Crab Tactica – Draw Phase

Crab Tactica – Draw Phase

Hida Desora by FStitz

Now that we are out of the Dynasty Phase, we need to talk about the Draw Phase. If the Dynasty Phase is about managing fate, then the Draw Phase is about managing honor.

There are six initial points of information to consider when bidding in the Draw Phase:

  • Your honor count
  • Your cards in hand
  • Your opponent’s honor count
  • Your opponent’s cards in hand
  • Your path to victory, and
  • Your opponent’s path to victory

Altogether, these six points of information create a picture of the game, framed in terms of honor, that leads directly to the question: Is either player in danger of losing due to being dishonored out, or by their opponent achieving an honor win?

As this is a Crab article, we’re going to focus on dishonor.

In the current card pool, Crab, Dragon, Phoenix, and Unicorn don’t have any exceptional resistance to dishonor – so you can likely put pressure on them early and maintain it. Crane, Lion, and Scorpion, however, either possess convenient options for honoring multiple characters, can double resolve rings for burst honor gains, or can steal honor back from you with their stronghold.

Conquest: The old L5R military victory, winning the game by destroying all your opponents provinces.

So, in general, against the first four clans, you can count on dishonor as a potentially game-winning strategy, whereas, against the last three, you are more likely to use the threat of dishonor as a tool to restrict their options while pursuing victory by conquest. (However, it is worth noting now that Phoenix’s self-honoring tools are increasing rapidly in number; their reward for honoring their characters is extreme; and, therefore, by the end of pack 6, they may also be passively resistant to dishonor.)

Intimidating Hida by Sergio Camarena

So now to the practical question: How do I bid?

Unsurprisingly, it depends. But there is one rule of thumb: Don’t bid high when your opponent’s bidding 1 can destroy you.

Bid 1

#Alwaysbidone. Not really though. Bidding 1 is the aggressive, dishonor-focused play. It’s good because it can immediately generate a swing of up to 4 honor. It’s bad because it can leave your opponent with significantly more conflict cards than you, putting you in a position where you can get hammered really hard on turn 1. So when should you do it?

  • When your opponent is low on cards and low on honor
  • When you are flush with cards or have great cards in hand
  • When you want to maintain dishonor pressure
  • When you are up against Crab, Dragon, Phoenix, and Unicorn, and you want to apply serious dishonor pressure turn 1. You can do the same against Crane, Lion, and Scorpion, but it’s riskier.

Bid 2

Similar to 1. Useful because it doubles the number of cards you see, but it only costs you one honor if your opponent bids 1. Bidding 2 can also deny a Scorpion opponent the opportunity to play I Can Swim. Similarly, against Scorpion, when the game is getting tight, Scorpion will bid 2 on the assumption that you will bid 1, so they can give you 1 honor, and then steal it back with their stronghold. If you think that’s a risk, you can risk a 2-bid and potentially end up better off.

Bid 3

This is a common opening bid against the more dishonor-resistant clans, or if you are digging for a crucial card like Assassination, Way of the Crab, Reprieve, or Spyglass. In the worst case, honor-wise, you lose 2 honor. If you can’t survive that, don’t bid 3. Many players looking for a slower dishonor game will bid 3 on turn one, to expand their options, and then switch to bidding 1 for the rest of the game.

Bid 4 and 5

The domain of the brave, the desperate, and people who don’t regularly play against dishonour. These are extremely high bids, utilized in three main circumstances:

  • When you want to immediately start pressing for a conquest victory with a big hand of cards
  • When you need a specific card to answer an urgent threat
  • When you are low on conflict cards and your opponent still has a healthy honor total and is looking to crack your stronghold

Bidding this high too often can cause you to hemorrhage honor and set you up for an ignominious defeat. No card a dishonor deck can play can cost you 4 honor, but bidding 5 can. You have to acknowledge that risk when you choose to bid 5. I would never recommend bidding 4 or 5 against Crab or Phoenix, at least until you are certain your honor is secure. Against Scorpion, bidding 5 is likely also asking for trouble, although you can risk a 5-bid gambit on turn 1 to try to switch their stronghold off for a couple of turns. But be aware that you will almost certainly be bidding 1 for the rest of the game if you do.

Hida Gendi by poibuts

Doesn’t card draw win games?

Absolutely, with a few caveats. The Bid Phase provides the quickest and easiest access to conflict cards. However, each clan has a few additional tools that draw them cards. These always come with costs, but are usually worth cultivating. Second, as with many other aspects of the game, card draw involves some diminishing returns. About half of most players’ conflict decks cost 0 fate, with the remaining cards costing 1 or 2 fate, with some outliers costing more. If your opponent has 8 cards in hand, he can usually play 4 for free. After that, his fate pool will limit the rest of his plays. If he has 5 fate in his pool, he can probably play his entire hand, if relevant. If he has only 1 fate he can probably play 5 cards. So don’t panic too much if your opponent is ahead on cards with a small fate pool. He can only play so much.

Next up it’s time to take about the games namesake, the rings.

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

Hida O-Win

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