The Emerald Dojo
A Legend of the Five Rings Strategy Site
The Imperial Herald - February 2021
Well, it finally happened. The Katana of Damocles has fallen and Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game will join Android: Netrunner, A Game of Thrones: The Card Game, and all the others in the great living card game binder in the sky.
It is a shame, though, The promise of a fully-rebooted Legend of the Five Rings universe with a new story to tell, so full of promise at the initial announcement, was never quite realised and the much-predicted end has arrived, at least officially for the living card game.
And yet I think they gave it a damned good crack. Tackling the Gordian Knot that is the Legend of the Five Rings CCG is a hell of a challenge and I think FFG did a lot right. There are plenty of fingers to be pointed about what went wrong, but as much as possible this issue of the herald will focus on what the game has made possible for us all.
There's a lot to cover so we will focus primarily on the announcement and what it means for the community. We were halfway through an extraordinary interview with Dan from BushiBuilder when the news hit so we will certainly include that, but we will forgo the usual roundup of news from the competitive scene. We will look at the latest (last?) fiction and what this means for the narrative of the game, and we also invite members of the community to reflect on their experiences, and tell us what they would like to see happen next. There are already plenty of discussions being had about continuing, revising, and reimagining Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game, so it is exciting to see what will come of this.
Finally, we give some updates on The Emerald Dojo (Severijn has just finished his awesome Rally Guide) and share our plans for the future.
Announcements - The Blade Falls
Where else to start but with the news itself. People in my parents' generation always say that they remember exactly where they were when they learned that JFK was shot or that Elvis was dead. I imagine most of us will recall the moment we learned about L5R's official end as well.
For me it was during breakfast on a usual workday down under. As I started on my coffee I opened Discord and the huge number of notifications immediately suggested something was up, and it it wasn't long before I saw Chuterêve's post in the Announcements channel:
"The magistrate team is, of course, deeply saddened by the news of FFG's discontinuation of the L5R LCG."
It was still early and the coffee hadn't quite kicked it so I legitimately couldn't process it at first. Like all of us I've invested a lot in this game and the thought that my beloved card collection, website, and most importantly the friends I've made across the world might now count for nothing took a moment to process. Soon enough, though, I followed the links to the official news and started reading.
The rest, of course, is history.
So what exactly did FFG announce? Let's try to condense the official news and see if we can read between the lines a little to scry the future.
The most positive thing, of course, was the announcement of the long-awaited Shadowlands premium expansion. This looks frankly awesome and includes a dedicated Shadowlands faction and two new game modes: co-operative and challenge. The art for the new faction is gorgeous and for a moment I thought I was looking at the prizes for the next World Championships (more on that later).
Its hard not to shed a tear at the thought of how this expansion would have enhanced the game going forward, but ... no no, let's not dwell here. The set will be awesome and will make a fine capstone to anyone's physical L5R collection, so make sure you pick it up and try the new modes with friends whenever conditions allow.
The headline for the announcement itself: "The Future of a Legend: Where Does the Path Lead from Here?" certainly does not suggest anything is finishing, but the second paragraph makes it clear that "the time has come to announce the completion of Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game". The next paragraph, however, states that "the vibrant and immersive world of Legend of the Five Rings will continue to be explored with other exciting games currently in development", and much of the remainder of the article is focused on what will happen next.
Players are right to be both skeptical and optimistic here. FFG competitive card game production has slowed to a trickle in recent years (with COVID-19 taking much of the blame for this), but many players have had cause to question the company's commitment to
Sparkle Motion Legend of the Five Rings in particular.
At launch in 2017 four product lines existed for Legend of the Five Rings: the card game, the roleplaying game, a board game (Battle for Rokugan) and a novella series. Of these, only the RPG lives on in any meaningful form. No expansion ever arrived for Battle for Rokugan, and only 5 of the 7 clan novellas were released.
What this means, then, is that there are no Legend of the Five Rings products coming from FFG except for the final expansions of the card game. For parent company Asmodee there are the roleplaying books from EDGE Studio, and the (non-story related) novels from another subsidiary, Aconyte Books, but FFG is quiet except for some vague promises for the future.
The announcement includes the line " games currently in development" but there is no guarantee these will see the light of day. When Tyler shares his thoughts on the end of the game later of the announcement he makes no mention of specific products which might advance the story or world in any way. He makes clear that "Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game may not be in development by Fantasy Flight Games anymore, but the game still exists, is still fun to play, and has a passionate community of players who can certainly keep shaping it into exactly what they want it to be." This is code for "any future for the card game must come from the players themselves and not FFG". Head of Story Katrina Ostrander adds later in the article that "I am confident that great stories will continue to be told in this world". 'Confident', however is not 'certain', so the official future for the world appears murky. That said, Tyler could not help dropping these tidbits a few days later:
The third announcement for many added insult to injury. While an early earlier FFG post had detailed future world championship events for Keyforge and the Star Wars games, Legend of the Five Rings was conspicuously absent from these. In the "One Last Winter Court" announcement, however, FFG declared in wonderfully ambiguous language that "We are currently looking into options as to where and when we may be able to host this event and we will continue to update you as the year presses on."
This for all intents and purposes means there will be no official final Winter Court. This is a real shame as the prospect of an event in Spain was something that many players were looking forward to. Our Aussie contingent had already started discussing dates, and it is likely that players who had secured a seat at worlds through their tournament wins will not be able to take advantage of this.
Players of Android: Netrunner and Warhammer 40K: Conquest talk about the catharsis that came with their final world championships and it is sad that this will probably not happen for Legend of the Five Rings. While this is not certain, and the community is always able to organise something on its own, the announcement was nevertheless another tough read for all of us.
Fiction - Tear Down This Wall
As an English teacher by day I will personally miss the ongoing story that takes place in the world of Rokugan. While I am cautiously optimistic about the the promises of more narrative to come, it is disheartening that the unique storytelling experience of Legend of the Five Rings—told through the players themselves through their interactions with Organised Play—is no more, and for the second time, no less.
I really enjoyed the fiction that FFG created. While I love the worldbuilding of Old5R the story did go off the rails a little at times, but I always felt that Katrina and the official writers employed by FFG did a wonderful job of weaving a tight and compelling tale that kept me wanting more each time.
In Collapse, the most recent (and possibly last) fiction to be released through the website, the Crab fortifications along the Carpenter Wall continue to be assaulted by the forces of the Shadowlands. A rescue party led by Hida O-Ushi attempts to reinforce the Watchtower of the Sun's Shadow, but the goblin's laying siege to the tower appear unusually coordinated, and the fiction reminds us of Hida Sukune's fear that was espoused in the novella Trail of Shadows: "Crab are the Wall, and that is the problem. If we remain unyielding, unwilling to change, then we will crumble.”
This leaves us with a Black Scroll opened and the Kaiu Wall falling in the world of Rokugan. Shit is clearly going down and if things play out like the old game then seven new Thunders will be called upon to once again travel into the Shadowlands to confront Fu Leng.
It would be a crime against storytelling if this did not happen so I truly hope that FFG have something up their sleeve. If not, fan fiction writers: I look forward to seeing what you can do.
Moving Forward - All the Jades
It was truly heartening that the mood of the Legend of the Five Rings community quickly shifted from disappointment to hope for the future. Within a day groups of players were announcing initiatives to continue the game in some way, while existing groups were also keen to share their own plans to adapt and improve the game.
While we prefer our green to be of a more emerald hue here at the dojo there is no denying the the future is all jade. This has caused some confusion with announcements of Jade Councils and Jade Edicts, but the future is becoming clearer now. Chutereve took time to clarify where things stand at the end of February:
The Jade Edict is essentially the formalisation of the open letter written to Tyler towards the end of last year. It outlines sweeping changes to the Imperial Law which include the banning of all Rally cards and many more that warp the game in a significant way. The response to this seems largely positive (although not entirely), with the Clan War competition announcing its plans to run the tournament under the Jade Edict rulings.
The Jade Council is an amalgamation of new and existing groups of players who hope to continue the game in perpetuity. One of the fears with fanmade continuations of cancelled games is that competing factions will lead to a fractured community (aka Warhammer 40K: Conquest) and so the formation of the Jade Council is very encouraging. Here's hoping that the group can operate as successfully as Nisei has been able to with Android: Netrunner.
Interview - Building Those Bushi
Hot on the heels of our fantastic interview with WorkerBee of FiveRingsDB last month we now have a length conversation with Dan from BushiBuilder.
A quick caveat here is that the cancellation of Legend of the Five Rings by FFG arrived toward the end of the interview, but it was great to hear the incredible story of BushiBuilder before this, along with the positive plans to continue the site going forward.
Welcome to The Emerald Dojo Dan - perhaps we can start with you introducing yourself and telling us about how you become involved in the hobby?
Hello, thanks for inviting me to this interview. I’m Dan Napolitano and I live in the U.S. in Portland, Oregon. I’m originally from New Hampshire.
I got into L5R through board games. When my first kid was born and I had little money there was a board game shop, Cloudcap Games, 2 blocks from my home which had game nights on Wednesday nights and they were free to attend and you could bring your own beer. I hadn’t played board games since I was a kid but the community was great and I love beer and so I attended that game night for years.
Anyway, that is where I learned about the LCG that is to this date the best game that I have personally played – Warhammer 40K Conquest. I was disappointed when FFG prematurely cancelled Conquest and I swore that I was done with LCGs. But then some friends started playing L5R when it was released. One of the dudes had played the old version and they promised me that they were going to be committed to the new FFG version, and so I bought into L5R.
Thing about some board game people is that they are always chasing the next new game, and this group was no different. They stopped playing after a handful of months but I’ve continued playing with some other people in Portland and, absent of mention of Covid, that brings us to today.
Yes Conquest was a great game, it was a shame to see it go. BushiBuilder has become one of the most popular sites in the L5R community - can you tell us a little about the story behind it?
The short story behind bushibuilder is that, at the time that it was conceived, I was broke, staying in a sketchy part of Baltimore, and somebody asked me to do it.
The long story goes back to when FFG canceled Warhammer 40K Conquest. At that time there was a deckbuilder, conquestdb, which many of us used to build our decks. Following the discontinuation of the game, conquestdb stopped making updates before the final cycle completed. The players were discussing the continuation of the game through fan made cards. Somebody raised the idea that we needed a deckbuilder that would be up-to-date and that would also support fan made content. I wanted the game to continue, so I joined up.
Most people probably don't know this, but I don't have any background in web design or programming. I have an undergraduate degree in creative writing/studio art and a masters degree in library science. My professional career has been in the area of data and analytics. So going into this I had a solid understanding of SQL and data, but I knew little about creating a webpage let alone a deckbuilder. If I knew beforehand what I was getting into I would not have attempted it.
Once I had a rough prototype of the site I looked into hosting. Amazon Webservices (AWS) offers 1 year free hosting which sounded good to me. This just opened up a whole new set of things to learn, like how to run a virtual server, how to manage storage, how to buy and configure a domain, and how to route traffic to your IP. Somehow I got it all running and fully operational. The first iteration of the deckbuilder, which I called traxissector.com, was pretty rough in terms of website design. The site had very little color and some very poor UI. Appearance wasn’t the point - it was a finite audience and we just needed a deckbuilder. Anyway, suffice it to say that for about a year the site served its purpose. The ironic thing is that the conquestdb site soon thereafter received an update for all of the final packs so my work became largely redundant.
This is where bushibuilder comes into the picture. A year into traxissector.com being live the AWS free hosting period was coming to an end. At the time I had no idea what the actual cost to host the site would be. At the time I was going through a divorce (don't worry, it was a good thing) and I did not have the money to fund the hosting. At the same time one of the users of traxissector contacted me through the Skype group and asked if I could build a version of it for L5R. I did some quick searching and saw that there were a couple of deckbuilders out there for L5R, but none seemed to be getting much use and none offered the functionality that traxissector could offer. The main flaw with my research is that I did not find nor know about fiveringsdb. I have no idea how I missed it, because everybody was using it. I wasn't on the discord or the L5R facebook and was working in a bubble I guess. However it came to be, had I known fiveringsdb was out there I probably would not have built bushibuilder, lol.
Anyway, I recognized an opportunity to save traxissector. Conquest being a dead game, I didn't think that there would be enough traxissector users interested in becoming patrons in order to fund that site's hosting. But if I put out a useful deckbuilder for L5R, which was a new game and had a growing community, and if I then opened a Patreon account for it and got enough patrons on board to support the hosting, then that alone might also fund the hosting for traxissector. Both deckbuilders would be running on the same server and using the same database and storage, so one effectively could keep the other alive.
The final piece was that, at the same time that I got the request to make a deckbuilder for L5R, I had just arrived at a conference in Baltimore in the area of the city where I would witness sketchy dealings on the street on a nightly basis from my hotel room. The conference itself was awful and the plane trip coast to coast was long. So I had a ton of time on my hands in my hotel room and on the plane and so I just went to work making a copy of traxissector, converting it into an L5R builder, and adding in the card data. By the time I arrived back home in Portland from the conference I was done. Fun fact, the name Bushi Builder comes from a friend of mine Stephen who was part of my original L5R playgroup. He doesn't play the game anymore and I don't think he ever actually used the site. Come to think of it, I don't think that the dude Stefan that asked me to create an L5R deckbuilder plays the game anymore either.
So bushibuilder went live in January 2018 and at the same time I got my first hosting bill. It was pretty substantial. I launched Patreon and in the first month got 2 patrons at $2 each - one of those is a friend of mine Noah and the second is Brandon Lane, who I don't personally know. Brandon is still a patron to this day and they now support the site at the Champion level, which is the highest tier. If anybody reading this article knows Brandon please thank them, because without their support bushibuilder would have been dead on arrival. The fact that somebody I didn't know was willing to chip in to support the hosting costs gave me hope, and this was followed by another person joining as a patron the next month and another the month following.
Despite the patrons, I still had to fund the majority of both sites' monthly hosting costs (including server, data use, storage, domain, etc) and I was practically broke. So two months in I had to make a call. Do I continue and hope for more patrons or do I end both sites? As I said, what patrons I had gave me hope, so I fronted the money and bought up 3 years of reserved server usage in order to reduce the overall monthly AWS cost and went through a full retune of both websites in order to lessen my data costs by loading data smarter. In March of 2018 several people became substantial patrons of traxissector to such an extent that it reversed my original goal - instead of L5r patrons helping to fund traxissector costs the reverse actually happened and Conquest patrons helped keep bushibuilder up and running. Over time both sites hosting costs have become fully funded by patrons. Paul, I know you are a patron going on about 1 1/2 years, so I hope your readers thank you for keeping bushibuilder alive. I want to take this time to thank you and all of the patrons who support the site. I’m pretty quiet as a site developer, but it means a lot to me.
Anyway, after March 2018 usage of the site slowly increased. The more people that began to use the site the more nervous I became about costs and just overall site stability. I would see posts on social media from people advocating for the site and I would get stressed out because I didn't want more users. The server that I had invested in was small and any spike in users over a period of time could crash it. As site usage grew I felt embarrassed about some of the poor design elements that were still around from when I first built traxisector.com. I read comments and complaints on social media from people who said that the site sucked and that the people who developed it needed some lessons on UI - which hilariously was actually true, because at the time I didn't know what I was doing - and though I didn't want to attract more users, which would further drive up costs for me, I did feel a bit of pride for what I had built and I did want to attract people who appreciated the added functionality that bushibuilder offered, because those are the people who become patrons and support their own usage. So I spent a lot of time refining and updating the site to make it more aesthetically pleasing, more enjoyable, and to expand the functionality offered. The site has probably undergone 4 full redesigns now, countless enhancements, and multiple passes through the backend to tune performance. I hope users are happy with the site today. I’ve put months of work into it.
I thought bushibuilder would remain a niche site and felt good about that. Then, Worlds happened and MindsDesire shared a link to his Dragon Test deck that he had built on the site. I think for many people this was their first introduction to bushibuilder. Over the course of that week I saw spikes in visitors unlike anything seen before. I watched the server strain and all of the reserve CPU get wiped out over the course of 3 days while the data costs blew up. I don't know how the site didn't crash but it was a stressful time. Anyway, after that post the user base grew substantially and that trend has continued since. Last year the site crashed a few times under normal traffic and it became apparent that I could no longer rely on the little server that I had reserved in 2018 when usage was low so I invested in a bigger one. I'm just one guy and when the server would crash I could be out on a date or at work and it sucked to be getting these pings from Discord (though I appreciate them and please don't stop) from both bushibuilder and traxissector users without any means to immediately address them. So needless to say, despite the cost, buying the bigger server has reduced my daily stress level and the site has been running without issue for about a year now.
That's basically the story of bushibuilder. Thanks for asking!
What an amazing story. There's a lot to respond to there so let's take it a step at a time. First of all, thank you for what you said about being a patron. Sometimes it can feel as you though you're tossing stones into an endless pool with Patreon, but it is touching to learn that each little piece really made a difference in this case. If anyone is on the fence about supporting something like BushiBuilder on Patreon I would absolutely encourage you to do so - it's a funding model that has never existed in history and allows some truly unique projects to emerge.
I had also wondered about the shared history of FiveRingsDB and BushiBuilder, and I have to say I'm very glad that they both exist. FiveRings is my go to for card rulings and announcements, while BushiBuilder is where I make most of my decks: I think the community is richer for having both services.
When using BushiBuilder I always find myself appreciating new aspects of the platform, particularly the options for deck construction methods. Are there any features that you feel have not quite seen the love they deserve, or anything in pipeline you would like to talk about?
Yeah, it's a relief that fiveringsdb exists. It probably sounds ridiculous for me to say, but I feel a weight of responsibility running bushibuilder and my nightmare situation is that something catastrophic happens, like all of Amazon's servers die and the site vanishes and all of the users lose all of their decks. Having more than one good deckbuilder for the game is a great contingency. Plus, people have different preferences for what they want in a deckbuilder so it’s good that they have options. (On the topic of bushibuilder vanishing and all of the decks disappearing, I don't want to freak people out. I take periodic backups of the storage/database and do other maintenance stuff to help ensure continuity. So I got your back.)
As for the question about site features... where do I begin?
First, most of the people that play L5R that I know are competitive players and I'm going to make a guess that competitive players make up a large part of the audience for the Imperial Herald, but serving the casual player is at the heart of bushibuilder, so please keep them in mind when using the site. Casual players will benefit from your deck strategies, session reports and linked videos if you put in the time and care to make these available. Also, if you have an especially compelling recorded game or deck walkthrough, please link it to your deck and shoot me an email and I will feature it front and center on the home page.
Some other things that people may not know -
1. If you are running an event, whether in person or on Jigoku, and you want to have a dedicated way of tagging all decks in bushibuilder that were played in that tournament then please let me know. I can add new event formats and, if the event is large enough, create a dedicated deck list page for it.
2. You can publish your profile and this gives you your own dedicated member page. On your member page people can see all of your decks that you have published and your other site content in one place. From here people can follow you, getting updates when you publish new decks.
3. A recently added feature is dark mode. I was skeptical at first but now I think the site looks better in dark mode. On PCs you can enable dark mode by choosing that as your preference in your PC system settings.
4. You can set a threshold in your profile for your card ratings. Then, when you are in the deck builder, all cards below that threshold can be filtered out from the card list. For example, if you are tired of seeing Wandering Ronin in the card list when building a deck, just give the card its deserved rating of 0.25, then set the 'Card Filter Rating Threshold' in your profile at your desired amount - say 2 - and then next time you are in the deckbuilder select the 'Your Filter Rating' filter button and Wandering Ronin (and any other of your < 2 rated cards) will drop out of the list, never to provoke your ire again.
As far as things that didn't get the love that I had hoped for - this would be the most recent feature that I rolled, called the 'Emperor of Jank'. I had envisioned this as a way to keep people engaged in L5R during COVID, but it died on arrival. The feature puts jank deck building front and center. Users are given a challenge of 2 or more cards that form an interesting yet janky combo. They then build and submit decks to the challenge. Finally, there is a period of time where users can 'like' the submitted decks. The most liked deck wins the popularity portion of the challenge. Then a new challenge is made. There's functionality that also supports the categories of 'most competitive', 'most thematic' and 'best jank' and, as I had envisioned it, each category would be measured by a different L5R content creator. The competitive category can also feature a gameplay video. However, my vision did not come to fruition (other people don't like what I like, who knew?). The content creators that I reached out to for the different categories either didn't respond or didn't follow through with their interest. I did one jank challenge and there was decent participation and a winner of the popularity category. So it was a promising start. I then reached out to content creators and to bushibuilder patrons, giving them an opportunity to define the next jank deck challenge, but nobody responded. So either the interest in jank is low or the thing I envisioned is not interesting to people. Ah well.
As far as up-coming functionality, I am developing the code to support the Shadowlands expansion as we speak. There's a bunch here, including extending database tables to support new rules (e.g. reinforcements), creating new icons, defining the color scheme, and then updating all of the site to accommodate Shadowlands behavior. For example, to date everything that isn't Skirmish expects a stronghold, so the warlord is a big change. Beyond that, right now I don't actually know how to build a Shadowlands deck, so there are likely significant deckbuilder enhancements that I'll need to make in the future. I'm also keeping up with pack spoilers and releases and trying to keep up with tagging the card combos and synergies. There's some cool user requests in the queue for upcoming features that I'll pick up as time permits (you can see these by finding the link in the site footer). I don't know what I'll do next though. It really depends on the future of the game.
Ah yes, I do remember the Emperor of Jank announcement, and shoutout to Unicorn alumni Casey for his victory in the first round.
The threshold system is something I wasn't aware of but I'll definitely start using now (sorry, Wardog Master). I also wasn't aware until I started fiddling around just now that you can sort cards by artist! This is great, and another example of hidden functionality that BushiBuilder seems to have in spades.
Well, as you mentioned we now have a Shadowlands box, but with that comes the announcement we had all been fearing. Is there anything you would like to say in response to this, and about the future of the site in general?
In terms of the future, bushibuilder will continue for as long as people support and use it.
I mentioned earlier that bushibuilder grew out of the Conquest deckbuilder, which foundationally I designed to support content from multiple fanmade projects. So bushibuilder is ready to host fan made content while also supporting those players who only want to see FFG L5R legacy content. I'll shortly post to the site a fan made content policy which details what I'll host, but it basically requires a rigorous good-sized and inclusive team effort to be involved with card design and playtesting. So it's really on the content creators at this point to ensure that I am kept in the loop.
As far as my personal response to the game's cancellation, I think it comes at a hard time for people, especially because many of us have been reclusive for the last year and just now, at least in the US, it is starting to appear like we're coming out of the worst of it. People have been waiting to get back into their old routines - seeing friends not seen in a while - and leisure activities like games play into that. So dedicated players may feel this as a loss and I feel for them.
During the fallout from Conquest's cancellation I witnessed how fanmade projects can fail and I wish luck to those people who are planning to prolong L5R's life with fan made cards. I'm seeing people attempt to coalesce around a single team and, if that is the case, I hope that the design team adopts an inclusive and transparent approach that truly places value on the feedback and desires of all players, be they casual or competitive. But beyond that, the job is on every person in the L5R community to do their best in order to keep the game going, not just the fanmade design teams. Be kind to each other, be considerate in online discussions, and accept that your way may not be the best way.
Well said mate, and it has been a pleasure talking with you.
A huge thanks to Dan for the time taking for the interview, and we hope you enjoyed learning the history behind such an important part of the Legend of the Five Rings community.
A Time to Reflect
Given the weight of the recent announcements we thought we would invite the team, and members of the wider Legend of the Five Rings community, to express their thoughts on what the game and its official cancellation means for them, and what they would like to see going forward. Thank you to everyone who took the time to send something through.
I have played many different card games and learned long ago not to get too attached. Nevertheless, it is always sad when a great game ends, especially one like this with deep gameplay, lots of deckbuilding challenges, a good story and most of all a great community. This game filled my days thinking up deck ideas and listening to the story for the last couple of years, especially once it was one of the last games of this nature that I played. As is evidenced by the website, I still think a lot about it, and that will probably not change provided I keep finding players. My local group has a lot of outstanding people in it which even convinced me to participate in tournaments. It’s that part of the hobby that matters the most: The people you play with, and the memories you make doing so. When I think about the Legend of the Five Rings, I will be remembering the great time I had with it and the people I met through it. And if I knew where we would be today when I started, I would do it all over again.
As for the future, I hope that the Legend of the Five Rings retains its spirit. The hey-day will never return, but it is up to us to decide what to do with the game now, and whatever we do, I hope we don’t forget why we all played this game and liked its universe.
It's been a heck of a week for the Legend of the Five Rings, with the announcement of an exciting big-box expansion, simultaneous with Fantasy Flight's "cancellation" of the card game. It harkens back to when Android Netrunner was ended, but unlike then, I have no intention of quitting this game. L5R isn't just a hobby; it's a community. I've met some wonderful people while playing this game, and made new friends in the process. I am absolutely thrilled to see where this game goes from here, now that its development is in the hands of the very community that has made it the special thing that it is.
Like everyone I had a lot of emotions when I heard the news from FFG this week. We worked so hard to keep this game alive through covid, it felt like the rug was being pulled out from under us. However after lots of discussion and seeing all the energy in the community about keeping the game alive I have a ton of confidence that we can turn this lemon into lemonade. We will absolutely be continuing the discord league indefinitely. We'll be running two leagues in March, one with the standard Imperial Law, and another with the new Jade Edict. We think the new format is a ton of fun and we hope lots of people will participate. After that we've got Clan War in April an event that everyone agreed was the most fun of 2020. People are working right now to make sure L5R lives on and I'm really excited to see what the next year has in store.
At Jigoku, we're committed to adding the rest of Cycle 5 and the Stronghold-legal cards from the Shadowlands box to online play. We're also committed to continuing support for the game in whatever fashion that takes going forward and doing what we can to ensure a community initiative is able to thrive. I have full confidence that a passionate group of community members will be able to continue this great game and build upon the framework that we have been left with for years to come.
I'm not a lore guy and I never played Old5R. To me, L5R is about great mechanics, excellent flavor and art, and clan community. The fate mechanic and impermanence of characters is a stroke of genius. Combine it with the five rings, each with their unique effects, and you've got a central core to the game which brings emergent gameplay with lots of player agency. That's something that I've really enjoyed about the gameplay. In terms of community, I've been in the Unicorn Discord channel since July 2018, arguing about cards, making hot takes, voice chatting while practicing for matches, sharing decklists and just chilling with the ponies. They are pretty cool. Over the 2.5 years, I recorded L5R streams with fellow unicorn "Fan Favorite", introduced friends to the game, made L5R videos on my twitch, competed in the Discord League and the Discord World Cup, programmed Jigoku Game Log (a chrome extension for L5R to generate game logs from jigoku) and L5R Informant (a web app to calculate the odds of the opponent having different conflict cards given an open list environment) and also contributed the programming for several simple cards to Jigoku itself. Most of this just out of love for a great game. Like most, I was saddened to find the discontinuation of L5R, but also excited to see the community effort in keeping the game going. I'd like to see the game live on for years to come with leadership from the community. Also, I hope Unicorn can have viable non-Blitz options so I can continue to play Court Games over Captive Audience heheh.
It always comes back to the community. Like many of you, I grew up feeling alone and isolated by my nerdy interests. That feeling of holding a tray of food in the school cafeteria, wondering who will let you have lunch with them, never truly goes away. So it meant the world to me when I flew out to my first Worlds without knowing a single other player there that when I got my sandwich from the food counter at the Flight Center folks invited me to sit with them. Not reluctantly, but enthusiastically, not knowing anything about me other than we all played this insane game about magical samurai. Years from now I'm not going to remember jank decks or tournament placements or prize swag. But I'll always remember that this is the game that gave a scared, geeky freshman a place to sit.
Hi there, my name is Ben, I’m from Germany and I’d like to tell you my story of the game for the Herald 🙂
I played the old game with my best friend, but we never went to tournaments. When we heard about the relaunch of the game, we knew from the start that we’d be on board with every tournament and Kotei around us. Going with him to those tournaments, meeting new people, engaging in battle, and influencing the game’s story define some of the best moments of my life. I met a lot of new people and friends because of the game, and I’m dedicated to support the jade council as well as my local game scene with the council’s new cards.
This Scorpion looks to the distance in thought. He reminisces about the commanders he had watched, power that had been displayed, the frays he had joined, fists that were voided, the offenses he had returned, the ingenuity of his tactics, and the events he had forged. Yes, the Empire had fallen into twilight. But the friendships made are lasting, and dreams of glory would never fade. As long as one soul still remembered the tales of the Kami, and the meaning of fate and honor, the spirit of the empire would endure. Till all are one.
Meanwhile, at The Emerald Dojo
We here at the Dojo were, of course, blindsided by the announcement as much as anyone, but as the dust begins to settle we would like to share our plans going forward.
First of all, Severijn finished his comprehensive Rally Guide in February. I encourage you to give the guide a good read as it breaks down exactly how Rally works and how many cards you should aim to include for maximum dynasty deck efficiency.
Next, there have been a variety of updates to the primers on top of those made last month. This month, the Unicorn and Phoenix primers received further additions/revisions.
Looking to the future, we aim to keep our guides updated in line with the official Imperial Law document until the planned arrival of the Shadowlands box in May. That said, we will be keeping a close eye on the Jade Edict meta and will consider introducing complementary or replacement guides depending on the community response to this.
It is both a sad and exciting time for Legend of the Five Rings. Let us all pray to the Kami that the future will bring a continuation of the current FFG timeline, a final worlds tournament, and, most importantly, new and exciting ways to continue playing with the community that we have built together.