Well, I said I would try and follow up Sparrowhawk's Dragon thread with a Lion thread when I was a little more recovered from GenCon, and while I can't promise I'm recovered enough to make a great first post, I might as well give it a try. Feel free to comment with your own ideas and opinions, including (or especially) if they contradict mine--we want as many ideas as possible bouncing around!
So, the Lion Clan. Why should you play (or not play) Lion?
--Military Conflicts. The Lion are great at these, rivaled (or maybe surpassed, within specific parameters) by the Unicorn, but probably beating out anyone else in terms of specialization. This doesn't mean that other clans can't beat you militarily, but they will need to work harder, tech for it, or play to other strengths (such as attachment stacks for Dragon, or ring manipulation for Phoenix). This strength also helps you leverage certain neutral cards, like Fallen in Battle, more effectively than most. If you like your Samurai as mighty warriors, go Lion.
--Honor Victory. Probably the best clan in the core set meta for pursuing a secondary victory condition from Honor. You still want to focus on province victory, but stacking honor can give you beneficial side effects in addition to making you threaten an alternate win, through cards like Steadfast Samurai and Venerable Historian, which leverage being more honorable than your opponents.
--Numerical advantage. Lion have a lot of good, cheap characters, plus cards that key off filling the board. Their stronghold gets better the more characters attack at once, as do effects like Honored General's military buff. Options like Steadfast Samurai, Matsu Beiona, or For Greater Glory help you stay on the board during the fate phase despite focusing on building wide, so the in-built board reset of mono no aware doesn't hurt you as badly as it might.
--Province Refills. Lion have some of the few options in game to refill provinces face-up or flip cards face-up after refilling, such as Akodo Gunso and Staging Grounds. This ties in with and enables their numerical advantage, but also helps with cards like Charge!, which require options in your provinces to be more effective.
--Offensive Strength: Lion like to be attackers. Their stronghold supports it, For Greater Glory gives amazing rewards for breaking a province, Master of the Spear can give you unopposed attacks if your opponent undercommits, Strength in Numbers rewards huge assaults, and so on. Absolutely defend where you need to, but where you can, attack, attack, attack.
--Political Conflicts. Lion are in many ways the mirror of the Crane Clan, and where their reflection is strongest, they are weak. Lion don't have many Courtiers (four in core, all of them Dynasty characters), or political tricks. However, they do have a few, and some of those are real doozies. Lion's Pride Brawler can be great because most Courtiers will be vulnerable to being bowed by her high military skill--a skill which can be boosted by some Lion effects, even outside military conflicts (Honored General comes to mind, and if his Reaction hasn't been undone by dishonor, he's not a slouch politically with 2 Glory boosting him). Ikoma Eiji can also turn political losses into tempo by returning discarded Bushi to play for military retaliation, but even with all this, the Lion are not exactly political powerhouses. Actions, not words, define the Lion.
--Honor-dependent. The flipside of the Lion's ability to draw strength from a high honor is how vulnerable they are to losing it. Suddenly your Steadfast Samurai need fate to stay around, your Obstinate Recruits might get discarded, and you can't trigger important abilities. Some foes, like Crab or Scorpion, will never be more honorable than you, outside rare edge cases, but they can still hurt you by lowering your margin for effects than require a certain lead, and Scorpion can stay in the game much longer with a Lion to consistently steal honor from.
--Low Conflict Draw. Since Lion are so honor-dependent, you will typically want to bid low in the Draw Phase, to avoid the risk of losing your lead. Some Lion cards, like the Art of War, Kitsu Spiritcaller, or Guidance of the Ancestors can help out with additional cards or with recursion, however. Consider Fertile Fields for your air province as well.
--Slow Dynasty Phase. Whoever ends their dynasty phase first gets an economic advantage, and well, that's not typically going to be the Lion. Building wide means playing lots of characters from your provinces, which can prevent you from claiming that extra fate.
--Defensive Vulnerability: Lion are not nearly as strong on defense as offense, although in military conflicts, they can still be quite strong defenders, even triggering ring effects there with the help of the Clan Champion, Akodo Toturi. Defense will be harder fought than offense, though, and political defense might get very rough indeed. Try leveraging options like the Art of War or Vengeful Oathbreaker to turn your defensive losses into tempo, and don't waste too many resources on defenses you are unlikely to pull off.
--Cards to Watch Out For: This section is going to be my weakest, as I am still looking over the card pool. However, beware of Dragon cards that punish numerical advantage, like Secluded Temple and Restoration of Balance (although For Greater Glory can help mitigate the former. Also keep an eye out for dishonor effects of all kinds. Crane can compete with you in the honor game more than most, and might dull your edge there, Crab can sometimes match your numbers, and anything that punishes low-cost cards, like Assassination, is going to have a wide range of targets to hit.
Current Role: Keeper of Earth
At the moment, Lion's role is that of Keeper of Earth. It won't matter for long, but it's a fairly good role even so. Earth ring conflicts help the clan with card advantage, one of the weaknesses I mentioned, and Keeper Initiate is very strong. the extra influence is also quite nice, although I could see Seeker of Earth also being good to double up on defensive provinces and free up more characters to attack.
The main suggestion I've heard is Dragon, which is a very good one. Pacifism is a huge threat to Lion, so Let Go is tremendous. Ancestral attachments also help you boost characters who won't stick around long without losing cards. I could also see Crab, for Reprieve, Watch Commander, and maaaybe Levy. Unicorn boosts your already considerable military strength, although the best card there, Captive Audience, costs honor, and you don't really need the extra help. Crane can help your honor game and shore up political deficiencies, both of which are nice, and Steward of Law might be one of Lion's best splash options--cheap, flexible, and defends against a dangerous weakness.
First Deck Idea
Stronghold: Yojin no Shiro
Allied Clan: Dragon
Role: Keeper of Earth
Fertile Fields (Air)
The Art of War (Water)
Meditations on the Tao (Fire)
Ancestral Lands (Earth)
Shameful Display (Void)
3x Keeper Initiate
3x Obstinate Recruit
3x Ikoma Prodigy
3x Matsu Berserker
3x Steadfast Samurai
3x Akodo Gunso
2x Venerable Historian
3x Kitsu Spiritcaller
3x Lion's Pride Brawler
3x Matsu Beiona
3x Ikoma Eiji
3x Honored General
3x Akodo Toturi
2x Staging Grounds
Total Cards: 40
3x Fallen in Battle
3x Vengeful Oathkeeper
2x Master of the Spear
3x Guidance of the Ancestors
3x Honored Blade
3x Ready For Battle
3x Stand Your Ground
3x Way of the Lion
3x For Greater Glory
3x Strength in Numbers
3x Let Go (2 influence ea)
2x Ancestral Daisho (2 influence ea)
1x Kitsuik's Method (2 influence)
Sort of thrown together and not polished, but you get the idea.
EDIT: Sorry, hit post early.
Edited by RocketPropelledGrenade, 22 August 2017 - 02:32 PM.