The Imperial Herald
A Legend of the Five Rings Publication
The Imperial Herald - January 2021
Welcome to the Imperial Herald for January 2021!
In the world of Rokugan the Imperial Herald, a member of the Miya family, travels the empire to deliver messages and (hopefully unforged) edicts from the Emerald Throne. The herald also delivers the Emperor's Blessing, an annual event which memorialises Miya's original journey throughout the empire to announce the victory of the Seven Thunders over Fu Leng. In current day Rokugan, the Emperor's Blessing is a formal event of rebuilding and repair, in which carpenters and craftsperson are drafted and sent to those parts of the empire most in need of assistance.
So, while much of Rokugan may be falling apart as the Black Scrolls are opened and the hordes of the Shadowlands draw near, let us, at least, do what we can to start this year in a spirit of positivity and rebuilding.
This month we have the usual round up of news from the world of Legend of the Five Rings, along with a cracking interview with WorkerBee, chief admin of FiveRingsDB and the Discord League app. Read on!
While the rollout of physical product has reportedly been inconsistent, pack 3 of the Temptations Cycle, Bonds of Blood, is now making its way to shelves.
There has been, for once, widespread agreement that this is a good pack. Every clan got something, but nothing appears outright overpowered. Granted it feels bad to have your character taken by Seize the Mind, or to have Mirumoto Raitsugu chop your army to pieces at By Onnotangu's Light, but the costs and restrictions to achieve these plays seem fair and answers are available. So good work Tyler, keep it up.
As usual all card images were made available by FFG on the release date and these quickly made their way to FiveRingsDB, BushiBuilder, and Jigoku. Hopefully you can get your physical pack soon if it's not already available, and we look forward to seeing pack 4 next month.
Husband. Champion. Traitor. Saviour.
Whatever you may think of Bayushi Shoju, it cannot be denied that he is willing to do what he believes is necessary for the empire. And, as the last two fictions make clear, he is also willing to truly embody the infamous words of Bayushi no Kami: "I will be your villain, Hantei".
A Worthy Opponent follows the fallout of the taking of Yogu Castle by the Shadowlands. Freed from captivity with Lion aid, Shoju is given the opportunity to open the first of the black scrolls encountered in this iteration of the game.
In The Villain's Mask Shoju continues to use his new-found Lion allies to return to the Imperial Palace, but with much blood on this hands. Can Shoju live up to the trust placed in him by his old friend Hantei XXXVIII, or by damning himself does he damn the empire?
The Legend of the Five Rings fiction continue to be evocative and engaging. A Worthy Opponent is already available in oral form from The Table is Yours podcast, and expect to see a breakdown and analysis of both stories by The Last Province podcast soon.
January saw the end of the Discord League Season 30 with Djinncito emerging as Gold Cup Champion and Thiago Aqua as Silver Cup Champion! Congratulations to both players and the tops of clans, and thanks to Jmart and all of the organisers as usual.
January also saw the end of the Inaugural Skirmish Discord League with organiser Medalliah achieving a worthy victory in Gold League, and WorkerBee emerging triumphant in Silver League. Congratulations to Medalliah for both his organisation and gameplay skills, and good luck to all players in Season 2.
Finally, the December issue of Imperial Herald was published just before the winner of the inaugural Gempukku Cup for the Beginner League! This was a great initiative to help new players enter into competitive play, and it was awesome to see the community response to it.
Well done to Unseen Hida for achieving victory for the Crab, to Togashi John for making it to the finals, and to all players who entered.
Interview - WorkerBee of FiveRingsDB
Hot on the heels of last month's conversation with Ikoma Tomoya and Zarzuckett of Jigoku we now have an interview with one of the busiest, buzzingest members of the Legend of the Five Rings community: WorkerBee.
Welcome and thanks for agreeing to be this month's guest! Can we start with you introducing yourself and talking about your role in the L5R community?
Thanks for having me! My name is Martin Schröder, probably better known as WorkerBee in the L5R community. I am 26 years old and working as a Software Developer in Germany. I'm probably known best for maintaining and developing 5RDB, but I'm also one of the two active developers of the Discord League app and an active Dragon loyalist and notorious Notamoto.
I was aware that you were involved in developing fiverings, but had no idea you were active in developing the Discord League app. Can you tell us a little about how this came about?
I guess it began at the start of 2020, when the admins of the old Discord League announced, that the League will be discontinued in its current form. As a player that always enjoyed the free but still competitive format of the DL, I wanted to do my best to keep the tournament series going. The biggest pain for the old admin team was that most of the administration was done manually and the system was prone to errors, for example when people reported their games wrong. That meant that the Google Spreadsheet that was containing all the data couldn't resolve the match report on its own and required an admin to actually look where the error is and fix it. I think we all can imagine that doing this for a tournament of 150+ people can be quite a workload for the people in charge.
So from that, it became relatively clear to us, that we needed something bigger than just a Spreadsheet with some macros, something that would assist admins in organizing and managing their tournaments but also the player when it comes to reporting a match, registering for a tournament or submitting a decklist. And therefore, Siri and I decided to try to build a webapp for it from scratch. We started working on the app quite soon after that and prioritized "rebuilding" the tournament structure we had in the old Spreadsheet system for a first version of the app. We managed to go live for the first tournament in April and the Discord League is running monthly ever since, including some side formats like Beginner's League or Skirmish League that are also managed via our app. :-)
Having used the software and seeing it work so well I'd just assumed it was existing software that the league had rebranded for its own use. Very nice work :-) You also said that you were involved in fiveringsdb - how did you become active in this?
Thanks for the compliment, it turned out quite alright, yeah! :-)
Actually, my involvement with fiveringsdb started out in a very similar way. The former owner and creator of the site, Alsciende (who also created NetrunnerDB and ThronesDB, btw), announced somewhere around the end of 2018 that he will be stepping down as the maintainer of 5RDB and was searching for somebody to take care of it. A co worker of mine saw the announcement on Reddit and asked me if we wanted to apply. We were both working students at that time and had enough time for it, so I agreed. There were a handful of applicants and we decided to take care of it as a collaborative effort, open sourcing the site in the process. 2 years later, there are two people left actively working on 5RDB. The first is Goateh (huge shoutout to them at this point), who took over responsibilities for everything related to card rulings, which - in my opinion - is the most important part of 5RDB . The second is me, who is working on the site itself and keeps the card and pack data up-to-date. My co-worker however still owns and pays for the server, even though he doesn't really play L5R anymore, so thanks for that, Fatih :D
So yeah, it was a similar "Hey, the owner's stepping down, why not take care of it?" scenario as with the Discord League. Personally for me, 5RDB is a nice way of giving something back to the community that made L5R my favourite hobby. Without 5RDB, a lot of stuff wouldn't work the way it does right now. The obvious example for that would be Jigoku of course, but also smaller things like the Miya Herald bot on Discord or the fantastic "A Deck of Five Rings" app, that uses 5RDB's rulings (and was discontinued last year, so if somebody wants to make a similar app for that, go for it!).
Being the "silent enabler" for all these things is really fulfilling for me :-)
Lot's of deserving shout outs there! I met Graeme who maintained the "A Deck of Five Rings" app when I was at Australian nationals last year and it's a real shame that he is no longer able to keep it updated, although it's still very useful regardless. It's also amazing that your co-worker is paying the fiveringsdb server fees even though he's no longer playing! Could you talk about how people can help out with any of the work you do - whether through financial support or putting in their time behind the scenes?
For the current fiveringsDB application: not really, to be honest. The server is only about 5$ per month, so money isn't a problem and will be something I happily take over from Fatih if he ever decides he doesn't want to pay for it anymore. And maintaining the site and the data itself is very low effort, maybe 2-3 hours per month, so I don't see any way people could realistically help with the current site.
However, I've been thinking about rewriting 5RDB from scratch (or at least the backend portion of it) for a long time and Fatih and I already started some attempts at that. Unfortunately, due to time restraints on both my and his side, that kinda went nowhere, but it is still something I'd love to do in the near future. You see, the current site uses a VueJS frontend and a PHP backend and PHP is far from my favourite programming language. I am comfortable doing small changes in the backend code here and there where it is necessary, but I wouldn't dare to start a big refactoring or to change significant parts of the code.
So, if you are an experienced PHP developer that wants to take care of that backend or if you are interested to help in a 5RDB-rewrite in a modern backend technology (NodeJS or Kotlin, for example), please let me know via Direct Message (WorkerBee#3527) or join the 5RDB Discord Server! (https://discord.gg/8arSBXT7JD)
I wish I could say that I could help, but I'm as bad at learning coding languages as I am at real languages. But, dear reader, if you can help out with what sounds like a wonderful project then please get in touch with WorkerBee! FiveRingsDB is in many ways the backbone of the L5R community. We use it to source our images here at the Dojo, and you mentioned that it also powers Jigoku and the Miya Herald on Discord.
Suppose you could sit in lead developer Tyler Parrott's chair for a day - what changes would you introduce to the game and world of Legend of the Five Rings?
That's a good question. In general, I enjoy the game and its mechanics a lot, so it won't be any big changes like a dueling system overhaul or something like that. Also, to make my life as the maintainer of the data easier, I won't introduce any mechanics that require new fields on a card (Like that one time I implemented the "Allowed Clans" field and added that to every single card just to accommodate for Conflict Isawa Tadaka that reads "Phoenix and Crab clan only". And then that mechanic was never used again...).
So, I think I would tackle two things if I were in charge for a start. The first is a small rules change: A single character can only attach one attachment per name. This would help removing the oppressiveness from towers that run around with 2-3 Duelist Trainings, Favoured Mounts, Tactical Ingenuities, etc.
When it comes to designing new cards, I would love to reintroduce Composure as a mechanic, but on strong, worthwhile effects that are good enough to make you and your opponent fight for it. For example, a strong Dragon character that makes all of your attachments untargetable by the opponent when Composure is active. Or a Unicorn character that says your events cannot be cancelled while Composure is active. Effects that really hurt your opponent when they are active, so they need to bid low to not get hit by that.
I don't have anything I would change on the world of L5R. I love the setting and I love the FFG story line so far. I really liked the "choose your own adventure" style story we had a while ago, so I'd tell the story team to make more of those. :D
The idea of attachments being unique to a character would certainly shake up the game. And yes I agree that it is a shame that composure was undercooked, and untargetable attachments for Dragon and non cancelable events for Unicorn is mouthwatering as well :-)
You are known for playing slightly off meta with Dragon, is this a playstyle you would encourage others to follow as well?
Indeed, I tend to not play the meta decks Dragon is usually playing. The reason for that, however, is not that I want to be the cool edgy kid that doesn't want to swim with the stream. :-). I like thematic decks and sadly for me, most of the competitive Dragon decks end up as a hybrid build, mixing together Monks and Bushi with the help of Seal of the Dragon (in the case of "Test") or Mitsu and Dueling (in the case of Dema's dueling Mitsu2 deck). That's just not appealing to me, so I tend to build my own decks and sometimes those end up at least semi-competitive.
That being said, I personally identify with the Mirumoto family the most, so most of my decks are rather Bushi focussed. When Niten Master was still restricted, I went 4-2 at the Nuremberg Kotei and both Day 1s at Krakow Grand Kotei with a deck centered around Niten Master to wreck face. And in Clan Wars I ended up making the cut with a Bushi focussed deck around high glory unique characters (Yokuni, Toturi and Sotorii).
It's harder to win with decks like these (as I'm cutting out some of Dragon's most powerful tools like Sacred Sanctuary, Void Fist or Togashi Mitsu), but it's very rewarding if you do.
When it comes to encouraging others to experiment and go off-meta, sure, go for it! The card pool has more to offer than what is currently viable in the meta and I'm sad when new cards are being written off just because they don't fit the current meta decks straight away. For example, when Kitsuki Chiari was released last Cycle, most people were rather "meh" about her and shoved her straight into the binder. I looked at her and saw a cool opportunity to build a low-bid, Courtier focussed deck to make her shine. It went quite well and got a good boost with the release of Keen Warrior this cycle. It might not be the most competitive deck (especially with Forged Edict banned now, RIP), but it's a lot of fun and plays completely different from what Dragon usually does.
I agree it's a shame that cards tend to be sidelined because they don't make the cut, and that going slightly off meta can be rewarding thematically, whilst also catching people out if they're expecting to come up against a meta meta deck.
Perhaps we can end with a final question about the current state of the meta. Do you think Ki Alignment, or even By Onnotangu's Light (with Raitsugu) will shake things up for Dragon?
I think to a degree, yes. Ki Alignment is a good boost for High House of Light/Mitsu 2 decks. You need a critical mass of Kihos to make it shine, of course, but as a start it works quite well with 3 Hurricane Punches, 3 Void Fists and 3 Iron Foundations Stances. Especially the latter is great with Ki Alignment, because it can be played as the first action in the conflict (where the effect is most relevant) but you still get to draw a card because you already played a Kiho. So Ki Alignment is good already and will only become better with more good Kiho being released.
By Onnotangu's Light is a cool province. I don't know how much it will end up in Dragon decks, but the fact that it synergizes very well with new Togashi Kazue and Mirumoto Raitsugu make it the SH province of choice in my Mirumoto Dueling deck :-) I don't know if that deck will be viable in the meta, but it is very fun having a Raitsugu with a Way of the Dragon and Kazue out and having three kill-duels at the ready if your opponent is foolish enough to attack into your SH.
Togashi Kazue herself is in a strange place where she is very strong in some situations and rather meh in others. however I think she will see widespread play as there are a bunch of very good cards that profit from the double triggers like Agasha Swordsmith, Keen Warrior, Mirumoto Raitsugu, both Mitsus, etc.
All in all, I think pack 3 was pretty good for Dragon and as a clan we have a lot to be excited about. The next pack looks quite cool as well when it comes to green cards as we will get our Finger of Jade-like protection event in Mushin no Shin and the Mirumoto in me really likes the look of Solitary Hero. :-)
Thinking of Miyamoto the Solitary Hero reminds me of the time I completely unintentionally came across the cave where Mirumoto Musashi wrote 'The Book of Five Rings' when I when I was living in Japan. You can probably trace parts of that to my current love of Legend of the Five Rings :-)
WorkerBee it has been a pleasure having you here on The Emerald Dojo this month and I want to thank you for all the work you do on fiveringsdb, which in turn allows so many other parts of the community to flourish.
Thank you so much for inviting me, it was really fun! :-)
There are a few well-deserved shout outs! First to Bayushi Shunsuke who managed the rules and rulings part of 5RDB for a very long time. We are eternally grateful for your work.
Following that, another shout out to Goateh who took over from Shunsuke and recently migrated all of the ruling threads that were located in the FFG forums to the Court Games podcast forum so those don't get lost when FFG shuts down their forums! :-) (Shout out to CBass as well for providing us with a sub forum in the Court Games forum for that!)
Next, a shout out to the Discord League admin team that is working hard to keep the League fresh with new ideas in 2021! Also to Siri in particular of course, who does a terrific job when it comes to programming the crunchy parts of the app! I mostly do the UI parts, so most of what happens in the background is his work!
And finally, a huge shout out to the community as a whole! You make this game really special and if it weren't for the great people I've met at tournaments and online, I wouldn't have decided to take over any responsibilities in terms of 5RDB and Discord League. I hope I am able to give back at least a little bit by doing this. Thank you for making this game my favourite hobby :-)
Peace at Any Cost
This last week we had the formal announcement of the sixth-and-final pack of the Temptations cycle: Peace at Any Cost.
The spoiled cards focus on the Phoenix and Dragon clans (who admittedly do need a boost in the meta, I say as a small purple tear rolls down my cheek).
The Phoenix have finally been given a third stronghold, and also the promise of a new archetype which focuses on the benefits that come with a large number of an opponent's characters having no fate. Shiro Gisu, Relentless Inquisitor, and Inquisitorial Initiate allow players to tutor and draw from their own conflict deck, bow or strip fate from an opponent's characters, and discard selected cards from an opponent's hand. All of these are are powerful effects, but will they be enough to offer a way forward in the competitive meta?
The spoiled Dragon cards, meanwhile, focus on the benefits that can come from manipulating a characters status tokens. Such cards carry the Heresy or Heretic traits, reflecting the continuing influence of the Perfect Land Sect in Dragon lands. Will this be enough to lift Dragon's fortunes? I would have asked WorkerBee, but the cards were spoiled after our interview ended :-(
The Emerald Dojo
Here at The Emerald Dojo we are starting the new year with a fresher of our Clan Primer Guides to reflect the current card pool. Please continue to suggest these pages to new players, and to offer feedback or suggestions to their authors on Discord. As of this writing, the Crab, Crane, Lion and Phoenix primers received updates to account for recent changes to the card pool from recent releases and imperial law.
Severijn should also be releasing a guide on Rally and its deckbuilding implications soon™ .
2020 was rough. While 2021 is also off to a bit of a shaky start, let us do we can to make our corner of the world a better place for all, whether that be remembering to say gg at the end of a hard-fought contest on Jigoku, or thanking the devs and community contributors for the work they do.
In the meantime, stay safe, pray to the kami, and I'll see you next month.