Crab Clan in the Temptations Cycle; Honor in Flames

The second pack of the Temptations Cycle is in the wild now so I'm continuing my look at the Crab cards in the pack to see what all this 'dire' fuss is about.

The new keyword for this cycle is 'Dire'. It is an additional effect that activates whenever the character has no fate;
In addition to the theme of temptations, Twisted Loyalties introduces the new dire keyword. This keyword opens new possibilities for the samurai of Rokugan by granting a powerful ability to a card when it has no fate on it. The exact ability depends on the individual card in question, but there is no doubt that the dire keyword can change a player’s approach when deciding how much fate to put on a character.

Given that Crab in general have an easy time of keeping characters with no fate around, hopefully this mechanic will offer some interesting new opportunities for us and prompt a shift away from the tower meta that the game is currently going through.

Silent Skirmisher

Silent Skirmisher; If we remember back to my hot-take on the spring restricted list, Ashigaru Levy is what I asked for, and Silent Skirmisher is what I got. It is the 6th 0 cost character to be released by FFG so with such a small pool of points of comparison I think that it's fair to take a look at what the majority of other clans have to offer when taking a look at this card.

The three other non-core characters printed in this price range (Doji Diplomat, Ashigari Levy and Battle Maiden Recruit) are all combo enablers; Either by allowing the use of your provinces with Crane's new mechanic, providing multiplying fuel for In Service To my Lord, or free cavalry for HMT. Of course we will have to wait until the rest of the cycle is released to see, but initially Silent Skirmisher doesn't seem to be all that useful, especially when compared to the utility of our existing 1-cost lineup. Breaking down it's stats, Skirmisher's - pol and 1 glory (which makes it a great dishonour target in a clan of cheap dishonour targets) seem more of a hindrance then anything else. It's sacrifice effect gives a nice +2 military boost but it lacks the true utility of Stoic Gunso's ability to sacrifice itself to fuel broker plays. This makes it harder to use effectively as you will probably have to wait until your second conflict to attack mil.

Considering how tight historically Crab's 1-2 cost lineup has been I am sure that this card will have to rely on some sort of Berserker synergy with future cards in the cycle to see any kind of consistent play but so far we have seen 8 of the average 14 clan cards/cycle in various releases and previews so I would hope that we see some of the other tech soon.

Master of Jade

A 4 cost character with 3 cost stats. Master of Jade is another Earth Shugenja to add to our list (Come on Phoenix; give us a good spell that requires both of these traits) but overall my gut feeling is that it is too expensive for its effect. As I mentioned previously, it has the stats of most of the newer 3 cost characters that have been released including inclan where we have a number of 3/3s at this price-point. It's effect seems to have synergy with both the new Dire Keyword allowing a 'free' save whilst also being able to proc whichever Dire effect needs to be used for that turn, and the new Maho effects of fate on characters being used to pay for those card's effects.

I am also concerned about the cost and amount of 'lose x honour to do x' we are getting inclan without the ability to effectively mitigate the losses. To date Crab have received only Pious Guardian as a way to conditionally mitigate honour loss vs the 12 cards we now have with honour as cost not including Banzai and Assassinate which both feature heavily in our decks. The dishonour matchup is hard enough as it is without having more potentially dead cards in hand and now on the field. That being said, I think that there is the possibility of Master of Jade becoming a new tower base considering that it can keep itself around almost indefinitely as long as you can keep bullying the air and fire rings.

Darkness Rising

Darkness Rising was previewed a few months ago but now we can see it in the context of some of the cards that have already been released. It is Water role locked and has a blanket bow which makes it play well with Fight On and subsequently the style of tower-y deck that role affords to us. I don't necessarily think that the old argument of Crab characters not caring if they are dishonoured holds as much water as it used to so you will need to build specifically for 0 glory towers to get the most out of this card.

Something else to bear in mind is that it has the Maho effect of only being able to be paid for with fate on characters so it's going to be more difficult to use then normal. I am hoping that it should synergise with some new berserker tech vs wide boards as they tend to have little glory to begin with.

Honourable Mention; Curse of Misfortune

I couldn't really talk about anything in this pack without mentioning Curse of Misfortune. It is obviously anti tower tech and is the second piece of attachment control we have seen so far in this cycle along with Sanguine Mastery from Phoenix. This is the right way to tackle the current tower meta IMO; It still allows a player to use their attachments but discourages them to just load everything up on one character that can participate in all fights (and usually duel everyone multiple times to draw several cards, bow several characters and probably kill a couple for good measure). It serves to encourage spreading your attachments out among several characters instead which should avoid the situation we have now that towers (for those clans that can play them) are the most efficient way to play. As an advocate for the Crab swarm build, I am all for this re-balancing of the scales.

Something interesting to notice however is that FFG seems to be printing both anti-tower and anti-swarm tech in this cycle with Oguri, Darkness rising, Watchtower of Sun's Shadow and Chikara specifically for Crab, and cards like Scorpion Clan Coup which gets better the more characters you opponent controls in the conflict.

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