Defenders of the Wall – Crab Pack Review

Defenders of the Wall – Crab Pack Review

Today we have Eoin giving his review on the Crab cards in the Defenders of the Wall. Along with some help from Justin covering the non-Crab cards.

Kyuden Hida
Boasting one more honor and one less province strength Crab’s second stronghold has a similar stat line to the OG but a different playstyle. Theoretically, this is the holding stronghold, you fill your provinces with holdings, then purchase one character a turn from the top 3 cards of your dynasty deck. My gut feeling is that playstyle is a little too narrow to be broadly successful but there might be a deck that goes effectively wide here buying a cheap character from the top of the deck after clearing the provinces. A side benefit of the stronghold is that it helps toss holdings into the discard pile to fuel Rebuild, most critically possibly doing it on turn 1. Will require playtesting.

Kuni Wastelands
Average province strength and the fire trait, but a tremendous defensive effect of preventing your opponent using character abilities or keywords while at this province. Its disruptional effect on your opponent can be massive as many clans rely on powerful abilities during conflicts. This is a fortress province that will be very difficult to attack in a deck looking to pressure dishonour. Also while covert still works on the first attack on the province, it works fine on subsequent conflicts. Excellent card.

Purifier Apprentice
A 1 cost character with an uninspiring 1/0/0 statline? Better have an exceptional ability. When you win a conflict on the defense, the opposing player loses an honor. That’s a strong ability, but to fully appreciate the metagame effect of this card, we have to understand how it transforms the Crab dishonour deck and do not be fooled, this card hugely empowers that deck. The Crab dishonour deck traditionally leverage a low bid style with cards like Watch Commander being the engine that punished players trying to win battles by spending cards. However Crab struggled to proactively push dishonour, often you would choke someone down to 2 to 3 honor and be unable to secure the last few points and end up slowly eeking out a victory by Conquest instead. The most proactive tool for Crab dishonour was Intimidating Hida which cost your opponent honor for passing a conflict, a savvy opponent could negate the Hida by simply reserving a character for a throwaway attack and focus on a single good attack and some defense. Purifier Apprentice changes all this by making it “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” With both out, if your opponent passes a conflict, he loses an honor, if he attacks and loses, he loses an honor, if he fails to defend he loses an honor, in fact, he’s going to find it very hard to get through a turn with his honor score intact. The apprentice critically doesn’t even need to be in the conflict to trigger so can attack and still react from home. You can safely put 2 fate on this character secure in the knowledge that if someone Assassinates her, they just cost themselves exactly as much honor as she would have with three successful defenses over three turns. Monster card.

Hida Sukune
A 1/2/1 for 2 fate with a card draw(ish) ability? Is Shrewd Yasuki about to lose his job? The youngest son of Hida Kisada is a bit of reflection of the aforementioned Yasuki with uniqueness and the bushi and commander traits in place of the stronger courtier trait. Additionally, rather than requiring a holding to be in play, Sukune needs to defend to trigger his ability, also rather than choosing one card from two, he draws a card and discards one. So his ability is much weaker with one exception, he can trigger it in each conflict he is in. I don’t think Sukune will replace the ubiquitous Yasuki, but he might work out in compliment with him in a more defensively focused Crab deck.

Shadowlands Hunter
Remember that whole thing about Crab dishonour struggling to force honor losses? Here is a meh stat 2 drop with a potent trait. If he wins a conflict while attacking, the attack is considered to be unopposed forcing your opponent to lose one honor. That’s a hell of a finisher. Watch out for Display of Power though as someone can use it after losing a defense if this guy is in the fight.

Hida O-Ushi
The bully cometh! With a 3 cost 3/3/1 statline, being unique and being Bushi O-Ushi is solidly formed. Again she rewards you for victory on the defense but doesn’t need to be there to trigger and grabs you an additional military conflict. This is excellent for the Berserker deck which is a bit miserable with only a single Military conflict per turn.

Unyielding Sensei
With a thundering 4/2/1 statline for 3 Unyielding Sensei joins Intimidating Hida in the good Crab value list. His action isn’t bad either. If you have a holding in an unbroken province you can look at the top 2 cards of your deck and put a character card into it, leaving the holding there. Given one of the weaknesses of the holding deck is needing to discard holdings to make sure you get some character this has value. Use of his ability probably surrenders the fate for passing first which is significant, but he can take the action outside of the Dynasty phase. He can also help set up a Charge. Great if the holding deck works out.

Favourable Dealbroker
The Del Trotter of the Crab clan, he’ll get you two bodies for the price of one. 2/3/1 for 4 fate is bad, but a 2/3/1 and a 1/1 for 1 is actually a lot of stats on the defense with Shiro Original Crab stronghold. The 1 coster doesn’t get any fate but the ability to pull out a Purifier Apprentice is not nothing. Kari Envoy and Hida Defender also have options.

Kaiu Shihobu
So she doesn’t work the way you hope currently, those holdings come into play face down. As a result, her action is weak, they delay on getting a holding is really too great. Her statline is poor for a 5 drop but her reaction is interesting. Built correctly you can use her to cut down your dynasty deck size to whatever size you’d like which screams combo deck. Currently will only see play in a deck that can achieve degeneracy.

Kaiu Siege Force
In the fine tradition of the clan packs its a 6 drop character you want to find a way to cheat into play. Kaiu Siege Force is non-unique almost Kisada in stats and can ready by losing a holding. Massive value from Charge/Raise the Alarm, very expensive otherwise. No attachments means this can’t be the tower that Crab love so well.

Kaiu Forge
The search effect of the Kaiu Wall subset of cards, this has a chunky province strength pump and swaps Kaiu Wall holdings into play. Good in a theoretical Wall deck or if any Wall holding provides enough oomph to be worth running the full suite.

Northern Carpenter Wall
Well, it’s good at making it hard to break the province. This is the kind of holding you desperately want a way to tutor out of your deck in response to a Banzai. Makes a nasty fortress on Pilgrimage to deny people almost everything from a blunted attack. Entirely depends on being in play at the right moment, which makes me skeptical.

River of the Last Stand
Ah, we get our first Kaiu Wall Holding that makes people sad and a great combo with the much-maligned Kaiu Inventor. Discarding two cards at random from an attacker at a Kaiu Wall holding will give people fits, that they get to draw a card is cold comfort. Might see play solo with Rebuild just because it will annoy people so badly.

Seventh Tower
We get a way to actually progress towards a victory condition on the defense using the Walls, getting a ring effect when winning on the defense is tight with Defend the Wall and this is just another Defend the Wall but more mobile in effect. Good stuff.

Third Whisker Warrens
Getting to play characters from the top of your deck is valuable in the Wall deck which will have fewer open provinces, but the Wall deck will be playing enough holdings that this may whiff. Ends up cut I think, would be better if you could look at the top 2.

Watchtower of Valour
Card draw for winning on defense, decent.

Kaiu Wall deck thoughts
It’s going to struggle, it needs to win on the defense but will often be working with a smaller pool of available dynasty characters as your provinces will get clogged with the holdings that you want to keep in play. A lot of the holdings also have significant province strength increases but province strength doesn’t help you win battles on the defense. It’ll end up a dishonour deck looking to pressure with Watch Commander, Intimidating Hida, Purifier Apprentice and Unyielding Sensei all playing key roles. I think pure dishonour may see more play initially but people will mess around with the deck regardless. It’s going to end up with a lot of hoop-jumping for some small payoffs.

Moto Eviscerator
A 2-cost character with 3 skill offers decent value already, but really needs to offer something extra in today’s expanded card pool. A built-in movement option isn’t the worst, but the honor cost means that Moto Eviscerator compares unfavorably against a card like Unicorn’s Shinjo Outrider, which already sees little to no competitive play. Still, the Eviscerator gives out-of-clan access to an ability type normally reserved for Unicorn, so it may have some utility value. If the Eviscerator cost 3 (presumably with stats increased to match) it could act as a reliable caddy for items like Fan of Command, allowing it to move into a conflict and ready an important Bushi character (including itself). Unfortunately, Assassination continues to haunt all weenies, making additional investments on cheap bodies a risk. Overall, a decent card that will be overshadowed by more competitive and consistent options for almost all decks.

Daidoji Netsu
Netsu provides a yojimbo-like ability against effects that would remove one of your characters from play. In order to hit a juicier target, Netsu has to be removed first. In a game where outright cancel effects are both powerful and relatively common, Netsu represents a ‘fairer’ style of play, and one that is overshadowed by more powerful options. Netsu also has a hidden opportunity cost, insofar as you cannot remove an opponent’s characters while he’s in play. However, if this will not affect your strategy, Netsu may yet offer situationally decent value, and will probably only become better as additional ‘kill’ cards enter the environment.

Agasha Hiyori
3-cost 2/2 characters need to have exceptional abilities to see play, and Hiyori’s is sadly not. Not only are you dropping yourself in a hole value-wise by putting her on the board, you are also required to invest additional fate to activate her ability, an ability that only offers a temporary solution and will require further investment on subsequent turns. Dragon do have a number of ways to manipulate fate on rings, but even if these are working for you, Hiyori is merely ‘fine.’ With a low ceiling and low floor, expect this to reside in binders for some time.

Matsu Agetoki
Agetoki is aggressively statted at 4/2/2 for 3, so his ability doesn’t necessarily have to be amazing. He carries the all-too frequent Lion requirement of being more honorable than an opponent, but, assuming you can meet that, he gives you a way to avoid a province you’d rather not be fighting at (e.g., Upholding Authority). He is obviously strongest against on-break province abilities and poorer against on-reveal and action abilities, but in the case of action abilities, he may force an opponent into an awkward course of action, potentially opening up other avenues of advantage.

Yogo Asami
There were not a lot of cards Bayushi Kachiko worried about being targeted by anyway, but Asami soothes even those fears. Asami’s main ability, to reduce military skill, not only makes her (effectively) a 2/3 for 2 in opposed conflicts, it also bolsters the suite of Scorpion cards that reduce an enemy character’s skill to 0, and then kill them. A solid value proposition with additional impactful utility, Asami should see play.

Shinjo Yasamura
Well, someone had to get the best card in the pack, and it just so happens to be Unicorn. Covert on a cheap body is already potent, and covert that prevents a character from defending at all that phase doubly so. Yasamura will be a foundational piece in Unicorn blitz and swarm archetypes, and with HMT affording additional conflicts, the multiplying effect Yasamura will have can create devastating disruptions. Simple, powerful, effective, cheap, and synergistic with other core Unicorn cards, Yasamura is a powerhouse.

Kansen Haunt
-2 PS kinda sucks, but if you’re winning the conflict it actually doesn’t matter. After that losing 2 honor to get an extra ring effect is decent, but not decent enough to warrant a card slot and the opportunity costs that accompany Kansen Haunt’s inclusion in a deck. Seems like another card made for Rebuild, but for now only in fringe or fun strategies.

Reinforced Plate
+1 Mil for 1 fate is a bad deal, but immunity to events during military conflicts is strong, this character becomes the vector for all your pumps as your opponent’s ability to do anything about him becomes extremely limited.

Subterranean Guile
+1 Mil for 1 fate is still bad but covert on a stick is not bad even with the holding requirement. More for tools for the dishonour deck. Critically 1 influence as well, Unicorn might be tempted.

Fruitful Respite
Requires testing, but the strong defensive decks can always do with a little more free fate. 3 influence is a bit much for a splash.

Siege Warfare
Crab don’t get many Events, which is why getting a garbage one is so frustrating. Worse than Fine Katana or Ornate Fan despite being a little more flexible, doesn’t help you win a fight, doesn’t help you defend and requires a holding. Just muck, worst card in the pack.

Expensive at 2 fate and 2 honor but switching off all your opponent’s provinces for a turn is worth it. I found the Berserker deck completely went to pieces against Phoenix because of Kuro Moroi and now we have an answer.

The Strength of the Mountain
At 3 Fate and 4 influence, this is unique in the Crab clan. It’s an army-wide The Mountain Does Not Fall plus no bowing or sending home. It should win you the conflict if you have a viable defense and then you have all of those characters ready to use. As is always the case with 3 cost Events, don’t let them cancel it.

Isawa Eiju
The Master of Air appears! His ability is locked behind a strict requirement, but has clear and devastating implications for any deck with powerful holdings. That’s most deck these days, so Eiju will deserve consideration no matter what the Phoenix build (and he is Phoenix only, since he has no influence cost). He is also a conflict character, with a potent 4 political skill, and with the Sincerity and Courtesy traits, Eiju effectively costs 3 while also (eventually) replacing himself in hand. Finding space is always tough these days, but Eiju offers a unique blend of power and value, and is not to be overlooked.

Slovenly Scavenger
Recursion is one of the Three Pillars of Degeneracy in card games, so an unaligned silver bullet is a welcome addition to the card pool. With the recent erratum to Kyuden Isawa, and the weakening of the Chargebird archetype with the banning of Charge!, the Scavenger is probably fine lurking in folders, for now. But if further recursion archetypes develop, with Phoenix and Crab looking like the most probable homes, a ready answer is definitely desirable.

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.

One Reply to “Defenders of the Wall – Crab Pack Review”

  1. The info needs to be updated, Charge! is now banned from competitive game and Kaiu Shihobu has been errated, putting the holdings in play (face up). And in my personal opinnion, Kaiu Forge is a must have in almost any crab deck, +3 PS is huge and can be replace itself for an Iron Mine at the end of the phase.

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