Imperial Cycle – Crane

Imperial Cycle – Crane

With the Imperial cycle finally out, let’s have a look at the Crane specifically to see what cards in the new packs go into their decks.

Out of the core environment, Crane were an unexpectedly aggressive clan who primarily had success with cheap Bushi taking military provinces by themselves backed up by Courtiers who won political conflicts in mass. John Urbanek made it the finals at worlds with his Crane deck, it is has been hard to situate them in the meta as they have had some great performances (Worlds) and some poor performances (PAX and Madrid).

Out of the Imperial cycle, Crane have received a few cards of note, but don’t appear to have made as big a benefit as some other clans. There are 4 new Courtier of note. Doji Shizue and Kabuki Hero are both cheap Courtiers who fit into the existing deck-style. Shizue provides excellent value if you’re able to retain the favor while the Hero is flexible enough to support military or political conflicts as needed. At the higher cost band, the Crane receive Doji Representative who can defend, play some actions, and get out after the battle is lost. This forces your opponent to overcommit to any conflict and allows the Representative to participate in two conflicts. The Crane also receive Kakita Yoshi a champion level character who gives Doji Hotaru some competition. The Crane also receive Silver-Tongued Magistrate who can neutralize military defenders with fate, while the main Crane attack assigns in the political conflict. On the conflict side, the card of greatest note is Test of Skill which gives the Crane card draw when they’re bidding low and Policy Debate which the Crane can easily play with their high political skill.


Young Harrier

As Steward of Law and Iuchi Wayfinder have already shown; a 1 cost, 1 military and 1 political conflict character is always going to be useful. This Young Harrier has a number of traits: Bushi, Scout, and Shinobi. Bushi we are already familiar with, Scout has yet to get any cards, and Shinobi has primarily been within the Scorpion. Unlike the Steward and Wayfinder, the Harrier has 1 glory which can help when contesting the imperial favor. The Harriers ability requiring dishonoring the character but protects all your Crane characters from being dishonored until the end of the phase. As the wording differs from Steward of Law, it does look like the Young Harrier protects your honored characters from getting dishonored (although an effect that moves the status token would get around this).

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.

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.

Doji Representative

This is a 3 cost Courtier with 1 Military skill, 3 political skill, and 2 glory. The Representative has an action that moves them from the conflict back home. The stats are similar to that of Kakita Asami but are not very exciting. The ability allows the Representative to assign to a conflict, play For Shame! or Outwit and then get out of the conflict ready to assign to a new conflict. This reuse doesn’t allow the character contribute their skill twice but can be very effective.

Silver-Tongued Magistrate

The Silver-Tongued Magistrate is the Crane’s addition to the magistrate range. Like the others, this is a 3 cost Bushi with 2 military, 2 political, and 1 glory. When this character is attacking, characters without fate do not count to conflict resolution. This is the reverse of the Unicorn magistrate. Where the Unicorn magistrate synergized with Cavalry Reserves the Silver-Tongued Magistrate has no such option. At best, you’re hoping to strip fate from your opponent to make them vulnerable. Typically large characters are going to have an additional investment of fate, with cheaper characters get 1 fate at most. This means the Silver-Tongued Magistrate will be neutralizing cheap characters and big characters who have been around for a few turns. While it does have some issues, I’m not sure this is a character who is going to see play.

Origami Master

This 4 Fate cost Shugenja has 1 Military, 4 political, and 1 glory. As a Shugenja, he rounds out the Crane Shugenja pool joining the Asahina Artisan and the Asahina Storyteller With the pride keyword, if the Origami Master wins a conflict he becomes honored and if he loses a conflict he becomes dishonored. His ability allows him to move the honored status from himself to another one of your characters. You do need to win a conflict to trigger pride and activate his ability, so initially, the Master is going to effectively be blank. You can, however, trigger Pride and move that honored status token onto another character who can attack or defend the same turn. If you can trigger pride more than once, getting the Master into two winning conflicts, the action to move is still limited to once per turn. It will let you move the status over to the character you need it on now. It will also let you move the status before the Master leaves play to someone who will stick around. Against a Scorpion opponent, you can keep the honored token on the Origami Master until someone gets dishonored and then move the Master’s token to cancel it.

Kakita Yoshi

Kakita Yoshi is a 5 cost character with 3 military, 6 political, 3 glory, and the Courtier trait. Yoshi has an ability that can only be used in a conflict and requires discarding the imperial favor. The effect draws 3 cards and reduces the cost of all events by 2 for the remainder of the conflict. Without the imperial favor, Yoshi is an impressive stat line with the Courtier trait which is very relevant for current Crane decks. Once Yoshi is in play it will be a race to grab the favor, possibly leaving characters unbowed to try to grab it with higher glory. If you can get the favor, you’ll probably be playing a few Test of Skills for free, drawing even more cards. The combination of card draw and cost reduction will almost definitely win you the conflict. In addition, it will set you up nicely for future conflicts and will put you into a strong position to regain the favor for next turn.


Chisei District

This card has all the same issues we talked about with the similar Lion district Hito District. Currently unplayable.


Disdainful Remark

This is a 1 cost event that is keeper only, that means currently Crane cannot play it and it can only be splashed by clans with a keeper role. You need to have a Courtier to play it, and it increases the province strength of the attacked province by the number of cards in your opponent’s hand. Although hand size can vary, it is not unreasonable to expect this to be at least a +4 to the province strength. This isn’t going to stop your opponent from claiming the ring, but it is likely to save the province. Your opponent is going to have to play at least two cards to account for each Disdainful Remark. At only 1 influence it makes a nice addition to any deck splashing Crane. Currently, only Lion and Phoenix have the required Courtiers and a keeper role.

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.

Test of Skill

This 1 cost event can only be played by clans with the Seeker role, luckily Crane currently have the Seeker of Air role. You name a card type and then reveal the top 3 cards of your conflict deck, or 4 cards if you have a Duelist in play. You pick up to 2 cards of that type and add them to your hand. Crane have two Duelists currently: the awesome Doji Challenger and Kakita Kaezinwho has been dropping in popularity somewhat. The Seal of the Crane also gives the Duelist trait.

The best card type to choose with this card is an Event card, as there will be other copies of Test of Skill in the deck. Crane already seem to focus on event actions and will enjoy the card advantage this card gets them. For 1 fate, you cycle 1 card and draw another choosing the best 2 cards from the top 3 or 4 options. Although 1 fate is costly, this does seem worth it. At 2 influence, other clans certainly could play it. Dragon who are also currently Seeker could play this and already have Mirumoto Raitsugu and Mirumoto Prodigy. With Dragon’s focus on attachments, it is likely they would use Test of Skill to draw more attachments. It would mean moving away from the currently popular Crab splash, so it might be something for the future. The only other Seeker clan currently are the Scorpion who although they don’t have Duelists do have a focus on events and love card draw.


Seal of the Crane

This 0 cost attachment gives +0 military and +1 political skill. The attached characters gains the Crane clan symbol and Duelist trait. This is the first of the seals we have seen. A 0 cost attachment for a point of political skill is efficient if not necessarily a worthwhile investment. While the fate to skill ratio is great, it still costs a conflict card and a deck slot. The Crane clan symbol doesn’t mean much right now. The Duelist trait doesn’t yet have a use, but we have seen a spoiled card called Test of Skill which has a minor bonus if you have a Duelist character in play. At only one influence it is an easy splash. This may be a way for players to make story-based actions within the game. For example, a Crane player who is using the Crab Hiruma Ambusher could have that ambusher ‘swear fealty’ to the Crane. Alternatively, a Dragon player could have Togashi Initiate join the Crane. If this were something to happen in a final, the story team could design to run with it and make a big change!

Pillow Book

The Pillow Book is a 0 cost attachment with an action that reveals the top card of the conflict deck until the end of the conflict. As long as that card stays revealed it can be played as if it were in the hand. The closest equivalent to this is Artisan Academy which has mixed popularity, but Pillow Book is also similar to the Unicorn Spyglass. Rather than costing 1, the Pillow Book is free, but you only get to use it once per turn rather than twice, and rather than drawing the card you get the opportunity to use it. If the card is not the right card for the moment, you don’t get to hold onto it, instead, it gets wasted. It also means multiple books are only going to work if you’re able to use that top card each time. Otherwise, you end up revealing the same card over and over unable to use it.

Despite the limitations, this is very likely to see play. Although the effect isn’t as good as Spyglass, Pillow Book is free card draw and for Crane requires no influence. It does conflict somewhat with Test of Skill where you are likely to name event and cannot then draw Pillow Book. Events also have a tendency to be situational, you can’t Court Games in a military conflict. This may result in Crane decks developing into cheap and easy to play cards that will always be useable. At 2 influence, it could be an attractive splash for clans interested in Crane. Dragon especially could get some good use out of it in an attachment heavy deck.

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.


Crane get some nice toys but don’t make significant gains. The main decklist is probably going to stay the same with a variation on the political Courtier army being the main push with solo Bushi focusing on the military. As they have a seeker role, Crane can make good use of the Crab splash with Pathfinder’s Blade but could easily go Lion for A Legion of One instead.

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2 Replies to “Imperial Cycle – Crane”

  1. In my experience, 14 non-Events is way too many if you’re trying to get Test of Skill to work consistently. Bear in mind you usually won’t have a Duelist in play so you’ll only be seeing 3 cards.

    Also, in my experience the Ornate Fan is a more important card than it was in the past in order to get Policy Debate to go off. I’ve had more than one game where 4 Politics was the lowest value on the other side of the table.

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