The Superior Tacticians recently expended much effort in the Selection of the Chancellor, and were thus unable to devote time to their weekly publication. The selection is over, but experts are still debating over the accumulated rulings, but Superior Tactics is back. In the near future, our trusted council will make up for the backlog. With the recent release of Spirit Wars, strategists can start thinking about the Gold Edition environment. Will you be the first to point out the strong cards of the new era?
For some time, one of my complaints about L5R was that there wasn't much incentive to play with the big, cool personalities -- like Clan Champions. Fortunately, that's starting to change somewhat with cards like this one...
It's a big, honkin' force and chi bonus.
"That's it? Where's the strategy in that?" you ask. You're right: there really isn't any strategy in playing it. It's all about what clans have the goods and which of them you put in your deck.
Who are the Champions, Daimyo and Heroes? And more importantly, how many can you have in play at once? In roughly ascending order of Champion number:
Scorpion has only had one champion in the history of Rokugan we've seen: Bayushi Shoju. And if you go outside Open format... none. [Bayushi Yojiro has assumed command, and will lead the Scorpions from here on out. -- ed.]
Several Clans have only two available Champions, both in Open and Jade format play. Naga have Qamar and Hida Yakamo (Experienced 3, Naga Hero). Toturi's Army have Seppun Toshiken (Emerald Champion), and Toku (Monkey Clan Champion). Unicorn also has a low Champion factor, sitting with only two: Shinjo Yokatsu and Moto Gaheris. Yoritomo's Alliance would be down in the depths with Scorpion with only one Clan Champion, namely Yoritomo himself, except they've also got Ryosei (Fox Clan Daimyo). Of course, in some decks (Kyuden Kitsune), you can't have both of them out at once. [Bayushi Aramasu, who can't join Kyuden Kitsune either, will head up the Mantoid efforts in Gold. -- ed.]
In Jade, Crab's stuck with two Champions and / or Heroes, but fares a little better in Open, with three: Hida Kisada, Hida Yakamo, and Hida O-Ushi. Three of Yakamo's four versions have the Hero trait, but there's no bonus for a single personality having multiple traits that The Emperor Returns is looking for. [Kuni Utagu was appointed Jade Champion after Kitsu Okura's demise. -- ed.]
With four Emperor Returns-level personalities, Dragon not only has the most controversial champions, but some of the most. They can have three Champions in play at once -- Togashi Yokuni, Hitomi, and Togashi Hoshi -- and they're backed up with one Daimyo, Mirumoto Sukune (Experienced). Lion also an above average number of "Returnable" personalities they can put into play, four: Akodo Toturi, Ikoma Tsanuri, Matsu Tsuko (one version a Hero, the other a Champion), and Matsu Ketsui (Matsu Family Daimyo). Both Clans drop to three personalities if you leave the Open environment. [Akodo Ginawa joins these ranks as Akodo Daimyo in the new story arc, despite his age. -- ed.]
Phoenix is famed for having a non-Unique Clan Champion, Shiba Ujimitsu. This compensates for only having one other Clan Champion, Shiba Tsukune. Four of the right Personalities on the board in Open, but a paltry one in Jade format.
The winner of this derby -- by a long, long, looooooong shot -- is Crane. They've got three Clan Champions, Doji Satsume, Doji Hoturi, Doji Kuwanan; an Emerald Champion, Kakita Toshimoko; and a non-Unique Hero, Kakita Kaiten. So that's potentially 7 in-clan personalities, for an amazing +7F/+7C to *everyone* in your army -- with one card. Even if you decide to stick within the Jade format, they've got five personalities racking up the bonuses for The Emperor Returns. [Add to that the experienced Kaiten, for 8 personalities, *ah*ah*ah*ah*. -- ed.]
And don't forget that Seppun Toshiken joins Crane for a little less gold, too. You need to have him swear fealty to Crane to gain the bonus, though.
The final factor making this card sweet as sugar for Crane is that it has 4 Focus. Think Crane dueling decks can make use of that? Oh yeah, they can.
Even if you drop that force bonus with In Search of the Future, you'd better pray your opponent doesn't have any duels when they've just jumped +3C, or +5C, or +8C from one card.
You might be thinking, "Hey, he's forgotten one. The Shadowlands Horde can benefit from having the Emperor come back, because we have the cheapest, non-Unique Champions and Heroes in the game: Summon Undead Champion and Orschat!" Hate to disappoint, but have a look at the card text again: "each Personality of your Clan..." As you all know, there are no members of the Shadowlands "Clan."
Of course, these numbers represent only a rough guideline of how many Champion, Hero and Daimyo personalities a given clan can get into play.
You can always make yourself a new Champion with Assuming the Championship and Test of the Jade Champion. Sadly, however, Test of the Emerald Champion won't help, since your new Emerald Champion promptly marches away from your fief to look after the magistrates in Otosan Uchi. Similarly, the Emerald Champion created by Arrival of the Emerald Champion doesn't actually have the "Champion" trait.
Some existing Champions aren't that fussy about who they work for (e.g., Yoritomo). Some Experienced personalities who will only join a particular clan can be overlaid on earlier versions who had no such restrictions (e.g., Hitomi on Mirumoto Hitomi). In most cases, though, you'll need Oath of Fealty to make the imported Champion / Hero / Daimyo part of your Clan. (Tip: That's how some decks can get the big bonuses from Summon Undead Champion and Orschat.)
If you're putting the amount of effort you need in order to get all these cool personalities into play, you might as well make the most out of the situation. Dragon's Strength seems a must, as it gives +1F/+1C to everyone if you've got your Champion out. Strong Words can also crank up your forces by another +1F/+1C, although that bonus is pitifully underpowered compared to the high-octane, turbocharged boost that The Emperor Returns gives.
Of course, the traditional problem with having big personalities is that other players usually want to kill them. Passage of Time can help ease the pain of losing your Champions and Heroes (but not your Daimyo). Plus, a dead Champion will pump up a Clan Banner by an extra +4F.
Of of the upshots of this card is to watch out very closely for *any* personality in future sets that have the Champion, Hero, or Daimyo trait. Any non-Unique personality with any of those traits -- even if he or she would normally be pretty marginal -- will be powerful because of The Emperor Returns.
The other puzzle about this card is that The Emperor Returns doesn't actually benefit from having an Emperor on the table. Poor Toturi can't give bonuses to anyone from this action. Went to Jigoku, and all he got was a lousy T-shirt.
Zen Faulkes! * Crab Clan Scholar
[Additional: And if you think Toturi's unhappy about this card, just think about what Hantei XVI will say! All sorts of major players from Rokugan's past, and none of them are even a Hero. Nezumi and Ninja don't get any help from this card either.
The Emperor won't be Returning in Gold Edition; which is just as well, since most clans won't start with much in the way of Heroes, Daimyos, and Champions. Lion and Crane will be notable exceptions, however. -- ed.]
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