Jade Edict Beta

TLDR: if you just want to see the final list go here

It was a cold winter day when the Jade Court started, January 5th. As far as we knew, L5R was alive and had a bright future ahead. Our aim was to create a parallel list, nothing much. Alas, the Empire has changed, and this effort acquired a larger importance than we expected. We kept the process, we kept the goals, and we kept the momentum. But enough history, let us move to the list. We can dig deeper into the process in a later article.

Harmony in Chaos: the method

You might be familiar with how players discussing Restricted Lists quickly descend into chaos. Shinjo Longface should be banned! But if he’s banned so should be Sword of Fire and Thunder, cause they do kinda the same. Of course not, the costs are different, and without the Sword the Wasp Clan stands no chance against Hall of the Mountain King! And so it goes… pure chaos. To set a common ground we defined Goals and Principles. We quote them:

We aim to make L5R a game that is competitive for rewarding game mastery and fun by fostering player expression in deckbuilding and play styles.

We will do this by maintaining a set of rule restrictions that builds on top of the published game. These rules will keep the game balanced between clans and play styles, and will block dominant strategies.

To have a base structure for our decisions we have a few principles.

The Principles

  1. All Players Play the Game: fun and competition happens when all players are engaged and making decisions in the game. Players should be allowed to choose their actions, attacks, and defenses. Choosing the lesser of two evils is preferable to not choosing at all.

  2. All Victory Conditions Are Created Equal: L5R comes out of the box with 3 Victory Conditions, they should all be respected equally. There is no single “default” condition; honor, dishonor, and conquest are the default conditions.

  3. The Game is Played Through Conflicts: conflicts are the core mechanism of interaction. Players must care about conflicts to achieve their goals.

  4. Rewards Are Balanced by Cost and Risk: it is expected to have rewards more valuable than the cost/risk paid for them, but this profit must not be exaggerated. “Luck of the draw” is not considered a risk.

  5. Balance is required: Following the other principles to a tee would lead to greater imbalance between the clans due to the card pool available. Clan balance is an important parameter when dealing with cards, as all seven clans should be able to be competitive and enjoy playing the game.

  6. Private Cards Are Targeted First: in deck-building some cards are Public by being neutral or having lower influence cost, other cards are Private by being locked to a clan, locked to a keyword, high influence cost, or other such restrictions. Private cards are a larger source of clan inequality, so they must be targeted before public cards.

  7. Cards Want to Be Played: if choosing between removing one card or a set of two cards, remove one card. The fewer cards in binders the better.

The principles are guidelines, not absolute rules. They follow a common pattern: principles 1-3 are the core principles, breaking them tends to point towards bans; principles 4-5 get into more subjective grounds, breaking them tends to point towards restrictions; principles 6-7 discipline the approaches to any measures taken.

Imperial Gift: what we take from the Imperial Law

The Imperial Law are the balance patches published by Fantasy Flight Games. It was developed through the years, and we accept many of its learnings. The Jade Edict embraces the banlist decisions from the Imperial Law. A lot has changed in the game, but the banned cards still have good reasons to be banned, and the majority of them attack directly the Principles we have established. Cards like Isawa Tadaka and Guest of Honor attack the Principle #1, other cards like Policy Debate and Charge! Are huge offenders of Principle #4. There’s one single banned card that receives the Jade pardon and returns to play.

Bayushi Liar: out of the banlist

It is clear that Bayushi Liar is a strong card, but it is nowhere near the company it had in the banlist. The game currently boasts plenty of powerful 1-cost characters, and even some good 0-cost characters; once Forged Edict is banned, not even his 0 Glory draws that much attention. Bayushi Liar is free, and rejoins the army of shadows; ready to accidentally break Upholding Authority, as he’s prone to do every now and then.

Purge the Unclean: the fate of Rally

Rally was an interesting concept, but it had multiple detrimental effects to the game.

  1. It stymied deck diversity by effectively reducing deck sizes through making a subset of cards automatic inclusions.

  2. It also greatly increased deck consistency, which is not a problem in itself, but was a problem due to how much it was increased and to how free this increase was. Such high consistency has a multiplicative effect on clan imbalance; as each powerful dynasty card becomes even more powerful, the power difference between clans with strong dynasty cards and those without those is blown beyond proportion.

  3. Already with all that in account, a rally card is the only type of card that generates value, without even being played, making its reward-cost relation unacceptable.

Action had to be taken in regards to Rally cards, and as discussed before, this project started at a time when L5R was a living LCG. We started work with a clear line of no erratas and no rule changes. Our initial decision was to ban all Rally cards. Then L5R was discontinued. To not waste the work already done, to not rush jigoku development beyond what’s reasonable, to not risk disturbing the balance we had found so far in our work: we decided to keep all Rally cards banned on the initial release of the Jade Edict. We have the intention of bringing the Rally cards back to the game later, after we figure out how to approach that.

Last, in line with the ban on Rally, we are banning City of the Rich Frog. We take that decision to keep the systemic integrity of our approach, but we recognize that this card is different from Rally. City of the Rich Frog might come back later.

Purify the Soul: what cards are free again?

As mentioned above, Bayushi Liar is not a banned card in the Jade Edict. But there are other cards who were considered fit to be released from the Imperial Law.

Ebb and Flow: what follows from Rally removal

The removal of Rally affects the overall balance of the game in a few ways that need to be addressed. The main change is that with Season of War out of the game, holdings in general receive a slight buff, as it becomes harder to remove them from play. The lack of Rally also pushes a few cards that were already powerful beyond the acceptable threshold.

Dispensing Justice: cards that exclude players

The Principle #1 is the highest principle in the game. Taking away player agency is a grave issue.

The Price of War: too much for too little

A few cards are big offenders of the Principle #4, providing too much profit for their costs.

Shielded by Fire: the rebirth of the Phoenix

Remember 2017? Those were the days… we would walk outside, meet our friends, go to the local game store and buy a Dynasty Pack. Its name was Fate Has No Secrets. And in it was the destiny of the Phoenix: Consumed by Five Fires.

For most of this game’s life, the Phoenix has operated on top of Consumed by Five Fires, this one massive spell that solved hard problems. It’s been a core tool of the Phoenix repertoire. The Jade Edict changes that.

This Edict slows down the game again, and while it is not as slow as it used to be, it’s slow enough to prop Phoenix up as the unstoppable powerhouse it used to be. Phoenix needed at least some balancing down, and what better way to do it than with a card that has lead to polarizing matchups and deckbuilding staleness. For much of the games lifespan, CbFF was considered to be a necessary evil, acting as a boogeyman that keeps tower decks in check. The added attachment hate in the course of the games history as well as the introduction of Yogo Junzo leads us to believe that such strategies will not be as prevalent in the future.

In this context, and with Principle #7 in mind, Consumed by Five Fires is banned.

Contest of Power: balancing the game

Consumed by Five Fires was the only card banned solely for balance reasons. We move on now to the cards that got Restricted for the Principle#5, balance.

Patroling the Roads: cards on the watchlist

The following cards are being monitored and might be targeted in the future:

A Time for Action: take the list into play

To facilitate, here goes the collected list of banned and restricted cards. If you skipped to the end, we still recommend reading the article above later.

Banned cards
Rally purge
  • Recalled Defenses
  • Akodo Reserve Company
  • A Season of War
  • Butcher of the Fallen
  • Cunning Negotiator
  • Daidoji Marketplace
  • Twilight Rider
  • Student of the Tao
  • Scholar of the Old Rempet
  • Veteran of Toshi Ranbo
  • Stoic Rival
  • Hidden Mountain Pass
  • Ikoma Tsanuri 2
  • Celebrated Renown
  • Shadow Stalker
  • Open Window
  • Ride at Dawn
  • Mercenary Company
  • Pious Guardian
  • Master of Many Lifetimes
  • Honored Veterans
  • Beautiful Entertainer
  • Contested Countryside
  • Shiba Pureheart
  • Sudden Tempest
Imperial Law Bans
  • Guest of Honor (Core Set, 51)
  • Spyglass (Core Set, 193)
  • Charge! (Core Set, 210)
  • Isawa Tadaka 1
  • Karada District (Imperial Cycle, 4)
  • Policy Debate (Imperial Cycle, 40)
  • Master of Gisei Toshi
  • Kanjo District (Imperial Cycle, 108)
  • Jurōjin’s Curse (Elemental Cycle, 55)
  • Hidden Moon Dōjō
  • Magistrate Station
  • Mirumoto Daishō
  • Gateway to Meido
  • Lost Papers
  • Forged Edict
Neutral
  • City of the Rich Frog
  • The Imperial Palace
  • Proving Grounds
  • Shameful Display
Crab
  • Rebuild
  • Common Cause
Crane
  • Kakita Toshimoko
  • Daidoji Netsu
  • Daidoji Uji 2
  • The Wealth of the Crane
Dragon
  • Ki Alignment
  • Shoshi ni Kie
Lion
  • Logistics
  • Tactical Ingenuity
Phoenix
  • Embrace the Void
  • Display of Power
  • Consumed by Five Fires
Scorpion
  • Duty
  • Cunning Magistrate
  • Dispatch to Nowhere
  • Shadowed Village
  • Governor's Spy
Unicorn
  • Talisman of the Sun
Restricted Cards
Neutral
  • Keeper Initiate
Crab
  • Kaiu Envoy
  • Kuni Laboratory
  • Way of the Crab
  • Reprieve
Dragon
  • Sacred Sanctuary
  • Seal of the Dragon
  • Mirumoto’s Fury
Lion
  • Spectral Visitation
  • Exposed Courtyard
  • Chronicler of Conquests
Phoenix
  • Sanpuku Seido
Scorpion
  • Bayushi Shoju 2
  • Alibi Artist
  • Shadow Step
  • Mark of Shame
  • A Fate Worse than Death
Unicorn
  • Khanbulak Benefactor
  • Utaku Tetsuko
  • Shinjo Yasamura
  • Scouted Terrain
Liberated
Crab
  • Pathfinder’s Blade
  • Iron Mine
Crane
  • Doji Diplomat
Scorpion
  • Bayushi Liar
  • Bayushi Kachiko 2
Watchlist
  • Slovenly Scavenger
  • Elegant Tessen
  • Hantei XXXVIII
  • Upholding Authority
  • Pathfinder’s Blade
  • Scouted Terrain

Servitors of Stone: roll the credits

This Jade Edict was elaborated in appreciation for the game and respect for the community, by the Magistrate Team:

DirtyDeeds#9918, jmart#6576, Notfragile#7860, Siri#3954, Usagi#0328

With the invaluable playtest and council of the Councillors, who offered 91% of approval in support of releasing this Edict to Open Beta:

We also counted on the playtest of the Ronin: