Dave of the Five Rings: Chapter Forty-Two (And a Half)

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 42.5: Let The Games Begin!

Hello, dear reader. Did you miss me?

While yes, it is unusually to hear from me again so soon, I did want to make a quick article before I headed off to Minnesota for the 2019 Winter Court World Championship. As such, this will only be covering the last half of October, and should go up as I am playing in the Last Chance Qualifier.


The Path to Hatamoto

So first let us talk about the end of the 2019 Winter Court World Championship and how the Kunshu Kotei Season came to a close. Having started last December at PAX Unplugged, the Kunshu Kotei season saw a total of seven Grand Kotei and ten regular Kotei. At each of these events, Legend of the Five Rings players had the opportunity to compete for the title of Hatamoto, allowing them to earn Favor and Glory for their Great Clan.

As with the Toshi Ranbo Kotei Season (which ran from December 2017 to September 2018), these Favor and Glory points would be totaled at the end of the season, with the Great Clan possessing the most Favor points “hosting” the Winter Court World Championship and the Great Clan with the most Glory points being granted a specific in-faction card to be printed at a later point.

Fantasy Flight Games’ Organized Play presented the initial point value of actions at the onset of the season, which this was later updated in February of 2019. The detailed breakdown of the point values were outlined in a press release at the time, though they are best summarized as:

  • The top spot of each Great Clan earns the Hatamoto title. Additionally, the Top 2 at a Kotei and the Top 16 / 8 of a Grand Kotei also earn the Hatamoto title.
  • As long as the Hatamoto keeps playing the same Clan, they earn 1 Favor Point for their Great Clan for a winning record in Swiss. They will lose 1 Favor Point for a losing record in Swiss.
  • Every player with a winning record at a Kotei earns their Great Clan 1 Glory Point.
  • At a Grand Kotei, the Top 16 earn an additional Favor and Glory Point, the Top 8 earn 2 Favor and Glory, the Top 2 earn 4 Favor and Glory, and the Champion earns 5 of each.

With this information in hand, the Imperial Advisor has taken on the challenge of tracking both Favor and Glory Points for the Kunshu Kotei Season, as they did during the Toshi Ranbo Season. The complete list of the Kunshu Kotei Season Hatamoto can be found here. This has proven especially useful to LCG players because, as opposed to last season, FFG made no promise to keep track of this information nor to keep the Hall of Honor up to date – indicated by the fact that it was last updated at the start of the Toshi Ranbo Kotei Season.

This season, the Crab Clan took home the Champion title for 5 of the 17 events, with the Scorpion and the Phoenix each taking home four Champion titles each. The remaining five were split among the other four Great Clans, with Dragon Clan claiming two while Lion, Unicorn, and Crane each took home one.


A Scorpion Stung

The point spread for Favor and Glory, however, shook out remarkably differently. As tracked in this useful Google doc, the Scorpion Clan earned both the most Favor Points and the most Glory Points of the Kotei Season for the second year in a row. By all rights, the 2019 Winter Court World Championship’s prizes would again be themed around the Scorpion Clan, and they would be granted Kunshu as a Scorpion Clan card. This was not, however, how it turned out.

In my previous article, I provided a link to the official Winter Court announcement from FFG, which congratulated the Crane Clan on claiming the Imperial Favor for the season. As such, the prizes at the 2019 World Championship will be entirely Crane Clan themed, despite the Scorpion Clan winning more Favor Points in the originally outlined methods.

The decision was made by Fantasy Flight Games, and presumably Tyler Parrott and Matt Holland, to reward the efforts of the Crane Clan players who went above and beyond at many events to support the Costume Contest and other ways to show support for their Great Clan. As the Crane Clan were only two points behind the Scorpion Clan, and the Scorpion Clan had hosted the Winter Court in 2018, these additional points were enough to close the gap and award the victory to the Crane Clan.

It would seem FFG has its own Imperial pull

It is particularly important to note that these Favor Points were not publicly announced at any event, nor were they able to be tracked in any capacity. With all due respect to the efforts of the many Crane Clan players who truly did amazing acts of community action, the Favor Points awarded to them were not according to the rules of the mega-game as presented.

Furthermore, this explanation was not given in the official FFG announcement, nor on their official Twitter, but was once again provided by Matt Holland via comment on a Facebook post in the unofficial Facebook page for the LCG. The Scorpion Clan won the Imperial Favor by the rules as given, but the Crane Clan were awarded the victory by fiat. And nowhere is this explained in an official capacity.


A Return to Court

Today marks the start of the 2019 Winter Court, and I am very excited about attending this year’s event, though I was unable to earn an invite to the Main Event leading up to it. I am traveling there with the crew from the Meek Informant podcast, joining Nick Mason and Adam Helbling on the attempt to achieve L5R history.

Like many others, I will be attempting to earn my spot in the Main Event during Wednesday’s Last Chance Qualifier, and you will be able to follow my progression on my Twitter. Provided I qualify, I will join the hundreds of others in the Main Event on Thursday or Friday, with a shot at the Finals on Saturday. Sunday will see the Winter Court Farewell tournament, with the first opportunity to earn an invitation to the 2020 World Championships.

It will not be an easy challenge. It is unknown at this time just how big the LCQ will be, and how hard a spot in the Main Event will be to earn. If I fail to make it though, there are still many things for me to do at Winter Court.

One of the highlights this Winter Court is the introduction of an entirely new L5R format: the L5R LCG Draft. Created by Tyler Parrott, it will be debut on Wednesday, and the first draft pod will be livestreamed by the Meek Informant on their Twitch channel. The unique cards and the selected draft pack lists should be available online after the event for those who wish to host their own Draft events at home. As I am hoping to pick up more than a couple at the Winter Court, expect to hear more about my experiences with this format in the future. As an old school CCG player, the opportunity to play L5R in a Draft format is something I will very likely enjoy.

There will be many ways to test one’s skill at Court…

Beyond Draft, there will be many Side Events to experience as well. There is a Clan Arena where a player’s Win / Loss ratio will be tracked and the Great Clan with the best record will have a promo distributed to all players at the Winter Court on Sunday. There will also be a Clan Arena where players may choose any Elemental Role, not just the two they are locked into for Organized Play. There will be several sessions of the Legend of the Five Rings RPG, and I will be making a priority to participate in if possible. Finally, there will be the usual Enlightenment, Skirmish, and 2v2 Team Conquest pods, hopefully earning the prize tickets for the hotly desired Prize Wall.

All in all, the 2019 L5R LCG Winter Court World Championship will be running from today, November 6th through Sunday the 10th, and you can follow at home on the official Fantasy Flight Games Twitch stream. The stream itself will be hosted by Aneil Seetharam, one of the top L5R players in the world, who gave up his spot in the competition to provide commentary. I highly recommend checking it out!


The Coming of the Clan Wars

Support will open up a host of new opportuniites

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the world of Rokugan previews of the Crab Clan Pack, Defenders of the Wall, continue to roll out steadily. As opposed to the general response to Seekers of Wisdom, Defenders of the Wall has garnered a tentatively positive response. With the major setbacks hitting the Crab Clan over the course of the 2019 Kotei Season, their dominant deck type has been severely hampered.

With the release of Defenders, the Crab Clan will be picking up a new emphasis on their Holdings as well as powerful cards which reward them for successfully defending against Conflicts. How this will change their dominant deck styles will be seen in the first few tournaments of the next Kotei season, and it is my hope that this will be the shot in the arm to the Great Clan suffering the most from deck fatigue, as the Crab Clan’s strategy has changed very little in the last two years.

Additionally, at the very end October FFG finally began to discuss the Clan Wars Premium Expansion set, with concrete details coming on October 31st. Slated for release in the first quarter of 2020, the Clan War boxed set introduces 234 new cards, along with formal rules for not one but two multiplayer formats. As outlined in its post, Clan War gives provides both rules and cards to support the Enlightenment multiplayer format which has been in beta for over a year, as well as a formal team vs team style called Team Conquest.

Included in the boxed set will be formal Treaties, a mechanic introduced in the Enlightenment beta but expanded with cards, which grant additional boons as punishment for breaking a Treaty. While several cards in the Premium Expansion will feature rules which apply only to multiplayer, they will remain compatible with the base game. The best example of this feature is the Support keyword, which allows another player to pay for part or all of a card’s Fate cost. While this Keyword is, effectively, non-existent in a one on one game, it can be very potent in any multiplayer format.

Of particular note, I would like to call out the return of a longtime fan-favorite part of Legend of the Five Rings. Clan War will feature Enlightenment, an Action which introduces the game’s first non-standard victory condition. Already, the Forces of Jank are swirling about this card, seeking to find ways to achieve its highly specific means of achievement. Regardless of its viability as a victory condition, I do expect to see it in Shiro Kitsuki decks, as it gives a player something to do with the Rings they claim through the Stronghold – a purpose to which they were generally lacking.


The Plot Thickens

Finally, we were privy to a new fiction from Robert “Spooky” Denton III, setting up the story decision going to the winter of the 2019 World Championship in Cornered Lion. This piece finds Toturi on the mend in the days after his near-assassination and the death of Hantei the 38th. The decision falling to the winner of the World Championship will decide Toturi’s next steps, something which is bound to have an impact long after the immediate. As with the decision to spare Doji Kuwanon, Toturi’s fateful choice will likely shape the Empire for years to come.

Spooky also provided us with the latest of L5R’s traditional Halloween fictions in Trust Me, a story of a quiet tragedy from the perspective of Isawa Tadaka. Although not as compelling as the last two Halloween fictions, it still provides a good update on Tadaka’s personal journey. Here’s hoping that next year will finally let him write a story about an ikiryō, a subject Spooky has publicly pined to write about for many years.


And that is it for this update, dear reader. Originally intended to be a shorter piece, a lot happened in the mere days since we last checked in. And so here we are.

If you are also intended to attend the Winter Court, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter! I would love to spend some time talking with any of you and sharing in our love of this game, as challenging as it can be at times.

Until then.

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.