This post will give a quick rundown of the Strongholds, and the decks we’re expecting to be running out of them.
To start with, here’s a little image to give you my impression of the four Strongholds-
Decks: Magistrates Dishonour Switch, Defensive Dishonour
LDD Magistrates is the Stronghold/Theme I’m most apprehensive about. It lives or dies by the ability to trigger its trait, so whether it is any good is entirely dependant on what kind of honour loss Battle actions are available.
So far we know that all three of the non-Unique Magistrates we have going into EE (Higaonna, Nori, Komiko) have printed honour losses, but only a single action does (Discovering a Conspiracy). The hope would be that EE includes a variety of honour loss actions to supplement a Magistrate Dishonour Switch deck.
The other option for LDD is Defensive Dishonour. There are more Courtier fate cards that will trigger LDD’s trait, and the deck could function similiarly to the current CE build of LDD. However, the existence of Midday Shadow Court implies that Jutsushi won’t be making a glorious return, and there’s little reason to expect Jou to, so the deck will lose a lot of its defensive capabilities. This is definitely one deck that will need much more knowledge of the environment, and I mainly mention it here so it’s in people’s minds as the set gets previewed.
Midday Shadow Court
Decks: Dishonour Control, Defensive Dishonour, Magistrate Dishonour
Saya on a box.
On top of an amazing action, MSC once again highlights the Scorpion Clan’s unique way of interacting with the Imperial Favour. Since we generally won’t have higher Honour than our opponents until later in the game, it’s not unusual for us to get some way of taking or using the Favour ignoring that. Whilst in the past we’ve had the likes of Kyuden Bayushi that allowed us to spend the Favour without having it, this time around we’re being more aggressive about it- not only can we actually take the Favour, but we actively stop others from Lobbying.
Obviously the strength of MSC is the action. In general it’s going to be a small honour hit, and a way of turning a Personality upside down. The strength of each of these will generally be dependant on how hard it is to do these with other cards. However, even if it’s easy to dishonour Personalities and small losses are a dime a dozen, it would be a mistake to ignore a free, reusable action. And if those things are hard to do, that makes the control element of this SH even better.
There are three main decks that will likely utilise MSC. The first is the Theme the Stronghold is designed for- Political Warfare. The write up in the Design Diary heavily implies that this will be a form of Defensive Dishonour, generally utilising Action Phase honour hits, but going into battle to ‘seal the deal’. In that situation the trait will be valuable for enabling actions like Insulting Gesture, whilst the action will cause a consistent loss and set up anything that requires dishonourable targets.
The second deck I can see developing for MSC is Dishonour Control. Similar to the current Chicken PoCS deck, this will do everything it can to avoid the Attack Phase, relying on cards like Accidental Confession and Shosuro Rin to stop your opponent being able to attack you. I find it unlikely this deckstyle will receive much direct support, as it tends to cause unfun games, but it will generally develop over the length of an arc.
The final deck I forsee being played out of MSC is Magistrate Dishonour. Although it loses access to LDD’s trait, and has no battle action, it will allow the deck to easily dishonour opponents, as well as denying the Favour as a defensive tool. Whether or not this deck comes to fruition is dependant on how difficult it is to dishonour Personalities. If it relatively easy then LDD will be the standard choice, but if it is costly then MSC may be an attractive alternative.
Decks: Parajimbos, Ninja, Magistrate Straight Military
The most obvious direct comparison for Shiro Chugo is the Phoenix’s Shiro Shiba. Shiro Chugo is better. Shiro Shiba has two advantages, a potential for a larger Melee Attack and (more significantly) it goes first against most of the field. Shiro Chugo has a more reliable MA, but more importantly it has an insanely good Reaction.
Firstly, the Battle Action. From what we’ve been told, a Melee Attack is just a Ranged Attack that is up close instead of far away. Mechanically they work the same, except that things that interact with one (i.e. Outer Walls) won’t interact with the other. So we basically have a RA5 on our SH, and at no cost. That is awesome. Even if Followers do start popping up everywhere, a MA5 will kill pretty much all of them, and for free. If there aren’t attachments, then MA5 kills the vast majority of the field. For free.
The Reaction is what’s new and different about Shiro Chugo. It has three equally valuable uses- it slows honour decks (remember that gaining honour from making a Personality, aka Proclaiming, is an action in EE), it slows dishonour decks (vital due to our below average PH) and it can also be used proactively (to reduce the honour loss on actions like Bow Before My Will and Ascending the Ranks).
The most obvious deck that will see play out of SC (the SC SH in EE, not SC) is of course Parajimbos. Utilising the Paragon (best keyword in EE so far), Yojimbo and Loyal keywords, and supported by Courtiers, this is our version of the perennial Phoenix Yojimbo deck. Shiro Chugo is specifically designed for this theme, and it certainly looks like a perfect fit.
Next up is Ninja. Although the Estates is a good SH, access to Shiro Chugo gives the Ninja somewhere to run if Honour or Dishonour become dominant. The deck already has access to one Ninja • Courtier in its reprint of Muraisan, and it will likely be able to splash others design for the Parajimbos theme. This is another deck that won’t likely need to exist at the start of the arc, but is an option as things progress.
Finally there’s Magistrates. If they play out of Shiro Chugo they’ll likely do it as straight Military, with no focus on honour losses at all. We know the deck has at least one Magistrate • Courtier with Komiko, and again it would probably play the ones designed with this deck in mind. If EE has even close to the amount of kill available to Magistrates as CE does, then this deck has a lot of potential.
The Otoro Estate
Decks: Ninja Military, Ninja Control
The Open shows that Scorpion Ninja will keep their sub-theme of Dynasty discard. As a mechanic discard of any kind is hard to design- too much and it’s horrible to play against, too little and it’s not worth the investment. I feel that the Design Team got it right in CE: Ninja could help dictate the pace of a game, but seldom completely remove their opponent’s ability to produce Personalities. So far we’ve seen a couple of cards that will go along with that theme in EE- the very ridiculous Asset Denial and the useful Silent Terror.
The Battle action is very good. A kill action on a Stronghold is always a good thing (for the person playing that SH), and this one has a handy bonus- you can run away. I’ve been a fan of Shuriken and Smoke since it first got previewed, and losing one strength is a fair trade for having it every turn. If nothing else, this SH makes Toson not only playable, but good!
The main deck we’ll be playing out of here is, of course, Ninja Military. Likely utilising a combination of movement tricks and dynasty discard, the deck will probably play very similarly to CE decks, though without the Poison tokens and probably without Flawless Assassin (awww!). The deck has been quite effective in CE, with only the strength of Dishonour holding it back and stopping it from crushing all the other puny Military decks around.
Like the other SH, there is a potential deck for The Estate in the form of a more Control based build. This seems to be the focus of the Spider Goju Ninja, so we may be able to steal tools for the deck from them. With the ability to discard problem Personalities before they get onto the table, this deck has great potential for Control.
Hopefully this quick article will give you some ideas for directions Scorpion are likely to be going in EE. If you have any ideas yourself, feel free to post them in our EE Themes discussion thread.