Clan Focus – The Scorpion

Clan Focus – The Scorpion

At the dawn of the Empire, Bayushi, the Scorpion Clan founder, pledged to be the villian for the Emperor. Those acts the honorable Samurai cannot imagine, the Scorpion will. Where the honorable Samurai cannot go, the Scorpion are there. They work in the shadows and deal with the criminal’s of Rokugan, not out of self-interest or weakness, but out of loyalty. The Scorpion know there are certain things that need to be done that are distasteful to other Samurai. They sacrifice their own honor, so they can know of threats to the Empire before anyone else and they can deal with those threats with a subtle blade.

The Scorpion Cards have just been revealed with a only 2 cards missing. This article has been updated to include the new cards but the post is in the process of being developed out.

 

The Scorpion Clan Mon

Stronghold

City of the Open Hand has +1 province strength, 10 starting honor, 10 influence, and +7 fate. This leaves them with the joint lowest starting honor and the second lowest stronghold province strength bonus. The ability is relatively straightforward, once per turn if you have less honor than your opponent, take 1 honor from them. This ability allows the Scorpion to draw an extra card each turn and pull back the honor they lost to do so. Alternatively, they can focus on those cards which cause honor losses, recouping the honor from their opponent. If the Scorpion chooses to bid low, they draw fewer cards but force their opponent to do the same or lose honor. Playing cards with honor loss then pull them back under their opponent’s honor total and allow them to steal more honor. Although this is a risky tactic, as the Scorpion player will end up hovering close to zero, it may enable the Scorpion to win via a dishonor victory as their opponent’s dishonorable characters leave play.


A review of the new Scorpion Clan cards revealed a few core themes that seem to sum up the Clan’s play style. There definitely is a focus with the Scorpion on event cards and the card draw needed to get to them. With those cards, the Scorpion pick away at their opponent’s skill dishonoring their characters and taking control of them.

Event Actions

The City of Lies is a +1 province strength holding which has an action which reduces the cost of the next event you play this phase by 1. In the conflict decks we’ve put together, around half the cards cost 1 or more fate, so this card opens up a lot of options. Using the City correctly can sometimes be tricky. If you use it during an action phase before a conflict, then you need to be sure which event you will be playing. Worst case scenario, you end up having to play a 0 cost event where the reduction is wasted. The other approach is to use the City of Lies action just before you play the card you need, in a conflict however this can mean giving up tempo allowing your opponent to take an extra action before you play your event.

Ambush is a 3 cost action allowing you to make up to 2 Scorpion characters with a total print cost of 6 or lower from your hand or provinces and put them into play. This is the equivalent of the Unicorn’s Cavalry Reserves but has a different purpose. Where Cavalry Reserves is a finishing punch, Ambush requires timing and setup. It can be effective on any turn, but equally is unreliable. You won’t always have 6 cost worth of fate in just 2 characters in your provinces and hand combined. Sometimes you will, but will prefer to bring them into play normally so you can add additional fate and keep them for longer than a single turn. Ambush works quite well with the Adept of Shadows who will always be ready in your hand and can return back to your hand after the conflict is over. Indeed, Ambush might be best used with conflict characters building them up through the game to unleash them in the final conflict. Ultimately, you have to ask whether the cost is worth it. With the setup and investment required, you will need a significant impact to get a decent return.

Forged Edict is the Scorpion equivalent the Crane’s voice of honor. Unlike Voice of honor, Forged Edict only requires a Courtier be in play. With the Scorpion’s wide range of Courtier characters this is a lot more reliable and the dishonoring effect should not be too much of a burden. This is a pretty big impact card, denying your opponent their best event at the small cost of dishonoring a Courtier. When playing against the Scorpion, seeing even one Courtier on the table that has not already been dishonored is going to give a player pause.


Card Draw

The core game mechanics allow a player to trade their honor to draw more cards. It fits then that the Scorpion have a focus on drawing more cards themselves. More cards in hand give the Scorpion more underhanded tricks and plots to play.

The Bayushi Manipulator is a cheap 1 cost Courtier with 1 military, 1 political, and 1 glory. His ability allows you to increase the bid of your honor dial by one, effectively drawing an extra card and losing an extra honor. This can push the dial beyond 5. The change will not alter the dial itself, so if you need a low dial for a card such as Good Omen, you can bid 1 and use the Manipulator to increase the value while still keeping a low dial value. As the dial is also used in dueling, the Manipulator will be a help there also.

Favored Niece is a 3 cost Courtier with 2 military, 2 political, and 2 glory. The Favoured Niece is Scorpion’s only Personality with a cost higher than at least one of her stats, making her a bit inefficient for challenges. Twice per round, you can use her ability to discard 1 card from your hand and draw another card. Although this doesn’t give you card advantage, it does allow you to significantly increase the quality of your cards in hand.

The Adept of Shadows is a 2 cost Bushi Shinobi with 2 military, 2 political, and 0 glory. Her ability returns her to hand at the cost of a point of honor. Often, with conflict characters, you play them into the conflict without fate focusing on winning the conflict. This means they don’t stick around and are typically discarded at the end of the turn. The Adept, instead, at a small cost can return back to your hand ready for the next conflict. That conflict can even be in the same turn, with this Shinobi appearing in one battle, disappearing only to return to another battle. As cards that return to hand lose their ‘memory’ of having used the action, she can bounce back a second time. Multiple uses do require additional fate which can be difficult, but her ability to effectively draw a card for 1 honor is well worth it.

Secret Cache is a 4 province strength air province. After a conflict is declared against this province the Scorpion player can look at the top 5 cards and add one to their hand. This gives them the opportunity to get the best possible card they need to defend or to declare their next attack.

For 1 fate, the Court Mask is a +1 military and +2 political attachment. The ability allows you to return the mask to hand by dishonoring the attached character. This action will be typically taken near the end of the turn when the character is leaving play, effectively resulting in a 1 point honor loss to return this card to hand. It can also be returned back to your hand to be played again during the same turn. This gets the value from the Mask in more than one conflict. Indeed, if you have enough fate and honor, you can continue to do this as after the card goes back to hand it ‘forgets’ that the action was used.

The Yogo Outcast is a 2 fate cost 2 military, 2 political, and 1 glory Shugenja. While you have less honor that your opponent she gets +1/+1 making her a 3/3 for 2. Although the Scorpion stronghold gains you honor, typically the Scorpion will be losing so much honor through card draw and card effects that this character will always be a 3/3 for 2 which is tremendous value.


Dishonor

In this card game, dishonor is a way to minimize the use of your opponent’s characters. A dishonored character’s skills are reduced by their glory value, so the Scorpion are eager to see high glory characters on their opponent’s side. Also, when a dishonored character leaves play their controller loses 1 honor. So, as the Scorpion dishonor characters and use their stronghold to steal honor, they are also pushing their opponent towards a dishonor loss. When a player starts creeping close to 0 honor, they need to stop playing cards with honor loss such as Assassination and need to bid low with their honor dials which will limit their card draw.

The Young Rumormonger is a 2 cost Courtier with 2 military, 2 political, and 1 glory. As an interrupt, he can change the target of an honoring or dishonoring effect to another target of the same player. It does still have to be a legal target which will change the board state, so you cannot redirect an honoring effect to an already honored character. This can mess with your opponent’s effects, such as Way of the Crane, moving the honoring effect to the lowest glory or a bowed character. It can also allow you to choose the target of your own dishonor effects which let your opponent make the choice, such as Court Games.

I Can Swim costs 2 fate and requires you to have a higher bid on your honor dial than an opponent. The event discards a dishonored participating character. Unlike the Crane’s Noble Sacrifice, the target must be in the conflict. As the target leaving play is dishonored, your opponent is going to be losing an honor. If this was their only defender, then will lose another honor for leaving the province undefended. If you need some setup, such as the ring of fire to dishonor them, you may need to wait until the next turn to discard them. At a cost of 2 fate, you need to carefully consider whether you are coming out a head in the trade of cards and fate to discard the target. Even then, this makes for an impressive 2 part kill. This makes it dangerous to over invest in any character when facing the Scorpion, even if that is your clan champion. No one is safe.

Shosuro Miyako is a 3 cost Bushi Shinobi with 3 military, 2 political, and 1 glory. Miyako’s ability is a reaction to when you play a character from hand. It forces your opponent to either discard a card at random or dishonor one of their characters. The random nature of the card discard really encourages their opponent to dishonor one of their own characters, but then they are facing against the Scorpion and that opens up even more vulnerabilities. It is a horrible choice to have to take. The reaction could be relatively easy to play with quality conflict characters such as Unassuming Yojimbo, which we will see later, and the Adept of Shadows who can bounce back to hand each turn.

Yogo Hiroue is a 4 cost Courtier with 0 military, 4 political, and 2 glory. His ability allows him to pull another character into the conflict, that can be a friendly or an enemy character. If the Scorpion player wins the conflict, the target moved in becomes dishonored. This is an extremely useful ability with multiple uses. He can pull in a friendly character to help him in a conflict. He can pull in an enemy character which is bowed to dishonor it when they win the conflict. It can also be used to effectively bow an enemy character, pulling an unbowed character in and bowing it at the end of conflict whether the Scorpion win or lose.

The Soshi Illusionist is a 2 fate cost Shugenja with 1 military, 3 political, and 1 glory. The ability allows the Scorpion player remove a status token, honored or dishonored, from a character. Given the number of cards which require the Scorpion player to dishonor their own characters, there will be plenty of opportunities to use it to remove that status. Alternatively, it removes the honored status from your opponent’s characters, just to reduce their stats or in preparation to dishonoring them.

Way of the Scorpion is a 0 cost event that dishonors a non-Scorpion character. It can only be played in a conflict and it does have to target a participating character, so it can be quite limiting. While the hope is to target a character with 3 or more glory, typically this will target a 2 glory character giving them a -2/-2 penalty and causing an honor loss when they leave play. Playing this on a character when they are about to take a province will force them to play another card to boost their skill. As the dishonored status persists beyond the conflict, this can result in your opponent having to play cards over multiple turns. This penalty can also be used to set up skill dependent cards such as Outwit. The dishonor effect can also setup cards like For Shame! forcing the player to bow their character as they are unable to dishonor an already dishonored character.

Control

An art the Scorpion appear to have mastered, is the ability to use their opponent’s strength against them. The Scorpion have a number of cards that let them steal or impersonate their opponent’s cards. The mere presence of these cards may cause their opponent to pause before they make a card, for fear it may end up under Scorpion control.

The Shosuro Actress is a 3 cost Courtier Shinobi with 1 military, 3 political, and 1 glory. Her ability is to sacrifice herself to choose a non-Shinobi character with 3 or less cost from your opponents discard pile and put it into play in the conflict. Remember to look through both your opponents dynasty and conflict discard piles! This is best played when the Actress is already bowed and has no fate on her. In this way, her last turn is a double turn. She participates in a political conflict with her 3 political skill and later appears in another conflict disguised as one of her opponent’s characters. At the end of the turn, unless some strange things happen, the character she has disguised as will return to the opponent’s discard ready for a new Actress to assume that identity.

Calling in Favors is a 1 cost event that dishonors one of your characters to target an opponents attachment taking control of it and moving to your characters. There should be a 0 glory Scorpion character ready to do this, so it will only cost an additional honor rather than skill. Just like Blackmail, this effect is a swing. Not only do you remove your opponents use of the attachment but you gain it also. For a cheap attachment such as Fine Katana, this is a 4 skill shift which is Banzai! level great. More expensive targets such as Height of Fashion increase that shift, while targets with effects such as Sashimono or Way of the Dragon can have even greater impact on the game state.

Blackmail is a 3 cost event that allows you to take a 2 cost character of your opponent and put it into play on your side of the board. Essentially, you deny your enemy that 2 cost character and are generating a 2 cost character yourself, a 4 cost shift. In cases where your opponent defends with just one character, this clears the way leaving them with an undefended province and an honor loss. This is a potent effect but at 3 fate is quite costly, so you have to ask if the big investment is worth it. In a best case scenario, you will Blackmail a character with a sacrifice ability, such as Miya Mystic, which you can immediately use. It does require that you are less honorable than your opponent, so if you are playing against a Scorpion player, you can prevent them from losing by keeping your honor low. Just as the Scorpion intended.

The Unassuming Yojimbo is a 3 cost Bushi conflict character, with 3 military, 1 political, and 0 glory. This card also has Covert, a wonderful ability that prevents 1 character from defending when the Yojimbo attacks. As the Scorpion cards slowly whittle away at their opponent’s board, this prevents the remaining characters from defending. Unfortunately this does not

Murder and Poison

Bayushi Yunako appears in the recent Scorpion story and her dedication and skill in that story is not let down by her card. She is a 4 fate Bushi with 4 military, 2 political, and 2 glory. Her ability allows her to switch the military and political skill of a character in the conflict until the end of the conflict.

Fiery madness does lots of things for just 1 fate. It defends provinces, helps Shoju kill characters, weakens targets for Outwit and Rout, hurts duellers, hurts characters who have skill focused ability.

The Sinister Soshi is a 1 cost, – military, – political, and 0 glory Shugenja. The – stats mean she cannot assign to a conflict and her military and political skills cannot be modified in any way. At 0 glory, she is not going to be helping win the Emperor’s favor. That she cannot assign to a conflict does limit her somewhat. If she is your only unbowed character you cannot declare an attack or assign a defender. So what can she do? Her ability lets her give a -2/-2 penalty to a character participating in a conflict. In this way she almost becomes a very efficient 2/2 for 1. As a cheap Shugenja she helps round out the pool to allow the Scorpion play Shugenja only cards such as Cloud the Mind. Her ability, like many other cards in the Scorpion pool, reduces the skill of the opponent’s characters making it difficult for them to win conflicts and making them vulnerable to skill specific cards.

Blackmail Artist is a 2 cost Courtier character with 1 military, 2 political and 1 glory. After you win a political conflict with this character you can take 1 honor from them. This gains the Scorpion a point of honor in addition to making their opponent lose one. On a turn where you are at 4 and the Scorpion player is at 3, could be a game loss if a Blackmail Artist manages to win the air ring against an undefended province. The City of the Open hand takes 1 honor as an action, you lose 1 for the air ring, 1 for the blackmail artist, and 1 for not defending. As the Blackmail Artist is non-unique it is possible to have more than one in play, making this a real threat.

The Bayushi Liar is the Scorpion equivalent of the Matsu Berserker. As a 3 political courtier for 1 fate, he is extremely efficient. The – military is a potential disadvantage but the Scorpion can use the 0 glory to their advantage, using the Bayushi Liar as a character to dishonor as part of the cost for some of their own cards. The Courtier trait is very relevant for the Scorpion and in the initial card pool enables more cards than any other trait. It is ironic that the Bayushi Liar has the Sincerity trait, but for the card it is the cherry on top making this an outstanding addition to the Scorpion line up.


The Clan Champion

Bayushi Shoju is a 5 fate cost Bushi Courtier with 3 military, 7 political, and 2 glory. His ability allows him to reduce an opposing character’s political skill by 1 and he can use this ability twice per round. If a target goes to 0 political, then it is discarded. The obvious use of this ability is to straight up murder people. As the ability can only be used in a political conflict, so ultimately it is only going to reduce your opponents skill by 2. From that perspective, when using this ability, you need to be thinking about the long game. You are looking for characters with fate and attachments that present a significant investment for the opponent. Combining Shoju with other effects that reduce political skill will increase your options. At this stage, the primary way to do this is by dishonoring characters, which applies a penalty to their politics equal to their glory.


Summary

Overall, the Scorpion are a clan focused on the conflict deck. They can draw additional cards, they can cycle cards to get to ones they need, and they can play those cards at a reduced price. They have a great selection of Courtiers, reflecting their influence in the courts, which allows them to play cards such as Outwit and For Shame! Using dishonor, they reduce their opponent’s board state. This does help save provinces, but isn’t as good at taking provinces as honoring your own characters would be. This focus on dishonor will pressure their opponent’s and limit their options in card draw. A combination of discard and stealing events clear out the opponent’s board, leaving them vulnerable to attack. Without defenders, they are pushed even closer to dishonor, forcing them into a cycle of struggling to defend while staying afloat in honor.

[More to add here]

Allying with the Scorpion

Out of the cards we have seen so far, only the Adept of Shadows at 3 influence, I Can Swim at 1 influence, Calling in Favors at 2 influence, and Blackmail at 3 influence are viable. These are all powerful cards but do have conditions. If you are able to lose the points of honor and have the extra fate to play it, the Adept of Shadows is a useful character. If you are able to dishonor your opponent’s characters reliably, I Can Swim is a strong choice. If you have low glory characters that you can dishonor without too much impact then Calling in Favors is probably better than Dragon’s Let Go. Finally, if you typically are on lower honor than your opponent and are willing to pay the high fate cost, Blackmail can be a key card.

Additional cards : Fiery Madness at 2, Forged Edict at 2 courtier only, Court Mask at 1, Unassuming Yojimbo at 2

Influence from other clans 

Crab: Reprieve is always a good addition and only costs 1 influence. To improve the military potential, there are options such as the Hiruma Ambusher and Stoic Gunso, both at one influence. The Gunso is particularly notable as it has a sacrifice ability that with well with Blackmail. The Watch Commander at 3 influence is a great choice, allowing the Scorpion apply more dishonor pressure. Suggested: 2x Reprieve, 2x Stoic Gunso, and 2x Watch Commander.

Crane: Noble Sacrifice at 2 influence, might be a decent kill card assuming the Scropion have enough dishonoring effects and can grab an easy honoring effect through the ring of fire. Admit Defeat at 2 influence, will help deal with that last defender after the other characters have been murdered Suggested: 3x Noble Sacrifice and 2 Admit Defeat.

Dragon: Let Go is always useful to destroy your opponent’s attachments. Mirumoto’s Fury helps defend without needing to assign defenders, which helps with Display of Power. Tattooed Wanderer gives an additional covert option limiting your opponent’s ability to defend. Suggested: 3x Tattooed Wanderer and 2x Let Go

Lion: Lion may seem like a strange choice but Strength in Numbers at 2 influence, is a great way to get rid of the last defender to add more dishonor to your opponent. Other options are less useful, but Stand Your Ground is good when bow effects are so popular. Suggested: 3x Strength in Numbers and 3x Ready for Battle.

Phoenix: Display of Power at 3 influence, turns your opponents attempt to take ring of fire or air against them. Seeker of Knowledge at 1 influence gives you an extra shot at the Air ring and also provides 2 more political skill. The Magnificent Kimono at 1 influence is free and can be used to dishonor or honor a character if you are about to win a conflict. Suggested: 2x Display of Power, 3x Magnificent Kimono, and 1x Seeker of Knowledge

Unicorn: Ide Messenger at 1 influence, is a Courtier that will allow you to move another character into the battle. The Iuchi Wayfarer at 1 influence, is a Shugenja character that allows you to look at a facedown province when it comes into play. Spyglass, at 2 influence, gives some extra card draw while Favored Mount, also at 2 influence, gives some extra movement tricks. Suggested: 3x Spyglass, 2x Iuchi Wayfarer, 2x Ide Messenger.

 


For more, check out our discussion on building a Scorpion deck.

 


If you have any comments or feedback please post them in the comments section below.

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5 Replies to “Clan Focus – The Scorpion”

  1. Love the article! Has me inspired to play Scorpion. 15 years ago I wanted Scorpion to play this way now I finally get a stab at it.

    Note on clan champion breakdown you have a typo and say “returned” when I believe you mean “reduce”

  2. Regarding Shoju, you mention he can use his ability twice per conflict, while the card says twice per round. To my understanding a round is the whole turn including dynasty, draw, conflict, fate and regroup phase. Did I get this wrong? Else Shoju is even more powerful than I understood

    1. My mistake! I’ve updated the section to say round instead of conflict. Although in my experience Shoju’s text box says ‘Your opponent’s characters are too cowardly to defend’.

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