Emerald Legacy: Crab Clan in Through the Mists and Restoration of Balance


So we are here back talking about L5R for the first time since... April 2021. It's been over a year since I've put out any content for Legend of the Five Rings and a lot has happened; The game was 'finished' by FFG, there was a mad scramble within the community to see what would come next, Jade format was released as a stop-gap, Obsidian format was released for something different, and Emerald Legacy was formally started with the hope of acting like Netrunner's NISEI project; taking stewardship of the game going forward, designing and releasing new cards and packs for the community and generally taking over from the point FFG left off. With that, the first two releases of Emerald Legacy are now out in the wild so I thought that I would revisit my old style of articles and go through the cards and what they could mean for the Crab Clan. It's also the first time that I'll be writing about cards that I've actually been on the playtesting team for so that should be interesting seeing things from that perspective. It's worth mentioning that I'm not on the design team, only PT so I'm not able to comment on the direction or intent behind groups of cards, only on the final product and why they ended up that way from my point of view.


Through the Mists


Discarding Holdings for Profit


You will notice in this set that there are a number of cards that discard holdings for various effects. the idea here is that there is a balance to be struck by wanting to keep your holdings around to get their effects turn after turn (as is the case with cards such as Fire and Oil and Funeral Pyre) vs discarding them for the costs of the cards that you want to play. I found this playstyle quite interesting during playtesting and it does open up some new lines of play if you go all in on the theme. For a theme like this to work, the cards you use to discard those holdings need to have effects that are good enough that the trade is worthwhile and also some way to enable those cards in the event that the holdings you do have on the field are essential to your gameplan (iron mine for example).

Kaiu Mitsurugi



Mitsurugi is the first Crab 5 political character and serves as the big focal point of the three 'discard to do something' cards. I think that he ended up in the right spot with decks needing *alot* of holdings (typically 14+) to get the most out of him, though I am testing with slightly less nowadays. The effect is super simple but it's quite powerful as befitting a 5 cost unique character and I have already used him to good success in my holding control deck utilising a toolbox of the 14 holdings including cards such as Watchtower of Sun's Shadow, Seventh Tower and River of the Last Stand which along with Forges probably makes it the most Kaiu Wall pieces used in any of my decks ever.

Ramshackle Fa├žade



Continuing on the theme we have a bow on defence, or on attack if you absolutely need to stop an attack of yours going through. I think this is a pretty decent effect for the cost and I'm running it at a solid 2x in most of my holding-based decks.

Deployed Garrison


Finally we have the equivalent of Feral Ningyo but for dynasty. It's 'free' stats (not totally free but good enough) on either the attack or defence if you have a holding to sacrifice to it. A nice play is Garrison into a Funeral Pyre and then sacrifice the Pyre for the same Garrison for a 3/2 and a card for effectively 0 cost but it does mean that you won't be able to use your Pyre in the next turn. To make sure that it's not just always bringing itself back it does remove itself from the game at the end of the conflict so if you can do something with it before that happens it's usually a plus.

Floating Fortress



Floating Fortress is the key that makes the whole thing work. It's been pretty divisive in the community for being a second source of recursion for Crab holdings after Apprentice Engineer but without it you probably don't bother playing any of the other cards that go with the theme as generally your holdings are more useful to you on the field then in discard. Outside of Mitsurugi, it does effectively make any effect you bring back cost 1 fate; so a Fire and Oil is a fate and an honour for a dishonour token, Funeral Pyre is a fate for a card, etc. so along with some of the other cards listed below in Restoration of Balance, fate economy becomes a real thing that you need to keep track of. Personally I think that Floating Fortress is in a decent spot given the amount of holding control in the game, it's inherent costs, and the prevalence of Season of War in most decks making whichever holding you build quite expensive if you were to rebuild this with Engineer (costing 3 fate for whatever effect you want on that turn). Granted it's costs can be mitigated with Mitsurugi but of course that requires you also have the 5 cost character out at the same time.

Useful Tech


In addition to the 'discard holdings to do stuff' theme, we also included a couple of other cards in the pack to try and fill some holes in the Crab arsenal whilst we wait for the next couple of releases to come round.

Herald of Jade


It's nothing fancy but I think that Herald of Jade is a very solid card. The idea was to try and give Crab some way to deal with mass honour/dishonour and their tendency to bleed honour throughout the game for their effects without in effect just printing blue Court Games. Herald of Jade fills that niche pretty well in my opinion with OK stats at the cost and useful effect that could have it see a good amount of play.

War Cry


This is specifically for the berserker deck ofcourse. I don't feel like we are quite there yet with the berserkers but a couple more tech cards like this along with a couple of additional characters could see it land in a big way. The idea is to have cards that aren't just dead in the hand if you can't use them so you will see a fair number of cards in TTM with additional kickers (in this case draw 1) or enhanced effects if certain conditions are met. I think this is overall a better idea then just having tech cards that would otherwise be useless and time will tell what other cards will come out of testing into live.

Restoration of Balance


Unlike Through the Mists, whose idea was to release entirely new cards and strategies, the objective behind Restoration of Balance is to address old cards that might either be too strong, too game warping, or even so bad that they are unplayable to enable them to either come off their respective restrict or banlists or see play, in some cases for the first time.

Less Money, More Problems


At the time of playtest, Crab was doing very well in general and competitive play with the Seeker of Earth Tadaka variant proving to be probably one of the strongest decks in the format. The updates we made to these cards were largely to force Crab players to have to think about their fate economy more.

No Breath Wasted and Restorative Hot Spring

 

It's no secret that Common Cause has been a contentious card since it's release in the multiplayer box. Those in favor of it argue that the opportunity cost of having to sacrifice one of your characters which you otherwise want to use during the turn balances it's powerful ready effect, and those against argue that the player is only going to sacrifice their spent characters anyway resulting in situations where the card is in effect, 'free'. Whilst I understand both sides of the argument, Crab's power in the current competitive and casual metas, along with a desire to reduce the overall power of these largely free cards means that the days of 0 cost stands are largely coming to an end.

The question then becomes 'how do you balance otherwise free cards without making them unplayable?'. I have been a champion in the past of the idea that it's OK for there to be powerful cards in the game as long as they have appropriate costs and in the end I think that Common Cause and Iron Mine, now No Breath Wasted and Restorative Hot Spring land in a good spot. A 1 fate cost on the cards actually does alot to address the issues I mentioned above; Fate is the only really finite resource you generate per turn and if you force extra expense through cards that pretty much every player is going to be using, then that restricts what they can do later during that turn, meaning that the overall 'power' of a particular deck is reduced. No Breath Wasted and Restorative Hot Spring are still very good cards, and probably essentials part of all Crab decks going forward; It's just that now Crab actually has to spend their fate for their effects as opposed to getting them for free.

These changes add up to an additional 5-7 fate expenditure over the course of your average game. You add this to the average increased expenditure in our decks from frequent Floating Fortress procs and you can run out of fate very quickly. As I mention above, I and the playerbase in general are OK with strong effects on cards as long as they are properly paid for (though of course the correct cost for something is highly subjective) so that's something ill be looking to feedback on during the next round of testing.

Ashen Flame Plateau



Despite personally not actually seeing so much wrong with Kuni Wastes, there seemed enough of a pushback from the community about the card that it was decided to update it with new text; It's essentially the same effect just as a once per turn reaction so you need to choose which conflict to use it in as opposed to being an 'always on' effect. Granted, most of the issues with Kuni Wastes came from Lion with their myriad quality character effects and Crane from their attachments giving characters effects that they subsequently couldn't activate but overall this seems like a more 'fair' card in those situations. It does however mean that the stronghold province slot is now way more open, perhaps giving more room to other possibly higher impact provinces in the future but for now I'm still playing Ashen Flame Plateau over most other fire provinces due to largely a lack of better options. Personally, for the sake of fairness I would expect to see the same treatment afforded to other 'always on' provinces but obviously I can't confirm or deny anything for the time being.

The Durian Daimyo Hot Springs Proprietor


Unfortunately my suggestion of The Durian Daimyo for the name of this card didn't fly. Hot Springs Proprietor is just as good however.

LOOK AT ALL THOSE DURIAN! All good hot springs have a host; This guy is ours and he is ready to sell you some very reasonably priced refreshments. This is obviously my favourite card of the set, not least because of the artwork but mainly because it represents an idea that I had knocking around before we even started this project; What if we take bad cards that are otherwise unplayed and give them actual costs appropriate to their effect? The more astute individuals would recognise this as Favourable Dealbroker with 3 cost instead of 4 and a *very* small buff in that it can search for 0 cost characters also (something which I talked about in my fan-made Yasuki expansion idea HERE). As it is currently written, the 4 cost and relatively poor stats aren't good enough to be useful in-game so the idea was to give it a slight break in fate cost to make the card playable. I think we achieved this; It's essentially a 1-shot effect so the stats are justified for an otherwise blank character and it searches for 1 cost or less characters which limits it's usefulness to cards like an unfated Hida Guardian or Gallant Quartermaster. It hasn't been in all of my decks due to that restriction but I'm always happy to see him in decks that are built around control or courtiers with For Shame.

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