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Go Rin no Sho (2nd @Battle for the Stronghold @Outpost Antwerpen)

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Tags: AggroControlFun
Clan: Phoenix
Conflict Cards:
Dynasty Cards:
Influence: /
The deck I played at a local tournament with my favorite clan, the phoenix. While the clan pack was out, it wasn't legal in the tournament. I ended up going 3-1 in the Antwerp 10-player Battle for the stronghold.

The plan is to leverage lion's ability to win battles with legion of one together with phoenix's flexibility and ability to deny fate. I always found that phoenix's main weakness is in that they are jacks of all trades and masters of none. They can play both military and political just as well, but they don't shine in either. The lion splash is both to celebrate Kaede's marriage to Toturi and because I can gain Lion's ability to strike true in military challenges. Next to that, this deck is built to get my expensive dynasty in play.

The legion of one is essentially banzai 4-6. Guard duty makes me win really easily in defense thanks to the high glory my characters have and with the water ring I can even get that character in a challenges if I am last. The ready for battles are due to my affinity for expensive characters. When you have few characters, getting them bowed is a disaster.

Let's go over the province choices first: Manicured garden is an easy pick as I have 14 characters costing 4 or more fate to get into play. Meditation on the Tao is part of the fate denial strategy that I run. Kuroi Mori and Elemental fury round out the other non-stronghold provinces. Early in the game I will be weak to certain rings, and being able to win water ring in defense is certainly alluring. The stronghold is Entrenched position, mainly because I am more afraid of banzai than for any political shenanigans.

Dynasty: Cheap shugenjas and scholars to hold out early on, and at 4 and higher we have a suite of siege tanks to nuke provinces with. There not much to say about the water shugenja except that every single one of them is amazing in their own way and form the core of my flexibity. Atsuko, Fearsome mystic and Kaede are fate deniers on top of being extremely obnoxious to play characters into. Tsukune is amazing in this deck due to her ability to get honored outside of political conflicts with benten's touch and guard duty. Her main ability is of course also amazing. A special mention goes to the haughty magistrate, which is the bane of crab and dragon alike, acting as another siege tank and the best target for a legion of one. With the amount of shugenja in the deck, it was obvious that Shiba Yojimbo has its place here, blanking a bunch of strong cards. Masahiro is in there because Fire ring is a weak ring for me to face. I want a shugenja for each ring to get the most out of kuroi mori and elemental fury.

Conflict: I am aware that my dynasty deck is very fate-hungry, so I mitigate this with 3 different cards:
- Goblin sneak is another fate denier that carries a legion of one easily.
- Embrace the void is a card that will yield 1-2 fate easily, and protects against cards like endless plains and similar fate nuking abilities. It is the prize I pay to get multiple expensive characters in play.
- Charge is just a good card. It happens that each of the expensive characters is amazing when charged.

Some final choices:
- I play none of the classic boost attachments, because I think investing 9 cards is plenty already. I also don't want to put more risk in my powerhouse characters than is necessary.
- Cards that I play 2x are mainly because I don't want the effect more than once per game. The second assassination/benten's touch/harmonize/censure is either worse than the first or the scenario where I get to play it doesn't come up too frequently.
- 1x display of power since I intend to defend most challenges, but want the ability to blow out players that do not respect the display of power. I run just the one since I don't have fate to ever play a second one.
The tournament report:

The first game was against a very good crab player splashing dragon. We ended in overtime, but the crab player conceded as he knew he was not breaking a province any time soon, and I had a lead of one province and a significant board advantage. Even so, I felt I escaped the round. Had we played it out, I think it would have been close, but in my favor. Probably.

The second game was against a veteran unicorn player splashing phoenix. I won on a stronghold break, but lucked out in my province breaks due to hitting endless plains when I had a solemn scholar and atsuko in the conflict. I never ran into his shameful display, yet another lucky break for me. To add to this, I had atsuko in the game for many, many turns with an embrace the void yielding me extra fate. I found one new atsuko every round thereafter, so this was getting really cheap for me. I got some freebies early on due to a misplay from my opponent, and from then on, everything kept matching up neatly. We eventually got to the point where I outlasted him.

The third game was against the winner of the tournament, another crab. The splash was crane and he soundly beat me. I made a couple of serious misplays that ended up costing me too much of my board and fate and this led into a couple of easy breaks. I never really recovered from the early misplay and had less characters, fate and honor. Eventually, I lost my stronghold.

The final game was against another crab splashing crane. This time, I opened with the powerful asako tsuki and a naive student. An economical turn in which I broke a province with asako tsuki and defended my challenges. The kami smiled upon me with 2 against the waves, and my opponent declined to strip them out of my hand with policy debates, favoring more threatening cards. With the favor and asako tsuki still in play, I flipped shiba yojimbo, an adept and the district. Soon after, I snowballed hard with the now assassinate-proof asako tsuki. The end was nigh when I flipped a haughty magistrate and just had to bide my time until I found a legion of one. When I did, the stronghold break happened with just the haughty magistrate.

Final thoughts

This was a very fun deck to pilot. You will continually look more to which ring to contest than anything else. It is nice to get easy opportunities to honor my own characters. I did not face the nemesis, the scorpions, but I think that this configuration would have performed well against them. Shiba Yojimbo would have complicated matters, I would play for the favor and have harmonize and cloud the mind for their powerhouse 5 drops. I don't leak fate against them or fold to a little bit of dishonoring. I heartily recommend giving this deck a try if you are looking for a more assertive phoenix deck.

Were I to change things to this deck, the Masahiro was just fine. Perhaps he could have been a serene warrior instead. I certainly was on the look-out for another high glory character to escort a haughty magistrate at times.
Sample Hand: