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    • Owlbear

    As you are well aware, the Design Team has decided to ban some cards in preparation for the Winter Court season. Combining these bans with the inclusion of Gates of Chaos will be changing the environment up a lot, so we will talk about how the environment is affected. To do this I divided the article in several parts; the losers, the winners, and what this means for the Unicorn Clan. I usually do this in my blog when there is a change of environment, or when a new expansion is coming. This way we can see the entire set and the opportunities that the expansion brings to us.

    Lizard Wizard: The most powerful military deck in the environment loses Oblivious. It´s a good card for sure, but I would have been able to play the deck without it. Unfortunately for the Lizard Wizards, that’s not the worst. It loses Quelsa, the best personality in the deck, the only personality that allowed the deck to destroy provinces fast. This is something that can not be recovered in any way, so say goodbye to Lizard Wizards.

    Imperial Unaligned: All versions of this deck are out of play. The military deck loses Charter of the Legion of 2000, without that card you can’t create enough personalities to play, and the honor deck loses Frozen in Place and Caught Unawares and the ones that played with personalities lose Seppun Jiramu. This change avoids Jiramu decks winning all the tournaments, forcing all honor decks to include him.
    Kalani’s Landing Magistrates: Everybody knew that if you started after this deck you were not going to be able to win. I wonder why this ban has not been done before, but fortunately it´s now done and we can see decks with low initial honor, playing in the tournaments.

    Henshin blitz: Asako Karachu was the best personality in the deck, but is losing him the end of this deck? I don´t think so. It will be harder to win with it, but certainly not impossible, maybe we could be surprised by the next tournament results.

    Berserker blitz: On the banned list you can see Duty of the Crab. It’s a very powerful card which greatly improves the berserker blitz decks. I think it’s a powerful card that improve all the crab decks. However, berserkers retain Halls of the Forgotten, and the berserker personalities, so it is not dead, but thanks to this change we should be able to have a more fair game against these decks.

    All changes listed above were necessary. Now we must look ahead, stop complaining, and try to find the best deck to win tournaments in the new environment.


    Whenever there is someone who loses there is someone who wins. Winners are not those who have not missed any card, if not those who can better benefit the environment.

    Now I see two winners, blitz and honor decks.

    Blitz???: Yes. The bans end the current, abusive blitz decks, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t build another, different deck. For example, you can always use Foothold of the Mad to start first and create a blitz deck with the madness that threatens our rival’s province in our third turn. Yes this is akin to a regular military deck, but with the possibility to be always the first in attack, there is a strong reason to play this stronghold. But this stronghold is not the only option. Nowadays I am playing a Unicorn Paragon deck and a Unicorn Swarm deck. In my play group some players are playing with Caught Unawares and Hidden Defenses to defend themselves against the blitz deck. Previously, with the Paragon deck, it was dangerous to try an attack in the second turn, unless you have Know no Fear in your starting hand, because they can regularly stop your first attack and ruin your game with these cards. Now they have lost Caught Unawares, so you can try it again. They also will have to be more careful of honor decks, and they have to look towards playing long games. So they have to use these card slots on other cards, potentially opening up an opportunity for a faster deck once again. But do be careful, as this is still a risky proposition, and if they are able to thwart your early attack, you could lose the entire game.

    Honor decks: With less blitz decks in the environment, honor can be a good solution, but only for a few clans. Why only a few clans? Because when you play honor decks, you have to be able to win against other honor decks, and this must be kept in mind.

    Law of Darkness Dishonor: It was a very good deck before the bans, but now it is better. It is true that it is hard to play versus cavalry or even military decks with initial high values of family honor, but with the fall of Lizard Wizards and with a slower environment, LoDD will be the deck to beat this Winter Court season.

    And now the final part of the article, what the environment will be looking like for Unicorn.

    This is the most difficult part of a strategy article; how to explain your feelings and give your predictions, all before playing any games. With that, and with what I have been able to see, I predict we have three different kinds of decks to play now. Paragons, Commander Wide Valley Combo deck, and Unicorn Swarm deck.
    I will start by talking about Paragons. With this new environment, we can now build very different decks with Unicorn Paragons. You can take Journey’s End Keep with the personalities with the Paragon trait that have four or lower honor requirements, and play a very heavy military deck, you can play a switch deck with Plains of the Maiden, or a pure honor deck, also with Plains of the Maiden. The honor deck is the worst, because you will lose versus honor, and LoDD is also a very difficult match-up.

    These three decks are only suggestions, you can build these decks however you want. For example, if you want to use all the cards that make you lose honor you can, though I would recommend you choose Plains of the maiden as your stronghold. As you likely know, a deck like this won the Kotei in Detroit, so don’t be afraid to use things that are out of the ordinary.

    The Commander Wide Valley combo deck, has a very good quality, it may be the fastest deck in the tournament, winning or losing. It’s a very good deck, even without the combo, versus the decks that go after it. However, the deck has a lot of attachments, and a lot of cards that only work well in combination with the others parts of the combo. Because of this, it has a high probability of having “la mano del muerto”, a Spanish saying that means a starting hand that cannot win. I mention this because I saw it in a lot of tournaments, not with the best results, but always placing well, and a lot of players use these kind of decks.

    The Unicorn Swarm Deck is one of my favorite decks nowadays. It has a lot of tools to destroy your opponent’s game; Know their Mind, Martial Manipulation, Forged Document, The Moon’s Imperative, and Shaocheng. On top of this, it brings a lot of personalities into play, but can run into problems if you don’t play fast.

    This is my prediction of the environment, so now we need to turn our attention to the tough match-ups and how you would handle them.

    The worst match-up for paragons are Lion paragons. They use the same tools as us but go first, which gives them early tempo. They have big personalities, as big as crabs or berserkers, which is problematic because we use ranged attacks and cards that destroy cards without attachments. They can protect their personalities from our ranged attacks and destroy our personalities with their actions.
    Other bad match-ups are decks with more battle actions, such as Yogo Towers, because they can prevent us from destroying provinces while burning through our hand.

    The better way to handle this deck is to try to be faster, and to try to avoid early confrontations by attacking around them and using your actions to send your enemies home. If you can do this, then when you get to the last battle you should have enough personalities in play and cards in your hand to win the game.

    Here is solid decklist that, while not going to win your European Championships, should be a great starting point for any Unicorn player to adjust to their own personal style.

    Journey’s End Keep
    Border Keep XP
    Bamboo Hraversters
    # Dynasty (40)

    # Events (2)
    1 Alter History
    1 Imperial Gift

    # Celestials (2)
    1 Benten’s Blessing
    1 Ryoshun’s Guidance

    # Holdings (15)
    3 Stables
    1 Traveling Peddler
    1 Chugo Seido
    3 Colonial Dojo
    3 Silk Works
    1 The Ide Caravan
    1 Coastal Peal Bed
    2 Ageless Shrine

    # Personalities (21)
    3 Utaku Ryoko
    1 Utaku Liu Xeung – exp
    3 Utaku Ji-Yun
    1 Moto Naleesh
    1 Utaku Ji-Yun – exp
    3 Utaku Suying
    3 Utaku Sayaka
    3 Utaku Sung-Ki
    3 Shinjo Kinto

    # Fate (40)

    # Strategies (36)
    1 A Game of Dice
    3 A Paragon’s Strength
    3 Cast Aside the Weak
    3 Grateful Reward
    3 Murderous Intent
    2 The Perfect Moment
    1 Creating Order
    2 Know No Fear
    2 At Any Cost
    2 Broken Alliance
    1 Peace
    2 Precision
    1 The Heir’s Wrath
    1 The Fires of War
    1 Closing the Gap
    2 The Compassion of the Unicorn
    3 Sneak Attack
    3 Strength of the Divine

    # Items (2)
    1 The Blessed Mantle of the Greensnakes
    1 Heart of Fudo –Exp 2.

    # Rings (2)
    1 Ring of Earth
    1 Ring of The Void

    Carlos Sáez has been playing L5R for 10 years. You may know him through his blog He has won three koteis , the first was in Miranda versus Pablo Rojo in 2005, allowing him to go to GenCon. The prize was the trip, where he lost versus Bryan Reese in the top 8. That was his first international tournament. It was a really good experience and now he tries to play in all the tournaments that he can.

    The post Gates of Chaos Environmental Analysis: Unicorn appeared first on Alderac Entertainment Group.

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