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Monty Pillepalle

Love the game, hate the cards, an essay on the cardpool and cautious erratas

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As the first month of L5R rolled by, we could all make some substantial experience with the new L5R. While the first big tournaments concluded and local tournament scenes sprang up all around the world, the first meta of the game is forming. I think most of us would agree that L5R in its recent incarnation is by all means an amazing game. Even the more daring concepts as the removal of a buildable economy and the lack of character permanence have paid off in dividends. The responsible designers deserve a healthy praise (and maybe a raise). This will not be followed by a ‘but’.

A completely separate issue is the cardpool. I have been very active in the old L5R scenes starting with samurai edition, winning many major tournaments, dabbled into conquest, invasion and played quiet some magic in my time. Through all my time flipping cards competitively, I have never seen a cardpool in such an atrocious state as in the L5R LCG. Currently, the L5R cardpool seems to be a negative example of all possible mistakes one can make during card design: oppressive cards create negative play experiences for new and experienced players alike, vast imbalances in factions, card costs and effects are common, extremely swingy feast or famine design, randomness above playskill and a whole faction designed to not make the time limit in tournament play. I am well aware that this kind of criticism can come across as a petty rant of a guy on a losing streak, who is unable to adapt his playstyle to new cards. I can assure you, this is not the case here. I anticipate the most common response to be: Deal with it, learn to play around these cards. To those I say: This argument is simply avoiding a discussion, as it can be used to defend any card, even a +100 skill card without any costs. Additionally, look at the numbers, look at the amount of dragon influence, check how many games can’t finish in time in a tournament setting. These are hard numbers and they do not lie, something needs to be done. I care very deeply about L5R, I want the game to prosper long term. In this Essay I want to list the current flaws of the cardpool and suggest a set of minimal invasive erratas that will most likely offend no one. I believe that the game could be one of the most amazing ever to be ever conceived, if actions are taken before the initial hype around the game is fading and its current flaws get more apparent.

But first what is wrong with the game? To make one thing clear, this is not a text about ‘Unicorn is to weak’ or ‘this and that is not balanced’. No one expected a new game to be completely balanced, so I won’t strive for an unrealistically long list of changes to achieve balance from my limited point of view. I am more concerned with issues that can suck the fun and competitive nature right out of the game, the absolute outliers. As such, only extreme cases will be addressed. Most issues can be attributed to three categories:

Oppressive card effects: at first glance, one could think that I am talking only about cancel effects. While these are most certainly a part of the issue, this also addresses cards that rob the opponent of any choices or ability to formulate any kind of offensive game plan, resulting into a stalemate or none-interactive loss. Sometimes in L5R, all you do is watch while all meaningful cards you play get negated and your opponent completely dictates where you can and cannot attack or defend. Control and disruptive cards are not generally a bad thing. However when they come in larger quantities, no cost and only minimal restrictions, they can accumulate. Offenders are: Lions Pride Brawler, Doji Challenger, Political Debate, the magistrates and to a certain extend even let go. It is not always about balance here, but about the quality of your game experience. This point hits the casual players the hardest, as not being able to do anything or make any good decisions is almost the textbook definition of a negative play experience.

Restrictions to the metagame: we all know of the ridiculous amount of dragon splash in the meta. As it currently stands, this won’t change, as these cards are just too universally applicable and efficient. With let go in every deck, why even print attachments with a cost of 2 or more.  On the same note, a single card, assassinate, completely dictates how you can play the first turn, taking a lot of depth away from the game. The way deckbuilding is designed, the number of choices are already very limited, even relative to the actual size of the card pool.  As certain patterns of play become invalid immediately due to the ever presence of their counter cards, deckbuilding decisions are very limited, leading to a stale metagame.

Randomness: The biggest offenders for this point are provinces. I personally think that the whole concept is the antithesis of a competitive game. But as long as the effects are not game defining, I could live with them. However, currently they are. Three major offenders come to mind: Shameful display, restoration of balance and feast or famine. If your chance of winning a game is shifted by over 30% by what province you hit on your first turn, that’s a problem. I often read that these issues are preventable by playing around these provinces. And for most provinces, this is actually possible, rewarding good players in the process. In the cases mentioned above, the measures that need to be taken to avoid a catastrophe in 25% of cases cripple you too hard in the remaining 75%. For shameful display, no intelligent outplay is available.  But provinces are not the only offenders. Many decks rely on a small number of power cards to an absurd degree. Lion with or without lions Pride Brawler are two different factions altogether. A T1 assassinate goes a very, very long way to victory. Take Way of the Crane from a crane deck and watch how its win rate drops by double digits. This point hits the competitive scene the hardest.

To make L5R a better game and to start a discussion, I want to suggest a number of minimal invasive erratas to make the game more interactive, less clownishly random and simply put, more fun.

 

The Measures:

 

1.: Nerf the dragon conflict deck.

The dragon conflict decks contains card which are applicable in almost every turn of every game regardless of the matchup while having very low cost and potentially very high impacts. I would suggest to slightly nerf three cards: Let Go, Miromotos Fury and Tattooed Wanderer.

Let Go:Action: Choose an attachment and give your opponent one honor – discard the attachment.’

As every deck at least contains the no-cost attachment, let go trades a card for a card in the worst of cases. However, its presence crushes more pricy attachments. So we have a card that is always worth to have in your hand, has no cost and a huge potential impact. It needs to have a cost, so you at least have to think about using it on a fine katana. It can’t cost 1 fate, as dragon decks are already very expensive, but an honor can easily be given, not to over-nerf the card.

Tatooed Wanderer: Lower the military stat to 1.

A personality with a relevant keyword and 3 stats for 1 is a good card. An attachment that gives covert for one is a good card. Card that can be both is not taxing the flexibility of this card at all. With a military stat of one, this is still a very usable card for every deck.

Miromotos Fury:Action: During a conflict, if you control fewer characters in this battle than you opponent, your opponent chooses an attacking character with glory lower than X – bow that character. X is equal to the number of unrevealed provinces you control.’

Miromotos Fury is most often used to tie an undefended conflict or save a province. This is already very powerful and warrants inclusion by itself. The ability to easily win an opposed defense makes the card to flexible. The very thematic restriction of needing to have fever defenders than attackers prevents the fury to easily decide one-on-one situations. Furthermore, the current restriction can be almost ignored. It can still be used on every character outside of phoenix on the second attack. Even while defending your stronghold you can probably still find targets for this action, as one province is most likely not revealed.

In general, the nerf of the dragon deck opens up for more variety in deckbuilding. All 3 nerfed cards are still very good cards and some decks may not change their splash because of it. But now, they have to pay a little more for them while achieving a little less flexibility. Dragon will still be a very strong clan, I can’t see how these nerfs will change that. With fewer let go in the meta game, expensive attachments might be at least playable.

 

2.: Nerf Oppressive cards.

Cancel effects are good for a game, but poison when to readily available. Some cancel effects are clever, they hide as something else. Political debate is such a clever cancel effect. It not only takes a lot of intelligent guessing and skill out of the game by looking at your opponents hand, it also cancels his best card before he can even play it. In general cancel effects come at too little of a cost in resources, restriction or opportunity cost. Similarly, some cards heavily dictate how your opponent can play, leaving him only bad choices. This is ok when it happens in card combination or comes at high costs, but on single readily available cards with moderate costs and good stats, its just to much.

Lions Pride Brawler: ‘Action: While this character is attacking, choose an opposing character with lower mil skill than this character – bow that character

You all saw this coming and most of you predicted that nerf. She will still be one of the stronger characters in the game.

Doji Challenger: Action: While this character is attacking, choose a character controlled by your opponent – your opponent may choose to move that character to the conflict or give you one honor’

As was the case with lions pride brawler, the dojo challenger negates your opponent’s ability to make any meaningful decisions. Whatever you do, your best character will not be attacking. While the Brawler had the stronger ability, the challenger is king when it comes to stats: 3 mil, 3 pol and 2 glory combined with two (potentially) relevant keywords is just too much. With such a statline, you could almost do without an ability. Drag your opponent’s best dude in a conflict type he cannot perform in and laugh. The new ability is way weaker, but still very potent. However, you opponent will not feel strangled.

Forged Edict: Increase the influence value from two to three.

I personally would not have printed so many cancel effects with so little cost. However, this could be my personal judgment, maybe this is ok. A few cancel effects do not hurt a game. Being able to easily mass them in one deck without paying any real opportunity cost does hurt this game. Censure is the card with the fairest restriction. Phoenix can take it more easily, but at least all clans can compete. Voice of honor is an almost Crane exclusive card. Other decks can play it, especially lion, however, it is hard to activate it before entering a conflict outside of crane. And it is unplaybale out of scorpion. Forged edict is very, very easily playable out of crane (and many other clans) and it does not conflict with Voice of Honor. Hence, a heavy cancel deck is built too easily with too little of a real cost. Currently, a 6 cancel crane build can also easily include Calling in Favors, effectively having the answer to events and attachments to easily. This is to well rounded, too easy of a decision and to frustrating for your opponent. Getting everything you play negated and having to play against your own cards, that is a textbook negative play experience.

Political Debate: Change the challenge so your opponent can choose who you have to challenge, in or out of the conflict.

Currently political debate is an overpowered card. I play it 3x out of unicorn (giver of gifts is my only courtier). There is always a 0 or 1 pol opponent in a mil conflict which can be duelled by my 3 or 4 pol character. It is just too easy. Cards with duel mechanics should reward you for duelling stronger opponents. In this case it doesn’t. Most of the time, I do not even lose honor for using it, as I am just that far ahead in the relevant stat. Out of Unicorn. This card is free for Crane, dragon or scorpion. And two of these clans already have cancels. If you play against 6 cancel crane right now, he basically plays for you.

Display of Power: Change so the attacker still gets to claim the ring, but you get to use its effects.

In our group, we all, including our Phoenix Player, call this card the NPE, never display of power. It is not imbalanced, just the easiest way to scare a beginner away from the game: Yes you did everything right, you choose the best ring, now go and die anyways. That is discouraging. However not necessarily imbalanced. The issue comes with the favour mechanics. Phoenix is already in advantage here to begin with. With display of power, they just do not have to try anymore. If you want to use census, at least leave a dude open or win the first round. If I win two battles against phoenix while he did nothing but fail and he play one NPE (sry, display of power), I do not get the favour. As the favour is currently far more than 1 force, a nerf to display would still keep the card very relevant. Changing the target of a void ring is already 2 fate, changing an earth is a card advantage swing of four. All rings, especially an air in a tight honor race, are extremely powerful when changed. It does not need to effect the favour.

 

3.: Remove Excessive Randomness

Randomness is inherent in every deckbuilding card game. And that is good. One should be able to play every hand the deck deals you to its fullest potential. Additionally, this is controlled randomness. You should not build a deck that hinges on the draw of a single card. Randomness gets excessive when imbalances in power level make a single specific card to important to draw or when the randomness cannot be adapted to in any meaningful way while carrying too big of an impact on the game itself. The former kind is already addressed by a few nerfs above. The later kind is not and is mainly about provinces. Provinces should have a moderate, but noticeable effect on the game state, only getting oppressive in niche and mostly degenerate circumstances.  Some provinces need to be played around a little. This is ok when one does not need to deviate to far from standard play. Endless Plains can be game breaking, but they come at a huge cost and standard play is to play two characters a turn, so it becomes manageable. This is not possible for the following three provinces, as accounting for their effects would put you to far behind to justify the 25% chance of hitting the province or no counter play is possible at all.

Shameful Display: Action: Choose a character participating in this conflict - honor or dishonour that character.’

I know, this is a buff in some situations. But the current version creates an insurmountable differential in skill that persists on the table even after the conflict has resolved. With its province strength of 3 and most characters having 2 glory, this new version of shameful has an effective province strength of 5. This is ok. The worst thing about the current design is: There is no counter play. Currently, every turn 1 attack is accompanied with a silent prayer: Please no shameful.

Restoration of Balance: Restrict the maximum amount of cards to be discarded to three.

If you do not play an honor or dishonour deck, betting low against dragon just to avoid this province is cardboard suicide. Card-draw still wins games. Usually, we play legend of the five cards, and usually, hitting this monster turn one or two is GG, even if you attach everything before the battle. Just compare it to Night Raid, it is not even close. Hitting this Province is completely game defining. The meta in which people bet low turn one just does not exist. Three cards is still a lot. But at least recoverable.

Feast or Famine: Change it so only one fate changes fate.

The condition printed on this card describe the most common opener in the game: One with 2 Fate, one with none. A condition that is almost automatically met is no condition at all. And when it hits, a four fate swing is too impactful. The card has many advantages to meditaions on the tao as it is. The Character you are stealing from does not need to be attacking and you steal fate. This is strong as it is. At least the current card wins the award for the best named L5R card ever printed, as it does exactly what the name suggests: Fail miserably or win you the game. And the silly joke is neither you nor your opponent can influence this outcome. That is what excessive randomness is all about.

 

4.: Ban some magistrates

Some ideas are just beyond redemption. All magistrate are already very wacky cards with very random effects. Some of them are just rolling the dice (dragon, crab and unicorn), some can be tinkered around (Scorpion) and some just say: Your opponent can flatout not compete. He just cannot. The lion and Phoenix magistrate need to go. There is not a single card in the whole crab clan that can still contribute for against the Phoenix magistrate. And even all the other clans do not look good. There is only one Unicorn, Dragon and Scorpion Character, 2 Cranes, which both cost 5 Fate and three Lions. This is not remotely acceptable. In contrast, the lion one is a little more acceptable. However, against 5 of the 7 clans, he still is completely indefensible on his own on this first turn. Just attack military. If you do not hit a shameful, well done, there is nothing your opponent can do to you. Additionally, no magistrate is better at making sure you win the last battle as this one, especially with the ever growing amount of honor mechanisms in lion available.

 

Conclusion:

As you can see, while quite a few cards are addressed, no nerf is actually too hard. All cards mentioned above are still good cards. And many offenders are still not addressed: Assassinate is too influential, the whole crab clan is focused on a style of play that cannot abide to any reasonable tournament time restrictions and the whole Unicorn Clan is a complete and utter mess. This is annoying, but at least, the game functions perfectly well if no one plays unicorn in competitive play, 2 fate cost personalities are generally ignored and the current rules for deciding a game winner in time situations are applied. A functioning game is all I want, everything else can be achieved in later iterations of the game.

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I dunno man.

 

We all have access to the same cards. Things that swing the game in my opponent's favor also swing it in mine.

 

It is a tough game. You can't build a real economy or often a real sizable lead. The swingy-ness and mechanics help keeps both players in it. There are powerful cards. I have to know what my opponent's options can be and I have to play around that. Nothing is certain.

I love it. It is a different type of game. Every decision is meaningful and has risk. You ( or your characters) are 3 feet from death with each choice. The NPE comes from not knowing the risks. It's like sparring in the martial arts. Don't let them fight on day 1. Set the newbie up for success.

 

Time is an issue. To be fair, it is a new game with a lot of decision points. Watching some tournament  games though, some players were taking their sweet time. 1 bout to 1.25 hours is very reasonable to finish. I can finish a game in that time frame.

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Nah man. It's a cool write up and you make some good points(mainly the one about the randomness of provinces) but at this stage I can see no possible way to change these mechanics looking from the purely pragmatic point of view.

On the other hand I don't see the reason to nerf "problematic" cards even if it was possible. The game is very well balanced with 6 clans that can compete on almost equal level(which is something very rare in faction based card games) with the seventh one not being too far behind(even getting into top 8 from what I remember).

Also don't know if true but you seem to think that policy debate works with courtiers only - it doesn't. 

Edited by BordOne

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I respect your thoughts and experience with card games, but I think there's a thing we need always to think when suggesting the devs "nerfing" the cards, this guys have taken a 20 years old game that people loved but, let's be honest, had terrible mechanics, and they created this new game, keeping the essence of oldL5R. They did a indredible job. I play since gold edition and in this 2 years the game was off we were discussing how it would work, what they would cut, etc.. And to be fully honest even in my best thoughts I can't expect such an interactive and amazing game. This said and knowing a little the exhaustive play-test procces, I think the team behind this is testing a lot the cards to maintain the gameplay fun and balanced.

If each of us starts wanting to change or nerf cards were this would end? I liked some of your ideas, agreed with Tattoed wanderer and Display of Power for example, ohthers no much, but I have my own ideas of opressive cards, like sashimono, indomitable will, the mountain does not fall or the chars that can participate in 2 conflicts in one turn.. So I think the best we can do is trust in the developers work and learn how to play with the cards they design.

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What CCG or LCG in the history of card games has ever released without it's fair share of "problems?"

The only thing I'm even remotely concerned with is how "evergreen" cards will work, but, that's a couple years away.

 

 

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I post in rare occasions, but I want to show support to your post, as I think this kind of posts usually does not always receive the right reactions for the interesting discussions they could trigger.

Yes the game is amazing, yet I agree it would be even better if some issues were addressed as early as possible.

 

I think you are mostly RIGHT.

 

- The game would be more fair if shameful display would be one of the two effects. Still too many games are decided by 'who hits the display at the wrong time' between two experienced players.

- Lion games are two very different things whether or not they hit Lion's Pride Brawler

- The phoenix magistrate is way too hard too handle for clans who don't draw their champion (or crab)

- Mirumoto's fury feels a little bit too easy (ready for battle, event cancels and the phoenix stronghold help a little there)

- Political debate is too easy too strong (it even helps scorpion set up I can't swim)

- let go is sooo solid with the strength of attachments in this game, and that makes it a little too much of a no-brainer.

- Forged edict is probably the best conflict card in the game, and its cost could have been a bit higher or conditional.

There are just a few cards I am more OK with in your list : if Doji Challenger is listed here, then Hiroue really has to be ! He's much much stronger. Restoration of power forcing you to bid a bit lower, play attachment pre-conflict, I am kind-of-ok with (but can't deny the Negative Play experience for less seasoned players losing their hand even before the first conflict of the game.)

And the three 'ready' 4-honor characters also feel excessively strong (Prodigy of Water, Steadfast witch hunter, and of course the dramatically overpowered Niten Master)

 

 

But the king of the king of poor design is Feast or Famine. The king of negative play experience, of game duration extension ...

- For new players, the effect is downright stupid : I kill your big guy and also load one of my guys with fate for nothing, and almost no existing answer.

- For experienced players, it leads to the following ugly situations :

1) the player with the edge plays a much more 'building game', leaving his bigger characters in defense to avoid their doom, as there are just very very few answers in the game to this effect (the crab seeker sword playable just by a handful of clans and they have to decide for this specific splash & the unicorn scout, kind of). I have seen many games dragged in time just because the player with the edge can not attack, leading to boring long building games where nothing happens. The player with the early edge still gets the game, but it's an annoying long one for both players.

2) you attack with a little one to try and avoid the effect and you start the stupid race with your opponent buffing it, and you try to bring it home, debuff it, bow or kill your own character.  So thematic !

3) when the game is tight and you have to attack to stand a chance, you get this early stupid conclusion from hitting the wrong random province.

 

My post sounds negative, but it's also because I feel besides that, the game is a GEM of DESIGN.

 

I think I am more tolerant for the clan-specific advantages : yes, forged edicts or let go are strong, but I consider that's encapsulated in the whole Scorpion/Dragon value.

But I have recommended nerfing shameful display's excessive swing from the start of the game, and feast or famine is just a pure failure not representative of FFG's amazing designing skills.

 

Thank you for sharing your thoughts in a constructive manner.

 

 

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Playing Lion v Dragon last night.

 

I had two brawlers out, one which two fate on it. Hit Feast or Famine and my LPB lost her fate to the new Agasha character. At the end of the turn i lost a significant part of my board - including two brawlers while he kept that Agasha.

Still ended up winning. The thing is i wasn't relying on just my LPB. I find that when I rely on any one thing in this game I'm often screwed. It is about setting up conditions for success, which require multiple things.

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I never post on here, but kudos to your write-up explaining your take on things.

I enjoy the idea of Let Go being 1 fate cost if it targets an attachment with 2 or more cost, while it can handle 0 and 1 cost attachments for free as normal.

Mirumoto's Fury is likely a card solvable by adding things to the card pool instead of changing it, it is rather unfortunate that it is from the same splash faction as Let Go/Wanderer though.  Very much consolidated power early on

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I'd like to raise two points.

First, I feel that no one is really splashing Tattooed Wanderer for the 2 military.  He's an attachment to be used for covert, which is probably the most problematic keyword in the game when you take into account the non-permanence of characters and the difficulty in building a wide enough board to play around the mechanic.

 

Second, I feel that your write up ignored the most problematic card in the game right now - Ikoma Ujiaki.  Lions inherently high glory values allow for them to easily snag the favor.  Cards like Akodo Gunso and Staging Ground added to the low cost curve of the Lion dynasty allows you to speed through the deck.  Kitsu Spiritcaller allows you to get Ujiaki back from the discard pile into a conflict at exactly the right time.  An attack with Ujiaki discarding the Imperial Favor that breaks a province followed by a For Greater Glory is basically gg.  The number of core concepts of the game this guy subverts and the ridiculous free amount of fate he nets you make him completely broken.

 

And that's in a faction that already has Toturi, LPB, Honored General, FGG, Way of the Lion, Strength in Numbers, Test of Courage, Guard Duty, Ready for Battle, etc.

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I disagree with most of your thoughts on cards needing errata on them and how you feel the game is going so far. I think this game is extremely balanced for having 7 different clans, a feat that is not easy for game designers to do well so my hats off to the designers. As more cycles come out (we have not even finished this one yet), other clan splashes will happen other than Dragon. In our group of players, Dragon is not splashed all that much anyhow and play around Miyamoto's fury can be frustrating, especially for a Scorpion player but I manage. Feast or Famine is a one shot province, you hit it once and it goes off and is gone forever. I personally scout provinces with smaller characters turn 1 to find out what my opponent is playing. If there is something really gross I do not like I will avoid it. Knowing what provinces people are playing with their clan ahead of time is key to figuring out what you are about to hit. For example, you can basically guarantee Scorpion are running Shameful Display, Pilgrimage, and Secret Cache at the very least. While that is in itself a nasty line of provinces, it is not impossible to break through. 

A huge part of this game is weighing in on whether or not to take hits like this at the time, choosing right can win you the game and choosing poorly can very well lose you the game.

5 hours ago, Monty Pillepalle said:

I am well aware that this kind of criticism can come across as a petty rant of a guy on a losing streak, who is unable to adapt his playstyle to new cards. I can assure you, this is not the case here. I anticipate the most common response to be: Deal with it, learn to play around these cards. To those I say: This argument is simply avoiding a discussion, as it can be used to defend any card, even a +100 skill card without any costs. Additionally, look at the numbers, look at the amount of dragon influence, check how many games can’t finish in time in a tournament setting.

While I agree that learn to play is not a good argument, in some cases it actually is the problem. However, I do not agree that the argument can be used to defend any card as your 100 skill card with no costs example is clearly just broken. There is no actual way to play around that card, it is an unfair broken thing. All of the cards (except for one, which I agree is somewhat broken) you mentioned  can be played around. 

Policy Debate, as a Scorpion player I think this card is somewhat actually broken. For any Clan good to great at political conflicts (Crane, Scorpion, Dragon, Phoenix) playing a military clan (Lion, Unicorn, Crab), this is a free discard. I think at the very least this card should have cost 1 fate to play rather than free.

Do I think it needs an errata? No, it is strong now but in the future this card may be become pointless to use due to a growing card pool. I think we are far too early into the game to start banning cards and suggesting errata's at this point. Wait until 3 full cycles some deluxe boxes to have actually launched and see what you think then, maybe you will change your mind, the meta of the game will very likely change at that point. 

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A lot of the issues about running into random provinces are actually avoidable.  Crane, Crab, and Unicorn have options that allow you to work around this.  When you're playing Dragon you know Restoration of Balance is a thing so if you haven't seen it yet then you should likely consider that during your honor bids.  Most of the stuff mentioned is actually within the players control.

Powerful cards.......yeah there in here. Unless you have never played a CCG or LCG in the last 20+ years I don't really know what anyone is expecting.  There is no such thing as perfect balance in any CCG or LCG.  Strong cards happen.

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Ive read the original post and there are many interesting points and thoughts about it. However, I dont agree with many of them (although I do keep in mind sometimes truth is found somewhere in the middle ground between two points of view). I dont think cancel effects in this game are overpowered. Forged edict is annoying, but not npe, and it is what scorpion does. Voice of honor is very crane-y, and also not op. Cancel effects are always touchy subjects because no one likes to see their strategy being... well, canceled. But that is different that being op. Also, if you splash scorpion into one another, youre missing out on cards from other decks that are also good (let go, like you mentioned, or display of power, etc). It is also 6 cards you are commiting to stop your oponent (9 with the new cancel thats coming), instead of actively promoting a winnign strategy, thats big. But in the end, canceling effects are a part of control decks, I would dare say even a big part of control decks, not liking them because they stop you on your tracks is different than being op. I played against, and played some, cancel heavy decks in mtg back in the day, and no one complained about it being op. Sure, it is a different game with different circumstances and all, but I think a similiar thing happens here in l5r: control decks are meant to make its user control de game. That can easily provide a sense of op-ness to the opponent. But hard numbers dont seem to suggest that is the real case.

In regards to let go, I think making it cost 1 honor does nothing unless its late game or youre fighting phoenix. I would prefer an increase in influence cost to control the splashing (as I dont see it as a particular issue in dragon decks).

I wouldn't change doji challenger, and for the same reason, I wouldnt change the scorpion harpoon guy (which, strangely, you left out even though he has a better version of the challenger's skill). Both are control characters, and they enable control decks. I think they are fine, and force you to think around them if you are facing crane or scorpion. Thats a good thing.

I agree 100% with the other issues noted. Specially the magistrate ones.

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5 hours ago, cforfar said:

SNIP

Policy Debate, as a Scorpion player I think this card is somewhat actually broken. For any Clan good to great at political conflicts (Crane, Scorpion, Dragon, Phoenix) playing a military clan (Lion, Unicorn, Crab), this is a free discard. I think at the very least this card should have cost 1 fate to play rather than free.

It does have a cost though, unless you have a full 5 point POL lead you're either paying 1 honor or risking an opposing high bid to tie. If I'm in a situation  where my 5 bid ties your 1 bid and I have honor to spare I'll gladly spend it to prevent you from getting that discard. Even better is when there is a less than 5 point difference and my 5 bid could win, if you only bid one.

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Love this. I disagree with a few changes, but over all great. The cards that really feel like you can’t come back need to change. Cards that when seen across the board make you want to call GG are bad for the game.  I am all aboard the gentle fixes now and see if it’s enough. I love dragon, the change to let go is great, maybe you stil pick for morimoto, but yes make those nerfs

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12 hours ago, Shu2jack said:

We all have access to the same cards. Things that swing the game in my opponent's favor also swing it in mine.

Except that we don't? I was just playing a game today (and not to make this about specific clans, not going to list what we were playing), and at the end of the game we compared what each of us had in our decks just on the basis of actions/abilities that interacted with the opponent's cards. My opponent easily had 3x the cards I had that had any interaction. We all have access to all the neutrals, but even then there are differences. Outwit is better for Clans that tend towards Political, while Rout is better for those that tend Military. Yes, you CAN play both, but odds are one is going to be better for a given clan in general than the other.

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8 hours ago, Ishi Tonu said:

A lot of the issues about running into random provinces are actually avoidable.  Crane, Crab, and Unicorn have options that allow you to work around this.  When you're playing Dragon you know Restoration of Balance is a thing so if you haven't seen it yet then you should likely consider that during your honor bids.  Most of the stuff mentioned is actually within the players control.

Powerful cards.......yeah there in here. Unless you have never played a CCG or LCG in the last 20+ years I don't really know what anyone is expecting.  There is no such thing as perfect balance in any CCG or LCG.  Strong cards happen.

Some of those province workarounds are splashable, too.  I started splashing Crab in my Phoenix deck specifically to be able to access Pathfinder's Blade.

49 minutes ago, Reigndownupon said:

Love this. I disagree with a few changes, but over all great. The cards that really feel like you can’t come back need to change. Cards that when seen across the board make you want to call GG are bad for the game.  I am all aboard the gentle fixes now and see if it’s enough. I love dragon, the change to let go is great, maybe you stil pick for morimoto, but yes make those nerfs

I don't see too many individual cards that make me want to throw in the towel; usually it's when I reach a point where I have only one or two weak characters with no fate on them, no fate in my pool, and no decent effects on the table while my opponent has four or five powerful characters all with at least two fate and a pool of three-four more fate to get good actions out.  It doesn't happen too often, but there's one player who manages to achieve such a board state every single time I play him, and who I seem to get matched against every single local tournament.  -_-;;

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1 hour ago, Eisai said:

Except that we don't? I was just playing a game today (and not to make this about specific clans, not going to list what we were playing), and at the end of the game we compared what each of us had in our decks just on the basis of actions/abilities that interacted with the opponent's cards. My opponent easily had 3x the cards I had that had any interaction. We all have access to all the neutrals, but even then there are differences. Outwit is better for Clans that tend towards Political, while Rout is better for those that tend Military. Yes, you CAN play both, but odds are one is going to be better for a given clan in general than the other.

I can't account for people's deck building.

Yes, Rout is better for certain clans and Outwit is better for others. So pick the one that is better for your clan. Both do the same thing? Sorry, but is a bad example.

I can't speak to the specific clan cards with out examples.

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Really, all I can say to the OP is "suck it up buttercup." Errata (especially what you have) just isn't gonna happen. If you can't modify your play to the way L5R is, you're better off finding another game.

 

IMO, NPE is just an excuse for poor player skill. You will get screwed over by some cards, such as losing your Clan Champion to Way of the Crab, but you will learn they exist and find ways to work around them. Also, some match ups are gonna to be bad (such as Dragon against Crab), and you're just gonna have to work around it. The only legitimate complaint is that Unicorn is behind the curve, because the Core set wasn't particularly good to them.

 

I say this having just gone 0-3 in my first tournament (and going about 3-10 overall, except against people I'm teaching the game). I lost because of MY skill, and the skill of my opponents, not because something is "broken." Even the only real aspect of luck in the game (the shuffle) is somewhat mitigated by deck design and your Honor Bid, not to mention mulligans.

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I think FFG has done a wonderful job with the game itself all things considered. Yes, there are problems with the roles and making a large percentage of the card pool unplayable, and I also feel that two clans, Lion and Unicorn, are off on the balance respectively, but the game itself is a marvel. When I see posts like the OP's, I often wonder how they play the game. I picked up Phoenix for this version of the game after being a long time Dragon player in the old one. I am undefeated in over 40 games so far and that is mostly due to how I watch people play. There is such a huge difference in how people perceive the way to play the game that I find it fascinating. I see a lot of people who either use way too much fate on trying to keep characters out, or throwing all in to crush a single province, while I tend to fight smaller, adapting turn by turn and not using fate very often at all on any characters as well as fighting for rings more than provinces and using those battles to destroy my opponents' hands.

I think if your having a huge problem with a large number of cards or mechanics, you should try going to another location for a little while and looking at their meta and picking up a bit from them. Certain metas just seem to strange to others and its always helpful to get a good mix of play-styles under you for perspective.

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I am very happy for every post here, even for the one who disagree. Discussions are nice. Because it can sometimes be forgotten, I want to reiterate my love for the game and for the design of the rules. Pure brilliance. I love how gameplay is more strongly emphasized. The issues I have is at a certain point, playing better does not pay of anymore. As long as the decisions made by one player are at least reasonable and both players playing decks of similar strength, the other can play as brilliant as he wants: The decision is made by randomness.

There seems to be a misconception of many people who post here who think I am frustrated from losing to many games. Actually, this is not true, I think I win 66% or more of my games playing unicorn. I also have to reiterate that I am a competetive and very experienced player, meaning that I do not stubornly stick to playstyles or tactics if they show no results. I used to bet low against dragon T1 when he bid 5. That resulted in a dramatic drop in winrate, as I punished myself in 75% of all cases. So for now, I just gamble. Its the most promising strategy and thats an issue for any competetive game. This post is really not about balance or winning/ losing. Its about how I feel after or during a game. For all who think the only issue is playstyle, answear me how one can play around shamful display.

 

Lastly, I want to focus the attention a little more on the numbers: If you think there is no need to act, how do you justify the percentage of dragon splashes? Or the percentage of games not making the time limit.

 

Some specific replies:

15 hours ago, RafaelNN said:

.....I dont think cancel effects in this game are overpowered. Forged edict is annoying, but not npe, and it is what scorpion does. Voice of honor is very crane-y, and also not op. Cancel effects are always touchy subjects because no one likes to see their strategy being... well, canceled. But that is different that being op. Also, if you splash scorpion into one another, youre missing out on cards from other decks that are also good (let go, like you mentioned, or display of power, etc). It is also 6 cards you are commiting to stop your oponent (9 with the new cancel thats coming), instead of actively promoting a winnign strategy, thats big.....

In regards to let go, I think making it cost 1 honor does nothing unless its late game or youre fighting phoenix. I would prefer an increase in influence cost to control the splashing (as I dont see it as a particular issue in dragon decks).

I wouldn't change doji challenger, and for the same reason, I wouldnt change the scorpion harpoon guy (which, strangely, you left out even though he has a better version of the challenger's skill). Both are control characters, and they enable control decks. I think they are fine, and force you to think around them if you are facing crane or scorpion. Thats a good thing.

I always said the cancels are ok as they are. I did not nerf their effects. Cancels are fine. Its the ability to mass them at no cost that is an issue. Curently its 12 you can play in crane (political debate is the strongest cancel in the game). I also said it is not OP to do so (althought it might be, as all these cards have no fate cost, however chances are you cancel events with fate cost). It just is bad ´design. If the answear is do not play events with costs, how many cards are left for deckbuilding? Additionally, with the current way the cardpool is set up, if you cancel your opoonenets banzai, thats half the battle won.

Changing the influence of let go would do to little, as you would still be able to splash 2 let go, 2 miromotos fury and two wanderers as a keeper and that could be standart then. A well designed card should be usuefull in many cases, but be dead weight in many others. Currently, let go is never dead weight. There is no competetive no attachment deck dispite everyone playing let go. I never went: ****, why a let go now.

I left out the scorpion harpoon character for a reason: His abilitiy is better, but he has a weakness and is more expensive. The challenger is a total package, cheaper and with more stats. a 3/3 2 glory for 3 does not need a powerful ability.

19 hours ago, Shu2jack said:

Playing Lion v Dragon last night.

 

I had two brawlers out, one which two fate on it. Hit Feast or Famine and my LPB lost her fate to the new Agasha character. At the end of the turn i lost a significant part of my board - including two brawlers while he kept that Agasha.

Still ended up winning. The thing is i wasn't relying on just my LPB. I find that when I rely on any one thing in this game I'm often screwed. It is about setting up conditions for success, which require multiple things.

The game you describe is a perfect example for why I wrote this post. Think about what you just played: You play a strong board and lose it through no fault of your own and no inteligent play of your opponent, without him having to pay any resources he needs for board development. He still loses. That is not a competetive game, if advantages you work for at any stage of the game can be reversed at all times by random swingy effects.

22 hours ago, Shu2jack said:

I dunno man.

 

We all have access to the same cards. Things that swing the game in my opponent's favor also swing it in mine.

 

It is a tough game. You can't build a real economy or often a real sizable lead. The swingy-ness and mechanics help keeps both players in it. There are powerful cards. I have to know what my opponent's options can be and I have to play around that. Nothing is certain.

I love it. It is a different type of game. Every decision is meaningful and has risk. You ( or your characters) are 3 feet from death with each choice. The NPE comes from not knowing the risks. It's like sparring in the martial arts. Don't let them fight on day 1. Set the newbie up for success.

I play a lot of cards, but as it just happens, I also spar a lot. Sparring is nothing like you describe it, I do not gamble every move I make in sparring. Sometimes I do but not all the time. If I fight smarter (read gameplay) and I trained better (read deck building), chances are 80% upwards I win. I dont get KOed by an absolute beginner because he swung a wild punsh. That just does not happen. Maybe to be more accurate and closer on topic: I am a proficient fighter, but a champion would crush me 10/10 fights. If you are the best L5R Player in the world with the best deck against a proficient player of the same clan, best you can do is 7/10.

Games need a degree of swingyness to make comebacks possible. But if I have an advantage in board position, it should be meaningful. I worked for it, i deserve it. If you play bad with a bad deck, you do not deserve to be bailed out by a random and swingy card. Its like Yogg before the nerf in heartstone. Losing? Just gamble it away to win major championships on the flip of a coin.

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I think the OP is substantially correct. An important point to make is that balanced != well-designed. A card is badly designed if it provides the player with an unfun experience. While what is fun is ultimately subjective, if we play a game with so many decision points we expect those decisions to matter - so if they don't we're right to say it is unfun. However, if a card has an almost completely random effect (for example, Shrine Maiden; you can deckbuild to maximize your chances but the effect itself has a massive variance, since it could either draw 0, 1, 2 or 3 cards with each outcome being strictly better or worse than the others) or is so good that it removes agency for your opponent (Lion's Pride Brawler), then the experience is not fun. If you provide each player with that kind of effect the game can still be perfectly balanced but not a fun experience (flipping a coin a few times to see who gets more heads is a perfectly balanced game but it's usually not considered a fun one).

I agree this game is brilliant and I don't think it's anywhere near full of cards ruining the playing experience, but there are definetly some. While the Shrine Maiden's is a minor effect one can live with, LPB is so powerful that even if you were to nerf it signifcantly (by making it able to affect only partecipating characters) it would still be very good  - which is more or less the definition of overpowered. Let Go is another card that sticks out by being too good, since it literally has no downsides while it creates a game-changing swing in some situations (discarding a Reprieve on a beefed-up character about to leave play, destroying a R1 Spyglass on a mobile character, removing a Cloud the Mind on your Spiritcaller etc. etc.). Policy Debate is unfun by removing an important element of the game (hidden information) and removing one of your opponent's main assets for very little set up; worse still, it's a neutral card, unlike the Meek Informant which does part of the same effect but has to paid in influence for non-Scorpion decks. Shameful Display is the biggest offender for provinces, since it often creates a game-changing swing; having to explore your opponent's provinces and play around them is a fundamental aspect of the game, so, even if it is possible to bypass it (by playing Wayfinders, Pathfinder's Blades etc.), it still makes for a very dangerous card to have in the game; if we'll see more of those province-negating effects (accessible to every deck) it might become less of a problem for the game, but that is a slippery slope: province blanking should be kept in check, since ultimately province effects are a (fun) part of the game, so we would be worse off without them. Note I'm not even considering counters since that would deserve a thread on its own.

Bottom line, I think this game is quite well balanced but there are also a few cards that have the potential to spoil the experience.

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23 hours ago, Monty Pillepalle said:

 

Lastly, I want to focus the attention a little more on the numbers: If you think there is no need to act, how do you justify the percentage of dragon splashes? Or the percentage of games not making the time limit.

 

The time limit is in fact an issue, and seems it will be getting worse, since cards like Public Forum, Policy Debate, Aged Crone and Way of the Crysanthemum have all the potential of delaying the game..

But the Dragon Splash seems not such a problem since the 2 koteis were won by Uni splash. Phoenix/Uni is a very strong choice too. I see a good Crane/Lion coming. Dragon is just the "Joker", it works in every deck, that doesn't mean it have the strongest cards or is the best option. 

I strongly agree with the guy that said Covert is a problematic keyword with the "mono no aware" system, and as I said many times I didn't like the magistrates either cause imo they mess the board, and when you have few characters, don't having a way to defend your provinces is frustating, it cuts the interaction. But I don't think they are OP, as Guest of Honor or Aged Crone they're just npe.

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On 12/2/2017 at 0:05 PM, Trowa said:

Second, I feel that your write up ignored the most problematic card in the game right now - Ikoma Ujiaki.  Lions inherently high glory values allow for them to easily snag the favor.  Cards like Akodo Gunso and Staging Ground added to the low cost curve of the Lion dynasty allows you to speed through the deck.  Kitsu Spiritcaller allows you to get Ujiaki back from the discard pile into a conflict at exactly the right time.  An attack with Ujiaki discarding the Imperial Favor that breaks a province followed by a For Greater Glory is basically gg.  The number of core concepts of the game this guy subverts and the ridiculous free amount of fate he nets you make him completely broken.

 

And that's in a faction that already has Toturi, LPB, Honored General, FGG, Way of the Lion, Strength in Numbers, Test of Courage, Guard Duty, Ready for Battle, etc.

I don't want to derail this thread or take away from Monty Pillepalle, but I wholeheartedly believe you hit the nail on the head with your post above. 

The Ikoma Ujiaki is simply broken, due to the level of synergy that he will be having within the Lion deck. Simply put; he is worth way more than 5 Fate, and is way overboard with his ability (given the support cards in the Lion deck).

For those players who flip an Ikoma Ujiaki and are able to pay the cost to play it, the game is pretty much over for their opponent. I strongly believe this to be true. (more so than any other character currently) 

 

Edited by LordBlunt

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