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PsiNorm

My Thoughts on Shadowlands in L5R Card Game

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I'll try to keep this short, because I'm interested in hearing other peoples thoughts on this too.

 

The reason I love this game (though I haven't played in years, I'm sure people are tired of me talking about it all the time), is the setting and more importantly the story. For this reason, I loved the Shadowlands mechanic in the early game. It was a source of power, but with the potential of ruin (and I loved how jade was used to combat it). Players would either attempt to corrupt their clan or keep it pure, and that always interested me (tournament results corrupting a clan always sent ripples - or ruptures - through the players for a long time after). They were able to make the Shadowlands cards powerful, and were able to create powerful cards to combat the Shadowlands, adding to the tug of war with the taint. There were real potential consequences to using the power of the taint in your deck, plus there was the honour cost of using the cards that made playing too many cards could destroy you in game as well.

 

When they made the Shadowlands a playable faction, everything changed for the worse. The cards had to be toned down since suddenly every powerful card was playable in a deck without the honour cost limitations. Eventually, the power anti-Shadowlands cards had to be toned down so one faction didn't autolose to an Iris Festival (Destroy all Shadowlands cards <-- such a fun card to exist when playing with the taint in your deck - not when it's your whole deck). The appeal of including Shadowlands card into your deck was reduced, maybe to the point where it was only done to corrupt a clan rather than make it more powerful.

 

The second issue with making the Shadowlands a playable faction, is that by playing those cards, you're basically giving another faction a win. Phoenix won a tourney using Shadowlands cards and became corrupt? Yea, Shadowlands! I don't need to go into this much; it's pretty simple, and this has gotten long already.

 

I liked it when the Shadowlands was a horror, a powerful corrupting force that threatened to rot the empire and it's beauty. When it became just another army of dudes no stronger than any other dude, it lost it's most interesting story element; the allure and consequences of evil, and mankind's fight to overcome it or try to control it). I'm not going to talk about the Spider clan, I stopped playing a few years after they showed up, and they always felt "off" in regards to the story. I understand they had to do it to help correct the issues created by making the Shadowlands playable, I just wonder why they felt the need to remove the teeth from the Shadowlands in the first place?

 

I hope with FFG, we see a return the the horror of the Shadowlands. What do you think? Have we moved past the late 90's early 2000's when everyone wanted to play the bad guys? Do you think L5R will even be as interested in telling good stories with this transition?

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I agree with all that has been said here. While Jigoku now acts with the calculated menace of Daigotsu, it does not have to be that way in-game. Let's have it go back to being a mindless, uncontrollable force of nature, rather than a deck that a player can sit behind.

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well this will be a fun thread. because as we've seen with the last four or five of these lately, nothing makes for fun, friendly, conversation than discussion about how one part of the fanbase thinks the shadowlands/taint/spider/horde/whatever is dumb and even though its been in the game basically forever l5r isn't really ABOUT that man. 

 

let me save us all some time. 

 

it should be about samurai not monsters!

daigotsu is a mary sue!

spider clan ruined everything!

 

that about covers it. 

 

edit: to be clear, i'm not dropping a dime on the guy who started this thread, i get what you're saying. i'm just anticipating the inevitable and predictable shitshow that this topic will devolve into. 

Edited by cielago

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I agree with all that has been said here. While Jigoku now acts with the calculated menace of Daigotsu, it does not have to be that way in-game. Let's have it go back to being a mindless, uncontrollable force of nature, rather than a deck that a player can sit behind.

 

this, however, i will take specific exception to. the whole "mindless uncontrollable" thing is just crap. its a total misconception that hasn't been true of the shadowlands since basically the VERY first set. its no more true that the horde should the mindless and uncontrollable than the unicorns should be gaijin, uncultured mongols who can't speak properly and can't function in court. its a relic of the very earliest fluff of the very earliest days of the game. look back at the cards and the story. SHL started fielding Lost and other NONmindless characters in increasing numbers very early, and while we always had oni SHOCKINGLY they made for very poor characters in the story and so the story team started coming up with INTERESTING villains. (as an aside, for all you daigotsu cry-babies, this is why he's both well written and got a lot of screen time. good villains make good stories). the mindless thing was long gone by the time i picked up a shadowlands deck in gold and that was a VERY long time ago. 

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Nor was Daigotsu the only Shadowlands figure with agency- Omoni, the Tsuno, and several of the more powerful Oni (hello Kyoso!) are all interesting and engaging (at least to me) precisely because, while they were still fundamentally opposed to Rokugan, they still had clearly defined personal characters and motives. The in-setting philosophical question of whether they truly had free will, or whether it was simply in Jigoku's interests to allow them to act as if they did, is irrelevant- from a storytelling perspective, they were good and interesting characters, for whom I have expressed my fondness in the past, and will likely do so again, whatever FFG does to the storyline.

 

Not touching the Spider.

 

Personally, I love the Shadowlands, I loved playing Horde decks, and I would do so again if the environment made it feasible. However, they raise a whole mess of mechanical issues that no other faction did; and while those issues are potentially resolvable by various means, it's probably more effort to balance them than it's worth, and introducing the faction without those elements at all (immunity to Dishonour, ability to play Shadowlands cards more readily, etc.) would seem pointless. I have seen the notion of a Sensei-like mechanic (futile to consider exactly how it might work at some stage, but something of the sort should be possible) suggested, to give some kind of incentive to play Shadowlands cards, albeit presumably with some cost- this seems a solid idea, though I'm not sure it would work for me (I like the Shadowlands as an external enemy, but would never deliberately corrupt a Rokugani Clan). Otherwise, I doubt the Shadowlands is going away entirely, though I wouldn't be overly surprised if it never became a fully-fledged faction of its own. As for stories... we have no more idea of what FFG wants to do with the story than we have of what it wants to do with mechanics, so who knows? Jigoku will always be an existential threat to Rokugan. How it's treated, is impossible to tell.

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The Shadowlands is a crucial part of L5R. If this game was going to have some sort of co-op mode it could be saved for an automated deck style along the lines of LOTR, but since I'm pretty sure (and I hope) this is more of a 2v2 or multi-faction game (hoping for 4-6 players, teams optional?), the Shadowlands could use their own "Clan" (and I'd love to see Naga and Ratlings represented too).

Edited by seventhbeacon

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Evil Portents basically has a Horde Sensei: http://imperialassembly.com/oracle/#cardid=12581I would so play this guy out of Dragon. 

 

However having a Horde Sensei would be a cool thing and could give us the ability to play the bad guys out of every stronghold.

 

You can actually introduce that for a lot of things that could transcend clans, instead of trying to wrap it all up in the Spider Clan:

Horde, Lost, Nothing, Spider Sohei, Kolat and even some old familiar faces like Brotherhood of Shinsei.

Edited by Yandia

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I love this sensei. Acutally the only smal thing is the gold restriction but all the other things are just great.  And best thing to note it is actually a crane so it also shows there are people who are supectabel to go along with the Spider and Shadowlands.

Edited by Teveshszat

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I agree with all that has been said here. While Jigoku now acts with the calculated menace of Daigotsu, it does not have to be that way in-game. Let's have it go back to being a mindless, uncontrollable force of nature, rather than a deck that a player can sit behind.

 

this, however, i will take specific exception to. the whole "mindless uncontrollable" thing is just crap. its a total misconception that hasn't been true of the shadowlands since basically the VERY first set. its no more true that the horde should the mindless and uncontrollable than the unicorns should be gaijin, uncultured mongols who can't speak properly and can't function in court. its a relic of the very earliest fluff of the very earliest days of the game. look back at the cards and the story. SHL started fielding Lost and other NONmindless characters in increasing numbers very early, and while we always had oni SHOCKINGLY they made for very poor characters in the story and so the story team started coming up with INTERESTING villains. (as an aside, for all you daigotsu cry-babies, this is why he's both well written and got a lot of screen time. good villains make good stories). the mindless thing was long gone by the time i picked up a shadowlands deck in gold and that was a VERY long time ago.

I meant from a mechanical (in-game) perspective. From a flavor perspective, they are not so much mindless, as unknowable. Does that sound fair?

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I agree with all that has been said here. While Jigoku now acts with the calculated menace of Daigotsu, it does not have to be that way in-game. Let's have it go back to being a mindless, uncontrollable force of nature, rather than a deck that a player can sit behind.

 

this, however, i will take specific exception to. the whole "mindless uncontrollable" thing is just crap. its a total misconception that hasn't been true of the shadowlands since basically the VERY first set. its no more true that the horde should the mindless and uncontrollable than the unicorns should be gaijin, uncultured mongols who can't speak properly and can't function in court. its a relic of the very earliest fluff of the very earliest days of the game. look back at the cards and the story. SHL started fielding Lost and other NONmindless characters in increasing numbers very early, and while we always had oni SHOCKINGLY they made for very poor characters in the story and so the story team started coming up with INTERESTING villains. (as an aside, for all you daigotsu cry-babies, this is why he's both well written and got a lot of screen time. good villains make good stories). the mindless thing was long gone by the time i picked up a shadowlands deck in gold and that was a VERY long time ago.

I meant from a mechanical (in-game) perspective. From a flavor perspective, they are not so much mindless, as unknowable. Does that sound fair?

 

i'm not sure i follow. you think they should be mechanically mindless? as in non-playable? i'd obviously have objection to that, but i think i follow what you're saying. 

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I meant from a mechanical (in-game) perspective. From a flavor perspective, they are not so much mindless, as unknowable. Does that sound fair?

 

i'm not sure i follow. you think they should be mechanically mindless? as in non-playable? i'd obviously have objection to that, but i think i follow what you're saying. 

 

 

Well, someone was looking for solitaire rules, right? :D

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I don't know why I said mindless. I guess I was trying to describe the philosophical difference between a straight-up Shadowlands deck, and a Clan deck thaf makes use of a Shadowlands subtheme. I realize it probably sounds like I was deriding the Shadowlands playstyle but I wasn't, really. I guess "straightforward" is more the word I wanted.

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Before anyone else says it, L5R is a game about samurai, not monsters!

But seriously, the Shadowlands is a very important element of the setting, along with everything that goes with it: the Taint, corruption for power, external threats, Jade, etc.

However, I echo the op...Shadowlands as a playable faction disturbs the balance of the game. I have always believed the Shadowlands should be playable without being a playable faction, except perhaps as a "mini-game" (solitaire or everyone vs. the Shadowlands).

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the way they described they were planning on doing the mantis in Onyx is exactly how i've sort of always thought shadowlands might run best. no box of its own, but a series of overlays (sensei or whatever), with sufficient personalities and other support. corruption from within, in other words. that works whether we're talking spider or the horde. it doesn't avoid the narrative issues though. 

 

but we've already had this conversation in the other thread, for like 15 pages. 

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Evil monsters always need a Boss Monster or there is little climax to finishing the level.

The struggle between Iuchiban and Daigotsu was my favorite post Clan War story. Only Kokujin vs Satsu/Mitsu and company came anywhere close.

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Corruption is a far better way to deal with Shadowlands than having the classic oni/demon/monster horde just from all the potential story lines alone. Having that big smashy monster is still fun but a Shadowlands faction really really needs to fit in better with the new game. Otherwise, the Spider can perform the same job and can mess far better with the other clans.

 

On Ikikashi Sensei: he's a fun little card. Even the oni in the set are quite fun. I do wonder how the set will affect the Kotei coming up and how those results will be used by FFG. AEG is giving them the results but who knows what that's going to do for the new game.

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Evil monsters always need a Boss Monster or there is little climax to finishing the level.

 

So many things about this are the opposite of the way I hope FFG is thinking about L5R, at least for the LCG. It's not a video game.

 

 

Yeah, it just depends on what they do with the monsters. The best one I remember was Oni no Okura, an oni that actually becomes redeemed, kills one of the biggest baddest oni, but falls to her wounds. That character alone is one of the reasons why I still like experienced characters and how they tell a story.

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Evil monsters always need a Boss Monster or there is little climax to finishing the level.

 

So many things about this are the opposite of the way I hope FFG is thinking about L5R, at least for the LCG. It's not a video game.

 

I'm quoting this for emphasis...

BD and I differ in many ways on what we hope the emphasis of the game, design, and FFG's plans will be...

But "Boss Monsters" are something we evidently share a profound distaste for.Much as I think Daigotsu is a noxious growth the Spider Clan has never been able to escape from, what value he DOES have comes not from his being The Boss of the Shadowlands, but from his actions as a character.

It's why he still has a hold on a large fanbase, while Fu Leng has basically been allowed to lapse into obscurity. It's why Iuchiban being gone for good caused no real tears to be shed.

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Evil monsters always need a Boss Monster or there is little climax to finishing the level.

 

So many things about this are the opposite of the way I hope FFG is thinking about L5R, at least for the LCG. It's not a video game.

 

I'm quoting this for emphasis...

BD and I differ in many ways on what we hope the emphasis of the game, design, and FFG's plans will be...

But "Boss Monsters" are something we evidently share a profound distaste for.Much as I think Daigotsu is a noxious growth the Spider Clan has never been able to escape from, what value he DOES have comes not from his being The Boss of the Shadowlands, but from his actions as a character.

It's why he still has a hold on a large fanbase, while Fu Leng has basically been allowed to lapse into obscurity. It's why Iuchiban being gone for good caused no real tears to be shed.

 

 

While I don't like "boss monsters" either, I can see why some players enjoy them and the old shadowlands. First, they were pure, unadulterated evil. Secondly, they were usually big frikken' characters. Lastly, they belonged to the what most people may see as the more classic era of L5R. This was the same era as the other legends in the lore and there's quite a bit of nostalgia factor here. 

Edited by Kubernes

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Evil monsters always need a Boss Monster or there is little climax to finishing the level.

 

So many things about this are the opposite of the way I hope FFG is thinking about L5R, at least for the LCG. It's not a video game.

 

I'm quoting this for emphasis...

BD and I differ in many ways on what we hope the emphasis of the game, design, and FFG's plans will be...

But "Boss Monsters" are something we evidently share a profound distaste for.Much as I think Daigotsu is a noxious growth the Spider Clan has never been able to escape from, what value he DOES have comes not from his being The Boss of the Shadowlands, but from his actions as a character.

It's why he still has a hold on a large fanbase, while Fu Leng has basically been allowed to lapse into obscurity. It's why Iuchiban being gone for good caused no real tears to be shed.

 

this is a very accurate analysis, as far as i can tell, of why Daigotsu has stayed popular and why random bit boss monsters are bad. good stories need good villains. 

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Evil monsters always need a Boss Monster or there is little climax to finishing the level.

 

So many things about this are the opposite of the way I hope FFG is thinking about L5R, at least for the LCG. It's not a video game.

 

I'm quoting this for emphasis...

BD and I differ in many ways on what we hope the emphasis of the game, design, and FFG's plans will be...

But "Boss Monsters" are something we evidently share a profound distaste for.Much as I think Daigotsu is a noxious growth the Spider Clan has never been able to escape from, what value he DOES have comes not from his being The Boss of the Shadowlands, but from his actions as a character.

It's why he still has a hold on a large fanbase, while Fu Leng has basically been allowed to lapse into obscurity. It's why Iuchiban being gone for good caused no real tears to be shed.

 

this is a very accurate analysis, as far as i can tell, of why Daigotsu has stayed popular and why random bit boss monsters are bad. good stories need good villains. 

 

 

And a good villain needs a good story. 

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