Imperial Packs — The Chrysanthemum Throne

Imperial Packs — The Chrysanthemum Throne

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


Crab

Kaiu Inventor

The Kaiu Inventor is a 2 fate Bushi with 2 military, 1 political, and 0 glory (which, given how little Crab interacts with glory could be considered a benefit). As an action, you choose a holding you control and add an extra use to any of its abilities. Holdings that sacrifice themselves will clearly not benefit from the Inventor, which leaves us to consider Borderlands Fortifications, Funeral Pyre, and Karada District. Although Borderlands Fortifications sees little current play, the other two are quite popular. The Pyre draws a card while Karada steals a card. With this in mind, the Inventor is comparable to Shrewd Yasuki. The Inventor’s ability also relies on holdings, but those holdings must be your own, and be drawn from a far more limited pool. Right now, the Inventor seems weaker than the Yasuki. The Inventor could potentially offer more card draw by targeting a Funeral Pyre, but that also require you to have characters to sacrifice, adding a significant opportunity cost. Karada District, however, stands to benefit most from the Inventor. A Crab player with 2 Inventors in play could Rebuild into a Karada and pay 3 fate to steal 3 attachments. That is potentially massive, and something the Shrewd Yasuki cannot hope to match. For now, the Inventor looks to be very hit and miss, but all it will take is one new powerful holding to catapult her into decks.

Pit Trap

This attachment has a few rules issues, but we’ve been assured they will be dealt with in an upcoming rules update. This 3 cost attachment can only be attached to an attacking character. It gives -1 military and -1 political, and the attached character does not ready during the regroup phase. If an attacking character is a problem this turn, then at least it won’t be a problem next turn. Unfortunately, Pit Trap doesn’t prevent straighten effects, so a Prodigy of the Waves will still be able to straighten. Of greater concern, the ring of water will straighten a character and is available to all clans. In addition, at 3 cost, it is especially painful if your opponent plays Let Go. Pit Trap may find a place if super units like the Dragon deathstars become prevalent, but, currently, this card doesn’t appear to do enough for its cost.


Crane

Doji Shizue

This 2 cost Courtier has 1 military and 2 political skill with 1 glory, which are pretty typical stats for a 2-cost character. She is unique, so only one copy of Shizue can be in play, and duplicates can be discarded from provinces to place additional fate on her. Her card text means she cannot lose fate or be discarded during the fate phase if you have the Imperial Favor. As the favor is taken during the end of the conflict phase, cards like Kakita Yoshi that require the Favor to be discarded won’t interfere with her text. (You will, however, need to get the Favor back, either with more claimed rings or by leaving unbowed glory to help.) It might be worth making Shizue without fate and leaving her unbowed for turns where you need her extra 1 glory to help take the favor. As a cheap Courtier that will stay in play, she could make a great target for Tattered Missive.

Curry Favor

This 0-cost event readies a character you control after bowing during conflict resolution from the second conflict you declared. If you are the first player, this leaves this character ready to defend. If you are not the first player, it leaves your character ready to contribute their glory toward gaining the Imperial Favor. If you have an action that requires bowing, such as last pack’s Tattered Missive, this can leave you available to use it. For example, you could send Doji Shizue into your second conflict, ready her to help secure the Favor, and then bow her for Tattered Missive. Curry Favor seems to have good potential, and it is a rare 0-cost ready action, but its alternating effect may shunt it out of competitive consideration.


Dragon

Centipede Tattoo

This 0-cost attachment can only be attached to a Monk character. When the attached character loses a conflict, they don’t bow during resolution. This is another tool in the Dragon ‘force multiplier’ toolbox. In theory, you could lose 3 conflicts and still assign to a fourth. Obviously, losing so many conflicts wouldn’t be desirable. There are two primary ways to effectively use Centipede Tattoo. The first way is to threaten a weak attack by just assigning a small character with the tattoo. Your opponent then either has to let you win the conflict and net a cheap ring, or else win the conflict themselves and bow their defenders, while the Monk remains ready for the next conflict. The second use is to act as a ‘speed bump’ in defense, providing enough skill to save the province, but not win the conflict. The Dragon have a very interesting Monk deck developing and this will be a strong component in it.

Mountaintop Sanctuary

This Dragon holding raises some interesting rulings questions. My interpretation here is based on the card doing what it says and no rules in the rules reference saying it can’t. At +1 province strength, it offers a minor defense buff to a province. The action allows it to sacrifice itself (which will remove its +1 PS bonus) to move an attacking character with 2 or less fate cost home. Alas, it doesn’t send them home bowed, but it does get them out of the conflict. If it appears in a province, it is likely your opponent won’t bother attacking it, or, if they do, will account for the ability. If it ended there, this would scarcely be a playable card. However, as a reaction, after Mountaintop Sanctuary comes into play, you can move it onto your stronghold province. This means you can end up with 3 copies of the Sanctuary sitting on your stronghold when your opponent finally attacks it. This makes for an incredibly well-defended stronghold province. The question then is whether it is worth focusing on a card that defends your final province rather than helping you take their provinces faster. If the environment turns out to be very well balanced, where victory is often decided by who the first player is on the final turn, and is able to attack first into their opponent’s stronghold, a card like this could win games.

Agasha Sumiko

Currently, Agasha Sumiko is the Ruby Champion and, in the Emerald Champion’s absence, she is also charged with protecting the Emperor and his family. As a 5-cost Bushi, Sumiko must be compared to other characters in that range, including clan champions. Her military and political skill of 4 are underwhelming for a clan champion, but about typical for other 5 cost characters. With only 1 glory she isn’t great for honoring, but also doesn’t suffer too much from dishonor. Her ability means she does not bow due to conflict resolution when attacking if you have the Imperial Favor. This isn’t the blow-out ability of Kakita Yoshi or Ikoma Ujiaki, but it does mean she can attack twice and if you are the first player then defend, potentially allowing her to contribute to 3 conflicts without involving any other cards. She also works well with the currently unreleased The Stone of Sorrows, which only is active while the attached character is ready. Despite the high cost, this is a character that will immediately fit into existing Dragon decks. Typically she will be mulliganed away first turn, but any turn where the Dragon deck starts with the Favor she will be very welcome.


Lion

Akodo Toshiro

This Bushi character’s stats of 2 military, 1 political, and 2 glory for 2 fate are pretty typical, possibly a little better than normal if we take the 2 glory as a bonus. While attacking, Toshiro can take an action to gain +5 Military strength at the cost of not destroying the province. This is a way to assure victory and guarantee a ring effect if, for some reason, you find yourself behind. It does come at a cost, though. If there is no commander in the conflict (presumably to temper the hot-headed youth) Toshiro is discarded after the conflict ends. There are currently two Lion commanders in the game: Gifted Tactician and Honored General. These are both popular cards who hit the table often, so they should be able to keep Toshiro in check. As Toshiro can be a 7-military-skill character, he does improve skill-dependent cards such as Rout, and any dueling card. Some have even gone as far as suggesting that he makes Fallen in Battle playable. Toshiro competes with an impressive lineup of 2-cost dynasty characters for Lion, including Akodo Gunsō, Deathseeker, Gifted Tactician, and Venerable Historian. Even so, Toshiro should see playing time in decks that are tweaked to take full advantage of his unique ability.

Guard Duty

This Keeper-only attachment costs 1 fate for +0 military and +0 political. As an action, the defending character can honor itself. Lion have a few 3-glory characters, but, for the most part, Lion characters have 1 or 2 glory. This attachment then gives, in effect +2 military and +2 political, which – while conditional to activate and costing more than Fine Katana or Ornate Fan – is flexible. It also potentially honors up a character for Stand Your Ground, which will keep a character with Guard Duty around for another turn, during which they can use Guard Duty to honor again. Although Lion do like honoring up their characters, they aren’t particularly fond of defending, so this might struggle to find a slot in Lion decks. On the other hand, at 1 influence it may be of interest to Crane and Phoenix, who have great interest in effects that easily honor their characters.

Implacable Magistrate

This Bushi character is the Lion’s addition to the imperial magistrate line. At 3 cost for 2 military, 2 political, and 1 glory, she has the same stats as the other magistrates. The Bushi trait, however, is of greater value to the Lion, compared to other clans, thanks to For Greater Glory. As with all the other Magistrates, the Implacable Magistrate’s effect prevents certain characters from counting their skill towards conflict resolution when the magistrate is attacking. In this case, only honored characters and the Magistrate herself contribute skill. For the clans that rely on the ring of fire to honor their characters, she will present significant problems, and could possibly render a province undefendable. As with so many other Lion characters, there is always the potential of Charge!, Kitsu Spiritcaller, and Ikoma Ujiaki to drop this into a conflict. But there will also be turns where the Magistrate cannot be assigned with the rest of a Lion army, meaning she will be relegated to defense, or assigned to a secondary, political attack.


Phoenix

Haughty Magistrate

The Phoenix’s addition to the imperial magistrate line has similar stats to the others, and while the Haughty Magistrate is attacking, characters with less glory than the magistrate do not count their skill during resolution. As the Magistrate has 1 glory, only 0-glory characters should be affected. however, with the Phoenix stronghold Isawa Mori Seidō, the Magistrate’s glory can be boosted to 3, which is typically reserved for champion-level characters, like Akodo Toturi, Bayushi Kachiko, and Togashi Yokuni. Crab don’t have any characters with 3 or more glory. In fact, the total list of 3+-glory characters is very small, with Phoenix just barely edging out Lion for the most options with Isawa Kaede, Serene Warrior, Shiba Tsukune, and a hidden, secret option in Fearsome Mystic, who has 3 glory during air conflicts. The Haughty Magistrate does have one incredible advantage over all the other magistrates, which is that increasing his glory is optional, and can be performed during a conflict at a moment of greatest advantage. Unfortunately, as a Bushi, the Magistrate doesn’t have the Shugenja trait the Phoenix are looking for, but his aggressive potential means he will still see a lot of play.

Seal of the Phoenix

This is the Phoenix seal and is equivalent to seals of the other clans. Right now, the Scholar trait is not relevant, but we can be certain it will be in future. Currently, the Phoenix have 2 characters with the Scholar trait: Naive Student and Solemn Scholar, both solid 1-cost characters.


Scorpion

Backhanded Compliment

Right now, Scorpion are Seekers, and cannot play this card. The two clans that are most likely to adopt dishonor as a strategy and that can play this card are Crab and Phoenix. Backhanded Compliment is a 0-cost event that makes a target player draw 1 card and lose 1 honor. Pushing those last few points of dishonor can be a real problem, since the target player will lock down into bidding 1 every turn, and will attempt to claim the ring of air to buy them the time they need to win. Backhanded Compliment can ‘bomb’ an opponent on low honor out of the game by hitting them with an unexpected honor loss of up to 3 points. Combined with Contingency Plan, an even greater bomb could be exploded. The downside comes in assembling multiples of these cards quickly enough. Tattered Missive could work to build up a hand of 3 Backhanded Compliments to finish off an opposing player. Backhanded Compliment greatly increases dishonor’s lethal range, something to keep in mind the next time you’re about to bid!

Fawning Diplomat

As a 3 cost Courtier, the Fawning Diplomat doesn’t have amazing stats: 1 military, 3 political, and 0 glory. Luckily, 0 glory on a Scorpion character is an advantage, allowing them to dishonor for Forged Edict without losing skill. The ability allows the Scorpion player to claim the Imperial Favor when the character leaves play. Typically, characters of 3 or greater fate cost get at least 1 extra fate to make them stick around a little longer. Characters like the Fawning Diplomat and the Shosuro Actress, who only get to trigger their abilities on the turn they leave, encourage spending 0 additional fate, and need to have a worthwhile ability to make up for that economic deficit. The Scorpion character that discards the Imperial Favor for some benefit (the Sake House Informant, previewed during the Worlds stream) is relatively poor, discarding the Imperial Favor to give Shinobi characters +2 political skill. This isn’t the big potential of Ikoma Ujiaki or Kakita Yoshi, especially once you look at the current line up of Shinobi, which is a little thin. This means the Fawning Diplomat will likely be used to deny an opponent the Imperial Favor, and/or to power up Censure. This might be worth it, but given how powerful Scorpion’s dynasty deck is, it currently looks like a compromise for Scorpion to play her.


Unicorn

Gaijin Customs

Gaijin customs is a great card – just not for Unicorn. It is a 1-cost event which can only be used while you have a Unicorn card in play, and which readies a non-Unicorn character. Any deck splashing Unicorn will be able to include 3 copies of this 1 influence card along with 3 Spyglass at 2 influence each. The remaining influence can be rounded out nicely between Favored Mount and Iuchi Wayfinder, both at 1 influence. Once you have any of the other Unicorn cards in play, you can use Gaijin Customs to straighten your best character. For the Unicorn, it’s not as great. The Unicorn stronghold does count as a Unicorn card, so they really only need a non-Unicorn character to straighten. However, the selection here isn’t as great. The unaligned characters are generally underwhelming (outside of possibly Seppun Ishikawa), as are many conflict characters. However, Unassuming Yōjimbō or Political Rival could make excellent targets. In short, a great card, but not for Unicorn.

Utaku Mediator

This 1-fate Courtier has 0 military, 1 political, and 0 glory, and while you do not have the Imperial Favor, this character gains +1 military and +1 political. So, while you are behind, this is a 1-military 2-political character for 1. Those are decent stats, making the Utaku Mediator similar to the Otomo Courtier. Where the Otomo Courtier cannot attack when your opponent has the favor the Mediator has only 1 political skill when you do have the favor. The Otomo Courtier is a popular character that still sees play. The Mediator as a cheap Courtier does open the trait to the Unicorn, although exactly how that might play out is unclear.


Neutral

Way of the Chrysanthemum

Honor running has not been viable despite the best efforts of many players. Hitting 25 honor just hasn’t been reliable enough. Way of the Chrysanthemum changes that. After you gain 1 or more honor due to an honor bid, you can play this 2-cost event to gain an equal amount of honor. Bidding 5 has been a typical opener for most clans on turn 1. If your opponent has two fate ready, can you afford to bid 5 anymore? They could bid 1 and play Way of the Chrysanthemum to gain a total of 8 honor that turn! With most players starting on 11, that puts them to 19 honor with only 6 left to gain. Even worse, they could bid 0 with Contingency Plan and gain 10! An air conflict and a few honored characters leaving play and they win. This will be at its most effective in clans with dueling and card draw. Card draw will help make up for the constant bids of 1 during the draw phase. Dueling provides more opportunities to trigger the effect, and if the opponent always bids 1 then all the duels are sure things. If your opponent does bid 1 of course, this card is pretty much dead. This is a card that forces you to seriously think when you see those 2 fate at the start of the draw phase. We’ll only know whether it makes honor a viable strategy once we get it out into the environment.

Guardians of Seikitsu

This Earth-role-only province is currently only playable by the Crab clan. With 5 province strength, it is at the higher end of province strengths. The ability is on-reveal and, importantly, is a triggered effect – so the Crab player can decide whether they want to trigger it or not. The effect bows every character with cost 2 or less, across the board, whether in the conflict or not. This bears repeating. When activated, this province bows every 2-cost and cheaper character in play. This is a game-winning province. Sitting on the stronghold province, it defends itself and sweeps the board of defenders, allowing the Crab to declare their own attacks to finish the game. Any Crab characters bowed can be sacrificed to effects such as the Steadfast Witch Hunter, turning useless Crab troops into resources while the opposing characters remain stranded. Add in covert effects such as Hiruma Skirmisher to prevent any remaining characters from assigning to defend, and a game could easily swing to the Crab.

Before the Throne

This is an air province that cannot be a stronghold province. At 5 province strength, it is the highest of the air provinces. When the province is destroyed, you can take 2 honor from your opponent. This helps decks seeking to win by honor as well as those looking to dishonor their opponent. As an air province, it competes with Fertile Fields and Manicured Garden as well as the Scorpion and Crane provinces Secret Cache and The Art of Peace. A Scorpion dishonor deck would struggle to decide which option to include. The Crane on the other hand, as Seeker of Air, can choose to run both. At 5 province strength, it is a little easier for an attacker to change course and try not to break the province. This might even mean playing attachments and events to boost the defender! Where an honor deck would need to defend to prevent losing that point of honor, a dishonor deck would not need to, making it easier to let the province break and trigger the effect.

The Imperial Palace

As the rules reference specifically refers to 3.4.1 (to determine the Imperial Favor) as a glory count, the Imperial Palace is a way to contest the Favor strongly, even if you’re not winning via rings and standing glory. The +2 province strength helps with defense and the Imperial trait does help Seppun Ishikawa. As The Imperial Palace is restricted 1 per deck, you’re not going to be able to depend on it to turn up at the right time. If you’re playing the Crab card Rebuild, this will improve slightly, allowing you to retrieve a discarded copy in the last action window of the conflict phase, just before the Imperial Favor is decided. With cards like Censure, the Imperial Favor has become increasingly important. The Imperial Palace helps grab it, but, without Rebuild, might be too unreliable to see play.


Summary

Every pack has a winner, and a lot of the time that winner isn’t the clan that gets the best cards in their color. The Crane, Dragon, and Lion cards look pretty good. Crab and Scorpion are more interested in the neutral cards while Unicorn wonder what to do with their new 1-cost courtier. Phoenix are the real winners. Haughty Magistrate has the potential to shut down an entire defense, while Backhanded Compliment combined with the previous pack’s Tattered Missive opens up a combo dishonor deck for Phoenix that could be really dangerous.


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


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Bazleebub

2 Replies to “Imperial Packs — The Chrysanthemum Throne”

  1. As always, great write up! Can’t wait to see what kind of Honor/Dishonor decks you all think up! Would be great to see an article or two about that archetype when the support is there.

  2. Of course, at the moment, Crane can’t play Guard Duty. It should be useful in the future, particularly on the Savvy Politician.

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