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Zolt51

Readying a weapon in a duel

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If I understand the dueling rules correctly, both combatants should start a Iaijutsu duel with weapons sheathed.

The two Iaijutsu kata let your draw and strike as a single action (giving Kakita duelists a huge advantage over other rank 1 bushi, as they get early access to this).

Other than that, would water stance allow a character to draw (one support action that does not require a check), then strike on the first round?

Apart from these two options, are there any other mechanics that would let someone strike on round 1?

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Posted (edited)

only water stance and iaijutsu cuts.

and since water stance + strike allows for a critical strike, it is better for iaijutsu duels (to first strike or first blood) than using a iaijutsu technique. (remember, iaijutsu kata cannot crit, they are not the same as a "strike").

kakita doesn't have an advantage at rank 1, hes actually mid or lower in the "duel tier" among rank 1 bushis.

Edited by Avatar111

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Thanks!
I wasn't sure about water stance since the way the stance is written is very different in the book and on the character sheet: "Take an additional action" vs "take a second action".

And thanks for clarifying about Iaijutsu kata not being able to inflict critical, that was going to be my second question. 

So most likely a good water ring is a must for duel-oriented bushi. Those with a weak water ring have to learn a iaijutsu kata to make up for it (but you're probably much better off learning Crossing Blade than the Rising Blade the Kakita start with.

What would be your top-tier duelist at low rank?

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Note that duels start at range 2. And I think you don't get the free 1 range band movement in duels, so only the crossing blade allows you to reach the opponent.

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19 minutes ago, Skie said:

Note that duels start at range 2. And I think you don't get the free 1 range band movement in duels, so only the crossing blade allows you to reach the opponent.

Actually, the free 1-band movement is explained on page 251, which details how to take turn in any kind of conflict, before we jump into the various types of conflicts. So I’d say this applies to duels as well as skirmishes and others...

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Posted (edited)
44 minutes ago, Skie said:

Note that duels start at range 2. And I think you don't get the free 1 range band movement in duels, so only the crossing blade allows you to reach the opponent.

Not true. A duel considers you to be in range of any technique at all times during a duel. You start and end at range 2 but 'during' the duel you're at whatever range you require:

"During the duel, each character is considered to be in range of any effect their opponent resolves."

6 hours ago, Zolt51 said:

Apart from these two options, are there any other mechanics that would let someone strike on round 1?

6 hours ago, Avatar111 said:

only water stance and iaijutsu cuts.

Since you're always considered to have your unarmed profiles readied, technically hoofing someone in the unmentionables in round 1 is also an option.

Not really one suitable for an honour duel, but an option to remember, nevertheless!

4 hours ago, Zolt51 said:

What would be your top-tier duelist at low rank?

Depends very much on what sort of duel it is - to incapacitation, to first strike, to first blood, or to the death. Different approaches work better for each - although generally a high earth ring is good, either for endurance (to avoid incapacitation), composure (to avoid finishing blows) or the ability to fight effectively whilst in earth stance (to avoid criticals off strike actions).

You can't go far wrong with a Mirumoto Niten Expert, because even at low rank, Way of the Dragon is very potent. With small dice pools, anything which can mess with your opponent's good dice becomes powerful. They're good in most duel situations

Hida are also good at first blood duels - Way of the Crab and a naturally high earth ring and fitness means getting a 'scoring critical strike' (5+) is very hard without landing a finishing blow, and in duels to the death not even then. Plus, in a duel to incapacitation, you can't go far wrong with lacquered armour and an otsuchi (if you're allowed to use it by the presiding lord).

Bayushi can be surprisingly nasty if you plan for duels. They aren't a bushi school and don't even get Martial Arts (Melee) on their curriculum until rank 2 but their school ability is awesome. It varies from useless to utterly devastating depending on whether you've had a chance to find your opponent's disadvantages (their default Shuji of Lord Bayushi's Whispers is VERY useful!)

Similarly, don't underestimate Ikoma bards. They're courtiers, but their ability to manipulate strife in big lumps means they're better than most at pushing an opponent to their composure and getting a lethal (or at least duel-ending) finishing blow.

Kakita are not bad in one specific niche of duels. Duels to first strike require a strike and critical (so a high air stance which makes you harder to hit is not a bad option as it gives you a safe alternative if you can't use the critical-immune earth) and winning first blood off a strike action generally means upping your inflicted critical severity so your opponent can't knock it down to four or less with a fitness check - which is where Way of the Crane comes in. Iaijutsu cut techniques are actually of only pretty niche use in a duel - letting you draw-and-strike in a single action whilst in earth or air stance. You can't inflict a critical by doing so but can trigger kata or opportunities from the attack, which can help swing the fight your way more than a simple prepare action.

 

Edited by Magnus Grendel

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6 minutes ago, Magnus Grendel said:

Not true. A duel considers you to be in range of any technique at all times during a duel. You start and end at range 2 but 'during' the duel you're at whatever range you require:

"During the duel, each character is considered to be in range of any effect their opponent resolves."

 

Yeah, that too ;)

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Thanks for all the feedback! And yes, the fact that range can normally be abstracted during duels was my interpretation as well.

Follow-up question on Water stance: Is centering a valid supplementary action for Water Stance, before or after a strike action? It's a support action and although you do roll dice to resolve the effect, it's not technically a "check".

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Posted (edited)

To be fair, duels are a bit weird under the current rules and it is not the characters you would expect to be good at duels that are actually good at it. Basically, if you are a good skirmisher you are good at duels too.

I am really hoping the designers realize and admit their duel rules needs a bit of polish and that they make some change/errata to it.

Edit;

Unless there is something I really don't understand, the problems of duels mostly are;

-Iaijutsu cuts should be able to crit.

-Predict action (or anything that can force an opponent out of his stance bonus) needs improvement.


Edit 2;

My concern is that after 2 months, there are still typos in their 2 pages errata that they are not correcting, and, their player ressource PDF still have mixed pages (campaign tracking sheet and expended character sheet).

Both of these are issues that take about 30 minutes to correct and re upload. So that is a bit worrying as it make it look like nobody is following up or taking care of the project anymore.

(aside the writers, they seem very active)

Edited by Avatar111

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1 hour ago, Avatar111 said:

-Iaijutsu cuts should be able to crit.

I dunno. Thing is, Rising Blade - which is the Kakita default kata - is almost so perfectly built for employing on finishing blows that it might as well have "this is a finishing blow technique" in bold at the start of the activation text. Crossing blade is just a generic strike (albeit with a slightly improved damage and range compared to a normal strike with a sword), so a critical with that is not unreasonable. Kakita still have privileged access at rank 1, so it's still of benefit to them.

The inability to deliver a critical strike with an iai cut in a normal strike does mess up your ability to use them in duels to first strike....which you'd think would be where they'd excel. I'd be tempted to add it to crossing blade instead.

 

 

A kakita duellist is utterly deadly using rising blade as a finishing blow - it's TN1 instead of the TN2 of a normal strike, and Way of the Crane takes up the slack on deadliness from being forced to use it one-handed. The problem is that using it properly requires your opponent to be compromised.

Winning a duel via finishing blow means winning the strife game, and:

  1. winning the strife management game is a problem with a best-case starting composure of 8.
  2. if focusing on compromising your opponent, then a high initiative and ranks of meditation aren't actually very useful since the initiative order doesn't matter that much.

Having courtesy and sentiment on the curriculum at rank 1 is potentially useful for throwing strife out, but fire is generally not a strong ring either.

Kakita are actually, weirdly, much better in skirmishes than duels. Firstly, rising blade's 'cannot defend' matters (in a way it doesn't in a duel since a finishing blow has that by default) whilst crossing blade's extended range blade strike matters and the guard action is available, which stacks really well with air stance. Equally, a skirmish is far more likely to include an ambush where vigilance matters, or else a fight which starts at bow range....and the fact that Way of the Crane can push an arrow-inflicted critical up to severity 5 (inflicting bleeding on an opponent before the start of an extended skirmish) is really nasty.

 

 

1 hour ago, Avatar111 said:

Predict action (or anything that can force an opponent out of his stance bonus) needs improvement.

I don't think you can do much more to predict itself - make you change stance is pretty awesome - but a secondary effect would be good.

Predict changed quite a bit during the beta.

  • The original gave you the chance to guess a stance and inflict strife if your opponent chose it. It didn't, however, force them to change stance
  • Instead, it also allowed you to perform a check (Martial arts, support action) and increase the TN of the next attack action targeting you before your next turn (pretty much identically to the guard action)

I think that the concept of locking someone out of a ring is important. In a duel to first strike, being able to shove someone out of earth stance (especially if they're a Hida with a massive composure and endurance) or water stance (to prevent draw-and-strike) can be key to having the opportunity to win, no matter how good your roll is. Equally, being able to lump a load of strife on someone is also very valuable. Some sort of secondary effect might be useful nonetheless.

 

Equally, battle in the mind was very different:

"old"
 

Quote

 

Activation: When you make an Assessment check for a duel using your Void ring, you may spend * in the following way:

Void *: Your opponent must name a ring. When your opponent selects their stance during their first turn of the duel, they must select the named ring as their stance.

 

"New"
 

Quote

 

Activation: When you make an Initiative check for a duel using your Void Ring, you may spend * in the following way:

Void **: You name two rings, then your opponent must name one of those two rings. When your opponent selects their stance during their first turn of the duel, they cannot select the ring they named as their stance

 

It's got more expensive, but it's also largely useless now. Because your opponent gets their choice of one of two rings locked out, it's unlikely to really inconvenience them, because you can't lock out a specific ring (unless, I guess, pairing with a predict action).

 

There's a lot of potential back-and-forth in a duel. Winning a duel to first strike really requires:

  • Your blade to be readied
  • Your opponent not to be in earth stance

The easy way to do this in one turn is water stance/prepare/predict earth, but that then leaves you standing there in water stance, potentially vulnerable to a strike action yourself.

By comparison, if you use water stance/prepare/predict water, you guarantee you won't be hit with any attack which can cause a critical strike, but your opponent will probably sit there in critical-immune earth stance, so you don't achieve anything either.

The easy answer is to sit their in earth stance trying to use unique actions to push your opponent's strife over the limit, but that's very much dependent on your respective composure

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yeah, I always like your analysis, pretty on point.

-earth stance is definitely a bit of an issue for duels (first strike, blood) as only predict action can take someone out of it, and predict action is super weak (and weirdly enough, very predictable).

-battle of the mind kata is almost absolutely useless. totally needs a rework (or predict action needs a rework, or both, the whole "mindgame" of a duel right now doesn't totally work nicely... which is a bit sad)

-rising cut kata is ok, balanced and well designed. but it need to be able to crit for 2opps, I don't see why it should not, especially considering it is probably Tn3 vs most opponents unless their are compromised.
 

-crossing cut is too strong as is. it is better than rising cut in all cases aside a 1TN difference vs compromised opponent... it also have more damage and reach than a regular strike. and with razor-edged weapon you can do devastating amount of damage. Actually, take into consideration that a KNIFE is a concealable weapon so you can sheath it after doing the iaijutsu cut. then, using a KNIFE does more damage than a katana strike if you use that kata, and you can use it every turn since you freely sheath the knife.
for duels it is more potent than rising blade because it is not a 1TN difference that will make you butch your finishing blow...
and, since the dmg potential of this attack is so high, it is great to put someone incapacitated. 
it is slightly overpowered, it should probably crit for 2opp, but it should be a Tn3 attack.

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25 minutes ago, Magnus Grendel said:

There's a lot of potential back-and-forth in a duel. Winning a duel to first strike really requires:

  • Your blade to be readied
  • Your opponent not to be in earth stance

The easy way to do this in one turn is water stance/prepare/predict earth, but that then leaves you standing there in water stance, potentially vulnerable to a strike action yourself.

By comparison, if you use water stance/prepare/predict water, you guarantee you won't be hit with any attack which can cause a critical strike, but your opponent will probably sit there in critical-immune earth stance, so you don't achieve anything either.

The easy answer is to sit their in earth stance trying to use unique actions to push your opponent's strife over the limit, but that's very much dependent on your respective composure

the answer is probably to iaijutsu crossing cut while in earth stance, then always strike in earth stance, until you you think you can try a fire stance attack to put the opponent incapacitated.

and pushing strife over the limit is a weird gameplay. sure, fire opportunity can do that, but you need to make a check that have the possibility of failure. so what, you just "strike" and forcefully miss and try to pick opps ? yeah... I guess. Its a bit cheesy though.

anyway. duels have issues and hopefully the designers can come up with an easy/smart errata/fix for that.

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Posted (edited)

 

 

@Magnus Grendel
The big thing for Iaijutsu Cuts and Kakita, other than Earth/Air Stance drawing, is a very potent Crossing Blade opener from Fire Stance. It turns every dice symbol you keep into damage, allowing you a pretty sweet opening - usually anywhere between 4 and 10 damage in first turn. 

Overall, for Rank 1, Kakita advantage is access to Iaijutsu Cuts - Crossing Blade is great if you identify that the opponent is weak on the Endurance side, allowing you to relentlessly push for Incapacitation, Rising Blade is great if you identify that the quickest way to punch them out is to Strife them out. Both synergize well with Fire Ring, which Kakita family allows you to buff - so you can start with Fire 3, Earth 2, Air 3. 
That gives you Focus of 6, so you will be hard to persuade and win a debate with, and there won't be many people able to match your Initiative in duels, allowing you to save Strife on Initiative check and keep Opportunities instead of Successes. In fact, many opponents will have to keep aggressively *and* bid each turn to even contest your no-success lazy initiative keep. 
Your starting Composure of 6 is a weak spot that you ought to cover quickly by buying up that Water to 2, but it doesn't make you unplayable, especially not against chargen-appropriate challenges. 
The trick, in general, is to go very aggressive when keeping Strife if you are aiming at Incapacitation victory condition - that Crossing Blade will give you a headstart. Like, you could potentially one shout yourself with it, to put it in a perspective. 

When aiming at Finishing Blow victory, you actually can keep no successes and strife at all (!) until you get it to trigger. Fire Opportunities offer great efficiency in applying Strife - 1 Opp for 2 Strife per check, then 2 Opp for another 2 if opponent targets you. This allows you to start the Strife game early, giving the opponent 2 Strife in initiative, another 2 Strife from your own action of any kind, and if you had that sweet 3 Opp keep hand, another 2 if they try to hit you, so anywhere between 4-6 Strife in opening turn. And if they *do* take a swing at you, it is very tempting to hit-to-Crit the attack - Fire Stance is pretty good at managing Crits, but it also opens up another chance to ping the opponent with even more Strife. Note this strategy doesn't require you to actually hit the opponent or succeed at checks, so you can conserve Strife gain from checks to the efficient minimum. You also get nice starting Endurance, so if you go this route, you actually can tank about 2 or 3 hits + the one you Voided. 

The Incapacitation Route might consider going for Air Initiative instead, and for a good reason - one Opp on Air will give you kept Opportunity on your next martial check (so if you are doing a Fire Crossing Blade, that is another +1 Damage), and 2 Opportunity can stick an Disadvantage on the opponent.  Pick a proper one, and you just became a mini-Mirumoto, forcing the opponent to reroll 2 on their attack checks. Technically you could also probably pick some sort of Anxiety to make them Strife themselves out...but I don't think NPCs are designed to function with Anxieties, so I don't think this is a kosher tactic.

At Rank 2 you lose your advantage of privelieged access to Iaijutsu abilities, but you also gain access to Lady Doji's Decree, which "cast" correctly can prevent an opponent from performing their Finishing Blow.

Kakita are good at duels. Not necessarily due to their School Ability - which is still good in duels and skirmishes - but overall due to their starting kit being a good dueling kit. 

 

EDIT
Note that also due to their ability to both land the first hit and to generate higher crit than others, they tend to grab the points on the victory table for hitting first and getting biggest crit.

Edited by WHW

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Posted (edited)

seppun are the best starting duelist.

and yeah, crossing cut in earth stance is the best duel opener in the game for duels to first strike/blood. Mirumoto can get it rank 1 too.

crossing cut is actually OP overall. just. get. it.

also, opening in Fire is very risky in a duel to first strike/blood.

Edited by Avatar111

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Posted (edited)

@WHW  so basically, you think Kakita is good because he can do a good amount of damage with a crossing cut kata in fire stance on first turn? which mirumoto and seppun would do just as good at rank 1 (with 3xp for mirumoto...) And that at rank 2, many other school will do better than kakita if they get crossing cut kata?

kakita's ability does nothing for iaijutsu katas... nothing. and don't bring the finishing blow thing, everybody would win a first blood duel with a finishing blow, no need for kakita's ability.
if you manage to do a critical hit without the use of finishing blow, then Kakita's ability is good, but earth stance totally nerfs that.

I hate to say it, but you just plunge the knife deeper in the nonsense that current duels are under rules as written; they are basically skirmishes.  Except probably worst than skirmishes because of the limitations on maneuverability. 

You have crossing cut? there you go! champ duelist. Screw the "predict", screw the "center", screw the "battle in the mind"; just mash that strike button while in earth stance (and sometimes fire if you feel balsy and hope the opponent wont crit you next round) and put that opponent incapacitated without strifing yourself out.

the fire opportunity strife strategy is fine and dandy. still the same though; iaijutsu cut in fire and then strike strike strike in fire. the fact that you are intentionally missing your attacks to get opportunities is just icing on the bad cake.

sad. I know... I know... nothing is "black or white", and it isn't all about extremes (there ARE ways to play around the mechanics, like healing strife with courtier's resolve or lady's doji decree and what not).... but how can you defend the current duel mechanics ? that make their 2 most unique mechanics (predict and center), specifically designed as duel actions, totally useless ? that make their iaijutsu katas unable to crit and basically becoming simple damage dealing abilities (hence the uselessness of rising blade vs crossing cut, -1TN for finishing blows doesn't "cut" it when ANYWAY you'll have your sword drawn waaaaay before the finishing blow even happen)

are you legitimately thinking it is good, well thought design ? or just trying to balance my extreme idea a bit ?
because I legit cannot understand how anybody could not see the huge flaws in the design.

in the end, I ❤️ L5R.

but it seems unfinished... like if they cut the dev team or cut some ressources...
that would explain why they don't fix simple typos in their f.a.q. or page mixup in their player ressource pdfs.
definitely seems like nobody is in charge right now 😕

like Steveisboard put it; its a bit glitchy and sloppy. but it is still amazing.

Edited by Avatar111

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2 hours ago, WHW said:

The big thing for Iaijutsu Cuts and Kakita, other than Earth/Air Stance drawing, is a very potent Crossing Blade opener from Fire Stance...

...just avoid Ikoma duelists!

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Does Water stance really allow you to draw and strike in the same turn?

"During your turn, you may perform one additional action that does not require a check. This action cannot share a type with another action you perform this turn."

As I understand it you take the additional action after your action. This additional action is the one that dont need a check.

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8 hours ago, Avatar111 said:

that make their 2 most unique mechanics (predict and center), specifically designed as duel actions, totally useless

How about like in the old duel rules a mandatory assessment round after opponents take position, but before the duel's judge gives the signal to draw their blades? 

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13 hours ago, WHW said:

ick a proper one, and you just became a mini-Mirumoto, forcing the opponent to reroll 2 on their attack checks. Technically you could also probably pick some sort of Anxiety to make them Strife themselves out...but I don't think NPCs are designed to function with Anxieties, so I don't think this is a kosher tactic.

No. Because whilst you can in theory establish a new disadvantage, it's primarily there for spotting an existing one - not that that's not powerful by itself, since you can invert it (for free if you're Bayushi!). And yes, NPCs don't use anxieties, so I'd be very hesitant to let you force one on a character.

10 hours ago, Avatar111 said:

(hence the uselessness of rising blade vs crossing cut, -1TN for finishing blows doesn't "cut" it when ANYWAY you'll have your sword drawn waaaaay before the finishing blow even happen)

Not necessarily. If going for victory by finishing blow and strife, then attacks prior to the finishing blow are kind of meaningless. You might as well spend your actions on social skill checks to poke your opponent with fire opportunities because if it's a fight to first blood, basic fatigue handed out by strike actions becomes almost irrelevant.

10 hours ago, Avatar111 said:

You have crossing cut? there you go! champ duelist.

Or Heartpiercing Strike, depending on the terms of the duel. Which is one really, really good reason to consider fire stance for a strike. You can't pull it till turn 2 at the earliest, since it needs a readied weapon and can't be done in water stance, but a practical 'first strike' and 'first blood' approach is

Void Initiative - Reduce TN for Fire

Earth Stance - Prepare

Fire Stance - Heartpiercing Strike

Thwock

Sake & Victory Celebrations With Easily Impressed Young Courtiers

Now, don't get me wrong, that's very predictable - the moment you use that void opportunity, you basically nail your colours to the mast - for that matter, if your opponent knows you have heartpiercing strike, they're likely to be very leery of allowing you into fire stance.

 

11 hours ago, Avatar111 said:

2 most unique mechanics (predict and center), specifically designed as duel actions, totally useless ?

I think they have very niche uses, but I certainly am not defending them as great.

Centre is very, very situation-specific - it's essentially a martial arts version of channelling, which is only worth it if you're trying to hit a roll you can't manage on your basic dice roll. Potentially worth it in the abstract for trying to get a successful strike action with a critical strike (ss**) on a relatively small dice pool, since on 3 dice or less you must get a s* or e result or it's impossible to succeed. A low ranking courtier may well need this action (if they get stuck in a duel in the first place!) - a high ranking bushi with something like 6k4 shouldn't, especially with a bit of fettling from air opportunities at initiative, advantages, and void points.

The biggest problem with it is that using it takes your entire turn and leaves you stuck in 'vulnerable' void stance:

  • Earth would render you immune to critical strikes from opportunities
  • Air wouldn't but adds +1 TN to hit you, which is close when both parties are working off small dice pools
  • Water would let you draw your blade and centre at the same time so at least you're only standing around like a lemon for one round (which you can mitigate, theoretically, by playing initiative games in the staredown to get two turns back-to-back)

 

Predict....I get what it's supposed to be, but I agree it's not there. It has two potential uses in theory - but in practice if it has a use it's "get out of bloody earth stance and let me hit you". The other - forcing you out of a given stance to stop you using a technique or ability - works as a concept but you're giving up your action to make them give up theirs.

 

 

 

This debate goes round the houses - and I agree duel mechanics have problems. I'm just not sure how I'd address all of them because despite the time we've spent poking the mechanics as a rules-set I've not had that many full duels play out. It might be worth running through a few duels on paper and seeing how actions work.

As a starting example:

  • Duel to first strike
    • Goal
      • Critical strike the other party before they inflict a critical on you
    • Ways to win
      1. Successful strike action with ** against an opponent not in earth stance
      2. Successful heartpiercing strike action from fire stance
      3. Successful strike action against incapacitated opponent
      4. Successful finishing blow against compromised opponent

Assuming (for the sake of argument) this is a sparring match to first strike between Generic-san and Also Generic-San, each of whom has a rank of 3 in each ring, a single rank of whatever skill, no relevant techniques, ceremonial clothes and a bokken, what are the options?

 

(1) requires at minimum a 'double result' (success/opportunity on the skill die (1/12 chance) or an explosive success rolling into another useful result (1/6)) on one of the dice, plus the other two results on other dice. Barring grabbing bonus dice or results from somewhere you have only about  1/7 chance of landing such a strike. Void points and advantages might turn this down to a more achievable value, though but it's still stopped dead by earth stance.

(2) isn't an option because neither combatant has the technique.

so it's down to either landing a 4-result-roll on 3 dice, or (3) or (4) -  battering their opponent down with either strife or fatigue (against a composure and endurance of 12 each).

Well....bokken-thwocking is pretty ineffectual. 3 damage per hit plus bonus successes, against resistance 1, can realistically expect to take 4 hits to incapacitate an opponent, and Generic San and Also Generic-San only hit about 70% of the time, so it could take 4-5 rounds....by which time finishing blows are going to arrive first (turn 5 if they take no other strife, earlier otherwise). That's even worse if one of them decides to adopt air stance - needing an extra success drops them to a mere 40% chance of hitting and no practical chance of incapacitation pre-finishing-blow

 

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@Magnus Grendel
The difference in wording is deliberate - you are supposed to work with the GM to slap a new Disadvantage on the foe - and by new I mean "not previously estabilished in fiction nor stat block". Kind of a Schroedingers Disadvantage. Spotting existing Disadvantages is something other things do, at cost of 1 Opp usually. The 2 Opp options are quite powerful - equivalents of a Crit, usually - and pretty poor Opportunity options is one of reasons why Earth Stance isn't that stellar to turtle forever in.  NPC advantages/Disadvantages are deliberately open-ended, so it's OK to "ascend" a narrative detail like "Arrogant Prick" or "Old wound" into an Adversity. Note that it is balanced in the way that there is no point really spamming Disadvantages on the opponent, as they don't stack past cancelling Distinctions - the target will ever only suffer from one, minus some Shuji shaeningans. 
As for predictability, another strong point of Kakita is that once they hit Rank 4 (them and few other schools), they can start using Striking as Void to always pick Void Stance, miss an action, spend some Opportunities and shift to another stance and initiate new action, amongst other things, it gives them ability to do a 1st turn Heartpiercing Strike - open with a Void Crossing Blade, miss on it, and spend 2 Opportunities to switch to Fire & get another (different) action. If you got third opportunity somehow (from Air Initiative, for example), you can also spend extra Opportunity to reduce your Heartpiercing Strike to TN3.
Striking as Void has neat synergy with All Arts Are One, by the way - in turns where your sword is drawn, you can use AAAO as opener action, spend Opportunities to shift to different stance and activate special effects (like reducing TNs), and then Strike.  But then again, the "special gameplay" of bushi in general tends to be cramming out value from Opportunities and turning even misses into powerful plays - which is quite different from Shugenja "I cast for X turns and then make a big single action", for example.  Again, Earth Stance is kinda bleak in this regard, because other Stances get powerful proactive Opportunities - Fire gets to attack Strife without hitting and thus conserving their own Strife; Air allows you to buff future rolls and apply Disadvantages to your foe (great way to model "figuring the opponent out", by the way); Water is able to easily outsustain Earth in both Strife and Fatigue despite having less total stats, and Void can buff future rolls & make you ignore Conditions. 
I like the duels and the combat, but thats mostly because they are game played as the game goes - you need to adapt to the gameboard and your opponent choices, and these are more important than your build decisions. 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, WHW said:

you need to adapt to the gameboard and your opponent choices, and these are more important than your build decisions. 

Very much so. That's what I was starting to think about with Generic-San and Also-Generic-San; you could almost script out a series of IF/THEN approaches. The web of options would rapidly get unsustainable, but a lot of them can probably be discarded.

For example,

Earth/Prepare (or Iai) is one option, but you could equally do Water/Prepare (or Iai)/Predict (Water).

If your confident your foe doesn't have an Iaijutsu technique, only having one action means you can't draw and strike (and if you do, in first strike/first blood you can 'only' strike for fatigue, not a critical)

 

 

Striking as Void/iaijutsu is a very nasty option - being able to essentially add a free draw action in any stance. It is rank 4 but that's still very powerful, and a rank 4 bushi can probably get ** pretty reliably if not bothered about passing the check. Good spot!

All Arts Are One is arguably pushing it; performing the action in the first place requires you to be trying to learn a new skill. If you were being forced to duel with a new weapon, or faced with a brand new technique from your opponent, I'd allow it, but with a degree of hesitation - and more importantly, if you're needing to use All Arts Are One and failing, then by definition you should be getting hit with a penalty (like a TN increase) somewhere further along the line as clearly to some degree you don't know what you're doing.

Fair point about 'temporary disadvantages'. It's easy enough to imagine a momentary disadvantage (the sun in your eyes? sword-hilt caught in the sleeve?) that could mess an opponent up for a turn or so, and Air is (amongst other things) supposed to represent close scrutiny of a specific individual. 

Edited by Magnus Grendel

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Posted (edited)

"Predict" is almost always a bad gamble; it is predictable and you lose your turn. The opponent will always find something to do that is worthwile while you did nothing and you have 25% chance of picking the right stance. Plus, void stance totally negates it. 

"Center" is equally bad. There are much better options. Though I praise @WHW for all his "forcefully missed strikes shanenigans" dunno if its intended gameplay, but it sure is something! Some great ideas in there.

"Battle in the mind kata" is also kind of awful, at least the first 2opp option, you have better thing to do with 2opps on a duel initiative check.

 

So, what does it leaves us with?

3 unique duel mechanics that are 95% absolutely useless. I am not saying combats are bad, I don't think they are, and duels have potential. But right now they probably don't play as intended, since the intentions are useless actions.

If we put aside some of the shanenigans that @WHW mentioned, and dont get me wrong I like them, what is left of the duel mechanic to differentiate it from a skirmish?

"Staredown" no argument here, its good.

"Victory condition" also allright, though first blood not being to bleeding is weird but that is a detail.

"finishing blow" great.

 

Point still stand though; there are issues with the core unique gameplay actions of predict and center. Which are both totally negligible and leads me to think somebody screwed up or that the intentions don't align with all the insane "on a miss" tech of @WHW (which again I love the idea of, sure it makes iaijutsu techniques more of an opportunity rolling mechanic instead of a strike, but hey... at least it is something...).
when basically some opportunity spendings in the appendix and intentional miss are better than the core gameplay actions...

And to a lesser extent, issue with the only duel "mindgame" focused kata battle in the mind.

again, not everything is wrong with the duels, I feel I need to clarify that for a third time here, but there is definitely an issue when the 2 unique "mindgame" actions are relegated to "absolutely useless gameplay mechanics".

Edited by Avatar111

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