Originating as a series chronicling David Gordon’s return to the Legend of the Five Rings CCG after a several year absence, Dave of the Five Rings continues on as he examines the current and future of the iconic world of Rokugan upon the game’s sale to FFG in 2015.
Chapter 52: The Drought of 2020
Hello again, dear reader!
I debated whether or not to take this month off on reporting on Legend of the Five Rings. And I wouldn’t have been alone, really. Because it certainly felt like Fantasy Flight Games took July off for news. It would have been easy to simply put July together with August, and for quite some time, I very much considered that.
And then…then FFG previewed Contested Countryside in As Honor Demands, the fifth Dynasty pack in the Dominion Cycle.
Far and away the biggest news of July came at the very end of the month with the InFlight Report from Fantasy Flight Games at Gen Con Online. Unlike the previous InFlight Report, there actually was Legend of the Five Rings news in this year’s presentation. So that’s something at least.
With last year’s debacle involving the Lion Clan Pack and the lack of prize support, however, it came as no surprise to the general L5R community when the InFlight Report Livestream crashed five times before it could reach any discussion of said L5R related products. The team at the FFG Game Center ultimately chose to record the InFlight Report and posted later on their social media, which confused viewers only as to why this was not the plan to begin with. FFG Live stated that they would not be answering any questions, so a pre-recorded broadcast simply seems like it would have been easier.
Still, when it was unveiled the news out of the InFlight Report was definitely positive. Legend of the Five Rings would still be supported (at least) through 2021, with the next Cycle announced and slightly previewed. The Temptation Cycle, whose name was already discovered due to sharp-eyed members of the community noticing the grouping of the fiction from this cycle, focuses on themes of the Great Clans and centers on their weaknesses as much as their strengths. Starting in November of 2020, the Temptations Cycle will feature 6 Dynasty packs and would have been the start of the first Rotation Event. However, that was delayed until Dynasty Cycle 7. The six packs are: Twisted Loyalties, Honor in Flames, A Crimson Offering, The Temptation of the Scorpion, Coils of Power, and Peace At Any Cost.
If you’re interested in watching the L5R LCG material from the stream yourself, you can do so here. Chris Gerber, the new head of FFG Studios, goes on to talk about the new Dire keyword, which is tied to the status of being without Fate. Normally, a Character without Fate would be discarded from play at the start of the Fate phase, making the Character’s ability to benefit from the Dire keyword limited.
However, this will not likely hold true for many reasons. The Crab Clan have Iron Mine and Reprieve to keep their Dire characters in play longer. The Lion Clan is also spoiled for options in how to make the Dire keyword work exceptionally well for them, with Kitsu Spiritcaller, Ikoma Ujiaki, and Echoes of the Ancestors skipping past the investment cost in purchasing a Character without Fate, while Stand Your Ground, Called to War, Toturi Kaede, and For Greater Glory! making it exceptionally easy for them to keep the Dire Character around for another turn, preferably with their Dire still active.
Taking it to the Edge
At the same time, for the L5R RPG Fantasy Flight Games announced their final two products under its banner before it changes studios and begins its development under Edge Studios. Fields of Victory focuses on the Lion Clan, the history of war, expanded rules for Mass Battle, and will also provide us details on the Badger Clan – another one of my favorite Minor Clans (next to the Falcon).
“Blood of the Lioness” is its companion adventure and centers on a dispute over a diamond mine between multiple Clans. An old battle centuries ago determined the proper future of this holding, and the players must dive into the history to keep peace in the present. I am expecting “Blood of the Lioness” to feature the new Mass Battle mechanics heavily, probably even transporting the PCs into the roles of ancestral generals to determine the “righteous history” of the diamond mine. Both of these products are planned for release in March 2021.
These two piece amounted to the only major coverage regarding L5R on the InFlight Report. Gen Con Online did feature a second video for L5R, however, as Sam Stewart was interviewed as the new head of Edge Studios, the studio now in charge of the L5R RPG. Sam went into more detail as to the future of the RPG, providing more tidbits on Field of Victory, as well as information on Writ of the Wilds, slated for released after Fields of Victory. Writ of the Wilds will provide information on the Dragon Clan, the wilderness of Rokugan, the Brotherhood of Shinsei, and the Dragonfly Minor Clan. Sam also answered many questions from the audience, and if you are a fan of the RPG it is well worth checking out.
I would like to especially praise Sam Stewart for his assertion on working with sensitivity readers on not just L5R, but other RPG products for Edge Studios well. It truly is a necessary part of modern RPG design and sends a positive message the game is in good hands.
More Lion Pride
July also saw the release of the fourth Dynasty Pack for the Dominion Cycle, Campaigns of Conquest. Per usual, Imperial Advisor discusses each card in detail in their review here, and for a comprehensive breakdown on the cards included it’s a worthwhile read.
As with the rest of the Dominion Cycle the Lion Clan continue to be the clear winners in this Dynasty Pack, picking up a new Stronghold in Hayaken no Shiro, a second version of Ikoma Tsanuri which cripples your opponent’s defense, and a game-ending Event in Under Siege.
Meanwhile, the Scorpion Clan pick up Forgery, finally gaining access to another Event-Cancel they can run reliably. Similarly, the Dragon Clan gains two of their Rally cards for the cycle in Stoic Rival and Hidden Mountain Pass, as well as a solid Attachment in Asceticism. All in all, everyone except perhaps the Crane Clan came out ahead in Campaigns of Conquest, though the Lion Clan certainly got the, well, lion’s share.
A Flurry of Letters
Story-wise, Robert “Spooky” Denton III provided us with the only fictions for July 2020, with “Beneath the Light of Jade” picking up the story of Kuni Yori and Isawa Tadaka in “Trust Me”, connecting to the story of Asako Tsuki in “Beyond Reach”. The outcome of the events in that story led into a vote by the current Hatamoto to determine Kuni Yori’s path forward: Courage or Humility. With that decision made, FFG ended the month by releasing “Duty’s Cost” on July 31, announcing that Kuni Yori had chosen the path of Courage.
And that is it for the month of July 2020 in Legend of the Five Rings, dear reader. Please join me next month for a discussion of the events of August, starting with more details on the upcoming Temptations cycle, our first look at a Dire keyword card, and of course, a discussion of Contested Countryside, the Rally keyword, and what these mechanics show us about the creative vision on how L5R LCG “should” be played.
Until then, dear reader, stay safe and stay healthy.
Carry the Fortunes.
David Gordon is a regular contributor to the site. A storyteller by trade and avowed tabletop veteran, he also has a long and complicated past with L5R. These are his stories. He can be reached on Twitter.
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Photo Credits: Legend of the 5 Rings images by Fantasy Flight Games.