The Emerald Dojo
A Legend of the Five Rings Strategy Site
Phoenix in the Temptations Cycle
Updated 30 January 2021.
We are currently in the Fifth cycle of Legend of the Five Rings. The empire is not only warring internally, but now we are ever closer to facing the outside threat posed by Fu Leng, represented by the presence of Mahō , magic tainted by evil and achieved only through sacrifice of one's blood and future. In addition, there are characters with Dire that were tempted to practice it. In card game terms, this cycle follows the Dominion cycle which has upped the quality of everyone's dynasty deck and made the dynasty phase have more decisions than ever before. In this cycle, Mahō is paid for with fate from your characters rather than your fate pool. Dire characters give you a slight bonus when they run out of fate by granting themselves another ability for those brief final moments. The candle that burns twice as bright burns half as long.
This page will cover the new cards that I have played with from the new cycle and my take on them. I have not included cards that are only available as a preview so that those that rather wait until they are released can do so unspoiled. Once this cycle is completed, some of these cards will be moved over to the other sections of the Phoenix primer.
Let's look at the first pack, Twisted Loyalties, and move through cards and packs by release date.
Asako Maezawa, the inquisitor from the Swords and the Spirits and Hidden markings returns with a second version. He has the same baseline stats, but his ability is now a reaction that only fires once you have won a conflict with him. The ability tells us a little bit about future inquisitors too: They want your opponent's characters to have no fate on them. Maezawa's ability is effectively the bowing part of a Water ring which you can also resolve while defending. If your opponent has a Phoenix character, then you also dishonor them, which is a direct consequence from the players' decision to send Maezawa to investigate within Phoenix lands.
The bad news here is that Maezawa's new ability does nothing to win a conflict for you whilst the old Maezawa could show up and present 6+ political in one conflict. This makes it hard to argue about including him over his original version. In addition, his ability is on-table, meaning that your opponent will just send in the characters that could be bowed by him into his conflict. In the most positive way, this is akin to harpooning those characters into his conflict. In the most negative way, this means his ability does not really do anything.
So this character is fine from a flavour perspective, but in gameplay terms he has not been great for me. There are two cute ways to use him still: You can use By Onnotangu's light (see below) to make everyone vulnerable to his ability, and Phoenix does have cards that can remove fate from characters remotely to make them vulnerable to his ability. On the whole, I do not expect to play him all that much at all.
The marquee card of inquisitors is Heresy!. This card is the third duel Phoenix received thus far in their faction, and it is the best one released thus far. Before we continue, let's do some clarifications:
Both characters must be participating in the conflict as with most duels.
Each player chooses the opponent's character that they wish to duel with. This chosen character does not need to have fate on them to be a legal participant, and obviously your opponent will choose the character you control with the worst political number. Inquisitors work alone to avoid a Naive Student from messing up their investigation.
The first player chooses their opponent's character first.
This is a duel that blasts fate off characters, an integral part to many Phoenix decks already. Should this be their final fate, it opens those characters up to getting bowed by Maezawa or devoured by the void by Isawa Ujina's ability. This is a powerful card especially if your use more cards that zap fate an bow unfated characters, but this only works if you have only high political characters in such a conflict.
On the other hand, this is yet another Phoenix card that does nothing to win the conflict for you right now, but you could be winning the game with it anyway. It comes with the void role lock which is not a big deal at all because that element rocks because of the provinces you get to play.
This isn't the only duel for Phoenix in this pack though. There is also:
This duel is a bit of a response to Heresy! as the winner is adding fate to their character. It is also a mirrored image from Heresy! because the participants are picked in the opposite way: This time both players choose their own character to duel with. This changes the card significantly, because this time around your accompanying Naive Student cannot mess up the duel for you. Likewise, your opponent is protected from this card if they have a character with higher political compared to your own.
This duel is pretty spectacular. Phoenix characters have high political numbers, and generally outshine other clans once they are honoured. Getting another turn with them is pretty valuable, and with Embrace the Void you can get paid that fate twice, too!
Just like Heresy, this comes with a role lock: a Seeker lock. It is also a duel that does nothing to change the outcome of the conflict, which is the one thing that is keeping it back.
I like this card quite a lot. Of the two, this duel is the easiest to put in your deck because it does not really need any support beyond big characters with lots of political. Were I to play both duels, then I would look to finding a way to make these duels do something towards the conflict. You could use Proving ground if you splash a third duel to draw some cards. Another option I really liked was adding Crane cards to make the duel hurt. You can add Storied Defeat to then bow the opponent's character and you also get Return the Offense for getting the density needed to play a pay-off card like those two.
Outside of these Phoenix and neutral cards, I also liked the following two:
Guardians of Rokugan is another card that rewards you for winning a conflict. First, some clarifications:
This searches the top X cards of your deck for a character with cost X or less. For example, if I win as the defender with 5 strength to my opponent's 1 strength, then I get to look for a character cost 4 or less in the top 4 cards of my dynasty deck.
After searching for a character, The other top X cards should be placed back on top of the deck in the same order as they were originally drawn. This is true unless if you are drawing your entire deck to do this, in which case you would shuffle after the search is completed.
This card immediately reminded me of the Path of Man, another reward for winning. The truth about the Path of Man is that it is not that difficult to play that card, so I had high hopes for this one too. Phoenix can win with really big numbers. Honoured Phoenix characters outshine the opposition, and especially as the defender you could just add a second defender to win disproportionally or send home one of the attackers.
Phoenix also has some of the best cards to put in play this way: Fushichō and Shiba Tsukune. Even with no further conflicts this turn, Fushicho and Tsukune reward you handsomely with either a second character or up to two rings. With Fushichō in particular, you can do a counterattack and play Common Cause later on to get an early bite at the apple. Even after these premium targets you still have a good secondary hit in Inferno Guard Invoker or the Steward of Cryptic Lore that we will look at later.
Phoenix also has specialized defenders to help you out getting that big win like Chikai Order Protector because you can generally free-roll him as a defender. All of these items make this a very good card to play within the context of a defensive Phoenix list, especially with the Path of Man as an in-faction way to profit from winning.
It costs a whopping 3 fate for +3 stats which isn't good enough, but you also get to resolve rings when you win a conflict. Crucially, this reaction happens before you claim the ring of the current conflict. So, if I win the first conflict of the turn, this reaction doesn't do anything. To fully utilize it, you must use it later in the turn once a couple of rings are claimed.
In the context of Phoenix, things get a little bit better once you have Secluded Shrine in play because that virtual ring is considered by this card. I have played this with characters that can participate in multiple conflicts like Prodigy of the Waves and Chikai Order Protector and that worked alright. I do not think this will get to competitive levels with the conditions you need to meet to make it work, but it was definitely powerful once you got there.
Honor in Flames
The second pack starts with a banger in Guardian Dōjō. It is well-established that Phoenix characters rock when they are honoured so any cheap effect to achieve this is nice. On the flip-side, none of the characters bought with Guardian Dōjō can be bought with fate which means that this power is ephemeral. You also do not get a choice with this card. If your character is in an adjacent province, you are buying that character without fate or not at all.
This card spawned an archetype in which you pair it with an adjacent City of the Rich Frog. Of course, this is based on their relative position, but that can be addressed with a card like Rebuild or Logistics. Another thing to remember when you play this is that you can choose the order of your provinces. It is recommended that you place City of the Rich Frog as a central province so that it has two neighbours that can receive the Dōjō.
This card lets you play lots of honoured bodies and together with other cards that produce honour like Asako Lawmaster or Ancestral Shrine, it is possible to attain an honour victory with this type of play. Even outside of that strategy, you can just play this in your average Phoenix deck and come out content with the immense stats at low costs that you are getting for that turn. Add in Make Your Case to convert this to a long-term strategy!
Steward of Cryptic Lore fills a hole in the Phoenix roster as an expensive character with Scholar and Shugenja traits. It is also non-unique for Isawa Tadaka purposes and it is our first Dire character that we will look at.
At 4 fate, you probably want to buy this with fate first (though I've smashed provinces by buying it adjacent to Guardian Dōjō too, mind). At 3/3/2 I wasn't too enthused, though I changed my mind when I experienced how nice it is to have the Scholar trait on a more expensive character for any of the Scholar Pay-offs. His first ability is also much better than expected. Let's go over what it does:
Changes the province strength, so it essentially lower or raises the number by which the conflict has to be won to break the province. This has some applications:
You can use this to make it harder to break one of your own provinces, especially Kuroi Mori which could activate this ability and Sanpuku Seidō will need a whopping 4 Glory from the opponent to break it.
You need less to break an opponent's province if this ability is available.
Your own on-break provinces like Upholding Authority can be set to 0 strength so that your opponent will always break them as long as they have any skill in the conflict.
If you can't take the on-break from your opponent's province, you can make it harder for you to break that province.
Because it only changes province strength, it does not contribute to winning the conflict directly. If you were not winning a conflict as the attacker, this ability won't help you in any way.
The Earth ring is a good ring to have an ability on, especially because as Phoenix you are basically always playing Solemn Scholar and these two go really well together because they share all traits and lean heavily on the Earth ring.
Without going any further, I think this character has enough going for it to make him playable. Now we will look at the Dire ability: Adding +3 political makes this a whopping 6 political: The highest value found in Phoenix. This is not very flashy, but it probably will let you smash a province or force your opponent to spend several cards to stop you. In my experience, this is an ability you want as the first player so that a Water ring doesn't ruin your day and you should buy this character so that it is dire when you are the first player. You could also activate him with Mahō in a pinch, though I'm usually not too fond of that because he's good even without Dire.
Adding up all of the above, I quite like this guy and expect him in a lot of my decks going forwards.
This pack has been good thus far for Phoenix, but every rose has its thorns. Unhallow is our first Mahō card, and it is also the first province attachment in Phoenix. Let's take a look:
This ability is purely defensive as it makes it easier to hold on to your provinces.
It is only when you declare defenders that you pay its toll. You could bypass this cost by playing or moving in characters after declaring attacker. More commonly, you could just play this once you are defending so that you are after that declaration window.
You can play multiples of these on one province. The honour cost to defend is unfortunately cumulative.
With that out of the way, let's talk about when you play this card: You don't. This is too narrow of an effect, because you only want this when honour isn't an issue and even then you are doing nothing towards winning the conflict. It will usually be much better to play a card over this that aids you in winning the conflict.
Sorry, Unhallow. You just aren't a great card. At least you are useful in creating that big splashy scene in the Swords and the Spirits where our heroic trio are Subduing the Spirits:
A portrayal of a famous scene from the legend of the five rings. Pity you shaved your head, Hitomi!
This province has one of the better on-break abilities in the context of Phoenix. Getting to honour a character and keep it around for another turn is just what you want as Phoenix, especially out of Isawa Mori Seidō. I like this province. The question that you need to ask is whether this is better than the other Air provinces and that might be a bit of a "maybe". If you are trading provinces, this one rocks. If you intend to defend a lot then you would be better off with the provinces with an action ability. This could have a home in decks that want an on-break province like decks featuring Talisman of the Sun, or in a constellation with 2 on-break provinces plus two of the really hard to break provinces Phoenix can run.
Overall, good card. Definitely worth keeping in mind.
A Crimson Offering
Kaito Mai is the other character from Hidden markings and as indicated by the flavour text not a stranger to Mahō. As a card, she is a Monk which there are a couple of in Phoenix, but the trait is not supported by any cards in-faction. Her ability goes really well with Mahō because you get to pay with her and then zap a fate from an opponent's character. That said, it does not do a whole lot outside of this interaction. Your opponent will not resolve the Void ring against her because that would cost them a fate on a character too, and I suppose you could technically speaking play Heresy! with her, lose the duel and zap a character of your opponent, however sketchy that may seem. What doesn't work is losing this character to an ability that discards her from play. The ability is a reaction, meaning that it is resolved after the condition that triggered it. If Kaito Mai is discarded, she is no longer in play and cannot resolve the reaction.
Once dire, she can represent 5 strength once honoured which is not nothing.
She does nothing to support cards that need a trait outside of a Dragon splash for Kihō and you want to buy her with fate for her ability which opens you to a juicy Assassination. I don't think this is quite good enough in your average deck, you don't really need her for Guardian Dōjō purposes either, so I do not expect to see her often in the wild.
If you are up for shenanigans though, you could play her with Captivating Story out of Crane. Assuming your opponent has two provinces revealed, you get to ping a fate from one of their characters and get a 2 drop with 9 political strength for the turn. That's nothing to sneeze at.
And here it is: The card that promised freedom from Dragon splash for a lot of Phoenix players. Attachment removal for the conflict deck. Let's do some rules clarifications:
You can pay fate from a character different from the one that you are dishonouring. Usually you will want to pick someone that is on their way out to dishonour.
This is best out of Isawa Mori Seidō because that stronghold's extra glory powers up this cards potency.
How does this work with Kaito Mai? Well, not great:
You cannot remove the last fate from Kaito Mai and dishonour her in order to discard 3 attachments. This is because:
"If multiple costs for a single card or ability require payment, those costs must be paid simultaneously." (Rules reference guide, Cost)
"An ability cannot initiate (and therefore its costs cannot be paid) if its effect on its own does not have the potential to change the game state." (Rules reference guide, Cost)
In layman terms: the Dire ability is only active after the card has initiated, and to initiate Sanguine Mastery would need to be able to hit at least one attachment. At the time when you attempt to initiate Sanguine Mastery, she is counted as zero glory still, preventing you from initiating the ability at all.
You can however bypass this by increasing Kaito Mai's glory first. Let's assume I have increased this with Isawa Mori Seidō to 2 glory, then I would be able to initiate the Sanguine Mastery. At that point, the check to whether or not you can play the card has succeeded because I can hit up to 2 attachments. Once you are able to initiate the card, you can choose up to 5 targets, because choosing targets is after costs have been paid. By that time her Glory would be 5.
But Severijn, I want to go deeper on rules explanations. Is there anything else you can tell us?
I am glad you asked! You can also fail to initiate this ability out of unicorn with Utaku Rumaru combined with an ordinary 1 glory Unicorn character. What happens here is that you can theoretically initiate the ability because you have 1 glory when you dishonour that 1 glory Unicorn character. The issue is that Rumaru changes this glory value to 0 once that character is dishonoured, which means that no attachments are being discarded once again. This prevents a game state change based on the card's effect (not its cost), and prevents the card from initiating.
You can also not at all use this card with Invoke the Divine, because you are ignoring costs which includes dishonouring a character. Without a dishonoured character you have no value to use for X, leaving you quite unable to initiate the card.
Okay fine, Severijn, that was probably more than I ever wanted to know about this. Is this card good?
Yes. Yes, it is.
You do pay for including this card because of its Fire only role restriction which has worse provinces than the traditional Seeker of Void role. Once you do, you will basically wipe out your opponent's attachments that matter. This brings into question whether you still need Consumed by Five Fires at that point and my answer is probably not. There is a lot of redundancy between these two. It would still be good to discard a big character without attachments, but any tower is hit hard by either one. You might simply not need both in your average game.
This card opens players that must have conflict attachment control to a Keeper role potentially as you no longer need Consumed by Five Fires as badly, which is quite novel. It also opens the splash options to 5 other clans. My favourites are those that get me a 1 cost conflict character and a third effect to ready my characters, and all other clans provide this opportunity. Good times!
The third and final Phoenix card from this pack is In Harmony which brings together a dream team of zero fate costs and Ancestral. Condition asides, you get +1 political for free, paying neither fate or cards to do this (though you are down a card while it is in play). Quite efficient! You do need a ring to play this one, but Secluded Shrine can let you bypass this should it be too much a problem.
One item to keep in mind here is that this does not block Mahō from being played with fate from the character wearing this card. This is because paying fate for Mahō is a cost, not a card effect.
As for applications: This is useful to ward a character against the Void ring as well as any effect that removes fate from characters. For example, Mirumoto Raitsugu's duel with a fated character wearing this will never result in Phoenix character losing any fate whatsoever, nor would that character be discarded.
Still, this card is generally not impactful enough to see play, but you can try to work it in your decks that already want Secluded Shrine for other cards like Invocation of Fire. This has some tricks too. For example, you could move Invocation of Ash to a new character with In Harmony and not remove the 1 fate from moving it. If you are paying attention to future spoilers, there will be a courtier from the final pack that will work well with this card.
A constant struggle for Phoenix is finding new water provinces because those that are out there usually are pretty medium in practice. This is the newest offering and it is an interesting card at least. First of all, it enables all Dire abilities which is neat if you're leaning into those. Second, there are a couple of Phoenix characters that interact really well with this card. The first one we have already seen: Asako Maezawa's second version, which now bows any character should he win the conflict. Another is Garanto Guardian. He would resolve a Water ring if he won the conflict, allowing you to bow a character at home just like Asako Maezawa. The third interaction requires some luck or a lot of planning: If you are attacked on the Void ring and it is claimed when this province isn't breaking, Isawa Ujina will devour any character in play which is marvellous.
There will be another Courtier for Phoenix that will also work well with this province, but that's still just a preview at this point.
Is this enough? I don't think so. The plays mentioned above are pretty cute, and require a lot of set-up like Talisman of the Sun and Kuroi Mori. It is still pretty medium outside of that. I suppose it does protect you somewhat against opposing Void rings.
I'll test this one further as it still looks like it might be better as a row province than the other Water provinces out there, but I expect to tell you to just run a Seeker role instead.
Dragon gets a new draw engine, and it is one that Phoenix can use as well. Ki Alignment is a powerful card that searches for more Kihō including a new Ki Alignment. Phoenix can field enough Monks and Kihō to make this somewhat consistent. Your conflict deck would look like 3x Shrine Maiden, 3x Hurricane Punch, 2-3x Void Fist, 3x The Path of Man, 3 Ki Alignment and 1-3 Iron Foundations Stance. This is 13 influence exactly and can be played out of any Keeper role.
I think this works if you don't need anything else from your splash, and you could even add Enlightenment to increase your odds at finding Kihō.
The one issue I foresee is issues with the quality of the monks in Phoenix. There are plenty of decent cheap monks, but your top-end has Kaito Temple Protector which is the only one that can somewhat reliably trigger Void Fist. I believe you might want to bide your time and wait until there is another good monk for this, or when a card to replace Void Fist comes around.
A new cycle means a new mean Scorpion card, and oh my, does this one deliver. Seize the Mind lets you steal a character for a conflict which can be pretty strong. Even better is that you can pair this with Isawa Tadaka in case you steal a Shugenja or Shosuro Miyako for any non-scorpion and keep the character afterwards because the newly disguised character does not copy over a delayed effect like the one that requires you to give back that character. You could also Use the stolen character's fate to play another Seize the mind and really do a number on the board state.
As Phoenix you could even get a rebate on this one's cost with Embrace the Void for all that fate that you are paying.
Truth be told, I have found non-unique of value to be plentiful in the current metagame, so I end up quite liking this in my Scorpion splash.
Temptation of the Scorpion
One of the worst things to happen to Phoenix is to see their characters end up dishonoured, courtesy of their high glory numbers. Blessed By Fukurokujin ensures this does not come to pass, but does so at the cost of a card and a fate. Overall, I like this card as someone that regularly plays Prodigy of the Waves, easily the character I have seen dishonoured most throughout my games. Having this available in the conflict deck is preferred by me over dynasty solutions like Ichirō because it is just way cheaper and you do not need this effect on everyone, just on the character(s) that are expensive and weak to dishonour effects.
This card has competition with Unmatched Expertise, which has the same text of "cannot receive dishonored status tokens" once you factor in the errata, but it costs 0, needs a Fire role and is discarded once you lose the conflict. The reaction that discards Unmatched Expertise is a pretty big deal. A character with Unmatched Expertise can get dishonored if it loses on defence against a Fire ring, while Blessed By Fukurokujin would just stick around and provide further protection.
So Blessed By Fukurokujin is inarguably the stronger effect and far more permanent than Unmatched Expertise. This makes it the better card when you aren't dominating conflicts yet. Unmatched Expertise is more at home when you are ahead of your opponent and just need to protect yourself against dishonour effects. Unmatched Expertise is also free which is a very big deal. My advice would be that you take Unmatched Expertise first if you are in a Fire role except when you're playing around with the idea to overload your opponent with characters that can ready themselves but that commonly don't win until their second conflict (e.g. Prodigy of the Waves).
Whispers of Powers is a pretty strong Mahō spell for Phoenix, but ultimately pretty situational. Cards that boost political conflicts are rare, so a +3 political could already be good enough in many situations. Once you get higher, you are very likely winning that conflict. The only catch is that you cannot just play this card at any time. You need to wait for an opportunity which limits how many copies of this you should play in my mind.
This card is also great with any character that can blast fate from characters. The one that jumps to mind right now is Fearsome Mystic, and I would definitely recommend trying this card out if you have 1 conflict slot left over and you are playing a deck featuring that character.
Young Philosopher is keeping alive the long-standing tradition of blank Phoenix characters. Most surprising about this theme is that these vanilla characters are often better than you would think. They may not have an ability, but the high statline often makes up for that. In this case, Young Philosopher is a political heavy-weight similar to characters worth twice her cost. She also has really good traits, being both a Shugenja and a Scholar. She is one of the better characters to wear a Studious or to be bought next to a Guardian Dōjō.
If you are in the market for a lot of Scholars, don't forget to give this one a look.
Coils of Power
Do you like drawing your deck and winning through a combo that does not involve conflicts, or interacting with your opponent in a meaningful way? If so, Calling the Storm might be for you. This card was originally envisioned as a way to still have gas in the tank if you're playing a low-bid deck. The issue with it is that it lacks some restrictions. The main ones are that this card doesn't set a limit to just how many cards you can play from the top, and also that this effect lasts through the phase.
The idea then, is to play nothing but cards that don't cost fate and that are always playable like an attachment. This means that the only cards that block your progress are cards with an extra cost, like your extra copies of Calling the Storm, and then there's interrupts or reactions that are only playable once their play condition is met. You will not play any in the latter situation, and for the extra copies of Calling the Storm, you play ways to clear them from the top like Mediator of Hostilities or Imperial Storehouse. Once you have three ways to draw a card, you can effectively draw your entire deck. From there, you can win through draining your opponent's honour with Levy which makes you lose only two honour per deck cycle whilst your opponent loses three.
Because this potential for a solitaire game, this card is commonly banned from tournament play.
Kami of Ancient Wisdom is the first non-unique 5 drop in Phoenix, and it is a spirit with a ton of political prowess. As a five cost character that is not a Shugenja, it's not the most evident card to include because it doesn't work with any card that needs Shugenja. Its "no attachments except Spell or Spirit" text is a mixed blessing, because while you cannot get hit by a lot of negative attachments, Cloud the Mind is still on the menu which makes for sad times because you need that ability.
Looking at the ability itself, I think this spirit definitely has merit. You are effectively immune to the Void ring while this is in play, as you can just add fate back onto your character. You can also be really mean and strip fate from your opponent twice with Meditations on the Tao or any other effect that removes fate. This card also works with any Maho card that requires payment with fate from one of your characters or even with cards that move fate around, like Command the Tributary. The ability is very flexible in what it can do, and I would warn people against underestimating the power this brings to the table. The big issue with the card is that it has very few cards that can ready it which hurts because you are paying a premium.
Overall, give this character a spot in a deck that attacks fate on characters. I was certainly impressed when I did.
Let's start with the bad news: This is a Void province, and the competition is tough. That's it though. While I wouldn't play this over the likes of Kuroi Mori or Shameful Display, I would gladly play it as the next candidate. You get a lot of flexibility and power with this province even as a one-shot use. Commonly, I was resolving Fire to honour one of my big characters, but it did much more than that, too. You can get back Keeper Initiates, or trigger a character like Solemn Scholar or Asako Tsuki. A lot of cards in Phoenix require certain rings claimed, and this does just that. I highly recommend giving this one a try out of Seeker of Void, especially if your deck wants to play a short game.
A trend with Lion spells is that Phoenix is better placed to use them than Lion, and Ancestral Sight honours that tradition (the historians would be proud). This card slots in in the echo bird deck as it was already intent on churning through its own deck. This card lets you keep around your characters a little longer after you have cheated them in play, which is clearly excellent. You do want some ways of going through your deck to really make this put in the work, but that's already the plan for that deck anyway.
Peace at any cost
It's been since early 2018 that Phoenix received a new stronghold, so I welcome a new stronghold with open arms. Shiro Gisu is the castle of the inquisitorial branch of the Phoenix clan, and they like to ask why that character became Dire all of a sudden. It boasts similar numbers to Isawa Mori Seido, exchanging one honour for one influence which is a boon in today's metagame.
The ability asks your opponent to have a character without fate on it, and once that's the case you are at a bare minimum drawing a card, and this becomes drawing with some card selection beyond that point. This is a crazy ability because you're not trying to milk the value out of your stronghold to equate a card; You are just getting the card. Once you have that train going, you will your own personal Forgotten Library that cannot be removed. It speaks to reason then that this is easily one of the best strongholds in the game to play a bid 1 game with in an attempt to choke your opponent on resources.
The catch is that you need your opponent to play a character with no fate on it. First, I'd like to make it clear that buying a character with one fate on it is not good enough for your opponent. During the fate phase, you will still have a window to use actions after fate was removed from characters, so you can pick up your card at that time.
Still, sometimes the hand of fate must be forced. Cards that zap fate from characters are excellent in this stronghold like that Kami of Ancient Wisdom, Kaito Mai or even Mono no Aware. Depending on how deep you go, this will make cards that reward you for having characters without fate on them more appealing from the opposing side like the earlier Whispers of Power.
All-in-all, this is a pretty solid stronghold. I would recommend playing this one when there is a lot of honour/dishonour strategies floating around, and would even suggest to try the card choke strategy out of this stronghold.
Speaking about cards that go well with Shiro Gisu, let's take a look at the big inquisition event. This one removes fate from all your opponent's characters and bows one, which reminds me of Consumed by Five Fires. It is clearly less good at stripping fate from a singular character, and you have to win the conflict as the attacker, but on the other hand this does not require a trait and you are granted an effect on the future conflicts in that turn thanks to the bow effect.
I was initially sceptical of this card, but it's actually really good. Being two fate cheaper is a big deal and the bow does come up. You are also much more likely to have the fate to play two of these from the same won conflict, at which point you're really crushing the opposition.
If you include this card in your deck, I would recommend playing Adept of the Waves because the Water ring is one of the better ring effects to follow-up Cleanse the Empire with, especially because you can set-up the character that you will bow with the Water ring this way.
This 1 cost character is another pay-off card for the "no fate on characters" theme that the inquisition likes, and it is decidedly okay. Its main competition for me is Expert Interpreter, and I think the Interpreter is definitely better in a deck that uses the Scholar trait, but the initiate is still fine. With an ability like that, he allows you to raise the stakes on a certain conflict, which is a good ability for a 1 cost character.
Last but not least is the Relentless Inquisitor, which is a powerful addition to the Courtier roster Phoenix can field. You get to bow or remove fate from an opposing character. Of course, if your opponent's character has no fate on it, then they must bow that character. There are also ways how you can force the issue, for example by playing the earlier In Harmony on the opponent's character which forces the bow. You can also lead with a For Shame! to see if your opponent bows their character, and if they do you strip one fate from them too. If you have other ways to strip fate, then you again force the bow with this character. On top of that, you get pretty good stats for the cost.
The main downsides to this card is that it's Seeker role only, and that it's a expensive Courtier, which limits the ways you can keep her readied to Clarity of Purpose when we look at in-clan effects, and this also means she doesn't help with any card that needs that trait.
And with that, we've come to the end of the Temptations cycle. Overall, this cycle made some fringe themes of Phoenix much more front and centre, which I appreciate. Its themes came out much better than I expected. Both Dire and Maho play well and it also featured some very good cards to amplify Phoenix in general like Sanguine Mastery which grants attachment removal in the conflict deck from within the clan.
Some cards opened up new ways to play the clan, which was a very welcome change, and so all-in-all, I was very tempted by this final cycle to the game.
For further reading on other cards that are quite decent in Phoenix, check out the links below: