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The Crane Deck Thread


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#1
sparrowhawk

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It has been over 2 weeks since I started the Dragon Thread and exhorted people to start threads on the other clans. Several have risen to the challenge (and what an interesting read the lively Crab thread has been). But nobody has yet to start a thread on the Crane. So a quiet night in, I thought I'd write some thoughts on the haughty elegant high elves trope of Rokugan.


Why play Crane?

Because style matters. Playing Crane is a state of mind, a statement that says: "winning is not enough, I aim for a higher ideal; I plan to win with style."

Having said that, there are some very good card-based reasons to play Crane.

1. A small selection of some of the best Clan events in the Core Set.

Crane don't have many good Conflict cards, not much depth. But that's ok because the Neutrals are great and almost all are playable in Crane and you can cherry pick a splash. However, I rate 4 of them highly.

A, Way of the Crane
Combined with Court Games, it makes an otherwise underwhelming champion into a consistent 6/9 beat stick. But mostly it combos with Voice of Honour, Asahina Storyteller, Savvy Politician and plentiful Glory boosts.

B. Voice of Honour
A free cancel (beyond 1 card cost) as long as you maintain Honoured character overlap, which is stacked heavily in your favour with the tools you have such as Brash Samurai, Savvy Politician and Way of the Crane as well as ubiquitous Court Games in your favoured Politics.

C. Admit Defeat
I rate this card as a key reason to play Crane. You simply cannot defend small probing Military attacks with a single bigger character if the Crane player has 1F spare (as he should always have this as a threat), suddenly that non-threatening Cautious Scout has turned a successful defence into a ring claim, and with pump support, even broken that province (while blanking it). So the opponent is forced to always defend with 2 or lose honour to unopposed. This puts a strain on the opponent to go wide with more characters with less fate, which then plays into Keeper of Water. It can also be combo'd with the neutral expel events which Crane can easily support, both in deck space and traits. Example: Crab defended with 2 units pumped by Stronghold to exceed my attack then played Mountain Does Not Fall on his beat-stick so I Rout/Outwit the smaller one (the other is too big) then Admit Defeat to break the province. Keeper of Water has made Admit Defeat better.

D. Noble Sacrifice
It's good, a constant threat with Court Games and Way of the Crane (another reason to keep 1F for event threat). It's one of the few hard control cards released. It's conditions are what you want to do anyway and you hasten a 2 honour swing (that can sometimes hurt Lion). But it is slightly convoluted, though not necessarily telegraphed. Again, expel events make landing Dishonour on their best character via Court Games far easier. However, it's the fear of this event as a credible threat that makes it so strong. The best weapon is the one you never need to fire.

2. A consistent Dynasty pool with few bad Core characters.

Crane don't really have stand-out characters, their best costed is Doji Challenger. But, with the exception of the Doji Gift Giver (which needs a very high curve meta), their Core characters are very versatile. Asahina Artisan can be your soak escort vs. Court Games in Political conflicts. Cautious Scout is the ideal initial probe, especially backed with 3x Banzai, 3x Katana and 3x Admit Defeat. Savvy Politician synergises with Voice of Honour and Noble Sacrifice. And the remaining characters speak for themselves. And they all look so beautiful.

3. Great traits with 4 uniques

Crane boast a good selection of Courtiers with Political at least equal to cost and Bushi with military at least equal to cost (but not their champion who is annoyingly a Bushi but not a Courtier but this can be used to your advantage by playing Rout in a committed Political attack). Again this is highly relevant to expel events. In addition, Crane and Scorpion are the only Core pools to have 4 uniques for jackpot duplicate discounts (Scorpion higher on the curve). Although this is usually at the cost of the pass bonus so is usually timed as 2nd player (when you are most likely to be 2nd to pass anyway). This is also the case in using Diadoji Nerishma's ability but he is a 3/1 for 2 unique so you can forgive the clunky timing opportunities of his ability.

4. Not too imbalanced

Yes, Crane bias heavily towards Political. But not as unbalanced as Scorpion. With the higher variance that is Military (due to Banzai and Charge), they can surprise in Military too, luring in military beat-sticks into Political with a Challenger, repelling a swarm with a pumped up Kaezin or Outwitted by a humble Doji Whisperer (all Dynasty Courtiers can participate in military). They have enough focus in Political to all but force a break a round while having the tools to disrupt opponent's plans or surprise with a Military break. Their style is notably graceful but with a sudden flurry of pressure like an Iaijutsu duellist. Truly a civilised way of winning.

On the other hand, objectively, Crane have a few issues too...

1. Their Stronghold is too easy to play around

Yes, you can argue that forcing the opponent to play around something has benefit. But if it's never bowed in a turn, it's all threat and no stick. Decks are packed with 3x Fan whilst other cards like Kimono and Spyglass also raise Political above 2. However, this to me indicates there are 2 good splashes: Scorpion for Fiery Madness and Forged Edict (Calling the Favours is too much dishonour for the Glory 1+ pool) or Dragon for Let Go, which I prefer as it counters Fan at same cost to then use the stronghold. As splash is not declared, this can often be a key surprise when first played (whilst Pacifism is less harmful on Crane cards).

2. Their Air Province competes with a good alternative neutral.

The Art of Peace is a very good province and synergises so well with Crane strategy that it's preferred as an outer province. It's annoying it's in Air where there are 2 other fine provinces, especially Manicured Garden.

3. A poor Clan Holding

The weakest of the draw holdings. I initially thought it was like a magic card that always kept the top card of the deck face up, treated as if in hand (so if you played it, you gain another proxy card in hand at the cost of full knowledge). But it's far weaker. Fortunately there are Imperial Storehouses and with 12 unique cards, it makes sense to not exceed 3 holdings.

4. Keeper of Water

I've highlighted the subtle synergy this role has with Admit Defeat (which encourages opponent to go wide so more targets for Water). But a safer choice would surely be Keeper of Fire (which was passed on to Unicorn - who would have loved Water). Otherwise I can envisage an opponent gaining Honoured overlap early to nullify the threat of cancel, one of Crane's strongest weapons. The fact Water is never chosen as the first conflict is more reason. There are obviously subtle nuances I don't get yet (it feels constraining that the Clan is now forced to play by the decisions of a single introductory tournament). As deck-building is an exercise in OCD perfectionism, if you intrinsically disagree with the Role choice foisted upon you, the LCG player player will look at other Clans where the Role feels more appropriate. Keeper of Fire would have also allowed Hotaru to Honour an Initiate after it enters play from discards. But Water does have synergy with Admit Defeat.

So having discussed some Pros and Cons of the Core Crane pool, now comes the obligatory "example build".


Clan: Crane (Dragon allies)

Stronghold:
1x Shizuka Toshi (Core Set #2)

Role:
1x Keeper of Water (Core Set #217A)

Province (5)
1x Entrenched Position (Core Set #17)
1x Meditations on the Tao (Core Set #20)
1x Rally to the Cause (Core Set #23)
1x Shameful Display (Core Set #24)
1x The Art of Peace (Core Set #9)

Dynasty (40)
3x Asahina Artisan (Core Set #40)
1x Asahina Storyteller (Core Set #50)
3x Brash Samurai (Core Set #42)
3x Cautious Scout (Core Set #43)
3x Daidoji Nerishma (Core Set #46)
3x Doji Challenger (Core Set #47)
3x Doji Hotaru (Core Set #52)
3x Doji Whisperer (Core Set #41)
3x Guest of Honor (Core Set #51)
3x Kakita Asami (Core Set #48)
3x Kakita Kaezin (Core Set #49)
3x Keeper Initiate (Core Set #124)
3x Savvy Politician (Core Set #45)
3x Imperial Storehouse (Core Set #129)

Conflict (40)
3x Fine Katana (Core Set #200)
3x Ornate Fan (Core Set #201)
3x Admit Defeat (Core Set #147)
3x Assassination (Core Set #203)
3x Banzai! (Core Set #204)
3x Court Games (Core Set #206)
3x For Shame! (Core Set #207)
3x Let Go (Core Set #155)
3x Mirumoto’s Fury (Core Set #159)
2x Noble Sacrifice (Core Set #148)
3x Outwit (Core Set #212)
2x Rout (Core Set #213)
3x Voice of Honor (Core Set #145)
3x Way of the Crane (Core Set #146)


The build leverages many of the observations listed above it with lots of expel for Court Games then Noble Sacrifice, alternatively Admit Defeat - whilst maintaining unpredictability in Military. Cancel cover helps to support the honour cost events when facing Crane or Scorpion. Mirumoto's Fury adds Glory as a control lever, especially with Dragon towers that are too big to expel. Whilst Let Go completes the control suite of anti-events, anti-characters and anti-attachments, supported by the plethora of conflict tricks. Finally Guest of Honour feels like a strong option, especially those telegraphed key events (whilst the Storyteller does not stack if multiples in play and can be bowed as a shugenja). Maybe 2 of each is better but I'm veering towards 3 Guests + 1 Storyteller.


So I wrote this in the hope that someone far more experienced and knowledgeable at playing Crane will be so outraged at the butchery that I have done to the Clan that they type out a better analysis of the card pool than this. Whilst I am confident in my Dragon evaluations, I'm on very shaky ground with Crane. This is purely stimulus material hoping that somebody will take up the reins and provoke an insightful discussion on playing Crane in the Core pool.

I'm not a Crane player (more sledgehammer than finesse rapier) but you have to admit the Crane have got style.


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#2
Asklepios

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Interesting secondary clan choice.

 

My first thought was Lion, for Vengeful Oathkeeper (which should be pretty easy to get into play when playing Crane) and Stand Your Ground, which is easy to achieve with Crane's easy honouring. Both basically function as minor economy cards, adding small board presence for 0 fate, 1 card.

 

I do like your Draconic approach too though.



#3
Ignithas

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I personally think that Dragon or Scorpion are the two best splashes. Mirumoto's Fury and Let Go are two of the most efficient conflict cards, but Scorpion has Forged Edict, I can swim, Fiery Madness and Calling in Favors, which compliment the cards that Crane already have.



#4
sparrowhawk

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If Crane had Keeper of Fire, I could see Lion as a good choice. Stand Your Ground on your Brash Samurai is incredibly efficient. I also like Ready for Battle (because you no longer have Keeper of Water deterrent), remaining influence on Oathkeeper seems sensibly complementary. But it does leave a gap for attachment control that needs to be filled (although Pacifism hurts Crane less, their lesser presence in Military means an almost culling there). I also felt that outside of the Water Ring, all the bow effects that Ready for Battle cancel are events that Guest or Voice can handle. Asklepios does suggest a very viable splash and once we get Honour cards, very likely to be an archetype for Honour Victory (currently only Asami and Blade plus Honouring) when it becomes a thing.

I am happy to see that Ignithas concluded the same 2 splashes as I did. Here is my thinking on why I chose Dragon over Scorpion (my first splash was 3x Edict, 3x Madness for Stronghold for blue/black pressure control in Magic) and it's to do with the whole suite of Keeper of Water, Outwit/Rout, Admit Defeat, Court Games and Noble Sacrifice.

Keeper of Water is a deterrent to pick Water. Which is not often picked turn 1 conflict 1 anyway because of the lack of ready targets as insurance when the opponent inevitably defends with the best target for Water bow in case your tricks win the ring.

The issue with expel events is they are only optimal in conflict 4 (or alpha strike on the capital). They can also be pretty optimal in conflict 3 if its type is the same as conflict 2 (because characters are often imbalanced so the opponent can now only use it in the wrong conflict type). But they are also good in Water attacks as it's now a valid bow target.

So what we have with focus on Water (the most situational but also most immediate tactical ring) is pressure on the opponent to build long (with fate), a dangerous investment for cost 2 or less due to Assasination, so it's pressure to build long on tall (cost 3+), the approach of Dragon which also works best with attachments on that investment.

But Admit Defeat and Court Games/Noble Sacrifice adds pressure to build wide! No economy can do all this and pose a threat.

Logic dictates you will be forcing opponents to make solo big guy attacks which are vulnerable to Fury. That 4 strength attack in Political (due to Fan buff pre-conflict declaration) that is threatening break (and unopposed honour loss) can be repelled with a Let Go and your Stronghold - its main strength is no other stronghold can act as a unit itself. If they have buff vs Let Go overlap to act before Stronghold bow, we can debuff with Court Games if glory 2+ and then bow (or if its low glory, that's where Fury comes in). The ability to repel an attack without using a character yourself is valuable (Display of Power costs 2F 1H often broken province).

You can do this with Fiery Madness but it costs 1F and Let Go is just more versatile and constant threat (and patches up weakness to attachments that Crane have compared to event control).

The above Crane build is chock full of conflict tricks because of Keeper of Water, the most immediate tactical ring. The interactions between the tricks all fit together because it aims to give the opponent no good choices in how he builds his board state.

My pretentious theorycraft logic anyway! :)


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#5
Asklepios

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Got to admit, Let Go seems like the one of the best cards you can splash for any deck right now, as you know every conflict deck will have at least six attachments in it.

 

A 2-point shift in combat math happening with good timing and with permanent removal of the buff, costing 0 Fate? Yeah, that's really good.


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#6
HidaHayabusa

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Cranes, play like a very traditional old L5r military. Dragons seem the best splash for an aggressive strategy, while their Honor running potential isn't amazing. They are very good at taking provinces though, and with Dragon splash, they have very nice battle control to handle their weaker conflict type, the military.



#7
IMABUNNEH

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Got to admit, Let Go seems like the one of the best cards you can splash for any deck right now, as you know every conflict deck will have at least six attachments in it.

 

A 2-point shift in combat math happening with good timing and with permanent removal of the buff, costing 0 Fate? Yeah, that's really good.

What makes Let Go/Dragon Splash better than Calling in Favours/Scorpion splash?

 

Calling in Favours is potentially a much bigger than 2 point combat math swing. Crane in addition can make good use of cards such as Forged Edict, I Can Swim, and Fiery Madness.


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#8
Asklepios

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What makes Let Go/Dragon Splash better than Calling in Favours/Scorpion splash?

 

Calling in Favours is potentially a much bigger than 2 point combat math swing. Crane in addition can make good use of cards such as Forged Edict, I Can Swim, and Fiery Madness.

 

It's just nowhere near as good.

 

Between the dishonouring, the general uselessness in dealing with negative attachments and - most importantly - the 1 Fate cost, it looks to be very much inferior. Not strictly inferior, of course, as it's not an equivalent effect, but I'd say the comparison definitely weighs in favour of Let Go.



#9
Hakkor

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Let go has something funny. It's powerful, indeed, but it doesn't synergize with whatever strategy your deck is focused. Sometimes a card that let's you buff you own units, protect them, draw cards, generate economy or control your opponent's hand are useful in almost anytime. Let go need you opponent to play an attachment, and then the choice you have to do: discard the fine katana, o wait until your opponent plays his cost 1-2 attachment that really messes your plan? In the latter choice, it's a card that is sitting in your hand with no certainty to be played.

 

Don't get fooled by the math that says you are discarding an X fate investment with a cost 0 card. 90% of time it will discard an equivalent attachmnent or sit in hand, which either case doesn't (usually) help your clan strategy.



#10
sparrowhawk

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In Crane, it's always-on anti-Fan (and +1 pump attachment) tech for your Stronghold. To repel a POL attack for 0F 1C and no unit used on your side is a powerful effect. Let Go is always a threat whilst Calling In Favours requires a 1F unspent commitment.

 

Calling In Favours is great in Crane and my first build was Crane (Scorpion) with 3x Calling in Favours, 3x Fiery Madness to overkill ensure the stronghold works every turn, But it's pricey on 1F events already and I fancied covering all the bases (low MIL is hit with Bushi + Rout, low POL is hit with Courtier + Outwit, low Glory on a Dragon tower pumped too high in MIL and POL coming in solo for Indomitable Will you can now defend without a unit with Fury).

 

Brash Samurai (ready or with 1 Fate) love to steal attachments but the dishonour can otherwise hurt in a dynasty pool with no 0 Glory (and is half a card). As stated in the OP (and by Ignithas), Scorpion is a very good splash (imo). It's a stylistic preference and it isn't just the 0F constant threat of Let Go but also Fury completing the suite of combat tricks at your disposal. I predict those 6 cards will be splashes everywhere in Keeper.

 

Hakkor, you can use the "you have only got 3x of a card max" argument at anything (3x Banzai etc). You have to judge the situation to see if it benefits now, taking into account the cumulative value of the attachment (estimated lifetime of the host based on Fate and Void). The fact that this then makes the next more expensive attachment safer is not an argument to not run attachment control. And if it forces the opponent to wait until they get a 0 cost attachment before playing it to lure out the Let Go, well it's done its job there. Otherwise it's always potential Fate advantage exchange.



#11
freemandas

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What makes Let Go/Dragon Splash better than Calling in Favours/Scorpion splash?

 

Calling in Favours is potentially a much bigger than 2 point combat math swing. Crane in addition can make good use of cards such as Forged Edict, I Can Swim, and Fiery Madness.

Crane could have a high benefit with scorpion cards more than scorpion with crane cards. I also think scorpion is a right choice



#12
IMABUNNEH

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It's just nowhere near as good.

 

Between the dishonouring, the general uselessness in dealing with negative attachments and - most importantly - the 1 Fate cost, it looks to be very much inferior. Not strictly inferior, of course, as it's not an equivalent effect, but I'd say the comparison definitely weighs in favour of Let Go.

Dishonouring is less of a cost when you consider Crane are regularly honouring half their board anyway (I'll just dishonour an honoured guy if I don't have a good target to dishonour), and stealing it mid-conflict can potentially be twice the strength swing as Let Go. But I'm adding the "whole package" in that I don't think Dragon really offer anything I would want outside of Let Go and Mirumoto's Fury, where Scorpion add a lot more cards that enhance the deck.

 

Not dealing with negative attachments is a fairer point, though they will come down to the prevalence of Phoenix in the meta (Pacifism/Cloud the Mind) I feel. 



#13
Hakkor

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In my case, I'd also consider some splash that reinforces Crane Clan's inherent mechanics, such as the Magnificent Kimono. Voice of Honor and Noble sacrifice requieres plenty of Honored characters, as well as the Savy Politicioan or the Storyteller. Particularly useful if you are not going to constantly bid high, so it's harder to get the three copies of Way of the Crane and Court Games.

 

It's losing attachment hate for extra honoring plus pacifism, which is very beneficial to Crane.



#14
HidaHayabusa

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What makes Let Go/Dragon Splash better than Calling in Favours/Scorpion splash?

 

Calling in Favours is potentially a much bigger than 2 point combat math swing. Crane in addition can make good use of cards such as Forged Edict, I Can Swim, and Fiery Madness.

Probably the fact that Mirumoto's Fury comes along with Let Go as a splash from Dragon. That card alone is enough to make all decks look at Dragon for a splash. It's a bow that hits almost anyone, almost all times. It doesn't require presence and it can be used in both attack and defense. 



#15
Hakkor

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Probably the fact that Mirumoto's Fury comes along with Let Go as a splash from Dragon. That card alone is enough to make all decks look at Dragon for a splash. It's a bow that hits almost anyone, almost all times. It doesn't require presence and it can be used in both attack and defense. 

 

Actually it only targets attackers, so it's a defensive tool. Using it in any kind of conflict would make way too powerful. Crane can use it to stop strong military characters or probes. Still, from turn 2-3 on, the strong military character will usually have a high glory value making them immune to the event. In conlcusion, it's a card that shines as a defesive tool in early turn to prevent your opponent from probing you or breaking a province by surpirse (say, using a banzai)


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#16
Asklepios

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Particularly useful if you are not going to constantly bid high, so it's harder to get the three copies of Way of the Crane and Court Games.

 

I'm pretty keen on Much And More The Perfect Gift for this reason. Whether it's seeking out an Assassination, or getting a perfectly timed Way of the Crane or Court Games, I think draw control is oft underrated and card disadvantage oft overemphasised.

 

I know it's against the majority, but I think 3 x The Perfect Gift is the way to go.


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#17
sparrowhawk

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I'm pretty keen on Much And More The Perfect Gift for this reason. Whether it's seeking out an Assassination, or getting a perfectly timed Way of the Crane or Court Games, I think draw control is oft underrated and card disadvantage oft overemphasised.

I know it's against the majority, but I think 3 x The Perfect Gift is the way to go.


Always ploughing your own furrow, Asklepios. No danger of groupthink with you around! Sacred cows better flee! :)

I concur with your sentiments and indeed it has the final card slot in my Crane allied to Scorpion Launch Event build (which builds itself, is it really a good advert for the game?).

However, the problem I have is card slots. For me there is already plenty of good stuff to fill your 40 slots. And if the opponent has built similarly (you shouldn't need help to beat anything else), the philosophy that cards are pretty evenly good in a well-constructed deck devalues it.

In a limited or draft environment, such as the Launch Event, it really does shine but it's value devalues as both conflict decks become more evenly useful. Thrones 1E had a lot of broken Restricted and max. 1x in deck cards hence Much and More being so popular to fish them out. In more balanced 2E, its successor is hardly played.

If you have combo pieces (Above Question protects, Duellist Training has potential too), its stock goes up in value. Also cards like Disdainful Remark. Crane "kill them with kindness" may well be a thing (and I hope so as I would like constraints on card gorging).

It also anti-combos with Artisan Academy and it's a shame it doesn't also seed the top 3 cards in a specified order (without revealing any cards to opponent). Now that is what I call A Perfect Gift!

It's a style thing in the end: some players prefer the ability of having a virtual hand of 4 extra cards to choose 1 from - at a cost of granting the worst card to the opponent. That sort of toolbox approach is cute and suits agile minds. For lumbering lummoxes like myself, I prefer to spam all the good cards. More sledgehammer than finesse rapier.


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#18
Asklepios

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On the groupthink, I've been convinced to abandon Lion. That military-defeat character was never seeing play, and while the extra turn from Stand Your Ground was pretty sweet it wasn't enough. Dragon it is!

 

Keep getting told to drop A Perfect Gift as well, and keep finding it useful, but as I keep losing games, I should probably try leaving it off.



#19
Asklepios

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Leaving it off made no difference, I'm still losing. :)

 

Honestly though, I feel like when I play it, it is helping me get the option I need right now, while I can pick a card that doesn't aid my opponent 75% of the time.

 

Under a lot of pressure from better players to drop it though...



#20
NuFenix

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Leaving it off made no difference, I'm still losing. :)
 
Honestly though, I feel like when I play it, it is helping me get the option I need right now, while I can pick a card that doesn't aid my opponent 75% of the time.
 
Under a lot of pressure from better players to drop it though...


I say keep it. If you are finding it useful, keep it. Ultimately it is your deck and if taking the card out didn't make you win then put it back in and try something else.
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