The Emerald Dojo
A Legend of the Five Rings Strategy Site
Dragon Clan Meta Guide
Updated 11 April 2021
Perhaps more than any other clan the fortunes of the Dragon have waxed and waned over the years. With arguably the first meta-defining deck (Kingsley and Aniel's 'test' deck), Dragon were the clan to beat at Worlds 2018. Heavy restrictions followed, leading to a dark time for the seekers of wisdom. Of late the situation has improved, with players continuing to unlock the power of the clan pack, and in particular, the second iteration of Togashi Mitsu. High House of Light and Sacred Sanctuary provide a bulwark against opponents, and the power of the in-clan Let Go cannot be overstated.
This guide focuses on the array of competitive archetypes available to Dragon players in the current Imperial Law meta.
Conceived by Coyote and iterated upon by Suburbaknght as 'Strike the Summit', the Lion splash Dragon deck makes use of the free stand from In Service to My Lord to ensure the second iteration of Togashi Mitsu is present in almost every conflict (love him or hate him, you'd better get used to him in Imperial play).
The titular rings of L5R each affect the game in fundamental ways and Togashi Mitsu maximises these depending on the current board state. Need card advantage? Resolve the Ring of Earth. Need honour against Scorpion? Trigger the Ring of Air. Need a bow or ready in a pinch? The Ring of Water will provide. And, provided it isn't instantly discarded, Way of the Dragon allows this to be done again if needed.
Repeated card use is needed to trigger Togashi Mitsu and such play synergises well with High House of Light to ensure he sticks around each turn. The ability to continually play cards is granted by free events which allow another further cards to be drawn such as Hurricane Punch and Iron Foundations Stance. These cards can be tutored with Ki Alignment, which can also ensure a healthy supply of Void Fist in the absence of the original Togashi Mitsu. Finally, each of these plays also charge Togashi Acolyte, ensuring that Void Fist can send home key characters as needed.
The list above is a fairly standard Lion splash deck but many variations exist. Slovenly Scavenger can help to offset the extreme card draw, while Indomitable Will, Wildfire Kick, and Venerable Fortunist are also common inclusions. Switching to a Water role also allows Renowned Singer to recur key cards as needed. The archetype can be further iterated upon by using Togashi Tadakatsu and the appropriate mantra cards. Such a deck takes time to master, but can be devastating as opponents are forced to simply pass their actions while matras and other Kiho are played seemingly without end.
It took time for the initially-maligned clan pack to garner the respect of both Dragon players and their opponents, but Togashi Mitsu is once again one of the most powerful characters to see competitive play.
As usual, Togashi Mitsu is front and centre and ready to be loaded with Duelist Training and Togashi Acolyte to repeatedly duel opposing characters. Importantly, Duelist Training itself is not an Action. Rather, it adds its ability to the attached character, which means this duel can be doubled with Way of the Dragon (and more than once, if multiple Duelist Training are attached). Such a strategy can be taken to an extreme when combined with Justicar's Approach and A New Name, although this can be expensive and unwieldy.
The other Crane inclusion is Return the Offense which ensures your duelist remains unbowed at the end of conflicts. This can even be used in conjunction with Hawk Tattoo to move Togashi Mitsu to a conflict, ready him with the Ring of Water, and then play Return the Offense to have him ready for a subsequent attack or defense.
A solid and reliable deck (Curse of Misfortune aside), Crane splash allows the repeated value of duels to be maximised whilst also gaining the usual Dragon benefits from Let Go, Void Fist and Sacred Sanctuary
Test is a tried and true Dragon archetype which continues to see play several years after its introduction in the Imperial Cycle. Conceived by Kingsley and iterated upon by MindsDesire, it is a strong midrange deck that seeks to out-value its opponent over multiple turns.
Rather than rely on one super tower, test instead builds several mini towers with multiple ways to ready these as needed. In this respect it offers greater protection against Curse of Misfortune than an overloaded Mitsu, but without the power of Togashi Acolyte the success of Void Fist is less assured.
In opening turns it relies on the value provided by Doomed Shugenja, Togashi Initiate, and Agasha Swordsmith to trade with opponents. When sufficient fate is banked, targets for investment are Mirumoto Raitsugu, Niten Master, Togashi Yokuni and Togashi Mitsu. The first is effective at eliminating vulnerable characters, the second can be readied repeatedly if enough weapons are available, the third can copy the most useful ability on the board in any given moment, and the last does what he has always done: send the most important character home bowed and suitably chastised - repeatedly.
While the Seeker of Fire province row is not as fearsome as in it was in the days before Restoration of Balance and Feast or Famine were errated, it still forces opponents to tread lightly or suffer the consequences. Sacred Sanctuary remains a bastion of defence on the stronghold, with Seal of the Dragon the only such card to still see play due to the distribution of Bushi, Shugenja, and Courtier throughout the deck.
Crab remains the favoured splash with Pathfinder's Blade the restricted card of choice due to its synergy with Niten Master. Reprieve makes up for the loss of character fate from High House of Light, while Hiruma Skirmisher and The Mountain Does Not Fall also see occasional play.
Despite being too old and too slow, Test remains too good to fade away.
With plenty of time to take in their clan pack, Dragon players are now able to maximise the enormous potential of the second iteration of Togashi Mitsu, who can be kept in play almost indefinitely through High House of Light. Test continues to be a reliable workhorse, and fringe decks such as mantras and Bushi dueling can also reward experimentation.
Always rewarding of patient and careful play, the Dragon remain competitive in the current Imperial Law meta.