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Ishi Tonu

Purple People haters need not apply

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So against my better judgment,  I'm going to be playing Unicorn at an upcoming Kotei.

Now I know most of you are probably saying "Just wait til after the next cycle comes out and the pONI are good." 

And to that I say "Ha!" and "No!" -Ralph, Wreck it Ralph

In truth, as much as I would like to play the sweet new cards that were spoiled for Unicorn, sadly, the Kotei I'll be attending occurs before any of the packs from the Elemental Cycle are released.  Additionally, although I don't feel the same sense of loyalty to the Unicorn as I do my actual faction, Unicorn is the clan I adopted upon the release of the game, to play until I get the Shadowlands faction I truly want.  It seems like it would be in bad form not to play the Unicorn, no matter how bad they are perceived to be.  The competitive side of me knows this is a really dumb reason, but, I can't get past it.  Maybe it was the previous 20+ years of playing the old game that stuck me with the concept of "you dance with the girl who brought you."

While I have been putting in a good amount of time preparing with the known top decks,  The Unicorn is the clan I have the most experience with and feel most comfortable playing.  However, I'm certainly willing to get input from anyone with experience playing with or vs Unicorn, or with any big tournament experience to share their knowledge and  help me identify any areas that I can improve upon, so I can be the best pONI I can be.

I will do this thread a little different and request that the initial feedback be sent to me via PM.  After I have had a change to discuss things 1 on 1 with people, I'll share the thoughts and advice to everyone to see if that sparks any more discussion.  I think this will be the best way to keep the thread on track.

Please keep it civil and constructed.  Thanks in advance for your help

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Less than 2 weeks to my kotei and not very many pm's so far.

I guess there really isn't anything good to say about unicorn?

Get those pm's in.  I'll be sharing a summary of the pm feedback later this week and looking for straight up old fashioned forum chatter after that.

For the few that have responded so far, thank you for your feedback and support.

 

Edited by Ishi Tonu

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9 hours ago, LordBlunt said:

I have a Uni DIS-Honor deck that I’ll share with you, if you like.... just gotta dig it up.(erased it a month ago, but did test it quite a bit and seemed fine) 

please do and pm it to me.  later this week i'll recap the suggestions and discussions I've had and see what other comments/debate I can drum up before the kotei

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Ok I think it's about time to open it up for general forum discussion.  I'd like to thank everyone who pm'd me as well as the people who directed me to some of the Unicorn strategy discussions on other sites.

In general,  while Unicorn has viable options within any clan pairing, a couple clans rose to the top for possible splash partners.

I have maintained my Unicorn lists for every clan since the core set and continually updated them in a effort to create the best possible version of Unicorn with each splash.  Surprisingly enough, there were a lot of shake ups after the restricted list came out.  While I still believe that Unicorn benefited greatly (addition by subtraction) because other top clans are not able to pack so many strong cards into one deck, there are some options that became completely obsolete as a result.

Unicorn/Lion:  This was once touted as the best possible Unicorn deck and had some pretty impressive results (for Unicorn) to back it up.  Sadly, FGG and Charge both being on the restricted list makes the deck choose between it's two biggest weapons.  I'd have to lean towards FFG being the better pick for this pairing, as there is no way to keep your Charged people in play when you lose FGG.  An argument could be made for either, but there is more to be gained by keeping FGG.  The recent addition of Nergui also presents an interesting option of using Master of the Spear to bring a good amount of send home pressure upon your opponent.  While the metagme is focused on bow/unbow, there are fewer ways to get characters into battle.  Playing this build felt amazing sometimes, and then others it just felt way too clunky.  I enjoyed it way more than I expected.  Even though I've never been a big fan of Lion splash, I did have a hard time ruling this one out, but, ultimately I passed on Unikitty for now.

Unicorn/Dragon:  This one is pretty simple as Mirumoto's Fury and Let Go are important staples of the current metagame and have pretty much been auto-include cards when splashing Dragon.  MF on the restricted list again puts you to the decision of taking that over Charge.  While attachment control is important, the various dragon builds end up with just too many holes and put me in really bad board states way too often.  Unidrag is not a good fit for now.

Unicorn/Crane:  This was a build I was actually flirting with during the core only environment and the imperial cycle improved upon it in many ways.  Sadly this is one of the lists that is most impacted by the restricted list. It is however still very solid with lots of various options.  It's one glaring weakness is how it does vs Tadaka and not having a good amount of access to Cloud the Mind.  I could be over estimating the amount of Phoenix that will be in the meta, and I may just not have enough reps, but, this deck did not perform very well for me.  It's not really my style to begin with, but even when I did play it right, every win felt like such a close call.  I know myself well enough that I will likely not be able to handle the fatigue factor involved in playing a deck like this at a large tournament.  Bottom line, I'm not man enough to play Unicrane.

Unicorn/Scorpion:  Uniscorp is a very well rounded deck with some strong options to control events, items, and bring a powerful effect like AFWTD into the mix.  This tends to be similar to the Unicrane deck, but, has some more powerful plays, and a higher overall fate curve.  However it also struggles with consistency and is a deck you have to play very carefully.  IMO, as good as these decks can be, both this deck and the Unicrane deck are worse versions of already existing decks.  One lesson I have learned over the years is that you do not play a worse version of a deck that already exists in the metagame.  While it could be said that any Unicorn deck is a worse version of something else, I don't believe that is true.  I do know that Uniscorp is not the deck for me.

This brings me to the 2 clans that are still in the running and will be getting the remaining of my testing time before the upcoming Kotei.

Unicrab is the deck I have the most experience playing.  They were a build that I instantly enjoyed and have only gotten better.  They are the least impacted by the restricted list, in fact I lost a total of 2 Policy Debates from my stock list, and honestly they felt a little forced in that build anyways, so really not much changes.  The only real dilemma is which version to run.  Splashing Crab is the least straight-forward.  After you add in Reprieves, the remaining influence is somewhat up fro grabs.  They have several good options that allow you to play a very flexible deck capable of winning any of the three victory conditions, or you can go with a more conservative build that focuses mainly on conquest.  Charge/Reprieve is almost exclusively a Unicorn trick now as most other clans have something more important to take from the restricted list and the combo does a lot of work when you have multiple high cost Uniques that can remain in play for a long, long time and never really invest a lot of fate into them.

Unichicken is a newer deck I have been messing with since the Phoenix clan pack came out.  It's probably the most unique deck that I've played so far.  I do like that the shugenja count makes Cloud the Mind a much smoother inclusion.  This deck attacks on an honor axis like none other and generally leaves my opponents somewhat confused as to what I'm actually doing until it's too late.  While is does have the element of surprise, it does lack the same number of strong plays that the Unicrab deck has.  There is a very real possibility that this deck just falls flat on it's face, but, if it can stabilize and maintain momentum, it tends to use honor to generate card advantage in a way that many decks simply cannot keep up with.  I could just be dazzled by the cool factor of the deck and kidding myself, however it has performed well, and I suspect a version of it will become a serious contender once the elemental cycle comes out.  But, this tournament will be before then so I have to assess it where it is now.

That's the gist of the discussion so far.  Feel free to convince me I'm wrong about which clan to splash or tell me why you think I'm on the right track, or just offer any general tournament advice you may have.  My mind is made up and I am playing Unicorn so please no comments about what I am doing is stupid.  I already know that.  Constructive criticisms only. 

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Good stuff! As you know, Crane splash is my preferred choice, but I fully agree that it’s a matter of personal play style (i’ve always  found Uni-Scorp to be utterly disastrous but I know it works really well for others).

I think Uni-Phoenix is going to become strong by the end of the forthcoming cycle, but i’m not sure it’s time is yet.

Uni-Crab on the other hand seems to be emerging as the splash of choice for those who have enjoyed particular success recently. I’ve not tried it myself but one of the two newly-crowned Unicorn Hatamotos did exceptionally well with Uni-Crab at the UK Grand Kotei and has posted an article on the Utaku Palaces group on Facebook which may be worth checking out...

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8 minutes ago, Caldera said:

Good stuff! As you know, Crane splash is my preferred choice, but I fully agree that it’s a matter of personal play style (i’ve always  found Uni-Scorp to be utterly disastrous but I know it works really well for others).

I think Uni-Phoenix is going to become strong by the end of the forthcoming cycle, but i’m not sure it’s time is yet.

Uni-Crab on the other hand seems to be emerging as the splash of choice for those who have enjoyed particular success recently. I’ve not tried it myself but one of the two newly-crowned Unicorn Hatamotos did exceptionally well with Uni-Crab at the UK Grand Kotei and has posted an article on the Utaku Palaces group on Facebook which may be worth checking out...

Thanks again Caldera.  I was looking for that but wasn't sure where to find it.  I suspect it's close to at least one of the many lists I've played with Unicrab, as that has been my favorite since Core.............but man the Unichicken deck is really fresh and fun.  There is something rewarding when a Scorpion player looks at you with a genuine look of confusion as to what your are doing and wonders out loud how in the heck you managed to get a card advantage over them.  The questions is can it be duplicated and does it win enough..........jury is still out.

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Alright it's getting close so any last minute advice is appreciated. 

Ultimately I have decided upon playing Unicorn with a Phoenix splash for this event.

While I do not feel that this is the "best" Unicorn deck, I think it's the right Unicorn deck for this metagame.

The sun has set on Unikitty decks since the restricted list contains both Charge and FGG.  Throughout the discussions on this topic, Unicrab and Unicourtiers were the overwhelming favorites and righfully so as they both have proven to be solid choices for Unicorn.  I'm not extremely comfortable with the Unicourtier decks and I was leaning toward Unicrab as  I really enjoy Unicrab and know the deck very well.  However, when it gets down to the nitty-gritty, both of these decks are similar to better decks that are already in the metagame.  I've previously said that as a rule, I never play a deck that is a worse version of something else................and I was almost willing to overlook this for Unicrab, but, I came back around when I reminded myself I don't want to get caught up in a metagame war with an inferior deck because everyone will be (or at least should be) preparing for Crab-Unicorn decks and if they have a good match vs that, they will likely beat Unicron-Crab.  phew! holy run-on

I feel that by playing something a little different this will give me a slightly better chance as the deck I will be playing is somewhat unknown, even though it isn't what I consider to be the best deck for the clan.  Of course I could be completely misjudging the metagame and/or my logic could be flawed.  You have 2 days to convince me.........................as for now I'm sleeving up my "Friendship is Magic" deck and putting it to the test.

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Ok, just curious, how did it go?

Looking at the data at Imperial Advisor, I’d say not so well, but I’d like to hear your side of things. Bad matchups? Deck not working as intended? Unicorn are simply too underpowered?

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Game one vs Crab was a blowout.  He saw everything good. I saw only my little peeps early and couldn't keep any sort of board presence.  When I finally did, I was in a spot where he could just Way of The Crab my only defender for the win.  It was technically over on turn 2 but I drug it out and tried to make something out of nothing for another 3 turns before I eventually lost a game I was never in.

Game two vs Scorpion was going as planned, I focused on air but gave back honor with constant 5 bids to force him to low bid, which be out Jr us back even on cards.  I was just about to turn the corner when his singleton Consumed by 5 Fires wrecked all the work I had done.  It was just a slow march to another loss at that point.

Round three vs Crane was going quite well despite some bad luck for me and good luck for my opponent blind attacking into the right province every time.  I was down 3 provinces to none before I mounted my comeback.  Talisman'd him off my stronghold and took his third province. I was up 14 cards to his 5 when going in for the win.......but it turned out those were the perfect 5 cards to deny me (Steward, For Shame x2 and Above Question X2) the worst part was that I misplayed a Censure vs AFWTD earlier when I had a Finger of Jade already out but under a stack of attachements and just missed it.  Hard to know if I would have won if I had that Censure at the end. I also missed some triggers to draw cards a couple times so I was a little disappointed in my sloppy play in this one.  

Round 4 vs another Crane and I rolled it pretty easy.  He was trying honor running.  I couldn't get any sort of card advantage because he had lots of stuff to keep his hand full but I had everything I needed to switch to conquest mode and break his Stronghold on a Captive Audience switch on turn 3.

1-3

Some bad luck, one bad play. I think the deck was actually fine and was right there to put me in the same spot as any other Unicorn that made it out of the first round at 2-2. I just didn't have things break my way.

I don't think I would have changed a thing other than my sloppy play in game three.  I loved the deck and was glad to get some time in with it at a big event as I strongly believe that it is one of the better options for Unicorn once the next cycle is out.

All the feedback before hand was much appreciated and helped me get some perspective and really scrutinize my choices.  I won't get another chance at a major tourney this year, but, I'm gonna stay on with the pONIs as my main clan, at least until I get a proper Shadowlands faction. I'll be dabbling with other clans to see how they handle the honor loss of the new Shadowlands cards, but so far Unicorn seem to handle it better than most so that's an added bonus for me to already be familiar with the clan.

Edited by Ishi Tonu

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So, as always with Unicorn, at least in my experience against them. 

I have a friend that plays Unicorn. Funny thing, first time L5R player so no bringing old clan preferences, but he decided he liked the Uni flavor, and stick with them even when it was clear they were underpowered. He has developed a strong clan loyalty out of nowhere, to the point the only clan he plays outside Unicorn is Crane, because they’re allies. Reminds me a lot of Old5R. 

Well, I play a lot with him. And every victory of mine feels like the whole game was a close calling, but he had bad luck, missing just a card at the right time. And when he wins, feels the same, that he had good luck, the perfect draw or the right card at the right moment. The thing is, I win most of the time. A lot. Like, 4 of every 5 games. And he’s a good player. But it always feel the same, close call but bad luck. Until we came to the realization that Uni is just “not there yet”. That Uni needs a very good player with some added luck. A bad flop or a bad draw and the game is over for Unicorn, even if you don’t realize it. 

A clan where every loss and every victory feels like it was decided by luck is simply not a good clan to play. 

But, in the other hand, it also seems that is only a few cards away of becoming a good, reliable way to victory. Hopefully, this new cycle has those few cards. 

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Unicorn looks poised to move up into the ranks of the competitive once this next cycle is released.  It's clear they were never quite there throughout this arc of the game, so I'm glad that's done with.  I'm not particularly loyal to the Unicorn.  I do like the underdog and that was the reason I chose them to be my filler clan until Shadowlands shows up.

What I did like about the deck is that I got some real life experience playing the bid 5 with ring of air pressure and for the most part it worked.  Being able to maintain card parity with Scoprion (with him stealing my Spyglass) and getting a 14-5 card advantage vs Crane is no small feat.  As far as the strategy that I had theorycrafted around what I feel is the correct way to threaten honor, for now, seemed successful.  I had been getting similar results on Jigoku but wasn't sure what to make of them.  I didn't know if the meta would be different in real life play.  The yo-yo style of honor gains while gradually increasing the honor totals is not something players seem to expect. 

If anyone wants to discuss that part of it, I'm game for that.  The meta will shift in about a month, so the viability of the approach could change.  It was a pretty interesting experiment to say the least. 

Edited by Ishi Tonu

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This was a very interesting read. I have been on and off in the game for a while, but once I saw that Uni were getting a Naga I began making a much more full return, and am switching over to them. Fire chicken were always my second choice, after Sneks, but Uni were third so it works out in the end. Good to hear that they can pull off a fun build, and along side Phoenix no less! Even if it's not quite there. 

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