Maintaining Balance

A New Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game Rules Reference Is Now Available

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The latest version of the Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game  Rules Reference is now online! This update contains the usual streamlined rules, clarifications, new questions, and other minor changes that come with refining the rules. In addition, today’s update introduces a restricted list that players should ensure they read about. Learn why these changes were made directly from the developers in the paragraphs below, and then download the new Rules Reference to see all the changes for yourself!

Click on the image above to see the new Rules Reference.
This update goes into effect 5/29/2018.

Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game Developers

With this Rules Reference update, we are introducing a new element to the game: a restricted list. For those who aren’t familiar with the concept, the restricted list is a development tool that allows us to better control an evolving metagame by placing an opportunity cost on individual cards. When selecting one card on the list for their deck, a player cannot include any other card on the list in their deck. We may add cards to this list for a variety of reasons: to break up overpowered combinations, to reduce a card’s frequency in an environment, or to help the metagame evolve by restricting a couple key elements of a dominant deck type.

Using the list in this manner allows the metagame to be influenced by the development team in a less disruptive way than some alternatives that could be employed (such as banning or errata). A well-maintained list allows players to still play with their favorite cards, but it encourages them to build their decks around those cards, rather than just play them alongside the other most powerful cards in the environment.

Why Now?

For a game this new, its metagame has developed very rapidly. In watching the results of the Kotei series, the Scorpion Clan has steadily continued to rise toward the top, vanquishing the competition in tournaments at PAX South, Warpcon, Paris, and Warsaw. Additionally, certain cards have proven to be more efficient and effective than intended, having begun to appear in decks for the sole purpose of combating opponents’ use of those cards. There’s been a fair deal of talk as to whether or not a restricted list is necessary, with people making good points for both sides. A more pertinent question, we feel, is whether or not a restricted list could improve the tournament experience—and we feel the answer to that question is a resounding yes!

Why These Cards?

Each card on the restricted list was selected for a specific reason. There were many options to choose from, but we felt that these eight cards would be the ones to most dramatically improve the metagame by presenting players with a compelling deck-building decision.

Policy Debate (For Honor and Glory, 40): While it was intended to provide some powerful strategic control to more politically-focused clans, the cost of winning the Policy Debate duel has turned out to be less restrictive than we expected. Players have been able to leverage this card even in low-political clans like Crab, so long as they could get a character with higher political skill into the conflict. When every player is playing it—even as a way to mitigate an opponent’s Policy Debate—the effect becomes far less exciting. As such, we included Policy Debate on the list so that it is no longer a “free” neutral card: including it requires giving up some of the strongest cards in any given clan.

Mirumoto’s Fury (Core Set, 159) and Forged Edict (Core Set, 184): Despite being split between two clans, these two cards make up the core of the most efficient control elements available to the Scorpion Clan. Mirumoto’s Fury provides a one-cost way to take an opponent’s character out for a turn, while Forged Edict provides a powerful event cancellation effect with a very minimal cost. In order to curtail the Scorpion Clan’s dominance in the tournament scene, we feel that taking away their most efficient control options will help to bring them into a more level playing field with the rest of the clans. However, both of these cards have less-efficient alternatives— A Fate Worse than Death (Fate Has No Secrets, 98) and Censure (Into the Forbidden City, 60)—that allow Scorpion control decks to still participate in the environment.

Charge! (Core Set, 210), Iron Mine (Meditations on the Ephemeral, 103), and For Greater Glory (Core Set, 168): There is a set of powerful Crab and Lion decks that are able to cheat expensive characters such as Akodo Toturi (Core Set, 79) and Hida Kisada (Core Set, 37) into play, and then use other effects to prevent them from leaving play at the end of the phase. This is a play pattern that was intended for Charge!,  but we have found it to be too efficient in the tournament environment. While we did not want to restrict Charge! alongside its obvious companion, Reprieve (Core Set, 132), we have found that both Iron Mine and For Greater Glory do what Reprieve does when paired with Charge!, but with a lower cost or a higher upside.

Iron Mine has several advantages over Reprieve. It costs zero, it takes up a less-competitive deck slot (Dynasty versus Conflict), it can be re-used with Rebuild (Core Set, 136), and it can be more difficult to interact with Iron Mine than with Reprieve. If an Iron Mine is revealed in a broken province, it’s currently impossible for the opponent to prevent it from triggering, even if they wanted to. Meanwhile, For Greater Glory allows a Lion player to Charge! in a character to help them win a conflict, and then put fate on not only that character, but every other character that attacked in that conflict.

Against the Waves (Core Set, 177):  Against the Waves has always been a prominent part of the clan, rewarding players for playing their powerful Shugenja. Despite being a valuable tool to Phoenix decks, we have seen that the ability to play it six times off of Kyūden Isawa (Disciples of the Void, 1) and repeatedly ready high-impact Shugenja such as Isawa Tadaka (Disciples of the Void, 10) and Master of Gisei Toshi (Fate Has No Secrets, 88) has allowed the Phoenix Clan to dominate early conflicts too effectively. This is a play pattern that we want players to be able to pursue, but without the other powerful tools that enable it, specifically Charge!.

Pathfinder’s Blade (Imperial Cycle, 31): The final addition came about through playtesting the restricted list, where we discovered that the dominant Dragon clan strategy remained largely unaffected. This deck ran Charge! and Policy Debate, but only out of convenience, and could afford to lose them to play Mirumoto’s Fury. When the deck continued to win by readying its Niten Masters (Core Set, 64) and breaking provinces without risk, we decided to encourage Dragon players to choose between a more offensive play style featuring Pathfinder’s Blade and a more well-rounded or defensive style that ran Mirumoto’s Fury.

Taken together, we feel that restricting these eight cards will improve the competitive metagame and provide players with a more interesting challenge when building their decks.

Looking Ahead

What can we expect for the future of the restricted list and Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game in general? Alongside the Organized Play team, the developers intend to keep a close eye on the metagame experience for players in an attempt to make Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game continually fun and rewarding. We will continue to monitor the game going forward to provide updates to the Rules Reference Guide, restricted list, and tournament regulations in as timely a manner as possible.

Download the new Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game Rules Reference now to read the entire update. If you're planning on playing in an event, make sure to read the changes so you're prepared!

As always, game rules, tournament regulations, and other support materials for Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game can be found on our Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game page.

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