Crab Clan in the Temptations Cycle: A Crimson Offering & The Temptation of the Scorpion

The third and fourth packs of the Temptations Cycle are 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.


Tetsubo of Blood



As of the time of writing, Tetsubo of Blood has already seen play being a 1 cost +4 military boost. It's among the cheapest of the 'big' stat buff items with the almost negligible downside of the character not being able to be honoured so overall I would expect that this would continue to be a popular choice in a more straightforward conquest based deck.

Damned Hida



I feel that there is not much to like about Damned Hida. It is essentially a 3 cost block of mediocre military stats with the berserker keyword which makes it comparable to Crisis Breaker, Hida Amoro, Tainted Hero and Vengeful Berserker. Of these, only Crisis Breaker is likely to see play in our upcoming berserker deck due to it's versatility and actual political stat and even out of the remaining cards compares poorly due to the inability to be fated (as a 3 cost 3/- is not useful in-game without a decent effect) and lack of synergy with other Crab themes (sacrifice in these cases).

There seems to be an issue with Crab's - political characters being compensated only with increasing military stats and no meaningful effect (outside of Butcher of the Fallen from last cycle but this is an exception rather then the rule). I don't know if this is a hangup from early in the game's lifecycle where raw character stats were more important but in today's game; which favors versatility and the need to be able to interact with more than half of the conflicts in a turn, I would expect something a lot better then Damned Hida.

Looking at the berserker lineup overall for such a deck it's evident that we will be looking at some combination of Butcher of the Fallen, Hida Yakamo, Crisis Breaker, Silent Skirmisher and One of the Forgotten to fill out the character lineup.

Unleashed Experiment



On the face of it, a 2 cost 4/3 seems compare favourably statwise with Crab's other 2 cost characters (with our average being a 2/1 for the cost). It's dire ability however stops it from realistically being played with any fate due to the expensive 2 honour requirement to be declared as an attacker or defender. It seems like this card is supposed to slot into a cheaper, wide build but as we know this playstyle isn't really viable for crab at the moment due to the restrictions and errata of most of the other cards that make the deck work coherently.

I feel that in a game where the base stats of a character are becoming less and less important over good repeatable effects, Unleashed Experiment is sitting in the same space as One of the Forgotten; which quickly fell out of play due to the in-viability of the aforementioned swarm builds, and the cheaper to play Caravan Guard which at least has the more relevant bushi keyword.

Overall, in terms of the dire characters we have seen so far, Crab have definitely drawn the short straw. Damned hida is essentially a 3 cost block of military stats which as I mention above isn't all that useful in today's game outside of his berserker keyword synergy with the upcoming battle meditation (and even he is overshadowed by our old staples Crisis Breaker and Hida Yakamo), and Unleashed Experiment compares poorly with even some of the poorer dire characters such as Desperate Negotiator (who under the same circumstances is at least a 2 cost 2/4 with a relevant trait), and are completely overshadowed by some of the more powerful characters such as Yogos Paramour and Junzo, Lion's Pride Paragon and Khanbulak Benefactor. 

The Eternal Watch



I have been using The Eternal Watch quite extensively recently in a version of Seeker of Void/Crab dishonour with Shameful Display and Weight of Duty as the other provinces and Fire and Oil to put even more dishonour tokens on the board. It does this job reasonably well so it's nice to have an alternative province available for a more control oriented deck.

I do like having these niche provinces that fit into specific playstyles and decks and overall I think that it's a decent design idea; It stops every void province for example having to be as good as Shameful Display but also allows for them to be very good in their own playstyle or deck type.

Untainted



I find Untainted interesting. It's the second piece of honour gain tech that Crab have available to them after Pious Guardian, this time in the form of an attachment for provinces. On the one hand, the effect is actually quite useful; being able to remove a status token from a participating character in a conflict and also gain 1 honour but it's requirement to be attached to a province, and then for you to win at that province with eligible characters makes it difficult to use. My gut feeling on this is that it's unlikely to see much play given that instead it could be a card in hand that would actually help you win the fight that's required as part of it's triggering condition. I think that if this were an event instead with a reaction on winning a fight then it would be quite playable but as it is I can't see space for it in any of my decks; And this takes into consideration that I am also currently running cards that would normally synergise with it.

Enraged


Enraged is an example of a great attachment. The 0 cost +2 military buff alone makes for a strong attachment comparable with Fine Katana but the ability to play it on both friendly and opposing characters to take advantage of the -2 political skill makes for a compelling argument to take a fire role (though doing so for our more conquest oriented deck will mean losing Fight On). I had a prior complaint that Crab were lacking in cheap high quality attachments (especially compared to the other military focused clans such as Lion and Unicorn) but Enraged goes a long way to rectify this.



Overall there are a few different builds that I would like to try out given some of the other clan tech that is also out/has been shown in the cycle.

Honourable Mentions



The Temptation of the Scorpion gives unicorn a couple of interesting tech pieces in The Western Wind and and Dark Resurrection. The most obvious use of The Western Wind would to run it in conjunction with Shinsei's Last Hope. The event itself can be used at any time during the turn and as of the time of writing shares the pre-errata wording of Kaiu Shihobu so the characters are placed face-down in the province so the most obvious time to use it would be at the end of the turn during the 'Way of the Crab' phase ready for next turn.


As long as you can defend Shinsei's, from the second turn onwards you should be able to generate a decent amount of extra value from the province with the ultimate goal of finding 3x Pious Guardian for the rally and dishonour mitigation and buying 6 or more 2 cost characters largely for free. Our cheaper characters do have the downside of poor stats and usually a point of glory so perhaps there might be a use for the aforementioned Unleashed Experiment and scope for cards such as One of the Forgotten.  


Dark Resurrection however might be more of a niche case but there is also the possibility of using this as part of a decent economy engine. The most basic scenario is buying 3x Kaiu Envoy generating an additional +2 card advantage and paying for it's casting cost but at the moment I am unsure if the eventual 3x honour loss is worth it. I would imagine however that you could get way more bang for your buck by buying things like quartermasters and then sacrificing them with Yasuki Broker present for up to +6 fate and +5 Card advantage if you managed to pull this off with a set of Funeral Pyres (or Kaiu Engineers for multiple pyre activations).


Finally, The Temptation of the Scorpion gives us Shadowstep which is something that I have been waiting to test for quite some time due to it's sheer versatility. Essentially Shadowstep is a 1 cost ready for a 0 fate character but the important thing to mention is that due to it's wording, any character leaving will activate both it's on leave and on enter play abilities. This means that things like Courtesy and Sincerity will activate twice in a turn so combining Shadowstep with Yasuki Broker could lead to some very nice economy plays and can be used to snipe the imperial favour for 1 fate cost. It's uses with Broker include (but are not limited to): 

  • Attack with Yasuki Broker and Hida Guardian, use Guardian's effect, Shadowstep for +1 fate and a card, and have a ready Guardian effect again in the next conflict.
  • 3x Holding Activations with Kaiu Inventor; A card that I find myself using more often nowadays as both Fire and Oil and Funeral Pyre both have worthwhile effects that would be useful to use multiple times in one turn.
  • Multiple Apprentice Engineer activations. For 3 fate and 1 honour you can effectively use Engineer twice in the same turn. Something that is made more palatable due to his 0 glory allowing for him to be used in multiple fights.
  • Multiple attachment discard with Disciple of Shinsei due to it's leave play effect.
  • Shadowstepping Khanbulak Benefactor to draw 2 for free...
In essence, as long as you can use Shadowstep with a Yasuki Broker in the conflict, it will always pay for itself and effectively give you a second shot at whatever character effect you want to use for the cost of 1 honour.

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