready for a serious commitment right now.  It’s not you, its me, and I hope we can stay friends…. Forgotten Library, how you doin’? (Rating: Binder)

Sandybell – This card can be good, but right now, it is not. For it to be good, it needs to enable other cards that are on the same power-level as Solemn Scholar. As it is, there is not a single other card that is anywhere near that level. It is unfortunate that this card is a Holding, at it looks quite fun to play and build around. Due to the nature of our playstyle, we want to have as many dynasty flops as possible. This card competes with other permanent holdings that are simply better at all, if not most, times. If we get 2-3 more cards on Solemn Scholar’s level, I’d consider running this. (Rating: Binder)

Algahra – Another decent holding. The ability to activate Solemn Scholar for the first conflict or have Henshin Disciple able to buffed for a better ring is good. Bonus giving glory for favor. The problem is holding need to be better than decent to earn their spot. Forgotten Library and Kanjo are amazing (if not broken) and therefore will be pushing Secluded Shrine to the side. One day, it might be worth revisiting should we get a couple more Solemn Scholar level abilities. (Rating: Binder)      


Kaito Kosori

(Group Rating: Flex/Staple)

Travis Fights Dragons – This is a build-around card if I’ve ever seen one. Her text box is quite good, allowing her to participate in multiple conflicts a turn while also not being targetable by most nasty events like For Shame, A Fate Worse Than Death, and Mirumoto’s Fury. Being a conflict character is a big boon to the deck that builds around her, as you are very likely to have seen a copy or two by turn 2 and able to get her gravy-train rolling. Keep an eye on this one, there’s real potential here. (Rating: Staple)

Soto – VOLTRON! As amazing as her ability is and her not being able to be targeted by the majority of events, air is currently one of the least impactful rings in the game until the end and she works better in decks utilizing a large number of attachments. This is another card that will likely see more play in a DH build as air is often contested and feels like another high role card that if you can load her up with attachments she can become an unremovable monster.  Another card I’m very curious to see her impact in the decks she’s played in and is certainly someone I could see other clans splashing for like dragon.. (Rating: Flex)

Sandybell – One of the most interesting cards in this set. I am very excited to play with it and build around it even. In my opinion, what makes a build-around card good is that when you are encouraged to play good cards in it, not jank. In this case: attachments are the name of the game. What is good about this card is that it dodges events that need to target characters in a conflict for at least one conflict in a round. Further, a 3 cost shugenja that doesn’t suck is quite great, and her presence will allow us to pass for fate more often. Some may say that the air ring conflict is rather undesirable, but I actually think this is a secret strength. For one, the air-ring is probably the safest and 2nd best ring to go for in mirror games. Secondly, if the newly released kami are going to be staples (Which I believe they will be), initiating air conflicts against keeper clans that run their kami will be a sound strategy. That being said, I do think that prioritizing the air ring when it doesn’t have fate on it is not a good tactic, and so, even if she is good, maximizing her potential requires us to use suboptimal tactics. (Rating: Flex)

Algahra – Kaito Kosori is probably the hardest card to rate. She will be good in the right deck, I think the question comes down to how good. Conflict characters have proven to be much stronger then dynasty equivalent and she is easily comparable to our current dynasty shugenja at the 3 drop spot. The ability to be in multiple conflict is strong (see Agasha Sumiko/Niten Master/Prodigy of the Waves). Now the ability to be in multiple conflicts while dodging AFWTD or Mirumoto’s Fury is just amazing. The air ring requirement is at most a minor inconvenience. I think she will need to be built around to reach maximum power, but overall a solid card. (Rating: Staple)


Favor of the Kami

(Group Rating: Coaster)

Travis Fights Dragons – A zero cost attachment that gives +1/+1 if honored, -1/-1 if dishonored, or +1 glory towards the favor count or other glory based effects. It’s certainly flexible, but all of the options for this card don’t seem strong enough to warrant a card slot over other options. Maybe in the future there will be enough glory mechanics to make this not bad, but even that still sounds like a stretch. (Rating: Coaster)

Soto – Favor of the Coaster (Rating: Coaster)

Sandybell – An attachment that does not thing by itself immediately is worthless. There is no scenario in my mind that makes this worth running in any kind of deck. Even a potential advent of glory duels will still keep this card worthless. It should have been at LEAST 2 glory. (Rating: Coaster)

Algahra – There is value in flexibility. Sadly this card is not valuable. Glory for favor? Need an unbowed character. A stats change? Need to win a fire ring or use another card. Not to mention the stat change is likely less valuable than just playing Ornate Fan or Fine Katana as baring a duel, only one stat is valuable for any given conflict. A couple of glory interaction cards do not make this worth playing. I am confident saying its the worst card in the pack. (Rating: Coaster)


Katana of Fire

(Group Rating: Binder)

Travis Fights Dragons – This card has a lot of potential. It always is +1 military, but to warrant the 1 cost for the attachment and the restricted tag, you really want this to be giving you +3 or more. That requires either claiming the fire ring (legitimately or through means like Secluded Shrine), or having 2 other fire cards in play. The current allotment of Fire cards isn’t that great, with Fushicho being the only above average option; but you can see the potential here when more powerful fire characters and attachments come along. (Rating: Binder)

Soto – As much potential as this card has, and I REALLY want to like this card, man oh man do I wish our fire cards were better. Masahiro and Fire Guard dont really help the case for this one.  There some janky build out there running shrine that makes this a +3/+0 for 1 but as it currently stands, until we get more playable fire cards, I just don’t see this card making the cut.  (Rating: Binder)

Sandybell – I actually like this card and think it has a lot of potential. Unfortunately, we are not in an environment where its potential can be realized. As it is, however, it’s worst-case scenario is a 1 fate +1 mil, which is not the best deal out there. Once there is a selection of fire cards that are powerful enough to run by themselves, then this card becomes more and more viable. (Rating: Binder)

Algahra – Ah Katana of Fire, why couldn’t you be better. It costs 1 for 1 Mil by itself, which is bad. If your lucky and have another fire card in play, its 2 for 1, which is still not good. Claiming the fire ring makes it not terrible but the card isn’t going to help you win it. A least its a spell. One day it might be a reliable 3+ force but till then let it gather dust. (Rating: Binder)   


The Path of Man

(Group Rating: Coaster)

Travis Fights Dragons – Man, Phoenix has so much Fate gain that I feel this card would be much more exciting in any other faction. The condition isn’t that hard to meet, as breaking a province will likely get you to the point of being able to play it. The issue I see with The Path of Man is its inflexibility, it either is a blank card or turning a card into 2 fate. Compared with Embrace the Void which almost always has options to drip fate in and also has flexibility to soft-counter Feast or Famine, give insurance against removal effects like Assassination, and combo with Karmic Twist to “kill” opponent’s characters this card just feels lackluster. (Rating: Coaster)

Soto – The Path of Coaster (Rating: Coaster)

Sandybell – Underwhelming to say the least. I think my stance on cards that do not affect the board-state in the same turn is quite clear; They are bad. For such an effect to have such a rare condition makes it even worse than bad. At least it makes a pretty-looking coaster (Rating: Coaster)

Algahra – More fate gen cards. More situational fate gen cards. This card isn’t the hardest to trigger as breaking provinces often meets the requirement. My problem with this card is our other economy cards give us more flexibility. The easy comparison is Embrace the Void. But Embrace the Void also triggers Tetsu, protects from Niten Adept, or even weakens Feast or Famine slightly. I think people will treat this card as a flex card, but conflict spots are getting tighter and tighter so unfortunately this another promo that will serve as a coaster. (Rating: Coaster)


Wholeness of the World

(Group Rating: Binder)

Travis Fights Dragons – I’m not sure there’s many reasons to run this to trigger “while you have X ring” effects over the Secluded Shrine, but there’s going to be a point where Phoenix have so many cards that deny rings that there will probably be a deck that is able to consistently deny your opponent conflicts by locking out multiple a turn. My concern is that sort of deck can very quickly become a solitaire style experience which would be bad for the game. That deck probably isn’t there yet. This card is very much one for the future, it depends on how many more of this type of effect FFG is planning on printing. (Rating: Binder)

Soto – This is a card that makes me think that somewhere down the road FFG releases some randomly innocuous card that enables some super broken NPE combo with this + Know the World + Way of the Phoenix + Shrine and we’ll all look back on the day this card was released and laugh about how terrible we thought this card was. As is it’s just another janky ring manipulation card to add to the pile.  (Rating: Binder)

Sandybell – I had negative reaction to this card at first glance. However, having thought about it, I think this card has real potential to be one to induce pained groans from your opponent later on in the game’s cycle. As it stands, the only worthy target for this spell is the Earth Ring (With Tadaka/Solemn Scholar), and maybe water to a lesser extent. But as our repertoire grows, this card will become potentially dangerous. (Rating: Binder)

Algahra – The optimist in me says one day all these ring tricks will be useful if not powerful. Right now though, they are all situational and not even powerful enough to justify those situations. Still combining them does make for amusing situations where you can remove your opponent’s ability to declare conflicts. Being a spell is nice for Shrine Maiden but being an interrupt Kyuden Isawa is unable to recur it. I would rate Way of the Phoenix, Display of Power and even Master of Gisei Toshi above it for ring prevention while I would give the benefit to Secluded Shrine for ring ability activation. I don’t see this getting played any time soon, but could be worth it should ring manipulation lead to a solid win con. (Rating: Binder)


Clarity of Purpose

(Group Rating: Staple/Auto-Include)

Travis Fights Dragons – Against the Waves is the best spell we have. This card is a very similar effect if you are in a political conflict, which Phoenix likes, and also gives you bow protection to boot, which is the main weakness of this cards sister – The Mountain Does Not Fall. I don’t see this card not being in basically every Phoenix deck for the near and far future. (Rating: Auto-Include)

Soto – Mountain does not fall, Indomitable Will, by your powers combined I am Captain AWESOME! (Rating: Auto-Include)

Sandybell – Standing and bowing effects are some of the most powerful effects in the game. A Mountain that does not Fall that can be used offensively, or an Indomitable Will that is less conditional, that prevents bow effects, all for 1 fate, is an extremely useful effect. I think this card will be a staple in every phoenix deck. I am not sure I would want to run all 3, because by itself, this card does little without support from other conflict cards. (Rating: Staple)

Algahra – Character economy is key to this game. Being able to use a character in multiple conflicts is fantastic. Protection from bow effects, which are essentially the strongest combat effects, is awesome. My first reaction is having to be played in combat would be a weakness, but honestly drawing out Mirumoto’s Fury as a first action isn’t close to the end of the world. My only problem now is how many utility slots can I afford to this card. (Rating: Staple)


Karmic Twist

(Group Rating: Flex)

Travis Fights Dragons – Another very interesting and flexible spell. This card can be used to move fate from a fresh character you just bought to your beefy character who would otherwise be leaving this turn, or be used to move fate off a high power character of your opponent to a less impactful one. You can also combo this card with Embrace the Void to remove all the fate off of an opponent’s character and add it all to your fate pool, which is super cool. The non-unique restriction can make this clunky, but right now decks are mostly non-unique and if it stays that way then I think this card has potential to see play. (Rating: Flex)

Soto – For me this is the card I think has the MOST potential to really impact the overall game as it can have the same warping effect that cards like Way of the Crab have due to its pure existence. Its flexibility to work for yourself as a pseudo reprieve or vs your opponent to quickly “remove” many of the currently played generic 3+ drop characters makes this card strong.  Obvious combos with ETV to straight up steal all the fate off an opponent’s character or move to an assassinatable target. I plan to extensively test this card as I think there’s real potential here so much so you might actually see clans splash phoenix for this. (Rating: Staple)

Sandybell – An interesting spell at first glance, and definitely one that I’d like to play around with a little bit to better evaluate it. Karmic twist is at once situational and versatile. It can combo with Embrace the Void but I suspect that will not be it’s default mode. It has two modes of attack. The first is to kill an enemy voltron, and the second is to save your own voltron (or perhaps your charge target). A relevant usage for this spell is to use it to clear fate from a fated enemy in order to trigger your water ring on them. However, this spell has a problem with being unable to target uniques, as well as being worse against clans that field a lot of uniques (Like some phoenix decks). Thus, I believe this card is a flex pick, to be included as a 1-2 of. However, I do think that every phoenix deck should strive to include at least 1, as it’s presence alone will eventually warp how your opponent plays his dynasty phase. (Rating: Staple)

Algahra – This is an interesting utility spell but a good one I am not so sure. The unique restriction is annoying but not terrible as offensively every clan has a least one good target(Spiritcaller(and moving Spiritcaller’s fate to who it spirit called is hilarious), LBP, Witch Hunter, Doji Challenger, Guest of Honor, Niten Master, Kitsuki Investigator, Ide Trader,Giver of Gifts) and defensively it’s a janky reprieve saving Prodigy of the Waves or Master of Gisei Toshi. Or for the really gutsy, a cute charge trick. There is also comboing it with Embrace the Void, but that’s both too rare and too many utility spots for my tastes. Kyuden Isawa will make it a potential single include and it will always buff Tetsu. (Rating: Flex)   


Guardian Kami

(Group Rating: Flex)

Travis Fights Dragons – For the time being, Phoenix are keepers and this is the card we will be able to run until next year. Resolving a ring on defense is pretty powerful, as your opponent can never deny you a ring outright by simply attacking with it. You ultimately are paying 2 for a body that you then want to sacrifice for a ring effect. It’s not quite on the level of Display of Power, but has added utility outside of just triggering ring effects. I think this card will be a staple in dishonor Phoenix decks, such that you can use this and Display of Power to punish your opponent going for Air. It might also see play in the more glory centric builds to help reduce the amount of dishonor coming your way and add a mid-conflict honor option. Worth noting as well that this can also be a 2 fate for the void ring which is a trade I’d be willing to make a fair amount of the time. (Rating: Staple)

Soto –  Kami Unleashed wannabe.  It’ll be interesting to see where this finds itself in the over all meta as I think a lot of players will be running a few copies of this to start.  Its reliance on your opponent being able to pick the ring makes this card weaker than the aforementioned Unleashed version but its effect is still very strong.   (Rating: Flex)

Sandybell – A neutral 1/1 conflict character with a powerful effect that warps the way your opponent plays. This card will be a staple in many clans. Display of power is one of the most powerful and game-changing cards in the game. A DOP lite that is available to all keeper clans will be played. However, as phoenix, we already have a better version of this. I do not think this card will be as good with us as it is in other clans. (Rating: Flex)

Algahra – I like both Kami. Both the Kami are good. This is just sadly the weaker of the two. A neutral conflict character that all but guarantees a ring trigger is fantastic. Now the opponent chooses the ring, this cards only impact on the defense is the ring itself. A water ring or a fire ring resolving during the conflict could easily be a win though. An important note for both Kami is Pilgrimage hoses both of them. Still as a Phoenix, I will take Display of Power over this majority of the time. (Rating: Flex)


Kami Unleashed

(Group Rating: Staple)

Travis Fights Dragons – A lot of my sentiment for Guardian Kami also applies here. While Guardian Kami gives the opportunity to use any ring in a turn, Kami Unleashed gives you a lot more control over what ring you are getting because you get to choose the ring when attacking. Again, this card seems like a staple for dishonor builds to give you guaranteed air rings and a flex card for everyone else. If you absolutely need a ring effect to go through, Kami Unleashed has got you covered. (Rating: Staple)

Soto – The better version of Guardian Kami.  Not much more to say here. (Rating: Staple)

Sandybell – Choose to resolve a ring of your choice. Wow. This card is amazing. I am looking forward to playing a seeker role and running it. It’s going to be at its most powerful with Water and Fire rings. It’s versatile, and unlike the Guardian Kami, you have more control over which ring effect to fire off. (Rating: Staple)

Algahra – The rich get richer. Seekers definitely got the better of the two Kami here. Pokes with a ring to claim fate, and forces opponent to make a series of bad choices. Don’t defend? Unopposed honor loss and ring trigger. Defend? Character wasted and opponent still gets the ring trigger. Use a high impact card like Assassinate, Cloud the Mind or FTWD? Either madness or their advantage is so massive game is likely already over. The only real safe option is send home. This card will be a staple in a lot of decks. (Rating: Staple)  


Walking the Way

(Group Rating: Flex)

Travis Fights Dragons – This card trades a conflict draw for a Dynasty draw which comes with a surprising amount of utility. This card can unbrick a Charge! sitting in your hand or fetch you a holding you can then set up on whatever province you want. That’s not to mention the obvious use of just using this to create more bodies in the dynasty phase when you flip many low cost characters or simply are swimming in fate. This is a solid include as the last one or two cards in a deck that has shugenja. (Rating: Flex)

Soto – Hmmm an interesting card.  It certainly has the potential to enable better uses of Charge!, help you find Kanjo district and fix poor flops, but the difficulty comes in finding room in your deck to run this.  The new box certaily enables builds to run more 1 of utility cards and that might be its best place. I don’t see this card having a large impact so I see no reason to run more than 1 copy of this right now.  (Rating: Flex)

Sandybell – Though at first glance this card may seem clunky or not so useful, it actually has quite a few very relevant applications for us. The best use for it would be to choose a charge target. It’s best case scenario is finding a Fushicho and discarding a Tadaka or Tsukune, then charging in the Fushicho. The next best case is fetching Kanjo’s District. There are more than a few ways to use it, and I suspect that its presence in a conflict may require us to be more careful about the tuning of our dynasty deck to maximize its effectiveness, as whiffing with this spell will feel bad. (Rating: Flex)

Algahra – A useful utility card that could help fish for a charge target, overcome a heavy holding flop, allow for more fate expenditure or just dig for Kanjo District. Bonus for discarding a character for use with Fushicho and as a spell its usable with Kyuden Isawa and fetchable with Shrine Maiden. Conflict deck space will be tight, so mileage will vary. (Rating: Flex)


Sample Lists

Here’s some sample decks we’ve been playing and loving with the new pack. This is hardly conclusive, but may give you a good jumping off point for your own decks builds.

Spell Shugenja (Tempo):

This list is a very straight-forward shugenja based deck that aims to win by breaking the opponent’s provinces quickly and using powerful characters multiple times a turn with Against the Waves and Clarity of Purpose. Supernatural Storm finds fantastic use in this deck as it is almost all Shugenja. These three spells, alongside a single copy of Karmic Twist for when the time is right, give the stronghold plenty of options to extend your board reach and keep the pressure on the opponent. The deck also runs 3 Charge and has myriad options for good targets, the prime of which are Fushicho and Tadaka. Ultimately, with this deck you draw a lot of cards and beat the opponent faster than they can beat you. You can also use the Unicorn splash with this deck to great effect: -3 Mirumoto’s Fury, -3 Let Go, -2 Fine Katana, +3 Spyglass, +2 Talisman of the Sun, +3 Iuchi Wayfinder.


Dishonor Control (Control):

This deck is all about controlling your opponent and slowly bringing their honor total to zero over the course of the game. Play this deck much like you would any heavy Scorpion deck – pass first, save fate from turn to turn, and strike when your opponent is weakest. Land a dishonored status on an opponent’s character and use Isawa Mori Seido to further lower their stats. A Fate Worse than Death, Mono no Aware, Fearsome Mystic, and Karmic Twist (combo’d with Embrace the Void), give excellent ability to control the board from turn to turn and prevent your opponent from building any sort of board position. Finally, use effects like Meddling Mediator, Display of Power, Shiba Tsukune, and Guardian Kami to trickle your opponent’s honor down to zero.This deck is hard to pilot effectively, but can be very rewarding for those that do so.


Kosori-Tron (Combo/Voltron):

The standard Kosori-tron shell is very similar to our Imperial Cycle standard deck. Play this deck like you would an imperial cycle phoenix deck. Look for opportunities to put down kosori and stick multiple equipment on her. Look for opportunities to get her honored as well. Your main aim should be breaking provinces unless you see an opportunity to dishonor.


Soto’s Eternal Phoenix (Voltron):

I decided to try something COMPLETELY different with the new pack and this is the monster I’ve created.  The goal of this deck is to abuse voltrons as much as possible with attachments, Against the Waves and Clarity of Purpose and keep them around as long as possible thanks to 3x Reprieve and 3x Kharmic Twist.  Since I’m running KM on stronghold I figured I’d try out Along the River as a row card. Possible changes could be -2 Skirmisher, +1 Maiden, +1 Watch Commander and then Katana of Fire could be either 2x Display of Power or 2x Embrace the Void or really anything else you think might be better.  This is simply a framework idea and can easily be modified to fit your desired playstyle.


Glory-tron (Voltron):

This deck utilizes the classic Phoenix game plan of honoring guys and using their huge stats to win conflicts and try to keep them around as long as possible. Fire Tensai Initiate gives many more opportunities for Benten’s touch to be used effectively in addition to Guard Duty and Court Games. Stand your ground helps keep your impactful characters like Shiba Tsukune and Tadaka in play. A Legion of One is fantastic in Phoenix, giving some extra military reach that is very welcome.

Feature Image Source: Amélie Hutt