Kyūden Hida; A more in-depth Analysis

Iuchi Farseer seeKyūden Hida in my future..

The best stronghold or simply not as good as Shiro Nishiyama?

Since it's reveal in the Crab Clanpack; Defenders of Rokugan, I have been exclusively testing Kyūden Hida against anyone and everyone that would allow the use of unreleased cards in our games. Luckily a number of people I know are headed to Winter Court this year where the Crab Clanpack is supposedly going to be legal so the ability to get some testing in ahead of the release is generally a good idea for them.

I covered the basics of Kyūden Hida in my Crab Clanpack preview post which can be found here but as a recap, Kyūden Hida has the simple ability to; as an action, search the top three cards of the dynasty deck and play any character from among those cards as if they were in your provinces. It also has 11 starting honour, more then our staple Shiro Nishiyama but sacrifices 1 strength in compensation. Due to the full range of Kaiu Wall holdings not being released as of yet, I haven't been testing the stronghold on that particular deck-type but given knowledge of the upcoming Inheritance Cycle releases I have been testing it in a modified version of my Yasuki Broker deck (now with 100% more dishonor);

I am still testing various things in the deck such as replacing the Procurers for the upcoming Yasuki Hatsu but my experiences with the new stronghold have all been positive so far.

Even if the clanpack is released and is legal for Winter Court, it is unlikely that full wall decks will feature heavily due to the lack of time to test but using just the stronghold I feel will give some distinct advantages over Shiro Nishiyama.

Dynasty Deck Consistency

I have covered this in my previous article but it is key to my rationale as to why I believe that Kyūden Hida is so good so I will briefly cover it here also.

At the time of writing there are currently 30 cards across the card-pool that have some type of alternative conflict card draw (from the fairly straightforward Imperial Storehouse to the more convoluted Trading on the Sand Road). Generally during a game you are drawing between 1-5 cards per turn from your bid plus any additional effects you might be able to use. The additional draw from ring and card effects generate more hand advantage and therefore give more options during the turn enabling you to have the cards you need when you need them, making the conflict deck more consistent. One of the reasons Crab was prominent for so long with Spyglass was that it offered large amounts of conflict deck consistency in the form of being able to draw several additional cards per turn; Along with the draw phase, you could feasibly draw eight or nine cards in a turn.

The current list of cards with Dynasty Deck management according to Bushi Builder, but personally I would also add Windswept Yurt to this list as it refills the province face-up much like Daidoji Nerishma.

Comparatively, if we look at Dynasty Deck management, we can see that there are currently only 10 cards in the game with this effect (such as our oft-used Miya Satoshi or Togashi Mendicant). Therefore, whilst we might be drawing several additional conflict cards per turn we are stuck drawing into at most four cards and often less because you might want to keep characters and holdings in place.

It's this dynasty consistency issue which results Miya Satoshi featuring heavily in our decks to thin the deck and remove flips such as Keeper Initiates so that we can use our recursion to get access to our holdings and characters when we need them instead of when they decide to turn up.

He has been a staple in our decks for so long but finally we will be able to use his space for other cards.

Kyūden Hida allows us to go from a four card dynasty draw to a four plus one in three. It reduces the possibility of a bad flop by giving more cards to use and discards the remainder, thinning the dynasty deck to further increase consistency in later turns but in a more managed way then with Miya Satoshi. Due to the amount of milling present with both Miya Satoshi and the new stronghold, I have taken to dropping Miya entirely from my deck in favor of other, arguably more useful cards.

Looking into this further I've done some basic analysis on the draw probabilities of various numbers of cards on the first turn;

A short disclaimer on how I came about these figures; To get the initial Dynasty draw probabilities I used hypergeometric distribution (The same tool that Bushi Builder uses to give their stats). The hypergeometric distribution can describe the likelihood of any number of successes when drawing from a deck of cards. It takes into account the fact that each draw decreases the size of your deck by one, and therefore the probability of success changes on each draw. I then added the probabilities of drawing more then one copy of a card from the remaining 36 cards in the deck to simulate Kyuden Hida's effect for the first turn of the game. Now, I don't claim to be an expert statistician (or even a regular statistician for that matter) so I would be happy to be corrected on a better way of generating the figures.

Flashbacks from my dissertation over, we can see from the figures (as long as they are correct) that the probability of drawing into at least one copy of a particular card that you would use 3x copies of in your dynasty deck currently sits at 49.8%. As long as the card you are looking for is a character, using Kyūden Hida as your first action in the Dynasty phase increases that probability by 23.5%. This ability alone is relatively huge. In effect you get a 73% chance of drawing into the exact character that you need on the first turn given that there are 3 copies of it in your dynasty deck. Considering staples such as Kaiu Envoy and my new favourite Galant Quartermaster are both at 3, you can be relatively sure that at least one of them will turn up to generate more advantage during the turn with their effects.

With this in mind, lets examine what the new stronghold actually allows us to do from a deck-building perspective. Whilst it is clearly designed to be able to play characters from your dynasty deck even when you have a province row full of holdings, I believe that its uses are far more varied. It does for example, allow a player to run a far more top-heavy deck then normal; being able to play a larger amount of more expensive characters and still be able to search for our cheap low cost characters such as Kaiu Envoy. On the flip-side, the way I am currently using it is to give easier access to key combo-piece cards such as Yasuki Broker and to avoid all 2-cost flops especially with Funeral Pyres taking up province slots. This ability to run weird and wonderful dynasty curves has proven to be very strong with my bottom-heavy broker deck.

Everything being said, Shiro Nishiyama still has the solid, versatile effect of giving +1/+1 to all defending characters which does get better the more guys you have in a fight and is still the strongest stronghold in the game with its +3 strength. However, I do believe that the flexibility Kyūden Hida brings to deck-building and the consistency it brings to your dynasty phase will lead it to be the number one choice for our stronghold going forward.

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