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After the Imperial Cycle... Impressions

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Whats your impressions on gameplay after the first cycle?

Some thoughts:


- Policy Debate is becoming the most important card on most decks. Able to break the opponent's strategy she still generates advantage in the next turns. Challenge an opponent with 5 less skill is kind of ridiculous.


- Dishonor decks are more consistent. Only with the core set dishonor ends up being a second option, but with the addition of cards like policy debate, censure, talisman and disdainfull remark the control decks have gained a lot in strength.


- Decks of honor are still crawling. WoC is not enough, there are a need of more cards to support the victory by honor.


- Dragon, Crab and Phoenix grew a lot with the expansions. Scorpion despite receiving few cards also improved mainly thanks to policy debate and AFWTD. Lion is still strong with Ujiaki and ageless Crone. Crane seems to have been the least favored with the packs. And the unicorn has been using creativity to make up for the lack of good cards, it's a lot more competitive than just with the core set, though it still has very difficult matchups.


-"The Imperial Palace, I want to burn this card." Nothing more annoying than facing these Satoshi-Imperial Palace decks, mostly scorpion, phoenix and crane. Join the native counters of the decks with policy debate and censure and have a whole strategy based on anti-game.

- Another frequent strategy in deck building has been to delay the game to accumulate fate and assemble units full of attachments. Crab manages to abuse this strategy by keeping the chars even after finishing his fate. Rebuild + Iron Mine is obscene, because you don't have the holding drawback of locking the province and at the same time you can choose when to use it.


- Despite the small number of packs the decks construction has improved a lot.

 

 

 

 

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While there is still a gap between the top and the bottom clans, I don't think it's nearly as large as it was with just the core set.  Each clan seems to have a very distinct feel to them and natural predator/prey match ups.  Unicorn still seems to be on the outside looking in, but, they are much improved.  Overall, I like where the game is at.  The only major hiccup so far is Policy Debate.  It's over the top, for sure, but, at least everyone is aware of what they need to be prepared to play against.

I see a lot of new people getting into the game locally, mostly for casual play, which I think is a direct result of the expansions having solidified each clan's identity.  I notice a lot more interest from spectators when I'm playing against someone who's deck is distinctly different than mine...........instead of two of the same deck (just with different colors) playing each other.

I think I'd have to call the game a success so far.  Hopefully FFG irons out the wrinkles and keeps improving with each release.

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I'm pretty unimpressed by Policy Debate. I've never lost a game because of it, at best it can turn a single conflict but any conflict card can basically do that. 

It could just be bad against my specific deck though (Phoenix aggro).

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Policy debate also only really works when you have 0-1 political figures participating in conflicts to make it a guaranteed thing. You can play around it in who you send into conflicts against big pol characters. It probably should have still be random discard or cost 1 though.

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I'm just gonna say it. Current state of the meta is incredibly unfun. Too grindy, not enough action. Too many successful strategies based entirely around stalling and slow play. And strategies based around exploiting the weaker core mechanics of the game (like immortal crabs and Blitz dishonor).

 

 Most games in my group (Aka all of central Florida) usually end before set up and we just play battle for Rokugan to get the L5R fix.

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9 hours ago, Reins Vengard said:

I'm just gonna say it. Current state of the meta is incredibly unfun. Too grindy, not enough action. Too many successful strategies based entirely around stalling and slow play. And strategies based around exploiting the weaker core mechanics of the game (like immortal crabs and Blitz dishonor).

 

 Most games in my group (Aka all of central Florida) usually end before set up and we just play battle for Rokugan to get the L5R fix.

I still can find much fun in the game but I got you, besides the immortal crabs and blitz dishonor you mentioned there are the imperial palace holding that combo with many strongfull cards and make these games really annoying. When this holding is revealed in turn one I just play for respect to my opponent, because I know that thats gone to be a extremely boring match.. Even decks that dont have strong favor cards are running it just to protect them.. Who plays first stays in advantage.

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I mean, we're no Unicorns, but I'm feeling a bit bad for my Dragons. Our magistrate was a joke, we don't even have an Imperial District. Stone of Sorrows is kind of fun and interesting, but games move so fast that once you get it set up the game is over.

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1 hour ago, L5RBr said:

I still can find much fun in the game but I got you, besides the immortal crabs and blitz dishonor you mentioned there are the imperial palace holding that combo with many strongfull cards and make these games really annoying. When this holding is revealed in turn one I just play for respect to my opponent, because I know that thats gone to be a extremely boring match.. Even decks that dont have strong favor cards are running it just to protect them.. Who plays first stays in advantage.

I played a game against a dragon last night where my opponent had the favor the entire game and I still won, it was tense but I just had to play around it.  I made sure to break the province with Sumiko and tried to bait out possible censures.  While favor does provide an advantage I do not think it is game breaking.  Granted I don't play against phoenix often so maybe my  thoughts are skewed.  

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I will echo that there are some serious feel-bad cards that are defining the meta. Crab, Scorpion, and Dragon are the clear best clans and all have major NPE cards. Dragon's provinces and Mirumoto's Fury are major blowout potential. Crab can grind people to a point that they can't draw cards and once their board eventually dies you're staring down a board that has 5 more guys and a hand that is up like 7 cards to 2......never fun. Also way of the cuck can auto win on certain flops. And then you have scorpion which by design is meant to be un-fun for the opponent.

It's easy to look and say that we're just in a weird part of the meta, but what else is on the table that is better? Phoenix imperial holding is more NPE than just about anything else in the game if it gets online. Lion nut draws make the other player feel like the game is over on the flop. Thankfully the 6 cancel Crane deck has fallen out of favor, but let's not forget how brutal it was when that deck was everywhere.

Unicorns are our only hope.

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39 minutes ago, kiramode said:

Unicorns are our only hope.

My ears are burning................did someone ask for Unicorn Jank?  Cuz I got that for days.  :lol:

Oh wait you wanted a deck that wins................um, I'm playing Lion/Crab/Scorpion/Dragon/Phoenix/Crane for that.  :rolleyes:

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On a less bitchy note; I think there are two basic problems in the game right now.

1 ) Too many coin flip cards. Provinces are the main problem here. Too many games are decided on running into or not running into certain provinces turn 1. It really sucks to lose games because you ran into the wrong spot turn 1. Crab blade is a nice start, but it only goes in 3 possible decks and Crab splash doesn't make a ton of sense in Crane or Scorpion.

2 ) Too many un-interactive cards. Cards like Fury, AFWTD, Talisman, Way of the Crab, Charge(in some situations), Crane box, Brawler, Iron Mine.............and god **** Policy Debate. These sorts of cards are just unhealthy.

If we have more cards that encourage you to proactively do things as opposed to preventing bad things from happening it would make for less feel-bad moments along with promote a more balanced playstyle. The game is really grindy. There's people that simply don't attack just to prevent coin flip provinces from blowing them out. We also shouldn't need to play nameless chuds just to not get blown out by a kill spell.

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4 hours ago, HamHamJ2 said:

If you lose because you attacked the wrong province turn 1 then that is a flaw in your deck or your play or both. Learn to play around these possibilities.

Stop telling people to get better, this is not something that everyone can achieve!  :D

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4 hours ago, HamHamJ2 said:

If you lose because you attacked the wrong province turn 1 then that is a flaw in your deck or your play or both. Learn to play around these possibilities.

 

25 minutes ago, Ser Nakata said:

Stop telling people to get better, this is not something that everyone can achieve!  :D

Kiramode is a really good player and game analyst. I don't think he needs to learn to play around problematic provinces.

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My only problem with the game right now is the province system, it does not add much to the game and makes it very frustrating sometimes. Yes there is some work around, but sometimes you just don't have the choice.

People are mentioning policy debate  for being a problematic card , I still believe mirumoto's fury is the worst in that category.

Overall I think the game is in a fine state right now, I just think deck building possibilities within a clan are too limited, hopefully it will change as we get more cards.

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Most of this is simply because of the fact that depth in card design is lacking.  The game mechanics themselves are great but when we get to what the cards do we are at the point where design is clearly looking to make strong cards that evoke some sort of clan identity, while also making strong neutral cards, to allow clans that haven't fully developed, a chance to be relevant.....until that clan can stand on it's own.

There really aren't any cards that have options or generic utility.  There are just a bunch of "do x" and the strength of x and how many cards you have with strong x effects or prevent your opponent from playing strong x effects generally determines the winner. That is to be expected with a new game.  It took games like MTG years to innovate their actual card design with mechanics like Morph, Cycling, Retrace, etc.  MTG has to do this because of the game design being so simple.  L5R game design is far more advanced and can somewhat mask the shortcomings of card design, but, FFG cannot continue with the same type of approach to card design it's had at the onset and expect the game to improve by just raising the bar on "do x" type effects.

I don't think it's time to hit the panic button yet. The game is still very new and will have it's fair share of growing pains.  

Edited by Ishi Tonu

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1 hour ago, thorrk said:

My only problem with the game right now is the province system, it does not add much to the game and makes it very frustrating sometimes. Yes there is some work around, but sometimes you just don't have the choice.

I disagree. The province system adds suspense and to a degree challenges your deckbuilding and meta game analysis skills.  

Did you pick the right provinces to run?  Did you build your deck to have the best shot at defeating those provinces?  Did you mulligan properly?.........all the way to the point of the choices you make in the actual conflict and how you set up future plays then how you adapt to the changing board state are within your control. The number of times that a player has done all those things "right" and truly had no choice because of a random province flip are far less common than people make it out to be.

Did that random shameful display best you, or was there a breakdown, somewhere along the way, in your own decision process, beginning from you own deck design? Its a hard question to answer, especially when people are not always honest with themself and the cop out of "random province flip beat me" is sooooooo convienent. 

I bet there are players that did a lot to try and mitigate bad province flips but at some point they have to have strong cards to help them win the conflicts.  It's a delicate balance that comes with some risk, and essentially starts everyone on a less than optimal branch of their decision making tree, when it comes to how to tackle provinces.

I don't feel this is a design flaw it's just part of the game some people are willing to accept more than others. 

Edited by Ishi Tonu

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16 hours ago, Ignithas said:

 

Kiramode is a really good player and game analyst. I don't think he needs to learn to play around problematic provinces.

The other guy is right. I just have to git gud. There are no structural problems in this game.

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There's a significant difference between a structural problem and a mechanic you don't like. Many people like the Province mechanic, and I suspect just as many do not. That doesn't make it a structural or design problem, just a personal preference problem.

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6 minutes ago, Evilgm said:

There's a significant difference between a structural problem and a mechanic you don't like. Many people like the Province mechanic, and I suspect just as many do not. That doesn't make it a structural or design problem, just a personal preference problem.

I don't think that the face down province mechanic is inherently bad. It's only bad if the provinces are game swinging. It's not as simple as "play around it". There's a lot of competitive decks that simply can't play around certain provinces. They don't stop being good decks, they just have a certain percentage of games that they'll lose if they roll a 1. Games being decided by pure chance isn't good. Of course you can opt not to play any deck that has the potential to get blown out by provinces, but then you limit your deck options significantly. I have yet to meet a person that thinks having less competitive options is better than more. 

This cycle brought us provinces that are interesting, worth running, and don't just end the game by flipping in the wrong situations. The cycle also brought us Feast or Famine. And that's really where the issue is. You can make the case that anytime you have face down provinces there will always be something like FoF that will make the whole thing look like a dumb idea from the start. But you can also as a design team make a conscious decision to not make swingy provinces that end games by chance.

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I don't know if Feast or Famine is necessarily that bad. Or at least it's reasonably easy to play around.

It's only potentially relevant in games against Dragon or Lion (although I've yet to see it in a Lion game.) And you just have to make sure you don't attack an unflipped province with 3 or more skill until you know where it is.

I suppose it could be worse with Lion since they can play Talisman of the Sun and force you to break it, but I think that's more a issue with Talisman of the Sun rather than just Feast or Famine specifically.

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Just to throw in my two cents: The province mechanic is my least favorite part of this game.  They should be face up by default, with maybe a few that have a keyword allowing them to start face down.

Being blindsided because you guessed wrong is not a great fit for a game that is otherwise extremely strategic and decision based.

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