Shadow on. *clap clap* Shadow off. *clap clap* The Shadow. To deny clan identity can be said to deny the self. If that's the case, here's a case for the Crane Clan Psychologist. We've brought in an expert on the personality of
Every set has a few cards in them that make you ask the eternal question "Why?..." In Fire and Shadow, we've found one of them in Bayushi Muraisan. Despite the common consensus on the Scorpion list, and undoubtably the Dark Path list as well, Muraisan isn't completely useless.
His stats may be overshadowed by common shugenja such as Yogo Shidachi, and his ability may boggle most of us, but Muraisan truly has his uses! In older days, most clans would be thrilled with any 2 force, 2 chi personality for 4 gold, but power escalation throughout the Hidden Emperor arc has made 2/2's for 4 slightly below average in modern tournament play. Muraisan's glory, however, isn't in his 2 force, or his 1 personal honor, but in the ability he bears. [Incidentally, half of the 31 personalities with more than 1F/1C and gold cost less than 5 are 2/2. -- ed.]
Muraisan's a first turn personality for both of the clans he's aligned to, even in the Ruined Fortress of the Scorpion. That alone makes him a godsend for people who play with the old stronghold. Unfortunately, his 0 honor requirement limits his general usefulness in any of the decks, which tend to be prone to honor loss. Interestingly enough, the Dark Path of Shadow has the least to fear of being unable to bring him out, thanks to their ability to ignore honor losses caused by other players and their own Ninja.
There's ten first turn Ninja for the Dark Path of Shadow other than Muraisan, and sadly, most of them tend to be of greater utility than a mere courtier at first glance, but oh, first glances can be so misleading! Muraisan has a built-in Shinobi ability. Granted, it's a limited Shinobi ability, since it only lasts until the end of the turn, and your opponent can hit him with one of the nasty anti-Ninja actions as their first action during their turn, but oh, the incredible things you can do with Muraisan on your own turn!
A 2 force, 2 chi personality isn't very much to look at, now is it? But in the Dark Path of Shadow, Muraisan can aspire to so much more. Hand the man Kaimetsu-Uo's Ono for the beginning of the fun. Muraisan bears the distinction of being one of only two personalities who can benefit from an Oath of Fealty to the Ninja three times! (The other being Asako Sagoten, who refuses to gain the Ninja trait, but will happily accept the +1/+1 bonus from the Oath) Then, once you've got your three Muraisan up to 9/9, break out the Iron Cranes! Sure, it'll only affect one of them, but you can hit him with it three times, thanks to his Courtier trait. Now you've got a 15/15 Muraisan. That'll teach your opponent to not fear the power of your Courtiers [Unless, of course, your opponent is packing The Fair Voice of Lies, which slaughters Muraisan horribly...]
Further horrible things can be done with Purging the House, annihilating non-Iron Craned Muraisans for +1/+1 bonuses to all of your Ninja. Attach Shiryo no Goju to him, and he's a Philosopher of Legend! An infinite number of irrelevant actions per phase! It's another way to abuse the Ninja Thief/Fan of Command/Know Your Enemy/Shapeshifter combo! (Which doesn't even require the Ninja Thief provided you use Ninube Ogoku... Even better!)
Oh, who am I kidding...
Muraisan's a sub-standard card, destined to use as a coaster thanks to his 0 HR. Had that been a - HR, then he'd be quite good. Yogo Towers decks would use him for his cheap force, and Ninja decks might use him as a warm body (unlikely, however, since his ability isn't really useful for any of them). Murai's much like Bayushi Urei - a card that would have been great with a - HR, but as printed, is pretty silly. Useful for keeping rings from forming on your table though. Both, however, bear good news for the Scorpion in the storyline. Muraisan gives us hope that the Shadow can be overcome, and personalities can be purged from its taint.
He's got a great name however...
Scorpion Clan Poet
(Not a Ninja. Or a Courtier for that matter. Oh well. :) )
[Additional: There's nothing preventing people from building a Scorpion deck which doesn't plan to drop below 0 honor. Muraisan, Urei, and Kyono are solid first turn personalities, while Marumo, exp2 Hisa, and exp3 Kachiko provide midrange power (I've never lost a game in which I had exp2 Hisa on the table). Roughly half of the Scorpions with 2 personal honor have a 0 honor requirement (although Muraisan and Urei lack the 2PH feature). This allows a Yogo Towers player to use Elite Infantry, and be less vulnerable to the "no force" syndrome. And Kachiko's Fan is always an options.
Muraisan is also a contender for a cosmopolitan deck of cheap personalities with decent force and chi, though the speed gained from corrupt holdings is probably more useful.
And, of course, he's better than a Philosopher (since he does something), even without Shiryo no Goju. But Philosopher-like-cards is a column for another time. However, even if his ability doesn't do much, it gives the persona some character. One of my favorite card games is On the Edge, in which almost every card of an ordinary person gives me as much of an idea of their character as I have of many of the major characters in L5R. Small, insignificant traits and abilities such as Muraisan's, Yoritomo Yukue's, Aramoro's ability to step in for Kachiko, etc. Of course, the personality should be worth using on its own, but I'd rather have a clan full of people with very slightly worse stats and a bunch of abilities which allow crafty deck construction and add character to the person and the clan. L5R has a lot of story going on, but story told through cards paints for me a more vivid picture than story downloaded from the web. -- ed.]
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