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Ryoshun Higoka

The Tenets of Player Bushido

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Bushido, at least as far as Rokugan is concerned, is comprised of the Seven Virtues handed down by Akodo. Compassion, Courtesy, Courage, Duty, Honesty, Honor, and Sincerity are the laws by which all honorable Samurai should live their lives. I would respectfully submit to the community my ideas behind the Seven Tenets of Player Bushido, that we may strive to play with honor. Please keep in mind that this is more of a thought-exercise of how Akodo's Bushido can apply to everyday gameplay, and not a sermon on how players should think and act or they're "doing it wrong". Cool? Cool. Let's go.

Compassion: We're a diverse bunch. Each of us comes from a different family, different sets of circumstances, different belief systems. What unites us is our enjoyment of the world of Rokugan and our investment in it. We must strive to be inclusive of all, treat each other with respect, and help new players. We must all work hard to make sure that our community of players is a welcoming one and tolerant of those with whom we disagree. "One must bow to offer aid to a fallen man", indeed.

Courage: As players, we must have the courage to be curious and challenge ourselves to new play styles and experiences. "Courage is not the absense of fear. Courage is being afraid and doing what needs to be done anyway." It can be comforting to play the same deck the same way, assured of your likely victory... but challenge yourself to step outside of that comfort. If you're dedicated to one clan, try another one for a game or two. If you're a relentless attacker, try playing a deck that encourages a more defensive style. If you rely on the same few tricks to win your games, maybe it's time to retire them in the name of a more challenging - dare I say courageous - experience!

Courtesy: When you disagree with someone, disagree respectfully. When you defeat your opponent, congratulate them on a game well-fought. When you lose, accept your defeat graciously. If your opponent is new, help them with the rules and suggest things they could do better in the next game. Above all, maintain the practice of being a good sport and keeping your gaming fun and civil for all involved.

Duty and Loyalty: We have a responsibility to our community, whether it's the L5R community at large, our families, or our regular playgroups. Whatever you define as your community, make sure that you represent them in a positive way and remember your responsibilities. Remember when it's your turn to get the pizza. If you strongly identify with a particular clan, be a positive ambassador for that clan. If your group wants to get the game started at 8:00, be there at 7:45, prepared for the night and ready to go. Remember that your friends are more important than a gaming experience, and try to always do right by your fellow players.

Honesty: This should really go without saying, but play honestly. Own your mistakes and learn from them, and never be afraid to acknowledge them. Remember that dishonesty might lead to short-term gains, but you will lose the respect of your fellow players for life.

Honor: It falls on you to do the right thing. Whether that's reminding an opponent of an advantage they'd forgotten or returning a lost card to a fellow player, we all have an innate sense of how to act "with honor". Honor is not stiffly holding yourself above others because of your personal code. Honor is holding yourself to a personal code for your own self-betterment - the positive impact on those around you is its own reward. I remember all of the cheats I've ever played against. I remember the honorable players much more fondly.

Sincerity: Do what you'll say you'll do. Use your words carefully, and mean what you say. Don't embrace cynicism, sarcasm, or irony - find in yourself the unabashed enjoyment of your game, and be true to who you really are. We all wrap a shell of weary cynicism around us as we age - fight against that to get to the better self you know you are. Believe in your ability and be honest in your internal monologue. We're all fallible humans, enjoying a game together - the least we can do is be honest with ourselves (and others) about ourselves. Never give up on yourself.


Of course, the dark shadow of self-serving Shourido lurks just around the corner. The urge to always win your game, at whatever cost, is strong - avoid these pitfalls to walk in the light of Bushido:


Control: Let your fellow players grow. Let all of you make mistakes and learn from them. Resist the urge to manipulate games to your advantage, whether it's by not pointing out a dis-advantageous rule or intimidating a player with your play style, the pull of Control is seductive and dangerous. Embrace Compassion and Honesty instead.

Determination: We all want to win - that's the nature of competitive gaming. At the end of the game experience, someone will have won and someone will have lost. The victor should understand how their path to victory was forged, and the loser must learn from the mistakes or decisions that they made. However, when the need to win becomes too strong and nothing - not fair play and certainly not fun - will stand in your way, you are falling into the darkness of Determination. Winning is great. Winning at all costs is forgetting your Courage and Duty. Don't be afraid to fail, and never forget that it's just a game. A great game, but a game.

Insight: You've seen this person play a million times. You know their deck as well as they do. Nothing they can do is a surprise. You know the move they're going to make before they do. You've researched the metagame, you know the counters and plays that will bring you inevitable victory. That's... fun? Reject this dark path of Insight. Embrace curiosity and keep yourself open to new experiences. Remember your Sincerity and Courtesy - it's no fun for anybody to assume you know what their game is going to be before they play a single card.

Knowledge: Knowledge is great. I am firmly in favor of learning everything you can about everything you can. However, we should draw the line at learning things to attempt to gain an unfair advantage over your fellow players. Net-decking, rules-lawyering... these are not the actions of honorable Samurai. Not to mention trying to sneak glances at your opponent's hand or top card! Be Sincere and Honest in your life-long learning.

Perfection: You should always strive to be the best you can be, adapting to changes in the gaming landscape and learning what you can about your approach to playing. When this becomes less about bettering yourself and more about always being right and playing perfectly, you're limiting yourself to a less-fun experience. And worst of all, attempting to impose this unrelenting perfection on others makes you obnoxious to play with. Be more Courageous and play with Compassion - failure in a game does not translate to failure in life. It's okay to lose. It's okay to be wrong about something. Step back and allow yourself to laugh at yourself for taking things way too seriously. Allow yourself to embrace fun.

Strength: Smash your enemies. Intimidate new players. Flex your bank account, your years of experience, whatever weapons you have at your disposal to make others feel like they're less than you. ...And then look around, wondering where all of the fun people have gone. Reject the toxicity of Strength; show your true might through your Sincerity and Compassion. Be welcoming of new players and be demonstrate your ability to be gregarious and enjoyable. Don't fall into the trap of thinking that keeping yourself up means pushing others down.

Will: You know the right way to play, the only correct way to game. Other viewpoints confuse and enrage you. You will stick to your guns no matter what, because you are right, and any challenge to that is a challenge against common sense itself. ...Come on, man. You know, you have to know deep down, that you don't have all of the answers. Don't let yourself get trapped in the snare of rigidity - embrace change and difference, the virtues of Sincerity, Compassion, and Courage. You'll be amazed at how much better you feel when you can acknowledge mistakes and be brave enough to change your mind and tactics.



Anyway, that's my wall-o-text. I'd like to point out that this is purely written from the context of fun/casual/no-money-on-the-line gaming, and I'm certainly not calling on everyone to hold themselves to this concept of Bushido. It's probably also important to view these concepts through the lens of Bushido/Shourido, and not modern, contemporary sensibilities - I just think it's a good conversation-starter for all of us preparing to launch into a new game in an old world, and I'm certainly going to try to hold myself to a standard when I play.


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From my experience with the community that plays games like this, the vast majority are good apples.  It's highly unusual that I run into someone that doesn't meet those standards.  When I do, it's usually someone that was "forced" to come along by another player.

Edited by slowreflex

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Disclaimer: I get that this is a post from 2017, but it came up on a Google search, and I couldn't not respond after I read it.


This is one of the best gaming pieces I've ever read.  I just copy/pasted it into a Word document to show friends & family.  Given some of my bad experiences with the playerbases of other games versus my good experiences with my fellows in Legend of the Five Rings, thankfully, I can say that folks seem to believe in this.  Thank you, sir, for so eloquently putting this forward.  May you find all that you seek.

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