Elemental cycle – Dragon

Elemental cycle – Dragon

In this article, we look at the Dragon cards in the Elemental Cycle. We’ve asked Aneil Seetharam to give some of his perspective on the cards. Aneil aka Mindsdesire is the first player to get Hatamoto for the same clan 4 times in the same season, he is also the winner of the Origins Kotei and Gencon Grand Kotei. Currently he is organising the L5R World Cup.

You can find Aneil on the Jade Throne Podcast or on his Youtube Channel.

02. Sacred Sanctuary

Sacred Sanctuary is a Dragon-only Air province, which means it would replace Manicured Garden. Its province strength is very low, at 2,  but its reaction allows you to straighten a Monk character, meaning that a Monk-focused deck should always have a defender. Sacred Sanctuary further incentivizes defending, because the targeted monk character cannot be bowed by an opponent’s effects and will not bow due to conflict resolution. The dream scenario, then, is to have a big monk who attacks and bows out, followed by an opponent declaring an attack against Sacred Sanctuary. The monk gets straightened, defends, and wins, and then gets to attack again.

Since the ability is a reaction to a declaration of attack, it can be used on subsequent turns – but only once per turn, since it is still limited by standard rules. Without a Monk in play on its controller’s side, however, Sacred Sanctuary is a blank 2-province strength province. Therefore, a Dragon deck will need to field a large percentage of Monks in its dynasty, something that will hopefully prove viable as the elemental cycle develops.

Sacred Sanctuary (SS) – SS is one of the big reasons to try and force Monks into your deck, between the 1 cost monks, Mitsu and Seal of the Dragon (which can make your non-Monks into Monks) I have found the reliability of SS to be good enough. When this province activates, it’s incredibly strong, even if you don’t have a bowed monk you can still get a free defense out of your character. However, beware of the drawback of “cannot be bowed” and look out for For Shame! which will auto dishonor you. While the fate gain from Manicured Garden is missed, it is easily outweighed by the raw power of Sacred Sanctuary, and I foresee this province being a lynchpin as the monk decks move forward.

– Aneil


16. Ancient Master

The Imperial cycle has shown us that 1 fate conflict characters with 1 military and 1 political are always useful to have. Ancient Master improves the expected stat-line by also having 2 glory, a real rarity in conflict characters. Importantly, this gives the option to drop the Ancient Master after the last conflict to get +2 towards the imperial favor. When played as a character, the Master is pure stats and a Monk trait.

The other option, in the vein of Tattooed Wanderer and Togashi Kazue, is to play the Master as an attachment. As an attachment, the Master allows extra card draw when assigning but only for Kihō or Tattoo cards. As it doesn’t say otherwise, this is limited to once per turn. Currently, the only Tattoo cards are Centipede Tattoo with Hawk Tattoo due to come later in this cycle, alas Tattooed cards do not count. There are 4 KihōMantra of FireMantra of WaterThe Path of Man, and the next card in this pack Hurricane Punch. Out of those, the Mantra can be very unreliable, especially when you have to show it to your opponent. The Path of Man is a Phoenix 4 influence card that you’re unlikely to splash, so really we’re talking about Hurricane punch here. Assuming the two Tattoos and Hurricane Punch are your cards of choice, you have 9 cards in your conflict deck of 40. With this effect, 75% of the time you will draw a card.

Right now, the Master is a fantastic conflict character and an interesting attachment. You will need to think long and hard before you decide to play it as an attachment, what card are you looking for and why is it better than having an extra monk? It is a definite addition to Dragon decks and at only 1 influence could be tempting as a splash even for decks where the ability will not help.

Ancient Master (AM) – AM has seen a decent amount of play in clan and as a splash card since it randomly has 1 influence cost and 2! glory. AM’s most common use so far has been to snipe the imperial favor, but he is also useful for poking as a conflict character and can become quite large when honored or when using the monk kihōs. As the card pool increases, we’ll see him played as an attachment more and more.

– Aneil


17. Hurricane Punch

Hurricane Punch might be the card that finally pushes the Dragon monk deck into the competitive light. As a 0 fate action that draws a card, it would still be good even if it didn’t have an effect. It tightens up your deck and draws you into more powerful cards. That it gives +2 military on top of this definitely does not hurt. The dream, of course, is to Hurricane Punch into a Hurricane Punch into a Hurricane Punch! If the draw gets you another card which adds +2 military, Hurricane Punch essentially is a Banzai! without the honor loss.

As a Kihō, it can be drawn with the Ancient Master or Shrine Maiden. It is also an Air card for Isawa Uona, allowing her to trigger her bow effect. Although a Dragon card, at only 1 influence it is very tempting for a Phoenix Monk deck utilizing the Henshin Disciple and Kaito Temple Protector along with their conflict characters Shrine Maiden and Kaito Kosori. Although most Dragon cards are two influence, Hurricane Punch and Ancient Master are both a friendly 1 influence.

Hurricane Punch (HP) – HP is a pretty sick card, +2 force pump, and a cycle, however in practice it isn’t as “insane” as people were hyping it up to be. Cycling is inherently weaker in a game where you can draw up to 5 cards per turn. You still need to play other military force pumps because if you just play hurricane punch you get trumped by Banzai! Overall HP has been a welcome addition to the dragon deck and is the type of kihō that will push a competitive monk themed deck going forward.

– Aneil


28. Impulsive Novice

This is the Dragon’s entry in the range of characters that gain a bonus when you claim a ring. Unlike the others, this Dragon Monk costs 2 rather than 1 fate. To account for this, he has 2 military and 2 political skill, rather than the normal 1/1, and when you control the fire or void rings, he gains an additional +1 military and +1 political skill, putting him at 3/3. These are both great rings, and void is especially popular for Dragon players, who tend to have key characters they are looking to keep in play for as long as possible. Since Dragon are spoiled for cheap 3/3s with Doomed Shugenja, Impulsive Novice doesn’t seem like the greatest of deals. But the Novice is a Monk, which is a trait that Dragon are currently looking to round out. Like the Doomed Shugenja, the Novice is 0 glory, which is extremely useful, since it minimizes the impact of the dishonored condition. Unfortunately, this does also mean there is little value in honoring the Impulsive Novice, which is somewhat disappointing because the fire ring is one of the two he’s interested in. The Novice also compares to the Togashi Initiate who ends up honored at 3 military and 3 politics if you choose to spend the extra fate to a ring. There are definitely merits to the Initiate being initially cheaper, but since his ability only works on the attack, it isn’t always an option, and also often gives the fate to your opponent. Overall, the Impulsive Novice is an unexciting card. It will find room in decks focused on the Monk trait, but once a more interesting option comes along it is likely he will cycle out.

Impulsive Novice – This dude is the definition of mediocre, the one thing he has going for him is creature type monk. Otherwise, he’s just a vanilla 2/2 and can sometimes be a 3/3. All in all, he might make the cut down the road when we get a monk stronghold, and even then he might not.

– Aneil


33. Adopted Kin

Currently, there are two ancestral items in the game, Ancestral Daishō and Kitsuki’s Method. For much of the last cycle, it was typical to see two to three Ancestral Daishō and one Kitsuki’s Method in a Dragon deck. These were used to support the three Fine Katanas and Ornate Fans already in the deck, so the ancestral keyword wasn’t a priority. Ancestral definitely sees use, however: the Niten Adept often receives an ancestral item because he is vulnerable to Assassination.

Adopted Kin takes a different approach. It gives no inherent benefit to skills and provides no action, so you are unlikely to drop it onto an early or undeveloped board. It will also not help with attachments that destroy themselves, such as Reprieve or Finger of Jade. However, later in the game, when you have a character with two or three attachments who is about to leave play, dropping Adopted Kin before go is going to effectively re-draw those cards, which can be particularly powerful if you’re returning something as powerful asTalisman of the Sun. Adopted Kin can also be used to return cards you’ve play on your opponent’s characters, such as Cloud the MindFormal Invitation, or Embrace the Void.

So, the question then is whether the risk of drawing this card early in the game when it has little value outweighs the benefits that can be reaped later on in the game. At only 1 influence, there is plenty of potential for other clans to splash this, but, inexplicably, it is locked into ‘Fire role only’. Since Dragon currently have a Fire role, there’s certainly some chance this will see play at Worlds, but it seems unlikely Dragon that will be able to retain a Fire role after that. Other clans are less likely to have the attachments needed to make this worthwhile, so the future of Adopted Kin seems uncertain.

Adopted Kin – I’ve seen this card used in practice a decent number of times, it’s always been underwhelming. The issue with cards like this is that they don’t help you win conflicts. Adopted kin has high potential but low impact meaning that it’s a terrible topdeck when the honor gets lower and in the crab splash deck it doesn’t bring back a lot of attachments. With Unicorn attachments, it does have more things to bring back, but at that point, I’d just rather have more cards that impact conflicts. The last issue with the card is deck space, it’s very hard to fit this card in along with all the new monk cards and not be missing something more impactful.

– Aneil


44 Master Alchemist

At 4 fate, the Master Alchemist is on the higher end of the curve for characters, and with only 3 military and 1 political skill, her ability needs to be worth it. As an action during a conflict, you can pay 1 fate to the fire ring (regardless of its current status) to honor or dishonor a character, essentially triggering the fire ring’s effect. Since the Master Alchemist is 2 glory herself, she can become a 5/3 with a small additional investment.

As with all the spend-to-ring abilities, clever management can allow you to quickly reclaim the fate. However, these abilities also come with the risk of handing that fate over to your opponent. But, like many Shugenja, the Alchemist does not need to be in the conflict to take her action. This means you can use her ability to honor herself during a defending conflict, and then attack with her, reclaiming the fate spent. Since her ability it is an action on a character, you can copy it with Togashi Yokuni, and use it twice per turn with Way of the Dragon. These combinations could potentially lock down an entire board if left unchecked for more than a turn.

At 4 cost, the Master Alchemist doesn’t have too much competition in Dragon decks which currently play Niten Master and Kudaka. As the Monk deck develops Togashi Tadakatsu and Ascetic Visionary also gain value. Dragon characters, however, don’t typically have great glory values so the benefits from honoring up may be limited. Nonetheless, the Alchemist seems like a solid addition to any Dragon deck.

Master Alchemist – This card is insanely powerful but is expensive. Targeted honor and dishonor is something that most clans don’t have access to and which makes the Dragon clan having it all the more powerful. It is also incredibly easy to use and has some very favorable rules interactions with its ability. Doesn’t have to participate and the fate goes on the fire ring wherever it is and isn’t taken off unless it becomes contested. All in all, the alchemist is another strong and welcome dynasty upgrade, the only knock is that the turn you buy her is very taxing on your economy.

– Aneil


45 The Wrath of the Kami

With a limit of 1 per deck, The Wrath of the Kami falls into the same category as Kanjo District and Karada District when it comes to design but, unfortunately for the Dragon, this card does not have the same impact. This card trades honor for province strength, potentially saving a province from destruction. Honor is a limited resource, however, so this isn’t a trick you’ll be able to use indefinitely. Current Dragon decks typically bid the maximum 5 to power their conflict deck, leaving minimal honor for other purposes.

As a holding, it is going to randomly appear in one of your main provinces face-up. This means your opponent gets to decide whether they attack it or not with no surprise factor. Since they need to destroy 3 provinces before moving to your stronghold, this card can be essentially ignored by your opponent. It is worth noting that you can use Mountaintop Statuary and Rebuild to move The Wrath of the Kami onto your stronghold, but the return on such an elaborate combo seems minimal. This is not a card we’re expecting to see in competitive decks.

Wrath of the Kami – This card sucks, plain and simple it’s a design flaw that has been pointed out since early on in this game’s life. Compare this card to Miwaku Kabe (I’ll give you a second to look it up), and you’ll see that you need to pay 2 honor every turn to match that card, enough said.

– Aneil


54 Smoke

Smoke is a debuffing attachment reminiscent of the Scorpion set of poisons; Fiery Madness and Tainted Koku. These poisons use stat penalties to control the board, reducing the opponent’s characters skill. Compared to those poisons, Smoke is a little more limited. It only affects non-uniques, destroys itself on use, and only gives a military penalty. Once triggered, the penalty affects your own characters as well as your opponent’s. On the other hand, the -2 penalty is quite impressive and it does give a penalty to multiple characters. As such, it may be very effective against swarm decks.

Currently, the Scorpion poisons see some, but not a lot of play. They primarily appear in heavily defensive decks which are focused on dishonor. Right now that is not an option for Dragon, so if Smoke does see play, it will be as a splash in another clan, or as a specific meta card should the swarm decks Lion and Unicorn are working on ever prove a significant threat.

Smoke – If this card was 0 cost instead of 1 I could entertain playing it, it is very nice vs. unicorn and sometimes lion and crab. However at 1 cost, it’s too expensive for a card that also affects your own characters, it is available if the unicorn hordes become omnipresent so keep it in mind, this is a quintessential “sideboard” card.

– Aneil


64 Volcanic Troll

The Volcanic Troll is all stats. For 3 fate you essentially get a 5 military and 5 political character with no traits of relevance and 0 glory. That +2 / +2 bonus, however, only lasts as long as the Fire ring is unclaimed. A ring can be Unclaimed, Contested, or Claimed so as soon as someone declares a Fire conflict, that bonus is gone for the rest of the turn. If you are going first, you can choose any ring but Fire and keep the bonus. If your opponent is attacking first, they have to decide between selecting Fire to deny you the bonus or a ring they might value more. This is especially relevant as Mantra of Fire is one of the better Mantra cards although unfortunately, the Troll does not have the Monk trait to support it. On the other hand, the Master Alchemist encourages taking the Fire ring, something counter to the Volcanic Troll.

Volcanic Troll – This card gets quoted all the time when people go “Dragon’s cards are so good they don’t even play a 3 mana 5/5!” No one ever considers why? The biggest reason is “no attachments except weapon” this is a huge deal breaker. No Spyglass, Finger of Jade, Reprieve, Seal of the Dragon, Talisman of the Sun, Ornate Fans, etc.… is a huge deal, and the main reason Troll doesn’t see play. The other reason is that the other two 3 drops we have are just better, which speaks volumes about Raitsugu and Investigator. Last of all, vanilla creatures are not that great in mass quantities, stats are nice, and all but abilities are even nicer.

– Aneil


75 Hawk Tattoo

Hawk Tattoo is one of the big cards for the Dragon in this cycle. At first look, this card seems relatively innocuous, a poor version of Favored Mount that can only be used once. Once you realize it can be played on an opponent’s character you can see the real power of this card. At a cost of 1 fate, you can pull any opponent into the conflict, a ‘harpoon’ effect. This can be used to move a powerful military character info a political conflict, to force the character that stayed behind to defend into the attacking army, to move a character with a powerful ability into a conflict where they cannot use it. One drawback here is if you play it on an opponent’s card they will benefit from the +1 Military skill bonus which will stick around until the character or the attachment leaves play. Even that can be a bonus, however, when your opponent runs into Feast or FamineHawk Tattoo will make sure the province breaks by pulling in whatever skill is needed (even negating Cautious Scout).

In addition, you can still use it to move in your own characters, and if that character has the Monk trait, get a minor tempo boost by being able to take the next action. The same is also true if you harpoon an enemy Monk. The movement is especially relevant with the Ascetic Visionary who can be moved into a conflict bowed and then use his ability to straighten. With the incredibly strong harpoon effect and the extra utility as a +1 military attachment that can move your own character in, this is a fantastic addition to all Dragon decks. It will be a card that your opponents will need to anticipate and will become a key element of all Dragon decks going forward.

Man, has this card been divisive, it is an incredibly versatile card, and when played there is no recourse, it just happens. This is especially frustrating when it gets played as a harpoon on opponent’s characters and can lead to massive blowouts including bowing out your opponent’s board, setting up cards like Feast or Famine and even Fallen in Battle or messing up the solo participating characters like Brash Samurai and Cautious Scout. It also can be used to move your own characters in if your opponent under defends, you get coverted or you need to move a bowed character in. This card is clearly very powerful, but its power comes from its diversity of uses, and I expect errata in the future.

– Aneil


86 Togashi Mitsu

Mitsu has below-expected stats for a clan-champion-costed character, but champions are supposed to be above the normal curve. With 3 glory, he is a great target to honor but also a liability if your opponent can dishonor him. To make up for his so-so skill scores, Mitsu has the fantastic Covert keyword. Typically, Covert is given to characters with a focus on either military or political, like Political Rival, Unassuming Yōjimbō, or Hiruma Skirmisher. Mitsu, in contrast, is like the Crab staple Kaiu Shuichi, who has evenly balanced military and political skills. This is incredibly powerful with Covert, since you can choose the conflict type your opponent is weakest at and remove your opponent’s best character, a combination that can often win a conflict before it starts. 

Then we get to Mitsu’s ability. As we regularly mention on the show, recursion is one of the pillars of degeneration, and, let’s face it, we all want to play the most degenerate filth we can. Mitsu’s recursion, however, is very specific and is limited to a small pool of cards. For the Monk trait, Mitsu allows to return to play (paying costs) Ancient Master, Tattooed Wanderer, and Togashi Kazue. These all can be played as characters in or outside the conflict, or onto characters inside or outside the conflict as attachments. From the Phoenix Clan, we also have Kaito Kosori and, more importantly, Shrine Maiden. Recursing a Shrine Maiden has the potential to draw a lot of cards. Looking under Kihō we have Hurricane Punch and Void Fist. The Mantra cards are Kihō, but, as Reactions, are not eligible. Hurricane Punch is a great option, since it also draws you into an additional card, while Void Fist is a great problem solver. Since both Kihō are actions, they will return to your conflict deck after resolving, allowing them to be drawn again. Importantly, Mitsu is a Monk, giving him access to all those lovely Monk cards.

Finally, we have the Tattoo cards of Centipede Tattoo and Hawk Tattoo. We talked about Hawk Tattoo in the previous pack. It is a powerful and flexible card that has a range of tactical options. Centipede Tattoo is, on the face of it, much less powerful, but it may start to see more play in the new Monk deck. Any of these cards are worth (re)playing with the ability, though you do have to get them into the discard pile first. Mitsu’s ability can be copied by Togashi Yokuni and does work with Way of the Dragon which may start appearing in decks again. As a big Monk character, he is perfect for Sacred Sanctuary. Mitsu is an absolutely fantastic character that might possibly be the best character Dragon have, and given the strength of the Dragon Dynasty deck, that is a high bar. Expect to see Mitsu a lot.

The main man is here, and holy crap is he monstrous! With solid stats, built in covert and one of the best abilities a dynasty character has ever had, it’s no surprise. Look, Mitsu is clearly pushed, and I love every second of it. His power will continue to grow as more and more playable kihōs, monks and tattoos get added to the card pool. There’s not much else to say about this card other than he’s really fun to play with!

– Aneil


94 Void Fist

During the Imperial Cycle, while Dragon had one of the strongest decks, it still had only limited ways of dealing with opposing threats. Void Fist is the answer to that. While it does require a little bit of setup, with Dragon’s focus on conflicts, playing two cards from hand isn’t particularly difficult. Crucially, attachments count. If you are playing any of the Mantras, they also count towards this, so if you have two of the right Mantra in hand, you could play Void Fist as your first defensive action. The requirement to have equal or more military skill than your target can be a difficulty. Many Dragon Monks are actually quite small, 1-fate characters. Luckily, Void Fist isn’t limited to a military conflict, so you can use it in a political conflict to remove a high-political-skill, low-military-skill character. As Lion’s Pride Brawler as also shown us, the difference between greater than or greater or equal than is pretty big and luckily Void Fist is on the right side of that.

The effect moves the target home and bows it. This essentially ‘kills’ a character for a turn. They’re out of this conflict and, without some additional card effect, they aren’t going to be assigned to another conflict. This effect is like Mirumoto’s Fury, but, once you get past the requirements, can be used on the attack as well as the defense, and costs 0 fate. This is a gamer changer for Dragon decks and will be a staple for Monk decks going forward.

Void Fist (VF) – This is the other card that solidifies the monk addition to most if not all Dragon decks moving forward. VF is incredibly strong and is only short of straight up broken due to its setup requirement. I am hesitant to call the setup a cost as you can sequence your plays around it enough that it doesn’t hurt you at all. Usable in both mil and pol along with having the LPB text of equal or less means it can hit dashes, looking at you pol rival, and you have one of the strongest pieces of interaction in the game.

– Aneil


106. Agasha Shunsen

Agasha Shunsen naturally draws comparisons to the Agasha Swordsmith. Both are Shugenja with similar stats who fetch attachments. At a glance, for an increased cost of 3 rather than 2 fate, Shunsen merely offers 1 higher glory. Not really an incentive. It does mean Shunsen is not vulnerable to Assassination, though, which is a constant worry when the Swordsmith enters play. With no benefit coming from his stats, we would then hope that Shensen’s ability is a little better. So, rather than looking at the top five cards with the Swordsmith, Agasha Shunsen can go search your entire deck to find the attachment he needs. Furthermore, you don’t need to pay the attachment’s fate cost to equip it! However, this comes with a pretty severe condition: you must return at least one of your claimed rings, and the attachment must cost equal to or less than the number of rings you return. In addition, his action can only be taken during a conflict. While an undeniably steep cost, returning a ring opens up one nice tactic: attack and claim a ring, then, during your opponent’s conflict, return the ring so you can attack and claim it a second time.

So, how does this work in practice? You can claim a ring on attack or defense; you just need to make sure you win the conflict. Therefore, claiming one ring should reliable enough. If you do so, then, during the next conflict, you can go through your deck for any attachment card you need that costs 0 or 1 fate. As the effect says ‘attach’ and not ‘play’, you get a minor cost saving in ignoring the cost of the attachment (unless we get a ruling to contradict that). Unfortunately, you can only target your own characters with Shunsen’s ability, so no easy Cloud the Mind or Hawk Tattoo on an enemy character. In addition, you can’t fetch any of the Dragon characters that can be played as attachments. Since the action has to be taken during a conflict, winning a ring during the last conflict will be of no use. This means that, at most, we’re looking at fetching a 3-cost attachment at the cost of returning all your rings. Although Shunsen is unique, Way of the Dragon and Togashi Yokuni do open up the possibility of using his ability multiple times in a turn, but that is also limited by the number of rings you can claim.

The big issue with his ability is losing the Imperial Favor. Dragon decks have leaned heavily on Censure and get a great bonus with Agasha Sumiko, so the Favor has become a key resource. Losing rings typically means losing the Favor and losing all of these options. For a deck that doesn’t focus on getting the Favor, however, Shunsen is a flexible card that lets you draw exactly the right attachment for one of your characters, and he may definitely find a place.

Agasha Shunsen – When I first saw this card I had my reservations, everyone was saying “OMG a tutor!!!” and trust me I know tutors are almost always broken. That said his stats were so below curve that I was finding it hard to justify buying him and then getting his ability to trigger. I found myself just not buying him and opting for other characters instead, then I just hunkered down and force bought him every time I saw him.

The results were not as bad as I thought they would be while his stats suck, there’s no denying that, he is worth investing fate into and if you pump him enough he can win conflicts. He also discourages some poke attacks and pairs incredibly well with Unicorn splash to grab Spyglasses out of your deck. Spyglass is one of the biggest snowball cards in the game and guaranteeing that you get them online is one of the best things you can do with him. I wish his ability could be used outside conflicts, he’d probably be too good then, since it has really weird timing to remember in a conflict. All in all, Shunsen, while not great, has definitely become good in my estimation and in practice.

– Aneil


115. Mantra of Earth

Mantra of Earth, and mantra number three, is for the element of earth. It has similar requirements to the previous two, and draws a card as well. The effect appears quite powerful, since being immune to an opponent’s card effects provides a huge degree of assurance that you can at the very least contest – if not win – that particular conflict. However, any actions that could not be played due to Mantra of Earth will be playable in the next conflict. This means you’re only delaying the inevitable to a certain extent, but tempo considerations are valuable in this game. Furthermore, the Mantra feeds into the Monk mechanic of rapidly cycling your conflict deck, and all card draw effects reinforce all other card draw effects you have, so the cycling effect on its own is not to be underestimated. Mantra actions are also considered to be played during a given conflict, so they will help to power up Void Fist.

With a third mantra, the number of rings your opponent can safely declare reduces further, and Mantras themselves can be pretty great. They offer a completely free benefit with no downside. However, when your opponent doesn’t declare the right element, or you don’t have a Monk to target, they can sit dead in your hand. Never a good feeling. Playing Togashi Tadakatsu does make these Kihō a lot more consistent, but may also force you into giving your opponent a ring you’d rather they didn’t have, just to activate a mantra. But as long as you’re not necessarily attached to such worldly concepts as ‘value,’ you should be okay.

Mantra of Fire remains the mantra of choice, with a clear benefit. Mantra of Earth is easier to trigger than Mantra of Water, but doesn’t have as impactful an effect. While the mantras may seem like ‘fun’ cards, the sheer volume of card draw they can generate is not to be underestimated. What remains to be seen is whether somebody can focus them into a tournament-winning deck.

Mantra of Earth – The effect is actually pretty nice; however, my stance on mantras has been that they aren’t worth real card slots. They have medium to good abilities when they fire, but the Mantra are situational when that occurs. Even though they replace themselves, you end up with a large portion of your deck being these situational cards, and so you just don’t have a lot of cards that help you win conflicts. If you want to play the mantras, then this is the second best one behind Mantra of fire.

– Aneil


116. Being and Becoming

Being and Becoming is a super interesting attachment for a number of reasons. While bowing a character essentially takes them out of the game for a turn, if you have an action ability to straighten them, or win a water challenge as the attacker, the major downside of the card can be ameliorated. At its most basic, this card can be used to gain additional turns for a character by moving additional fate to them from a ring. If you were to do this for only 1 fate, you would essentially be trading one turn spent bowed turn for another turn in the future turn, which would, at best, be of extremely situational use. If you had a repeatable straighten effect, you could use the ability each turn to top up your character with fate, but few such effects exist. To compare: Reprieve is a fantastic attachment costs 1 fate cost to essentially add 1 fate, and requires none of the hoop-jumping Being and Becoming demands. And Being and Becoming is also locked into the Void role, so there must be something more at play here.

And possibly there is. Being and Becoming has an extremely interesting interaction with Jurojin’s Curse. The Curse also is elemental locked to Void, so we can only assume this is intended. To play both cards, you need to be either Dragon and Phoenix, in addition to having a Void role. So, currently, no one can do this, but it’s really only a matter of time. If you have an unbowed character with both Being and Becoming and Jurojin’s Curse attached after Jurojin’s extra fate phase has occurred, you can then bow that character in the fate phase’s action window to move two fate from an unclaimed ring onto them. The double fate phase will mean that each ring will have at least two fate. By doing this, your character can stay in play for the rest of the game, assuming your opponent cannot kill them, triggering a double fate phase every turn.

There are a few more standard cases where Being and Becoming is worthwhile. Being able to keep a high-glory character around to contest the Imperial Favor every turn is pretty cool. Getting a little more fate onto your Niten Master can be good. Are those effects worth 2 fate and a card? Probably not, but this is definitely a card to keep an eye on.

Being and Becoming – The last card in the cycle and it is a weird one, a two cost attachment that takes fate from rings onto a character you control. Now that is a powerful effect, and we even have a fresh new void role to use it! However, it requires the character to bow, so it isn’t very good on most high-end characters and being two cost makes it a prime target for let go, calling in favors and karada district. Jank combo of this + Jurojin’s Curse aside I don’t expect this ever to see play, Way of the Dragon is better and is probably the main 2 cost attachment that would see play before this does.

– Aneil



Closing thoughts – With 7 “A” or higher power cards Dragon made out like absolute bandits! Pair this with the fact that Dragon was already incredibly powerful and you have the beginning of a potential new power atop the throne, until the scorpion pack that is.

L5R World cup – The L5R world cup posts have been made on Facebook and signups for teams, and decklists are up! If you would like to support the effort with prizes, then please contact me via DM either on facebook or discord. Keep an eye out for live streams and follow along cheering for your favorite country!

– Aneil


This article was a team effort. All blame will be shared equally.

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