Meta Check – Athens

Meta Check – Athens

Last weekend the L5R community had a 90 player tournament in Athens. This was the first large tournament of the 40/40 format since the release of the game. As with all tournaments and any set of data, one should be cautious of drawing any conclusions. A lucky game in a bracket or some weird pairings can set something off. A reaction in the local meta to one strategy can make decks look strange when viewed in a vacuum. That said, let’s have some fun.

Some quick observations from the 7 top of clan decks.




  • All but Lion and Unicorn ran 2 Assassinations
  • All had 3 Banzai! apart from Scorpion and Phoenix who only ran 2
  • Charge! was reserved for the more military decks of Crab, Lion, Dragon, and Unicorn.
  • All decks ran 3 Court Games


  • All decks ran at least 2 Fine Katana and all but the Unicorn ran 2 Ornate Fans. Presumably, the Unicorn deck was relying on Captive Audience.


  • Over the 7 decks, there were 15 neutral characters. Although 5 decks had the keeper role, only 2 of those decks included the Keeper Initiate.
  • All decks ran conflict characters, although the Unicorn ran only 1. Cheap characters such as the 1 cost Tattooed Wanderer and Steward of Law or the reduced cost Vengeful Oathkeeper were the most common.

1st Place Crab – Vasilis Kirlis

First place was a Crab deck which took an approach very different to the standard. Rather than playing defensively and pressuring honor, this deck goes straight for the throat and aims to take 2–3 provinces by turn 2. The winning player recommends always bidding 5 on turn one to get the cards you need and focus on making at least 1 character on turn 1 that will stick around a few turns. The dynasty deck does not include Eager Scout, Hida Tomonatsu, or Vengeful Berseker. The Lion splash adds some free Military force to counterattack with, some protection against bow effects, and some send home on the attack.

2nd Place Crane – Giannis Kouris

The second place Crane deck seems to focus on hand control. Focusing on Ring of Earth and using Spies at Court this deck hammers at their opponents hand while drawing 5 each turn to give as many options as possible. The dynasty deck leaves out Cautious Scout, Doji Gift Giver, and Kakita Kaezin. The splash is for 3 Display of Power to turn the opponent’s attacks against them and 3 Magnificent Kimono as a cheap political boost that can be used to honor characters, especially when using Spies at Court.

Top Lion – Akis Chotemis

The top Lion deck is another aggressive deck with a focus on boosts, dealing with defenders, and keeping characters around longer. The dynasty deck leaves out Ikoma Eiji and Ikoma Prodigy. The splash is Crane to bow solo defenders with Admit Defeat and cancel opponent’s events with Voice of Honor. Steward of Law appears to primarily be a cheap character as this deck does not include For For Shame! This may be a meta decision as it would prevent Scorpion from playing Forged Edict during a conflict.

Top Dragon – Spyros Meletakos

The top Dragon deck is in many regards a typical attachment heavy deck. Without a commentary from the player, it’s hard to know exactly how this was played, but it most likely focused on getting a Voltron unit down and getting as much use out of it as possible. It uses all the Dragon characters. This deck is also using Crane for Admit Defeat but subs in Above Question for the remainder of the influence. Admit Defeat works very well with the Mirumoto Prodigy while Above Question keeps the 2 cost characters safe from Assassination. Distressingly the conflict deck is 43 cards!

Top Phoenix – George Papadakis

This dynasty deck includes all the Phoenix characters apart from Serene Warrior. The Phoenix deck conflict deck has a wide range of cards coming in at 2 of, only Against the Waves, Court Games, Let Go, and Way of the Phoenix were worth pushing out to 3 cards. The splash is Dragon giving access to Let Go and Tattooed Wanderer. I’m a little surprised to see no Mirumoto’s Fury in the deck, but those decks may not have made top due to the number of decks splashing Lion for Ready for Battle. 44 cards, at least it is symmetrical.

Top Unicorn – Petros Meletakos

The top Unicorn is a 42/42 deck! I’m losing my mind here. The common belief is that Unicorn are struggling under a sub-par character base with a limited stronghold. This deck only omits the Meishōdō Wielder. Between Charge! and Cavalry Reserves this deck tries to get those characters in for as cheap as possible. Using For Greater Glory and Good Omen the deck tries to keep them around for as long as possible. Between Sashimono and I Am Ready the deck tries to get as much use out each character in a single turn as possible. No Assassination suggests the deck is going to try draw 5 cards on turn one hoping to draw into a Spyglass and then slam back to 1 or 2 cards a turn in the hopes of triggering Good Omen.

Top Scorpion – Kostas Ketsietzis

The top Scorpion appears to be a solid dishonor deck. It shares a lot of its core DNA with the dishonor deck developed on the Scorpion clan forum the Dojo of Lies, so you can expect variations on this in most metas. The dynasty deck uses all the available Scorpion characters.This deck does have Mirumoto’s Fury and is possibly more successful in using it as Ready for Battle can be canceled by Forged Edict.

Is this knowledge useful?

Some cards seem super popular. Shameful Display, Imperial Storehouse, Assassination, Banzai!, Court Games, Fine Katana, Ornate Fan. Not really a surprise.

Charge! was more popular than expected. It seems a good fit for Lion and Unicorn but Crab and Dragon were a bit of a surprise.

The winning deck was a lot more aggressive than expected. Crab should, in theory, be playing a slower dishonor game but this winning deck had a different approach. This style of play also seems to have served the second place Crane well.

The most splashed clan was a 3-way tie between Lion, Dragon, and Crane. It does appear that Ready for Battle was influential in this environment, with 3 of the top of clans running it. This may have been a reaction to the often considered standard splash of 3 Mirumoto’s Fury and 2–3 Let Go. Admit Defeat was the Crane card of choice feeding into the idea of a bow heavy meta.

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21 Replies to “Meta Check – Athens”

  1. Great article, i am the Lion player on your list.
    It was a great tournament and had alot of fun.
    Steward of Law was indeed a meta pick , anticipating many scorpions in the tournament, unfortunately i didnt got the chance to play VS one.
    Deck’s playstyle is going wide, bidding high, go all out on attacks and try “snowball” an early advantage, key cards are Charge , For Greater Glory and Stand your Ground.

    Made it to Top 8, and only lost to the 2 finalists. The Round report was:
    vs Lion (Dishonor Win)
    vs Phoenix (Stronghold break Win, Hardest match i played)
    vs Unicorn (Dishonor Win)
    vs Crane Runnerup (Stronghold break Loss)
    vs Crab (Stronghold break Win)

    Top 8
    vs Crab Tour Winner (Stronghold Break Loss)

    Happy to answer any questions, cheers !

    1. Hi I tryed a Crane splash but many times can’t use above question, you say bid high but won some games by dishonor, still you used 3X venerable historian that requires honor. I’m a little confuse about the strategy to play this deck, bid high just in turn 1? focus on fire ring?

      1. Bid high until you have the key cards you need, plus bid high =/= bid 5, i usually bid 2-4 , just enough to keep Obstinate Recruits in game. Bidding in round 1 is usually 3 if there is a recruit in play.

        I dont use Above Question at all, your characters are expendable and you rely on For Greater Glory to keep em in play.

        Dishonor wins arent something you aim for, you start bidding lower as soon as you have the cards you need in hand, letting your Art of War province break early , really speeds things up. The 2 DH wins were a result of opponents going wild on assassinations in an attempt to save the game, in which case a 1 bid and Toturi + Air Ring did the job.

    2. Congrats.

      No Sashimono? Just too expensive or not fit your play style? I do find it sits in my hand often enough

      1. Seems nice in theory, but while testing it, it didnt fit my style that much. I hardly ever spend fate on my characters (exception: Spiritcaller, mediorce dynasty flops, and perhaps water ring safety if i play second)

        So wasting 2 fate on usually a character that’s going away at the end of the round feels kinda bad. Plus going aggresive usually is opposed with a strong defence, that most of the times denies my opponet the ability to form a decent counterattack, in which case 1 more ready character from Sashimono wont make a difference.

  2. Great article. Do you have the clan breakdown for the event? It would be good to know how many players showed up for each clan.

  3. Also is there any report of where each of the top of clan decks placed outside of the top 2? Or maybe a report that includes a top 16 or whatever the cut was?

    1. Dont have a detailed report, but my memory
      I (Lion) made it to Top 8
      Phoenix and Dragon top 8
      Scorpion top 4
      Unicorn didnt make the cut to Top 8

      Hopefully the author might have a full standings list

    2. This was all compiled from the info Chris Paliogiorgos posted on the L5R LCG facebook group. The only piece of information Chris posted that I left out was the top 32 standings at the end of the swiss. Two Scorpion and 1 Crane went undefeated. Fourteen players went 4-1 including 3 Crab, 3 Phoenix, 3 Dragon, 2 Lion, 2 Unicorn, 1 Scorpion.

      Top 8 based in swiss were 2 Scorpion, 1 Crane, 1 Lion, 1 Crab, 1 Phoenix, 2 Dragon. I’m assuming that was the cut but I’m not sure.

      Despite the size, it sounded like this was a friendly enough tournament and roles were not enforced although many stuck to the one assigned.

  4. Do you have the match results available (preferrably spreadsheet). There is an effort out there to compile metrics for major events.

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