Hey guys, Joe from Cincinnati here. I haven’t written an original article for a while now because, turns out, it’s really hard to write stuff about a game that hasn’t changed in almost 6 months (at least not for us. Phoenix obviously changed a bit, but nothing really worth writing about.).
But hey, look. What’s this? A Restricted List? Less than a year into the game’s life? Man, FFG really screwed the pooch on this one, eh? How did they design a game that needed restriction so soon? Well, it may have had something to do with Scorpion winning 4 of a possible 7 Kotei and Crab winning the other 3 (If I have my facts straight on that one. Apologies if I forgot a Kotei somewhere.) I know. Crazy. Who knew that big tournaments should be won by more than 2 of the 7 clans in the game.
For those of you too lazy to open the linked article, a restricted list means that, of the cards on the list, you may only include 1 of those cards in your decks. You can still use up to 3 copies of that card, but once you choose 1 card from that list, you are not allowed to include any of the other cards on that list.
This is the Restricted List, as of May 21, 2018:
I won’t go too much into my opinion on whether this list is required. We have a lot to cover here. But my initial reaction was something like “Damn. Already? I wish they did this for Game of Thrones during the first cycle! fuck First Snow of Winter…”
Now, at first glance, this list looks absolutely horrendous for Crab. Policy Debate, Charge!, Iron Mine AND Pathfinder’s Blade? That’s two Crab cards and two key neutrals that we now can only choose one to build around. However, I think Crab benefits in many ways from this list as well. Let’s take a look at each of the cards on this list and discuss how their inclusion affects the Crab clan.
First and foremost, regarding Policy Debate, there’s a chance that this list essentially erases it from the game. Looking at each clan, there is one card on this list that is arguably two or three times as valuable to the clan as Policy Debate is. So Crab may have lost Policy Debate, but most of our opponents did as well. So it’s basically a net zero situation. There will be people who run Policy Debate instead of these arguably higher impact cards for their clan, but that will likely (but not definitely, of course. Joe makes no promises on this website) be the unusual case rather than the normal case. Let’s take a look.
For Dragon, it’s Pathfinder’s Blade (PFB) or Mirumoto’s Fury (or perhaps Charge! in some cases).
For Lion, it’s Charge! Or perhaps For Greater Glory (this is the one card I don’t understand why it made the list. Poor Lions, kicking them while they’re down.)
For Phoenix, it’s Charge! (For Fushichō, henceforth known as Charge Bird), Against the Waves (which pairs extraordinarily well with their new Stronghold, Kyuden Isawa) or perhaps Mirumoto’s Fury, as Dragon splash is very popular out of Phoenix.
For Scorpion their choice is between Forged Edict, Forged Edict or Forged Edict (it depends on their deck build).
And for Unicorn, it’s Charge! Maybe For Greater Glory if they’re still doing that Lion splash deck, but I think that deck’s time has long since passed. I also saw a few Unicorns bemoaning the loss of Forged Edict, but eh. They’ll live.
The only clan I could really see consistently running Policy Debate as of the card pool right now is Crane. And, let’s be honest, we didn’t get all that many Policy Debates off on them anyway, so losing Policy Debate for that match up is irritating, but not devastating by any means.
It does mean we can no longer scout our opponent’s hand (outside of Meek Informant in your splash) prior to setting up the Assassination + Way of the Crab combo by removing the answer from their hand beforehand (like a low cost conflict character or Reprieve or event cancel) but, in my opinion, that combo is more of a “finishing move” than a strategy to build around anyway. At least with the talent level of the player pool today. Most people have learned how to work around that combo relatively well, unless they’re already in dire straits.
This is a big deal for Crab, in my opinion. As mentioned in the previous section, many clans have higher priorities, generally speaking, from this restricted list so a lot of cards will fall off more out of necessity than desire. Going into the new meta with the Phoenix Clan Pack, Dragon splash was extraordinarily popular. In the Discord League Invitational, 13 of the possible 16 players submitted decks with Dragon cards in them. Only 2 of them were Dragon players, so that means 11 of the possible 14 chose Dragon splash over all others. And it makes sense why so many did. It offered two major things: free attachment control and easy bows (Let Go and Fury). Now, your opponent has to either choose Fury or their main card in their clan (Edict, Against the Waves, PFB etc). It will still show up in Dragon decks fairly often (although probably not 100% anymore), but I think it will drastically decrease as a splash card.
In addition, this may yet decrease the number of Let Gos in the meta as well because people will be less inclined to make Dragon Splash their default choice if they only get half of the key cards from the splash. This will help Crab immensely as we have a lot of extremely powerful attachments that may last a lot longer now with this restriction, such as Reprieve and Watch Commander as well as popular splash options in Spyglass and Talisman of the Sun.
It won’t eliminate Dragon splash, of course. In fact, there’s a chance it won’t even make people stray from Dragon Splash at all, because the Tattooed Wanderer is a formidable choice to pair with Let Go as well. Even still, this will decrease the number of Mirumoto’s Furies in the game and, as Crabs with many of our key characters having just 1 or even 0 glory, this is a big win for us.
Not a whole lot to say on this front. Scorpion will almost assuredly take Forged Edict from this list every time, as it is still one of the best cards available in the game. However, this does mean that Scorpion is more likely to move away from the Dragon Splash, as they would be forced to choose between Fury and Forged Edict, and it may force them away from the Crab splash as well, as they would be forced to choose between PFB and Forged Edict. And that’s not even taking into account Policy Debate likely leaving their deck as well. In addition, there have been successful decks in the past that run Forged Edict as a splash card, such as Phoenix, Crane and Unicorn. This will restrict the number of event cancels we will see outside of Scorpion main clan (though there is still Voice of Honor and Censure out there). There will probably be Scorpion decks that will choose another card over Forged Edict. I don’t think it is a very good idea for them. But I’m sure people will try it. That is just good news for us, as Assassination, Way of the Crab, The Mountain Does Not Fall and Rebuild are all commonly cancelled cards that most Crab decks run at least 2 copies each, if not 3.
Okay. This is the big blow. This is the one that shook me, and probably you, to the core. This is the card on this list that made us tear up for a moment upon reading this list. This, paired with Iron Mine on this list, made my heart break for a moment. No longer will we be able to truly abuse the Charge + Iron Mines combo to get 2 rounds of a 4/5 fate character for 1 fate. You can still do the Charge + Reprieve combo. But that is a lot more finicky since Reprieves can be stolen/Let Go and, without Policy Debate, it’s difficult to ensure your reprieves will be safe when you play them unless you already know your opponent’s splash and know they don’t run Let Go or Calling in Favors (even then, there are other attachment control options such as the Fire Elemental Guard and Miya Mystic, who has been gaining steam lately with Cloud the Mind being everywhere).
HOWEVER, all hope is not lost. There was a card that was released during the first cycle. Most people (including myself) called it a shittier version of Charge! and dismissed it. That card…is Raise the Alarm.
Stop throwing tomatoes!
Stahp! I get it. It’s a bad card. It’s undeniably a bad card. It requires your opponent to attack a facedown card on a military conflict. It has to be on defense. It serves no purpose when your opponent is attacking your stronghold(because there are no face down cards in your stronghold) and the RNG (element of randomness, essentially) is downright horrific. But, it at least offers us one backup way to gain free economy that can be saved with Reprieves, Iron Mines and Vanguard Warriors. I’m not saying it’s perfect. In fact, I am not even sure it will work even now (In fact it probably won’t). It has a chance to work though. And with Talisman of the Sun coming out of the Unicorn splash (the most popular splash for Crab by a wide margin), you can probably dictate its ability to be active at least to some degree by moving your opponent’s military conflict over to a face down card with the Talisman. I don’t think it should be a 3x, but I think 1 or MAYBE 2 copies will be a good surprise or at least inevitability that could net you a pretty good character for free that you can save and prolong using Crab saves. It could also net you fuck all. So…cautious optimism.
It isn’t nearly as guaranteed or predictable (or plannable or enjoyable) as Charge!, but it’s something that Crab has that, now, very few other clans do have. Charge! will be similar to Policy Debate in that many decks will likely not run it because they have better cards already on the restricted list that they must choose from. This not only makes Military conflicts a bit more predictable (you don’t have to be as aware of what your opponent DIDN’T buy this round when attacking militarily) but it also means that Crab, with their ability to sustain a board with saves, should be able to overpower their opponent over time with them no longer having access to a quick economy jolt in our favorite conflict via Charge!
Besides, 3 slots just opened up in every Crab deck anyway ;).
You can pretty much get the idea of how I feel about this from the above section. In my opinion, this is the card 99% of Crabs should take from the restricted list. It accounts for 50% of our 12 saves (3 Iron Mines, 3 Vanguard Warriors, 3 Reprieves, 3 Rebuilds for more Iron Mines). Without it, our resilience falls back into the Stone Age (read: Core set meta). There may be some super tempo decks that want to take Charge! instead. That’s fine. But I think most Crabs should stay the course with the gradual sustained growth of a board state and that style needs Iron Mine more than Charge! in my opinion. You may disagree, but I’m pretty sure on this one. If you want to test it the other way, let me know how it goes J.
For Greater Glory
I mean, this should have virtually no impact on Crab. It’ll suck for Lion to lose the Charge + FGG combo. But they still have Ujiaki if they want to build around that strategy. It may impact Unicorn as well, who at a point in the game’s life, liked the Lion splash for this purpose but, like I said, I don’t think it’s that prominent for them right now anyway. Not that they really have anything I would call a “competitive build” at the moment anyway. Hopefully that will change with the second cycle (I mean, I can’t imagine it getting much worse anyway.)
Against the Waves
This will have an impact on Crab in one meaningful way. Phoenix will have to choose between Against the Waves and Charge! (Maybe Fury? But I doubt it), which means each Phoenix deck will be able to either abuse Charge Bird or 6 (Because of their new Stronghold) Ready/Bow effects on Shugenja (one of our best characters, Steadfast Witch Hunter, being a Shugenja they commonly bow), but they won’t be able to do both. And that’s faaaaantastic, as far as I’m concerned.
The second Crab card on this list. Yep. We’re the only clan that has 2 cards on this list.
Sons of bitches.
But wait. This is a card we can’t play anyway! Hurray!
Turns out it is actually a Dragon card in disguise. So Dragon has two cards on this restricted list. Not us.
Now, I will say that, leading up to Worlds, every clan gets to choose a second role to play during Worlds, which is determined based on votes made at Koteis during this season. A lot of Crab players, myself included, wanted a Seeker role for two reasons: More deck building options for Worlds (why have two keeper roles? Seems pointless) and because we wanted to play Pathfinder’s Blade.
Well, we don’t have to worry about that anymore! Seeker Crab is almost exclusively worse than Keeper Crab now and until this Restricted List is changed to either remove Iron Mine or Pathfinder’s Blade from it, I don’t see that changing.
Not that I’m all that bummed. I’ve never used this card, so it being unavailable to me is nothing new. I kind of wish I could have fucked around with Seeker Crab to see if this card was worth losing Crisis Breakers, Keeper Initiates and Talismans of the Sun. But I had a feeling in my gut that slightly better provinces, a few more fate and PFB was likely not worth those three cards. Now I don’t even have to wonder.
This does, however, affect a few other clans in some interesting ways. Dragon now has to choose between a few very potent cards in PFB, Fury and Policy Debate. I think many will go with PFB, many others will go with Fury and a hand full will choose Policy Debate (I think that will be a mistake however, because they do have the investigator already). The second most popular splash for Scorpion other than Dragon was Crab, and PFB was a big part of that. Scorpion will almost certainly be choosing Forged Edict over PFB, so that may (not guaranteed of course) make Crab splash out of Scorpion much less attractive as well. And, finally, Crane occasionally ran PFB (though it was far less frequent than the previous two clans.) They would have to choose between PFB and Policy Debate (And possible Charge!). Being that almost everyone else will likely drop Policy Debate in favor of other cards, this will likely make Crane want to run Policy Debate even more, making PFB less popular for that clan as well.
When new roles are defined following Worlds (and temporarily between the Kotei season and Worlds), it will be interesting to see what clans choose a Seeker role and, thus, gain access to this card. I don’t know how many would be willing to choose this card over other cards on that list, but there is some opportunity there.
Overall, I know a lot of people are going to be a bit shell shocked about losing Charge or Iron Mine (the main choice for Crabs, in my opinion), but I think we weren’t hit so hard, relatively speaking. At least in comparison to a few other clans.
I think Scorpion losing major aspects of their best splashes (Fury from Dragon splash, PFB from Crab splash) or losing Forged Edict makes them one of the primary “losers” of this list. Phoenix, also, loses either Charge (which they used to abuse Charge Bird) or Against the Waves (in addition to the other standards such as Fury and Policy Debate) would be considered one of the bigger losers from this list as well.
I imagine Scorpion will begin entertaining things like a Phoenix splash now, following this list. Maybe Unicorn splash? I’ve heard rumbles of such a deck already anyway. I’m not sure if their current archetype decks are still viable, or at least they are not as powerful as they were before this list. As for Phoenix, I could see them going back to Scorpion splash to get Meek Informants, AFWTD and Calling in Favors. I am not a Scorpion or Phoenix player, so both of these predictions are pure guesses. Maybe they both just stick with Dragon splash because fuck it, amirite?
Crane got away virtually unscathed, as the only cards they really lost are the same cards everyone else lost (like Charge!) as well as a few splash options like Forged Edict or Mirumoto’s Fury. And even then, they can run those splash cards if they drop Policy Debate, whereas most other clans have to drop their feature splash card AND Policy Debate. Crane could go hard into Scorpion splash following this list, or stick with Dragon splash as well (pattern sensed).
Unicorn also got away pretty much unscathed. Which was required. Unicorn was in such a bad place. This list will help them, at least a little bit, in catching up to the other clans in terms of power level. At the very least, they’re moving in the right direction. This list shouldn’t affect them all that much overall.
Lion isn’t necessarily a loser from this list, because they only lost For Greater Glory, which was occasionally dropped to a 1 or 2x in Lion decks anyway, but it’s more a case of FFG kicking them while they were down. Lion was already, arguably, the second worst clan besides Unicorn (some, such as Spector, Winner of Pax Unplugged, even claim Lion was worse than Unicorn. I can’t get to that point, but it’s not a statement that is light years away from correct). Losing For Greater Glory is kind of a slap in the face for them. On the plus side, one of their biggest weaknesses, Policy Debate (because it’s so obvious when a Lion is setting up the big FGG play, you could often just defend with a high political character, Policy Debate the FGG out of their hand and then they get a break, but spent a lot of characters in order to do it), is almost removed from the meta, other than Crane and a few decks here and there that want to specialize in hand control.
Dragon is probably a minor loser as well. Fury and PFB are both great cards for them. Policy Debate was also strong out of Dragon in a lot of ways. Unlike Crab, the other cards being restricted, like Forged Edict, isn’t a huge gain for them. Of course, Against the Waves being on there means Yokuni will be bowed less often, but that’s minor because I suspect most Phoenix will take Against the Waves as their restricted card anyway. All things considered, Dragon probably removes Fury or PFB from their deck and then whatever number of copies of Charge and Policy Debate they had in there. We’ll see how it works out for them. Unfortunately for them, I don’t see how this list helps them improve the 8% win percentage they had against Crane at Dusseldorf this past weekend.
Where does Crab fall? I’d say right in the middle. We weren’t devastated by the list. But we definitely took some injuries. We gained a bit from it as well. Policy Debate, when used against our 0 and 1 political strength characters, was definitely irritating. So it being less common is great for us. Fury being less common is also very good for us and breaking up Scorpion’s Forged Edicts from their other control cards, such as Fury and PFB is also a very big win for Crab, as Scorpion is historically a pretty difficult (or at least true 50/50) match up for Crab. Losing Charge! is the main takeaway for Crab, along with losing Policy Debate for safely scouting out your opponent before initiating your combo plays to clear the board.
What are your thoughts on this list? You happy about it? Pissed as all hell? Somewhere in between? I am actually pretty excited. A change in the meta is always an exciting time, especially when it isn’t a change at your favorite clan’s expense. It could get rocky early on as people figure out what they want and what needs to go, but I have high hopes for Crab with this list in existence. I’ll miss Charge! but I don’t think it defined us as a clan. We’ll be just fine J.