Meta Check – Worlds 2017

Meta Check – Worlds 2017

Starting on the 1st of November, a total of 317 Legend of the Five Rings players competed to see who would claim the title of Shogun for 2017. At the end of 4 fierce days of battle and intrigue, one player remained. Shogun Samuel Benies claimed that honor for the Lion clan defeating the Crane Hatamoto John Urbanek on the field of battle.

Shogun Samuel Benies of the Lion Clan

In the lead up to Worlds, players were desperately trying to get a grip on what the environment was going to be like. Prior to that, only two big tournaments had taken place. Just after Gencon the Discord channel’s online league kicked off and more recently Greece had a 90 player tournament in Athens. Realistically, most people were still learning the intricacies of the game. Although it only takes a few games to learn the game, really getting to know the options and different ways to play takes some time. Different areas ended up with slightly different approaches and most players’ opinions on clans primarily depended on the skill of their local players. We talked about our own thoughts on the matter on our show and posted a list of the decklists we thought had a chance.

At the end of the day, the top deck was Lion splashing Dragon, second place was Crane splashing Phoenix, third and fourth were Dragon splashing Phoenix and Scorpion splashing Dragon. The top 3 Phoenix all splashed Dragon, the top Crab splashed Unicorn, and the top Unicorn was splashing Lion. In some cases, these were surprises, in others expected.

For day 2, qualification rates favored Crane (46%) and Scorpion (45%) Lion (38%) was close behind with Dragon (33%) and Crab (31%) follow up. Phoenix (255) was surprisingly low while Unicorn’s (11%) poor performance was expected. To qualify, a player needed to have at least a 4–2 performance, but realistically a 5–1 or better was needed to have a shot at Shogun. Looking just at 5–1 the numbers evened out somewhat; Crane (15%) still were the clear favorite but Crab (12%), Dragon (12%), Phoenix (11%), and Scorpion (11%) were all close behind. Lion (9%) trailed a little bit but still outperformed the 2 Unicorn (6%) who qualified out of the 18 players dedicated enough to stick to their clan.

After another two rounds of swiss, the top 23 numbers were relatively well balanced apart from Unicorn and Crab where no player made the top 16 and their representatives were their top of clan in the challenger round.

Let’s have a look at the top decks for each clan (that have been posted) and we’ll look at what worked and what didn’t afterward.

Mark Armitage’s Top 4 Scorpion deck with minor variation below

Brad Emon’s Top 8 Scorpion deck

Joshua Johnson’s Top 16 Scorpion deck


All decks apart from some of the Crane played their clan province. Shameful Display was the void province of choice. Air was split between Fertile Fields and Manicured Garden with the decision appearing to be based on whether the deck favored bidding low (Fertile) or high (Manicured). Meditations on the Tao was the fire province of choice. Clans with seeker roles dropped either the water or earth provinces. Water was uniformly Rally to the Cause. Earth provinces were split with the decision seemingly based on whatever the defending clan was weakest with. Crane and Scorpion played Entrenched Position while Lion and Unicorn played Ancestral Lands. The two Dragon decks had 1 of each, while the Phoenix and Crab decks went for other provinces instead.

Imperial Storehouse made it into the majority of decks. Notable exceptions were Crane who favored Favorable Ground to combo with Guest of Honor and Unicorn who abandoned all holdings. The winning Lion deck did not play Imperial Storehouse, instead sticking to 3 Staging Ground. Favorable Ground was also super popular but didn’t make it into the Unicorn or Phoenix decks.

Almost all decks that could play the Keeper Initiate did so. A smattering of Otomo Courtiers and Seppun Guardsman featured, presumably as cheap skill. Wandering Ronin was a no-show. The Miya Mystic was less popular, 1 copy appeared in the Lion challenger deck presumably an option with the Kitsu Spiritcaller. Two of the Phoenix decks did play 2 and 3 copies, this may have been to support the 3 copies of Supernatural Storm although the third deck also played 3 Supernatural Storm.

The core of all conflict decks was Assassination, Banzai!, Court Games, Fine Katana, Ornate Fan. Typically these were 5 cards had 3 copies each, although occasionally some dropped to 2 copies (and then Mark dropped the Katana and Fan to 1 each wildly bucking the trend). As decks are 40 cards, this meant that all conflict decks are almost 40% identical. Dragon, Phoenix, and Scorpion who had the Shugenja to reliably play Cloud the Mind played at least two copies. Crane, Lion, Phoenix, and Scorpion who had the Courtiers to reliably play For Shame! typically played 3 copies.

Spies at Court was spotty, it didn’t appear in most decks although it did feature in the top Scorpion and Crane decks. There also was a surprise copy in the Crab challenger deck. Charge! appeared in the Crab, Lion, Unicorn, and in some of the Scorpion and Phoenix decks. Notably, the Scorpion appear to have had two successful deck types with Brad Emon and Joshua Johnson enjoying success with a conquest style deck while Mark Armitage piloted a dishonor deck to the top 4. In the conquest style deck Charge! did feature.

Way of the Dragon and Way of the Unicorn did not feature in decks. Way of the Phoenix had 1 copy in 2 of the 3 top 16 decks with the third abandoning it altogether. All other clans played 3 copies. Good Omen appeared in only one deck, of course, that deck was the winning deck which included 2 copies.

Most decks had at least 3 conflict characters, although notably, the winner played none. The Phoenix players also were light on conflict characters with 2 of the 3 in the top 16 having no conflict characters and the remaining deck using the Dragon Tattooed Wanderer. Interestingly, although the top Phoenix players did not, the second place Crane deck did play 3 copies of the Seeker of Knowledge. The most popular characters were those with 1 cost; Iuchi Wayfinder, Tattooed Wanderer, and Steward of Law. Surprisingly 2 of the Scorpion decks played Togashi Kazue although the Dragon played none, this was part of a combo with Yogo Hiroue although on stream Kaze got some good work done as a character.

Dragon and Phoenix were the most popular splashes. Mirumoto’s Fury specifically was the most splashed card, which may have helped Samuel Benies’ rise to the top as Lion were playing 3 Ready for Battle.

In short, there really wasn’t much variation across decks. Dynasty choices were limited by the small card pool so dynasty decks within a clan would vary little. After the core conflict cards were included 40% of the conflict deck is complete. If you can play Cloud the Mind or For Shame! you did. If your characters are useful in a military conflict then you play Charge! Depending on your clan, you probably play 3 copies of your Way of. If you have access to some 1 cost conflict characters they probably work well in the mix. There is obviously some room for flair and style with deck building, but not much.

Those who made it onto this list, the top players, clearly developed their play style working out how their deck worked best and played (almost) perfect games over a grueling 2 days. Considering this, FFG’s decision to release the first 6 dynasty packs over 6 weeks is clearly a good thing for the environment.

If you have any comments or feedback please post them in the comments section below. Join us on our Twitch stream every second Monday at 8pm BST, 9pm CEST, 1pm PST.

Check us out on the Imperial Advisor website, podcast, and YouTube channel for more discussion about the L5R LCG.


6 Replies to “Meta Check – Worlds 2017”

    1. I see my mistake. The deck I had listed was top 16 of the swiss, not top 16. I’ve cut it from the list. I’m delighted to hear Grabriel’s deck was Unicorn splash, I’m a big fan of that deck, great to see it did well.

  1. I hope unicorn will have more decent skills and conflict abilities not only so much movement but also battle abilities especially for the 3 and above fate cost characters. The Stronghold must also have its own strength not only 0 and better ability. I hope whoever is the designer of this clan will improve this because it is a sore eye for those loyal to the unicorn clan. Dont let this clan will be a dismayed..

  2. Agree. Having a better stronghold alone would make the clan a lot more competitive.

    I really want to play unicorn but i can really feel that the cards are underpowered compared to other decks.
    Hopefully they give the unicorn a legit stronghold not just the outpost.
    May be the can make a stronghold that has similar abilitirs to favorable ground. Allowing cavalry to move out of conflict as well to makr opponents over commit their resources:p

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