Category Archives: The Little Sensei

Manly Neighbours

At first I thought that a Crane deck with Crab sub is going to be a mismatch. However, after playing around with the idea a bit, it’s actually a pretty solid pairing.


While Watch Commander is the star, the key ingredient to this deck is actually Hiruma Ambusher. Being able to shut off an ability for 2 Fate is really strong, especially when you’re facing a decked out Mirumoto Raitsugu that can eat up your skinny blue shirt guys alive.

On the Crane side, I reduced some of the 3-off staples. Main offenders:

Noble Sacrifice
Voice of Honor
Duelist Training

They’re either too expensive (yes, 1 Fate can be expensive when you didn’t pass first) or too situational. Voice of Honor and Noble Sacrifice isn’t as easy to play as I initially thought. And Crane don’t make good duelists. There, I said it. In the New5R, Dragons and Crabs are the top duelists of the land. Until we see a Political duel, Military duels are often losing propositions unless you pick on the little guys. But Kaezin is pretty ok I left a couple of copies of him in.

The deck has a lot more singletons than I would like, they’re often cards that can provide an unexpected bonus when you have it in your hand.

If you’re playing in , look me up (almond55). I often set up games with “open game” as the title in casual so we can try out wonky decks together and practice.


No Blades

For a Crane deck with a Dragon sub, the deck title just seems so wrong. But here we are!


The first rendition of this deck was a primordial soup. I wanted the snazzy monk-tachments coupled with Let Go for the bad bad attachments that will inadvertently find itself stuck to my peeps at the wrong time.

That was a disaster. Sure, Covert was cool. But the return swing was painful as that sit out character was filled with pent up rage waiting to breakĀ  my province. Yikes! Mirumoto’s Fury was a better pick. Since a majority of the Glory is 2, bringing out 2 peeps with Fate is usually enough to threaten a counter swing.

Political Rival ended up being the unexpected lynch pin of the deck. by being a 6 on Political defense and a Glory of 0, Dishonor shenanigans don’t usually work on him to bring down his score. It was a pleasant surprise.

I cut down on the staple Voice of Honor and Noble Sacrifice because honoring your peeps, while easier for Crane, wasn’t easy nor reliable at all. No Assassination either because the deck’s honour play quite frankly sucks. The deck relies heavily on your hand so more often than not you’ll find yourself bleeding Honor every turn.

Not much issue with Military bumps. Though it only has Banzai! to handle that area. More emphasis has been given on bumping the political because cards like Outwit! and Kakita Asami relies on them.

Pure Crane

While I don’t think pure clan decks (save for Unicorn) can be string enough on its own for now, even when you’re building pure Crane, there’s still some decision that needs to be made. This deck is skewed to be heavily political, and we’re trying to get most of our Conflict deck down to 0 as much as we can.


Some not so obvious inclusions:

Pilgrimage instead of Shameful Display: While not really playing to Crane’s strengths, this change makes the deck more resilient which is something that you want when you’re building a single dimensional deck.

Single Duelist Training: Might max it up but it really depends. At time this card is awesome while others… not so much. Since this deck doesn’t have much Military boost, leaving it to 1 seems to be adequate. On the other hand, going for deliberate duel lost for honour might be beneficial in some really extreme cases.

Height of Fashion: Not really my first choice, but a big boost in Political when you’re screaming for slots is a good compromise. Plus it gives a chance for your more Military based peeps to be a bit more versatile at the cost of telegraphing to your opponent.

The Perfect Gift: I’m still torn about including this at all. But it’s free and it does give a better card advantage to yourself. The advantage to your opponent really depends on the luck of the draw. Might drop this to 1 and take a single Noble Sacrifice. But the fact that Noble Sacrifice has a cost of 1 Fate still makes me favour this card. Will need more testing to figure it out.

Pretty birds with big sticks

Another stab at Crane/Unicorn. This time it’s more Unicorn and less of a Crane. Since Crane already has a high political prowess, this deck focuses more on buffing up the military, coupled with Unicorn movement shenanigans. The biggest decision making is when to move into a conflict.


Not sure if this will work

I’ll most likely only post Crane decks when it comes to L5R content, you have been warned.

So for the record I haven’t gotten my cores yet. But that doesn’t stop me from building decks and theorizing on what could be the next best thing. For Crane, the popular votes seem to go to Scorpion influence with their “can’t touch this” decks. Another polarizing view is pairing with Phoenix which can be surprisingly manipulative, more so that the Scorpion.

So I went with something simple: pair it with Unicorn.


The idea is ridiculously simple: Get your guys in there no matter what. You might want to get in there to blow up his stuff, or blank the 2 more turns Champion, whatever. This deck has ample movement. Iuchi Wayfinder is awesome at finding out what to send and which conflict to go to for the second conflict. But being a Crane deck, your goal should always flush for the top 3 cards (Kaezin comes close, but not quite on that list).

Back to the Future: Rokugan Edition

Yup. L5R has returned and we’re going back in time to the Clan Wars, where everything began. No mention of the taint, your sexy tainted heroines are still pure and clan champions die in fictions. Glorious.

GenCon was won by the Crane, who is the only hatamoto of the clan. High number of hatamotos come from the Crab and Dragon.

So what can we expect in the future? Uncertain, though Crab and Dragon does seem pretty strong at the moment. The first event featured only 1 core and reliance over a single clan’s strategy is yet untested since the combos are all one shots. With cores, I expect the Unicorn to be quite potent since most of their personality abilities will begin to work more reliably.

I myself will just start from a single core and pad up with upcoming chapter packs and deluxe expansions. I’ll know for sure in October when the product hits Malaysian shores.

Finally the Mabinogi. Sorry Hearthstone.


Don’t get me wrong, I love Hearthstone. But then Inzen, who introduced me to that game introduced me to Mabinogi Duel… and I forgot that I ever played Hearthstone while I was playing this game.

Where to start? The game has cheesy fan-servicy artwork as you would expect from Asian originated card games. Yet the biggest draw of the game is that your deck is 12 cards. And you start the game with every card in your hand. Resource generation is 1 per type per turn but you can charge by spending an action to get more.

While Haerthstone’s minion arena is 7 spaces wide, Mabinogi is 5. The other difference is that creatures in Mabinogi only attack the space directly across them, where in Hearthstone you can dictate who you want to attack.

But with only 12 cards, wouldn’t that diminish your option quickly? Not really, but in a way, yes. One of the actions you can take is Revive, where you take back all the cards in your graveyard back into your hand and take 1 damage for each card returned. On top of that, cards that went to the graveyard costs 1 more extra resource to play. So the more you rely on one card, the more expensive it will be to play it later.

But the main draw of the game is that there are a lot more play options for you to explore. Want a story based game with okay dialogues and character development? Play the guide comics. There’s also phantom based matches where you play against another player’s deck played by the AI, or an actual pvp match where you really duke it out against another player live.

If that doesn’t stop you, you can also open up your own card store, selling cards to other players for gold (the standard currency of the game). And opening a personal store is free too.

But don’t take my word for it. Just go ahead and play it. Let’s see if you forgot about Hearthstone too like I did.

Quest Rogue: Not so eww…

So the meta has fixed itself, more people have good plays against Quest Rogue that it no longer seems as cheesy as it had been a couple of days ago. This is good. Good enough for me to write more on it and post a deck up.

Before we go on further, let’s see why Quest Rogue is no longer a big threat now (well, it still is, but not as it was before):

The board is cleared up early. No longer targeting the face, every effort is spent targeting the weenie minions on the board instead to render the Crystal Core useless even if it hits the table.

Aggro face like no tomorrow. Rogues in general are very poor in the defense department. Even more so in Quest Rogue.

Dirty Rat is back. Sure, it sucks against Jade when it was prevalent, but against Quest Rogues it wrecks the game plan more often than not.

People are packing fatties. This is to trade for the weenie minions that plague the Rogue’s table prior to completing the quest.

Now let’s see the deck’s main problems:

It’s too draw dependant. Seriously, an opening hand without 1 of your key cards and you can literally see the writing on the wall.

The deck relies heavily on completing the quest to win. Quite often, there are no secondary win conditions.

The second problem is the biggest flaw in current Quest Rogue decks so far. Without the Crystal Core, your Violet Teacher and Imp Master aren’t scaring anyone if they’re only spewing 1/1 at best. Quite often the fancy win cards are locked until the Crystal Core comes online. So until the quest is completed, the deck is pretty much vulnerable to anything.

It hit me after losing a lot successively that the deck was too transparent. So, like the class implies, winning with the quest now requires more guile and concealment of your motives than every before. I came across 2 play styles that work surprisingly well of late:

  1. Don’t play The Caverns Below on your first turn. This will ensure you Igneous Elemental won’t be top targets of Silence, turned into toads and sheeps the moment they hit the table. Drop it when you’re about to score it.
  2. Don’t make a deck relying on the Crystal Core to win. Treat the Crystal Core as a secondary win condition while concentrating on winning by another mean. You don’t need to complete the quest to win, though it’d be nice if it did. This should be your mentality as your opponent gets confused on why you used Shadowstep on another minion and not on the one you just cast.
  3. Play like classic Rogue. The old doctrine of controlling the board and dropping your own threats should still be maintained and not be thrown to the wind for the sake of dropping your 4 same name minions ASAP.

Here’s the deck I’m playing right now. It could use more work, but it’s making me feel fun playing a quest deck for once:


There is no straight way on how to play this deck, but you can vary your approach depending on which class you’re facing.



Stealth Rogue

I was watching an old video from Kripparian (if a few months is considered old) when he tackles Stealth Rogue by featuring the Shadow Rager. Now I don’t have the exact cards he does but the concept is interesting, plus it makes thematic sense compared to… oh… Jade Golems.

Here’s my take on it:


The biggest change from Krip’s deck is that I wanted my 1 drops to be beefy. I’m not too perturbed about healing my opponent with Mistress of Mixtures, at least I’m not giving my opponent a more threatening edge, like cards. The rest are control elements and the stealth dudes as the heavy hitters.

But they only hit heavy after a visit from Shadow Sensei teaching them about Cold Blood. Hit the minion with Master of Disguise afterwards, that big stealth minion is ready for round 2. Keep the Sap for that big taunter that will show up after you pull off this stealthy trick.

Good substitutes to consider:

Patient Assassin. This is infinitely better than Emperor Cobra. Though the latter is fat, it’s really vulnerable the moment it hits the table unless you follow if up with Master of Disguise.

Shaku, the Collector. The poster boy of stealth play. Card draw is always awesome.


New Rogue 500

More cheap experimentations. This time I’m cutting down the Rare down to 1 and bumping up the common count up to 10. What this does is that it gives me more room to explore and out in cooler stuff at such a small Dust budget.

What I came up was a deck that was surprisingly able to climb up the Rank ladder by quite a bit (since I’ve been on 20 forever for the last 2 seasons, getting to 17 after playing this deck for 20 minutes is a bit of a fresh air).

Also, my favourite deck builder, is back up. Yay!


I had a bit of a headache trying to determine what single Rare I should put in. After much deliberation, I decided on the fake Coin because it fires up my combos for free AND it boosts my tempo by one mana. This is quite significant because lots of stuff can come out one whole turn earlier.

Also bumped up the minion removal for a semblance of early board control. A single Assassinate is in there but that odd 17 health taunter that pops up from time to time (naturally, only Priests could come up with that).

I have not idea what’s the ideal mulligan rule honestly, but follow your gut. Sometimes, leaving a 5 cost card in your starting hand might not be such a bad thing in the long run, as you no longer have to fish it out.