Back to the Wall! Defenders of Rokugan preview with Bonus cards (Part 2)

Another preview article means more Attack on Titan themed photoshop from me! This time proving that Hida Kisada is indeed the biggest and best defender at the wall.

Back in October 2018 there were a series of live Q&A sessions with Tyler basically covering everything from card design to clan background and themes. One of the questions I asked but didn't get an answer to at the time revolved around the Kaiu wall;

"Do you think that there is design space for a series of holdings or even provinces representing the wall that would work together and give various effects the more of them are face up on the field? It would help to make the wall less of a thing that's there in the background and more of an actual defensive asset in-game."

I must have been channeling my inner shugenja that day because as it turns out, not only was there design space for a series of provinces representing the great Carpenter Wall but it was something they were actively looking to put into the game!

Fast-forward to this week and we have our second preview article (The first of which I have already written about here) so let's take a look at the cards and try to make sense of the types of decks we can build with them.


Purifier Apprentice



Purifier Apprentice, along with the Student of Anatomies from the Inheritance cycle is the latest addition to Crab's growing list of Shugenja. At 1 cost it is a cheap Cloud the Mind enabler and with it's ability not requiring it to be participating in the conflict you could have multiple copies draining away 2-3 honor per turn. I think that there could be a potential defensive dishonor deck to be built, with Apprentices and Kaiu Wall pieces punishing your opponent for attacking and Intimidating Hida and Hida Amoro punishing for not attacking.


Unyielding Sensei



Proving that spiked shoulderpads, muttonchops and chain is the height of fashion at the wall.
Unyielding Sensei, along with Kyuden Hida and Third Whisker Warrens (see below) solve a key issue with Wall Deck in that if the provinces are full of holdings, how will we be able to buy characters. Unyielding Sensei's effect is invaluable in this instance because he can be used to store characters on unbroken holdings ready to be used when you need them. This puts Crab in the unique position of being able to have access to more then the standard 4 dynasty characters at any one time. Granted, in the event that the province is broken, all of the cards will be discarded but this can be partly offset by using his effect on an unfavorable province to attack (maybe even Fortified Assembly will see some use in this case by being a near-unbreakable source of characters).

Something worth noting is that if you have multiple Sensei on the board you will be able to quickly build up a store of characters to use in later turns.

Desolation



The question I have with this card is if it's worth 2 fate and 2 honor to blank the text boxes of opponent provinces for a phase. On the one hand, Desolation allows you to preemptively blank provinces before they are flipped stopping an untimely effect that might otherwise swing the fight. It also helps against provinces such as Magistrate Station, giving a turn of respite and the opportunity to break them safely. On the other, it's relatively high costs mean that this card can be devastating if cancelled so I would see this being a 2-of at most.

Province cancelling is a strong effect though so Desolation is a welcome addition to our available card-pool in a game with increasingly powerful provinces in play.

Kuni Wastelend



Speaking of good provinces, finally we get a good candidate for fire. Fitting into the theme of making it easier to defend conflicts at the province, Kuni Wasteland has the blanket effect of stopping your opponent activating all character abilities and keywords from characters they control. Note that this includes characters not participating in the conflict also so no using Disguise or something like Bayushi Collector outside of the fight to influence the outcome. As detailed on the card, Covert is initiated before the province is revealed but once it is face up, Covert should be blocked also.

Considering that the current competition for fire provinces in Crab are Illustrious Forge and Meditations on the Tao, I can see Kuni Wasteland making its way into a fair few of our decks.


Favorable Dealbroker


Definitely in competition with Yasuki Taka and Procurer for most smug merchant in Rokugan.

Considering the recent inclusions of Gallant Quartermaster from the Inheritance Cycle, Caravan Guard from the Lion Clanpack and Purifier Apprentice from the Crab Clanpack, we are slowly building out our amount of 1 cost dynasty characters that Favorable Dealbroker can search. Assuming this trend continues into later releases, I can see this card becoming very useful in a 'level 1 toolbox' style of deck where we can find the card we need at the right time. As it stands, I am personally looking forward to testing this in my Broker style decks as it helps find either Gallant Quartermasters or Envoys to push out more fate economy.

The list of 1 cost Dynasty characters available to Crab at the time of writing. We will most probably use the Dealbroker to search for Quartermasters, Kaiu Envoys and Hida Guardians with Purifier Apprentice in the right builds.
Assuming Yasuki Broker and Funeral Pyre on the field (easier to find then ever considering both the clanpack and the Inheritance cycle has introduced more holding search cards), Dealbroker can bring out a quartermaster and then burn during a conflict for +3 fate and +2 cards. On the fate side you are going -1 total for a 2/3 courtier which isn't terrible from a cost to stats perspective. Due to its effect only requiring to enter play, there is also the option of using the character recursion from forebears echoes in a military conflict to bring out Dealbroker for 2 fate, search for Quartermaster and then use the pyre for a net total of +1 fate and +2 cards (or more) assuming Yasuki Broker is also on the field.


Seventh Tower


Fun Fact; The seventh tower was built to replace a tainted Kaiu Tower lost to the Shadowlands, the Tower of Fear.
Defend the Wall in Holding form. I really like this card as a tool for the Wall Deck to get more out of winning defensive conflicts. It has decent holding strength and an effect that punishes opponents for doing small poke attacks to get the ring off the table. Using Defend the Wall, we also join the double-ring club whereby an opponent can attack a Wall piece on the province for us to get two ring triggers. Overall this is a welcome addition to the wall toolbox and one that will probably feature alongside Third Whisker Warrens (below), Northern Curtain Wall and River of the Last Stand as the core of our preferred wall pieces on the field.

As a bonus for us this week, Tyler went on FFG live talking about both the Crab and Dragon packs as well as the upcoming Clan War boxed set. He also revealed;


Hida Sukune


Brother to Hida Yakamo and O-Ushi and youngest of Hida Kisada's three children, ultra strategist Hida Sukune is now here!
I really wanted to like Hida Sukune. His stats aren't amazing for his cost and his effect, which is essentially a much more restrictive Favored Niece from Scorpion is overshadowed by the likes of Shrewd Yasuki who has the same stats but without the need to discard a card. There is an argument to be made that he can use his ability in each conflict he is defending but on average considering that we would either have to use a Mountain does not Fall or Strength of the Mountain (see below) on him as opposed to other high value targets means that he will rarely if ever be able to use his effect more then once.


Kaiu Forges



Kaiu Forges is a great card useable in any Crab deck that has holdings. By itself it is a +3 strength holding which is on the higher end of the defensive spectrum but it's action allows a deep search into the dynasty deck to replace a Kaiu Wall holding with any other holding you may find. In a Kaiu Wall style deck this will be used to find the pieces that you may need at any one time but where it really shines is in our normal builds.

On average, Crab run anywhere between 7-10 holdings so the ability to search up to a quarter of the dynasty deck to find the holdings we need is very valuable. Additionally, unlike cards like Rebuild which have to place the holding in an unbroken province, the only restriction is that a Kaiu Wall holding (normally itself) has to be present so it is perfectly acceptable for this to land in a broken province and then use its own effect to switch out for something that can be used instantly such as a Imperial Storehouse or Iron Mine without loosing its value.


Strength of the Mountain



Strength of the Mountain is, in Tyler's words, a card that you will use probably once in a game for your big defence, proccing all the on-defend win effects and then using your board to go all in for a break. Unlike The Mountain does not Fall, which only protects against bowing from conflict resolution, Strength of the Mountain rolls this effect with added Borderlands Defender on all defending characters. This, combined with O-Ushi and the other win on defence abilities given by the Kaiu Wall pieces can make for some extremely explosive plays netting several cards and ring effects in one go. Of course with its high printed cost and impact on the game it will be the prime target for opponent cancels so we will have to be sure that the activation can go through when it's played.


Third Whisker Warrens



Third Whisker Warrens is great. There I said it... In the context of the Wall Deck you get a psuedo- Hidden Moon Dojo effect which will greatly help getting characters on the field considering your provinces will be full of holdings. Note that it's effect isn't an action so once you buy your first character with its ability you can immediately use it again to look at the top card of your deck and play the character if needed. Because of this it will be active on every defence at a wall piece and gives the opportunity to save up fate by passing early and only buying what you need. At the beginning of the year I was testing Miya Library to craft my dynasty deck; Whilst probably not the most consistent of strategies, I'll be taking a look at using it in conjunction with Kyuden Hida, Whisker Warrens and Unyielding Sensei to guarantee dynasty pulls.

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