Tao of Targeting
I’ve been dreading to post something of this nature since the blog first started. It’s not an easy subject to discuss yet it is integral in L5R. This is going to be a short take on targeting and threat assessment, which may or may not fit your play style. So take it with a grain of salt or two.
Target assessment and your hand
You have a strategy card that you want to play from your hand, or you have an action on the board that you wish to play. More often than not you have to target something and then go ahead to resolve the action. Firstly, is targeting that important at all? Why can’t you just randomly do a Melee 5 on that 5F dude? Or plunk a weapon on any of your peeps?
The issue here is, doing a bad call on who to do your action will give you a compounded penalty as the game progresses. For example: You have Wyrmborne Katana. You plunk it on your Clan Champion so he/she can be the most badass person around. Awesome right? Your other peeps can take a backseat because, hey, your Champion is the most awesome piece on the board now. Now go to battle. Do you think your opponent will get rid of your other dudes or try his damnest to get your Champion off the battle as soon as possible? You have one badass but he’s one big target. Losing it will pretty much devastate your entire game. If you attach the katana to say, a random vanilla 4/4. Go to battle and your opponent might have to choose between two juicy targets instead.
So you see, there’s no right or wrong way to target stuff, but it’s always a good idea to ask a few questions to assess your targets before you choose them. There are two types of general actions: positive and negative. Positive actions are buffs, protections, redirection, anything that is beneficial for the target. Negative actions are those that remove the target from the game/battle, reduce force or temporarily incapacitate them for one turn.
1. Will it create another target for your opponent? If you have several highly threatening targets, this is good. This means that you have more opportunities to respond as well as forcing your opponent to evaluate his choices more carefully. Which equals time. And that time can be spent to plan your next move (be it in the current turn or in the next).
2. Will it’s survival win you the game? A shiny Unique (your Champion included), is often a cog in your game engine. It’ll have nifty abilities, but is it crucial enough to win you the game or fit into your core strategy? I protect my core game plan and often use my shiny pieces as bait so it won’t get disrupted too early, but that’s just me.
3. Is it a waste to put it there? This is often the question that you don’t ask. It’s a very important question because doing this wrong will mean that you stand a chance to lose a more important piece while leaving your less optimal options behind. Also do you often have the opportunity to use every possible ability every time? Slapping an attachment with an active ability on a peep with his own printed action will create a dilemma on what action to use first. Because the normal response is the removal of the peep with the attachment, which you will waste an unused action in the end.
1. Force or ability?: In battle, this is often a hard choice to make. But my rule of thumb is: It depends on how far into the battle that you are in. Early battle: Get rid of those with an active ability on the table that can remove your own peeps. Late battle: Get rid of those big dudes. Generally, anything that can hurt you in the long run is the one that has to go first.
2. Short term vs long term: I’d prefer to target and disarm long term effects than short term ones. But it really depends. An imminent threat that would disrupt your game plan must always be dealt with first. How to make sure it’s an imminent threat? Simple: It prevents you from doing something that can win you the game. For example, if I’m playing a Crane honour dueling deck and Kakita Maratai is somehow pulled inside the battle, I’d get him out or kill the one that has the ability on it’s card to kill Maratai off.
Tip of the iceberg
In the end, choosing a good target is often based on your experience. Play a lot, get used to your deck, learn what makes it tick and learn to identify what can threaten your deck as well as learn the pieces that your opponents need in order for them to win. Of course, the thing that goes hand in hand with targeting is the timing to play them, but that sounds like another post for another day.