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Superior Tactics #23: Fields of the Dead

This week, Superior Tactics presents an article which is something of a departure from the standard fare. Michael Herpich wrote the following article as a single card strategy investigation, but also included the thought process of building a deck around it. I welcome similar submissions, especially if they include deck design insights which apply to the field at large. Michael's German and I've left most of his sentences in tact; they should be clear enough to follow.

The hills may be alive with the sound of music, but it's a much more somber story down below.


Fields of the Dead - Common Region (F&S)
No Personality with over 4 Force can be committed to battle at this Province.

As it is a defense Region, we have to use it in a Ring-, Honor- or event-based victory deck. [Well, nothing prevents an aggressive deck from using defensive cards. -- ed.] On the first look, this is another crap Region, which we had really enough of. There are only a few Personalities with Force 5+ around, some to mention are Hida Amoro, Otaku Kamoko exp2 and Moto Tsume exp. But there quite a lot which actually have a Force of 3 or 4, like nearly every Unicorn, Saigorei, Seppun Nakao, Moto Tsume, the Goblin Hero Orschat...

What to do now? Put the Force of the opposing personalities over 4 and they won't be able to attack your Fields Provinces. There are quite a lot cards to manage this, but they mostly stay unnoticed. Cards like Biting Steel increase the force for just one turn, but by giving this bonus every turn you get a rid of one opposing personality. Today We Die may be a card to use in this way, too, but it is difficult to play. [Not really. -- ed.] A great idea is The False Tao, which permanently increases the opponent's [Personality's] force stat by one for each usage! As it is an Item (get it as a Imperial Gift), free, and it also has another usable effect, it should be in any Fields of the Dead deck. [Note that you can use The False Tao even if your opponent has naked fingers. -- ed.] It even is non-unique, so you will include three. Akodo Kage works the same way, but I don't see for what Lion need defense for. [First of all, the Experienced Akodo Kage loves it when other people get Sensei tokens. Second, any attack deck whose entire defense is its good offense is doomed by a similar deck with a better draw. A single Fields of the Dead might be enough to keep a military deck from losing while it gathers strength for the final attack. And who says Lions can't make honor decks? -- ed.] A desperate idea in a standard dueling deck is to play For the Empire and let Moto Tsume (controlled by the opposing Junzo Player) win the duel, which will put him over 4! Another trick is to get a Togashi Mitsu out give him five +1/+1 fire tokens, then use Sympathetic Energies to move these tokens on the opponent. As these tokens do not go away by straightening (unless you put them on an opposing Mitsu), this is your second False Tao.

Now we will go for designing a deck, in which these features are united. I think Dragon are best in this, because they have the power to win either by honor or by rings and have Togashi Mitsu aligned, as well as enough shugenja which can cast either Biting Steel or Sympathetic Energies. Biting Steel is also a good choice cause Dragon can use it as a standard force boost.

Iron Mountain/Mountain Keep (Would choose the Mountain Keep, because it needs time to built up your Fields Defense, which is given you by the increasing Province Strength. The reason to chose Iron Mountain is the +1 Starting Honor)

Dynasty
Holdings (Standard):
3 Merchant Caravan
3 Gold Mine
3 Hiruma Dojo
3 Jade Works
2 Sanctified Temple
Personalities: To go for Honor, we should take the 3 Personal Honor Samurai Mirumoto Daini. Another good new samurai is Yuyake, he offers 2 PH, Force 2 and Chi 2 for 4 Gold, so take him too. Of course we will use Mitsu. Then we will need the shugenja to cast our spells. For early defense we will use Nakuso, who is also a fine spellcaster. The other Shugenja are free to chose, I think Yoshi is always ok, because his ability insures that we win our duels. At last take the new Dragon Shugenja and Agasha-hater Togashi Shinseken.
3 Mirumoto Daini
3 Mirumoto Yuyake
3 Togashi Mitsu
3 Togashi Yoshi
3 Hitomi Nakuso
3 Togashi Shinseken
Regions:
3 Fields of the Dead
Events: We will include the standard-Honor event base, which follows. Regions of Rokugan, which will get our Fields, is also included. I took out some standard events like A Soul of Thunder, because they slowed the deck down for the purposes of getting the Fields of the Dead.
The Hidden Emperor
Evil Feeds Upon Itself
Emperors Peace
Peasant Revolt
Iris Festival
Imperial Gift
Inheritance
Regions of Rokugan

Now the more important part, the Fate deck:
Sensei:
Toshimoko. I really would take Hantei, but a smart opponent will Hantei your Sympathetic Energies or the False Taos, which makes it much harder to win.
Actions:
As Dragon are good at dueling and duels provide honor and (mostly) personality kill, it is a good idea to put them in. To survive the early game we will also need standard defense like Flooded Pass and Entrapping Terrain.
Then there is metagame... a chapter of its own. I currently include Sun in Shadow in all decks, and I think it works really great, because of the Focus 4.
His Most Favored
3 Stand or Run
3 Iajiutsu Duel
3 Iajiutsu Challenge
3 Come one at a time
2 Flooded Pass [Since most personalities attacking the Fields will be small, this card can work wonders. -- ed.]
2 Entrapping Terrain
3 Sun in Shadow
3 Superior Tactics
Spells:
The three Biting Steel and Sympathetic Energies plus some Walking the Way to get what you need. Torrential Rain can save you, but as it is an expensive card and not really required, we'll leave it out.
3 Biting Steel
3 Sympathetic Energies
3 Walking the Way
Kiho:
Winds Truth is good in any Honor deck.
3 Winds Truth
Items:
3 False Tao
Ancestral Sword of the Dragon Clan
12th Black Scroll (not really required)
Rings: Void, Earth and Air

This deck is perfect against any Junzo or other strong Military, like Lion or Toturi. Against other Honor or Dishonor Decks it will have to fight, as against any Ring Deck. If playing this deck on a tournament I would also include a Doom of the Brotherhood.

Thanks to Sebi Finster, who first brought up this idea.

[Additional: Boosting one character's force to keep him away is certainly boonful, but a doubleplus boonful ability would be the ability to do the same to all of the opponent's Personalities. While players use several methods to decrease force globally, predominantly Moat and Evil Portents, most of the methods of mass force increase can't be forced upon a player. Oath of Fealty, A Terrible Oath, Purging the House, and the like don't do anything to your opponent, who's likely not to play them once she susses your intentions. Broken Sword of the Scorpion could produce a pretty hefty force boost, but only against a limited number of opponents. Plans Within Plans/Stale Wind/Evil Portents could keep a fair number of folks away for a turn, but it's difficult to perform reliably. For more thoughts on increasing the force of an opponent's Personalities, check out ST#4 on Overconfidence and Treachery and Deceit.

Thus, without a good method to keep all of her foes at bay, the enterprising player may consider another method of capitalizing on the Fields. Since all of the Personalities attacking a fields province have four force or less, a defending Personality who manages to get more force than that can press several possible advantages. (Such a personality can be obtained with defensive force bonuses like Outflank or by moving the personality into the battle.) First, Tests of Might should be fairly easy. Second, an Encircled Terrain is fairly sure to leaving an opposing shrimp. Ikoma Ken'o [ST#20] may have a field day, and Heart of the Inferno (especially coupled with a Moat) will wipe out most of the opposing army.

Unfortunately, Fields of the Dead doesn't help much against the general field of decks. First, the current military metagame favors weenie decks, from Toturi to Phoenix to Scorpion. Furthermore, even most of the Mantis Clan's collection of heavy hitters weigh in at 4F, which gets into the Fields just fine. Furthermore, Fields of the Dead just looks a the Personality's force; Yasuki Nokatsu leading 20 farmers can stroll right in. Most players use Followers or Battle actions to increase their army's force rather than Limited actions or Items. Furthermore, there's nothing stopping the Crab Oni from heading over into the Fields of the Dead with Superior Tactics. Or just destroying the province without Fields of the Dead attached. Thus, outside of a deck designed to boost opposing force, Fields of the Dead should be sent to the mortuary to clear space for a better Region. -- ed.]


Card text copyright FRPG, 1995-2000.
Article text copyright Michael Herpich, 2000, edited by Trevor Stone.

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