The Imperial Herald

A Legend of the Five Rings Publication

The Imperial Herald - September 2020

Welcome to the September edition of the Imperial Herald. Lots to go over so let's get stuck in.

New Releases

Pack five of the Dominion Cycle, As Honor Demands was released this month. The Jigoku devs have continued their great work in having these cards implemented effectively on release, allowing play to continue despite COVID-19 affecting regular play nights and in-store tournaments.

The pack contains a number of cards which have impacted the metagame. Contested Countryside has made its way into most decks as a holding with no real downsides. The Rally keyword means it does not choke up a dynasty slot, and it effectively shuts down an opponent's row as it equalises the impact of provinces with an Action, Reaction, or Interrupt.

Stoke Insurrection has proven popular with Scorpion players and anyone using a Scorpion splash. The card requires little set up (it works on attack and defence, in military and political conflicts, and without participating characters), and allows the two most powerful characters in an opponent's province row to enter the conflict for 4 fate (or 2 if the opponent has 4 or more facedown provinces). If then dishonoured, one of these characters can be readied with Kyuden Bayushi to participate in a subsequent conflict.

Pious Guardian and Master of the Court have found their way into Crab and Crane decks respectively, with the former providing a valuable honour buffer, and the latter an additional way to cancel an opponent's events. Crane also received their third stronghold: Seven Fold Palace, and while it has seen play, it is yet to prove itself as a strong alternative to Kyuden Kakita.


The second pack of the Temptation cycle was announced this month.

Honor in Flames continues to explore the Dire keyword mechanic, and also introduces some new Mahō (blood magic) cards into the current iteration of the game. The official spoilers show some interesting—but thankfully not overpowered—cards, a nice change from the intensity of the Dominion Cycle.

Speaking of broken Dominion cycle cards, head developer Tyler also made a brief note on Twitter about the upcoming Imperial Law document.

There has been much speculation about what these five cards will include. While Lost Papers is a no brainer, Ikoma Tsanuri, Butcher of the Fallen, Contested Countryside, Stoke Insurrection, Student of the Tao, and Forgery are all hot favourites.


Only one fiction was released online this month: When the Wave Strikes the Shore by Mari Murdock. The story follows the events of The Last Leaf Falls by H.G. Laderoute, as Mirumoto Hitomi struggles to contain her rage in the wake of the denouncement of Bayushi Shoju as the murderer of Hantei XXXVIII by Agasha Sumiko and Akodo Toturi.

In the physical world, the first Legend of the Five Rings novel to be published by Aconyte Books, Curse of Honor, was released. Bazleebub has written a great review of the book over at the Imperial Advisor, and the Court Games RPG podcast also has an interview with author David Annandale.

Meta Spotlight

There is always a brief period following the release of an Imperial Law document during which Scorpion players must learn to play without their favourite cards. During this time the other clans are, briefly, freed from the sinking feeling that comes every time City of the Open Hand is revealed as an opponent's stronghold. After a couple of weeks, however, things inevitably return to normal, with Scorpion players again flooding the finals of competitive tournaments.

History has once again repeated itself, although with something of a twist this time: Kyuden Bayushi is now the top-tier Scorpion stronghold.

The latest deck finds synergy with Acclaimed Geisha House guaranteeing dishonoured status tokens for friendly characters, who can then be readied by Kyuden Bayushi (whilst also denying opponents their ring of choice). Shosuro Sadako provides a well-stated body who can also be readied with Elegant Tessen, whilst Stoke Insurrection turns an opponent's dynasty characters against them (with a handy discount provided by Governor's Spy).

A rare Scorpion deck to focus on achieving victory by conquest rather than dishonour, the deck comes in two flavours: Crane splash and Lion splash. The former uses Soul Beyond Reproach to discard characters with Noble Sacrifice, while the latter uses Regal Bearing to ensure sustained card advantage.

The deck has proven to be fiercely competitive, and FroTop and Mind's Desire's video offers an excellent analysis of its capabilities.

Competitive Play

London Legion Online 8

In the latest Transatlantic tournament MoZi battled FroTop in the finals, with the former's Crab deck ultimately proving victorious against Phoenix. The full top cut can be watched on Handsome Dan's Twitch channel.

Jigoku Clan War

The enormous Jigoku Clan War rumbles on with over 150 players battling it out in 8 teams for honour and glory. A truly epic undertaking, the results of the tournament, currently in round 4, can be found here,

Discord League

Season 26 of the Global Discord League ended with Medalliah as Gold Cup Champion and Angry_TanukiArmy as Silver Cup Champion. Congratulations to both players, and to the tops of clan below:

  • Crab - Enegon

  • Crane - Usagi, Tanuki Overlord

  • Dragon - acecase

  • Lion - Medalliah, Enlightened Honour

  • Phoenix - SirLargeness & Handsome_Conan

  • Scorpion - Poogin

  • Unicorn - Akuma T2

Thanks also to jmart (jmart#6576) and the organisers of the Discord League. There is no better way to improve your game and to make new friends with the players in your pod, so by all means sign up for the next season (29) here.

APAC Discord League

This month also saw the beginning of the Inaugural Asia-Pacific Discord league. A big thanks to Conan (Sukoa Marda#3711) for organising this event to give Asian, Australian, and Pacific-region players a timezone-friendly league to compete in.

The progress of the league can be tracked on The Lotus Pavilion.

Scorpion Clan Coup

A surprising, and very welcome, single-player variant of Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game was offered by Bazleebub of The Imperial Advisor this month. Baz describes the variant as follows:

In this single-player variant, we provide an opportunity for new players to learn some of these lessons and challenges experienced players to build tailored decks to win faster. Your opponent’s board is a static but challenging one that you will need to work to overcome. This format also is a time for players to appreciate the rich stories which have recently culminated in this moment of chaos for the Empire with the Emperor dead and the multiple possible heirs to the throne. To reflect this, you get to support one of four possible options each of which gives a very different play experience.

With COVID-19 continuing to play havoc on the live game scene this is a wonderful option for players seeking a break from online play, and I'm very much looking forward to giving it a try.

The Scorpion Clan Coup rules and instructions can be found on the Imperial Advisor.

Upcoming Releases

October should see the release of the sixth-and-final pack of the Dominion cycle: Atonement.

In addition to a new Dragon clan stronghold, the pack will also include two player-created cards: Wordly Shiotome, a product of massed player voting (remember that!?), and Daidoji Yuri, an attachment designed (I use the term loosely) by 2018 Shogun Erik Baalhuis.

The Emerald Dojo

Here at the Emerald Dojo work continues to split our clan guides into more beginner-friendly primer guides, and more advanced and up-to-date meta guides. Expect some announcements in the not-too-distant future.

In the meantime, stay safe, pray to the kami, and I'll see you next month.