Today, this group of Crane players gathered by Chutereve will be looking at non-Crane Cards from the Elemental Cycle that we consider to be given special consideration in potential Crane decks. Also, we will be taking a look at a few older cards to see how they fit in this new card environment. Next week we will be going over some of the decks we have testing and see how our predictions turned out!
(And a big thanks to Asahina Asami for helping with the editing on this one)
Average rating : 2.1
Chuterêve – 3/5
Abandoning Honor competes with our new province, Magistrate Station, so it would have to be pretty strong to be played instead of it. Even with the whole “gain Province Strength if we play the associated element”, we are quite happy with its 3 province strength rating because we obviously want Abandoning Honor to break easily for its effect.
However, the effect is extremely swingy. It’s an “All or Nothing” kind of deal like Feast or Famine, except that it’s harder to trigger effectively than FoF. To make good use of it, we need to splash Scorpion with at the very least 2 Mark of Shame to be able to dishonor characters outside of the conflict. However, even with Mark of Shame in our decks, we might not be able to trigger the effect very reliably; more than half of the time it will probably do nothing.
My conclusion is that the card certainly has potential in Crane, but Magistrate Station is just way more stable with a very strong impact.
Erik – 2/5
This province only does something when your opponent breaks it while having a dishonored characters that is relevant to discard. That is a pretty narrow condition, and I think you were winning anyway in the majority of the games where this does anything. High variance cards that are good when you are ahead are precisely what you do not want, so I think Magistrate Station and Meditations on the Tao are clearly stronger than Abandoning Honor.
Fire province, will never see play instead of magistrate station, ok, bye
This card can be extremely powerful in decks that have a lot of ways to dishonor characters. I would not be surprised to see it in a Crane deck running 2 or more copies of Mark of Shame. That said, it really isn’t that easy to get a character you really want to die to be dishonored. You have little control over which province your opponent is going to attack, so there is a good chance it will be broken on a turn when there is little to gain from it. If we get a Keeper role it becomes slightly more consistent while splashing Talisman of the Sun, but overall I think I much prefer both Magistrate Station and Meditations on the Tao over this. Watch out for it when playing against Scorpion!
Average rating : 3.5
Chuterêve – 4/5
Upholding Authority is the best card among the neutral provinces of cycle 2 for us. Being able to have a safe “Policy Debate-like” card that can discard several cards can be huge in some matchups like Scorpion or Crab and will always have at least at decent impact in matchups with the other Clans.
Sadly, there is a significant drawback here: Playing Upholding Authority on your Seeker row can put you in a very awkward position, especially when you will probably have to play an Air province under the Stronghold or cut an air province for Rally to the Cause (which I think is inferior to Entrenched Position for us).
That being said, Upholding Authority might very well find a home in a Keeper build. It would make us play Rally to the Cause under the stronghold, but the tradeoff might be worth it. I especially see it being played a lot in a Crane/Uni Keeper build, thanks to the Talisman of the Sun.
Erik – 3.5/5
An earth province that is good to play in your row is a welcome addition to the game for sure. In my opinion Entrenched Position is significantly better than any other provinces for under the Crane stronghold, so I would not play this normally. However, that changes in a Keeper deck, and Crane is as happy as any clan to run this as one of the back four in that case. Seeing your opponents hand is a strong effect on its own, and discarding one or more of their best card on top of that makes for a effect that is worth taking a break for.
Earth provinves have very few competition (eg. Entrenched Position on Stronghold and Public Forum on row MAYBE) and this one is definetely the best earth province to put on a row, especially if you are not running Meek/Policy debate.
Onimaru – 3/5
On the surface this card is pretty good because its ability is strong and it is the first Earth province that isn’t safe to farm. That said, since your opponent can see its effect coming they can often easily play out their good cards before you get the chance to discard them. That is still a powerful disruptive ability, but it is never quite as effective as you want it to be. Overall, I dont think this replaces Entrenched Position (obviously you dont play this under your stronghold). But players who prefer Rally to the Cause under the stronghold might consider this in decks with non-seeker roles.
Average rating : 3
Chuterêve – 3/5
Kudaka is a card that provokes a lot of different opinions in the community. It will always be at minimum a decent Dynasty card but I don’t think that it fits very well in current Crane decks for several reasons:
– Kudaka transforms the Air ring into an arguably superior Earth ring. I observed that in Crane I generally choose Void, Water or Fire rings a lot over the Earth ring to quickly answer the current board state and not lose the board/the game the next turn. Generating long term value from this is something we might only be able to afford if we are already in a comfortable position sadly.
– Kudaka’s stats are certainly not bad in clans that lack political power but she’s not really impressive for us. Let’s again compare it with the Asahina Storyteller, who is also a 4 drop Shugenja and generates long term value. Kudaka is not a courtier, can’t be honored with Way of the Crane, and has +1 mil but -1 glory, in comparison. We don’t have any issues currently keeping our characters honored on the board so +1 Glory is preferable to +1 mil; if it was more than +1 mil, losing the extra glory that Storyteller has might be worth it. It is also easier to generate value with Storyteller than Kudaka in the long term, and we do not need to take a certain ring over others that may be more important to choose at the time.
– Kudaka is a filthy, honorless pirate.
Erik – 2/5
Another shugenja, this time with a grey background. The Air ring is the worst one of the bunch, simply put. The same effect on a ring like Earth or Fire would probably be a lot better, as those rings are impactful on almost any board. Despite reasonable stats I think the fate investment is just not worth it for Kudaka, and of course the ‘Mantis clan’ trait is additional downside.
Liforre – 3/5
Decent stat line (although only 1 glory is a bit of a bummer for us) and relevant trait make Kudaka a very decent 4 drop. Crane does have other stronger 4+ options though, so apart from a very hypothetical “air ring matters” deck, this shouldn’t see too much play. The potential is definetely there, though.
Kudaka is a very effective card. Her ability alone can generate an impressive amount of resources and makes playing cards like Seeker of Knowledge viable. Being a shugenja is also a key factor to allow us to play Cloud the Mind, which can be an incredibly powerful tool. Finally, she has very good stats, her 3mil being something Crane decks severely lack. And for all of these reasons I would highly recommend her…..except that with the glut of cards we have received this cycle allowing us to honor characters I dont think she can hold a spot when compared to Asahina Storyteller. Still, if you are looking to build a spell focused deck and find you need more Shugenja I would easily recommend her over most of the Shugenja we have available to us.
Average rating : 4.2
Chuterêve – 4/5
We might not have a Fire role yet to be able to play this, but we are the best airbenders out there. Imperial Librarian is a 2 drop that has a lot going for it: good stats, the Courtier trait, and 2 glory.
The glory bonus is symmetrical but don’t be fooled; we might be the best clan to take advantage of it. If we are Fire, we won’t be able to play Soul Beyond Reproach anymore, weakening our honoring potential a little, but we will still have enough decent tools to do that.
I am convinced that Imperial Librarian would find a spot in our decks, even with all the good 2 drops we already have in them. It’s just how good the card seems to be.
Erik – 3.5/5
Let’s start with the numbers: a 2/2 with 2 glory for 2 is not bad at all. The glory is not as good on a neutral card, as you can’t use Way of the Crane on an Imperial Librarian. The ability should often boost one or two of your characters and maybe diminish one opposing character. Then the question becomes: is it worth including this instead of the standard Crane 2-drops? Brash Samurai and Cautious Scout are both irreplacable, but Nerishma/Savvy Politician/Miya Mystic could well make place for this. The number of 2s you play is also not fixed, and you could easily replace a 3 or a 1 with Imperial Librarian; but keep in mind that 2 will always be a suboptimal cost to have due to Assassination.
Liforre – 4.5/5
Gosh, do I love this card. 2/2/2 for 2 with a relevant trait and a symetrical ability in our favour in basically any kind of build? Yes, please! Obviously, the “Fire Role only” restriction limit his playability quite a lot, as the best new card of cycle 2 for Crane is probably Soul Beyond Reproach which is “Air Role Only”. Still, if Crane end up with Seeker of fire, no doubt this guy will have a bright future ahead of him.
Onimaru – 5/5
This is a very interesting Character if we get a fire role. The extra glory makes all of our honored characters stronger and can swing the Glory count for the favor. He even makes Formal Invitation better as it allows us Harpoon way more people, including our own Guest of Honor. And his own 2 Glory can make him a tremendous threat in his own right. The obvious downside is that can make having our characters dishonored a real painful experience, but with so many honored tools at our disposal that shouldn’t be much of a problem. It’s probably a good thing that he can’t be played at the same time as Soul beyond Reproach as it would probably be broken very fast. Overall, a solid pick if we get a fire role.
Average rating : 1
Chuterêve – 1/5
This is bad for us. It’s a 2 drop with mediocre stats; 0 glory doesn’t help either, but we can’t expect Mantis to have any glory anyway. Even its ability does not offer a very good tradeoff. 1 honor is roughly worth 0.5 fate generally, so by winning a conflict with your 2/1 for 2, you can gain a 0.5 fate value… or you could just play a better statted Crane character with a relevant ability instead and get that value to contribute to your character directly.
Sure, you can use Favorable Ground to put him in two conflicts per turn or use Water ring/Magistrate Station to ready him and make him participate to more conflicts, but you will likely have better options available as targets for those cards anyway.
Erik – 1/5
A 2/1 with no glory (as befits a pirate) for 2 fate is already a way worse start than Imperial Librarian. The ability requires Mantis Seafarer to participate in a conflict you win: ask your local Lion player about how good abilities like that tend to be. I don’t think this will ever see play in competitive Crane decks.
Gosh, don’t I like this card. The only reason we are talking about it is the “Air Role Only” part, but it’s just bad, like any other eco card that can only give you 1 fate per turn in a game where it cost 1 fate to have an effect an additional turn. Back to the garbage bin, mantis scum.
So, we are only talking about this card because it is Air only and Crane are currently seekers of Air. Other than that, he is so bad he really isn’t worth discussing. After playing him, a 2 Fate cost, you need to win with him at least once before he starts generating value. But even then, he costs 1 honor every time he uses his ability. So not only does his weak stats not do much to help win a battle, if I wanted to waste resources to move his bowed body to other conflicts I still end up losing a bunch of honor. He just isn’t worth the investment.
Average rating : 1.2
Chuterêve – 1/5
This card is clearly not worth twenty of your best seconds as a reader, but I suppose that we should still review it.
Even if by some miracle you can bank twenty of your best fate for his egoistical demands, Yoritomo will only be a basic beat-stick. This means he can still be bowed, sent home or killed and his ability wouldn’t have been useful for the whole turn. However, if we can think of a more optimistic scenario where he is not going to be neutralized, is it still really worth it to spend 5 fate and keep a lot of them unused?
I don’t think so.
We have better things to play for 5 fate character anyway and we won’t keep our fate forever banked because we need cards to win games, especially now that our conflict deck has become more expensive.
This pirate is definitively just a minor champion for a minor clan.
Erik – 0/5
Yoritomo is without doubt the worst pirate I have ever heard of. They say dead men don’t bite, and neither does this guy. I’m putting her back in the binder, like you said, Captain.
Liforre – 2/5
Fluff review : Fuck Yoritomo, 0/5
Non fluff review : Eh … whatever Yoritomo ? The Mantis Clan champion isn’t actually all that impressive. Good stats are nice, but 0 utility along with arkward text and a very high cost aren’t. Maybe it will see play in a crazy unbow control/dropbear deck with something like Gaijin Customs, but I higly doubt it.
Onimaru – 2/5
So, this is really a question about the restricted list. Is Yoritomo good enough to warrant running charge over Policy Debate? The answer is a resounding no. In fact, it will probably be difficult to get him to a truely intimidating level of force since we already tend to spend a lot of fate on Dynasty characters. Unfortunately, big characters need to bring more to the table than big stats.
Average rating : 2
Chuterêve – 2/5
The flavor quote is “No price is too high for victory” but I fail to see how this is related to the card because this is not going to bring you any victories.
I don’t think the card is bad by itself, but Crane has very potent 2 military drop with Brash Samurai and Nerishma. Brash Samurai is essentially an honored 4/3 and Nerishma a 3/1 with a small upside. Oni is a 4/- with a downside. It is really not useful for us to try to get a third 2-drop military character that seems worse than our two other ones.
Erik – 2/5
Having only stats is not good enough, even more so with the real downside of having to pay honor to declare as attacker/defender.
Liforre – 2/5
Suffer a lot from the Nerishma/Brash Samurai comparison, as both are indeniably stronger. Still, decently playable in a deck that would want the big mil body on a 2 drop. So … currently nowhere ?
This one is interesting. Crane military leaves a lot to be desired, and this guy is way above the cure in that department. And the amount of honor we gain can easily offset the honor he consumes while attacking. The biggest problem, however, is that not being able to be dishonored makes him vulnerable to being bowed by For Shame, a very common card in almost every deck. And he can be assassinated. Frankly, this is nothing more than a less good Brash Samurai, and Brash Samurai can do a lot for you just by being Crane and gaining honor instead of losing it. Frankly, we have so many good 2 Fate characters that there just isnt any room in the deck for him.
Breach of Etiquette
Average rating : 0.75
Chuterêve – 1/5
Breach of Etiquette is pretty abysmal, even in a dishonor build. There is way too much restriction around it for anything more than a marginal to null effect. At the end of the day, this card lets your opponent make the choice if he wants to lose one honor or not.
Erik – 0/5
Far too narrow, never worth a card.
Liforre – 0/5
Yup, that’s the worst card of the cycle.
Onimaru – 1/5
I only wanted to talk about this card so I could beg people not to play it. At first glance it seems like a natural fit. It’s a Politcal card that favors courtiers, and that’s what Crane is all about! However, it just doesn’t…..DO anything. There just isn’t many characters in the game that can trigger this card.
Mark of Shame
Average rating : 4
Chuterêve – 4/5
This card can be played in several situations:
The first one is to dishonor an ordinary character of your opponent. Sure, it might turn off a Forged Edict or sometimes make a 3 stat swing (4 in political) in the conflict but it’s rarely worth it to spend 1 fate and one card to do that.
The second one is to double dishonor an honored character. It is worth it for the fate if you are assuming that you target a character with a good glory score. It can also totally turn off the Voice of Honor of your opponent.
The last case is to play this card in combo with Noble Sacrifice; something that you can do even outside the conflict (hey, every clan has very oppressive things I guess). To set up the combo, you need to spend at the very least 2 conflict cards and 3 fate. Sometimes, it will be more because you will need to use a card to honor a character to serve as sacrifice fodder or to get rid of Finger of Jade.
Every time you think about playing it for one situation or another, you’ll have to think: Is it worth it? Sometimes it’s going to be; others it’s not. Of course, when you set up a combo on your opponent’s big character who features plenty of attachments and fate, then you’ve hit the jackpot. It is for these game winning cases that we mainly include Mark of Shame in our decks and in my testing, they tend to happen one out of three games. On the other two times, I just got decent value from Mark of Shame or I am pretty sad that I had it and not another card in hand.
It will be matchup and meta dependent for sure but for now, I see Mark of Shame as a very strong inclusion in the Crane deck even if I am worried by the fact that it makes the deck more expensive.
Erik – 3/5
So this one is potentailly divisive. Paying 2 fate to get someone dishonored is generally not a good rate. Of course the -1 political skill is good with the Crane stronghold, and unstoppable out-of-conflict dishonor combines well with Noble Sacrifice. But a skilled opponent will play around this card, meaning you should rarely get the chance to play this on an honored character to full effect. At only 1 influence cost, Mark of Shame is a solid option for any Crane deck that runs an Air role and splashes Scorpion. I think at least 1x is good in that case, but probably not more than that. Going all-in on the kill plan makes your deck one dimensional, easy to counter, and ultimately not that strong.
Liforre – 4/5
Kinda expensive but very powerful and uninteractive effect. It also has very obvious synergy with both Shizuka Toshi and Noble Sacrifice, and the 1 influence cost is very nice. Overall, it makes Scorpion splash even more attractive (if that was even possible), although its pretty high cost can sometimes be hard to play it.
Onimaru – 5/5
This may be one of the most powerful cards we can get our hands on. Noble Sacrifices’ biggest problem is that it is hard to get the characters you want to eliminate dishonored. If this card can facilitate us running more copies of NS then it is already worth its weight in gold. But it has so many more uses! Your opponent managed to get more honored characters than you? Solved! Kachiko suddenly showed up and is trying to send your characters home? Not at 3 pol she’s not! Have a For Shame but the target you want to hit is honored? Bow the heck out of them. I don’t even want to think about the damage this card can do do Phoenix decks. It may be premature, but I think this card alone is worth us trying to secure an air role every chance we get, and that not even considering the ways it combos with Soul Beyond Reproach.
Maze of Illusion
Average rating : 2.1
Chuterêve – 3/5
Lovingly named Maze of Skillusion by some players. This is not a card I personally want to see in L5R and I was very afraid that it could be played competitively a lot when I first saw it. Apparently, it is not the case today. Maze found a place as a 1x in some Scorpion deck or in the Phoenix/Scorpion deck but it’s still something you won’t see everywhere.
Is the card good for Crane? Well, it could have been playable if it didn’t cost 2 influence, making it awkward to splash (at least in Seeker).
This card is literally a coinflip, and as such it is good if and only if you are significantly less skilled than your opponent. In that case, winning some coinflips might be your best shot at winning the game. There are no synergies with changing the bid on your dial in Crane, and that makes is never worth a deck slot.
Liforre – 2/5
Ugh, that coin flip design is one of the worst I’ve ever seen in L5R. Honestly, with how good the scorp splash is, you would much rather play something safer and always good than this.
Onimaru – 2.5/5
It’s hard to evaluate this card in Crane. Sometime, its effect is so powerful that it will win you the game. Other times, it is completely worthless. Personally, I think that inconsistency prevents it from entering any of our decks, especially since splashing Scorpion gives us access to so many better cards. However, I do expect to see it in Scorpion decks since they have cards like I Can swim that take advantage of the altered honor dials while they are pressuring dishonor, tech we simply do not have access to. I don’t recommend it, but there are worse “Hail Mary” options in this game.
Average rating : 3.8
Chuterêve – 3.5/5
Ancient master was looking like the next big thing in Dragon splash until Hawk Tattoo took his place. In a Seeker build, it will be very hard to optimally fit this card now that 3 Let Go / 2 Hawk Tattoo is a possibility.
However, Ancient Master is still on paper a good card that is very attractive to take the favor: no other conflict character in the game offers a 1 fate conflict character with 2 glory. Favor is something Crane are very interested in because of Yoshi and the occasional Censure. Moreover, Dragon is playing a lot of Censure currently so being able to take the favor from them when they don’t play their own Ancient Master is an interesting proposition.
Once (and if) Hawk Tattoo get changed, I expect Ancient Master to make a full-strength comeback in Crane/Dragon decks.
Erik – 3/5
If you told me after the first cycle that FFG would print a 1-cost conflict character with 2 glory and no downside, I would not have believed you. A 1/1 conflict character for 1 is already good, and having 2 glory to steal the Imperial Favor makes this a versatile and powerful card. Mirumoto’s Fury and more recently Hawk Tattoo have been more attractive options in Crane/Dragon alongside 3x Let Go, but Ancient Master will be an option if and when Hawk Tattoo gets an errata/restrict.
Liforre – 4/5
You’re basically playing this as a blank 1/1 for 1 with 2 glory. I don’t really understand why FFG released this card with 2 glory but this will surely find its place as a way to grab the favor in Crane decks that rely on it. No doubt that we’ll eventually see more synergies with the favor and this card is just a solid card overall, even when not used to steal favor from your opponent.
A 1 cost character with 1mil/1pol is already good, but his 2 glory make him amazing at getting the imperial favor. I doubt Crane will even get much use out of his ability, but if you are splashing dragon then you are probably splashing Hawk Tattoo, so he can potential grab it if you really need it. His only problem is that there are so many good Dragon cards to splash that there isn’t much room for him! But given how important getting the favor is for Kakita Yoshi, it just might be worth it to find a spot for him.
Average rating : 4.75
Chuterêve – 4.5/5
This is Mirumoto’s Fury 2.0. Not because the effect is similar but because it’s strong enough to be played in almost every clan and goes very well with the usual Let Go splash. Hawk Tattoo allows you to do something that others conflict cards can’t do without good restriction: Pulling one of your opponent’s character into the conflict. This is way less narrow than Formal Invitation and way more vicious than a Doji Challenger that your opponent can see coming.
I expect the top 16 of the next Kotei to have a least 60% of decks with Hawk Tattoo in it until it gets restricted or errata’d; I don’t think the card is good for the game. That being said, it might be the only Cycle 2 card that might really require to be changed/restricted, which is a great improvement over core set and cycle 1.
From a Crane perspective, there is not much too say about the card that is not true in other clans as well. It’s just a very straightforward, very strong tool that is almost impossible to play around most of the time. Crane/Dragon is certainly staying very strong in Cycle 2 with this card.
Erik – 4.5/5
Hawk Tatoo has been talked about a lot… and for good reason. Like Mark of Shame, this is an event-like effect in the form of an attachment, making it impossible to counter and playable even when Tadaka/Master of Gisei Toshi/Guest of Honor is active. Nine out of ten times you want to attach this to an opposing character, during a conflict where their participation adds nothing for your opponent. You are effectively spending a card and a fate to completely nullify that character for a turn, which is a stellar deal. It also helps against Feast or Famine. Out of Crane, you have the added benifit of enabling an easy Policy Debate at times. Hawk Tattoo is unfair, and makes the Dragon splash very attractive. Why only 4.5? Because I would still replace at least 1 Hawk Tattoo with Mirumoto’s Fury if it weren’t restricted.
Liforre – 5/5
So … yeah, this card is dumb and probably should not have been printed. It’s so dumb in fact that an errata is very likely to happen. In the meantime …
Onimaru – 6/5
This card is Broken. Forcing your opponent to overcommit their forces is a tremendous advantage, especially given how few characters tend to be on the board any given turn. And we can use it better than most! We already have Doji Challenger, but having her attack as well as using Hawk tattoo and you can decimate an opponent’s setup. Even better, this card can do what Formal Invitation doesnt and can move Guest of honor into battles after she’s bowed, shutting down all of your opponents events. And since many people were already splashing Dragon for Let go, this card is going to be everywhere until it end up on a restricted list, which is hopefully soon.
Spreading the Darkness
Average rating : 2.3
Chuterêve – 3/5
When Spreading the Darkness was first previewed, it seemed like a very strong card that could make Crane/Crab viable competitively. The offer was naturally pretty tempting: for the cost of your soul and one more honor than Banzai, you could play one more military event buff that had a powerful side effect. And who cares about the honor loss with the amount of honored characters we had that leave play?
The theory was good, but the reality is pretty different. Crane/Crab will always have the downside of not being able to deal with attachment (When Crane/Uni at least can run frostbitten with Talisman at least) and it turns out that additional Banzai are not really necessary. Even more, the two honor loss has proven to be harsh enough to provoke the downfall of other clans playing it like Crab or Phoenix. I think I have never dishonored as many Crab as I have recently because they are now running Spread the Darkness.
I won’t say that the card or Crane/Crab will never be played because the future can lead to a lot of surprises, but right now, it doesn’t look like that it is a direction that we should go in. This is good because I would dislike seeing tainted Crane becoming a thing now that we know there could possibly be some storyline impact.
Erik – 1.5/5
In the end I think this card proved only marginally better than Banzai. Immunity is nice, but you need action for it, so if you are attacking your opponent can still mess with your attacker before you get an opportunity to play Spreading the Darkness. The extra honor cost compared to Banzai is not negligible, and I would not be happy spending influence on this
Liforre – 2/5
Spreading the darkness is a glorified banzai with a much more restrictive cost. I think it’s fine in clans without ways to protect their characters, but not in Crane. I also don’t feel that a Crabe splash is particularly good and this card shouldn’t change that.
This may be the single most overhyped card of the elemental cycle. At the end of the day, it’s just a bazai that costs double honor, which has led to many dishonor victories since people started testing it . But to be fair, it is still a powerful effect and it can change the course of a battle easily. The big question is if it is worth Splashing Crab for. In my opinion, it isnt, but that has more to do with how much the current meta demands attachment destruction cards which can only be found in Crab and Dragon. If some sort or neutral conflict attachment destruction becomes available in the future then yes, this makes a great addition to a crab splash. But even then, you would be mainly looking for Pathfinders Blade and Reprieve, leaving you to wonder if you prefer STD or Hiruma Skirmisher to fill out the rest of your slots.
Top Rated Neutral/Splashable cards :
1) Hawk Tattoo (4.75)
2) Imperial Librarian (4.2)
3) Mark of Shame (4.0)
4) Ancient Master (3.8)
5) Upholding Authority (3.5)
Average rating : 3.1
Chuterêve – 3.5/5
This is a hard card to review again. I think Storyteller never stopped to have a good amount of potential but never quite found at home in Crane decks, other than the occasional Cloud the Mind build. Previously, I compared him favorably to Takako and Kudaka, so I’d better have good things to say about him.
Cycle 2 gave us Callow delegate and Soul Beyond Repproach to honor our characters more effectively, so in my mind, it was the time for Storyteller to see the sun. After all, it has the potential to draw you a ton of cards before leaving play. That being said, Storyteller put a disappointing performance in my Crane/Scorpion testing. I am not running Cloud the Mind in it but thought that it was still worth the testing. The issue I had is that I almost never really wanted to buy Storyteller because I preferred Hotaru and Yoshi who have very good stats honored, strong abilities and only cost one fate more. It’s also quite hard in Crane to play characters that are supposed to generate value for the long term when you need to address the board and push the tempo as soon as possible.
So does Storyteller not fit at all in any of our decks? I am not that skeptical because he put a decent performance in my Crane/Uni keeper build where I am already playing for long term value a lot more than I would be in a Scorpion or Dragon splash. Crane/Uni also runs CTM quite easily thanks to Wayfinder and the critical mass of attachments, so that’s a plus as well.
In hindsight, I think Storyteller is a 4/5 cards but because I am not sure we will able to quite find him the ideal home in cycle 2, I will rate it a little less. Crane players should keep experimenting with him though because there might be an ideal build for him somewhere out there.
Erik – 2.5/5
One final review of an old card, inspired by new synergies granted by the Elemental Cycle. We have Soul Beyond Reproach and Callow Delegate as important new honoring tools, and that would seem to make Storyteller better. Unfortunately the rest of the shugenja cast is still too weak to run Cloud the Mind, and if you are not running Cloud the Mind then the shugenja trait on Storyteller is pure downside (mainly due to Against the Waves bowing it). The card draw this provides is too slow for my taste, as you need honored characters leaving play before getting any benefit.
Liforre – 3.5/5
This card has always been pretty good : two relevant traits, very nice 4/6 honored body and you don’t really need that much honor synergies to be very playable. To be honest, Crane 4+ drops aren’t that good (GoH excluded obviously), so this could definetely replace some numbers of Hotaru, especially if you need him to be able to play some cloud the mind. Win the award of “Best new old card”.
Onimaru – 3/5
I have long been a fan of this card and it used to be the lynchpin shugenja I would use to play Cloud the Mind. However, with so many ways of honoring characters now we can actually get some real use out of his natural ability. I feel like he has an obvious place in our new burgeoning Honor decks, but am still unsure if any of those will be top tier after this cycle. Unfortunately, as of right now I feel like anyone looking to add solid Shugenja support to their deck would be better served by Kudaka
Cloud the Mind
Average rating : 2.8
Chuterêve – 3.5/5
A lot of non-Crane players hardly understand why we were not already playing Cloud the Mind on cycle 2 or Kudaka in the beginning of cycle 3 just to enable CtM.
It’s true that Cloud the Mind would be one of our only tools against very oppressive characters like Tadaka or Lion Pride Brawler but sadly, Dragon splash has always been very present in the meta. Playing only Cloud the mind as a non-fan/non-katana attachment means that it will be targeted by Let Go every time your opponent has it *unless* you run a critical amount of attachments, something that Crane did not had a lot success with previously because of how strongly they need to needed attachment hate themselves to answer the meta (read : Crab mainly but Dragon too and Uni now).
Then, there is the Voice of Honor argument than I have heard a lot: We have Voice to protect our Cloud from Let go, so it has to be fine, right? In a lot of matchups, we already have a good number of impactful events to counter so that would mean that we would be forced to counter one more of those events, costing 0 fate and playing 3x in a lot of deck. While it can be situationally worth it, I don’t think it’s mathematically worth it.
So where can Cloud the Mind find a home? I think you already guessed it: If keeper Crane/Unicorn ever become played competitively enough, it would be the perfect fit for it because we run a critical amount attachment in it, thanks to Spyglass and Talisman of the Sun.
Erik – 2/5
Cloud is getting evaluated again based on the number of new Crane or neutral shugenja. I will keep this brief: none of the shugenja are that good, and putting them in your deck is still too big of a cost to enable this. One place I can see Cloud the Mind being good is in a Crane/Unicorn Keeper of Air deck: you would have Iuchi Wayfinder as a strong shugenja, and enough attachments to make sure your Clouds are not obvious targets for Let Go. Just how good is this Keeper deck compared to the more standard Seeker options? Find out next week in part 3 of this series 😉
Liforre – 3/5
Well, in theory, we got some new shugenjas this cycle: Fui Sui Disciple, Takako and Kudaka. As we have seen, they sadly aren’t that good. Some crane players were already playing Cloud The Mind post cycle 1 though, which is obviously a very good card in itself. I still think that the new shugenja options aren’t good enough to allow it to become an auto include in Crane.
The problem with Cloud the Mind wasn’t that we didn’t have enough shugenja to run it, we did! Any deck with 6-9 shugenja in it could easily fit 2-3 Cloud the Mind in it, it just required players to be a bit more careful about the cards they held onto in their provinces(and their willingness to give Asahina Artisan a chance!). However, the real problem with Cloud the Mind is that as soon as you play it it will almost certainly be discarded. The current meta requires mosts decks to run a full suite of attachment destruction cards. And since the only attachments Crane tends to run are Fine Katana and Ornate Fan, Cloud the Mind practically has a “blow me up!” sign on it. Now, not only does Kudaka provide us some shugenja support, she actually manages to be useful in her own right (A lesson all of our shugenja somehow missed in shugenja school)! Cloud the Mind is still vulnerable, but in a deck with heavy use attachments such as a Crane/Unicorn or Crane/Crab it can easily be played.
Average rating : 3.6
Chuterêve – 4/5
There it is. I am of the opinion that Noble Sacrifice was already a 4/5 card before cycle 2, but the fact that it was so hard to use effectively some games made it a 1x (though a perfect 1x). 2x Noble Sacrifice was never something aberrant but it was considered a small risk.
Now that we have Crane/Scorpion builds with access to Mark of Shame, Noble Sacrifice has become more reliable.
That being said, I still think trying to fit 3 Noble Sacrifice and 3 Mark of Shame in one deck to make it a focused “Kill deck” is a mistake because there are still going to be games where Noble Sacrifice and Mark Shame will be either almost dead in hand or quite ineffective fate and card advantage wise to trigger. I think a 2/2 is a way less greedy option that can cost you less games in the long run.
Erik – 3/5
We are reviewing Noble Sacrifice because it gained significant synergy options in the Elemental Cycle. Does that it viable to build your deck with 3x NS, aiming to discard big characters in almost all games? Unfortunately, for me the answer is no. Crab and Dragon are tough opponents for any Crane deck, and their plentiful saves (Crab) or the comination of Reprieve+Finger of Jade+Censure (Dragon) make the all-out kill strategy unreliable at best against them. In my opinion, Noble Sacrifice is in the same place it was before the cycle: a solid 1x
Liforre – 4/5
This card has always been a very good x1, sometimes x2. Having an honored character usually wasn’t the problem, and we won tons of ways to honor, making it even easier. The real problem is dishonoring, as a smart opponent won’t have trouble playing around it. Obviously, Mark of Shame solve that particular problem which make it that much better. Still, 3x Noble Sacrifice is probably a little bit too much, as it can be a dead card in your hand quite often.
Onimaru – 3.5/5
As I have been saying a lot in this series of articles, Noble Sacrifice has gained a lot of tools to help it go off more reliably. In fact, it is entirely possible now to blow up your opponents biggest character before the first conflict even begins. That said, this is still no “fire-and-forget” card. It still needs to be set up and the environment has a lot of answers that can shut it down. Even the combo I mentioned above cost upwards to 4-5 fate and 3 cards to pull off. It may not be worth running at 3x right now, but any deck with Mark of Shame should have no problem slotting at least 2 of these in the deck, which is already a vast improvement for it.