Imperial Packs – Fate Has No Secrets

Imperial Packs – Fate Has No Secrets

Details of the fifth dynasty pack of the Imperial cycle is out! Let’s get stuck in and see what is has to offer each clan.


Crab

Yasuki Taka

At 5 cost, Taka is a 3 military, 4 political, and 2 glory character. He does not have any currently relevant traits. His ability is a reaction which can be used multiple times per turn which gives his owner 1 fate every time a Crab character is discarded during a conflict. Taka doesn’t progress your board directly, but every fate he generates returns the cost you paid for him. After just 1 fate he is a 3/4 for 4 which is a decent stat line. Every fate you gain after that is a bonus that gives you more fate during conflicts when you need it. You may even find yourself sacrificing characters specifically to generate fate to power conflicts cards. It does make him incredibly effective in the mirror match. Taka may form a core of a sacrifice deck, but to get full value out of his ability, you’ll need to focus on sacrifice effects during the conflicts.

Crisis Breaker

The Crisis Breaker is a 3 cost Bushi Berserker with 3 military, 1 political, and 1 glory. The Breaker’s action can only be used in a military conflict if you count less military skill than your opponent. To count military skill, only count ready characters in the conflict and include the imperial favor if it is relevant. The effect is to target a Berserker, either the Crisis Breaker or another, ready them and/or move them into the conflict. This card is the reason Crab went with a Keeper role.

Currently, only the Crisis Breaker and Vengeful Berserker have the Berserker trait, but the Seal of the Crab can give it to anyone. This action allows one of your Berserkers to participate in two conflicts. Characters with similar effects are some of the most influential in the environment: Niten Master, Prodigy of the Waves, and Steadfast Witch Hunter for example. The Crisis Breaker isn’t quite as flexible however, you need to be losing a conflict. Your opponent can deny you this by refusing to have more military skill than you do, not necessarily an undesirable situation, but it does allow your opponent to work around it.

Fair Accord

This 0 cost event requires discarding the favor to play. If you do, you gain 2 fate. Fair Accord can only be played during the dynasty phase, which means you’re taking an extra action reducing your chances to pass first. If your opponent has already passed, you can play this to try catch up. As you require the imperial favor, this is a dead card turn 1. As you can only discard the favor once, multiple copies in hand will need to be played once per turn. If you have the favor, it normally means you had a pretty good last turn, so this isn’t going to dig you out of a hole if you’re losing. As an action, Fair Accord is a neat idea but it seems to be a little too restricted to be worth playing.


Crane

Test of Skill

This 1 cost event can only be played by clans with the Seeker role, luckily Crane currently have the Seeker of Air role. You name a card type and then reveal the top 3 cards of your conflict deck, or 4 cards if you have a Duelist in play. You pick up to 2 cards of that type and add them to your hand. Crane have two Duelists currently: the awesome Doji Challenger and Kakita Kaezin who has been dropping in popularity somewhat. The Seal of the Crane also gives the Duelist trait.

The best card type to choose with this card is an Event card, as there will be other copies of Test of Skill in the deck. Crane already seem to focus on event actions and will enjoy the card advantage this card gets them. For 1 fate, you cycle 1 card and draw another choosing the best 2 cards from the top 3 or 4 options. Although 1 fate is costly, this does seem worth it. At 2 influence, other clans certainly could play it. Dragon who are also currently Seeker could play this and already have Mirumoto Raitsugu and Mirumoto Prodigy. With Dragon’s focus on attachments, it is likely they would use Test of Skill to draw more attachments. It would mean moving away from the currently popular Crab splash, so it might be something for the future. The only other Seeker clan currently are the Scorpion who although they don’t have Duelists do have a focus on events and love card draw.

Origami Master

This 4 Fate cost Shugenja has 1 Military, 4 political, and 1 glory. As a Shugenja, he rounds out the Crane Shugenja pool joining the Asahina Artisan and the Asahina Storyteller With the pride keyword, if the Origami Master wins a conflict he becomes honored and if he loses a conflict he becomes dishonored. His ability allows him to move the honored status from himself to another one of your characters. You do need to win a conflict to trigger pride and activate his ability, so initially, the Master is going to effectively be blank. You can, however, trigger Pride and move that honored status token onto another character who can attack or defend the same turn. If you can trigger pride more than once, getting the Master into two winning conflicts, the action to move is still limited to once per turn. It will let you move the status over to the character you need it on now. It will also let you move the status before the Master leaves play to someone who will stick around. Against a Scorpion opponent, you can keep the honored token on the Origami Master until someone gets dishonored and then move the Master’s token to cancel it.

Young Harrier

As Steward of Law and Iuchi Wayfinder have already shown; a 1 cost, 1 military and 1 political conflict character is always going to be useful. This Young Harrier has a number of traits: Bushi, Scout, and Shinobi. Bushi we are already familiar with, Scout has yet to get any cards, and Shinobi has primarily been within the Scorpion. Unlike the Steward and Wayfinder, the Harrier has 1 glory which can help when contesting the imperial favor. The Harriers ability requiring dishonoring the character but protects all your Crane characters from being dishonored until the end of the phase. As the wording differs from Steward of Law, it does look like the Young Harrier protects your honored characters from getting dishonored (although an effect that moves the status token would get around this).


Dragon

The Stone of Sorrows

The Stone of Sorrows was likely the reason that Dragon Hatamoto at worlds decided to pick a Seeker role. This 2 cost attachment gives +1 military and +1 political and while the character it is attached to remains unbowed, your opponent cannot collect fate from rings. As fate on rings is the primary way to gain additional fate this card could have a big impact. In addition to denying your opponent fate, it allows you to take that fate the next time you declare that ring, eventually paying for itself. It reduces the risk of actions that require spending fate to rings like the Togashi Initiate, Ascetic Visionary, and Kitsuki Investigator. It keeps more fate on rings for cards like the Enlightened Warrior and Seeker of Enlightenment. It’s not all upside though, if your opponent can destroy the card or bow the character they will be able to turn off the effect. If you’ve been spending fate to rings in the expectation that your opponent couldn’t take it, this could make a mess of things. You also need to make sure your character is unbowed, so this might mean relegating a character to support duty unable to assign until after your opponent has declared their last conflict. Alternatively, you try to keep it on characters that have straighten effects like the Niten Master or don’t bow like Agashua Sumiko.

Itinerant Philosopher

This Dragon Monk character has a similar stat line to the Seeker Initiate, at 2 cost for 1 military, 1 political, and 2 glory. The typical stat line for a 2 cost character seems to be 2 in one skill and 1 in the other, so this is a little understated. This is the reason the Seeker Initiate isn’t commonly played even though the ability is quite good. The Itinerant Philosopher’s ability is similar, it is a powerful effect but requires a specific condition. In this case, you need to discard the favor to bow an opposing character with an attachment. This effect is similar to that of the Niten Adept, who is considered very strong. The target condition is actually easier to fulfill as you can always drop one of your own attachments on the opposing character. Discarding the favor is a trickier prospect though, and while it can happen it limits the use to once per turn regardless of whether you have multiple Philosophers or the Way of the Dragon attached. As another Monk, he might find a place in early Monk decks but doesn’t appear to be a great investment.


Lion

Seal of the Lion

This seal is very similar to the others. Of note, the Honored General and Brilliant Tactician already have the Commander trait. It is relevant for Akodo Toshiro but currently has no other use.

Miwaku Kabe Guard

This 1 cost Bushi isn’t very exciting at 1 military and 0 political. Although you’re normally unlikely to put 1 fate on a 1 cost personality, with the Pride keyword and 2 glory the Miwaku Kabe Guard is too good not to. Luckily for the Lion, this all fits perfectly into their deck. Although he is only 1 military, on the attack with the Lion stronghold Yōjin no Shiro he is 2 military. He also is an extra body for effects like the Honored General. At 1 fate he is good to churn out while refreshing provinces with the Staging Ground holding. As a Bushi, he can get extra fate using For Greater Glory and as he honors up you can use cards like Stand Your Ground (although he probably wouldn’t be a great target). For a Lion deck looking to gain more honor, he works perfectly well as a throwaway body that wins a battle and gains an honor when he leaves play. The Milwaukee Kabe Guard isn’t exciting, but he certainly has a place in Lion decks.


Phoenix

Consumed by Five Fires

This 5 cost event is the most expensive we have seen so far, almost an entire turns worth of fate. Before we even look at what this card does we need to acknowledge the massive risk there is in playing it. Forged Edict, Voice of Honor, and Censure would all love to cancel this effect leaving the player 5 fate poorer without any effect. As a Seeker only card it’s not currently playable in Phoenix, so only Crane, Dragon, and Scorpion currently have access. To play the card, you do require a Shugenja, which limits it a little more but all three clans do have Shugenja they could use for this. The effect allows you to remove up to 5 fate from your opponent’s characters, most likely clearing their board turning the fate phase. To play this, you need to have that 5 fate yourself which is a challenge by itself. It probably will mean playing a conservative turn minimising your fate expenditure for this turn in the hope of capitalizing next turn.

For it to really be worth your while, you will want your opponent to have 5 fate on characters. If they only have 3, then you’ll be spending 5 to remove 3 of theirs which could be seen as poor use. In reality, the value of a single fate token can change drastically. There is a big difference between a fate on a clan champion keeping them around for an extra turn and a fate on a 1 cost character. So, although you might want to clear 5, removing fewer fate tokens will still be effective. It is also worth noting that Embrace the Void can be used to recoup some of that fate leaving play and Kakita Yoshi can make this card cheaper to play. Ultimately, this is a very cool card with a big investment for a big effect. If the environment encourages decks to have 4+ fate spread across characters on a typical turn then the effect would be improved. To play it you’ll need to somehow get the fate together and will also need to be ready for cancellation. Regardless of how playable this ends up being, I think a lot of players are going to enjoying having it in decks.

Master of Gisei Toshi

This 4 cost Shugenja character has 2 military, 4 political, and 1 glory. At the start of the conflict phase you can choose a ring and during conflicts where that ring is contested non-Spell events cannot be played. For the Phoenix that includes: Cloud the Mind, Supernatural Storm, Benten’s Touch, Against the Waves, and Display of Power. Phoenix already have a really impressive line-up for 4 cost Shugenja, so although this looks like an awesome character she might struggle to make it into Phoenix decks. The ability to lock down a conflict, even when she is not in that conflict, still makes this an amazing character. That the ability occurs at the start of the conflict phase forces a significant amount of consideration for the Phoenix player. To effectively use it, they will effectively need to map out how the turn will go before the first pre-conflict action is taken. Despite the high quality of 4 cost characters for Phoenix, I definitely expect this character to take a place.

Henshin Disciple

This 3 cost Monk character is the first dynasty Monk for the Phoenix and goes along with their Shrine Maiden conflict character. At 2 military, 2 political, and 2 glory the Henshin Disciple doesn’t appear to have great stats. However, If you have claimed or are contesting the following rings you get bonuses: air gives +2 military skill, earth gives +2 political skill, and fire gives the pride keyword. Anyone of those boosts bring this character to decent stats and if you manage to get both he is significantly over the curve. The current Phoenix decks focus on water and void to activate the Prodigy of Water and control the board. So the rings the Henshin Disciple cares about aren’t necessarily the first choice. Similarly, while the Monk trait has a lot of cool cards from the Dragon splash, the trait isn’t something current Phoenix decks really care about. With a lack of ability and no Shugenja or Courtier trait, I think the Disciple isn’t going to see play for a while. When Phoenix get a few more Monk cards though, this will be a very good addition.


Scorpion

A Fate Worse Than Death

As the pool of cards increase, the quality of characters continues to improve. In many games, you will find yourself looking across the table thinking ‘I have to do something about that character’. This is the card that will do that. For a costly 4 fate you get the character bowed, sent out of the conflict, dishonored, blanked, and remove a fate from them. This removes the character for this turn and the removal of a fate token brings them 1 turn closer to leaving play. Scorpion currently play the 2 cost I Can Swim, but the restriction of having to bid higher than your opponent often means you can’t play it when you need to. We can expect to see 2 copies of A Fate Worse than Death in every Scorpion deck and even at 3 influence per card, it might prove attractive for other decks.

Cunning Magistrate

Cunning Magistrate is the Scorpion addition to the magistrate line. A Bushi he has similar stats to the other magistrates at 3 cost for 2 military, 2 political, and 1 glory. In notable contrast to the others, this character is a conflict card giving it an element of surprise. When participating in a conflict, either attacking or defending, all other dishonored characters do not count their skill towards resolution. Scorpion are the kings of dishonoring characters so they will be able to leverage this, they will have control over this ability dishonoring opponent’s characters and leaving their own dishonored characters out of the conflict. When you consider it, however, you realize that dishonored characters often have low skill anyway due to the glory penalty. This card then primarily helps with low glory characters such as Hida Kisada and with super units that have a large skill such as a Lion character with double Way of the Lion. As another conflict character, this has potential with Ambush pairing with the Unassuming Yōjimbō for exactly 6 worth of characters for just 3 fate.


Unicorn

Ride Them Down

Alas, this currently appears to be another dud for the Unicorn. The effect only reduces the base cost of a province, so normally you’re looking at a 3 skill boost when taking the average 4 province strength province. That only helps take the province and doesn’t help actually win the conflict. Unicorn would be better off running something that helps them win opposed conflicts.

Moto Juro

Moto Juro, on the other hand, is an awesome Unicorn character. A 5 cost he falls into the clan champion bracket. He has 5 military, 2 political, and 2 glory with the Bushi and Cavalry traits. With just 2 less political skill than Shinjo Altansarnai he might be a better card than her. Juro has all the right traits, Cavalry lets him use the stronghold and Bushi lets him benefit from the popular Lion splash of For Greater Glory. His ability is even more movement, but in this case, Juro also has worked out how to charge in the opposite direction and is able to into the conflict or move home when needed. In addition, he can use the ability twice per round. This movement allows the Unicorn to properly feint, assigning Juro into a conflict and threatening to bring another character in with Golden Plains Outpost. If they defend, then Juro can back out leaving the defenders to bow. The ability works wonderfully with key Unicorn cards such as Ide Trader and Spyglass. Indeed, with Spyglass Juro can assign for 1 card then leave the battle and rejoin for another card making sure you have everything you need to win that first conflict. This is a very cool card and I’m delighted to see Unicorn get something great.


Neutral

Seppun Ishikawa

Throughout the Imperial cycle, this has been one of my favorite cards. In every pack, I could point to the Imperial trait on a card and say ‘Seppun Ishikawa will love this card!’. Ishikawa is a 3 cost unique Bushi with 2 military, 2 political, and 2 glory. For each other Imperial card you control he gets +1 military and +1 political. There are a bundle of Imperial cards right now, notably the magistrates for each clan, the cheap neutrals from the base set, and some holdings. Of those, many clans will play their magistrate. Players will have the option to play the neutral characters such as Otomo Courtier and Seppun Guardsman, but as the card pool has developed they are seeing less play. Imperial Storehouse has always been popular and The Imperial Palace has many fans. For the most part, these are all 1 shot cards where you have them for just 1 turn. Looking at it this way, it’s likely Ishikawa will normally be 3 military and political skill with the occasional turn where he goes to 4 or 5 in both skills. Looked at this way, he might not be worth playing but he sure is cool!

Massing at Twilight

This void role only province has 8 province strength which seems like a big boost but characters add their military and political skill to conflicts at this province. For some clans who primarily focus on one skill such as Lion, Scorpion, or Unicorn and maybe Crane and Crab that is a big drawback. For other clans like Dragon and Phoenix who have more balanced stats, that is a big boost. Currently, Scorpion and Unicorn have void roles. Dishonor and cards like Fiery Madness which inflict penalties are twice as good as normal, which has been pointed out as a reason for Scorpion to run this, but it would appear the boost for those cards is out-weighed by the penalty inflicted on Scorpion defenders. Currently, this doesn’t seem like a good option for either of the clans that can play it. Ignoring the cards effects, it already competes with some of the strongest provinces in the void slot. Even with a if Phoenix were to get the Seeker of Void role in the future, they are unlikely to play it favoring Kuroi Mori and Shameful Display. Dragon might consider it as a stronghold province if they were to take a keeper of void role again, till then it’s a fun card that goes into the binders.

Waning Hostilities

This is a super interesting card that opens up unexpected approaches. Decks that focus on one conflict type only can focus on just winning that one attack denying their opponent a second attack. Decks that are interested in defending only have to repulse one single attack. It lets you mitigate a bad turn, making sure you lose no more than one province. It is likely this card is best off when you are going second, allowing you to decide how best to defend knowing that you’re single attacking conflict will be the last of the phase. The covert keyword is even more effective, as targeted characters will never get to defend.

Every clan can play this with some success. Some have already started talking about the first turn pass strategy where no characters are made turn 1 instead playing Waning Hostilities and cards like Charge! and Mirumoto’s Fury to protect that one province then have an explosive turn 2. Phoenix might be able to get some extra mileage out of this. With Display of Power they can assure they get all of the rings for the turn. Harmonize stops an attacker and leaves them only able to defend in the conflict type of the Phoenix players choice. This isn’t a card that helps you win conflicts, instead, it changes how the round works. It is an exceptionally cool card that will need some testing and could open new ways to play the game.


Summary

This feels like a pretty well rounded pack with each clan getting at least 1 card of interest. Crab get Crisis Breaker, Crane get Test of Skill, Dragon get The Stone of Sorrows, Phoenix get Master of Gisei Toshi, Scorpion get A Fate Worse Than Death, and Unicorn get Moto Juro. Waning Hostilities is a fun card for everyone that has potential to found some new playstyles. If I had to pick a clan as a winner, I’d give it to the Unicorn. Rather than struggling to find a place, like the Master of Gisei Toshi does, Moto Juro gets to replace a bad character and has a greater impact on the deck overall.


We also covered this pack in a recent episode. Check it out below.


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2 Replies to “Imperial Packs – Fate Has No Secrets”

  1. Just saw that the Origami Master doesn’t trigger the Savvy Politician’s Reaction when you move his Honored status token to her, which is something of a downer.

    1. It does seem like a nice interaction that would have worked well within the Crane card pool. But yes, based on the current understanding of the rules it would not trigger her.

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