Hey guys, Joe from Cincinnati here. Oh man. Lots of new stuff coming up in the new year. Between Children of the Empire, the Unicorn Clan pack and FFG’s promise of getting all the clan packs finished and out to the players by the end of 2019, we have a ton of content to enjoy coming up next year.

But first, what’s this little morsel of goodness? Oh, a new restricted list? Fabulous! I mean, it’s not a surprise. We were told by FFG that we’d get a new restricted list after Worlds. I don’t think anyone thought they meant 1 month after Worlds, when two Grand Koteis have already taken place…But I guess that was the plan all along? Let us revel in the dead meta for two Grand Koteis before starting the official new season :P.

Granted, this creates a new somewhat dead meta because we’re getting the new expansion, Children of the Empire, in January (reportedly) and there are, at the moment, only 2 Kotei that could even possibly be played in this new meta (two kotei on January 26th-27th, which may have the new CotE cards legal, depending on its exact release date) but…let’s just be thankful that it’s here :D. The Restricted List That Was Promised (Sorry guys, I’ll never truly shake my Game of Thrones roots 😊 ).

Just a reminder for those uninitiated, a restricted list means that, of the cards on the list, you may only include 1 in your decks. You can still use up to 3 copies of that card (unless your restricted card is a province or they ever put limit 1 per deck cards on the list, of course), but once you include 1 card from that list in your deck, you are not allowed to include any of the other cards on that list.

This is the Restricted List, which will be active starting on December 17, 2018:

-Iron Mine

-Against the Waves

+Guest of Honor


+Young Rumormonger

+A Fate Worse Than Death

+Isawa Tadaka

+Void Fist

+Niten Master

+Feast or Famine

Policy Debate

Mirumoto’s Fury

Forged Edict


For Greater Glory

Pathfinder’s Blade


Now, I am extremely pleased that they updated the restricted list. But did they add the correct cards? Well, that’s what we intend to cover today! I mean, kinda. That’s an opinion based thing, so not really a definitive answer…but I can at least tell you how I feel about the cards they put on the list! 😛

I think the first, and most obvious thing to me is that Crab and Phoenix’s “meta decks” remain essentially unchanged from this list. And by meta decks, I mean Crab splash Unicorn and Phoenix with Kyuden Isawa and a bunch of shugenja and spells with the previously restricted card Against the Waves (usually Dragon splash, but not always). Crab Uni plays both Iron Mine and Rebuild, so one coming off the list and one being added to the list makes their deck not change at all from this list. Similarly, Against the Waves coming off the list and Tadaka going on the list makes the typical Phoenix deck remain unchanged as well.

Lion were also essentially unaffected. No lion cards added or removed. Any changes caused by this list will be due to the splash chosen. Lion Support of the Scorpion, the top Lion deck at Worlds, for example, got hit by this list since they can no longer play AFWTD and Charge in the same deck. The 6-0 Lion deck that made the finals at Madrid, however, is completely unaffected. So that’s nice.

But we’re not here to talk about what decks DIDN’T change. We’re here to talk about the ones that did! With that in mind, I will be going down the list of changes and giving my thoughts on why a card was restricted, what deck types and clans it affects most and whether I felt the restriction was necessary.

Guest of Honor

Finally! A Crane card hits the restricted list! I think the reasoning for this card being restricted is clear (especially since they also restricted Tadaka). Guest of Honor is a heavy control character that kind of…encourages a lack of interaction between the two players. You attack or defend with Guest of Honor and suddenly your opponent cannot play any events at all until they deal with her, either by somehow murdering or moving her without using events (using Aramoro, for example) or Clouding her Mind. It was irritating having to deal with her as she essentially reduced your ability to interact in that particular conflict to potentially half of your conflict deck, if not less. And, with Favorable Ground and other ready/movement effects, she can easily be in multiple conflicts in any given round to further increase her power level.

Now, the unfortunate part for Crane is that, before Worlds, this restriction would have just meant that Crane players removed Policy Debate/Mirumoto’s Fury/Whatever from their decks and moved on with their lives. However, then Worlds came. And the new Crane Shogun, Erik Baalhuis, selected Seeker of Fire as Crane’s new role. He selected Seeker of Fire specifically for Crab players’ sake. If he had taken the role he likely preferred, Seeker of Void, then Scorpion would have taken Seeker of Air, and that would have left Dragon with no good Seeker options, which meant that Kingsley, the top Dragon, would likely have taken Keeper of Water since Dragon could not re-select Seeker of Fire. By taking Seeker of Fire, Erik allowed Dragon to get Seeker of Void which then allowed Crab to get Keeper of Water (by the way, this is verified as his intent in his Worlds Report. This isn’t a happy coincidence.) At the time I hailed Erik as an honorary Crab for this sacrifice and I was told by a few that I was glorifying his “sacrifice” because being able to play Feast or Famine is hardly a sacrifice. My response was basically that this exact restriction could happen…And it did…So now Crane has to choose between Feast or Famine and Guest of Honor AND they also lose their previous restricted card like Policy Debate.

This just further enforces my belief that we really should be given an idea of what the restricted list is before new roles are selected. Sure, they let us know that Feast or Famine will be added to the list, but should Crane players have been forced to predict whether Guest of Honor or some other important Crane card would be put on the Restricted List as well before making their decision? It seems to add unnecessary risk to the role selection process. And I understand the counterpoint is that the tournaments like Worlds provide information that informs FFG (and the playtesters) what needs to be put on the Restricted List. But even just a general idea would have helped in this scenario…

As for impact on deck build, I believe the vast majority of Crane players will take Guest of Honor and then play Keeper of Air so they can use Soul Beyond Reproach (SBR). I think Crane Seeker of Fire will become relatively uncommon since you’ll be giving up SBR while gaining very few things (unless you give up Guest of Honor, their best dynasty card, to play Feast or Famine). I imagine Crane’s goal is to win Seeker of Air back to replace Keeper of Air at the next role selection and leave Seeker of Fire in the “barely played” category until new cards come out that may incentivize them to do otherwise.

I do think, for the record, that restricting Guest of Honor is a good thing. If you look at the results of PAX unplugged and Madrid, you’ll see an unusually large number of Cranes in the top cut as well as a few other metrics (I saw one comment on Facebook discussing the Positive/Neutral/Negative metric as an indication of clan power level at PAX Unplugged) that indicate that Crane is a bit too powerful at the moment. Some of those Cranes were Seeker of Fire, but I believe a fair number were Keeper of Air as well, so I don’t think this is necessarily “double hitting” the top Crane meta deck, which I believe will be Keeper of Air from here on out.

Rebuild (and Iron Mine removed)

Alright, I wrote way too much about Guest of Honor. My bad guys. I’ll keep this one short…er…

First, why it was restricted. I know a lot of Crabs are going to balk at this change. “It is our one truly amazing event!” is a comment I’ve heard a few times regarding Rebuild (though, with Fight On, I’m not entirely sure I agree with the statement anymore) and I assume that that will be the sentiment here as well. The reason it was restricted, however, is that it is just…way too efficient. Let me put it this way:

Imagine if they printed a 0 cost event that read “Save a character. Or draw a card. Or move a character into the conflict. Or move a character out of the conflict. Or give all of your characters +1/+1. Or pay 1 fate to your opponent to take control of their attachment. Or sacrifice a character to draw a card. Or <insert any new holding’s ability that Crab gets access to in the future>.

Would you consider that card a bit too flexible and/or overpowered? Because it seems FFG would.

I know that is a bit of an oversimplification of what Rebuild is because you must have the holding in your discard pile before you can use it, but Miya Satoshi is a card that allows you to pretty reliably fill your discard pile with holdings, increasing the value of Rebuild exponentially. Add in the fact that Rebuild’s value will only increase as more holdings are added to the game and you have a pretty clear-cut case for why Rebuild was restricted.

Like I said in the bumper above, this change has very little impact on the current meta deck for Crab, Unicorn splash. Specifically, the tower build variety. Following Worlds and Pablo’s run to the top 8 with an unorthodox deck (which I call the “Pablo deck”), I know there were some new unicorn splash decks that surfaced that used the basic deck building philosophy of Pablo’s deck. This comment is not about those decks. It is regarding “my deck,” using 3x Spyglass, 2x Talisman and 3x Wayfinder as the splash. That deck ran Rebuild with Iron Mine as its restricted card. So, running Iron Mine with Rebuild as its restricted card means no changes are necessary for this list.

However, that does not mean that Crab came away unscathed from this restricted list update. The “Pablo Decks” got hit with this one. Rebuild was a staple card for that deck because it helped get your Kuni Laboratories back and allowed you to rebuild a storehouse to draw a card and clear a province out in order to play Raise the Alarm (we call that the “Pablo Special”). Sure, that deck can now play Iron Mine if they want to continue using Charge, but a weenie(-ish) deck with no attachments doesn’t get nearly as much from Iron Mine as they do from Rebuild, so this is likely a net loss for any crab deck that was using Charge as their restricted card.

Plus, any other clan that previously would have liked to splash Crab for Rebuild are basically sunk on this one. Unicorn splash Crab, for example, probably have to give up on the deck concept that allows them to rebuild Yurts for honor gain or Shiotome Encampment for unexpected ready actions. Charge is likely just better for Unicorn than Rebuild most of the time. In essence, restricting Rebuild makes it almost exclusively a Crab card (which I don’t necessarily consider a bad thing).

However, this does open the door for Crab to run Iron Mine + Charge again. So that will be interesting to test. I don’t know if that will be superior to Iron Mine + Rebuild (since, as we know, 12 saves is fine) but it is at least worth testing. I assume that IM+Charge will be a more “explosive” deck and IM+Rebuild will be a more gradual advantage deck. Which one you choose may end up depending on your play style. There are also a few fringe possibilities as well, such as bringing Policy Debate back or potentially For Greater Glory if you’re feeling extra janky :-).

As for how I feel about the change, I am ambivalent about it. I thought Reprieve would have been a better card to restrict since its influence is so undercosted, making it incredibly splashable. But obviously, that is my bias talking because I think that would benefit Crab and hurt other clans like Dragon. I’d personally drop Reprieve before I drop Rebuild in my tower deck.

Let’s just put it this way: I understand why they did it and I don’t feel like I have the right to be upset about it (since my own personal deck is completely unaffected by this change), especially considering how much other clans were hit by this restricted list by comparison.

Young Rumormonger

Okay, wow. I ended up writing even more that time…I guess that should have been expected, since it was the Crab cards. I promise this one will actually be shorter 😊.

This addition is the first head scratcher for me. Why did they restrict this card? I mean, am I missing something? There’s no way a Scorpion player would ever take this card over A Fate Worse Than Death or Forged Edict, right? I don’t get it. I guess they are hedging their bets since Scorpion has Seeker of Air they have access to SBR and Mark of Shame, so this restriction may be an attempt to preempt the Noble Sacrifice madness (If you dishonor their big character with Mark Of Shame, you can prevent them from rehonoring that character using Young Rumormonger, making Noble Sacrifice a virtual guarantee?) but that is a guess at best…It would have slowed down Madrid’s winner, Jakub…maybe…or maybe he would have just won anyway…

This restriction, at least for the time being, completely erases YRM from the game. I see no reason why Scorpion would take them over Forged Edict or a Fate Worse Than Death in the current meta environment. I feel that this was unnecessary. And since it is a dynasty card, this has no impact on any other clan’s deck building. Speaking of A Fate Worse Than Death…

A Fate Worse Than Death

Woo buddy. This is a controversial one. Scorpion players and Scorpion splash advocates will tell you that AFWTD is powerful but expensive with clear answers (Such as event cancels and Finger of Jade) and therefore balanced whereas detractors will tell you that AFWTD is a card that simplifies the game in a way that is not conducive to the health of the game (Scorpion does not defend. Scorpion AFWTDs your guy. You sigh and pass). It is also an “unfun” card that may drive players away from the game over time, especially casual players.

I am somewhere in between these two opinions. I can see why FFG restricted it, as it can legitimately make players grow a distaste for the game. If the purpose of the game is to interact with your opponent using meaningful characters and abilities, then spending 4 fate to just remove a threat is not something that will make people feel good about the state of the game. Especially in a clan with so many efficient control cards (like Way of the Scorpion and Forged Edict) that allow the clan to bank fate, making the 4 fate cost relatively inconsequential, this can feel a bit oppressive.

But on the other hand, I don’t believe AFWTD is over the curve in terms of power at the highest competitive level. Especially when you compare it to more recent cards like Void Fist (which was also restricted. We’ll get to that.) There are ways to play around it and there are ways to deal with it. For example, blindly playing AFWTD against Crane or Scorpion or many other clans if they have the favor is a fantastic way to lose the game outright (because it could easily be cancelled). In addition, a 1 fate attachment can be placed on a character to make them essentially immune to AFWTD (Finger of Jade).

Granted, Scorpion has answers to each of these answers with event cancel and attachment control readily available to them but, generally speaking, there are effective answers to AFWTD already.

This will impact every single Scorpion deck, as every single Scorpion deck was (or should have been) running AFWTD. Do I think many Scorpions will choose this over Forged Edict? No. I sincerely doubt it. Forged Edict is just such a powerful control card I can’t imagine a player getting equivalent value out of even a card like AFWTD. I’m sure there are decks out there that will try, but I doubt it will stick. It will also impact any deck that was splashing Scorpion. A popular splash card for Crane and Lion, this will likely not be chosen over Guest of Honor and Charge, respectively. I won’t go so far as to say this erases AFWTD from the game, as I could see it being splashed in a few less restricted clans. But I think the days of having to worry about your characters being AFWTDed at any time are essentially over for as long as this card is on the list. Especially since playing this over Forged Edict would basically make Scorpion auto-lose in the mirror (of which I’m sure there will still be plenty.) Because…you know….they’ll just cancel your stupid AFWTD.

Upon seeing that this card was added to the list my initial reaction was:

Obviously, this card is really good against a deck that likes “Towering up” their characters like Crab splash Unicorn does, so restricting it will do nothing but help me and my deck. But, at the same time, I think this is a tad bit overkill on Scorpion. They weren’t THAT much better than every clan (although the last 2 Grand Koteis definitely make a convincing case to the contrary). I don’t think it’s deniable that they were, at the very least, tier 1 and one of the best 2 clans in the game before this update, but they weren’t oppressively more powerful, in my opinion. So, getting two new cards on the restricted list without gaining a card back does feel a little harsh. But I doubt it will slow Scorpions down all that much. They were winning before AFWTD came out, so there’s no reason to believe they’ll stop winning with it added to the restricted list. That won’t stop Scorpion players from complaining about being targeted unfairly by the list though 😊.


See? XD

Void Fist

Next comes Dragon. And this restriction makes a lot of sense. I don’t think anyone will disagree with the sentiment that Void Fist is undercosted. A bow and send home effect for 0 fate and all it requires is that you have a strong Monk (oh, hai Mitsu) and play any 2 other cards first. And those two cards don’t even need to be related to the conflict. You could attach cards to characters at home if you really want to help reach this requirement.

An example of how dumb this card is can be found in one of Aneil’s (also goes by Mind’s Desire online for the uninitiated, fuckin… 7x Dragon Hatamoto, 2x Grand Kotei champion, 1x Kotei winner) Worlds games (Forgive me, I don’t have a link) where Tyler (one of the designers of the game) was commentating.

If I recall correctly, in the game, during a conflict, Aneil played one card (I forget what it was), then he used a Let Go to discard his own Ornate Fan (his opponent did not have any attachments to discard). Tyler seemed extremely confused about why he would do such a thing. But then he played Void Fist to bow and send home his opponent’s character and win the conflict. Now, in that particular scenario, Aneil knew his opponent ran 0 attachments so the Let Go was, essentially, a dead card (if you disregard wanting to buffer your hand to protect against the Earth Ring discarding a valuable card) and the character with the Ornate Fan was leaving play at the end of the round anyway. So, while it is technically a -2 card advantage play, it was, in reality, less consequential than that. However, the fact that, non-contextually, that could still arguably be a good play despite losing 2 cards for no other effect than activating Void Fist is pretty ridiculous.

I think most people would have preferred Togashi Mitsu to be restricted, since he is also obviously way above curve, but hitting one half of a 2-card power combo will usually have the same net result, regardless of which side you hit. So, I don’t think this really matters that much.

This will impact nearly all Dragon decks and pretty much no other decks. It will make Crab splash way less appealing to Dragon, since they can no longer take both Void fist and Pathfinder’s Blade, so this will make Dragon more open to exploring different splash options. I know Unicorn is a great choice for them, especially if they are using the Keeper role, because of Talisman of the Sun moving your opponent into Restoration of Balance…seems pretty good. Phoenix Splash for Against the Waves to unbow Yokuni and Shrine Maiden to go fetch your Void Fists (because they’re Kihō) also seems legit. Or maybe they just stick with Crab splash because Reprieve is that good. Only time will tell :-).

Overall, I’m in favor of this restriction. While I don’t think Dragon was way over the curve (Aneil is basically the only truly ‘successful’ Dragon in the game right now, depending on your definition of the word successful), I do think that this will get them back in line with most other clans, especially since Crane and Scorpion also got hit relatively hard by this list update as well.

Niten Master

Aaaaand, this may be overkill. Not only that, but…I don’t even know if Niten Master is a high priority inclusion anymore now that PFB and Void Fist are restricted. I guess FFG REALLY didn’t like the idea of Niten Master + PFB. This restriction guarantees that that combo will never happen again so long as they both remain on the list. This may be the final nail in the coffin for Crab splash being the de facto splash for Dragon. We may actually see some variety now. Which will be nice. Or maybe someone will just develop a new de facto splash…

…Who are we kidding? Dragon players will just do whatever Aneil does. There’s no reason to evaluate this much beyond that :P.

What I said regarding Void Fist pretty much translates here as well. This restriction will disincentivize crab splash, incentivize trying other splashes and Void Fist is likely the choice for most Dragon decks regardless of splash. As more cards come out this may, of course, change. But in the current meta this is my expectation.

Like I said above, I think this is overkill. Any restriction on another clan is good for me, competitively, as it removes good cards from other clan’s option pools, but I don’t think this was necessary at all.

Isawa Tadaka (and Against the Waves removed)

As with Guest of Honor, this card was likely restricted because it promotes a lack of interactivity between the two players. If you played an event, you can’t play another copy of that event unless you can win a specific ring type (one that you must win without the aforementioned event cards that you’ve already played a copy of).

That said, the meta Phoenix decks will remain unchanged, just like the meta Crab decks remained unchanged. Adding Tadaka and removing AtW means any deck running both of those cards can still run both of those cards. However, there are certain Phoenix deck types that will suffer from this change. For example, there is a relatively popular Phoenix splash Lion Deck that runs Charge instead of Against the Waves and uses it to leverage Charge Bird and My Ancestor’s Strength. For that deck, Tadaka was a very good charge target because he came in mid conflict and immediately (and somewhat unexpectedly) could turn off several events for your opponent. Losing Tadaka hurts that deck but it isn’t necessarily catastrophic, since they get to play Against the Waves, which is just…a very good card. Paired with the restriction of AFWTD, this also hurts Phoenix splash Scorpion that was a dishonor style deck out of the core set stronghold.

Unrestricting Against the Waves does, however, make Phoenix splash a bit more interesting. as I mentioned above, this will make the Phoenix splash for Dragon more attractive. In addition, with Crab being Keeper of Water, this does open the possibility of an Against the Waves + Feral Ningyo deck that could be something worth looking into.

As for my feelings on this, I think this reduces Phoenix’s splash and play style flexibility. It really reinforces that Kyuden Isawa build while hurting the other fringier builds (especially ones out of the core set stronghold). That said, I don’t really care about that (sorry Phoenixes). Unrestricting Against the Waves opens more splash possibilities for other clans and that will make deck building a bit more interesting, which is nice. Overall, I agree with this change.

Feast or Famine

Finally, not a whole lot to say here. We all knew this was coming. I’m not going to bore you with the details on why this card is restricted. It’s quite simple: this card is restricted because it’s bullshit and overpowered nonsense. This is common knowledge. It bears repeating, though, that Crane will suffer from this restriction in that they probably won’t bother too much with their brand-new role now that Guest of Honor is restricted (thanks again for your sacrifice, Erik). The other clan hit by this restriction is Unicorn. Unicorn is basically the 6th best clan in a 7-clan game (some will argue they’re 5th best at the expense of eithe Phoenix or Crab. I’m not convinced), so losing one of their best cards is not going to help them in the rankings at all. Maybe the arguable over-restriction of Dragon and Scorpion will help them surge a bit, but this will stand in their way. I’m glad they restricted this card. I would have preferred they restrict it before any Grand Koteis, but eh. What are you gonna do? What’s done is done. It’s good that they finally put this card where it belongs.

Final Thoughts

This article is getting to be oppressively long, so I will not write much more…

Basically, my opinions of these changes go something like this:

Crab’s meta deck is unaffected. Their other options, like Pablo’s deck, were weakened but not necessarily knocked out of competitiveness. Their splash options become somewhat more varied and appealing, but there isn’t much there to justify anything but Crab splash Unicorn being the top deck for the clan at the moment. Prove me wrong Crabs.

Crane will likely remove Feast or Famine from their deck choices and just play Keeper of Air and Guest of Honor. Any restricted card they used to run like Policy Debate or Mirumoto’s Fury will be removed from their decks. Seeker of Fire will likely be relatively uncommon in competitive play. I don’t see actual choices spawning from their restrictions. Which is unfortunate.

Dragon were probably hit a little too hard. Adding Void Fist to the list would have been sufficient to separate Dragon into “monk hybrid” decks and “attachment heavy Niten Master” decks. Adding Niten Master to the list basically just means Monk Hybrid is the way to go, since Niten Master and PFB can no longer be played together, severely weakening that deck concept until another powerful free weapon comes along.

Lion was basically unaffected. But that doesn’t mean they’re any better off. They’re still the worst clan in the game until further notice (despite the aberration at Madrid). They probably should have removed For Greater Glory from the list but…. I guess they’re still worried about the interaction between Charge and FGG (especially in tandem with Ujiaki). They also lost a lot in one of their ‘good’ splashes, Scorpion splash, when AFWTD was restricted. That won’t help their case.

Phoenix’s meta deck will be unaffected. Their other decks, like Charge Bird and Scorpion splash dishonor, will be hurt by this list. Not sure if this was intended or not. You’d like to think FFG wouldn’t intentionally force players into fewer deck options like this, but that will likely be the result of this change.

Scorpion were hit hard. Young Rumormonger is basically erased from the game. A Fate Worse Than Death is also going to be a more uncommon overall. That said, they’ll likely be fine. Fate Worse Than Death can be replaced by more Marks of Shame and Cunning Magistrates (assuming they weren’t already running 3x of each) and you’ll get…somewhat equivalent value per fate spent. Crane were also hit pretty hard so Scorpion likely won’t fall down the list too bad. Their match up against Crab will probably suffer though. Not that I’m complaining 😊.

Unicorn loses Feast or Famine, which they knew about. They may have lost a few splash options, like Rebuild and arguably A Fate Worse Than Death. This won’t help them. I consider them the 6th best clan, so they’ll probably remain there.

What are your thoughts on this list? You happy about it? Pissed as all hell? Somewhere in between? Share your thoughts in the comments below (or, more likely, on Facebook or Reddit or where ever you found this article originally). Until next time, folks!

Feature Image Source: Elf (2003)