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By action_johnny
7 months ago  (6 months ago)
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Before I go into inane waffling on the deck and my tournament experience, I want to start off by giving a few shout outs.
First off, a big thank you to the Discord Unicorn chat - I spent a lot of time before the tournament endlessly pouring over 5-6 cards on my conflict deck, and without the help and feedback of many of my Unicorn friends, the deck might not have ended up being as finely tuned as it was. There are too many of you to mention by name, but you all know who you are.
Secondly, a massive shout out to all my opponents over the weekend. Everyone I played was genuinely lovely, and none of them gave me a hard time. Special shout out to Ryan (Zetsubou on Discord) who selflessly volunteered to pick me up from Denver airport after I missed my flight and almost didn't get to the Kotei due to stupid US immigration bureaucracy.


So in my opinion, Hisu Mori Toride is a very linear and easy deck to build. It kind of builds itself in many regards. As a builder you have a few key points of input that are based on what kind of field you expect. Probably the most relevant of these decisions is the splash.

After testing Phoenix, Lion and Dragon splashes, I decided to go with Dragon. My reasoning behind this was three fold: efficiency, consistency and familiarity. Dragon splash is generally seen as a boring but efficient splash. I'm certainly not going to argue against that. It lacks the blitz power of Lion splash (who many of my fellow Denver Broncos were running) or the explosive counter punch of Phoenix splash (which is probably the best deck in the mirror match). However, what it lacks in flair it makes up for with consistency.

You get 2 very powerful cards from Dragon splash: and . I'm not going to waste any time explaining why Let Go is good, but Tattooed Wanderer is the real star of the splash. Firstly, he takes you up to 9 conflict characters, which translates into more economy and more conflicts. I found myself getting passing fate in dynasty more often than not, simply because I would generally just buy 1 dynasty guy and pass, and play my turns primarily from hand. Tattooed Wander is also probably the best conflict character in the game. Most of the time I played him as an extra body that can crack provinces with just a single extra card invested, but every now and again you need the Covert to close out a game. He's basically just an amazing, efficient, versatile character.

Other than the splash, some of my other choices were on what utility cards to run. As most of the conflict cards are obvious auto includes all at x3, you don't actually have that many flex slots to fill. These were the cards I agonised over during the build up to the event. In the end, I went with a handful of a few powerful and versatile events: , , and . I actually cut Djinn in an earlier version of the deck, but after testing I quickly put a single copy back in as another contingency to break the Phoenix box, as otherwise that can be all but impossible to break.

Dynasty side, the deck is pretty standard. I decided to take for a spin again, because the value these guys generate towards late game and stronghold breaks is really high. They're also another answer to , because they can get swole in political stat. is out, as is her papa . With Phoenix being the strongest and most dominant clan at the time of the Kotei, running a 4 cost Shugenja that can just be bowed by just feels bad. Instead I ran the and , for another high impact target and extra keyword/attachment removal respectively. Both these cards performed well on the day, and ultimately I was happy with them. I was also convinced to run and I'm so glad I did. Honestly that card should be a x3 because it was money all day.

In terms of performance, these are the following cards that truly stood out on the day, either through their power or their ability to win games for me.
Dynasty side:








All of these characters either add unique utility (in the case of Tetsuko and Child) or can threaten a break on their own while offering big value. Tetsuko especially needs a special mention - this girl is the back breaker of the deck. In the games where she showed up, I would try and buy her with fate for the attack on my opponent's stronghold, and in the games where that happened she just closed out the game.
Conflict side:









Some of these cards are really obvious so I won't touch on those, but the new Unicorn pack stuff was very good. Spoils is the key card of the pack, making the whole deck much more consistent and much more blitz-y for no downside. The Curved Blade is sheer military efficiency, and makes things like Defend Your Honor much more reliable. Tetsuko with a Curved Blade and a Defend Your Honor in hand is enough to deal with any nasty surprises almost singlehandedly. Ambusher combos really well with Child of the Plains to stop provinces before they can even do anything. There wasn't really a single card in my conflict deck that performed badly, but these were the real stand outs for me.

The strategy of the deck is pretty simple: smash through provinces as fast as possible and win the game by turn 2. Turn 3 is also fine, but if games go longer you begin to lose tempo and the economy war, so faster is always better. I play as conservatively as possible, using as little as possible to get breaks, and only really spending into key conflicts. As mentioned above, I tried to buy from Dynasty as little as I'm able to get away with, and roll as much fate going into conflicts as possible. I went first in 7 out of my 8 games (lucky me), and if going first I'd normally buy a 1 or 2 fate guy without fate on them and pass. On turns where I was second player, I'd either buy a big with 2 fate, or a small guy with 1 fate to turn off the Water Ring.

Ring selection is also important. Any game where I had both Chagatai and Charge, I'd always take Water Ring off the table, even if I couldn't trigger it. You never want to charge Chags and break, only to have him get bowed by Water on their conflict. Because I rarely fated my guys, Void was normally open to me, which meant a lot of my opponents either went Fire or Earth back. If my showed up then I'd try to nab Fire, but this was rarely possible turn 1. Other than that, ring selection was fairly intuitive. I never ever neglect the Air ring when I play Unicorn: getting an early Air trigger just means more cards and more fuel for your honor loss effects, which can ramp up quickly if you're not careful.

As mentioned above, I also pre-prepped for certain events by loading up mil skill onto my initial attacker. Your opponent can't cancel Charge if they defend vs a 6 skill military body and you have Defend Your Honor in hand. That's just an example but the point stands: if you suspect they have nasty shit they want to do with you, don't skimp on loading up on military before declaring conflicts. It also works well in the mirror if you need to defend and you suspect Charge or Cavalry Reserves.

Really though, the most important thing to be mindful of is making sure you look after your gas: your card expenditure, your honour expenditure and your fate expenditure. If you gas too hard too early, you will just die in the mid game. Frugality and conservatism are the desired tactics early game, saving as much gas as possible for the close.

So the tournament itself was long and grueling. My objective on the day was just to cut, as Unicorn were 25%(!!!) of the whole field. Hatamoto seemed unlikely, with several well known Unicorn players all vying for the honour. I was feeling pretty good about my Unicorn match up, as most of the other Ponies were on Lion splash, which imo has the worst time in the mirror - is not always useful because defending in the mirror isn't always necessary if you can outrace, is a dead card, and is just a lot worse than Let Go, especially as it can't hit (you just play it on an out of conflict guy and it's safe). On the other hand, all my splash cards were super relevant in the mirror as I could easily get rid of Talismans without worry, and the extra conflict bodies allowed me to pressure more conflicts.

Other than the mirror, my concern matches were Phoenix (because of Hat Man ), Crab and Crane. I'd included a fair amount of tech for the Phoenix match up, and luckily Crab and Crane were in low attendance. I managed to dodge Crane entirely, and I didn't play Crab until round 6. Phoenix was genuinely my biggest concern of the tournament, because of the sheer amount of NPE bullshit that deck can put out. You need to kill them and you need to kill them fast, but you also need to hold onto as many cards as possible for the push on the box. You are never going to win the Imperial Favour unless they've fucked up, so you also have to try and bait their early or save your own cancels for it.


First game of the day was a mirror. This one was vs a chap called Nathan (Shinjo Kumo on Discord iirc), who was on Crane splash. This worried me slightly because is not something you want happening to your impact events. Luckily I flipped Chags and had Charge in hand so broke 2 provinces in quick succession. He managed to stall me for a bit by winning an early Fire ring to switch on his Voice and assassinating me in successive turns, but ultimately I was able to close out and win before he could catch up to my early lead.


This game was... not long. He was running a Dragon list, which I think was kind of janky by his own admission. Anyways, I flipped Chags, Mystic and a low drop, then drew into double Charge. Chagatai took 3 provinces turn 1 on his own. He got clouded conflict 1, so I had to Charge the Mystic to save him as I didn't have Let Go in hand. Turn 2 I broke his box first conflict.


I played my second mirror of the day vs Tim Scarrow, who was a friendly and talented Unicorn player. Tim was on Lion splash, which I was pretty happy about. Unfortunately, my dynasty deck decided to completely crap out on me in this game, with my first 10 dynasty cards being 2 Trailblazers, 3 Keepers, 2 Mystics, a Child and 2 . I drew all my Cavalry Reserves early which further compounded my problems. My Trailblazer managed to break 2 provinces early on his own (that card is so bae), but I just kept flopping crap and Tim, well, didn't. Tim essentially won when I gassed out hard trying to break province 3, which he wisely committed a lot to defend. He then broke my box the following turn. I didn't feel like I made any significant mistakes here, so hard to reflect on this one.

After round 3 I meditated on my loss, quickly put it behind me, and went and did some dynamic stretching with my meta mate Kevin Ho in the Sun. Probably the highlight of the day, if I'm honest. I skipped eating and just drank water and ate protein bars to keep hunger at bay throughout the day. That's probably the best tournament advice I can give, really. DON'T EAT LUNCH.


I played Aric from Seattle running a really interesting Lion list. He was on Crane splash and had Voices in his deck, as well as . He broke my early thanks to my Talisman, and I almost missed the For Greater Glory in his hand, getting too fixated on Voice. I ended up discarding For Greater Glory to stop it going off, and broke enough of his provinces to keep tempo. I reached his box a little light on gas, but he only had a Brawler to defend which I promptly sent home with Challenge. After the game, Aric told me he was running 2 copies of , so thank fuck he didn't draw them!


This was my closest swiss game of the day. As predicted, I never got the Favour once. I managed to grind my way through his provinces, getting blown up by a bunch, but because I expected it I just went for rings where it would hurt the least. I got to his box on turn 4, but with a lot of gas in hand. And of course, he flipped Tadaka. At this point, I was down to 6 honour, but had a Child of the Plains I had been saving for the push on . I bought it with a fate, and bid 5. He bid 1. I dropped to 2 honour and he chose Air ring for his first conflict. I had to defend or die to dishonour, so he broke a province and took me to my last honour. I then went against his stronghold with Child. I'd held onto an Ambusher all game for this exact moment and played it immediately to stop him from flipping the conflict. I then clouded Tadaka, which he didn't have Let Go for. I attempted to Charge Chags, but it got Censured. I'd already seen 1 Censure to a Shrine Maiden discard, so I then played my only copy of Cavalry Reserves, and he conceded. CLOSE FUCKING CALL YO.


I was pretty nervous about this matchup - it was the end of a long day and I was running low on mental energy, plus Crab can be a bitch of a match up. Luckily my opponent, Drew, was the nicest human being of all time, and a truly sporting guy. I got the dream flip of Chagatai early (I really wanted to see him t1 vs Crab) but couldn't draw a Charge to save my life. I don't remember the game super well, but there were 2 clutch moments: I discovered his splash when he played on a Keeper initiate who was threatening a break with str 7 mil. I'd Banzai'd as I suspected Assassination, but got that instead. I had my cancel in hand, and it didn't go through. Ouch. The second moment came when I had to invest hard into breaking his 3rd province with Chags (who I hard bought that turn). He played a load of cards to stop me but I was able to break with a few cards left in hand. He also gave me a 3rd fate via Karada district so I had Cavalry Reserves available for the box. After that I was able to coast through for the stronghold break.

At the end of Swiss I was 5th in the standings, and top Unicorn overall, earning me Hatamoto! It was very humbling especially with renown players like Chris Pottorf (SirLargeness) and Dan Mui (Handsome Dan) in attendance.


I ended up landing on the Aneil side of the bracket, which I wasn't super happy about. On top of that I had Evan Gibbs, one of the big daddies of Phoenix, who I was apprehensive about facing.

Both of my top cut games ended up being streamed, so rather than describe it I've included the links below. To cut a long story short, I got the highest of high rolls vs Evan and broke his stronghold turn 2, and then promptly got annihilated by Aneil who flipped Tadaka, and fucking turn 1.

I definitely made a few errors vs Aneil. Buying Nergui with more than 1 fate was dumb, as is a card. I also forgot that I had Cavalry Reserves in hand for an absolutely crucial Void ring conflict to try get rid of Tadaka, playing a Wanderer instead... yeah. Anyways, you can watch them for yourselves.

https://www.twitch.tv/videos/417732343
https://www.twitch.tv/videos/417731352

Hope you all enjoyed the write up, please feel free to ask any questions in the comments.
 Hall of Honor
Kotei - Top 4 - Hatamoto
Date: 04/27/19 thru 04/28/19
Number of Players: 61
Occasion: Denver Kotei 2019
Location: Denver
comment Comments
Great write up! Thanks for putting so much time and energy into it. In the Crane match up, I assume your big concern there is Voice and Guest? Just wondering why you say it is so hard. As Crane, I've had a very hard time against the Unicorn blitz, so I'm interested in the match from your point-of-view.
Hi @FightingWalloon! Vs Crane, it's Toshimoko, Guest and Voice that all suck. Kaezin can also be a big pain in the ass. Between their cancels, event denial and big honoured towers, it can be difficult to get an early lead. Even if you do, Crane can board out really well, so closing can be very tough sometimes. It's probably the hardest match up for Unicorn in general, I'd say.
Hi why you dont play new OP Utaku 3/3 ? thanks for answer
@Atamasa - I don't think she's very good. I don't like buying her, she's too expensive and her ability is easy to play around + expensive to trigger. She's also a bad charge target, which a card I want absolute maximum value of every time. Ideally I have Shono, MKR or Chags to trigger, with the worst case scenario being something like a Miya Mystic/Border Rider. Kamoko is a blank 3/3 when you charge her which is really bad value.
Thanks for answer, last question, what are you think about cavalry reserve ? I think that is now very situation card, because its not that easy get great characters into discard because we dont play force of the rivers anymore... and please can you explain some situation where is important have child of the plains ? Thank you
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Keeper of Air
Organized Play Role
Increase your deck building influence value by 3.
After you win an conflict as the defending player - gain 1 fate.
Seeker of Air
Organized Play Role
You may replace 1 province of any element with an additional province while deck building.
After an province you control is revealed - gain 1 fate.
Keeper of Earth
Organized Play Role
Increase your deck building influence value by 3.
After you win an conflict as the defending player - gain 1 fate.
Seeker of Earth
Organized Play Role
You may replace 1 province of any element with an additional province while deck building.
After an province you control is revealed - gain 1 fate.
Keeper of Fire
Increase your deck building influence value by 3.
After you win a conflict as the defending player - gain 1 fate.
Seeker of Fire
You may replace 1 province of any element with an additional province while deck building.
After an province you control is revealed - gain 1 fate.
Keeper of Void
Increase your deck building influence value by 3.
After you win a conflict as the defending player - gain 1 fate.
Seeker of Void
Organized Play Role
You may replace 1 province of any element with an additional province while deck building.
After an province you control is revealed - gain 1 fate.
Keeper of Water
Organized Play Role
Increase your deck building influence value by 3.
After you win a conflict as the defending player - gain 1 fate.
Seeker of Water
You may replace 1 province of any element with an additional province while deck building.
After an province you control is revealed - gain 1 fate.
Support of the Crab
Increase your deckbuilding influence value by 8.
You may only spend influence on clan cards.
Support of the Crane
Increase your deckbuilding influence value by 8.
You may only spend Influence on clan cards.
Support of the Dragon
Increase your deckbuilding influence value by 8.
You may only spend influence on clan cards.
Support of the Lion
Increase your deckbuilding influence value by 8.
You may only spend influence on clan cards.
Support of the Phoenix
Increase your deckbuilding influence value by 8.
You may only spend influence on cards.
Support of the Scorpion
Increase your deckbuilding influence value by 8.
You may only spend influence on clan cards.
Support of the Unicorn
Increase your deckbuilding influence value by 8.
You may only spend influence on clan cards.
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