Inheritance Cycle – Pack 4 – The Children of Heaven

Inheritance Cycle – Pack 4 – The Children of Heaven

Pack 4 is already out and we’ve already completed the video for it, but now we also have the write up!


Fortified Assembly

Right now this is a pretty poor province. On the first attack it is essentially a blank 5 strength province with no ability, making it a really poor version of Pilgrimage in the Air slot. The reaction can only trigger once per turn, but every turn it is attacked it will get bigger making this a potentially scary province to take. Unlike pilgrimage, the winner still gets to trigger the ring if they win, so this is a dream province for decks who like to farm rings. We do have the upcoming Crab pack however, which we know has a ‘fortification’ theme, so maybe some cards in that pack will make us look again at this province.


Emperor’s Summons

As Seeker only and an Air province, this favors, but is not exclusive to, Seeker of Air decks. It has a good 5 province strength and an interesting on reveal effect which lets you go through your dynasty deck and pick out a character to go in a province. The effect lets you place the new character in whichever non-stronghold province you want, so even if you’re going to lose this province you can place the character in another one. The basic use of this is to have exactly the character you need in your province at the start of the next turn when you’re making characters again. It can also be used to setup a Charge! or Disguised character which can be used straight away. That this is the first ‘tutor’ style effect for the dynasty side makes it very appealing and might allow playing a few single copies of key cards for a matchup making those characters a lot more reliable.


Student of Anatomies

The stats are solid with the typical 1/2 for a 2 cost. As a Shugenja this expands the Crabs range but of most interest is the ability. At the cost of sacrificing a character you can essentially cloud the mind a character for a phase. As characters with strong abilities are the higher end of the curve, there really isn’t a game where you don’t have at least one target you’d love to blank each turn. Typically, this will be the conflict phase where most of the action happens but depending on the target it could certainly be used at other times. As you’re not playing an attachment, it gets around all of those ‘No attachment’ clauses like on Fushicho and interestingly it can allow you to subsequently Cloud the Mind that target. The cost can be severe, sacrificing a character is never an easy reliable cost, but Crab players have become adept in minimising it. Bowed characters without fate aren’t any further use. Cheap 1 cost conflict characters can be played when you need them and provide minimal investment. Crab also have a number of cards that will give you benefits when characters are sacrificed such as Yasuki Broker and Yasuki Taka or who have extra perks when they are sacrificed such as Gallant Quartermaster or Kaiu Envoy. That said, decks focused a full sacrifice theme still haven’t quite clicked and the Student of Anatomies can be effective existing decks with just some careful play. At worst, this is a Miya Mystic that Clouds for a turn rather than destroying an attachment. We’re expecting to see this in all Crab decks for quite a while.


Graceful Guardian

Just 1 fate for a 2/0 is a fantastic bargain that we’ve seen in similar forms a few times. Unfortunately, this is a dynasty character rather than a conflict character where these kind of stats really shine. With a character like this, you have to decide between passing for a fate or spending a fate on this small character. That said, cheap characters are super important as they allow you access to more conflicts for a tiny investment. When you have no ready characters you don’t get to declare attacks, can’t get the fate from rings, can’t win rings, and would lose honor if your opponent attacks. Importantly, they also provide protection from Way of the Crab which would otherwise dominate the meta. The great 1 cost characters then are the ones that have fantastic stats like the Doomed Shugenja or Ethereal Dreamer, have great abilities like Callow Delegate or Solemn Scholar, have important traits that are needed in a deck such as Bayushi Liar or Doji Whisperer, or a combination of the above.

The Graceful Guardian’s ability is good, while it does effect both players if you already know you’re going to be taking an action that doesn’t require playing a card from hand then you know the effect isn’t going to impact you. Similarly, you’ll need to judge your opponent’s options, if they have an action on the table that they could use then they’ll be able to avoid this by using that. Is it amazing? Maybe not, but situationally it could win a conflict where your opponent doesn’t have the fate to spend and is forced to pass. As a Bushi, the Guardian can have some relevance but typically Courtier and Shugenja are more sought after traits.

Despite the issues, the Guardian will see play even if not in every deck. Compared to the other 1 cost characters she is quite competitive and has a place in the right decks.


Iron Crane Legion

In a game where everyone is bidding 5 during the draw phase, hand sizes can quickly get out of hand. After the first draw phase on turn 1, players usually have 9 cards. Assuming a conservative first turn, a player can end up in turn 2 with 12 cards. If this 4 cost character gets into that situation they will be an impressive 14 military which is going to have a big impact. More often though, cards get played. So while a conflict might start with a big hand size it usually doesn’t take much effort to drop that quite quickly. If the opponent has a hand size of 5 then the Iron Crane Legion is a 5 military character. Although that is a champion level military skill, it bears comparison with the Dragon character Volcanic Troll who is a 3 cost 3/3 that gets a +2/+2 bonus when the Fire ring is unclaimed. Despite impressive numbers, the Troll doesn’t see a lot of play partially because he’s only numbers and the Iron Crane Legion may end up in a similar situation. That said, the ranger of numbers are drastically different with a much higher potential for the Legion, but this comes at the control of the opponent who gets decide the number of cards to draw and when the play them. Definitely an interesting card as it has huge potential in a game and forces your opponent to deal with it.


Togashi Yoshi

We mentioned some of the challenges around 1 cost dynasty characters when talking about the Graceful Guardian, and all of those remain true for Togashi Yoshi. As an extra element, Yoshi is a unique character so you can only have one copy in play at a time and can discard copies in your provinces during the dynasty phase to add extra fate onto Yoshi. The unique trait really is at it’s best on expensive characters where the fate added from duplicates has a big impact, with a smaller character like Yoshi you’re more likely to have situations where you’d like to make more than one of them. So unique on a 1 cost character isn’t great. Yoshi is a Monk, which is of definite interest for the Dragon and the ability if it triggers is going to earn back his cost (if not any passing fate lost). He could work well with cards like Togashi Initiate that place fate, so you use the Initiates ability to honor up and then grab the fate back immediately. As fate spent onto rings when you’re attacking often go to your opponent’s next attack, his ability also can deny your opponent fate. Currently Dragon have Togashi Initiate and Togashi Mendicant who both are 1 cost 1/1 monks. Yoshi is likely to supplant the Mendicant as his ability is slightly better but it’s likely to be a marginal improvement to the deck overall.


Truthseeker

Another Courtier for Dragon rounding out the support for a brand new trait this cycle. At 2 cost, the Truthseeker sits in that tight spot where they can be Assassinated so you don’t want to invest in them but have to be twice as good as a 1 cost character. With 1/3 skills, the Truthseeker is slightly above the expected 1/2 and so has decent stats. As the ability is a reaction to coming into play, it’s a once off effect. If you’re planning to draw 3 or more conflict cards, then this ability isn’t going to make a difference if it targets your conflict deck. If you are bidding 1 however, it will let you pick the best out of the top 3 cards in your deck. Alternative, you could target your dynasty deck, doing that will allow you to reorder the dynasty cards that replace the ones you bring into play. So if your Truthseeker is coming out of a defensive province, you can drop your Imperial Palace onto it so when it appears next turn it’ll be in a good spot. This is a little niche, but could be relevant. The other primary approach is to look at your opponents top 3 cards, even if they are going to draw 5 you’ve now had a peek at part of their hand. This can be relevant for Shiro Kitsuki (not yet released) letting you know which card to name. With good stats, a growing Courtier theme in Dragon, and a useful if not necessarily powerful ability I really like the Truthseeker and expect to see it in Dragon Courtier decks.


Ikoma Kiyono

The first thing of note for this courtier is the high glory of 3, while the skills of 1/2 for 2 fate are pretty typical the high glory does give the potential to honor up and be scary. The ability is very reminiscent of The Imperial Palace as she will provide an extra 3 glory for the favor count every turn. This is a pretty big draw making cards that require the favor like Censure and Ikoma Ujiaki a lot more reliable. You can also know she will be ready at the end of the conflict phase which makes her very interesting for cards where you bow for an effect like Tattered Missive. Unfortunately she has that ‘more honorable‘ requirement that so many other Lion cards have been cursed with. While not crippling, it does limit how Lion decks can play and provides opportunities for their opponent to shut down these effects. That said, if Kiyono allows the Lion to reliably hold onto the favour, she will find a place.


Righteous Delegate

In a big conflict, an ability like this can have a big impact. Even in a small conflict, this Delegate is a 3/4 for 3 fate which is pretty good. The downside is you opponent’s non-Bushi characters get a bonus as well, so there can be situations where triggering the Righteous Delegate’s ability will actually put you behind rather than ahead. As a non-Shugenja it’s hard for this character to find a slot in existing Phoenix decks but the ability will at least work within a mixed Shugenja / Courtier deck. Not one for today, but one day the Phoenix are going to have a fantastic Courtier deck where the delegate can find a place.


Starry Heaven Sanctuary

Removing 4 or more fate from all characters during the fate phase isn’t surprising, but it isn’t exactly reliable. A typical turn for most clans is to make a big character with 2 or more fate and a small character without fate. If both players follow this pattern than Starry Heaven Sanctuary will start generating fate from turn 2 onwards. That means you’re up 2 fate from turn 3, which really is pretty late in the game. Unfortunately, it doesn’t include characters leaving play without fate so a clever opponent can make sure this doesn’t trigger by modifying how they play or by triggering the void ring strategically. Extra fate is great, but you’d prefer to have it early in the game and if you’re not seeing it until turn 4 then chances are it’s not going to have any impact in the game.


Emissary of Lies

Being able to send an opposing character home is a fantastic ability to have on a character, but having to reveal your hand to do so is a massive drawback. In addition, without a way to clear your hand, the ability is essentially a once of per game. In competitive play, where your opponent knows the cards in your deck, either having seen the decklist or because your deck is similar to other decks in the meta, the ability might not work at all. After that, it’s just a 2/3 Courtier for 3, not exactly something to write home about.


Licensed Quarter

The discard strategy is not currently viable. Your opponent doesn’t lose when they run out of cards, they just take 5 points of honor loss and reshuffle. To effectively use a card like this you need to simultaneously draw cards and press honor totals. To dishonour you often want to shift to bid 1 to reduce card draw, at which point your card discard strategy struggles. If you stick to bid 5 hoping to draw into dishonour cards, your opponent gets to switch to bid 1 simultaneously gaining honor and the reducing the number of cards they draw.


Ide Ryōma

If you’re playing cheap neutral characters like Keeper Initiates (or other clan conflict characters) then you can use Ryōma to bow a Keeper and ready your biggest Unicorn personality. Alternatively, you can play some big neutrals like Hantei Sotorii or Akodo Toturi and you can bow your cheap Unicorn characters to ready them. On the other side of the table, if your opponent has a Unicorn and non-Unicorn character you can choose to bow one of their ready characters and ready one of their already characters for no effect! Unfortunately the ability is limited to conflicts where Ryōma is participating, but even in a HMT deck, this can allow Ryōma attck political and ready your biggest military character for the next attack.


Hantei Daisetsu

His 3/4 stats for 4 are decent and his 3 glory can be both a benefit or drawback depending on your deck and opponent. As a Courtier, he has access to For Shame but isn’t a great target for Forged Edict, those being the two big Courtier cards. His ability is a Cloud the Mind like effect that can get around no attachment limitations, but unfortunately, he can only use it while in a conflict leaving your opponent the opportunity to trigger abilities first when they are defending. Even worse, his ability can only be used during political conflicts which mean a large number of the decks in the environment just don’t care.


Sharpened Tsuruhashi

Free is great, but with only +1 military that is pretty minimal. The ability returns this card to hand but only when the target is sacrificed which neatly limits it to Crab decks as sacrifice mechanics out of that are pretty limited. The series of ‘Seal of the’ cards all have similar skill bonus and see almost no play. The ability certainly isn’t enough to change that option. The only merit to this card is for Dragon players who are looking to get a 0 fate non-restricted Weapon on one of their characters either to trigger Niten Master or to try activate the Covert from Two-Heavens Technique.


Issue a Challenge

Forcing your opponent to only assign one defender is pretty big, especially if you already have some covert effects to reduce who that one defender can be. Crane also have a number of cards that make winning against one defender easier including Kakita Dojo and Admit Defeat. This isn’t a card you’ll want to play ever turn, often you’re better off if your opponent over defends. This might make a great one-off for that last push taking the opponents stronghold province.


Rising Stars Kata

The limit to Unique only characters will certainly frustrate, but Dragon do have a number of good characters it can target. Often you’ll want to boost your skill before the duel, so a lot of the time this will be a +3 bonus, but it may gave an incentive to win a smaller duel ahead of time to try get that bigger bonus. With it’s once per conflict, Rising Stars Kata is similar to Banzai! but the two do nicely compliment each other allowing a Dragon player with both create a large tower with just two actions.


Regal Bearing

Best case, you’re paying 1 fate and a card to draw 4 cards. That’s pretty amazing. It will only occur when your opponent had 5 cards and you do need to have a Courtier to play it, but it certainly is reason enough for Lion players to pay more attention to the trait. Right now, Lion’s Pride Brawler is a staple, Ikoma Ikehata despite some misgivings regularly sees play, and Lion have access to 2 cheap Courtiers in the form of Ikoma Prodigy and Venerable Historian. I fully expect this card to feature in all successful Lion decks going forward. Other clans may consider it, Scorpion and Crane specifically have a great selection of Courtiers. At 3 influence, it might be tricky to fit in, but even just 1 use could be enough to turn a game, so 2 copies for 6 influence could be doable.


Invoke the Divine

A boost of 2 fate in a game can be a big deal, is it worth a card though? While the cost reduction is important, the ability to wave costs has the potential to be even bigger. The list of cards this works with is actually pretty narrow, obviously you have Consumed by Five Fires which ends up with a 2 fate reduction, but after that there’s not much. Notably, you don’t need to bow a Shugenja to use Benten’s Blessing or lose 2 honor from Spreading the Darkness but currently there aren’t any other cards where this is relevant. As this is only for 3 cards, you need at least 4 fate worth of cards to gain a benefit, but the only usable spells greater than 1 are Consumed and Forebearer’s Echoes so apart from some niche cases that isn’t going to help either. With Embrace and Consumed both restricted, Invoke might be a good option to replace Embrace. After worlds, when Phoenix presumably will get themselves an Air role again the card will have some better utility in a deck running Consumed and Forebearers. From here on out, every time we see a spell printed we need to consider whether Invoke breaks it, something simple like a spell version of Noble Sacrifice would do it!


Unspoken Etiquette

Paying 2 fate to dishonor your opponent’s entire board is absolutely amazing! Of course, Unspoken Etiquette doesn’t to that. If you’re lucky, this is going to hit 2 of your opponent’s characters. Against clans running Courtiers themselves, that’s going to be even less likely as often the Courtier characters are best suited to political conflicts. Similarly, many of the military clans will never assign their best characters to a political conflict instead focusing on those military conflicts. Although we can always dream of a massive conflict with 5  or more characters, at 2 cost, this is just a little too expensive given the limitation on targets.


Natural Negotiator

A 0 cost attachment is always going to worth a second look, but despite the low price, this probably isn’t going to see much play. Being able to switch your skills can be useful. As it’s limited to Courtier characters this typically will turn your political characters into better military characters, but you could have just played a military character instead. If this could be attached to a Bushi it would have given the Unicorn a definite political boost, but they shouldn’t need the military support. This could be something a Crane or Scorpion Courtier deck splashes, but due to the Scorpion’s focus on dishonor they’re unlikely to be interested in giving their opponent extra honor. Even the Crane have considerable strength, but perhaps a 4 military Guest of Honor would be of interest to them!


Overhear

Typically, hand control and dishonor go hand in hand as you’re look to force your opponent between bidding 5 for cards and losing honor or bidding 1 to not lose honor but only draw 1 card. Without the extra discard kicker, Overhear really isn’t worth it. Spending 1 to play a card while your opponent discards a card leaves you both down a card but you down a fate also. Giving your opponent honor for that kicker, however, makes it hard to justify Overhear’s inclusion is many decks.



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

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