The Emerald Dojo

A Legend of the Five Rings Strategy Site

The Jade Edict

By Severijn#5194

Updated 29 May, 2021.

The Jade Edict is a fan-made balance patch to the Legend of the Five Rings. This balance patch also comes with a website, which is found here. The edict was introduced to address the state of the game a bit more quickly than Fantasy Flight Games' release schedule did, and it did so based on different principles that would hopefully lead to a better experience. This list was adopted for online tournaments in 2021, which meant it quickly became the standard way to play the game for many players.

In this article, we'll compare this patch to the Imperial Law and highlight which effects you want to pay more attention to when you play the format. I want to start with a disclaimer that this article will be comparing the two formats directly and that this will include some criticism to both lists. With that out of the way, let's dive right in.

What are the principles the Jade Edict is built around?

Before we really compare the two, we should first review the idea behind some of the choices made in creating the Jade Edict. These founding principles are listed below and, like with many rules, the exception confirms the rule; these are ultimately guidelines and are not in any way absolute.

  1. All Players Play the Game: Fun and competition happens when all players are engaged and making decisions in the game. Players should be allowed to choose their actions, attacks, and defences. Choosing the lesser of two evils is preferable to not choosing at all.

  2. All Victory Conditions Are Created Equal: The Legend of the Five Rings comes out of the box with three Victory Conditions, they should all be respected equally. There is no single “default” condition; honour, dishonour, and conquest are the default conditions. (Ed. - This means alternate win conditions are less/not supported, so Enlightenment and Scouted Terrain are out)

  3. The Game is Played Through Conflicts: Conflicts are the core mechanism of interaction. Players must care about conflicts to achieve their goals.

  4. Rewards Are Balanced by Cost and Risk: It is expected to have rewards more valuable than the cost/risk paid for them, but this profit must not be exaggerated. “Luck of the draw” is not considered a risk.

  5. Balance is required: Following the other principles to a tee would lead to greater imbalance between the clans due to the card pool available. Clan balance is an important parameter when dealing with cards, as all seven clans should be able to be competitive and enjoy playing the game.

  6. Private Cards Are Targeted First: In deck-building some cards are Public by being neutral or having lower influence cost, other cards are Private by being locked to a clan, locked to a keyword, high influence cost, or other such restrictions. Private cards are a larger source of clan inequality, so they must be targeted before public cards.

  7. Cards Want to Be Played: If choosing between removing one card or a set of two cards, remove one card. The fewer cards in binders the better.

With these clearly laid out, let's see what this translates to. I highly recommend checking their website for the current list, as I will be going through the highlights rather than the details as these are in flux.

Jade Edict vs Imperial Law: What has changed and how did it impact the game?

Cleanse the Empire: Less game-breaking cards

First, let's start with the big win from the Jade Edict. Several cards were banned from the game that lead to an instant win that ignored conflicts entirely. The prime example here is a combo card like Calling the Storm. In practice, it means that there are fewer of these games where one of the players never intended to play the game through conflicts.

Rally against the cause

The first big shift that the Jade Edict introduced is errata to the keyword Rally. Under the Jade Edict, Rally does not do anything. No cards get added when a card with Rally is revealed; These cards are just like any other card now. At the time of writing, City of the Rich Frog is also banned from the game.

In practice, this means all those effects described in the article on Rally are all gone. There's no increased dynasty draw and no extra ways to influence the consistency of cards in your dynasty deck. This means that you have to go back to the older distributions on what can be in your deck. It also means that you will have more issues when you attempt to support multiple traits with your conflict deck because it is just more likely that you will not have the Courtier to accompany your card that needs Courtiers. You can still address this in the old way, which is through playing conflict characters with the trait that you need if you have good or cheap versions available.

For the Rally cards themselves, most of these now only see play based on their own merits. For a lot of them, that means that you will not see these cards other than in the binder because a lot of these were not good enough by their own merit. A special case are also the dynasty events, as these will now eat up a slot in your dynasty flop. Personally, I will count these among my holdings just like I was already doing with Keeper Initiates.

Less card draw and less card selection

Many cards that draw two cards at a low cost have been banned or restricted. The idea behind this is that with less draw, you are less frequently lining up the conflict deck between the two players to see who wins at the tail end. This is not a bad idea; In general, Legend of the Five Rings has had the issue that conflict cards were too plentiful anyway. In practice, this doesn't really do a lot though, and this ties into a trend in Jade Edict games: They are a little slower than an Imperial Law game. As you receive more turns, you will get to draw 5 more cards and at that point you're back to lining up the two conflict decks. Worse still, the longer the game goes, the more plentiful fate becomes which opens avenues to the more expensive card draw options to just replace the set of over-tuned versions of these cards. In practice, I haven't noticed a major shift here, though it is more common that the ways to draw cards are related to attachments and characters rather than holdings.

It is not just card draw that was hit, but also cards that provide a ton of card selection at a very low cost like Rebuild. This is a step in the right direction, because cards that find other cards with ease have a tendency to create very similar games. Making the cheaper options more scarce is a step in the right direction.

Kissing is no longer frowned upon

Another game-changer between the Jade Edict and Imperial Law is the absence of Shameful Display. This province is everywhere in Imperial Law and its absence in the Jade Edict is a big change to how games play out. It's harder to kill characters, and clans with high glory have become much better with Shameful Display out of the picture. This was most evident with the rise of the Phoenix early on. Without the omni-present dishonour effect and a slower pace, clans with a crazy long-game strategy thrive, which is why Phoenix ended up getting hit some more to bring them in line with the other clans.

Key take-aways for deckbuilding in the Jade Edict

I have played the Jade Edict for a while now, and still play the occasional game of Imperial law as well. From my limited experience over these last months, these are the main changes I have experienced:

  1. The game is slightly slower. Clans like Unicorn have had their power cards broken up meaning that the blitz they once presented lost some of its power. It's not much, but I do spend more time on average with games in the Jade Edict format. This means fate is more plentiful and it is easier to win by fighting your opponent on resources. The bad side of this is that I've had games in this format where I had to grind out my opponent over the span of eight turns which is a bit much. I wish I could say this was an outlier, but I've had it happen several times.

  2. Holding removal is much less important. In imperial, I was playing all sorts of tools to discard dynasty cards from provinces, but in the Jade Edict these feels far less needed than before. While I think it's a good idea to get rid of cards that do too much to save holdings, a part of this is is also that there's just less juicy targets that I need to deal with. I think this is a bit of a pity because there were so many cards added for the specific purpose of messing with the dynasty cards on provinces that now just lost a bit of their appeal.

  3. Cancels are less important. With a bunch of powerful events hitting the list, I am noticing that I am often done with a game while still holding my event cancellation in reserve. Mind that I am not asking you to stop playing your cancellation, but just to keep track whether you are experiencing the same, and if so consider dropping a copy for something else.

  4. Less deckbuilding options. With Rally and City of the Rich Frog out of the picture, the variety of decks I can build has gone down. I cannot support multiple traits as easily as before by playing Rally cards with those traits, or just hope City of the Rich Frog gives me sufficient odds to find the trait I am looking for. This absence of dynasty draw also hurt cards that need them to thrive, like Guardian Dojo. Several of the banned cards also killed pretty fair decks, but that's hardly unique to the Jade Edict.

  5. Conflict characters are more important than before. The other side-effect of killing Rally and City of the Rich Frog is that your dynasty deck is back to its old consistency. This means that bad dynasty flips are much more common again. You should play more and better conflict characters to mitigate the issue of a bad dynasty flop if you have cards available for that purpose.

Final thoughts

Balance is a relative concept. While some of the really overpowered decks aren't available in the Jade Edict, some other decks have taken their place. There is still a lot of work to do before I can say this is a balanced format. I do not feel like piloting skill contributes much more in the Jade Edict than it does in the Imperial Law. This is the main thing I hope any balance patch tries to elevate, but it's just not there to the degree I hoped it would be.

The changes it does bring to the game are on the whole shaking up the importance of a couple of effects, which can be a breathe of fresh air. I am also glad that some clear problem cards were dealt with by the Jade Edict long before the Imperial Law update would come clean those up. That's the best thing this balance patch has going for it.

The biggest change for the worse is the lack of the dynasty consistency by removing Rally and City of the Rich Frog. The effect of this is that you will again have a higher chance at rolling a bad dynasty flip for the turn, and unless if you have some good conflict cards to compensate, you were just going to have a bad time. Having built many decks over the years, even with great distributions of characters of each cost versus holdings, I still ended up seeing these bad turns, and that just sucks. You were often not capable of playing out "plan A" whilst your opponent might still be able to do so. This made for quite a number of games where you lose because your deck is not yielding the cards you need to execute your basic game plan.

I prefer a game where both players can compete with equal quality in resources available to them, and I find those games more in the Imperial Law. That said, I am not blind to some cards being too good when you can build around them, but my argument is that it's not consistency that we should fight, but those top performers. We have a precedent for this: The "limit 1" holdings of the first cycle. These cards punched above the going rate and were showing up infrequently because you could play only one copy. When they did show up, the game could often be essentially over. I have definitely had tense games with my local group that deflated like a balloon because I flipped Kanjo District after grabbing the imperial favour, winning me the game on the spot.

Another argument against consistency is that games would be too similar to one another, but I don't feel that this is the case in the Imperial Law either, except for decks that rely on tutoring up the right cards. My ideal list would then be one with more deck consistency as we had it, but also with the more egregious offenders like Daidoji Uji the second and Rebuild out of the picture.

Still, I think as an experiment, this was quite successful even with its flaws. It is less flashy, rife with issues, but overall the tournament experience should be better with it than with the current Imperial Law, which is what it set out to do. My hope for the future is that whoever continues the balance patches learns from this experience and creates a format where you have less non-games overall and a better deckbuilding experience.