Sample 1 Core Decks

Sample 1 Core Decks

Single core set decks are relatively basic when it comes down to it. There are a limited number of cards available for the dynasty deck. The conflict deck is heavily influenced by the traits that are in the dynasty side. To an extent, there is an optimal list for each clan (even if we can’t yet see it) and after that, it is just a matter of perfect play and getting lucky with the draw. Although not required, I’ve used the current role for each plan when putting together these decklists.

Updated post Gencon and L5R Honored.

The Phoenix deck has a decent number of Shugenja, Bushi, and Courtiers so it actually has access to almost all the options. The Courtiers we have seen so far are only 2 politics with 3 which cannot enter into military conflicts, so Outwit is off the table. For Shame! is still viable, and the Phoenix Stronghold makes the effect even more powerful. The Dragon influence is the typical splash, flexible and always useful. For the provinces, everything is active apart from Elemental Fury which can be used to power up rings.

Phoenix Deck


The Dragon deck is the opposite of the Phoenix deck in that it struggles with traits. Rout is in as there are a decent number of Bushi all, with good military skill. For Shame! has been added but there are only 4 Courtiers in the deck. Similarly Cloud the mind is included but there are only 6 Shugenja in total. The Dragon have a few key characters that let them get away with having fewer personalities than they normally would. This lets them retain more fate for conflict cards than most other clans. This version is using the influence for Lion but Crab are also a possible option, attachments and specifically weapons are of interest. Cards which help get a big character in more battles like Sashimono and The Mountain Does Not Fall are very useful for Dragon’s Voltron approach. Restoration of Balance is a tricky card to consider, if your opponent hits it early game it could be game winning. It’s very presence makes your opponent cautious about having too many cards. In this case we are hoping your opponent will try play around it even though it is not included.

Dragon Deck


There are a few working elements in this deck that despite the single core environment seem to click and work. One is to have the biggest provinces you can, with the 2 earth provinces and Pilgrimage 5 of the four provinces outside the province will be 5 province strength. Once borderlands keep arrives that ups the province strength to a stunning 7, even after that pops Rebuild will bring it back to play. Meanwhile, Crab are pressuring their opponent’s card draw with dishonor such as Intimidating Hida and Watch Commander and hopefully a successful Spies at Court. The Tattooed Wanderer and Kaiu Shuichi, both with covert, add to your opponents honor loss when they stop them from defending. Eventually, your opponent just stops drawing cards, then you murder them.


TThe Unicorn Dynasty is all of the cards it can legally play with no other options. The basic concept of the Unicorn is pretty simple, attack with minimal skill but with reinforcements ready to enter the conflict if needed. In the core set environment, this typically is going to be one attacker, one character with an ability able to move in and one Cavalry character that the stronghold can move in. Later in the game, the Unicorn begins to run out of tricks really hoping to draw into Captive Audience for their final battle either in attack or defense. Lion have been used for influence providing some extra military skill and cards that work well with Bushi.


The Lion have a remarkable good balance of Courtier and Bushi characters giving them good access to a range of battle actions. The Lion characters do favor military skill over political, so when those political characters do appear it is important to grab them. Dragon have been used as they are quite flexible.

Lion Deck


Like the Lion, the Crane have a decent balance between Bushi and Courtier characters. Despite favoring political, they have a decent amount of military skill and can threaten either type of conflict. With the combination of Bushi and Courtier characters, they have the most conflict actions available. With their stronghold, winning political conflicts is a lot more reliable than for other clans. This opens up Spies at Court as an option, although space is tight in the conflict deck so this deck cut Duelist Training and Height of Fashion to make room. Here we used influence on Scorpion cards. This gave us an extra cancel in the form of Forged Edict and Fiery Madness to bring 4 political skill characters down to 4 for the stronghold to bow.

Crane Deck


There are two ways to play Scorpion, bid high or bid low. If you’re drawing lots of cards, you can mitigate the honor loss with the stronghold and use the extra cards to win conflicts. If you bid 1 every turn, you force your opponent into doing the same and push them closer to a dishonor victory. Some of the more successful players in the single core environment have gone for the always bid 1 option. Keep pushing your opponent closer to 0 honor and use the stronghold only when you decide to lose honor yourself with Assassination and Banzai!

Scorpion Deck


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5 Replies to “Sample 1 Core Decks”

  1. Hello. Great article, and veeeery useful. Thanks for posting and gratz for the blog. One question: Looking at the cards I have though of Charge as a good addition to military decks in this format, but I see you did not include it in your decks. Is it a timing with the spoiler or there is a reason for your choice? Thanks!

    1. I think charge is at its best when you are able to bring a 3+ character into play for just 1. To do this, really you want to have a ‘spare’ high cost character in your province that you are not going to make. Given the really limited cardpool of the 1 core set there are about 5-6 characters that fit that bill in each deck and often you will want to make them with extra fate rather than discard them. This makes Charge pretty unreliable as I see it.

      Once you have 3 cores it becomes a lot more viable.

  2. I should also add that the results from the Gencon tournaments showed some mistakes I made in putting these decks together. The Keeper Initiate for example was a major feature of the top 4 decks of the Saturday tournament. Although I still have some concerns about it, Spies at Court was mentioned as a key card for most clans.

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