Crab Clan in the Dominion Cycle Part 1

Shinsei's Last Hope
With the recent release of the card images for pack 3 of the Dominion cycle (In Pursuit of Truth) as with the Inheritance cycle I wanted to explore the options that will be opening up for Crab players  that we might have access to. I am not normally one to write cards off as simply as ‘good’ or bad’ so I’ll try and go through some of the scenarios where I can see particular cards being useful even if they are unlikely to happen in game. Also due to the release cycle nature of L5R, there is the possibility that some cards released today might not come into their own until several releases down the line.

Unlike the previous cycle which had the theme of sacrifice, it doesn't look like there is an overarching theme for this set of releases but we are half way through so maybe there will be some other congruent cards in the later sets. We are also introduced to two new, and potentially high impact game mechanics in the form of Rally (discussed already HERE) and Emminent Provinces;


Rally is a keyword ability that appears on dynasty cards. When a card with the rally keyword is revealed in a player’s provinces, that player adds the top card of their dynasty deck to the same province faceup. Both cards are in the province together, and either can be played as an action during the dynasty phase. Do not refill a province until it is empty.

  • When a province is refilled faceup, or when a card is added to a province faceup, that card is not revealed and the rally keyword on it does not trigger.


Eminent is a keyword ability that can be found on province cards. A province with this keyword cannot be a player’s stronghold province, starts the game faceup, and cannot be turned facedown.

The first Eminent province that we actually saw (despite it not having the keyword) was Scorpion's Toshi Rambo. Paraphrasing from a previous interview with Tyler; Eminent provinces are supposed to have powerful effects that help the player instead of penalising your opponent but as a trade-off they start the game face-up so your opponent knows exactly where it is and can safely attack it without any surprises.

Shinsei's Last Hope

Shinsei's Last Hope is an untainted village in a valley about a day's ride into the Shadowlands. Surrounded by a wall studded with jade, and kept uncorrupted by Kuni rituals, it served as a waystation for Hiruma Scouts to explore further into the Shadowlands.

Shinsei's Last Hope is in my opinion an example of one of the better eminent provinces. We already have cards such as Galant Quartermaster and Kaiu Envoy that gain extra resource when they are sacrificed/ leave the field, so this fits in nicely with that theme by making our characters cheaper. You are essentially trading a potential one point of honour loss for 1-2 fate which is generally a good deal in most matchups aside from Scorpion. It also has the water role so it makes for an easier include into decks that otherwise don't have a default water choice.

Blatant Swindler

Another addition to our courtier (and merchant) lineup, this time on a 1 cost body. You can give your opponent an honor to move one of their characters home - it does work on both the attack and the defence and does provide some help against the current tower meta. The stats are good for the cost, expecially considering our 1 cost utility characters are usually 1/0 or 0/1 but it is however, seeker role locked so we would be giving up Keeper Initiates and Defend Your Honour so for some that might be too large a cost to pay.

Third Whisker Sneak

More Nezumi. The main issue with this card is that it has to win an unopposed conflict, and that it is a dynasty character so you are telegraphing to your opponent that you are going to be looking to use its effect. To mitigate this it can be combined with Shadowlands Hunter to make all conflicts unopposed but as it stands now, the Nezumi's effect is to difficult to reliably activate. That being said, card draw is always a strong effect and we now have a card that works on unopposed conflicts and one that makes conflicts unopposed so maybe there will be some scope in the future for a scout based deck that takes advantage of this.

Butcher of the Fallen

Probably one of the best characters Crab have received in a long time.

In most people's opinion, this is the best Crab card in the set. A 4 cost Berserker with BIG stats, Rally and a super-covert. He is designed to punish passive styles of play and to promote defending your provinces so that the butcher can single handedly break a province a turn in the absence of other character movement, conflict characters and effect blanking. He has already proved a valuable addition to our decks in the short time it has been out in the wild.

Shrug off Despair

My immediate thought for Shrug off Despair was that it could be used for protecting your eminent provinces from attack by pulling fights over. In practice though, this doesn't work all that well because players tend to attack those other provinces first (as they are safe provinces to attack) whilst this is face down, and then when Shrug off Despair is flipped its another safe province to poke due to its high strength and lack of detrimental effect. Add to that the Void role, and it is unfortunately not likely to see play outside some niche Kaiu Wall applications. There are also enough anti-holding cards in this release to further hurt that playstyle so sadly this card will for the time being at least, remain in the binder.

Obsidian Talisman

In my opinion, Obsidian Talisman is a good card, just not necessarily in Crab. When splashed into Phoenix or Crane for example (or even Dragon), with their generally high glory characters and various honour effects in the case of Isawa Mori Seidō this becomes much more valuable to protect against disnour effects and also to be used offensively to turn off cards like Voice of Honour and Kyuden Bayushi. In-clan it can be used to counteract the effects of Shinsei's Last Hope for our few cards that do have middling glory in order to keep their stats on the field for longer.

Recalled Defenses

This card is already seeing some play in crab dishonour decks by moving Hiruma outpost to the stronghold forcing a 1-honour loss every conflict. It also has Rally which is probably necessary in a dynasty event like this so that there are actually cards to be moved. There is probably some additional application for this to move a character card onto the stronghold as it becomes a rebuild target and once a holding is there, has the opportunity to be further built upon with Unyiending Sensei from the Crab Clanpack.

Return From Shadows

I was talking about how we have a card that works on unopposed conflicts (Third Whisker Sneak) and one that makes conflicts unopposed (Shadowlands Hunter) so adding Return From Shadows and we now have 3 cards that could fit into a potential Scout based deck. Following the theme of blanking province text boxes started with Desolation I think that there might be some merit to running this in a covert based deck. Crab still have the largest amount of covert in the game with Yasuki Oguri, Kaiu Shuichi, Hiruma Skirmisher and Subterranean Guile so perhaps there is a potential build that either ignores or turns off province effects whilst attacking round opposing characters.

Our Foe Does Not Wait

I have done some limited testing with this card and was pleasantly surprised with the results. Being able to search the top 8 cards of your dynasty for any card to put into a province without discarding the other cards already there is a good effect especially when searching for our various holdings or cards such as Kaiu Envoy to be used in later turns. Overall we don't have any other obvious earth only cards so the trade-off is between playing an earth role for this or water for Fight On which unfortunately has better applications at the moment.

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