The Tao of Gaming

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I picked up an L5R starter and played for 3 hours tonight (6 games). I’ve spent a lot of money on L5R in the past … and all I have to show for it is roughly a thousand hours of enjoyment. (And some now useless cards). I don’t think I’d go whole hog again, but that’s because I don’t have the time. If I can convince a few boardgamers to play it as well (so I can play in normal sessions), then a few starters will do the trick.

I didn’t like Duel in the Dark. Clever, but I’m going to avoid it.

I did like Triumvirate. And Arena: Roma II is getting some well deserved table time.

Rails of New England‘s rules are as bad as you’ve heard, although there are is a new revision (haven’t read it). But it’s not bad.


Written by taogaming

March 10, 2012 at 12:06 am

9 Responses

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  1. With Duel in the Dark I made the cardinal error of buying the game after receiving a personal demo from the designer at Essen. The coolness of having the designer teach his baby, plus maybe a little bit of not wanting to hurt his feelings resulted in a copy stuffed into my already bursting suitcase.

    Ben Kindt

    March 10, 2012 at 8:11 am

  2. And, is the new edition of L5R any different than previous ones? I heard that there were major changes to how battles played out due to a much different card pool, but I haven’t played L5R since our last game in Chapel Hill (that was what, Diamond?).


    March 10, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    • Major cool change #1. You start with a holding in play that produces two gold, and lets you flush and refill any (face up) provinces you wish (face up) on the first turn and a turn of your choice. The 2nd player gets a 2nd holding (2 gold) that is bowed on T1. That’s very nice.

      Duels have a max of 4 focuses, and you can focus off the deck.

      Each starter has a fixed (40/40) deck, 4 different strongholds, 2 more rares, and 3 boosters (emerald and each of the prior sets).

      Also, by default, each action is “once per turn” (per card) unless it says so. Some actions are assigned to players, like “Proclaiming” (which is gaining honor from bringing in clan personalities at full cost). So you can only do that once per furn.

      You can attach and cast a spell as a battle action. Many spells do not bow the shugenja any more. Many card types do not exist (Kihos, ancestors, etc).

      The favor is either send a unit home OR cycle a card (draw + discard. Not sure order).

      Lots of new keywords.

      I played 6 games as spider (shadowlands) last night [I didn’t realize Spider was Shadowlands when I bought it]. It was fun. I’ll probably get a few more starters….


      March 10, 2012 at 7:54 pm

  3. Whoa, didn’t notice that Proclaiming was once per turn. Played a couple L5R H2H matches last night, and that would have totally changed.the game. We were playing Lion vs. Dragon and were racing at ~8 honor a turn from Personalities. I won 40 to 36.

    Kiho’s absolutely do exist, about 8 in the Dragon starter and the stronghold uses them. That said, there is no rhyme or reason I can find to why some cards are Kiho’s and other actions (strategy) cards that require a Monk to act are not.

    Favor not being able to rehonor was a huge bloody problem for my Lion. Just saying. Also, there is no fighting for the Favor, you either have the unique lead and get it, or you don’t.

    Took me a while to notice that Open actions could not be used in Battle. That said, the Open/Limited/Battle/Reaction types are very clear.

    I agree that the Border Keep (the starting holding) is a huge change for the better. It is the best variance control mechanism I’ve seen in a CCG and I wish it had been around from the beginning.

    The number of Battle actions can be stunning now. To play the Water Ring requires 4 Battle actions, from four different named cards, in one battle. Piece of cake. In the final battle of our Lion/Scorpion game last night I think we had 13 battle actions between the two of us…only to end at a 10-to-9 force loss for the noble Lions. Cool, but it can be overwhelming. In my Dragon game, I had 8 personalities out, with multiple passive traits modifying their forces, spells, kihos, intrinsic actions, holdings with actions, etc. Still, that is in part because it’s a fairly inefficient deck, I think when I reconstruct it and focus it better it’ll be easier to play.

    My best friend enjoyed it enough that he had me order the full starter box for him last night, so I’ll definitely be playing more. The kids will be staying with MTG for another year or two. They liked the concepts behind L5R, but it is way too deep for them right now.

    Wow. I was just re-reading and am now thinking about the proclaiming being once a turn. Only of the scorpion strongholds lets you reduce honor gain from an action (which proclaiming now is) by 2, as a free reaction. That’s going to be really effective in the early game partnered with some dishonoring cards. I’ll have to try that next time. I do love L5R, nice to be back.

    Lou Wainwright

    March 11, 2012 at 10:50 am

    • The battle action thing I hadn’t noticed,but they do have battle/open actions. I’m teaching the TaoLing using a mix of old and new cards (since I have so many old ones) and I’m just handwaving a few distinctions. I think it is a bit much for him, but I’m going to get him a starter and give him a bunch of good old cards to build decks with…


      March 11, 2012 at 1:53 pm

  4. Seems like Tattoos are around again, too, only they are… Strategies that require a Tattoed personality! I went to the L5R website after reading your post and found a bunch of printable demo decks. Looks pretty good, not sure if I’ll find anyone who’ll be interested in playing. One thing is for sure, though: L5R contains more and more cards that are keyword specific, and odds aren’t too bad that you won’t be able to use a good portion of the cards in your boosters if you don’t play a large number of Clans/deck types. If I start playing again seriously, I’ll likely assemble my decks by purchasing single (and it’ll be only Dragon Clan, and perhaps one other).


    March 12, 2012 at 11:31 pm

    • The Emperor starters are expensive, but playable from the box (granted, a $25 box).

      But you seem to be right. The boosters included had lots of stuff for “Berserkers” “Scouts” “Paragons” a few “Naval” cards, and other stuff. I guess when you start pushing 10k unique cards, you can’t spend too much time on new stuff.


      March 13, 2012 at 5:58 pm

  5. Oh, I would buy the starter, it looks like a good deal. I think it’s nice that the base set still has a lot of familiar cards in it (Sneak Attack, Ambush, No Hiding Place, Block Supply Lines). Unfortunately, I sold all of my cards in 2005, so I can’t take advantage of that.


    March 13, 2012 at 7:47 pm

  6. […] recent foray with L5R threatens to burst into a serious rekindling. and I’m pleased with it. It gives me an excuse […]

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