Superior Tactics #41: Hoshi Sensei

"I am the lizard king. I can do anything." -- Jim Morrison
"I am the Dragon Champion. I've done everything." -- Togashi Hoshi

This week, Daniel Comrie expounds the lessons that can be learned from Rokugan's oldest wyrm.

A while ago, I submitted a card to the designers of L5R. When the card came out in this set, I was psyched. At least, I was psyched until I found out that it was nothing like my intended version.

Hoshi Sensei - Rare Sensei (SotE) - 0PS - 0G - -2FH - 2Fo
Dragon * Monk * Naga * Scorpion * Sensei
You may ignore Human Personalities' Honor requirements, except you cannot bring Personalities into play with an Honor requirement of "-". You cannot gain over 1 Honor for bringing a Personality into play.

Of course, my knee-jerk reaction to this card was "All right! I can finally use the Naga Stronghold from Siege of the Sleeping Mountain!" As I read it again (always read your cards at least twice, and always out loud) I saw that I was sadly mistaken. Hoshi Sensei specifies Human Personalities. How many Human Personalities do the Naga have? You can count them on one finger. That's right, I'm talking about The Daini, Rare from Hidden Emperor 2.

"But what about Yakamo?" Because Yakamo's card specifically says Naga, but not Human (like Daini), he's nonhuman.

The Naga are notoriously poor to begin with, especially when it comes to paying for Human cards. So avoiding honor requirements for them probably isn't all that helpful.

Next, the Scorpion can use this card. Ordinarily, this card would be quite awesome, if not for that limiting clause on WHO you can recruit. No people with a "-" honor requirement? Gee, isn't that every Scorpion? Not quite. The following Scorpions have honor requirements:

Sensing a pattern? Yojiro basic would be useless if you had to dodge his honor requirement (you want high honor to get the favor, don't you?), Urei is nonhuman (so Hoshi doesn't apply to him), and Hisa is far too expensive to not play with his basic version. And you have to make a deck out of that using Hoshi Sensei. Thanks, I think not.

Next, Dragon. This is where Hoshi starts to lose his stigmata of self-defeat. Many Dragons have honor requirements, many don't. Let's look at this deck-by-deck

Your standard Tattooed Attack deck needs an overhaul if played with Hoshi Sensei. Kazaq, Iyojin, Akuai (and consequently, Troll Raiders), Tashima, Kagetora, and Nakuso are all out. That leaves in Bujun, Dajan, Juppun, Reju, Senai, and Mitsu. Eh, what a mess... I think I'll pass, thanks. [Before dismissing this idea entirely, consider that you can also use many of Dragon's Shugenja. Combined with Dajan and Mitsu, a Tattooed Kiho deck, complete with corrupt holdings, could be quite strong. -- ed]

A Defensive Dueling Deck is what Hoshi Sensei can help a little more. The first card that leaps to mind Kitsuki Mizuochi... an awesome dueling card, but it has a stiff honor requirement of 9. With Hoshi Sensei, Mizuochi can be out that much faster. But the idea behind a Defensive dueling deck is to win by honor. What could is ignoring honor requirements and reducing your Personality pool if you're going to gain the honor anyway? Search me. Tamori Chosai and Mirumoto Ukira also benefit from this speed pick-up. [A Dragon dueling dishonor deck may benefit from this. And an honor deck sporting the likes of Kitsuki Yasu, Togashi Gaijutsu, and Mirumoto Tokeru may sacrifice two starting honor for the ability to buy these personalities early. Of course, imposing Yoshi Sensei on yourself will require most honor to come from duels and holdings. -- ed.]

Corrupt Dragon might be a different story, though. The problem with many corrupt decks is that the honor loss limits Personality selection and brings you very close to dishonor. Hoshi Sensei takes care of that first problem quite neatly. Since most "-" Dragons are only filler in Corrupt Dragon decks anyway, this Sensei may be their godsend. It allows you to use Mizuochi as Personality control in a deck rife with Kokujin and Oni no Okura. This is probably Hoshi Sensei's use in a Dragon deck. BUT WAIT! With Hoshi Sensei, you can't recruit people with "-" honor requirements. There goes Okura, Kokujin, Suru, Akuma, and anyone else a Corrupt Dragon deck would want to use. So they're limited to corrupt holdings only.

Finally, Monk players. Since I haven't played Monk in a while, I had to sit back and think for a second -- do any monks trouble me with their honor requirements?

As I thought about, the succinct answer was "No." The only Personality I've had trouble meeting the honor requirement of in a Monk is, ironically, Togashi Hoshi himself. And since he's a creature, his own Sensei card doesn't apply to him. Ouch.

As I sat back and calculated the honor requirements of every monk, I found something interesting -- the average honor requirement for a monk is 2.1, more or less (I did not count "-" Monks). No great and high number, that is... most honor requirements were either 5 or 0, with a smattering of 6, 3, and the occasional 4. All of the Monk strongholds have 4 Starting Honor. Gaining one or two honor is no great feat for them (House of the Tao has Shioda, and [Norio and Hsi Tsu come off of every Stronghold.]) So, dedicated dishonor aside, the Monks really have no trouble meeting their own honor requirements, unless their deck is chock full of honor losses.

Like a corrupt deck, you say? I do indeed mean that. However, the corrupt Monk deck has the same problem as the corrupt Dragon deck, no "-" honor requirement people. So no, you can't use Hoshi Sensei in a deck with the Takao Exp.2/Stain on the Soul/Oni no Okura combo.

You know what I'm thinking? I'm thinking Hoshi Sensei isn't going to be very useful until we're ankle-deep in the next story arc AT LEAST. Well, at least I have the small consolation of my idea for Hoshi Sensei having been much better.

Togashi Hoshi: good teacher, bad lesson plan.

[Additional: Many players fail to even consider Personalities from other clans when building a deck, but Hoshi Sensei makes this a distinct possibility, even if someone is using Miya Sensei. Scorpion can invite their Crane friends (Doji Shizue and Kakita Yogoso often find a welcome in Scorpion ranks). A handful of personalities have more than 1F, cost less than 5G, and have an honor requirement. These can easily be purchased with corrupt holdings, providing the foundations of a quick attack deck. Of course, the number of personalities who fit this description but don't have an honor requirement is much higher, and contains several more impressive personalities, but many of them come with a hefty cost.

Perhaps Hoshi Sensei's best use is for the Big Heroes. A deck using several of the Heroes of Rokugan might want Hoshi's help. A Monk deck with a use for Kakita Yoshi might need some help. Perhaps a Dragon deck wants to use the experienced Isawa Tsuke. A Scorpion/Lion alliance deck could make good use out of Hoshi. (When was the last time you saw a Scorpion bring out Gohei on the first turn?) At Legacy of the Naga, I had the distinction of losing to a Naga dishonor deck. I couldn't handle the experienced Kakita Toshimoko, and Yasuki Taka put the Den of Spies to work.

Hoshi Sensei is a tough Sensei to use. In order to consider him, you have to have some high honor personalities in mind. You then have to come up with a complimentary set of personalities without honor requirements. Hoshi doesn't fit into established deck archetypes, so be creative. -- ed.]

Card text copyright FRPG, 1995-2000.
Article text copyright Daniel S. Comrie, 2000, edited by Trevor Stone.

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