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How to Play Crab (According to Joe From Cincinnati) Parts I and II


Hello and Welcome to the Wardens of the Midwest!
If this is your first time visiting the site (presumably due to your interest in Legend of the Five Rings, otherwise known as ‘L5R’ from here on out), my name is Joe from Cincinnati. The beginning of this article is a quick history on my experience both as an L5R CCG player and as a Game of Thrones player. If you don’t care (which I wouldn’t blame you, to be honest),you can skip to the header below labeled “Skip to Here if You Don’t Care Who I am.”





Alright, now that all the jerks are gone, I can tell you a bit about myself :).

I have played A Game of Thrones LCG 2.0 since it was released in 2015 and started writing articles for it a short time after that, hence the name of the website, Wardens of the Midwest (Cuz I’m from Cincinnati :D). My friend Mickey named the website based on Game of Thrones and then promptly quit the game, so I blame him for its lack of relevance to L5R. Changing the name now would be too complicated and I’m not managing two websites, so we’re just gonna mash both games together on this one site!

The Thrones Community knows who I am not because I am a great card player or because I am a serious competitive player or anything. They only really know me because I post a lot in the social media portals of the game and I played the Night’s Watch and wrote articles about the Night’s Watch during a time (Core set and most of the first cycle) where they were considered “unplayably bad.” So it kind of became a joke within the community that I was “The Night’s Watch Guy” or, perhaps more accurately, “that idiot who keeps playing The Night’s Watch.” Clan Loyalty was a foreign concept to many Game of Thrones players, so it was not only bizarre that a person would play a bad faction, but also that they would play JUST that one bad faction. This made me a fairly memorable member of the community, despite my inability to win anything of significance (I did win a store championship during the second cycle though :P)

Why did I play a faction that was considered so bad? Well, I started playing The Night’s Watch because, to make a long story short, they had a different style of play than the other 7 factions and I liked that. The Wall was kind of like an alternate win condition in that, rather than gaining power by initiating and winning challenges, I was able to gain power by defending all of my opponent’s attacks each round. It felt a lot like an honor running deck from the old L5R CCG, which greatly appealed to me as a CCG player. I played Crane honor in Samurai edition and Lion Honor/Military switch for the remainder of my time playing the game after Samurai edition (up to Ivory edition, at which point my meta dissolved, as I imagine many did). So the ability to win my own way rather than playing into my opponent’s strengths felt like home to me. Of course, my opponents hated it, but honor runners are used to that feeling, am I right?

So when the new LCG version of L5R was gearing up for its release in April through August, and Gencon right around the corner, the first thing I had to do was pick a clan. I wanted to play a clan that was able to win in multiple ways, because that was my playstyle in the past and it was a playstyle I wanted to maintain going into the LCG, if possible. Of course, almost every Game of Thrones player, when L5R was officially announced back in April 2017, immediately assumed I would play Crab because they are so similar (in lore) to the Night’s Watch. I personally was not interested in pidgeon holing myself before I even played the game. Like I said, I was a Crane and Lion player in the Old CCG so I felt no need to default to Crab just based on my experience in a completely separate game and fantasy world.

So what clans were best at attacking their opponents from multiple angles?

Scorpion seems to have a powerful dishonor strategy as well as good political strength to pressure dishonor + ‘conquest’ (what I will call the win strategy that entails breaking the Stronghold Province) simultaneously. Crane and Lion both looked like they have a chance at honoring to 25 given the right circumstances and even Phoenix looked like they had a dishonor win condition brewing, all while maintaining a fairly powerful conquest strategy as well.

…And then we came back around to Crab. I love their ability to pressure dishonor with the likes of Intimidating Hida and Watch Commander while also threatening conquest victory through military conflicts. And, on top of that, they had several cards (and hopefully more in the future) that were meant to be played defensively. Predictably, this spoke to my nature as a Night’s Watch player and I ultimately decided, against all odds, to go with Crab at Gencon (womp womp womp). Somehow, I managed to go 5-0 in the Kiku Matsuri and ended up being a Crab Hatamoto, so now I no longer have to wonder what clan I’ll play! The decision has been made for me! XD
So, why am I writing this article? Well, like I did with Night’s Watch in A Game of Thrones, I am interested in representing the Crab Clan, as one of their first Hatamotos, in the coming years with strategy articles, theory crafting and all that (assuming, of course, that people give a **** about what I think. And assuming I have time to do so.)
Skip to Here if You Don’t Care Who I am
So, to start things off, I thought I’d do a basic strategy article for Crab where I define what is going through my head when I’m playing Crab and what my goals are during the game. So let’s start with the deck list (slightly updated from previous iteration of this article).

Shiro Nishiyama


Keeper of Earth
Fertile Fields Air
Ancestral Lands Earth
Meditations on the Tao Fire
Shameful Display Void
Rally to the Cause Water
Influence: 13/13

Dynasty Deck (40)
Character (33)

3x Borderlands Defender
3x Hida Guardian
3x Hida Kisada
3x Hiruma Yōjimbō
3x Intimidating Hida
3x Kaiu Envoy
3x Kaiu Shuichi
3x Keeper Initiate
3x Shrewd Yasuki
3x Steadfast Witch Hunter
3x Vanguard Warrior

Holding (7)
2x Favorable Ground
1x Funeral Pyre
3x Imperial Storehouse
1x Karada District

Conflict Deck (40)
Event (23)
3x Assassination
3x Banzai!
2x Captive Audience ///// /
2x Charge!
3x Court Games
2x Rebuild
2x Spies at Court
3x The Mountain Does Not Fall
3x Way of the Crab

Attachment (15)
3x Fine Katana
3x Ornate Fan
3x Reprieve
3x Spyglass ///// /
3x Watch Commander

Character (2)
1x Iuchi Wayfinder /
1x Stoic Gunsō
The basic premise behind this deck:

Control your opponent’s board. Control their honor. Control their hand.

Sounds super easy right? While I don’t think it’s possible to control all 3 simultaneously on a consistent basis (unless you consistently play against bad players), I do think it is very reasonable to control 2 of these 3 game elements of your opponent’s throughout the course of an average game, based partly on the choices they make during the game.

In this article I’ll go over these three ideas and the cards/strategies/priorities that will facilitate this, as well as evaluate the splash’s place in this strategy.
1. Control Your Opponent’s Board
Crab has one of the best board control cards in the entire game in The Way of the Crab. For the price of 1 fate, 1 card (the event played) and a character of your choice (typically a small one like a Kaiu Envoy or Eager Scout), your opponent has to sacrifice one of their own characters. On the surface, this doesn’t seem so bad for your opponent. They would just discard a similarly weak character, as it is their choice who leaves play. However, there are ways to isolate your opponent’s characters such that this causes maximum damage.
But first, let’s rip the band-aid off real quick: YES YOU CAN PLAY WAY OF THE CRAB DURING THE DYNASTY PHASE.

Don’t let anyone tell you differently. This has been verified by Nate French as well, if you need any more proof. So, if you are first player and you purchase a Kaiu Envoy (or some other low cost character) as your first action, your opponent can either play a low cost character as well or, if they are a new player and/or not familiar with Crab’s capabilities, they may buy a 3+ cost character as their first action. That means, for your second action, you can play Way of the Crab to remove your Envoy and the only character they can remove is the character they just bought. This is not only insane economic and board tempo, but it’s also really disheartening for your opponent and they may tilt before the game even really begins. Especially if it was their Clan Champion! For Game of Thrones players, you remember the first time you set up your 7 cost character alone and they got Marched to the Wall? That’s the kind of thing we’re going for here.

As for ways to isolate your opponent’s best characters in a non-janky Dynasty phase action way, the first is obvious: Ring of Void.
If your opponent plays one strong character with 2 fate and one lower priced character with 1 fate, a Ring of Void wouldn’t ordinarily be all that impactful. You could remove the fate on the lower cost character so that they leave during the fate phase or you could remove 1 fate from the big character so that the following turn that character has no fate on them. Decent options, but not game breaking.

Well, in combination with Way of the Crab, a Void conflict suddenly becomes much more scary. If you can remove the fate on the lower cost character, such that they leave play during the fate phase, that leaves your opponent’s board to be just their big character. The action window in the fate phase is after fate is removed and fateless characters leave play. This means that, if you have a cheap character like an Eager Scout, with 1 fate on them during the conflict phase, they can survive through the fate phase and be used at the end of the fate phase to remove whatever character your opponent has left which, in this case, would be the big character since he has no other low cost characters to sacrifice in their place. I’ve even reprieved low cost characters before to make them last until that action window in the past if this situation unexpectedly arrives.
Because of that action window, buying a Kaiu Envoy or an Eager Scout with 1 fate on him can potentially be a very good play. An educated opponent immediately will think you have Way of the Crab in hand. Their options (beyond having a means to cancel or otherwise stop the Way of the Crab) become A.) play around it by overloading their characters with fate such that a Ring of Void+Way of the Crab doesn’t remove their prized character at the end of the phase (making it so that they can’t play as many characters this round) or B.) ignoring it and leaving themselves open to a possible board wipe. Either way, you gain a significant advantage over them at the cost of 1 fate on the Eager Scout/Kaiu Envoy. Even better if you were just bluffing!

The second is less obvious but even more powerful, especially when combined with the Ring of Void: Assassination.

If your opponent, later in the game, has a 4 or 5 coster with 2 fate and two 1 or 2 costers that both have 1 fate on them , the Ring of Void no longer opens their big character up to a Way of the Crab(unless one of their low costers happens to run into a Meditations on the Tao ).

However, if you Void one of the low costers and Assassinate the other, suddenly their big character is wide open during the fate phase again!
These strategies, in combination with cards like Vanguard Warrior and Reprieve, ensures the quality of your characters on the board will often be better than your opponents’ throughout the course of the game, giving you a steep advantage in the coming conflicts. You can pair this superior character quality with cards like The Mountain Does Not Fall (that allows your characters to participate in multiple conflicts in the same round) to further push your character quality and quantity and win conflicts and, ultimately, the game via sheer numbers.
2. Control Their Honor
Crab has the advantage of having a good amount of card draw that does not rely on the draw phases’ bid dial. They have Shrewd Yasuki for filtered card draw as long as there is a holding in play (doesn’t have to be yours). They have Kaiu Envoy, who gives you a card (and a fate) when he leaves play (of which Crab has multiple productive ways to utilize, such as Way of the Crab, Funeral Pyre, Steadfast Witch Hunter and Stoic Gunso). They have Funeral Pyre to discard a bowed fateless character (that has served their purpose) to draw a card and they also are able to run multiple Imperial Storehouses in addition to their other holdings due to their inherent synergies with holdings.
This non-bid card draw allows Crab to bid very low for the entire game (typically 2 to 3 max) and still maintain a solid, varied hand. Because of this capability, they are able to pressure their opponent’s honor early on. If you bid 1 and your opponent bids 5 on turn 1, they are already down to ~6 to 8 honor before the conflict phase of the first turn even begins. This makes it so that they probably cannot afford to use events like Assassination, Banzai’s second trigger and other honor losing card effects that have a high impact on the game. This is further amplified by the Unicorn splash that utilizes Spyglass for more card draw (And The Mountain Does Not Fall and Favorable Ground to get that character with the Spyglass into multiple conflicts per turn for even more draw).

If they try and do the Ring of Air to make up some honor after this bid, you are incentivized to defend and win due to the Keeper of Air role that Crab gained at Gencon (although that will be going away in a few weeks, after Worlds), so that you can gain a fate and get all your Keeper Initiates into play (who are incredible, by the way.)

If you are controlling their board properly, as in the first part of this article, Intimidating Hida will also contribute to honor control. It is very difficult to participate in all 4 conflicts when your board is constantly under threat of being wiped each turn. So, if you are keeping your opponent’s board thin, they likely cannot afford to declare both conflicts in addition to defending your conflicts each round. Intimidating Hida removes an honor from them for not declaring both conflicts. Or, if they declare 2 conflicts and don’t defend your conflicts, they lose an honor for allowing an unopposed conflict. So…win win.

While I don’t personally run it in this particular deck because of deck space and relative impact, if you want to really pressure your opponent’s honor, Levy is also fairly powerful in that regard. If your opponent doesn’t have any fate remaining, which isn’t uncommon early in the game, Levy can steal an honor from them; the equivalent of an additional Ring of Air conflict. The main reason I don’t include it is because, if my opponent is ever below 5 honor, they’ll typically keep fate to stop Levy from taking honor. Free fate is fantastic, but having a card not do what you truly want it to do doesn’t feel very rewarding. And since the opponent chooses the effect of Levy, they’ll always give you the worse of the two options in the scenario that you play it, assuming they have a fate to give you. Its conditional nature is amplified further because it is a card that doesn’t help you win conflicts, so top decking it when you need an answer to your opponent’s board/conflict declaration can be back breaking. As a general rule, I try to limit the number of cards I have in a deck that don’t contribute to winning a conflict, due to the unpredictable nature of card draw in this game (since you draw after you purchase your characters).

Pair these cards and strategies with the card Watch Commander to make each and every card they play cost them more honor. If you have Hida Kisada on the board and a Watch Commander (or 2) in a conflict, your opponent is basically forced to not use any cards from hand, or else hemorrhage honor at an extremely fast pace. Kisada is relevant here because, if they want to use any actions, they first must “waste” an action to account for Kisada’s cancel effect. That means they have to either use an on-board effect, like their stronghold or a character ability, to soak Kisada’s cancel, or spend a card that then does nothing. If they don’t have any on-board abilities, or if they aren’t willing to waste them because they want to use them during that conflict, they must spend cards and, because of Watch Commander, honor to get around that action cancel. Which ties perfectly into the next section.

One final thing I think is worth noting in regards to controlling your opponent’s honor. As I mentioned above, Assassination is a very powerful effect in this game. It allows you to remove the characters standing between your opponent’s big characters and your Way of the Crab. It’s so powerful in fact that, in the core set environment, it is run to some degree in nearly every deck list that I’ve seen and played against. How can you beat character removal? It is important to note, however, that it costs 3 honor to use. The good news is that when you’re bidding relatively low and taking honor from your opponent during the bid phase, the honor they are giving you is more or less funding your Assassinations.
In addition, if you can bait your opponent into using an Assassination, then you are going to pressure their honor a lot more easily than if they use no honor losing card abilities. How do you bait an Assassination? Well, luckily, Crab has one of the most assassinate-able characters in the entire game in Hiruma Yojimbo. That character is so damn efficient it’s ridiculous. She’s a 4/3 for 2 fate that, while you can’t declare her as an attacker, you can Charge! her into a military conflict or move her into a conflict with a Favorable Ground. So, often times, I’ve found that 1 fate on a Hiruma Yojimbo is often a large enough incentive to make your opponent assassinate her. If not that, then maybe 1 buff (a Banzai, Ornate Fan or Fine Katana) should do the trick. If they assassinate her, you just got 3 honor closer to winning the game. If they don’t assassinate her, you have a super efficient defender that is worth way more stats than her cost! It’s another win-win!
3. Control Their Hand

This is a much shorter explanation. Spies at Court is amazing when combined with Ring of Earth to pull 3 cards out of your opponent’s hand. It isn't mandatory in this type of deck, as Crab is relatively weak in political, but it can be a major swing if you include it and manage to pull it off. That, along with the honor pressure that makes them want to bid low to not throw away honor, means your Spies at Court could take out as much as half of their hand (if not their whole hand.) It is a little more difficult to pull off against stronger political clans, such as Crane and Scorpion. However, with some smart play, such as playing an unexpected Iuchi Wayfinder from hand once they’ve bowed all their characters in the previous 3 conflicts, you can typically get a political conflict through to help thin their hand.

In addition, the aforementioned Kisada compels your opponent to waste cards or on-board abilities, which is great for hand control, especially when they forget about Kisada’s text (which they will. Even elite players forget passive text) and waste a high impact effect like Court Games or Assassination. I compare Hida Kisada’s ability to the plot, For the Watch!, from A Game of Thrones. If I had a nickel for every time my (good) opponents would accidentally commit more characters to that first challenge, despite not being able to win. Passive, consistent effects can easily be forgotten by your opponent and can have disastrous consequences in an environment that doesn’t allow for takesies backsies (Like a tournament, for example). So, once they declare an action that is cancelled by Kisada you are, by rule, allowed to decline them the right to take the action back, if you so choose, once they realize that Kisada cancelled it. And as long as you keep winning conflicts, Kisada cancels the first ability effect of each conflict. That can compound quickly, especially when you’re first player, since it’s typically easier to win on offense than it is on defense. In my top 16 match in the Discord League Tournament, my opponent remembered Kisada’s effect in the first conflict that I initiated and properly used his stronghold to “soak” the cancel. However, I won that conflict and then, in the second conflict of the round, he forgot about it and used a Court Games, which ended up being cancelled.
Tell Us More About Your Chosen Splash, Joe!
In my previous iteration of this article (which I didn’t publish), I was using the Phoenix splash because Display of Power is a fantastic control card in that it basically cancels your opponent’s ability to recover from any control you’re exerting over them. They try to use the Ring of Void to deny your from using it to control their board? Display of Power. They try to use the Ring of Air to regain some honor to get out of the danger zone? Display of Power. They try to use the Ring of Earth to regain control of their hand? Display of Power.

The problem is…event cancels are a thing in this game. And they cost 0 fate. So, as long as your opponent has the requirements to trigger the cancel (more honored characters for Voice of Honor, a courtier to dishonor for Forged Edict), you can’t ever really feel safe playing an event like Display of Power. And, since it requires that you lose a conflict unopposed and spend 2 fate to play it, you could be down a province (because it’s not hard for your opponent to get 4 or 5 strength in a conflict when its unopposed), an honor (for allowing an unopposed conflict), 2 fate (the cost of the card) and the card itself out of hand and all it would cost your opponent is a card from hand and maybe having to dishonor a single character. Not a great trade, in my opinion.

(Side note/hot take: I think the event cancels in this game are too powerful. They should have at least cost 1 fate, so that they were forecast-able, like Hand’s Judgment is in A Game of Thrones. These cancels are not only difficult to predict, due to the 0 fate cost, but it also makes high cost events, objectively, less useful than low cost events, which seems completely backwards to me. I feel the same way about Let Go and high cost attachments. An expensive event or attachment should be more safe to play, not less safe, but that’s an entire article topic in itself.)

For that reason, instead of going the route of Phoenix splash, which is arguably a better fit for this kind of play style, I decided to go with Unicorn splash. But don’t worry! There is still plenty of great cards to splash from Unicorn that make up for the loss of Display of Power. The first one is Captive Audience, which covers one of Crab’s weaknesses: vulnerability to strong political clans. Switching a political conflict to a military conflict at any time can be extraordinarily powerful, especially since Crab has multiple characters with more military strength than political strength (such as Kisada, a 7/2, and Intimidating Hida, a 4/2.) Switching the conflict to military can very easily give you a big advantage in that conflict (your 4/2 vs their 1/3 goes from a 1 strength deficit to a 3 strength advantage for you), and it also potentially turns off (or on) certain cards and abilities that are restricted to the two different conflict types. I remember in one of my games against Dragon, they attacked in with the Kitsuki Investigator, which can pay a fate to an unclaimed ring during a political conflict to look at your hand and discard a card (Seen in Flames, for Thrones players), and my first action, as defender gets first action, was using Captive Audience to switch the conflict to military. This not only weakened his attack by 2 strength (the investigator is a 1/3), but it also turned off that ability that would have been very painful to have to deal with. In addition, it turns on Charge! and Banzai to help you win conflicts that you ordinarily would not have been able to (or would not typically want to) play in that conflict type.

Spyglass, as I mentioned in the second point, is great for drawing multiple cards, which helps you pressure dishonor by allowing you bid lower and maintain a good sized hand. It even gives a strength in political, which is a nice little bonus to the already strong card effect. And, finally, the Iuchi Wayfinderis a solid 1 cost character that can not only look at one of your opponent’s unrevealed provinces (which potentially prevents the unlucky face check of a Shameful Display or other powerful province effect) but can also be used to further fuel the sacrifice engine that is so good in Crab’s theme (Stoic Gunso, Funeral Pyre, Steadfast Witch Hunter etc but not Way of the Crab, as it requires a Crab character be sacrificed). Also, unexpected defenders or attackers can prevent and cause unopposed conflicts (you are second player, they do both of their attacks, you defend with all of your characters, then play this guy for a quick free attack at the end of the conflict phase) that will fuel every control option you are trying to exert on your opponent, including a potential honor loss to your opponent for allowing an unopposed conflict.

And I can see the Unicorn splash getting even more powerful in the future. As we saw in the 6 packs in 6 weeks announcement article, Unicorn is getting the card, Talisman of the Sun, which allows you to, as the defending player, move the conflict to another one of your provinces. They do a weak conflict into your Fertile Fields? Take the card as your first action, and then move it over to your Defend the Wall and win on defense, triggering the ring. They attack with a high glory character? Move them over your Shameful Display and dishonor them (and also honor one of your characters). They attacking your stronghold and it looks like they’re going to break it? Move them to your 4th province (which is almost always not broken, since you only need to break 3 provinces to get access to the stronghold province) and let them win, with little position lost.


Aaaaand first article in the books! I hope you all enjoyed it and I hope it helped new Crab players learn a few things about the play style that I use for this clan. I also have a Youtube Channel where I intend to post gameplay videos of myself and possibly others playing this game in the future here:

https://www.youtube....w_as=subscriber

I also have a playlist of 10 games that I’ve played (not all of them are on my Youtube Channel, hence the playlist) that you can find here:

https://www.youtube....0-s621Xy93iv3Tn
  • HidaHayabusa likes this


5 Comments

How is the deck working with the new changes?

- Is it worth it to take out Defend the Wall and exchange Manicured Garden for Fertile Fields?

- Are you missing the 3rd Charge?

- Will you test the Goblin Sneak?

    • JoeFromCincinnati likes this

"Somehow, I managed to go 5-0 in the Kiku Matsuri and ended up being a Crab Hatamoto"

 

I seem to recall you bribed your fifth round opponent. Odd thing for you to forget.

Photo
JoeFromCincinnati
Nov 09 2017 04:19 PM

How is the deck working with the new changes?

- Is it worth it to take out Defend the Wall and exchange Manicured Garden for Fertile Fields?

- Are you missing the 3rd Charge?

- Will you test the Goblin Sneak?

 

I have had success with Ancestral Lands in the stronghold province, whereas Defend the Wall was a bit too conditional for me. I exchanged Manicured Garden for Fertile Fields because, due to the playstyle I describe in my other article, I often pass early and hoard fate anyway, so cards end up being more helpful in a typical conflict. The difference between 3 and 4 fate, for example, is not as big a deal s the difference between 3 and 4 cards.

 

Manicured Garden was very good if it was the first or second province revealed, but if they don't get to it until the 3rd or 4th round, once I've set up my board and economy sufficiently, the extra 1 fate was relatively inconsequential.

 

Charge is one that I'm between 2 and 3 copies based on my mood. I could see myself removing Spies at Court to go to 3 Charges and maybe a second Stoic Gunso or something along those lines. Charge is conditional in that it depends on what's in your provinces. There are turns when I draw it during the fate phase and I happen to not have any good characters to charge in available to me. So it does take a little bit of planning to effectively use. I also have times when I'm holding 2 charges, which feels like kind of a waste, since they likely won't be played in the same round.

 

That said, having 3 does lend towards economic efficiency, so it's always a good option.

 

I will test the Goblin sneak, but I don't think it goes in this deck. It may work in a Levy + Backhanded Compliment deck though haha.

No eager scouts ? Ive recently started looking at Hiruma ambusher again.  Ive been struggling to consistently get spies at court off. Esp with the prevalence of politics running around. 
Thoughts ?

Photo
JoeFromCincinnati
Nov 10 2017 07:21 PM

No eager scouts ? Ive recently started looking at Hiruma ambusher again.  Ive been struggling to consistently get spies at court off. Esp with the prevalence of politics running around. 
Thoughts ?

 

The Eager Scouts were good for fodder, but now that I am running 2 rebuilds in order to maximize the value of the Karada District when I do see it, the Hida Guardians became much more reliable and only cost 1 more fate. They also have the added benefit of being able to declare an attack and threaten a win without more cards or the favor (Whereas the Scout just bounces if left undefended unless you give him an attachment or something).

 

I agree regarding Spies at Court. It was excellent when no one is expecting it, but I think there are better priorities for the deck now that the Finger of Jade is out and a few other slightly more consistent conflict cards are around. You're sacrificing a bit of hand control, but you're adding a bit more card to card consistency as well, so it should balance out overall.

 

The Ambusher is a card that I am in and out on. On the one hand, I recognize that in some  games it can truly blow your opponent out. They were relying on that double Air ring from Hotaru or that bow effect from Lion's Pride Brawler etc. And in those situations, he's great. The problem I have with him is, if you're in a situation where your opponent doesn't necessarily have all that many important abilities printed on their characters that they must trigger during a conflict (since the ambusher only lasts until the end of the conflict for some reason) he can be a dead (and inefficient) card in hand for multiple turns in a row.

 

It'll ultimately depend on your playstyle. If you are a defensive player, then they may be worth it. But if you're a mid range player who needs offensive options just as much as defensive options, I'd be wary of them. Test them out and see what you think is all I can say on that haha.