Wily Trader; A Yasuki-Themed fan-expansion for L5R

Hello everyone and welcome to Wiley Trader; A Yasuki-Themed fan-expansion for L5R.

During lockdown for various reasons there hasn't been much in the way of releases for L5R so recently I have been asking myself the question;

'If I had the opportunity to design a set of releases for a cycle, what would it look like?'

Being a long time broker player the answer had to be a merchant expansion based around the Yasuki. There are 14 clan cards per cycle so in an ideal world, they way I envision FFG to release their sets is for them to do 1 stronghold supporting whatever playstyle they wanted to promote per clan, 7-8 cards covering that theme and 5 cards expanding on past themes/generic stuff. To avoid players just taking 'the best stuff' in their decks and promoting varied play, you write the cards so that they are largely keyword locked (and I don't mean generic keywords like courtier and bushi). 

With this in mind, what would I want to see out of a Yasuki themed release cycle and what do they do now?
  • All cards linked to the merchant keyword (older cards errata with merchant in the regular errata set).
  • Cheap cards focused around resource generation or cost mitigation.
  • Some way to use all that resource outside of 'buy big guys'
  • Should be compatible with the sacrifice theme due to Yasuki Taka and Yasuki Broker.
  • Conflict deck would be relatively expensive to counter the free fate they are getting per turn and also to discourage other crab decks and clans from taking those cards.
  • Unicorn also have a number of merchants so I would like at least a couple of cards to be compatible with them.
  • FIND A USE FOR THE WILY TRADER KEYWORD!

I wanted to push the feeling that the Yasuki are working to generate their resource that can then be used for powerful effects but I don't want it to be something generic like fate as there is nothing stopping you from just slotting these into our standard decks to build a monster fate generation engine.

All of the cards are availiable in PDF format HERE.

Overall I really enjoyed the project and it really hit home exactly how difficult it is to produce novel ideas for cards without them (hopefully) just being way too broken ingame. I do think that the way to go to stop players making 'the best cards' deck is to keyword lock more cards (again, with words like Merchant and Shinobi over ubiquitous ones like Courtier and Bushi) so hopefully they will do this more in the future. It would allow for a greater scope to design powerful cards without worrying if they break another deck/archetype.

The Stronghold




Starting with the stronghold, I think that it encapsulates what I want to achieve with the cards. The idea is that during the game, various cards will produce honour tokens that can be traded in for one of three effects (much like planes-walkers from Magic the Gathering). Because you can discard any honour token you control, technically there is the ability to use your own honour pool for these effects also but this leaves the player open to dishonour so generally it won't be a good idea outside of a big honour lead.

I think what matters here, and what ultimately will tell if the stronghold is too strong or not, will be the availability of these honour tokens, how they are produced, and when they are available. We already have strongholds in the game that steal honour, generate more fate and re-ready characters essentially for free so I don't mind an effect that requires you to use up resource to activate. The ready is limited to friendly Merchants and I don't intend to include a 'Seal of the Yasuki' that turns characters into merchants so that limits the strength of the ready effect to whichever merchants are available.

Holdings




For the first holding I wanted something with an easy effect to enable the Stronghold and the other token discard effects in the set. By itself the holding will most likely be used by the Yasuki Yashiki as a flat draw 1 per turn. As the majority of the strength of the deck is built into the stronghold's activation; I feel like having a holding that has no other effect is probably OK as we can compare it to Forgotten Library for example; which draws 1 by itself independently of the stronghold effect.

Characters




Another cheap way to generate honour tokens. Because the stronghold can only be used once per turn, this card turns into a psuedo courtesy effect and is then cheap enough to be sacrificed giving synergy with Taka and Broker.


Much like Phoenix's Shiba Yōjimbō, Yasuki House Guard is designed to be able to protect your merchants whilst they are on the field.


A way, aside from the stronghold to use the honour tokens that you are generating per turn. There is an intentional lack of stat pump in these cards so in the spirit of the Blatant Swindler, the playstyle should be looking to be more control oriented; going around opposing characters instead of over them.


I wanted to design another card that could use your tokens so I've included a pillowbook-style effect with the ability to use your generated resource to reduce the cost of the card. It is potentially quite powerful but on a 2 cost, assassinate-able body and limited token generation should be used sparingly.

Events




The main (big) way to generate honour tokens. It's a flat 1:1 conversion rate between fate and tokens so Way of the Carp gives a good way to actually translate all of that fate you are generating during the turn from your characters into meaningful effects.


As the deck's utility cards have a control theme, and again aren't all that high in raw stats or stat pump, Uphold Order exists as a strong (and relatively expensive) way to save yourself during a defensive conflict.

Attachments




Mastering the gift is probably my most favorite card that I have designed. It’s a subtle but powerful tax on your opponent's characters and is very thematic for a Yasuki based deck.



Given that the Yasuki theme is supposed to have a number of control elements I wanted to design a thematic event cancel. We haven't had an event cancel linked to an attachment yet but I think that it could work well as a deterrent (in a similar way to Watch Commander and Miya Mystic for attachments) given that it is visible on the field.




One of the two fabled Merchant Coins supposedly in Yasuki Taka's possession; The fronts of which are inscribed with depictions of one the twelve creatures representing the twelve hours in the Rokugani day. The bearer of any of these coins would become extremely lucky with economic negotiations or trade during the creature's respective hours of the day. Like all of the ancestral weapons, it is extremely unlikely that this would see play (given that it requires Taka himself) but it has a suitably powerful effect designed to be consistent with the theme and have synergy with what the set is trying to achieve overall.

Reworked Existing Cards




Along with the new cards, a few of the older Yasuki cards have also been updated with the Merchant Keyword and in one case, minor tweaks to make them more useable. These cards are intended to replace their existing counterparts but otherwise have no impact on their use in existing decks.










The only major change I have made is to Favourable Dealbroker. As it is currently written, the 4 cost and relatively poor stats aren't good enough to be useful in-game. Reducing this to 3 however and combining with Yasuki Peddler can offer a way to either find honour tokens or to buy any of our regular 1 cost characters whilst still being a useful character in its own right. Yasukis Shrewd, Broker, Oguri and Procurer have all become merchants (because that's what they are) so that they synergise with the stronghold, events and attachments and Yasuki Taka receives his long awaited Courtier trait (why didn't he have this to begin with?).


Example Decklist






Here is an example decklist (and something that I would actually play) using cards from the Wily Trader fan-expansion. It would play out very much like the Seeker control decks that we are used to seeing at the moment; Using City of the Rich Frog and Favorable Dealbroker to flood the board with cheaper, resource generating characters whilst controlling the field with Blatant Swindler, Biasaed Arbitrator, Lost Papers and the usual combo of For Shame, Assassination/Way of the Crab and Hige's Sermon.

As the characters are mostly fairly cheap, there is sacrifice synergy with Yasuki Broker and Funeral Pyre to generate fate and cards which translate into honour tokens through Way of the Carp allowing re-readies during the later turns in order to push through conflicts. This is doubly important considering the available stats of the build cap out at 5 political from an honoured Broker. For the restricted card (which I haven't included but there is definitely space for), you would probably want Rebuild due to the need for reliable Funeral Pyres and Jade Mines.

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