The Mountain Does Not Fall
Examine the Crab Clan with Guest Writer Joe Habes
"What need have I of glory to defend this Wall?"
Of the Great Clans of Rokugan, few know the cost of battle like the Crab. Manning the massive Kaiu Wall, the Crab defend the Empire from encroaching darkness. Ever-vigilant, the Crab are the most defensive clan in Rokugan, forming an impenetrable shield that defends the Emerald Empire from the horrors beyond. Join us today as guest writer Joe Habes examines the most steadfast of the Great Clans and their role in Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game.
Stand Against Darkness
Joe Habes: The Crab Clan: for nearly a thousand years, we have stood against the darkness. From a horde of goblins to monstrosities most mortals cannot comprehend, the samurai of the Crab Clan have stood, fought, and died for the Empire. We do not fight this evil to say that we can, as false bravado is reserved for the Crane, nor do we fight for the glory of battle that the Lion crave so ceaselessly. No, the Crab fight because it is our duty! We fight because we must! We fight because the other clans cannot face such horrors and survive. To be a Crab means that one must endure neverending hardships, fighting against impossible odds so that the rest of the Empire can sleep safely in their beds at night. Indeed, to become a Crab, one must know when to win and when not to lose. This is the essence of the Crab.
As such, the Crab have no interest in the court. Instead, we focus our efforts towards defending the Empire. The magistrates and courtiers in the capital seldom appreciate the work we do in the Empire. They’d rather spend their days bickering amongst themselves about petty squabbles. We are seen as brutes by the other clans, but they are merely blind to the reality of our lives.
The first thing Crabs learn is the resilience that it takes to hold the greatest structure in Rokugani history against the Shadowlands. With cards such as Reprieve (Core Set, 132), Vanguard Warrior (Core Set, 30), and Iron Mine (Meditations on the Ephemeral, 103), the members of the Crab Clan last much longer in battle than those of any other clan. In fact, many other warriors (especially the ones in the northern mountains) do their best to imitate us in this regard. Due to this capability, it is possible for the Crab to maintain a powerful army while accumulating excess fate which can be used for other high-impact abilities that may not be possible for other clans. While our opponent’s army inevitably dissolves over time, we stand ever stronger.
The next lesson learned is that of sacrifice. Every day on the Wall is a struggle. We face unnaturally powerful demons and maintaining morale is crucial to our success. For that reason, companionship with our fellow Crabs is of the utmost importance. Even the greatest warriors cannot fight forever. When our time comes to leave this world, the Crab have ways of benefiting from each soldier’s exit. With cards such as Stoic Gunso (Core Set, 131), Steadfast Witch Hunter (Core Set, 35), Way of the Crab (Core Set, 137) and Funeral Pyre (Core Set, 39), bowed Crab Clan characters with no fate and no other ways of staying in the battle can be sacrificed for the betterment of the clan. Whether by strengthening his brethren (Stoic Gunso), inspiring them to gain a second wind (Steadfast Witch Hunter), taking an enemy soldier with them (Way of the Crab) or merely providing additional resources towards the cause (Funeral Pyre), every Crab warrior can help their clan one last time before leaving the battlefield.
Defend the Wall
When most Rokugani think of art, they picture origami, paintings, and elegantly woven tapestries. But to the Crab, there is only beauty in that which serves a purpose, such as an Iron Mine, from which valuable resources can be retrieved; a Funeral Pyre, on which dead and tainted corpses may be cleansed; a Trading District (Tears of Amaterasu, 4), in which goods can be purchased to assist in protecting the Empire. To that end, the Crab view holdings as the only true form of artwork.
The Crab not only have several characters that benefit from the presence of holdings, but they also have several holdings that are so valuable, the Crab wish to rebuild them if they are ever destroyed by their enemies. With the event Rebuild (Core Set, 136), the Crab clan can return a holding from their discard pile back to an unbroken province. This can even be used to unexpectedly activate their characters. Kaiu Shuichi (Core Set, 36) can provide additional fate, the Shrewd Yasuki (Core Set, 29) draws additional cards, and the Hida Guardian (Core Set, 26) can strengthen her fellow soldiers. In addition, it also allows for on demand and repeated use of the various holdings that the Crab have available to them. Iron Mine can be reused in this way, further increasing the resilience of the Crab. Other targets include Karada District for precious attachment control, Favorable Ground (Core Set, 128) for mobility in combat, and Funeral Pyre or Imperial Storehouses (Core Set, 129) for additional cards when they are needed most.
In addition, the Crab Clan are unusually skilled in their ability to bend without breaking. We may not win every conflict in which we enter, but our efficiency in defending our lands forces our enemies to spend far more resources than they may expect. Whether that is their soldiers (characters), equipment (attachments), or tricks and favors (events), our enemies need to expend more to take our lands than against other opposition. With cards such as Defend the Wall (Core Set, 8), Shiro Nishiyama (Core Set, 1), The Mountain Does Not Fall (Core Set, 138), and Borderlands Defender (Core Set, 31), the Crab Clan encourages its vanguards to take on attackers and repel them while sacrificing less position or resources than their foes.
Due to these attributes, the Crab Clan are very unforgiving to their adversaries. The efficiency with which the Crab defends their lands forces attackers to spend several cards from their hand in order to break our provinces. With Watch Commander (Core Set, 133), every card our opponent dares to use against us comes at the cost of their own honor. On top of that, if our opponent decides to bid higher than us during the draw phase (a very dishonorable proposition), they potentially lose honor from drawing new cards as well as playing them into our Watch Commanders. As it is very shameful to attack the ones defending the Empire, our opponent may lose the Emperor’s favor before they even reach our stronghold. After all, those who are seen as dishonorable in the eyes of the Empire are not fit to fight upon its battlefields or in its courts.
Finally, the Crab have the highest honor of all! They fight alongside the Great Bear himself, Hida Kisada (Core Set, 37). Although he may not say much, his actions speak louder than any words possibly could. He is so intimidating that his mere existence strikes fear into even the greatest combatants. The first action taken against the Crab Clan in each conflict is cancelled while Hida Kisada is in play, unless the Crab Clan has already lost a conflict that round. This not only enhances the Crab Clan’s efficiency in battle (forcing their opponent to waste precious resources just to satisfy Kisada’s condition), but it can also catch foolhardy opponents wasting impactful abilities if they ever lose sight of Kisada’s presence on the field.
No Need for Glory
Make no mistake; there is very little glory to be gained here. In fact, most of our warriors have zero interest in glory. To fight for the Crab Clan is to dismiss the fineries of what many citizens of the Empire believe to be the typical Rokugani lifestyle. However, in doing so, we rest easy knowing that, despite their feelings, we still protect their lives from the true threat every single day.
Joe Habes (AKA Joe From Cincinnati) started playing Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game when it launched at Gen Con 50 in August 2017, where he became one of the first Crab Hatamotos during the Kiku Matsuri. He was also a player from the original Legend of the Five Rings game since Samurai Edition. He writes articles about the game for his website, Wardens of the Midwest, and posts games he has played on his YouTube Channel. Joe also writes and posts on various websites, including Facebook, CardGameDB, FFG’s community forums and the Discord Group built around this game. John Merholtz, a fellow Crab Hatamoto from Gen Con 50, played a key role in the editing and refinement of this article. John is a frequent contributor to The Jade Throne podcast and has been a Legend of the Five Rings player since Imperial Edition.