Here’s what I think about Crane’s 20 Festivals Starter
I haven’t written anything on L5R for a while, but 20 Festivals seems like a good time to kickstart things to write something about. As you well know, AEG has just released all the starter decks in pdf the same day as I’m writing this post. Since I’ve always played Crane, here are the links to the Crane starter, which will be the subject of discussion today:
Note that the Dynasty only has the first player side on it.
Let’s kick things off with the Dynasty side, then Fate, then a summary on how well these two sides gel with each other.
Holdings: 18 (2 Fortifications)
The stronghold ability is a very simple one: If you have a peep, bow the box to gain 2 honour. The deck has approximately 10% of its number to help with the defense of your provinces by their own text, but everything else is for honour running.
For a starter deck, I was honestly surprised about the singular focus that the Dynasty provides. The gold curve is not too bad, with most peeps hovering at 5G each. But a number of them rely heavily on the use of the Imperial Favour. It seems a bit of a glass cannon to me at first glance, but thankfully it’s also chockfull of affordable Duelists. Here are the peep rundown (if they have multiple traits, I’ll choose the one that they’ll be heavily relied upon):
Just plain Samurai: 3
Perhaps the card that caught my eye the most is Kakita Jikeru. She’s cheap, and more likely than not is definitely netting you honour on your opponent’s turn. Of course you need a Fortification or she’s just a plain ol’ cheap courtier, which is why there’s only 1 copy of her in the deck. But I wouldn’t run so many Fortifications myself, at most would be 3 copies. Sticking a holding onto a province can make the province a very tempting target.
Speaking of gold, I have the impression that the Crane are paying for their abundance of it in Ivory 1. The gold scheme, like the peeps, are meant for running. It would take some adjustment to play normally again, what with the oodles of gold in Ivory 1, but the holding selection is by no means bad. But it does require you to make a choice between honour and gold. It becomes a dilemma when you reach 30 honour. Do you use everything for a home stretch and defend with everything else you have on the table or do you weather another turn by buying more warm bodies for a better defense?
Speaking of defending, everyone is squishy. Expect someone to die with every other action. The reliance of duel also means that there is a possibility that you might never get to use your focus effects. Which brings us to the next deck:
For a dueling deck, this is going to make a lot of people squirm. While the deck does have 30% of FV 4 in it, here’s where it might make you shake in your boots a bit: It also has 25% FV 1 cards.
Wow. Talk about choosing your fights. Not to mention that the number of lethal duels in the deck is exactly 2, in the form of Come One at a Time. But they can kill more than 1 peep each time if given the chance (which, most likely they won’t be since they’re going to die at the next actions anyway). Everything else just bows or occasionally, sends someone home.
So like the Dynasty deck, the duels in the Fate deck are basically honour gainers as well, first and foremost. Shinai is going to be one of the most important card in this deck, since just by winning you advance your winning condition. Thankfully, there are also cards that can unbow your peeps so that will be very useful. Imperial Summons is also there for some measure of Open control.
I like it. The deck escapes the pitfall of a “perfect” duelling deck and has solid cards that does the things that you want consistently. The wonky FV might throw some people off, but if you can control your hand and pick the right moments to initiate duels, you won’t be in any sort of trouble. Perhaps the majority amount of non-lethal duels can be a good thing, since the low FV will not kill your peeps for your opponent that easily at least.
But how does the Fate synergize with the Dynasty?
Like bread and butter.
It’s a no-brainer on what this deck wants to achieve. It wants to honour run and it wants to do it fast. With some tweaks of maximizing what you want and getting rid of the rest, the deck can really rev up to be a decent speed machine. You’ll be losing people and provinces left right and center, but you really don’t care about any of that because all you want to do with this deck is to keep one province intact by at least being equal to the opposing army when you cross 40 at the end of the 4th/5th turn or so.
It’s a good base if you want to go to the full courtier honour or dueling honour route, but it’s a really poor springboard if you want to go military. I would hazard to say that there’s nothing for the military player in the starter at all, so a purchase is not necessary if you want to go full Iron Crane on someone. But a mixed focus would screw up the deck, so I can understand that if the designers wanted to showcase the core of a clan, nothing beats honour running when it comes to the Crane.