Welcome reader! With the restricted list having been out for some time now and with the next cycle of 6×6 around the corner I thought of a cool thought exercise on each clan’s accepted “power” and where that power comes from. I am Mind’s Desire and with me are Bayushi Nomen, Chuteréve and Joe from Cincinnati, we are going to go over each clan’s power based on four base criteria: Dynasty Deck, Conflict Deck, Province Row and Stronghold out of Ten. All opinions are our own and are not the end all be all of how to view these topics. When people were talking about winners and losers of the restricted list we expected to see some changes in the meta right? Well, when nothing seemed to change then you must ask yourself “what gives? I thought this was supposed to change it up!”
With the exception of Iron Mine, the Restricted List only touched conflict cards and thus most clan’s conflict decks were most affected. With new cards coming down the pipeline this can be used as a potential guide to see what type of cards would help each clan the most. All Clan ratings are based on a standard deck composition and based on the most popular splash(es).
MD – 8/10 – Iron mine and Karada District are the main reasons this is not a 7 for me, Crab dynasty is solid up and down the curve, with strong early plays like Yasuki and Envoy and late game monsters like Witch Hunter and Kisada along with extra staying power in Vanguard Warrior.
Joe – 7.5/10 – Crab’s Dynasty Deck is helped most by its holdings. Iron Mine is one of the best cards in the entire game (especially when it lands on a broken province, since there is currently no way to prevent it from going off in this scenario) as well as Karada District being extremely potent in some of Crab’s hardest match ups, Like Dragon and the mirror (and Scorpion to counteract Calling in Favors). Miya Satoshi works amazingly with Keeper Initiates and the Imperial holdings, Karada District and Imperial Palace. Their lower curve is very weak stat wise, which can hold them back early in the game, especially against clans with heavy impact low costers like Dragon, Crane and Scorpion, but they offer valuable utility such as card draw for the Shrewd Yasuki, a “save” from Vanguard Warrior and card draw and fate from Kaiu Envoy. Above average 3 to 5 costers round out a powerful dynasty deck.
Chut – 7/10 – Iron Mine and Karada District are the most potent cards in the dynasty deck but the characters themselves are quite solid too. It is worth noting that by running more holdings than average plus the Keeper initiates increases the odds of a bad flip.
Nomen – 8/10 – The Crab Dynasty deck is carried largely on the back of insanely strong holdings (Iron Mine and Karada District), with a number of great but not meta-defining characters like Kaiu Envoy or Steadfast Witch Hunter playing important roles. It does, however, have some problems presenting a respectable amount of political skill on its own.
MD – 7.5/10 – The Crab conflict deck gets a big boost in power and cohesiveness from the unicorn splash along with in faction cards like watch commander, reprieve, rebuild and the mountain does not fall. Karada District gives a lot of power to this splash by providing attachment control where none would normally exist, and Way of the Crab warps how your opponent has to play. No counters and limited character interaction keep its rating down. All in all attachments are the best card type in the game and crab gets to play lots of high impact ones.
Joe – 7/10 – Crab’s Conflict deck has a lot of tricks, but is relatively low impact when it comes to winning conflicts. Rebuild and Way of the Crab can change the landscape of a game when used properly, and The Mountain Does Not Fall is excellent at securing presence in multiple conflicts per round, which only amplifies Spyglass and Watch Commander. However, the deck currently lacks a key card that can outright win a key conflict which detracts from its power level. It has a lot of consistent and useful cards but doesn’t have the wow factor like Scorpion or Phoenix currently possess.
Chut – 8/10 – With very strong in-clan attachments (Reprieve, Watch commander) and the addition of the Unicorn’s outstanding ones (Spyglass, Talisman of the sun), Crab conflict deck is scary and gain full advantage of the fact that there are many saves available to generate long-term value for each of those attachments.
Nomen – 7/10 – Once you’ve learned to play around Way of the Crab, the Crab conflict deck tends to ask you one question: Did you draw enough attachment control? It’s lacking in nasty tricks for the most part, preferring to slam down a hand of 1 cost attachments and say “just how many Let Gos did you draw, anyways”? However, with Talisman, Spyglass, Reprieve, and Watch Commander stretching your attachment control, plus Rebuild for bonus Iron Mines, it’s hard to rate it all that low.
MD – 6/10 – Keeper row so inherently weaker than seeker rows. Crab is saved by the fact that they have an in faction earth province so their row isn’t as bad as most keeper rows. Crabs row is medium plus.
Joe – 5.5/10 – Crab’s province row is incredibly average. The only thing that sets it apart from the likes of Phoenix or perhaps Unicorn is the fact that Defend the Wall is a good Earth Province. It isn’t anywhere near Feast or Famine/Restoration of Balance/Secret Cache/Shameful Display level, but it can deter chump conflicts and can occasionally turn a game with a well-timed ring effect (it also works great with Talisman of the Sun). Overall, a decent row but nothing that should terrify your opponent.
Chut – 6/10 – Crab province lineup is above average for a Keeper, thanks to their in-clan province Defend the Wall.
Nomen – 4/10 – The Crab provinces are extremely weak, with their biggest advantage to speak of being that Earth is a good ring so Keeper of Earth actually sometimes can trigger. Defend the Wall is a tiny bit better than the neutral suite, but that’s it, and it can be farmed easily with a strong Pol offensive.
MD – 6/10 – Pretty mediocre stronghold out of core designs, only works on defense and only affects stats. Positives are three strength and that it buffs political and military while scaling with board.
Joe – 6/10 – Crab’s stronghold is surprisingly powerful as it’s one of the few strongholds that can be used in either military or political conflicts. It also synergizes extremely well with cards like Keeper Initiate, who Crab loves seeing in multiples regardless. That said, it can only be used on defense and there is currently no viable strategy that can win without attacking, so it loses a few points for that.
Chut – 7/10 – Even if Crab stronghold can only be used on defense, the fact that it can buff military and political stats makes it very efficient at defending especially with small characters.
Nomen – 4.5/10 – Just stats, only works on defense – but those stats do tend to matter. They don’t usually win conflicts, but they do usually make your opponent play an extra card, and sometimes that’s all you need. Still, nothing to write home about.
MD – 27.5/40
Joe – 26/40
Chut – 28/40
Nomen – 23.5/40
Crane/Scorpion or Dragon
MD – 8.5/10 – Crane has one “weakness” in dynasty and that is in their military numbers, honored status tokens can help alleviate that but not always. Crane has strong personalities throughout and some of the best small characters in the game such as: Brash Samurai, Nerishma and Cautious Scout, along with the ever potent Guest of Honor and a closer in Yoshi.
Joe – 8.5/10 – Crane has one of the most potent dynasty decks in the game, especially in the current meta. Cautious Scout makes Crane able to poke into even the most terrifying province rows (such as Dragon’s for example) with absolutely no fear of negative repercussions. Brash Samurai is a 2 for 4/3 character most games that often automatically activates Voice of Honor. Then you get to Guest of Honor, who just shuts down certain match ups and Kakita Yoshi, one of the most overpowered cards in the game, giving free cards and free fate reduction as long as you can get and keep the favor with all your 2 and 3 glory characters. Pair it with solid utility characters like Doji Challenger and Savvy Politician and you have a really powerful dynasty deck that is surprisingly efficient in military conflicts.
Chut – 7.5/10 – There are definitively some all-star characters here that others clans envy us for like: Brash Samurai, Doji Challenger, Guest of Honor and to a lesser extend Kakita Yoshi. That being said, most of the others dynasty cards are fine without being extraordinary (Daidoji Nerishma, Kakita Asami, Doji Shizue).
Nomen – 8.5/10 – The Crane dynasty deck contains a number of strong role-players like Brash Samurai and Doji Challenger, but also Yoshi with the possibility to lock down a game if you give them even one turn with the favour, and the very hateful Guest of Honor and Cautious Scout. I originally had this tied for best, but since some clans don’t find Guest of Honor as harsh as others, the deck isn’t quite as consistent as it might seem, and they just don’t have the shugenja to support the otherwise-ubiquitous Cloud the Mind yet.
MD – 8/10 – Access to cancels, character control, attachment control and a slew of strong conflict characters Crane’s conflict deck is loaded. The only knock against it is that some of the cards can be dead some of the time. However, with little to no damage from the restricted list Crane just has a plethora of tools to play with.
Joe – 7.5/10 – The cards that really make this grade for me are Political Rival, Steward of Law, Noble Sacrifice, Voice of Honor and Way of the Crane. Noble Sac is the best character removal card for 3+ characters in a game where “towering” your characters is the current meta strategy. A 3 for -/3 covert that can double its strength on defense is also never a welcome sight on the other side of the field and, with Fury being restricted, there are fewer ways to deal with attacks in which you have no defenders. The fact that Crane completely dodged the Restricted List and are the only clan that can run Policy Debate without sacrificing a significant piece of their conflict deck really rose the bar for me to make them one of the best conflict decks available.
Chut – 7.5/10 – Way of the Crane and Voice of Honor are amazing cards that go a long way to carry the Crane conflict deck. Alongside Noble Sacrifice and Admit defeat which are two situational cards that are run as 1 ofs, but might stay dead for a while even though their effects are very strong. It is also worth noting that the Crane conflicts characters are pretty good with Steward of Law and Political Rival.
Nomen – 7.5/10 – The Crane cards themselves aren’t all that exciting, honestly. But getting an in-faction cancel that isn’t on the Restricted List makes Crane the only clan that can easily run PD or Fury, and either of those is worth a full point on its own.
MD – 7/10 – Crane provinces are good but not great, seeker gives them good fate generation and shameful is very swingy for crane, more so than other clans, all in all solid but not spectacular.
Joe – 6.5/10 – Their province row isn’t particularly threatening, but it is much more helpful than any of the Keeper clan’s rows at this point in the game. That free fate on reveal of an air province (each of which also provide a resource, assuming you’re running Fertile Fields and Manicured Garden) makes for some extremely efficient economy. They also get Shameful Display and Meditations in row and can dodge the terrible Earth/Water province choice for their final non-stronghold province due to being a Seeker clan.
Chut – 7/10 – Nothing impressive but still efficient, thanks to the seeker fate bonus and the two air provinces allowing for a very smooth economy. Shameful Display holds a little more value in Crane than in the others clan because of cards like Voice of Honor or Noble Sacrifice.
Nomen – 7/10 – Seeker of Air is boring but effective. Economy is never bad, but there’s nothing that will decide the game on its own.
MD – 4.5/10 – The Crane box’s only strength is threat of activation, since people don’t send bowable targets unless it’s for a reason, otherwise it’s pretty piss poor compared to the other clan’s boxes. It does have some gotcha moments U S E B O X.
Joe – 5.5/10 – The “forget factor” is strong with this stronghold. However, in high level competitive games it may appear to be doing very little because it doesn’t get activated all that often. Its value is the conflicts it stops. I’ve had multiple games where I could do a political chump conflict for a free ring, but the stronghold prevents me from doing so. Obviously, it allows Crane to be a bit more careless on their attacks as they know their opponents often have limited options for attacking politically after defending their attack.
Chut – 6/10 – Even when Shizuka Toshi does not fire, it does not mean that it has no effect on game, because it forces your opponent to play around it. That being said, it lacks the versatility of the best strongholds out there.
Nomen – 3/10 – When actually getting to use your stronghold has turned into a Twitch chat meme, you know it isn’t going to happen often.
MD – 28/40
Joe – 28/40
Chut – 28/40
Nomen – 26/40
MD – 9/10 – Dragon has the best Dynasty deck in the game in my opinion, it has multiple insane cards all the way up the curve. The only thing keeping it from a 10 is that there are some filler spots in the deck.
Joe – 9.5/10 – Dragon has the best dynasty deck in the game and it isn’t close. Right down the line, you see cards that really shouldn’t be as cheap as they are for what they do. Doomed Shugenja has 6 stats for 1 fate, Agasha Swordsmith provides virtually guaranteed card draw every single round and is even a shugenja to reliably run Cloud the Mind. Kitsuki Investigator is a no risk Policy Debate that can often be free if you use it on defense (put the fate on the ring you’re planning on attacking with next to get your fate back). Niten Master can easily participate in 2 to 3 conflicts per round and Togashi Yokuni can take whatever the best action on the board is and attach it to his potentially 8/8 body, when honored. I’ve passed up buying Steadfast Witch Hunters in the past because of him, and that’s dumb.
Chut – 9/10 – Dragon dynasty deck packs a lot of the best characters in the whole game at every fate cost: Doomed Shugenja, Kitsuki Investigator, Ninten Master, Agasha Swordsmith. The only notable weakness is that it includes more fillers than most others dynasty decks.
Nomen – 9/10 – Everything I said about Crane is true here too, but they don’t have any of the weaknesses. Insane shugenja, including one of the best champions in the game, characters you can happily stick four or five fate on – they have one or two marginal cards and a lack of playable in-Clan holdings, but that’s the only negative thing I can say.
MD – 6.5/10 – Post restricted list Dragon’s conflict deck is very meh, having in faction let go is the big saving grace and the crab splash is very very strong in this archetype. Otherwise it’s just a lot of stat buffs and low on interaction.
Joe – 6.5/10 – Dragon’s conflict deck is relatively boring but its efficient. Paired with Crab, you can have up to 9 weapons to keep standing Niten Master over and over again, can reliably run Cloud the Mind because of Dragon’s outstanding low cost shugenja and Yokuni and can run Reprieves to keep their towers around longer. They even get native attachment control (one of the most commonly splashed cards in the entire game) in Let Go as well as easy to use covert with the Tattooed Wanderer.
Chut – 6.5/10 – The overall power level of the Dragon conflict deck is very average with some few notable exceptions provided by the crab splash. It works well because it enables the whole Voltron dragon play style.
Nomen – 7/10 – Pathfinder’s Blade is pretty dumb, and only Dragon gets to run it in the current meta. Otherwise, the rest of the deck is just a giant pile of attachments. Nothing as unfair as Rebuild, but attachments are pretty good when you’re putting four fate on everyone…
MD – 10/10 – Seeker of Fire Dragon is one of the best possible province rows that you can possibly have in this game, bar none. Manicured garden is the province people WANT to hit, the only knock against this row is that it’s low on province strength.
Joe – 10/10 – This is what truly defines why Dragon is broken right now. You have a 75% chance of hitting a truly awful province. Shameful Display can turn conflicts around and the after effects last for turns at a time, Restoration of Balance allows Dragon to bid 5 with impunity, giving you two options: 1. Bid low until you hit this and hope to honor pressure them before they use that card advantage to break you in half or 2. Bid high with them to maintain card advantage and then inevitably run into this and discard 5 to 10 cards from your hand, basically guaranteeing the loss. And then Feast or Famine is just the final straw that really makes the row unspeakably good. It could potentially end a game then and there if you run into Feast or Famine While you have any characters with fate on them. Removing a character 1 to 2 turns early and keeping a character 1 to 2 turns longer is just obscene. The fact that they get a fate whenever Feast or Famine, Restoration or Manicured Garden is hit basically means they can play huge monster characters and sustain off low fate for the entire game while you squander through this wretched province row and hope they make a mistake that leads to their own defeat.
Chut – 10/10 – Insanely strong. The only “safe” province on the row is manicured garden and the three others can give you a strong advantage if not winning the game outright.
Nomen – 10/10 – As a wise Dragon said “Restoration of Balance and Feast or Famine.”
MD – 8/10 – Strong consistent stat boost, no restrictions on offense or defense, mil or pol. Forcing the deck to be built a certain way is the only real negative for this stronghold.
Joe – 8/10 – Basically, the only stat buff stronghold that impacts all 4 potential conflicts in a game (military attack, military defense, political attack, political defense), unless you count the Core Phoenix stronghold. It is efficiency incarnate. The fact that they also get 11 honor makes this one of the best strongholds available.
Chut – 8/10 – The versatility of the effect is what makes it so good. It doesn’t matter if you are on pol, mil, offense or defense, Dragon have enough attachment to enable it nearly every time.
Nomen – 7/10 – The Dragon stronghold is just about the best a stats-only box can reasonably be. Both types, both attack and defense, fairly easy condition, even lets you make your opponent break Feast or Famine. But it still doesn’t do anything but stats, and I think a stat-only box can’t really go any higher than a 7.
MD – 33.5/40
Joe – 34/40
Chut – 33.5/40
Nomen – 33/40
MD – 7/10 – Oh how the mighty have fallen, once the pride of Rokugan, the Lion Dynasty deck used to strike fear in all who opposed it, now it just feels like LPB, Spiritcaller and 34 other cards. Still shows how powerful those two cards are that I still gave this a seven.
Joe – 7/10 – There’s a reason Lion got profiled as the official “High Roll” deck of L5R. Their dynasty deck is extremely potent when things line up properly. LPB can often bow any character either in or out of the conflict, Spiritcaller can bring back characters that can outright win conflicts every single round, Toturi is just a stat stick that can be brought back or charged and double trigger a ring, Ujiaki, if the stars align, can create massive numbers by grabbing 2 free characters for you if you have the favor and Implacable Magistrate is often able to force through conflicts in which your opponent merely becomes a spectator, especially in military conflicts where there are very few ways to, mid conflict, honor a character. That said, it is fairly one sided, with few political threats, so if you can control their military onslaught, they can fall short.
Chut – 7.5/10 – Lion dynasty deck is a design mystery but if it can be called anything, it would be explosive. Sometimes, it just fizzles as you flip only the average military characters but when you are just a little lucky, it could be insane and very hard to stop as they have arguably two of the five best dynasty characters in the game: Lion Pride Brawler and Kitsu Spiritcaller.
Nomen – 5.5/10 – LPB and Spiritcaller are broken, but they’re surrounded by a vast sea of mediocrity. Most of Lion’s former powerhouses are much weaker when you can’t Charge! ->FGG.
MD – 5/10 – Lion’s Conflict deck does one thing and one thing very very well, win military challenges. Once you get past that strength there are, well, no others. Ageless crone is nice as is ready for battle but with the number of furies in the environment down, ready for battle lost its biggest strength. If Lion didn’t have access to neutral and a splash their conflict deck would probably be a 2.
Joe – 5/10 – Lion’s conflict deck is even more one sided than their dynasty deck. I’ve seen many Lions actually just completely forsake political buffs in favor of 3 Charge, 2-3 Legion of One, 2-3 Banzai, 3 Fine Katana, 3 Way of the Lion. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Like with the dynasty deck, if you’re able to limit the damage they do with their military attacks, the deck offers very little else.
Chut – 5/10 – Lion conflict deck is behind the curve. Its main weakness is that it is filled with military buff and effective cards that are just doubling down with a Dynasty deck full of military characters. The non-military option in Lion conflict deck are either generic good neutral cards like Court Games that everyone runs anyway or very subpar.
Nomen – 3/10 – There’s just nothing in there worth getting excited over. They can’t even run Clouds. Ready for Battle isn’t bad, I suppose?
MD – 8/10 – The best keeper row by a country mile, Lion has an in faction strong water province in the Art of War. Along with Shameful Display and the supremely powerful Feast or Famine Lion’s provinces are a force to be reckoned with.
Joe – 7.5/10 – Feast or Famine that can potentially be paired with Talisman of the Sun is pretty brutal (if you dare not run an attachment control splash). Especially since Lion often runs Charge as their restricted card, you could potentially charge Toturi in on your attack and then they happen to run into and break Feast or Famine and place 2 fate on him for you. Art of War is also a very potent province. Since Lion is all attack all the time, having 2 “on break” provinces that benefit their standing in the game is a perfect pairing.
Chut – 8/10 – Definitively good, thanks to Feast and Famine and the in-clan province Art of War. It allows Lion to be military offensive without being completely crushed on the counterattack.
Nomen – 8/10 – On the other hand, Lion provinces are excellent. Feast or Famine, the best Water province in the game, and standard Void/Air is a pretty scary row whose only real problem is not getting Seeker fate.
MD – 4/10 – The Lion Stronghold starts at 12 honor is its biggest strength, other than that it gives lion a decent to large amount of military power. This would be good if Lion didn’t already have a plethora of mil pumps available which often leads to no real uses.
Joe – 3/10 – Lion has one of the weakest strongholds in the game right now. It is currently the only stronghold that only impacts 25% of conflict types (military attack). It is a very potent buff, of course, as Lions tend to swarm and getting +1 military for each character that is attacking can help break provinces even with just a single character, like Matsu Berserker. But they already have plenty of military buffs. I’ve seen Lions not need to trigger their stronghold for multiple turns in a row.
Chut – 5.5/10 – Remember when I talked about the Dynasty and Conflict double down? This is the triple down. Despite the total lack of flexibility, I think that this is a good stronghold. Its issue is that it leads to unnecessary Mil overkill alongside the dynasty and conflict decks but I can see it having more potential when Lion has a less focused mil deck.
Nomen – 4.5/10 – It only buffs one conflict per turn (your Mil attack), LPB edge cases aside. But you will be declaring that conflict every turn, so it could be much much worse, and it’s often a fairly sizeable buff.
MD – 24/40
Joe – 22.5/40
Chut – 26/40
Nomen – 21/40
MD – 7/10 – High cost, high glory characters make up a lot of the phoenix dynasty, although they have a decent curve minus their non existent 3’s exception being yojimbo. Phoenix Dynasty score is carried heavily by Tadaka, Kanjo and Prodigy of Waves.
Joe – 6/10 – Phoenix’s dynasty deck is super bland. They have a lot of efficient cards, like Prodigy of the Waves, Master of Gisei Toshi and Asako Tsuki, but their biggest strength, honestly, is the prevalence of the shugenja trait, that makes their conflict deck work wonders. Tadaka and Kanjo District are busted too. I’m still bitter that Meddling Mediator is basically Levy printed on a character but better…
Chut – 7/10 – Tadaka, Prodigy of the Waves, Master of Gisei Toshi, Asako Tsuki and Kanjo districts are the key elements that carry the dynasty deck, two of them can lock the whole game once they hit the board in the appropriate situation/matchups. Most other characters are not that impressive but they are still quite good. One of the weakness of the deck is the high overall fate cost.
Nomen – 6/10 – Tadaka is meta-defining ridiculous, and the rest of the deck is a little better than the rest of Lion’s, with a few solid 2s and some fairly scary high costs. Oh yes, there’s also Kanjo District.
MD – 7/10 – Phoenix took the largest hit from the restricted list with a total of 12 very high impact cards being put on the list. Their conflict deck has very little interaction outside of stat boosts and potential bows with Against the Waves. Karmic Twist is a potential blowout that will need to be watched out for as the game ages. The one super, super bright light is Shrine Maiden, which is just an absurd card. Kyuden Isawa also bolsters this score by virtue of its flashback.
Joe – 8/10 – Phoenix’s conflict deck is extremely powerful and its only further amplified by their new stronghold. The prevalence of Shugenjas in their dynasty deck allows them to run 3 Cloud the Mind and makes Supernatural a free +X/+X that they can spend twice per card with their stronghold. Same for Against the Waves, which allows them to get additional value of each character they play. Clarity of Purpose serves a similar purpose. Shrine Maiden having the potential to draw you 3 free cards is also pretty damn good on a 1 for 1/1 conflict character. Display of Power and Karmic Twist will, on occasion, blow out a game. The deck is super expensive though, so it takes careful fate management to really maximize, which is why I think Phoenix hasn’t won anything of relevance yet.
Chut – 8/10 – Phoenix conflict took a hit post restricted list but is still strong, thanks to key cards like Against the Waves, Clarity of Purpose and Supernatural Storm. The real MVP here is Shrine Maiden which can draw on average nearly two cards by itself while being a relevant body. If Phoenix’s conflict deck has a real weakness it would be the lack of conflict characters aside from the aforementioned Shrine Maiden.
Nomen – 6.5/10 – The word “Ready” is pretty good, and Shrine Maiden is pretty obviously insane. The deck has to be a little worse to play enough spells for the box, however – Supernatural Storm is hardly exciting.
MD – 4/10 – Phoenix province row sucks, it’s got shameful display and then a bunch of mid power ones like manicured and meditations and then the real clunker that is public forum. Definitely the worst row in the game.
Joe – 4/10 – Phoenix has the most vanilla province row in the game, if not the worst. They have Kuroi Mori, but they rarely run it because most Phoenix players value the tempo Shameful Display provides more often, especially in a timed format where getting to the Stronghold is never guaranteed (and using KM to rebuff multiple stronghold attacks is even less likely). Using the old stronghold, Sanpuku Seidō can be a surprise for your opponent. I’ve seen province rows that have KM and SS in row as a “You have to break one of these” kind of thing but those are fringe cases and also suffer in timed formats.
Chut – 4.5/10 – Phoenix province lineup is as vanilla as it can be with the Keeper of Water role. Public Forum synergizes well with Display of power and there is some alternatives possible with Kuroi Mori on stronghold that can hold some surprise factor but aside from that, very unexciting.
Nomen – 3/10 – The worst possible Province row. Points that are there are because at least they can play Shameful.
Stronghold (Kyuden Isawa):
MD – 9/10 – This stronghold’s raw power is unreal, flashback on any spell is a ludicrous ability and will just go up and up in power as more good spells get printed.
Joe – 8.5/10 – Phoenix’s new Stronghold is extremely powerful, as everyone knows hand extension is good. It is a little weaker than other strongholds early in the game because using its action will often cost a fate (as the most usable spells are 1 fate right now, thank God.) However, as the mid game approaches, it becomes a toolbox that is hard to match with generic strength buffs. It’ll only get stronger as more spells come out.
Chut – 8.5/10 – An impressive stronghold that is not as easy to use as it seems. First, it requires you to partially build your conflict deck around it. Secondly, playing 2 to 3 Against the waves / Clarity of purpose in a turn with the help of the Stronghold is a tempting proposition but requires good fate management and the key Phoenix characters are already not cheap.
Nomen – 10/10 – A card advantage stronghold that doesn’t even risk sometimes drawing bad cards, and it can even replay your Restricted card- six against the waves per game is pretty good, I hear.
MD – 27/40
Joe – 26.5/40
Chut – 28/40
Nomen – 25.5/40
Scorpion/Crane or Phoenix or Dragon
MD – 7.5/10 – Scorpion players always complain that their dynasty deck is “bad” while it’s not the best in the game it is far from bad. Strong pol stats across the board but no military to boast of. Along with multiple strong abilities on these characters. Scorpion could do a lot worse when it comes to a dynasty deck.
Joe – 7.5/10 – Scorpions complain about the weakness of their dynasty deck, but I don’t get it. Bayushi Liar is a -/3 and a card for 1 fate, Soshi Illusionist is a 1/3 for 2 that removes status tokens. Shoju is one of the most effective and dangerous stat sticks in the entire game and people often don’t even contest the fucker for fear of being “chi burned” to death with his ability + a Fiery Madness or Way of the Scorpion or Sinister Soshi. They have multiple 1 and 2 cost courtiers that ensure Forged Edict is nearly always active as well as some potent 3 to 4 cost characters such as Yogo Hiroue who can harpoon any character into the conflict, both opposing or friendly, based on the circumstances. He even adds dishonor tokens if he wants if you win the conflict. Hiroue + Shoju is super frustrating, because it can occasionally outright murder a character with you having little to say about it.
Chut – 7/10 – This is the weakest part of the Scorpion clan but do not be fooled, it’s still pretty solid with amazing characters like Bayushi Liar, Soshi Illusionist or Bayushi Shoju. Luckily, they must rely on a small amount of average dynasty cards to fill all their slots.
Nomen – 5/10 – Some decent uniques, Liar, and a pile of random 2/2s or 1/3s. You don’t lose to Scorpion because of their Dynasty deck
MD – 9/10 – Pre restricted list Scorpion had a 10 for a conflict deck, which just goes to show you how powerful it was that it’s still at a 9. With access to the best counter in the game, in faction attachment control a slew of character control elements, potent conflict characters and full flexibility in splash Scorpion’s conflict deck is incredible.
Joe – 9/10 – I mean…where to begin? Event control, attachment control, character removal, character control, high power conflict characters, Hand information, on demand dishonor…Is there any piece of the “design pie” that Scorpion doesn’t have in their conflict deck? Saves, I guess? Ugh, what was FFG thinking…
Chut – 9/10 – Pre restricted list, the Scorpion conflict deck was a 10 out of 10. Post restricted list it is still quite ahead of all others conflict decks in the game because it allows to play a value game better than any other clan, has a potential answer to everything and is very consistent.
Nomen – 9/10 – You lose because they don’t need to rely on it. Remember how I said PD is worth a full point? Scorpion has all the other 9. In-faction cancel and attachment control gives them the freedom to splash whatever they want, and we’ve been seeing more people taking advantage of that freedom recently.
MD – 9/10 – The second best on raw power but the best row in terms of consistency, the scorpion province row compliments their play style and conflict deck perfectly. When your “farmable” province is Meditations on the Tao you know you have a good thing going.
Joe – 8.5/10 – While not as horrifying as Dragon’s row, where you can outright lose the game on reveal, Scorpion’s province row is pretty awful in its own right. You get the choice between Shameful Display, where honor tokens and dishonor tokens show up, Secret Cache, where you give your opponent selective card draw/limited tutoring, Pilgrimage, where you have to either break or get virtually nothing from the conflict even when you win or…Meditations, which a good Scorpion allows to break immediately so that you must attack into one of the other 3. But even if you don’t, it still threatens to remove fate from your attackers, which is actually a really good effect. Their “weakest effect” on province is still one of the better neutral options in the game.
Chut – 9/10 – This is the second best province row in the game, thanks to the seeker of void role and the best air province in the game (Secret Cache). The only farmable province would be Meditations and, even then, it’s a really annoying one to farm.
Nomen – 8.5/10 – I would have rated the Scorpion row closer to 9.5/10 before we saw Feast or Famine, but that card is so absurd it distorts the whole scale.
MD – 10/10 – City of the Open Hand is just an abomination in terms of balance, I have no idea how this made it passed testing. A free air ring every turn and you’d better believe that the great Scorpion players will play to have this “on” every turn. Between self dishonor, assassination(s), and Bayushi Manipulator etc… The other thing that this stronghold does is allow the Scorpion player to deal with opposing dishonor and honor strategies very easily.
Joe – 10/10 – I can’t fathom what Scorpion would need to have as a new Stronghold that would make Scorpion players stray from this stronghold for any reason other than the memes. It’s a free Air Ring per turn if you have less honor, which means Scorpion can bid 5 forever. And if you don’t bid 5 with them, then they go below you in honor and just use their stronghold to ignore the consequences of their high bid. It protects against one of the most common loss conditions, dishonor, while simultaneously propelling Scorpion towards that same win condition. It keeps honor decks in check, if they were to ever exist, and it doesn’t even have subpar stats to make up for this absurdity. This card will be in every competitive Scorpion deck until it’s banned, errata’d, restricted or they give Scorpion a new stronghold that becomes the most busted stronghold in the game. Because that’s what they have right now.
Chut – 9/10 – The more you play this game, the more you understand how good City of the Open Hand is. It is very easy to use and it makes Scorpion very hard to dishonor and allows them to push for the dishonor win condition reliably.
Nomen – 9.5/10 – Completely insane. Draw an extra card every turn, not hard to turn on. But it is possible to turn off, which costs it that half a point. As usual, any card advantage stronghold will be miles ahead of a stat stronghold.
MD – 35.5/40
Joe – 35/40
Chut – 34/40
Nomen – 32/40
Unicorn/Crab or Crane
MD – 3/10 – Unicorn’s dynasty deck up to this point has been a train wreck, well that’s actually an insult to train wrecks…
Joe – 3.5/10 – The conclusion to this rating system is also the saddest… Unicorn has nowhere to go but up, because they got a ton of trash out of the core set. And the first cycle didn’t help them all that much either. Aggressive Moto compared to the Matsu Berserker will just make your head spin. Their Clan Champion does basically nothing most of the time and can only trigger, at most, 3 times per game. All their characters have subpar to average stats and all their abilities often amount to nothing. This clan was FFG’s biggest mistake in this game and it’s good to see that the 2nd cycle appears to be an attempt at righting this wrong.
Chut – 4.5/10 – Unicorn’s current dynasty deck is mediocre and filled with understatted characters. Some are outright bad but a lot are just average or a little under average. There are still notably good characters like Border Rider or Utaku Infantry but clearly not enough of them. From what we’ve seen so far, cycle 2 is about to heavily change that.
Nomen – 1/10 – To answer the question of “why isn’t this a zero” – They have Border Rider. That card’s pretty sweet.
MD – 6/10 – Unicorn’s conflict deck is actually decent, with some of the best attachments in the game along with some very powerful events like captive audience and cavalry reserves and one of the better conflict characters in wayfinder.
Joe – 6/10 – Despite their putrid Dynasty deck, their conflict deck is actually surprisingly good. Spyglass, Talisman, Wayfinder, Charge and Cavalry Reserves will be in their deck for a long time and all provide above curve value. There are a few “slap in the face” kind of cards, such as Gaijin Customs (Here’s a card you can’t use, Unicorn! We’re helping! J ), but there is potential here. It’s still one of the worst conflict decks right now, but at least it isn’t THE worst, which is the best thing you can say in defense of anything related to Unicorn right now, pre Cycle 2.
Chut – 5.5/10 – Cards like Spyglass, Talisman of Sun and Cavalry reserves, neutral cards and the Crab splash help to push the conflict deck to decent even if it is still lacking.
Nomen – 3/10 – Once again Unicorn has only a handful of reasonable cards, but this time those cards are much better – Iuchi Wayfinder lets you avoid playing the province lottery, Spyglass is consistent card draw, Talisman of the Sun wins games.
MD – 5/10 – While endless plains isn’t great it is a water province which elevates Unicorn’s row from terrible to medium.
Joe – 5/10 – I was just going to rate this down with Phoenix as a below average province row because it’s just a generic row, but Nomen did point out that you at least have to think about Endless Plains when playing against Unicorn and that’s…okay. And it’s on the worst element, water, so…yea. Generic Row with the potential for a blowout province if you’re facing a bad/careless player.
Chut – 5/10 – Very similar to the Phoenix row as it is very vanilla. The possibility of Endless plains as a water province can make people think twice before blindly swinging with a big character alone.
Nomen – 6/10 – Endless Plains can actually heavily warp your plays if you don’t have Reprieves. Naturally, if you do, this turns into effectively the Phoenix row, so you Crabs and Dragons out there can consider this rating a 3/10.
MD – 2/10 – Zero added strength, an ability that is gated by multiple restrictions that only moves in and you have the worst stronghold in the game by a good margin.
Joe – 2/10 – Unicorn has the worst stronghold in the game. I’ve seen Unicorns go entire games without seeing a really beneficial scenario for this action. It moves in but doesn’t ready. It can’t move out and it only works in military conflicts. Its best attribute is probably being able to trigger Ide Trader. Plus, it has +0 province strength? Man, if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times. FFG really did screw the pooch with their original design of Unicorn.
Chut – 2/10 – A design mistake. People often joke about it saying that it does nothing, which is not entirely true but even the possible move synergy with Ide Trader or Spyglass is far from enough to fully justify the ability and the terrible +0 Province Strength.
Nomen – 0/10 – Poor ponies. Forget stat strongholds, you get a “I guess it prevents unopposed honor loss on Mil” stronghold. If you have the right keyword in play, that is.
MD – 16/40
Joe – 16.5/40
Chut – 17/40
Nomen – 10/40
In conclusion we hope you found this article a fun read and it hopefully paints a picture of where we think each clan’s strengths and weaknesses lie and which type of cards could help each clan the most in this upcoming 6×6 cycle. This article was a microcosm of each clan’s perceived raw power, it does not take into account synergy, timed rules, player skill or how well the decks play when put together. This is not a tier list and should not be seen as such, it is just a thought experiment on the power rankings of each clan.
Considering how well Crab have performed, I think you are all highly undervaluing them in your assessment.
Thanks for the entertaining read! I agree with basically everything that was said, and I look forward to cycle 2 adjusting somethings. So far what I have seen, it looks like my Dragon will only be gaining more power!
I actually think role locking is interesting because it will force “best builds” to change, potentially radically, after winter court. Not having access to Feast and Famine and Resto and Shameful will make Dragon feel more fair to play against imho.