Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Ascarel

Why I got bored with Dragon, or what’s in a name…

Recommended Posts

So, recently I decided to switch primary clan, from Dragon to Unicorn, for very specific reasons that I came to while reflecting on a specific part of L5R’s design. I thought I’d share my ramblings here. This post is longwinded and "blog-ish", but I have no blog so I'm dumping it here. :) Please feel free to disagree, or just disparage me for being treasonous in switching my allegiance so easily. :P

Let me just say though that the moment the Dragon’s monk deck feels right, I’m certainly going to switch back almost instantly. The only kind of Dragon deck I want to play is Monk. My current deck is pretty similar to the one suggested recently on Imperial Advisor, so I feel kinda validated (with a bit more emphasis on Shugenjas – I splash Phoenix). But still, it feels quite clunky to me and still not very monkish. It’s not there yet. And so I actually got… bored.

A bit of background first. When I read the Learn To Play rules for the first time, before even buying the game (I knew nothing about Rokugan at that point), I decided that my primary clan would be Dragon, and Unicorn came in a close second. I loved the horse-rider theme, and the purple banner, but Dragon still won for its mysterious warrior-monk shtick. Those decisions were 100% based on theme, because that’s something that is massively important to me.

Before L5R, I was an avid Android:Netrunner fan. I didn’t play much, but I bought a lot of cards during the last two or three years of this game’s life and I actually enjoyed making decks without even playing, because every card dripped with theme and story and you could imagine a narrative developing even as you made your deck. That’s probably my favorite part of that game’s design: everything refers to a known entity in the gameworld, from the board layout terminology (such as grip/heap/etc. or server/archive/HQ/R&D/etc) to the cards themselves: programs, hardware, events/operations, etc. Even an abstract category like Resource ends up very concrete because you got jobs, locations, contacts and such that, once on the table, it’s pretty clear what’s happening or where.

Back to L5R. I didn’t play much Unicorn in the beginning because it was quickly apparent how sub-par they were. The movement mechanic is a very nice idea and to this day I still thoroughly approve of it – after all, they are riders – but the execution was not there, we all know that. So I played Dragon exclusively until the Elemental Cycle.

When I started trying out Unicorn with the new stronghold and the new cards, I quickly realized how much more fun I had than playing Dragon. Here again, I was executing a specific theme through a mechanic. Riders come in wave, don’t they? So having a lot of cavalry on the board, and enabling effects from that fact, felt absolutely right. It’s fun. I love it. I love Cavalry Reserve in this context, more than in the beginning; I love Force of the River among the new cards. Playing Charge! with the Kaze Regulars makes so much sense (rather than, say, a lone, non-riding character in just about any clan). There’s an overarching theme here and building my deck around it, trying to enable it as best as I can, is really what this game is all about, in my book. I’m really happy at what Unicorn has become after the Elemental Cycle. Side note: I don’t care much about its overall standing in the competitive meta; I just want a fun deck to play that makes sense, even when I don’t win.

So all that being said, what’s up with Dragon? Consider their stronghold ability: it makes you profit from owning and playing attachments. Oookay, does this relate to Dragon being flexible and individualistic? Not sure here, to be honest. What’s more, this begs the question: what the **** is an attachment anyway? We have items, spells, techniques, conditions, and so forth. We’re ending with everything and anything there, because an attachment is in fact nothing in the gameworld. It’s a terminology that refers to the cards themselves. You play a card on – you attach it to – another one. That’s. It. That’s what struck me: this is such a disappointingly BORING mechanic to build a clan around!

It’s almost silly how a simple name – “attachment” – makes me feel totally uninvolved with my deck in the end. At this point in the game development I’m not sure any new Dragon card can excite me enough when the game plan is just… to play attachments. Meh.

Now, my premise here is that the stronghold action dictates how you play, or at least how you deckbuild. Is this wrong? I want my Monk deck to work with a new stronghold that enables something Monk-related and relevant to what monks do. I’m pretty sure we'll have something down the line, but if they still link that new stronghold to attachments, I will be… quite saddened.

Attachments… Ugh. They really missed something with that design choice, comparatively speaking. That’s my final takeaway. Not sure it’s just in the name, although to be fair trying to find a single, gameworld-relevant descriptive for everything they’ve put in that category is probably impossible. So I guess that, in the end, the name “attachment” is just a shorthand for what I think is disappointing with it: it means everything, and therefore nothing.

And now... Discuss! :D

Addendum: I suddenly realize that fate manipulation might actually be the one avenue where a Dragon deck feels thematic enough for me. But enough with attachments already! :) 

Edited by Ascarel

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wait for the monk tattoos and make your individual warrior with his life and attitude and history printed on his skin!

I am Unicorn man, but waiting to see some tattooed kunfu or buddish monks to solve problems with force or wits! Just for the diversity... But nomad horselords will remain my Main faction to the bitter end!

Edited by Hannibal_pjv

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As far as strongholds affecting deckbuilding... it depends. Stuff like the Crab and Crane strongholds can go with pretty much any deck, but Dragon needs attachments and Kyuden Isawa needs spells so they kind of dictate how you build to get optimum use out of them.

One thing I do like about the Dragon SH is that regular Dragon get synergy with stuff like Niten Master and Niten Adept while Monk gets synergies with their tattoos and all the Monk conflict character/attachments.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can answer a few of your concerns/queries as regards the dragon design from the perspective of an old5r player.

Firstly, if u choose to return to us welcome clan sibling I hope you find enlightenment in our mountains.

Now onto the rest. The Dragon "themes" in the old game were duelling and enlightenment (a victory condition around bringing the elemental rings into play). Our dueling decks normally revolved around a heavy reliance on bully duelling through use of the kensai mechanic (meaning we could attach more weapons). Dragon was one of the clans with a very heavy focus on Kensai. Kensai and dueling for many us old hands are quintessential parts of our clan identity and why we love our clan (I must admit I play Dragon not because of the Togashi but in spite of them I'm a Mirumoto/Kitsuki fanboy). Our other military decks also tended to rely on big characters. Dragon strategy was for a large part of the game "get big". So I think attachments are always going to be a big part of dragon deck construction going forward.

Edited by Mirumoto Ryan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/13/2018 at 8:05 PM, Mirumoto Ryan said:

Our other military decks also tended to rely on big characters. Dragon strategy was for a large part of the game "get big". So I think attachments are always going to be a big part of dragon deck construction going forward.

So you are telling me that the attachment concept is actually part of the old game design? ?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
28 minutes ago, Ascarel said:

So you are telling me that the attachment concept is actually part of the old game design? ?

That's correct!  Though Dragon Monks are bound to get more support in future expansions so maybe they'll feel more like what you want at some point.  Don't let that or anything else stop you from playing the decks you enjoy now, or ever really.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 minutes ago, BCumming said:

That's correct! 

Alright, this makes sense and I should have realized it sooner. Doesn't change my overall judgment on this design (I dislike it), but I get that history has its weight here.

I was thinking a bit more about this and I felt that a very little twist would have dramatically altered how we talk about these cards, and therefore made them more thematic. Seeing as all attachment cards have +X/+X on them, it would have been very easy to consider them as a consistent and operational card "template" with regard to the rules (where you could refer to attachment cards as a whole and still be clear and precise), while varying their type: we could have weapon cards, item cards, technique cards, etc. That makes them on par with event cards, for instance, and immediately makes them more flavorful to me. You could even vary the artwork per card type. And introduce new cards later without problems. The word attachment would be the bold-face keyword in these cases.

Ok, I know this would not work well in the end. I'm not a game designer. ? For instance, many cards already need to refer to all attachments at a single category, so we'd keep talking about them. And spells are events too. Not sure how this would work... but anyway... I'm just giving an example to illustrate how I feel cards are so much better when they refer to gameworld constructs directly. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Ascarel said:

So you are telling me that the attachment concept is actually part of the old game design? ?

 

3 hours ago, Ascarel said:

I was thinking a bit more about this and I felt that a very little twist would have dramatically altered how we talk about these cards, and therefore made them more thematic. Seeing as all attachment cards have +X/+X on them, it would have been very easy to consider them as a consistent and operational card "template" with regard to the rules (where you could refer to attachment cards as a whole and still be clear and precise), while varying their type: we could have weapon cards, item cards, technique cards, etc. That makes them on par with event cards, for instance, and immediately makes them more flavorful to me. You could even vary the artwork per card type. And introduce new cards later without problems. The word attachment would be the bold-face keyword in these cases.

Categories of attachments did behave differently in the old game. They even had their own unique card templates. Weapons added force directly to the character. The number of weapons attached allowed was limited by their being one handed or two handed with Kensai being allowed to have more one handed weapons. Spells typically did not add force to the character and were sometimes discarded after use. They could only be attached to a shugenja. Followers did not add force to the character but instead to the unit. This was an important distinction in the old game. They also acted as a kind of bodyguard. Ranged attacks existed which removed characters from play whose force was equal to or less than their ranged value. So if I had a 5 force character and my opponent had a ranged 5 strength attack they could use their ranged attack to discard my character. Followers prohibited this as the ranged attack would have to target the follower before being able to target the character. So in a 12 force unit I could have a 5 force character (say base force 3 with a +2 weapon), 2 2 force followers and 1 3 force follower. In order to kill the unit  with ranged attacks I would need to remove all the followers before targeting the character. All up requiring 1 ranged 3, 2 range 2 and 1 range 5 attack to remove the  unit. And IIRC in the very distant past (when I started playing) the number of followers a character could have attached was depended on their personal honour.

Needless to say the old game was a bit more complicated than its current iteration.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 hours ago, Mirumoto Ryan said:

And IIRC in the very distant past (when I started playing) the number of followers a character could have attached was depended on their personal honour

Unless they changed it in a later edition, personal honor (a stat sort of like glory now) didn’t limit the number of followers, but followers had a personal honor requirement sometimes, so some followers wouldn’t attach to characters with low personal honor. I believe the personal honor requirement was removed near the end of the game’s life, though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But more on topic, while I think it’s true that having different attachment template types was more flavorful, from a rules perspective the FFG version is more streamlined and easier to remember, as attachments now have any requirements or exceptions written on the card. Grasp of Earth can only attach to shugenja, which is how old spells worked, but it works within the same rules of other attachments. Old L5R also had attachments like ancestors, which were like followers but not and had slightly different rules. I like FFGs approach where I can confirm those unique rules or differences just by looking at the card, but your mileage may vary.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I understand where your coming from. I loved dueling with Crane in the original game but absolutely despise it in this version. Crane is my favorite clan but I don't even want to play them because of this.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/17/2018 at 1:10 AM, Suzume Tomonori said:

Unless they changed it in a later edition, personal honor (a stat sort of like glory now) didn’t limit the number of followers, but followers had a personal honor requirement sometimes, so some followers wouldn’t attach to characters with low personal honor. I believe the personal honor requirement was removed near the end of the game’s life, though.

Maybe he confused with Spells. In earlier editions Shugenja couldn't attach more Spells than his Chi.

Edited by kempy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

hum, what other denominations would make sense? You attach it to a character, it's an attachment. Simple and clear. Name explain the base mechanics.

It avoids too much granularity in cards type that would creates niche cards that wouldn't see play. 

They wouldn't be on par with event. Imagine if the Agasha swordsmith could only search weapon cards, you'd be stuck with weapon cards mainly to put in your deck or have no consistency. compared to let's say a Crane Test of Skill searching for events, it would be less powerful. 

Imagine if let go or Miya mystic was only: discard a weapon. Then you'd be stuck with your cloud the mind forever.

There are mechanics though that are attachment subtype restricted, like Niten Master's reaction on weapons. 

It's streamlined and efficient. No need to put excessive fluff on cards. Flavor texts and fictions bring the main fluff, not mechanics. 

If you want  a stronger L5R fluff fix, get to play the RPG too. 

Old5R suffered of excessive fluff at the end, with a multiplication of keywords that made sometimes no sense or had meaningfull mechanics. 

Edited by Nitenman

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And while it's true it feels the "monk deck" isn't fully there yet, you can still monk with attachments, using non weapons, but fate manipulation or battlefields effects (talisman of the sun) attachments, even some which would'nt give skill bonus (like splash phenix for embrace the void)

Then the beauty of the Stronghold is to allow you a skill buff on character with these utilities attachments. 

now, funny stuff is, you say you want to play only a monk deck, and current Dragon doesn't feel monk to you... But what then should a monk deck feel according to you? 

Maybe Unicorn now feels more exciting to you, more rushy, but if you feel Dragon boring, you maybe haven't understood Dragon. It's quite technical, and needs careful planning and anticipation. Maybe watch some Dragon matchups on Youtube, get some strats. 

sometimes a Good dragon play is like a good scorpion play: it's taxing mentally. 

Edited by Nitenman

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow, thread necromancy! :D I'm game.

12 hours ago, Nitenman said:

Simple and clear. Name explain the base mechanics.

The name explains the mechanics indeed -- that's exactly my problem. It does not favour the kind of immersion that I've felt in other games such as Netrunner. Your comment about the RPG is actually pretty relevant, as well as true. But remember, I was limiting myself to the context of a card game and its narrative aspect. That's just my view anyway. There is nothing wrong in wanting "more fluff" in a non-RPG game, such as a card game, and I believe that the thematic setting of L5R might have misled me on this. It drips theme everywhere. But in hindsight, it seems that the part of L5R LCG that feels like chess -- highly tactical and strategic, and indeed mentally taxing at times -- often works against the thematic immersion. 

11 hours ago, Nitenman said:

now, funny stuff is, you say you want to play only a monk deck, and current Dragon doesn't feel monk to you... But what then should a monk deck feel according to you? 

Maybe Unicorn now feels more exciting to you, more rushy, but if you feel Dragon boring, you maybe haven't understood Dragon.

Unicorn is not more exciting to me because it is more rushy, but because its theme and its game play are more naturally aligned.

There is nothing monkish in putting a card underneath another one. That's why I find this mechanic boring. A more consistent fate manipulation deck might fit what I am looking for in playing Dragon monks, I think.

Edited by Ascarel

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What I like about the Monk deck is throwing kicks and punches around. :D

Honestly, what's not monkly when your fate deck includes cards like CHarge!, High Kick, Hurricane Punch, Void Fist, Tattoos, Mantras, etc.

 And Let Go :D

You can even play ten monks in the conflict deck...

Will it win a tournament anytime soon? I doubt so. 

 

Is it fun to play and flavorful? Yes, yes it is.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not saying there are no Monk cards. The punches are nice and as I said though the monk deck is a work in progress, it's still going in the right direction and I look forward to the future. But see, in all the cards you named, only the tattoos are attachments, and we have only two choices right now. It doesn't come close to synergize "monkness" with the Dragon stronghold.

Edited by Ascarel

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I love Necromancy, but a month-ish isn't that necromantic tbh :)

Beyond fate manipulation, which is somewhat vague as a concept (focus on character removal, fate generation... Bit of a catch all) what would be the fate manipulating monk deck strategy in order to win conflicts and ultimately the game? 

because even without being overly competitive, the aim of a deck isn't mainly how thematic it is but how it will help you achieve one of the three win conditions. 

While I understand your point, I think you maybe as you say mislead yourself in looking for a fluff that is subjective. As you said, you knew nothing of Rokugan before making up your mind, so maybe your interpretation wasn't fully accurate. 

I have been a Rokugan addict for 15 years, as a card player and GM and even I won't say my interpretation of theme is the right one, but I believe I have a rather good understanding of general Clan themes.

But I am not saying you are wrong in wanting fluffier stuff, and definitely incite you to try to play the RPG in parallel. 

The Dragon theme isn't as much monks as it is a Clan promoting mysticism, individualism and exploration of one's path (so strong tower character is very thematic) and characterized by a sword fighting style based on two weapons (again, thematic for attachments )They have monks , warriors and shugenja training together, learning from each other and fighting side by side. 

A fun and fluffy Dragon deck shouldn't be really a monk deck only or an attachment only deck but a balance. The hardest is to find this balance (which is again very thematic for Dragon) 

Obviously the current stronghold is more biased towards attachments, but even when a monk stronghold will drop, Dragon will still be an attachment focused Clan. 

I respect your point of view and quest for fluff, but I disagree about Dragon not being thematic. 

Dropping two swords, a seal of the Dragon and a tattoo on a Mirumoto Raitsugu and having him kill stuff is actually very thematic. 

I believe a really Fluffy deck plays the main themes of a Clan together. 

Let's take Crane, yes they are masters of politics and it is felt in their theme and gameplay, but without the Daidoji scouts, Iron warriors, and heroic Doji warriors, Crane would have been destroyed by Lion a while ago. 

Let's take Lion... No, I'm kidding, Lion is currently a clan that FFG indeed effed up thematically :)

 

 

Edited by Nitenman

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Nitenman said:

Dropping two swords, a seal of the Dragon and a tattoo on a Mirumoto Raitsugu and having him kill stuff is actually very thematic. 

I agree with that. When I first splashed Lion with my pre-Water Unicorn decks, I used to enjoy playing A Legion of One on a lone fated character as a prelude to playing Cavalry Reserve. To this day, picturing that crazy rider charging and all pumped up against opponents, before a group of powerful cavalry appears right behind, has felt like the most cinematic and thrilling move I've ever done in this game.

(As an aside, my second most thrilling move happened last week, as I was able play two Cavalry Reserves in the same conflict against a Lion stronghold. The poor guy conceded before I could activate Shinjo Shono...)

Anyway, all that is just a reminder that the game still has a lot of theme and you are right to point that out. Card names and card synergies will always be thematic. My initial observation, however, relates to the way intersection of theme and design creates immersion. L5R is not consistent on that front. It's just a personal thought. :) I still love the game, unless I play against Crab.

4 hours ago, Nitenman said:

IBeyond fate manipulation, which is somewhat vague as a concept (focus on character removal, fate generation... Bit of a catch all) what would be the fate manipulating monk deck strategy in order to win conflicts and ultimately the game

Well, if you have more characters who stay on the board longer than your opponent, I believe your chances of winning are significantly better, regardless of other factors. But actions and stat bumps (like the Seeker of Enlightenment) based on manipulating fate come to mind as an eventual theme to design things around. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Then it's board presence more than really fate manipulation. How to keep your board and empty opponent's and how to have a better fate economy to allow you to fate more your guys. 

KOV role, keeper initiates, void Ring effect, dragon sealed weaponised raitsugu, lord togashi, emo stone, Seeker of enlight,  then splash crab for reprieve+tesubo or phenix for embrace+kharmic. The cards are there, but the strategy is I agree a bit Janky. And isn't indeed a just monk(ey) business, but a whole clan effort. 

I get your point about design, but I believe it's also the price of the tech level of the game, and the fact that it is still in its infancy, yet great concepts like Mono no aware helps a lot immersion. I liked to play old L5R ccg, but feels more immersion with LCG.

On a side note, have you ever tried Arkham horror LCG? I just fell into it, deeply, and as per what you look for in game in terms of immersion, If you like Chtulhu mythos, you might love this. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
26 minutes ago, Nitenman said:

On a side note, have you ever tried Arkham horror LCG? I just fell into it, deeply, and as per what you look for in game in terms of immersion, If you like Chtulhu mythos, you might love this. 

I absolutely know I might love this, many people I know have raved about it. :o

But there is simply no room in my life for another LCG. I'm criticizing things and all here but it's just talk, you know? L5R wins the whole of my time slot allotted to that kind of game. :) 

(In a way, the sad demise of Netrunner was also felicitous in this respect).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

With no end in sight to the scattered design of Dragon, their cards getting restricted for their performance in other Clan's decks, and the difficulty I have in getting people to drop an hour plus on this game I have just stopped playing/collecting.

I can get people to play Keyforge, I still get the novels and my friends like the L5R rpg, but the card game in the end was disappointing. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sometimes get that feeling too. I'm still collecting, bit of Jigoku, bit of solo vs play, but I'm afraid Dragon will be nerfed because crowd think it's easy mode (blame legendary Dragon Aneil...)

Thank god I have another beloved Clan I can play too: Lion... Hmm wait... Oh s*it! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×