The Imperial Herald
A Legend of the Five Rings Publication
The Imperial Herald - October 2020
The month with have some big announcements about The Emerald Dojo. We also have a postmortem of the Dominion Cycle and an interview with CBass#9999 - admin of the /r/L5R Discord server!
The Emerald Dojo
The scope of this site has now expanded well beyond its original premise. I have been helped in the last several months by Severijn#5194 who has made innumerable suggestions about site layout, and who helped to redesign the original Phoenix guide and create the new Deckbuilding section which was added this month (please check it out it's a great read).
Even for the two of us, however, keeping all of the guides up to date with the current card pool and meta has proven challenging, and so I'm very happy to announce that we now have dedicated clan curators!
It is my pleasure to introduce the first of our new clan representatives:
Crab - Enegon#8434
Crane - Erik#2965
Dragon - Chaley#2202
Lion - Saibrock#3886
Phoenix - Severijn#5194
Scorpion - Poogin#4183
Unicorn - christian#3276
Each of these players has great experience playing their respective clans in competitive play, meaning the content on the site will be much more specific and relevant than before.
In addition, in the first iteration of the site we had only one guide for each clan. These discussed the most commonly-played cards for each clan and the popular competitive archetypes. However, we have found that while the discussion of common cards was very helpful for new players, the archetypes sections could be a bit overwhelming. Veteran players, by contrast, only need to know the current competitive archetypes for each clan, with little need to rehash the commonly-played cards for each clan.
As a result of this we have split the guides into introductory Clan Primer Guides and competitive Clan Meta Guides. The former should help new players familiarise themselves with the playstyles of each clan, while the latter should help veteran players compete in tournaments and online leagues.
All seven of the updated primer guides are now live on the site so please have a look and recommend these to new players in particular. The Crab, Crane Lion, Scorpion and Unicorn meta guides are ready to view, with the Dragon and Phoenix guides to follow in the next couple of months. Beyond this, we aim to have both primer and meta guides for each clan updated by the end of each month to ensure they are fresh and relevant for readers.
This update has been several months in the works and I want to say a big thanks to each of our contributors. I'm very proud of the longform writing we offer here at The Emerald Dojo and hope it can continue to help grow and sustain the Legend of the Five Rings community.
As always, any and all feedback on the site is accepted and appreciated.
October saw the final pack of the Dominion Cycle: Atonement, released. The pack includes a number of meta-shifting cards such as Apprentice Engineer, Fire and Oil, Doji Diplomat, Exposed Courtyard, Weight of Duty, and Bayushi Kachiko.
As always, the Jade Throne podcast featured a breakdown of the cards and their abilities, with Aniel offering some particularly fiery hot takes in his analysis.
The Jigoku had all cards implemented before many shops had the pack on shelves which is outstanding.
Dominion Cycle Post-mortem
With the release of Atonement we thought it might be interesting to do a short debrief of the Dominion Cycle. While the cycle has certainly been controversial, it does also have its fans. Here's what some of the contributors to The Emerald Dojo had to say about it.
Dominion Cycle was the first cycle in the game with this high-power level cards and created a bit of a conflict in the meta. I do agree with the print of high power cards as this makes a cycle to impact the meta but when this happens with two conditions, first high power cards does not mean broken to the point your opponent can not play around them Butcher of the Fallen and Ikoma Tsanuri) and all the clans get these cards (Dragon got nothing). Neutral Rally cards especially, Lost Papers, Season of War and Contested Countryside are the most controversial topic of the cycle. In my opinion printing this high power level cards as neutral with Rally made them instant auto include in all decks and although I understand the design reasoning behind them I can only get behind Season of War as a card that was needed in L5R to answer holdings, flops and speed up the pace of the game. Overall I say yes to printing good cards for all the clans and no to crazy broken auto include cards.
The Dominion cycle saw the introduction of the Rally keyword. After the most over-tuned rally cards got hit by the latest Imperial Law, it looks like picking your Rally cards from many situational options should be a fun part of deck building for most clans. Beside that some very powerful cards were released, especially in the final pack, that had Bayushi Kachiko, Exposed Courtyard, Apprentice Engineer, and Doji Diplomat. These provide great boosts for their respective clans, promising to make the full cycle meta quite interesting. The only problem is that four cards were mentioned, not seven, surely leaving some clans scratching their heads on how to keep up in this wild new environment.
The Dominion cycle will be remembered as a cycle filled to the brim with cards that had power issues. Now that the dust has settled, Phoenix is in a similar place where it was at the start of the cycle: Some additions to existing decks, but nothing earthshaking. The same did not hold true for the other factions which received all sorts of powerful cards. This translates to Phoenix now no longer being the top clan. The most common list out of Phoenix, the Seeker of Void value deck, got better, but not by a lot whereas some other factions gained a disproportionate amount of strength with cards like Doji Diplomat, Fire and Oil and Stoke Insurrection. In particular, the province Weight of Duty could be what finally pushes Phoenix off the Seeker of Void role. While it is regrettable that the cycle was very controversial, it means that Phoenix needs to look for new strategies if it wishes to become top dog once more.
Overall I was one of the few people that enjoyed the Dominion Cycle. Rally made the dynasty decks more consistent, allowing you to build much more unique decks off just a couple dynasty characters. The focus on province negation was something that I felt was long overdue, while eminent provinces as well as the provinces that can be used at your opponents provinces allowed more offensive decks to flourish. The dynasty phase became a lot more strategic with the addition of A Season of War as well as cards like Cycle of Rebirth and Crippling Taxes. Overall i felt like most of the clans came out alright and Dragon got a bit of the short stick this cycle but the new Dragon stronghold may give them some refreshing new decks to try out
The Dominion cycle is probably the cycle with the biggest power surge yet. The new keyword Rally is all gas and no brakes, ensuring that around 6-9 slots in your deck will forever be dedicated to Rally cards. While I think Rally as a keyword was fine, albeit not necessary, its implementation left something to be desired. Fortunately, the worst offenders were dealt with in the most recent Imperial Law. Despite this, the massive imbalance in the power level of clan cards is alarming. Unicorn, to some degree Phoenix, and especially Dragon got the short end of the stick compared to what the other clans got. The other new Eminent keyword again shows how precarious it is to design cards with new keywords only given as about one to each clan (compare Disguised). While Silent Ones Monastery, City of the Rich Frog, Tsuma and Shinsei’s Last Hope are all good enough to be playable in their respective decks, the remaining ones range from bad to wildly unplayable.
The Dominion cycle certainly added some spice to the game, but I wonder if there isn't some contradiction in the design. Tyler has stated that his focus for the cycle was provinces and the Dynasty Phase. As such, we saw the introduction of Eminent provinces, the Rally keyword, and Dynasty events. However, I think this approach is in conflict with changes to the game's framework in 2019, which saw the combining of the Fate and Regroup phases and the end of the ten-character limit in the Conflict deck. These changes were made to reduce unnecessary complexity in the game, but I feel as though the new mechanics in the Dominion cycle ended up adding unneeded complexity in the drive to keep things fresh. In addition, the 'thinning' of the Dynasty deck, thanks to Rally and cards like A Season of War, means it is much easier to plan the perfect dynasty deck. This has led to, for example, almost every Dragon game involving a Mitsu tower. I think combinations with powerful effects should be counterbalanced by the difficulty in putting these combinations together. However, the thinning of the Dynasty deck has led to a certain inevitability in every game which sees clans throwing powerful combinations against each other with abandon. On a certain level this is cool, but such power creep can make it difficult for new players to enter the game.
The official skirmish and draft documents were also updated.
Tyler was interviewed on the Court Games podcast about the Imperial Law document, the Dominion Cycle and the game in general. As always, there was plenty of discussion in the community following this, particularly related to (as always) the design of Scorpion cards and their interactions with the game.
Questionable Shelter by Marie Brennan picks up the story of Daisetsu Hantei and Iuchi Shahai as they are led away from Otosan Uchi by Togashi Mitsu. Along the way, they come into contact with members of the Perfect Land Sect, which could lead to some interesting implications for the imperial heir.
October saw the end of Discord League Season 27 with a Crab-on-Crab Gold Cup final between @Kobe "Notfragile" Beef and @Pintorpin. Notably, the game took place just before Butcher of the Fallen's errata - but neither player was running the berserker. The game can be watched on Daidoji_Erik's Twitch channel.
Notfragile had quite the run to victory with wins over Handsome Dan, Demagogue, and Mind's Desire on his way to the final. The semifinal against Handsome Dan was cast by a (typically unclothed) Action Johnny on Twitch. There was also a Pablo vs Pablo game in the other semi final between Pablo Pintor (@Pintorpin) and Pablo Casares (@Djinncito).
@KCOOREY defeated Kungfoukios(Th3OneWhoKnocks)#2039 in the Silver Cup final, and congratulations to all the tops of clans:
The breakdown of clans can also be seen below:
Thank you very much to jmart#6576 for insights and analysis, and for organising each month's events with the other admins.
Discord Clan War
As mentioned in September edition of the Imperial Herald, the Discord Clan war is well underway, with 168 players enrolled from well over a dozen different countries duking it out for their team’s pride.
After 5 Rounds, The Rokugani Mad Dogs and The Beef Crew look to be the teams in the lead for the Team Championship, but anything can happen in the last couple of rounds and the top cut is shaping to be a high cap event for the individual awards with most top tier players in the world taking part in the Clan War.
Stay tuned here to learn who takes it home next month.
London Legion Online 9
This LLO was number 9 if you can believe it. When I originally launched this event series I imagined maybe 3-4 events before OP started again. Yet here we are months later and many many digital L5R tournaments later.
This event was primarily dominated by Scorpion (5 out of the top 7 making the cut) and as one of the non scorpion players that qualified couldn’t play we went into a top cut with 5 scorpions and one glory Phoenix deck (ouch).
That being said the glory Phoenix did reasonably well winning a game but the final was predictably scorpion vs scorpion. Interestingly, however, it was a Kyuden Bayushi final with both of the KB players having knocked out their City of the Open Hand counterparts in the last game.
One was running lion splash and the other was on crane so there was some deck variation though of course both were running Bayushi Kachiko 2.
My conclusion from the event is that L5R’s balance needs some serious overhauling. The designers need to look at the themes they are putting in Scorpion and either remove some or tone them massively down in terms of effectiveness. I have no doubt that some of these new cards like Stoke Insurrection/Bayushi Kachiko, will hit the restricted list soon and the fact that every cycle 1-2 new Scorpion cards hit the restricted list is, to be blunt, a serious design failure. If all of their themes are overpowered, give them different themes.
Anyway I don’t want to go on about that. Much ink has already been spilled.
Currently the LLO is going on a break. I’ll be running the invitational next month so won’t have time for it and to be honest with the number of other leagues, the invitational and clan wars still ongoing I feel the appetite that the LLO filled for a time has been served by other community events. Probably due to this and lockdown fatigue attendance was falling so I’m happy to pause for now rather than going on with fewer and fewer people. It will also let me close out the year and get prizes printed and distributed.
That being said it seems lockdown is here to stay, and there is appetite for an LLO style event but less frequently. So it may return as a 1-4 times a year event with more forewarning, proper prizes and more coordination and hype.
Currently working on the ideas for the new event, so stayed tuned for that
By Sukoa Marda#3711
I decided to start up the Discord League again after many months playing in international online events. It started with the World Cup back in May/June, which really brought me back into the world of competitive Jigoku play. In the new world of Covid, paper play had been pushed aside, and the opportunity to play competitively was limited to online events. But playing online, meant playing events in America and Europe. It’s not just the time zone issues (although getting up at 5am for your game gets old really quickly), it’s also the lack of being with your own people so to speak. We are a small community here in Australia/Asia, and you really notice when you’re away from it. I love the guys overseas, and having been involved particularly with the Americans lately has been a ball, but I love the community here at home.
So here it is, the APAC Discord League. Not just an event we can play with people in our own time zones, but also a chance for us to come together as a community. So far the response to this has been fantastic, games have been played in good spirits, and I hope people have been enjoying it as much as I have.
So how have things been going so far? The most pleasing thing for me was the diversity of players who signed up. We had players from across Australia with 6 states and territories represented, as well as a couple of players from China and Hong Kong. At the time of writing, we have just finished the Swiss rounds and have 12 awesome players lined up to fight it out in the cut. In true Aussie fashion, we are bucking the trend and have a Dragon on top the Swiss board, with all the clans except Phoenix and Crane involved in the finals. I’m looking forward to some amazing games in the coming weeks and I hope to get some streaming action on some of these, particularly the final.
I’ve been really excited by the response to this first league and have plans to start a 2nd one sometime early in 2021. I look forward to seeing if we can make the next one bigger and better!
Interview with CBass
This month we have the first of what will hopefully be a series of interviews with members of the Legend of the Five Rings community.
CBass#9999 is founder and administrator of the /r/L5R Discord server. His work has allowed the community to thrive (and in recent months, survive), and his story and insights into the world of Legend of the Five Rings are fascinating.
I hope you enjoy hearing what he has to say about administering such a vibrant community.
Hello CBass and thanks for being our first interviewee! Perhaps we can start with your introducing yourself and telling us about your involvement in the L5R community?
First up! I feel so special. Thank you all for the invite, I’m always happy to talk L5R. I’m known as CBass on the Discord, been a fan of L5R for something close to a decade now but only recently a fan of the card game with this new LCG iteration.
I’m the admin of the /r/L5R discord and producer for CourtGames, but some may know me better as the guy who likes to play sadane and create RPG resources.
How did you find yourself becoming involved in the world of L5R, and then admin for the Discord?
That's a funny story, I was originally a member of the /tg/L5R discord. It was a few months before the FFG acquisition, and the 4th edition RPG was pretty... dead, compared to 5e now. I noticed in this discord it was pretty bare bones, with not even any clan roles. So, I decided to make my own server. Initially it was just to have clan roles, but I ended up really enjoying tinkering with Dyno (a bot), so I continued to look for ways to make the server more thematic. Mods are Magistrates, one for each clan, lots of roleplaying channels. I was all in. The server was pretty small then, I had only advertised on /tg/ and that gained us about 50 members. Most of which are actually still quite active on the server. Eventually one of the admins of /r/L5R reached out to me and asked if they could make the server their official discord server and we all the sudden boomed in popularity. The rest is history.
The server certainly does have a wonderful flavour to it, and it's great that both RPG and LCG players can hang out in in a united L5R space.
Joining a new Discord server can be daunting for new users (let alone those starting Discord for the first time). How have you and the other admins attempted to make the onboarding process for /r/L5R more user-friendly?
Yeah! So I’m actually really excited about this. We recently labeled our server as a ‘community server’ which gave us access to this awesome welcome screen that recommends folks to read the rules and sign up for roles and such.
Our role sign-up process has changed recently too, we have focused on a more curated experience so users can choose what parts of L5R they would like to engage with. It’s more of a questionnaire format now (though it’s not 20 questions, we’re not that tied to the theme :-), and the questions will help you unlock channels relative to your interests.
Our server is huge, so we didn’t want to scare new members away. A lot of people appreciate this new experience. If you don’t like it though, it’s no problem, the very first question asks if you want to skip and just unlock all the channels.
Our Magistrates and the community are also always happy to guide new members and help them explore the server. We’re also always looking for ways to improve the descriptions of the channels. Exploration is fun, and our server does have a few... secrets.
Intriguing! And yes Discord did just flash an update to me this morning about the new 'community servers'. I'm looking forward to seeing what you can do with it.
Online spaces are not always known for their civility - how have you and the other magistrates managed to create what is (at least from where I'm sitting) a genuinely welcoming and courteous server?
Thank you for saying so, we feel the same way about our server members.
There are a couple of big reasons in my opinion. For one, our moderators are also fans who engage with the community, they’re not just shadowy figures who are out looking for trouble. They lead the way as a welcoming party (one of our mods is actually called sideshow“the welcome bot”) and it’s because of this that, even before we started wearing our flower emoji as badges everyone still recognized the magistrates and appreciated them as role models.
I will say though, we’re not totally without conflict. We’ve had issues with toxicity over the LCG for example, excessively negative criticism over the game and the people who “play it badly”. It’s tough to remedy, but the moderation team worked really hard to focus on fostering positive conversations.
And of course, another important aspect to is how easy we make it for the community to submit feedback. We support using our feedback channel, reaching out to a magistrate or your clan’s magistrate, or you can use our anonymous feedback survey which now has the !feedback command to call it. We take feedback very seriously, whether that be feedback on a member, a moderator, the bots and channels, or even the server rules. Whenever these changes are made as a result, we make sure to announce those changes so the community is made aware.
I've certainly appreciated the announcements that have been made, and the general atmosphere around the channels.
You mentioned the Game of Sadane earlier: it's something I'm vaguely aware of on the server but have never delved into. Could you shed sure light on how it works and why people should give it a shot?
Yeah, I love Sadane! I've seen people call it the Rokugani equivalent of a rap battle.
It's a word game where two (or more) players take turns giving "polite criticism" on an agreed upon topic or piece of art. The most skilled will also take jabs at their opponent, subtly layered beneath their critiques. There is usually a judge, and after a set amount of time or after a courtier is caught speechless, the game is over and the judge declares a winner.
On the server, we make it easy to play anytime. For these closed 1v1 matches, we have judges available and roles that players can assign themselves to join a matchmaking queue. Matches are less than 10 minutes long and are a great test of wit.
If you're not too sure about your skills in a closed match, we also have an open training channel with bot commands for players to start a free for all match. The commands cycle between different topics and game modes, including "sake house" sadane to let your insults freely fly, as well as "clan war" where players of the same clan will be on teams. In this free-play format, it's the players who award eachother points, rather than a specific judge calling a winner.
Sadane is located in our Winter Court RP category on the server, which also include play-by-post roleplaying channels, and many other mini-games that are found in L5R (including the Fortunes and Winds dice game, Draw Lot Plays, and Heraldry Contests.)
That sounds far more interesting than a political duel to honor and dishonour two characters! I'll definitely have a look it to see it in action.
Another recent development has been the introduction of the lcg_feedback channel. To have the server recognised by the head developer of the LCG as a primary feedback channel is quite a triumph. Can you talk a little about how this came together and the overall response to it?
Thank you, we're very happy to be working closely with Tyler Parrott and this actually isn't the first channel that FFG official has opened on our server.
The lcg_feedback channel was offered to our Magistrate team just a couple of months back, the purpose was made clear that it's important for the community to have a direct and immediate line to lend their voice. The Moderation team was then hard at work to help create a set of rules for the channel to help facilitate constructive feedback and to prohibit spam and complaints. Overall the response was very favorable, the team and FFG received a lot of positive comments, thanking them for creating this opportunity. The channel has been a great service to dispelling misconceptions and generating thoughtful conversation.
The first channel we've opened like this was actually #Otosan_Uchi at the request of Evan Johnson, this is a channel for public voices in the community (i.e. bloggers and podcasters) to get news, to give feedback, and at times to partake in sharing preview content for members of the community. That channel has been a very positive experience, as we've seen a healthy stream of previewed cards and even RPG content with the latest Celestial Realms emoji riddles that were hosted by @WHW and @Kitsuki Myrion in the RPG channels
That's fascinating, I had wondered how the spoilers and interviews were organised with the community. I've also really enjoyed the measured and respectful conversation in feedback channel.
Now before we go, is there anything you'd like to share or shout out about your role, the server, or the community in general?
Absolutely! Big shout out to the Magistrates for keeping cool during these chaotic times, I give them grief all the time behind the scenes too, so really, they're really the champions here. Big shout out to the community members who make L5R feel fresh and new every single day --which has been so important lately as the world of tabletop gaming slows its production due to viruses and trade issues. Big shout out to everyone sharing content out there: the podcasters, the bloggers, the Twitch and YouTube peeps. You folks, the The Imperial Herald, and people like CourtGames and Strange Assembly, and even players in their day to day sharing this fantastic world with new players, these are the lifeline of the community that makes sure more people join in the fun.
Things have been pretty wild in 2020, I've seen the community fight for their beliefs-- as we discuss L5R in a real world context, for their passions -- as there was worry for what the slow in production and organized play would mean for L5R, and for each other -- as I've seen people stand by each other more and form many great friendships. I'm very proud to be a part of it all.
Well said! And a big thank you to you and all of the magistrates. It is impossible to think of the world of L5R without /r/L5R, so please keep up all of the great work :)
Another big thank you to CBass for being our first interviewee, and for the great chat. Remember if you would like to support the /r/L5R Discord server you can do so by giving a Nitro Boost, or by becoming a patron of the partnered Court Games podcasts.
This has been a big month here at The Emerald Dojo so that you again to all of our contributors, and, most of all, to you, our readers.
Remember to stay safe, pray to the kami, and I'll see you next month.