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Superior Tactics #29: Horiuchi Shoan

Good luck to all who will engage at the Battle at Oblivion's Gate this weekend! After playing cards until your fingertips grow numb, return and write a Superior Tactics article. Were you beaten by an unexpected card? Did your crafty use of an obscure strategy seal your victory? Did you find that a promising card just didn't work out in the field? And you needn't even worry about leaking your strategy plans.

When I first received this article, I forgot to put it in the right place, so I only recently realized I had it. Similarly, when you first found this card in a booster, you probably tossed it in your pile of commons and forgot about it. But Benjamin Cumming (Horiuchi MeiMei) and the Horiuchi Shoan Fan Club would like you to rediscover

Horiuchi Shoan - Common Shugenja (IE, EE, OE) - 0F - 1C - -HR - 3GC - 1PH
Unicorn Clan Shugenja * Cavalry

At first glance everyone says "Well, so what?" Sure she doesn't seem like much, but that's the key to her use.

She's one of the few Unicorn personalities with a -HR and certainly the cheapest of that small group. What does this mean? If you're using The Provincial Estates of the Unicorn and you buy a Stables on the first turn and get hit with a Breach of Etiquette on the first turn, you can buy her and put you back to 0, enough to then bring out some of the Unicorn heavy hitters like Shinjo Goshi. If you're playing with The Otaku Palaces under the same circumstances, she'll put you high enough to use play the Unicorn's only 1HR Personality -- Otaku Baiken.

With their [copious] amount of Shugenja, the Unicorn can make good use of her in a deck that uses a good number of spells and Kiho. But since most battle Kiho need to be cast by a Monk or Shugenja in the battle that they're in and you've got the use of cavalry, you don't want to be held back by infantry Shugenja. Along with Iuchi Daiyu, Iuchi Katta, Soshi Taoshi, and the elemental Dragons, she's one of the few Shugenja with the cavalry trait. Also, with her 0F, she makes a great Kiho or spell user since she won't be contributing any force anyways. Top that off with her 3G, reduced to 1 if playing Unicorn, and you've got yourself a bargain for an excellent mobile Kiho-thrower. The Lion and Dragon already have a fair amount of cavalry but no Shugenja mobile enough to back them up, so she could be quite useful there also. The same goes for the Shadowlands Horde. [Especially the Oni and Undead -- ed.]

"So, she's a solid personality for the Unicorn, but I don't play them," you say. Well, if you find yourself facing off against Unicorn, but need to play actions against them, why not put one of their own to use against them? With her willingness to work for anybody and a cost that can be paid for by all but two strongholds in the game, you've got a defender wherever they go. [The ability] to drop an Entrapping Terrain where ever you go can change the pace of the game.

"But I can already deal with cavalry," you say. Well, how about putting her to work at enlightening your Clan? She's excellent for casting any Kiho or spell that isn't Chi-based for the Ring of Air. Clans low on Shugenja like the Ninja and the Brotherhood can always use her to attach Walking the Way to get their key cards. Also, she's the only Shugenja in the game with only 1 Chi and anyone who can go into any duel as the underdog and cast the Double Chi or Void Strike Kiho to win it for you has got some serious potential for the Ring of Fire. Being able to defend against cavalry or against an infantry army with a Ring of Water on its side can help the cause for the Ring of Earth.

Since she's got no particular talents above and beyond any other personality, she's great for doing things that you can't afford to have a stronger personality (or Toku) do. The list includes:

So she may not be much by herself, but having someone ready and willing to do anything you command can be as useful to you as any other part of your deck.

B. Cumming * Horiuchi MeiMei - Unicorn Clan Fanatic

[Additional: Horiuchi Shoan has great allying potential. Her Cavalry trait allows you to suss the situation before choosing sides. You can send her on a suicide mission without worrying about wasting a big investment. She provides significant political bargaining power while carting around a Fires From Within, Earthquake, or Suru's Mempo. Throwing Shoan into a battle allows you to set up Iaijitsu Duels between critical people, play Suspended Terrain, Awakening Shakoki Dogu, or Betrayal. If you're intent on playing cards like Wounded In Battle on a certain player's Personalities and you don't want him to shoot Shoan, be sure to ally on his side. And after she's helped her side lose, you can always Martyr. Unfortunately, without a Chi bonus, Shoan can't play A Good Day to Die or Shurin Storms.

MeiMei wrote this article before Northern Provinces of the Moto hit the scene, but the new Unicorn Stronghold opens several new possibilities for Shoan. The unit-switching action allows a player to send her star unit home when the going gets tough, but someone must take the retreating Battle Maiden's place. Good thing she's got a Horiuchi Shoan camped back at the home base, prepared to cast Flee the Darkness. Alternatively, if a defender has his own Cavalry or movement cards like Uji Sensei, Shoan allows an attack on two fronts -- if someone prepares to engage Gaheris, our favorite Horiuchi will dive into the line of fire, informing the Khan of an undefended lake with her dying breath.

Shoan could work well with the other ability on the Moto Stronghold as well. One Koku, Seppun Kossori, and Nature Provides can bring her out with another dynasty card on the first turn. When your second turn comes around, you look at all the 2 honor requirement followers in your hand and frown. Crab Cavalry, Greater/Lesser Mujina, Hurricane Initiates, and some of the Ranged Attack followers will attach to Shoan, but these are outside the standard rack of Unicorn battle followers. But you can hand her an Earthquake to defend while your other gold producer turns out the rest of your economy. Meanwhile, design a useful 7G, 1HR Follower and submit it to the design team.

For more ideas of what to do with a shrimp of a personality, see Dave Williams's Zen's Card of the Week article on Toku -- ed.]

Card text copyright FRPG, 1995-2000.
Article text copyright Benjamin Cumming, 2000, edited by Trevor Stone.

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