Crab Clan in the Temptations Cycle: Coils of Power & Peace at any Cost

The final packs of both the Temptations Cycle and L5R in it's current incarnation are either in the wild or somewhere out there on a boat so I'm continuing my look at the Crab cards in the pack to see what all this 'dire' fuss is about. Probably due to the delivery delays, as of the time of writing FFG hasn't yet released all of the card art so a couple of the cards are mock-ups with some great community-art.

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.

Castle of the Forgotten

Finally, at the very end of the game's lifecycle Crab receive their third stronghold. Also known as the Crab HMT, Castle of the Forgotten has average starting stats for a Crab stronghold with below-average influence. Usually the low influence should have the offset of a very strong effect (because having effectively less options during deckbuilding is a large penalty) but I find myself torn on exactly how useful this stronghold is. On the one hand, as we have seen from Unicorn's Kharn's Ordu; the ability to force all conflicts into one type or another can be a very strong effect and against some clans, even lock out entire phases of the game. On the other, it's triggering condition of requiring that you first break a province means that over the course of a game the stronghold effect will be used a maximum of 3 times which is less then desirable in a world where we expect strongholds to offer value every turn.

I guess that the ability is supposed to work with most Crab berserker characters having a - for their political skill but as I have already explored in my previous articles, 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), and of all of our now-released berserkers; Butcher of the Fallen, Hida Yakamo, Crisis Breaker, Silent Skirmisher and One of the Forgotten are those most likely to fill out the character lineup.

Midnight Builder

I actually like Midnight Builder. Granted, it's dire effect isn't fantastic essentially being a board-wide Kaiu Inventor (who I have been using quite effectively now that we have holdings worth using multiple times in Fire and Oil and Funeral Pyre), but it's secondary effect of buffing all of your holdings with +2 bonus strength actually makes your provinces quite bulky and difficult to break. This is especially evident in Jade format whose feedback I gave in my previous article where holdings naturally tend to stick around for longer.

Repentant Legion

It's a berserker so a - political is a given considering the trend set by our other cards. The effect is actually quite interesting allowing for some deck acceleration but it's expensive cost probably means that like others in it's class it will never be bought directly (if at all) and players would prefer to use Forebears Echos for a +9 Military swing for 2 fate.

Doom Thrower

I keep talking about how province strength altering abilities are simply not as good as direct stat buffs (the only exception with crab I feel is Nezumi Infiltrator due to its cheap cost and versatility) and doom thrower is no exception. Ultimately I am sure that Doom Thrower, despite being the best named holding in the game will never see play as a card that ultimately doesn't actually help you win your conflicts just isn't all that useful (especially one that requires you to sacrifice a fated character to get the most out of).

Battle Meditation

Hey, it's Crab's version of Spoils of War! I think that Battle Meditation along with the stronghold essentially tells us how Tyler envisions the berserker deck is supposed to run. Between the two cards, it seems that Crab berserkers are supposed to operate a little like Unicorn's HMT deck; hit hard and fast, using up your hand to break through provinces quickly proccing your stronghold and then using Battle Mediation to replenish yourself for the next conflict. It's nice for Crab to finally have an aggressive playstyle and my personal testing will be towards using Battle Meditation along with Spoils of War to allow for a 5 conflict card draw on broken provinces and also utilise Unicorn's other ready and movement tech to take advantage of the multiple military conflicts.

At Any Cost

Ultimately, At Any Cost is too expensive to be used in our regular decks. Considering Crab's very limited ways of getting the honour they spend back, 3 honour for 2 fate is simply out of the scope of most decks especially when there are now several viable dishonour decks out there in the environment. Were I pressed to include this in a deck it would probably have to be in something *very* aggressive as unlike Unicorn, we don't have access to Windswept Yurt so the need to end the game quickly will be paramount.

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