I feel such a stranger logging onto this site again!
I hadn't played since the Birmingham Grand Kotei (details in the Crane and Crab threads) when I didn't bother with Day 2 and admit that after seeing pack 2 previews, I got fed up with:-
6 in 6 - the worse of both worlds, either dump it in one go or drip feed monthly to maintain interest and give hobby enthusiasts something fresh to talk about all year. For someone like me who plays very infrequently unless there is a competitive incentive like a Tourney or a League, there seemed no point keeping track every week until the full jigsaw puzzle was unveiled.
Role-locked Clans - the game adds this extra layer of Role-locked cards which could be so great, a restriction to aid creative deck-building, but what I hated is that Clans are locked to a role. So there's no choice! How can a game be customisable when they deny choice?
Variable card quality - sometimes cards betrayed lack of understanding of the game by R&D and design cycles like the "already claimed Ring X or Ring Y" lack creativity, flogging a single idea many times, selling us dross that was either crap, unplayable role-locked cards or high variance.
Maze of Illusion - I really hated the design, even if I instantly posted a Phoenix.Scorpion the moment I saw it. Awful design.
Cost barrier to success - this appalled my egalitarian principles (dare not use the S word in case US readers start frothing at the mouth). Koteis seemed prohibitively expensive to some because they often required travel costs, entry to an irrelevant conventions on top of entry cost and overnight stays due to the 2 day format. The hobby is segregated on affordability! I hated the fact talented players who can't afford to go to Koteis will never get the recognition they deserve (I don't fall into either category, neither talented nor modest living). How can anyone feel that great after winning if cost may have prevented better players from competing? Sure, there has to be some expected level of buy-in but in L5R, there seemed to be a 2-tier game of The Rich Kids and The Rest. Shame on you, FFG, for creating this cost barrier in L5R OP beyond many family hobbyists.
When my local meta started a new League, I didn't join. I logged out of this site and I was determined to quit LCGs forever and focus on my other game hobbies (me hosting Gloomhaven had taken off). I confess there was a whiff of "Ha! That will teach FFG to mismanage such a promising design!" but it's silly arrogant delusion to think FFG care if some nobody quits the hobby due to their mismanagement. They can sell us dross, make mistake after mistake, and the fanboys will still lap it up.
Then yesterday, Friday, my Gloomhaven evening session was cancelled. Then my Star Wars Rebellion / War of the Ring 2 player gaming day was moved from Saturday to Sunday. Plus one-time CGDB regular poster GKZhukov (Varun Khetarpal, Conquest World Champion) was arriving later last night and staying in a spare room for an all-day wedding he's attending today. Then I got a Facebook message saying "you going to the tournament tomorrow?" and remembered today was the local store tourney. Perhaps due to GKZhukov's shared links with LCGs, I found myself spending yesterday evening looking on 5RDB at all the new L5R cards. And reading sites like Imperial Advisor (but not here, I didn't want to visit until I was truly committed as I knew I would be sucked into forum activity again).
Looking at the 6 packs as a whole, I felt I was wrong to be fed up with the game. It has changed dramatically, possibly due to a stubborn no errata to a card (Hawk Tattoo) and other factors, Unicorn looks scary, Monks intriguing, the game has been transformed. Looking at it all after a break, it seemed so fresh!
On Role-locking, not only have we now got 2 Roles each but more frequency of change (each concession drip feeds more freedom to us like grateful peasants when we are the customers).
Whilst card quality was still variable, there are some meta-changing cards, possibly more than in the Imperial Cycle (hence why I played at a Grand Kotei a Crane deck which was all Core except for 4 cards in 85).
There were no more designs like pack 1's Maze of Illusion (I quit Conquest after Backlash high variance).
FFG seem to be instigating a sort of Regional 1-day halfway house between Store and Kotei. So no longer will the hobby be divided into high disposable income "samurai caste" and modest budget ashigaru.
Even the fiction seems to have got better if the RPG fiction is anything to go by (RPG is how I know Rokugan).
Taking a break and coming back, you really do notice how much things have improved.
So anyway, I had enough time to build 2 new decks before GKZhukov turned up late last night. And then he started regaling me with tales of both his US World Championships until 2am. So I can't say that I've done deep analysis of the new meta.
However, whatever analysis I did make, it must have been quite good because today I bought the 6 packs at 10.30 and built my deck before the local tournament at 11 and then won it! Just a 4 rounds 13 player store tourney but, as I've told locals, when compared to the players I faced at Birmingham, I have had just as challenging games locally (just not consistent, an error usually made). I think I benefit from a psychological barrier with the local meta, going back to my unbeaten run in the first Stronghold league and tourney. Which is half the battle won.
So what was my analysis? Well, while Formal Invitation is pretty good, my theory-crafting had to agree with the sentiment that Hawk Tattoo is indeed bonkers because there is no defence and no restrictions. This meant:
1. cards that benefit being lone participant (Cautious Scout, Indomitable Will) are super-gimped
2. cards that benefit being attacker (Scout, Challenger, Hotaru, Sumiko, Brawler) or defender (Mountain Does Not Fall) are gimped
3. characters that benefit from a conflict type (Asami, Hotaru, Ikoma Ikehata) are gimped (why Rally is the best neutral Water province)
4. characters with built-in retreat (Doji Representative, Kaezin, Juro, Nerguii) are better
5. characters should ideally be balanced or dash in one stat (but not too many of the latter else variance).
I initially built a Crane.Dragon deck evolution of my old deck and a Crane.Scorpion build. If there's interest, I'll discuss in the Crane thread. But all I could see were Crane's flaws in a Hawk Tattoo meta.
So I went through in my mind which Clan was best suited to being harpooned. And the answer was Phoenix, as long as you avoided cards like Kaede that stipulate attacking. The reason being that Phoenix has:
1. relatively balanced stats (only Dragon have more balanced stats)
2. text often don't require participation due to shugenja magic range
3. unlike Dragon, it has 12 copies (recursed) of unbow/doesn't bow.
Anyway, this was my initial solution build for the current meta. It may be horribly flawed.
Short Game Aggro