L5R – The personality card design edition (or what was DT smoking?!)

This post will be long. BLOODY LONG. Otherwise just read this TLDR version:
What is DT doing with card design, screwing the game for most part.

If you’re in for a show, we’ll continue with my exceptionally detailed analysis on this matter having played from Imperial edition till Ivory Edition competitively so you better believe i know my SHIT.

Let’s look at Ivory Edition (IvE) and compare a few cards so that i can start this rolling:

Shairei & Yayoi

Atsushi & Hikari

Which of these 4 personalities  is poorly designed by comparison? Take your time.

If you’ve guessed Tsuruchi Hikari and/or Yasuki Shairei give yourself a pat on the back.

People will complain that it is not fair to compare cards like that. They are from different clans, they have different honor requirements, they have different personal honor, each clan specializes in something different. This is all rubbish. The word “fair” is loaded. My criteria for fair may not be the same as yours so let’s lay down the basis for mine for the purposes of this article:

  1. Cards have the same printed gold cost or at most 1 gold difference? Check.
  2. Cards can be brought out by their respective clans in regards to honour requirement with their initial starting honour? Check.
  3. Cards are of the same type? (It means we are comparing non-unique, non-singular cards. mpare uniques make sure the rest are unique as well) Check.
  4. Cards are from the same expansion set? Check. I’m not comparing a Coils of Madness to m card here. Design changes per expansion as I understand.
  5. Cards are of the same rarity? AHA! Got you here! Nope. Is your deck filled with only rare cards? Rarity does not automatically ensure that a card will be better or worse and I have plenty of examples where commons/uncommons trump rares and vice versa. So being a common/uncommon/rare/promo has nothing to do with a card being fair. In fact it increases the chance the card is “unfair” in both extremes. Also take note that uniques/singular personalities tend to be more “unfair”. From this point henceforth i refer to this as the “Rarity disclaimer”


How to decide whether a personality is “fair” math:

Step A – Force and Chi
1) Add the printed force and chi. If printed force or chi is above 4 add 1 point for either.
2) Use the total in 1) and deduct by the personality’s printed gold cost.
3) If the honor requirement is below or equal to the starting clan’s honor it has no effect on the point system. If higher than the starting clan honor, apply a penalty of 1 point. (I will explore this in future for unaligned personalities if I have time). If he has 4PH add 1 point, if 5PH add 2 points.

Running point total
Yasuki Shairei : -3 (2 – 5)
Togashi Yayoi : 1 (3 + 3 – 5)
Daigotsu Atsushi : 1 (3 + 3 – 1)
Tsuruchi Hikari : -2 (2 + 1 – 5)

Step B – Traits
Trait cost is tricky as it has several other factors that decide its worth but in general:

Kensai/Naval/Cavalry/Destined/Reserve/Conqueror: 2 points
Before you ask me why the Reserve trait costs so much, that’s because DT does so from my analysis of every reserve personality. I would personally cost it differently.

Tactician/Expendable: 1 point
If the personality has a built-in self destruct ability, Expendable increases to 2 points.

Invest: Variable
Since the Invest trait is not a fixed ability/bonus it would be unwise to put a fixed value to it.

Resilient: 1 point
A new trait introduced in the expansion, A Line in the Sand, once per game the personality with this trait does not die in battle resolution. Seems nifty to have roadblocks defensively so I’ll put this at 1 point for now until I can fully assess it.

If the trait has no effect on the game (e.g Jackal, Soul of X, Merchant etc) it is worth 0 points, else it is worth 0.5 points.

Running point total
Yasuki Shairei : -2.5 (-3 +o.5 for Courtier)
Togashi Yayoi : 1.5 (1 +0.5 for Monk)
Daigotsu Atsushi : 3 (1 +2 for Samurai, Duelist and Expendable)
Tsuruchi Hikari : 1 (-2 +3 for Samurai, Scout and Reserve)

Step C – Abilities and practical use
Abilities are one of the most important reasons why we choose a personality over  another.
I remind all that not every ability can be quantified to reasonable number of points at first glance since it also depends on its synergy with the rest of what your deck is doing. I am analyzing from a direct perspective and not as part of a combo. Only in direct relation to pushing for one of the victory conditions. Some will be more obvious of how powerful they are at first glance while others need support cards before they start to shine.

Yasuki Shairei

Shairei’s ability is obviously intended for a pure dishonor/economic warfare deck. But is it good enough for actual tournament play? Does it work against every clan based on their personal honor? At best, you could be forcing the opponent to pay 6g per turn or risk losing 6 honor or at worst, 1g or 1 honor depending on which clan you’re up against. Even assuming you can straighten Shairei on your opponent’s turn consistently, they have an option to pay for it on both their turns, avoiding dishonour. At this point i can only afford to give 1 point to this ability due to its situational reliability and cost.

Togashi Yayoi

Holy shit! Bow to destroy ANY spell and all attachments equal or less to her chi? If you can slightly bump her chi by 1, she destroys all IvE attachments in the game (Except Heavy Infantry). And if Dragon has chosen Ring of Air thanks to their stronghold (The Remote Monastery of the Dragon), you can bet she has a good chance to straighten. Since her ability directly translates to a force/ability denial which can potentially disrupt an opponent’s battle plans I give it 3 points, unless of course your opponent plays no attachments.

Daigotsu Atsushi

Fear 2 is barely enough to bow most personalities/followers without a fear bonus (e.g Courage cards) so his ability is less useful due its limited range. Still, he doesn’t need to bow to use it at least so I give 0.5 points for this.

Tsuruchi Hikari

RA2 is again barely enough to kill most battle worthy personalities in the game but worst of all you need to BOW him. Seriously? If I brought him out via reserve I am literally throwing away 5g; before I can even use his ability as he’s only 2F. Hence i give only 0.5 points.

Final points
Yasuki Shairei : -1.5 (-2.5 +1 for ability)
Togashi Yayoi : 4.5 (1.5 +3 for attachment destruction)
Daigotsu Atsushi : 3.5 (3 +0.5 for Fear 2)
Tsuruchi Hikari : 1.5 (1 +0.5 for RA2)

Now use the personalities printed gold cost divided by 2 plus 1. Since all the personalities in our example are at 5g, at 3.5 points it is considered “fair”. If above this threshold, it is considered “good” or if below, “poor”. Anything below the threshold is “poor” but subjective of course. A quick glance tells me Shairei and Hikari are not well made cards while Yayoi and Atsushi are “fair”. Remember what i said about the “Rarity disclaimer” earlier? Yeah, Shairei is rare yet is worse than Hikari which is a common even though both suck. Also note Yayoi is rare but Atsushi isn’t so the other extreme end exists as well.

A full list of points that are generally given for the more common abilities are as follows:
(This is not a hard and fast rule but more like a guide)

1) “Tireless”, “Interrupt”, “Home”, “Repeatable”, modifier is worth an extra 1 point.

2) “Absent” and “Engage” modifiers are worth an extra 2 points each.

3) Multiple phase use abilities like Limited/Battle, Engage/Battle etc make the card flexible thus they are worth 1 point more.

4) Abilities that allow you to draw cards from either fate deck or discard pile  are worth 2 points. If it allows you to fetch/substitute a specific card or allows you to rearrange your fate deck and that is useful to your victory condition/battle it is worth 3 points.

5) Abilities that bow other cards (This does not include Fear) or straighten cards are generally worth 1-4 points depending on their restrictions, no of targets, costs etc.

6) Abilities that destroy other cards are generally worth 2-6 points depending on their restrictions, no of targets, costs etc.

7) Abilities that cause an honor loss to another player or dishonor personalities are generally worth 1-4 points, depending on their restrictions, no of targets, costs etc.

8) Force bonus and penalties are generally on a one for one basis (e.g. if a card causes a loss of 3F it’s worth 3 points, a card that gives -1F to another card and gives itself +1F is worth 2) but it will be worth more/less depending on their restrictions, no of targets, costs etc.

9) Cards which cause an honor loss upon bringing into play or usage will impose a penalty on the card ONLY if you will later be unable to bring your other personalities into play in future, are against a dishonor deck or against a military deck which would make him have the higher honor and can spare a personality to grab the Imperial Favor to be used against you. This amount is variable.

10) Abilities that gain honor are generally on a 1-1 basis depending on their restrictions, no of targets, costs etc.

11) Abilities that discard/take the Imperial Favor are worth 1-3 points depending on their restrictions, no of targets, costs etc.

12) Melee Attack/Ranged Attack are on exponential scale.
0-2 = 0.5 points
3 = 1 point
4 = 2 points
5 = 4 points and so on.

Keep doubling the numbre of points as you have a higher value of Melee Attack/Ranged Attack value. There’s a reason when Bayushi Nitoshi xp appears on one side the other side will be highly discouraged to meet him in battle without incurring significant losses or having meta.

13) Fear is sadly weaker than MA/RA since it only bows the card in question and does not destroy it. It follows the progression of:
0-2 = 0.5 points
3 = 1 point
4 = 2 points
5 = 3 points and so on

The recent card in the expansion A Line in the Sand, “Show of Power” helps make Fear slightly better (but still worse than RA/MA).

14) Abilities that affect province strength are generally worth half the no of points it affects by unless it affects all your provinces or opponent’s provinces then it’s 1 for 1 although you have to consider other factors that make it useful/flexible as well.

15) Abilities that move personalities to/from battle are worth 2 points but can be worth more/less depending on their restrictions, no of targets, costs etc. An ability that can send any personality home is obviously better than one that can only target attacking or defending personalities for example.

16) Abilities that negate effects are worth anywhere from 1-4 points depending on their restrictions, no of targets, costs etc

17) Abilities that give extra actions in phases are generally only worth it is in battle, 2 points for the first additional action and hereafter adding 4 points for every additional one. Daigotsu Kanpeki, the Shadow Emperor xp 3 for example, his battle ability is worth 6 points. Note that is will worth less if it has restrictions, costs etc.

18) Abilities that reduce/increase costs/gold production are 1-for-1 usually but dependent on their costs/restriction etc.

I understand that abilities are dynamic during the course of the game/tournament and can be better or worse depending on the situation at hand. A card like Isawa Amhiko will be the bane against a naval/sneak attack military deck while it’s just a 3F/3C personality against other military decks. Similarly a deck with all Naval personalities will have no effect if they can’t force an opponent to defend.

NO PERSONALITY CAN ACHIEVE 100% EFFECTIVENESS IN EVERY SITUATION unless it directly accelerates your victory condition. Specifically, destroying an opponent’s province without going to battle at minimal effort/cost, losing/gaining honor consistently with minimal effort/cost, or putting a ring into play as though it’s own text with minimal effort/cost or special victory conditions created by events/personalities/actions.

Any other ability that does not fall in any category above will be considered outliers and thus will usually be worth a lot more (or nothing at all!). Examples would be Bayushi Nitoshi, the Poison Mask and Hida Kisada, the Little Bear.


Posted on August 11, 2014, in CCG, Ivory Edition, l5r and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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