Imperial Packs  – For Honor and Glory

Imperial Packs  – For Honor and Glory

Details are out of the second dynasty pack in the Imperial cycle! This is the second pack in the 6 packs in 6 weeks release, so cards are coming to us fast. Let’s get stuck in and see what is has to offer each clan.


Crab

Raise the Alarm

If you are defending in a military conflict, this 0 cost event flips the facedown province being attacked and brings any character revealed into play. There are then a number of conditions, it has to be on the defense, it has to be military, and the province has to have a facedown card. The effect could be pretty amazing; you could get Hida Kisada for free. You could also get an Eager Scout or a holding. Those last two aren’t terrible, the Eager Scout is another body, and a holding would immediately come into play. The point is, the effect is unreliable. Combined, this makes Raise the Alarm a very conditional and unreliable card. It is a free character though, even if it is a roll of the dice to see what character you get. Also playing charge makes this a little more reliable although there still is the risk that your opponent will attack provinces with holdings. At 2 influence it could be tempting for clans like Lion and Unicorn who already focus on military and play charge. Any effect that can get more use out of the character will improve this events effect, specifically, The Mountain Does Not Fall and Reprieve come to mind.

Pathfinder’s Blade

This 0 cost attachment gives +1 military. It can only be played by Seeker clans; Crane, Dragon, Scorpion and notably not Crab. At an interrupt, this attachment can be discarded to cancel the effects of a triggered ability on a province. Essentially, this negates all the provinces beyond those like Ancestral Lands and Pilgrimage which have flat effects. Out of the 3 clans who currently can play this, it will be most popular with Dragon. At 1 influence it is a 0 cost Weapon which does not have the restricted trait. This is the perfect card for the Niten Master as early game it is free and late game it won’t require destroying a previously played weapon. The sacrifice effect will be the draw for Crane and Scorpion if they decide to play it. Crane already have seen the utility of Cautious Scout and the Pathfinder’s Blade does not have the limitation of attacking alone.

Stoic Magistrate

This is the Crab’s character in the magistrate theme of this cycle. Importantly, as an Imperial character, this Magistrate contributes skill to Seppun Ishikawa, someone we will see later in the releases .Although the stats of 2 military, 2 political, and 1 glory for 3 fate are poor, this characters text easily makes up for it. When the Stoic Magistrate is defending, 2 or lower cost characters do not contribute their skill towards resolution of the conflict. This does run a little counter to the low cost sacrifice theme of the Crab as well as the strongholds ability which favors lots of characters to increase the bonus. It is, however, a pretty great ability. Having one of these characters on the table will make your opponent’s decisions on how to assign very difficult. If they do assign 2 or lower cost characters, they risk being contributing 0 skill, but if they don’t assign them they won’t be in the conflict and will have to defend instead. It is likely they will only assign their 3+ cost characters keeping their 2 and less cost characters in reserved to defend where the Magistrate’s ability won’t help. Getting a surprise Stoic Magistrate in via Charge! or Raise the Alarm would really make a mess of an attack. On the other hand, a surprise Stoic Magistrate could make a mess of your own defence!


Crane

Kabuki Hero

This 2 cost Courtier has 0 military and 2 political skill with 1 glory. As an action, you can spend 1 fate to gain a military skill boost equal to the Hero’s political skill. So, if the Hero has an Ornate Fan he is 1 fate away from gaining +4 military. A 3 cost 2/2 wouldn’t be great, and without some additional cards that is what this character is. He adds some additional flexibility to the Crane card pool, and the extra Courtier is beneficial, but for me at least, he is a little underwhelming.

Kakita Blade

At 1 cost this +2 military skill weapon follows the pattern existing with the Ancestral Daishō and Honored Blade. This weapon receives two bonus, first that it also contributes +2 political in duels and second as a reaction to winning a duel you can gain 1 honor. Crane already have two duels within the clan: Duelist Training and Kakita Kaezin. Neither of these cards have been very popular in recent Crane decklists. With two of these on a character, this might change. With +4 skill to either stat for duels, it is highly likely that each duel issues will result in a gain of 2 honor. If this is something consistent, this may develop into an honor running deck, something old Crane players are eager to play. Even ignoring the potential honor deck, the 1 cost for 2 skill is decent, and honor can be cashed in for more cards or easier duels with increased bids on dials.


Dragon

Northern Wall Sensei

As this is a Keeper only card, and as Dragon currently are Seeker this is not currently a legal card for tournament play. This is another 3 cost character with 2 military, 2 political, and 1 glory stats I do consider poor. As a conflict action you can target a character, you control in the conflict with at least 1 attachment and make them immune to events. As it happens in a conflict, this is best used as a first action on the defense. On the attack, it leaves a window for the defending player to play an event before you can take the action. If you use this ability on another character, the Northern Wall Sensei remains vulnerable to an event. You can use the ability on the Northern Wall Sensei who, if alone, will then leave your opponent with no targets for events. With poor stats and an ability your opponent can often work around, this doesn’t seem like a great character. On those days when you can get the Sensei to protect your Deathstar unit, it could be game-winning.

High Kick

This 1 cost event can only be used during a military conflict and requires bowing a friendly monk character in the conflict. It bows an opposing character and prevents them from triggering actions during the conflict. Bow actions are some of the most effective in the game, not only do they prevent the bowed character from contributing their skill but, unlike send home actions, it also prevents them from assigning to another conflict. The drawback for bow actions is the target can still use their ability. High Kick is the best of both worlds. Currently, Dragon have 3 dynasty and 2 conflict monks with at least 1 more already spoiled. They can also play the Seeker Initiate who is another monk. Bowing your own monk can minimise the benefits, but this remains a high impact card. Although he didn’t see play in the core environment, with this additional bow action Ascetic Visionary is much improved. On the attack you can bow a monk and then straighten it paying 1 fate to use the Visionary’s ability. As this is military only, opponent’s are safe in political conflicts. As the Tattooed Wanderer is a conflict character monk, during a military conflict there is always the chance a Dragon player will have a High Kick ready.


Lion

Ikoma Ujiaki

Ujiaki is the 2nd Lion character with both the Bushi and Courtier traits. This gives increased consistently in playing both Bushi and Courtier cards giving the Lion decks additional tools such as For Shame! With 3 military, 5 political, and 2 glory for 5 fate Ujiaki has decent if below clan champion level stats. His ability requires having the Imperial favor, so this will require winning conflicts or leaving ready glory to take it. His effect certainly would justify leaving a character or two ready. After discarding the favor, you reveal all your provinces and put 2 of those characters into play at the current conflict. Lion have already been getting a lot of value out of the Kitsu Spiritcaller and Charge! Importantly there is no condition on their return, so cards like Good Omen, For Greater Glory, Stand Your Ground, and Sashimono will help you get more value out of those characters. This is a stunningly good character. If Ujiaki ever hits the table opposing you, you need to make sure your opponent does not get the favor.

Kamayari

This 2 cost +3 military weapon is very similar to the Crab’s Jade Tetsubō which does not see a lot of play. The Kamayari can only be played on Bushi characters which aren’t a problem for Lion. The ability bows a character who triggered an ability during the conflict. Bowing characters is great, but this is very much telegraphed. Your opponent knows the Kamayari is in play and has to decide between having their character bowing or not using the ability. In this way, it is similar to the Crab card Watch Commander which also adds an additional cost. Kamayari looks like a situational meta card. If Lion are having trouble with characters who have actions, this might be a way to help deal with them. Without targets that would suffer from the ability, the skill to fate ratio on this card may not be worth it for the card to see play.


Phoenix

Harmonize

This is a 1 cost Keeper only event. The current Keeper clans are Crab, Lion, Phoenix, and Unicorn. During a conflict in which you are defending, choose a defending and attacking character with equal or lower printed cost and send both home. As this is a 1 cost send home event, it can be compared somewhat to Rout and Outwit. Rather than looking at skill, Harmonize considers cost. It also sends your character home in addition to your opponent’s, something very different to Rout and Outwit. Is this a drawback or a bonus? It really depends on the situation. If your opponent attacks with one character, you can defend with one of your characters. Harmonize lets you successfully defend your province and prevents your defender from bowing during conflict resolution.

Harmonize also lets you defend a military conflict with a political character and send your opponent’s best military character of equal cost home. This locks that character out of a military attack and leaves them to defend against your political characters on your next attack. And vice versa if you’re defending a political conflict. This is particularly useful for the Phoenix who can defend with a character, play some actions to make sure the province isn’t destroyed and then leave the province undefended ready for a Display of Power. This feature, along with the 1 influence, makes Harmonize a great splash. On the face of it, Harmonize looks like an excellent card.

Magnificent Lighthouse

Any Phoenix holding will struggle to compete against Forgotten Library and its free card draw. Magnificent Lighthouse takes a different approach and makes a compelling case for its inclusion. With +2 province strength it makes the province harder to destroy, much better than the +0 of the Library. Rather than drawing a card, you get to look at the top 3 cards of your opponent’s deck and discard 1 card, place 1 at the bottom of the deck and leave the other on top. If your opponent is drawing 5 cards a turn, this isn’t going to make much difference. If your opponent is drawing 1 card a turn, something a dishonor deck can force, you get to choose exactly what your opponent draws. That effect is pretty strong, but you still have to weigh it against drawing an extra card with the Library. While the Lighthouse will let you control and filter your opponent’s hand, it doesn’t generate card advantage in the same way the Library does.

Shrine Maiden

The Shrine Maiden is a 1 military, 1 political, 0 glory character for 1 fate. The Maiden is a Monk, making this the first Monk in a non-Dragon clan. When the Maiden enters play, you reveal the top 3 cards of your deck and reveal each Spell and Kihō to your hand, discarding the others. Phoenix have a good number of spells in their card pool: Against the Waves, Display of Power, Grasp of Earth, Know the World, Supernatural Storm, and Embrace the Void along with the revealed but not released Benten’s Touch. Phoenix decks also play Cloud the Mind as a matter of course. As of yet, there is only one Kihō card in the environment, the dragon card Mantra of Fire but it is a trait to keep an eye out for. With the number of spells, it does look like the Shrine Maiden will draw at least 1 card which will be a pretty big impact. As a 1/1 for 1 conflict character we know this is super flexible, you can drop one to get a sneaky ring attack, to add a defender when you’re about to lose honor due to an unopposed, and at the very least get a key +1 skill in a conflict when you need it. Most of these 1 cost conflict characters have 0 glory, presumably to stop them from contributing to the favor. In addition, the Phoenix clan can drop this character after the last conflict and bow their stronghold to add +2 ready glory to grab the imperial favor. Although Monk is not a trait the Phoenix cares about, this is a super useful card.

Scorpion

Seal of the Scorpion

We have already seen the Crane seal, and this is quite similar. At 0 fate this gives +1 political skill, the Scorpion clan symbol, and the Shinobi trait. This has all the problems of the previous seal, although the fate to skill ratio is great it doesn’t seem worthwhile spending a card. Currently, the Shinobi trait has no real use, it can help with Smoke and Mirrors, but it doesn’t feel like that card is ready for play yet. The Scorpion clan symbol does actually prevent Way of the Scorpion targetting the character. If card draw is plentiful and fate is limited, Seal of the Scorpion will have a minor bonus with no fate requirement. If card draw is limited, then this card won’t be worth the card investment.

Bayushi Yojiro

Yojiro is a 3 cost unique character with 3 military, 1 political, and 2 glory. He is a Bushi, Imperial, and Magistrate. Bushi isn’t a trait the Scorpion are particularly interested in, so Yojiro will be taking the slot of a useful Courtier. While Yojiro is in a conflict status tokens are ignored. The Scorpion rarely honor their own characters, who often have low glory, so being able to ignore the honored status can help. The Scorpion do focus on dishonoring characters, both their opponent’s characters and often their own as a cost. As the Scorpion characters typically have low glory they normally don’t mind being dishonored but their opponents often do, so Yojiro’s trait won’t help. Notably, Yojiro has 2 glory himself which would have made him the perfect target to be honored but his trait stops it from being useful. This is a cool idea but doesn’t mesh with the Scorpion’s theme and focus. He does at least boost Seppun Ishikawa!

Unicorn

Ide Tadaji

At 4 cost for 1 military, 4 political, and 2 glory you’re hoping for a Guest of Honor level ability, but Tadaji does not deliver. As a Courtier with high politics, Tadaji advances an aspect of the Unicorn that currently hasn’t been rounded out. Tadaji does not have the Cavalry trait and as such cannot be used with the stronghold. As it comes before the dash, to use Tadaji’s ability you need two eligible targets to use Tadaji’s ability, this makes it very conditional. If you do manage to make the conditions, you need to decide if it is actually worth doing, you don’t want to pull in more skill for your opponent than for yourself. We have seen, with Yogo Hiroue and Doji Challenger, that pulling an opponent’s character can be used to deny them from assigning it elsewhere, again with Tadaji if you’re doing that to your opponent you’re also pulling your own character in. This is not the character the Unicorn need.

Shinjo Saddle

If the Seal cards have been considered poor at 0 cost for 1 skill, what on earth is Shinjo Saddle doing with 1 cost? It is Cavalry only, further pushing the Unicorn struggle of looking for Cavalry cards while they keep getting characters without it. As an item, but not a weapon, it cannot be attached to the Moto Horde. It has an action to move this card from the current character to another Cavalry character. This can be used to have the Saddle’s +1 contribute in two conflicts starting on a character in one conflict and moving to another character in the next conflict. Preferably these are both going to be military conflicts. It can also move from a character going to leave play at the end of the turn to one who is going to stick around. Ultimately, this is an inefficient card with a limitations all for an ability that doesn’t have an amazing effect. The Unicorn definitely need help, this isn’t it.

Neutral

Miwaku Kabe

This holding has +3 province strength, which appears to be its main purpose. When the province is broken, you can shuffle this holding back into your dynasty deck. I’m going to go as far as saying this is a terrible card. The best chance for it to see play is with the Crab card Rebuild to pull it out of your discard pile. It does also benefit Seppun Ishikawa as it is an Imperial card. On the downside, as a holding, it turns up in a random province. You don’t get to decide which province, so it can randomly turn up in a broken province and be wasted. It can also turn up in your best province and your opponent will never attack it as they can instead attack another province. If it somehow turns up in your worst unbroken province it will encourage your opponent to attack another province, but at the same time every turn it remains there denies you an extra dynasty draw that could be useful. Right now my best hope is that this card isn’t designed for competitive play and instead is part of a fun multiplayer or event style deck.

Frostbitten Crossing

This is the first of a range of elemental provinces that are only playable by those clans who have a role of that element. The current list of roles are available on the FFG website. Frostbitten Crossing is an Air role only, meaning only the Crane clan can play it. It has 4 Province strength. During a conflict at this province you can take an action to discard all attachments on a character. As attachments like Fine Katana and Ornate Fan are in almost every deck and are often relied on to help take provinces, this province does help protect itself. As the ability is an action rather than a once off reaction, every turn this province is not taken is another opportunity for the ability to be used again. This is competing against Fertile Fields and Manicured Garden which are reliable resources useful against everyone. Frostbitten Crossing isn’t as reliable, but does help protect itself and has the potential to have a massive effect especially against Dragon decks who like to form a Deathstar unit. This definitely is a card worth consideration in Crane decks, but will require some testing in the environment to see whether it pushes out either of the other two air provinces.

Riot in the Streets

This is a 4 strength water province. As an action, if you have 3 or more Bushi characters, you can bow a participating character. The water provinces currently change something, either Elemental Fury changing the ring type or Rally to the Cause changing the conflict type. Riot in the Streets adds an extra option, an action that will be reusable every turn. This makes it a great province to defend for the clans who have enough Bushi to meet the condition. This means Lion, Crab, and Unicorn. All of these clans have the Keeper role, meaning they will need at least one of each of the elements when picking provinces. The other clans do have Bushi but are unlikely to run the same amount as those 3 clans do. Lion will probably prefer their stronghold province The Art of War as it improves their aggression. Unicorn will be able to move a character into the province if the conflict is military, this will help them hit the 3 Bushi requirement even if the moved character is bowed. Again, Unicorn have a water province in clan Endless Plains, unlike with The Art of War there is more scope for Unicorn to opt for Riot in the Streets. The last clan Crab, have an earth clan province, so where normally Ancestral Lands or Entrenched Position would be the stronghold province there is the option to instead have Riot in the Streets. This will make that last province a real tough nut to crack and will leave Defend the Wall out to trigger earlier in the game.

Policy Debate

This is a card that goes straight into any clan that can muster a decent amount of political skill. Winning duels isn’t particularly hard, with reasonable amount of setup even when you lose a duel you gain honor and come out a head. This card, already dubbed ‘rap battle’, allows you to pick both competitors in the duel letting you setup very unfair pairings. The winner gets to look at their opponent’s hand and discard 1 card from it. Seeing what your opponent has gives you knowledge, getting to discard a card removes their options. As you’re playing a card to take this action, both you and your opponent are down a card each but they’ve lost their best card. There are times when you are less interested in the duel effect and more interested in the duel itself. The Kakita blade is a way for you to gain honor if you win, if you are ahead by 1 at the start of the duel, if you choose to bid 1 you will gain 1 honor either from winning the duel or from your opponent having a higher bid. This also gives the Scorpion an opportunity to meddle with their own dial to setup cards like I Can Swim. Fantastic card.


Ikoma Ujiaki is the star of this pack and easily makes Lion the winners out of this pack. Phoenix is a close second as all 3 of their cards are very playable. Policy Debate is a key neutral that will see play in multiple clans and will make dueling a more regular feature in games.

Update – Have a listen to the team going through the cards!

 


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Bazleebub

2 Replies to “Imperial Packs  – For Honor and Glory”

  1. A quick thought on Raise the Alarm. You can reliably guarantee a face-down province if you rebuild into a holding that can be discarded. The card you end up with is still a bit of a crap-shoot though.

  2. Follow up thought. Policy Debate is big in the environment. Probably best in Crab, Phoenix, and Scorpion where you’re able to exert honor pressure and have decent political skill (with Crab due to the stronghold).

    The Madrid Kotei suggests that being able to take For Greater Glory out of the Lion’s hand does make a big difference. There are bound to be a number of key cards in all decks similar to this.

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