The Art of the Duel

The Art of the Duel

Today we have a guest article by Alex Jacobs (from The 6th Ring Rolling in Rokugan podcast) who goes through some of the subtleties of dueling to prepare us for the Children of the Empire environment.


Some men will tell you of their duels as if they were counting stones on the shore. I cannot do so. I do not know how many duels I have fought, and I cannot tell you how many breaths I have taken.

Kakita, The Sword

Few scenes are as iconic as two warriors about to do battle, each taking the measure of the other, each waiting for the single movement that will begin the end. Whether it is a pair of old west gunfighters ready to draw iron or boxers in the ring, this lethal test of physical skill has long captured our imagination.

In L5R, this scene is embodied in the samurai duel, two bushi with their blades ready, each prepared to cut down the other in a single stroke. While long-divorced from its real-world martial counterpart, iaijutsu dueling has become one of the most iconic aspects of L5R. Up until recently, dueling in the LCG had failed to capture the interest for the players. The core set included only three duels (Kakita Kaezin, Mirumoto Raitsugu, and Duelist training), only one of which was splashable, so few players had any experience running duels.

Now, however, we have an entire set that expands the realm of dueling. Children of the Empire touches on nearly every aspect of the duel mechanic, from the prizes for winning and penalties for losing to the methods of bidding Honor. Every clan now has at least one character with a printed duel. The role of dueling in the game is expanding, so it behooves every player to become familiar with it because you will almost certainly face it.

“I have spent many years on the road, and I have fought forty-seven duels, and I have never lost. This is because I employ a technique that has no anchors to tradition. My school is called niten, for I use both of my swords, not just the katana. Those who ask why do not understand my thinking. They will attempt to build a house with nails but no hammer…”

Mirumoto Hojatsu, Niten

Dueling is powerful, but it can also be expensive. Repeated duels can bleed one’s Honor, even if one wins, and wantonly resetting the Honor bid dial can have disastrous effects when combined with the Composure mechanic. Or more simply: if you don’t understand how duels work, you will make bad choices when faced with them. This article exists to help players who aren’t familiar with that side of the game make better choices.

I’ve been running dueling since core and may have been the first, though not the only, player to achieve Hatamoto status running a dueling deck. While I followed and experimented with other decks since the game’s launch, I’ve always come back to dueling. Most recently I won an Elemental Championship with a Children of the Empire dueling deck. This isn’t to say that I’m the best dueling player in the game, but I am likely the most experienced. Today I’d like to share some of my thoughts with you.


The Nature of Dueling

Dueling is a natural art, one which must be practiced before all other things, and whose reward for perfection is nothing more than life itself. Wielding a sword should be as natural as being alive. The sword must live within you. The stances are its walk, and the rhythm of the swing is the speech of the warrior. Honor is the heart of the duel – the breath and the blood of the sword.

Kakita, The Sword

Before we can get into how to use duels more effectively let’s do a quick recap of the mechanics:

D. Duel Timing
D.1 Initiate a duel.
D.2 Establish the challenge.
D.3 Duel honor bid.
D.4 Reveal honor dials.
D.5 Transfer honor.
D.6 Calculate dueling statistic.
D.7 Add honor bid, compare values, and determine result.
D.8 Apply duel results.
D.9 Duel ends.

L5R Rules Reference

When a duel initiates, the involved players each make an Honor bid much like when card draw happens. Whoever bids higher gives the difference in Honor to their opponent. Then the bids are added to the involved characters’ Skill. Whoever has the higher total and whoever has the lower total loses (if totals are equal then there is no loser or winner).

That’s it. Bid Honor and add to a static number. Seems simple, right?

But let’s look at what’s not here. What didn’t we talk about?

Well, we didn’t talk about what happens to the winner and loser. And we’re not going to, while they matter to a given duel, they don’t matter to the concept of dueling. Those are the stakes of the duel, and the stakes change every single duel, but they’re not what the duel is.

At its heart, a duel is a bet, and what we’re betting is how much we think the other person is going to bet.

Now the bet itself has two components: Skill and wager. The Skill comes from the Character and the wager comes from an Honor bid. Once the duel begins the Skills are set so the only thing we can affect is the Honor bid. We can use that Honor bid to modify the bet, and so what we’re really doing is calculating how much we need to do so in order to win and how much we should do so in order to win. If the other participant’s Skill is too high, we don’t need to bid more than 1 because we can’t win, and if we’re too high we don’t need to bid more than 1 because we can’t lose, but if they’re close, or even if they’re equal, we need to decide not only what we’re going to wager but do so while trying to understand what our opponent is going to wager too.

Dueling isn’t a mini-game; it’s a wager. It is a wager on what you think your opponent will wager. Everything else is extrapolated from this.

Okay, dueling is a wager. So what?

It matters because when one understands the wager it changes how one approaches the duel. It’s no longer about the stakes but about forcing your opponent to make a bet with you. Duels are very dull mechanically but psychologically there’s an awful lot going on.

Let’s jump in.


Strategies

Your stance should never change, not from peace or time of war. Natural, natural, natural! The way you stand with a sword in your hand is the same way you stand with a tea cup in your hand. If you fight as you stand, your stance is natural and you do not need to shift your mind.

Mirumoto Hojatsu, Niten

There was a trope in the old L5R card game, which is still relevant, “Dueling is not a win condition.” You can run every dueling card in the game and win every duel, but if they don’t advance a win condition for you, you’ll still lose the game.

Every deck needs a strategy. Roughly put, a strategy is a plan to win the game. It sounds trite, but it’s actually pretty damn important because if we don’t know how we’re going to win, we’re going to have a hard time getting there.

There are 3 ways to win a 2 player game of L5R: honor, dishonor, and conquest. Dueling can help each of them but in different ways. Let’s go over them:

Honor: Because duels can transfer Honor between players, it is possible to achieve an Honor victory with a dueling deck. Several cards support this – most notably Kakita Blade, but we’ll talk about that one later – but not enough. I suspect Crane will be able to do more with dueling Honor when their new pack comes out, but for right now it’s probably a poor strategy.

Dishonor: The Dishonor duel deck functions very similar to the Honor duel deck: the goal is to create duels that disadvantage your opponent to bait out high bids from them. Eventually, your opponent is so low on honor that they have to stop high bidding which not only means you start to auto-win your duels but also means they have to stop bidding for cards during the draw phase. The dishonor duel deck is a heavy control style deck.

Conquest: In this style of deck, you care less about the Honor gains and losses and instead focuses on dueling effects, the stakes as we said earlier. This deck seeks to have significantly higher starting skill than the opponent in a duel so that the effects are guaranteed or can be guaranteed with a relatively low Honor transfer. Conquest duel decks are often of the Voltron style, building up massive characters loaded with attachments.


Tactics

The three initial attacks are to confuse an enemy, to strike at the mind; to engage with the steel of the sword, to strike at the body; and to intimidate an enemy with your chi, to strike at the spirit. To succeed in any one of these is to defeat your opponent.

Kakita, The Sword

If a strategy is a path to victory, tactics are the stops along that path. The first thing to understand about dueling tactics is that the ideal duel is one where no matter the outcome you’re happy with the results. How can we make that happen

The first thing to understand about dueling tactics is that the ideal duel is one where no matter the outcome you’re happy with the results.

The fine folks at the Jade Throne Podcast teach a very simple but important lesson to new players: when sending characters into a conflict know what your goal is. Is the goal to break the Province? To resolve a Ring effect? To force your opponent to defend? To force your opponent to spend resources? To simply flip the Province card face-up? All of these are valid, but a player who doesn’t know their goal will wind up over- or under-committing resources to the conflict and find themselves in a bad spiral.

Duels are very similar: know what you want to get out of a duel. Some examples:

  • Bully Duel – You can’t lose no matter the bids (i.e. your character is already 5 skill higher than your opponent’s).
  • Honor Bullying – Skills are reasonably close but your opponent is so low on Honor or you’re so high that they can’t afford to wager (i.e. There’s a two point Skill difference but your opponent is at 1 Honor or you’re at 24).
  • The No-Lose Situation – The duel has a consequence that doesn’t harm you or a reward that doesn’t benefit your opponent (i.e. Prudent Challenger doesn’t have any attachments but a character with 3 Fate and a Spyglass).
  • The Dilemma – Your opponent has to choose between two equally bad outcomes (i.e. suffer a heavy penalty if they lose the duel or give you so much Honor they come in range of dishonoring out).
  • Secondary Victory – The duel has no significant effect (i.e. using Duelist Training to duel an already-bowed character) but sets up a secondary interaction (i.e. drawing a card off Proving Ground, allowing Magnificent Triumph to be played on the next action).
  • The Bleed – The duel’s effect is secondary but forces Honor transfer with Mirumoto Daisho or Iaijutsu Master.
  • The Sacrifice – Intentionally overbidding in order to reduce your Honor for another effect (i.e. bringing Hida Yakamo’s ability online).
  • The Dive – A duel where it’s more beneficial for your opponent to win (i.e. using Honest Challenger to force your opponent to bring in one of their characters).
  • The Distraction – The duel’s effects are less important than changing Honor dials (i.e. bidding 1 to make sure your opponent doesn’t have Composure).
  • The Honorable – Where everyone in the duel is even. You can win the duel but you’ll have to wager Honor to do so and figure out what your opponent will wager

Know which situation you’re in at the start of every duel because that tells you how invested you need to be in winning and how invested your opponent

Who Cares About Winning?My Opponent DoesMy Opponent Doesn’t
I DoBoth Care
You’ll probably have to bid at least the minimum for this one if you’re up on Skill. If you’re only slightly lower, consider bidding 5 if you can afford it.
Just Me
If you have to pay, you have to pay. Odds are your opponent will low-bid this one, unless they have a vested interest in making sure you don’t win (in which case you’re in the wrong box. They care).
I Don’tJust Them
They’re going to have to make the best play they can. If you can afford it, low-bid to take their Honor. The good news is they can’t do this a lot so future duels should get cheaper.
No One
Good news! You can save your Honor. Low-bid this one and enjoy your secondary benefit, whatever that is.

One oft-overlooked aspect of duels is that because they can cause massive Honor swings they can have quite profound effects on card draw. If CotE changes the bid-5 meta, it is likely to be not a result of Composure but the Honor swings from duels.

Most of us are familiar with how Honor bleeds out from the game over time and so by after several rounds most players have switched to bidding 1, but a dueling tactic tends to get one there a lot faster. This can be an asset for your deck as you push for a dishonor victory, a control tactic to force hand control, or a liability if you need a lot of cards to make your deck work. Know this and plan accordingly. Often the key to a successful dueling deck is to be the player to kick off the 1-bid portion of the game before one’s opponent can. While it does result in a temporary card disadvantage, a board of strong dueling characters will make up for the card deficiency.

I often tell other players, that the goal of my dueling deck is to turn off the Conflict decks and have us both play with our Dynasty decks. Decks that rely on playing lots of cards from hand tend to do poorly against dueling decks since they can’t get the tools they need to push their win condition.

Finally, one important aspect of dueling decks is that because they require a substantial investment in one or two characters, they strongly focus on Voltron-style play. That’s not a bad thing but it is something to be aware of. While we won’t get into all the specifics of Voltron-style play here, keep that in mind with your tactics: spend a turn or two just buying cheap dudes to build up Fate reserves, use armor such as Finger of Jade and Above Question to deal with the myriad kill effects that have become prevalent (bridge-throwing is a thing), and do what you can to get your Voltron into multiple conflicts (Favorable Ground, Indomitable Will, et ).


Dueling Cards

You will know your enemy by his weaknesses. The Vain Enemy can be fooled with humility. The Negligent Enemy can be defeated with detail. The Angry Enemy can be drawn off balance. The Exhaustible Enemy tires himself quickly. The Cowardly Enemy defeats himself. Learn this, and you will never be defeated.

Mirumoto Hojatsu, Niten

We’re going to look at some splashable dueling cards, then we’re going to look at the clan-specific Duelists. Both Imperial Advisor and Wardens of the Midwest did phenomenal card-by-card reviews, so I’ll do my best to avoid repeating them here. Instead, we’re going to focus on how to best utilize these cards in one of our dueling strategies.

Splashable Cards

Duelist Training – This card is the heart and soul of just about any dueling deck (Dragon can run a dueling strategy without it using Raitsugu, Hitomi, and Mirumoto Dojo, but even then I recommend it be included in the Dragon dueling deck). For the past eighteen months, I’ve been making the case that this is the most underrated card in the game and while I don’t think anyone thought it was a bad card, the tools to utilize it weren’t really there and so it got dismissed. Early reviews of cards out of core even agreed that the card was good but needed more to make it work and so it was largely forgotten. Because of that, I’m going to take a bit longer to talk about this card than others.

The obvious benefit of Duelist Training is that for 1 Fate you get a reusable bow effect. That is huge. If we spend 1 Fate to bow a character for a single turn with Mirumoto’s Fury or Against the Waves, this card should be phenomenal. And it is! But it also has more restrictions: you need an opposing character with high Military skill, whether your goal is to win the duel or draw out your opponent’s resources. As such it invariably requires other cards to make it go off: weapons for Military pumps, Banzai’s, and the like. Up until now, that’s limited Duelist Training’s utility, but now there are other cards that synergize with it, and that has made it worth the investment. If you can get the card up and running, it pays dividends in any style of duel deck.

Kakita Blade – This was a very misunderstood card when it came out, appearing to be the Crane counterpart to Honored Blade, a component of an Honor-run dueling deck. Now to be fair, I expect that when we get the Crane dueling Honor-runner, this card will be a part of it, but that’s not currently its role in a dueling deck. The Kakita Blade is a useful card in the conquest dueling deck because it makes it less risky to wager Honor in a duel. If I know that I get an Honor back when I win the duel, I don’t have to be as afraid to spend Honor to guarantee a win. Furthermore, it puts more Honor into the game, so we reach the bid-1 phase slower than in other dueling builds. Obviously the card combos with Policy Debate and Game of Sadane, the latter of which will be of interest to Crane players who often lament that one needs to be Honored in order to win Game of Sadane, though I consider these instances of niche utility.

Mirumoto Daisho – I find this card very interesting, not only because it’s clutch for the Dishonor duel deck (and later the Honor-runner) but also because it’s one of only four cards in the game that change how the wager portion of a duel works (other cards are: Iaijutsu Master, Contingency Plan, and Akodo Kage). It also is the only card in the game that guarantees composure. Wardens of the Midwest was very down on this card which is, admittedly, very incompatible with traditional styles of play, but it opens up a lot of new styles. As I said in my deck report from the Glen Burnie Elemental Championship all 3 of my top cut matches were won with a final Dishonor push by Mirumoto Daisho and Iaijutsu Master. This card is clutch in any dishonor dueling build and probably in the Honor-runner as well. I question how potent it is in the Conquest build but might be worth experimenting with, though I can think of one exception that we’ll get to below.

Iaijutsu Master – I love how this card is the inverse of Mirumoto Daisho and has a very similar effect, but while Daisho is pre-bid, Iaijutsu Master is post-bid. Master has the distinction of being cheaper and non-Restricted but provides less of a skill bonuses and as it is a reaction its only useable once per round. Finally, as it can only be attached to characters with the Duelist trait, it’ll be hard to fit into non-Crane or Dragon decks. That said, I think this card has a place in any dueling deck by either those clans. Obviously, it helps the dishonor/honor game, but it’s also critical in conquest dueling to reduce variability in bidding. Recommended, at least in limited quantity.

Seal of the Crane – This card was a surprise break-out star in my testing, turning on Iaijutsu Master and, in Dragon, Mirumoto Dojo at unexpected times. As has been pointed out about Seal of the Dragon, in a worst-case scenario it still acts as a fan-lite. If you’re running Iaijutsu Master in any dueling style consider tossing in one or two Seals as a backup.

True Strike Kenjutsu – What, a dueling card that’s not Dragon or Crane? I think Wardens of the Midwest nailed their assessment here the card’s uses and limitations and Joe made a good point about how the card is better splashed into other clans with higher base Military Skills – Crab, for example – but they missed how to use it. True Strike Kenjutsu is the embodiment of a “happy either way” duel. Most characters who attach this will never have high enough base Military Skill to auto-win a duel, but they’ll almost always have enough to threaten to win. As such it forces your opponent to consider whether a duel is worth trying to win. The card is great in both the Dishonor and, eventually, Honor-runner dueling decks, though lousy in conquest, and I could see Lion pushing that in the future.

Proving Grounds – This card is very hit-or-miss when it goes off, but I still think it a necessary part of any deck that’s going to be running duels. Because dueling decks shut down draw bids early on, they need an alternative way to get their cards, and Proving Grounds provides just that. While they only add to the benefit of winning of a duel, that benefit is one-sided (unless your opponent has their own Proving Grounds out). It can make bidding Honor in duels essentially bidding Honor for card-draw with other perks. The main danger is that they clog up Provinces, but since dueling decks tend to go with a Voltron build anyway, that’s not the worst thing.

Aspiring Challenger – I think this card will have a purpose but I don’t know where it will be. We’ll need more cards that use the Duelist keyword to find them. The problem is that, like the Clan Challengers (see below) the stats aren’t good enough to win the duel while the 2 cost makes investing in the character somewhat dubious. He does have some niche uses, like being a cheap Favor stealer if you can turn on his Composure, and he sets up No-Lose duels fairly easily.

Righteous Magistrate – This card has a weird effect on dueling in that all duels become bully duels since the bids don’t matter… except for the Distraction duels. Keeping her around to reset bid dials isn’t the worst idea but for a 3 Fate character that’s a very expensive idea.

Storied Defeat – This card has gotten a lot of talk on the Dragon Discord and I have to admit, I’m not impressed by it. The problem is that because dueling decks switch to the one-bid so quickly, one-use events are less viable than in traditional decks (this is one reason attachment-heavy decks tend to do well with dueling). I actually see it better in decks that run dueling as a support tactic rather than a primary tactic as it combos much better with the game’s Political duels than it does the Military ones.

Civil Discourse – This card has gotten no discussion. As we’ve seen from other cost-increasing cards (i.e. Ageless Crone, Utaku Tetsuko) players usually play around them. Spending one Fate for the event, possibly a bunch of Honor as well, all so that your opponent has to play around a one Fate cost is a niche effect at best. Not worth it for its effect and there’s better ways to trigger duels for other benefits.

Magnificant Triumph – If this ability were a Reaction, this card would be in every dueling deck. As an Action, there are too many things that could go wrong before it gets used. Moreover, it’s an event and as we said, dueling decks tend to be attachment-focused. It’s not the worst card and does have a number of uses, not the least of which is being able to keep a single dueling Voltron home to protect Provinces or one’s stronghold, but I can’t imagine giving up the deck space.

Challenge in the Fields – A very powerful move home effect and it’s free! Best of all is the flexibility. This duel can fall into any number of types; it’s easy to make it a bully duel if you have decent Military Skill and numbers on your side, you can target your own weak character to get an easy withdraw if the Conflict isn’t going your way, or any of the other dueling tactics we discussed above.

Defend Your Honor – Let’s be clear, this is not Censure for Military clans.  Due to the limitations on DYH (only works during a Conflict, must have an opposing Character who can participate in a Military Duel) this card won’t cancel everything you want it to do. What it will do is act as a trigger for duel reactions and make your opponent spend Honor to utilize their events (ever seen an Assassination cost someone 6 Honor? It’s not pretty). Obviously, this card is great with Bully Duels, but since your opponent picks their defender that’s often not an option. Instead, look to use this when it’s a No-Lose Situation, a Secondary Victory, or a Bleed.

Contingency Plan – A core card that has new life breathed into it. CP is obviously good for the flexibility it allows in duels – think of it as a one-use Iaijutsu Master – but also because in dishonor dueling this can provide the single point of Honor that ends the game. While it can be tight to slot into most dueling decks, it’s a recommended one-of.

Good Omen– Another core card that, if it were ever going to get new life, now would be the time. Essentially, Composure before there was Composure, Good Omen trades a card for a Fate. Given how many dueling decks go for the Voltron style, the benefits are obvious here, and the card combos brilliantly with Mirumoto Daisho. Alas, the biggest limitation on Good Omen is space in the deck. Recommended as a one-of if you can find room.

Stay Your Hand – Theoretically the meta to half this set. Unfortunately, that’s all it does. Let Go is dead against decks that don’t play attachments and this card is dead against decks that don’t run duels, and I just don’t see enough duels in the environment to warrant the card’s inclusion. For that matter, even when my dueling deck has run up against this card, all it does is slow me down, not stop me. You’re better off learning to fight the duels you’ll see or negating them with Finger of Jade or event cancel.

Clan-Specific

Clan Challengers – Rather than go through each challenger, I’m going to talk about them en masse and then just address the exceptions: these are hard cards to utilize. As two-drops, one generally doesn’t want to invest in them, and with the stats they provide most can’t utilize their duels very well. As such, most don’t fit into any of our dueling tactics.

Loyal Challenger – This challenger is worth discussing since her duel is, by its very nature, a no-lose duel (if she loses she’s already used her ability) and with her 3 Political she can provide a decent threat against a good number of Military characters. As such she’s probably best saved for Military Conflicts to deal with low-Political Bushi. Unlike most of the Challengers, Scorpion can risk investing Fate and buffs on her to draw out an Assassination and then use Forged Edict to save her while still costing their opponent Honor – Honor which in turn makes her duel harder to resist. I don’t think Scorpion can run dueling as a primary tactic right now, but this card plays very well into a dishonor Scorpion build.

Honest Challenger – I love the Honest Challenger because she works great for any number of duel tactics, primarily the No-Lose Situation and The Dive. A lot of her use will depend where an opponent attacks, such as Meditations or Shameful Display and the character you want (theirs or yours) isn’t there. She actually combos beautifully with the original Unicorn box as you can underbid, attack with her at Composure, then when your opponent attacks box her in and harpoon your opponent (easily losing the duel by bidding 1-1 to lose Composure). Or do other weird tricks with Master of the Swift Waves. Like Scorpion, Unicorn aren’t in much position to run a dueling deck (though I maintain that Moto Juro + Duelist Training is sick), but it’s a great trick for the Unicorn arsenal.

Hida Yakamo – The great thing about Yakamo is that he changes the stakes of a duel: without any risk of losing the duel, your opponent has to spend a lot more time thinking about how much you care about winning. As such he’s phenomenal with cards like True Strike Kenjutsu, Duelist Training, and even Game of Sadane (really!).

Kakita Toshimoko – The card Kakita Kaizen should have been. A lot has been said about Toshimoko already and, just in case it wasn’t clear, he’s good. One of the main issues with dueling decks is that they’re slow to build a board, requiring a lot of time to get a Character all the tools they need to win their duels. Toshimoko essentially buys you time. Even if your opponent has a higher Military than you, the stakes for losing the duel are so high that most opponents will be forced to spend Honor to win the duel, which is great pressure for any deck since as the game wears on this becomes less and less viable. If playing against Toshimoko don’t give into temptation; make Crane spend Honor to make him defend successfully so that they can’t keep it up. Note that this trick doesn’t work once Toshimoko becomes Honored with a Fine Katana and Iaijutsu Master, and he’s getting a lot stronger in April when Crane get their new box.

Mirumoto Hitomi – The great thing with Hitomi is that she plays into any style of dueling deck by bowing or dishonoring her opponents. The terrible thing with Hitomi is that your opponents can see exactly what you’re doing and play around it. Hitomi requires a lot of tactical assessment to get full use out of her, but really shines when she has a Duelist Training attached so that she can bow characters then dishonor them or dishonor them and then bow them.

Ide Negotiator – Not a duelist but still well-worth considering. The Negotiator can be a strong counter to your opponent’s dueling tactics, help you deal with Composure tactics, or any number of other tricks. I don’t think Unicorn can get dueling as a primary tactic but it’ll definitely be a good support tactic.

Akodo Kage – When Kage first debuted a number of players saw his potential with dueling but he didn’t get much use in duels since Duelist Training rarely made its way into Lion decks and Policy Debate was already on the Restricted List, so his primary purpose was to keep everyone bidding low. Now he can still serve that role but he also has the benefit of making any duel where you have higher Skill a bully duel. This plays very well into conquest dueling strategies where Honor may not drop that low but Lion can leverage their naturally higher Honor. It works particularly with True Strike Kenjutsu as Lion don’t even need to use Way of the Lion to guarantee themselves an overwhelming Base Skill.

Bayushi Manipulator – While not quite so flexible as Iaijutsu Master or Ide Negotiator, the Manipulator allows one to safely low-bid in duels when one isn’t sure how one’s opponent will bid. Generally, the Manipulator is best bidding below the threshold to tie the duel and then using his Reaction to turn a loss into a tie or a tie into a win, depending on the opponent’s bid, or keeping it low.


Final Thoughts

The world around us is in a constant state of change. Everything is real only in comparison with reality, only with relation to other things. Have no illusions within your heart, sharpen your spirit as you would hone your sword, and when you clear away your clouds of deception you will always emerge victorious.

Kakita, The Sword

It’s worth reiterating once again that the ideal duel is one in which you are satisfied with the results no matter what the outcome of the duel If you’re running duels, be patient about setting them up and look for ways to pressure your opponent. Dueling is a slow-build control style of play, and most players will need time to learn its ins and outs.

Likewise, if you’re facing duels remember that your opponents are trying to set up those win-win scenarios for themselves. If you’re facing a Keeper deck with lots of duels you can bet that they have Defend Your Honor in there, so keep a high Military character on hand just in case. If you’re facing a dishonor deck consider what’s more important to you: winning duels or drawing cards, because you’re going to have to choose one or the other. Reserve your attachment control since most dueling decks need those attachments to fire.

In the end, there’s nothing mysterious about dueling: it’s another way to play the game. Being overly reliant or overly-leery of it is a recipe for disaster. If you haven’t run dueling before, give it a shot. Find what works for you and at the very least know what you’re up against.

“I do not believe I can win, I know I will.”

Mirumoto Hojatsu, Niten

Kijome’s Commentary: When my father defeated Ujimona, he told me afterward, “He was the better swordsman. His skill and technique were better than mine.” I asked then, how did you win? He told me, “Because I knew I would win, and he did not.” Technique and skill can only carry you so far. There will come a time when they will not carry you at all, and all you have to rely on is your knowledge that you can never be defeated. If there is even a single shadow of doubt in your mind, you will fail, and you will die.

Mirumoto Hojatsu, Niten

If you have any comments or feedback please post them in the comments section below. Check us out on the Imperial Advisor websitepodcast, and YouTube channel for more discussion about the L5R LCG.

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