Restricted List Update Q1 2021

Set during the Cold War era, orphaned chess LEGEND OF THE FIVE RINGS prodigy Beth Harmon struggles with addiction in a quest to become the greatest chess LEGEND OF THE FIVE RINGS player in the world. Seriously, it's great. Also features chess clocks. Many chess clocks. A future Imperial Law update Tyler?

At the end of November, Tyler tweeted that in December Imperial Law would be updated with the latest restricted and banned list covering 7 cards from 3 clans (which is inline with the quarterly update schedule). The list has now been updated and it raises a few points that I would like to touch on so here we go again with another restricted list commentary from Off Meta Musings.

Scorpion Overperformers

Before every banlist there are complaints about the strength of the Scorpion clan in relation to the other clans. Tyler has said that historically Scorpion's cards and playstyle have been strong and so to encourage existing players to actually change things in their decks he has to print strong cards in response. Whilst I don't necessarily agree with that approach; being in favor of a large, well managed restricted and ban list and being happy to cut swathes of cards in order to re-balance the game to whatever level you wanted, I understand from a game-designer's perspective.

This brings us to where we are today with Stoke Insurrection and Bayushi Kachico. Kachico in effect penalises your opponent for actually playing the game so it's fairly obvious why she needed to be restricted (being on the receiving end of 3 of your own events essentially for free was never going to be fun). Stoke Insurrection on the other hand was supposed to be Scorpion's version of Cavalry Reserves; a way for them to win the game by being aggressive and actually spending their resources as opposed to hoarding it and blowing out your opponent's honour. Ultimately, with it's ability to get any two characters of any price from your opponent's backrow coupled with a discount for cards being face-down it is far to efficient as printed and so has been errata'd to have a maximum 6 cost of characters that it can grab. Time will tell if this errata will have the desired effect but even with the changes in place Stoke Insurrection remains an extremely powerful card,

Finally (both in writing and 'at last'), we have the banning of Forged Edict. The issue with this card has always been that it is in effect a free cancel. Comparing it to Censure, which requires you to actively claim and keep the imperial favour to use, Forged Edict only requires that you have a courtier on the field in a clan full of courtiers. I'm generally not opposed to there being a 'clan with all the cancels' but they should all have some kind of condition to them that requires some kind of set-up to make them active. The release of Forgery was probably the last nail on the head for Forged Edict and I, like many others won't be sad to see it go.

With Forged Edict banned and City of the Open Hand off the restricted list, we are looking at probably either Duty or Cunning Magistrate making a return for Scorpion (most probably a combination of Duty and Kyuden Bayushi).

Free Readies

As of the time of writing, there are 37 cards split among the clans with ready/does now bow effects with varying degrees of usefulness (I don't think that anyone has been complaining about Forthright Ide for example). Despite the majority of them having a number of activation conditions, we keep coming back to a select few whose conditions are either so easy to fulfill or so cheap that they pose an issue in the environment. Combined with the prevalence of tower decks in the recent metas; with that playstyle simply being the most efficient in terms of fate investment, and you can see where cheap readies would be an issue.

With Common Cause restricted, the remaining 'free' ready that sees any kind of widespread play seems to be In Service To My Lord and then the various 1-cost attachments and events so perhaps we are moving to a time where all 0-cost readies are restricted and 1 fate is the premium to pay if you want to ready a character or at least stop it from bowing at the end of a conflict.

'Limited' Diplomacy

Neatly following on from Magistrate Station, is the restriction of Doji Diplomat. Whilst obviously a very powerful card with its negligible cost (the potential to lose the passing fate) and courtier synergies, my feeling on this is that it's biggest offence was being able to flip a Magistrate Station on turn 1 without there being anything your opponent could do about it. It was designed to be the workhorse behind last cycle's Crane focus on having your own provinces flipped face-up but with the Station banned, I don't know if there is necessarily a need to restrict it as the amount of useful friendly on-flip province effects have been reduced (though it does still essentially 'turn off' most opponent on-flip effects by triggering them before a conflict). As Tyler points out in his article however, it does also split up the ability to use Diplomat to turbo out Kakita Dojo for nearly unbreakable provinces which is generally never a good thing for game health;

This is intended to separate the Diplomat/Wealth package from the equally-powerful defensive package of Kakita Toshimoko and Kakita Dōjō. Both archetypes, in some respect, revolve around Kakita Dōjō, where one builds up a mobile dueling platform (Toshimoko) and hopes to draw into the Dōjō, while the other puts the Dōjō into play consistently but needs to search for less powerful duelists to leverage the Dōjō’s ability. ~ Tyler Parrott

The City Problem

Since the beginning of the Restricted list, City of the Open Hand has moved from restricted to errata'd and back again. The ubiquitous 'best stronghold in the game' has been the topic of several campaigns over the years to have it banned entirely because of it's unmatched ability to both further the dishonour strategy by draining your opponent and at the same time, avoiding losing to dishonour yourself.

I would assume that the original intent of City was to give a way to dig out of the hole you make for yourself after using their various effects which naturally dishonour your own characters. The errata I believe addresses this by only allowing a point of honour gain if you are less honourable then your opponent. Whilst obviously pushing down it's power considerably, my feeling is that this will essentially make Kyuden Bayushi the stronghold of choice going forward as being able to re-use your characters is generally more useful then a single point of honour gain per turn (especially considering the release of Beautiful Entertainer last cycle is essentially two turns worth of the new City effect).

Hopefully this is the last time we will have to revisit this card as I believe that this hit removes most, if not all of it's former issues.

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