All the Jade: Jade Edict Feedback

FFG's support of The Legend of the Five Rings LCG will officially be ending as of the last co-operative box release in May. This has prompted a number of different teams within the community to try and figure out what should be done next in order to keep the game alive and kicking for hopefully several years to come. With this in mind there have been two different initiatives with very different goals; One is to address frustrations with recent releases to the card pool in the short term with an extensive restricted list focusing mainly on the last two cycles with no card changes or errata (Known as the Jade Edict), and the other which is interested in the long-term continuation of the game and take on the role of building even more OP, Cards, and enjoyment for us all (Similar to the Nisei structure established for Netrunner after it's discontinuation by FFG).

There have been several press releases already by the various teams which I'll link to below but overall I think that both initiatives are positive steps for the community. Like it or not, large amounts of the L5R playerbase will move on regardless of community efforts to keep the game alive and whilst not everyone will be happy about any or all of the changes that these teams propose; the one surefire way to kill off the game is to disengage with community efforts. To make a change you need a seat at the table as they say.

No update is going to please everyone. I think the main issue is that as a community we simply don't know what we want out of the game; Some people think that Rally is the worst thing ever, some people think it's fine. You could probably say the same about any card or mechanic. I think that if players are going to leave; doing so because there is no continued FFG support is probably going to be a bigger deciding factor then a restricted list that the creators admit is still in testing and is subject to change. At the end of the day this is basically a fan list (like everything else the community comes up with) and tournament organisers and players are under no obligation to play with it.

With this in mind I have been playing fairly extensively recently with the Jade Edict community restricted list. As they mention on their website, it is still in Beta testing so like any fan-made (or even official) attempt to balance the game, there will be the need for a large sample size of different players, playstyles and skill levels to refine the list into something that works for the majority of people. It has been stated that the upcoming Clan War event will be using this list so I look forward to some more refinement over the next month or so.

So after playing several games now with Jade Edict I'm actually pretty happy with it. Despite my misgivings about how the team went about timing the release (I am of the opinion that they should have waited until after the next RL update in April, and this cycle was fully released along with the co-op box in May so that it effectively becomes the de-facto Summer RL update) I do think that it is a step in the right direction until the Jade Council can get on their feet and take a more granular approach with the ability to errata individual cards.

I will say that it seems to be the case that many people are just reading through the changes without necessarily reading the context. There seems to be also calls that 'X was restricted or banned so why wasn't Y' and 'this has hit so many cards in my deck'. On the first point, I would like to say that not all clans are created equal in terms of prevalence of card effects and (rally aside), putting a blanket restriction on all card draw for example hurts some clans more greatly then others. On the second point, ill just say that the official Q3 2020 Imperial Law update killed 15 cards from my deck that I had to find replacements for. That aside, it looks like my one, very specific way of playing Crab has avoided too much pain (and even benefited from season of war disappearing) so ill take what I can get.

On the topic of the blanket ban on all cards with the rally mechanic; The issue with looking at individual cards with rally and saying 'this is too strong, remove' or 'this is fine, keep' is that there are a limited number of rally cards in the cardpool and if you get rid of some for clans (potentially leaving them with none) then you get the criticism that some clans are allowed to have higher dynasty consistency whereas others aren't. I think that until we get around to a full community redesign of the game where new rally cards can be introduced; then flat out banning everything with the keyword (as no core mechanics were allowed to be changed) is probably the easiest solution. Overall I have never had any major issues with Rally in terms of increasing dynasty consistency. I think the biggest rally offender was season of war simply because it had the potential to blow out an entire opponent strategy for a turn. That being said, there are a number of rally cards that are actually fine (either without the keyword/with the keyword/with another version of rally that we haven't thought up yet) so I would hope that in future versions of this list we can look to freeing up some of those which provide key tools to their respective clans (A good example would be Pious Guardian in Crab; being our only semi-consistent way to get back honour losses and also being an important tool in a swarm-style deck in the absence of City of the Rich Frog).

From my personal testing; from a consistency standpoint, dynasty seems to be fine (as it was for years before rally/rich frog came in). The game is a bit slower as a consequence of rally disappearing but I've turned to other dynasty consistency cards such as Unyielding Sensei, and there are others such as The Western Wind, Our Foe Does not Wait, and Walking the Way which can be used if there is a real need to accelerate your dynasty draws. I think that the difference between these and rally is that they all require you to do something to see your extra cards (which take up conflict deck space) whilst rally allows a more consistent dynasty deck essentially for free.

Talking specifically about Season of War; With that gone I've seen a bunch of phoenix players turning to Kyofukis Hammer for province control (which I believe was never played before) and we already have tools like Field of Ruin which would be a natural fit if holdings became a severe issue. I prefer players actually having to think about their deck-building choices in responses to the meta as opposed to just bringing their 'best deck' so that's positive in my opinion. I think it also feels good to not being on a super short timer for opponent's power dynasty characters to show up. The game becomes more 'what can I do in between now and my wincon' instead of turn 1 'OK my wincon is here. Now I can't lose'.

On the attacking side its nice with the loss of Shameful Display, and restriction of Spectral Visitation and Sanpuku Seido, to be able to attack into Phoenix, Scorpion and Lion provinces again without thinking 'OK, all of these are going to screw me over'. Playing against Unicorn, it does also definitely feel better not having to worry about both Tetsuku's tax (similar to Netsu's blanket embargo on sacrifice), Yasamura flat out stopping defenders for the turn and Khanbulak Benefactor's seemingly unlimited economy game with shadowstep all in one deck and often all in one conflict.

It's like Kaiu Envoy.. But worse.

From a specifically Crab point of view; I do understand why most of the cards are on there. For us, the only really problematic thing is restricting of WotC and Kaiu Envoy (which again I understand. Totally free kills = not OK) but overall the lack of rally hurts other clans more then it hurts us. Rich Frog going isn't an issue because we have Kyuden Hida and season of war going allows our holdings to stick for longer (finally opening up the option for us to play the Kaiu Wall deck). Pathfinder's blade being freed allows for more seeker decks which is also cool (Though you would need to play seeker water to get this and fight-on at the same time so I don't know the appetite of hobbling your province row too much), and Iron mine being freed up is also kind of fine as Rebuild disappearing hurts it's consistency. I would suggest the same thing as I did back in Q3 2020 when that list came out; separating out Crab playstyles by the holdings available by restricting them (Kuni Labs for swarm, Iron Mine for tower, and now possibly Fire and Oil for dishonour) and freeing up Rebuild is still my preferred solution to stopping the best stuff being used in the same deck though this will probably involve Rebuilds influence either being removed or increased to make sure that it can't be abused by other clans.

I have heard alot of talk about Watch Commander and if it should or shouldn't go on the list. I'm not sure about Watch Commander (never have been). It is the kind of card that either works great and strips several honour or does nothing because everything has either been played pre-conflict or you are playing vs lion or crane and they don't care about the losses. Losing a point of honour just isn't the same as losing a point of fate so i don't think that the comparison with Tetsuko has ever been fair. I think it's generally fine because of this but still strong because it gives a choice to your opponent if they want to push a conflict or not with how many cards they are willing to play vs a blanket 'you cant do this' or 'you have no fate so even your free cards cant be played'. I stopped playing watch commander for ages because our worst match-up (scorpion) always had access to calling in favours and it seemed that everyone else was running let go so I would rather they have dead cards in hand over me having dead cards.

I think that overall, this is a good starting point to try and fix some of the issues that the current card pool poses. I don't necessarily think that it makes the game more 'fun' as ultimately the core mechanics are the same and given that the L5R learn to play document is clocking in at 26 pages there is definitely some work to be done in the future to streamline the game. In terms of opening up different deckbuilding options however i do think that it is a success (though again, personally this is more down to Season of War leaving the cardpool over anything else). Yes, it feels better not to have to run into Season and the various other strong provinces in the game, yes it also feels better not to have to worry about cards such as Tsanuri, Netsu and several copies of logistics in one turn. Ultimately until we get around to actually changing some of the the core mechanics of the game (but then is it really the same game we have been playing for the past 4 years?) i think that there is more work to do on the list especially with specific rally cards but this will only come out in more testing and more importantly; more structured, constructive feedback to its designers.

No comments