Originating as a collection chronicling David Gordon’s return to the Legend of the Five Rings CCG after a a number of yr absence, Dave of the 5 Rings continues on as he examines the present and future of the long-lasting world of Rokugan upon the game’s sale to FFG in 2015.
Chapter 40: Gen Con 2019, Or, A Combined Two Years
With Indianapolis and Gen Con 2019 firmly in our rearview mirror, pricey reader, allow us to spend a second to chill out and mirror on the last two years of this recreation. Typically it is arduous to assume that it has only been two years because the triumphant return of Legend of the Five Rings through the Kiku Matsuri, an event which has but to be rivaled in sheer measurement and pomp. Standing underneath the banner of Corridor E in the Indiana Convention Middle, I discovered myself considering back to the sport released in 2017 and all of the trials and tribulations we’ve got endured since then. With two years behind us, it is a good moment to think about the general well being of the game, and simply where it may be going from here.
The July News Trickle
Earlier than we get to that subject, nevertheless, we now have July’s information and occasions to debate, as well as my very own time at Gen Con to speak about.
July has been an exceptionally mild month in official news from Fantasy Flight Video games relating to Legend of the 5 Rings, seeing only the release of a single Dynasty Pack, a single piece of fiction, and a single preview article for the upcoming Crab Clan pack. There have been no Organized Play bulletins, although a Canadian Grand Championship has been added quietly to the calendar for later this month.
With respect to the L5R LCG, the second Dynasty pack in the Inheritance cycle has been launched. Bonds of Blood hit shelves early sufficient in July to be legal (barely) for Gen Con and featured in it all the Elemental Position locked cards for the cycle. Anticipated as the only most impactful pack of the Inheritance cycle, it shortly lived up to that cost: it was all of a day before the discharge shifted the competitive play meta dramatically.
Whereas Akodo Kaede gave a useful gizmo for Lion Clan gamers and Duel to the Demise added some tooth to the Crane Clan, it was the Phoenix Clan which went overnight to dominating the metagame. Although the brand new Isawa Tadaka and Earth Turns into Sky each are seen as highly effective playing cards, it was the Lion Spell Event, Forbearer’s Echoes, which created a completely new deck sort. I’ll go into this more once I talk about the well being of the sport and brand general, however suffice it to say that the Kyuden Isawa deck operating Forbearer’s Echoes, Charge, and Fusicho (commonly referred to as Dredge Chook) is true now the deck to beat…and could also be for quite some time.
Further previews arrived simply before Gen Con began when FFG launched an article for the upcoming Crab Clan Pack, Defenders of Rokugan. Increasing the clan’s theme, Defenders of Rokugan will provide the sport with 32 new cards targeted around Holdings, defending conflicts, and sacrifice. Kyuden Hida will permit Crab Clan players to fill their Provinces with Holdings without sacrificing the power to deliver out Characters, though I think will probably be used more to simply accelerate the Crab Clan’s potential to play particular Characters.
A current podcast lately broke down the maths, and calculated out that this Stronghold sets the chances of seeing a single Character (at 3x per deck) on the primary round to 2 out of three games. Should the Crab Clan undertake a wide-board strategy, Kyuden Hida provides them effectively a fifth Province to purchase Characters from. Give them an Air Position, they usually too will doubtless be on Forbearer’s Echoes. And while the excitement around Kaiu Shihobu has been excessive, her capacity to accelerate the Dynasty deck is perhaps too sluggish to make a lot of a distinction in the current recreation.
Additionally, as a private apart, I am joyful to see Hida O-Ushi finally see print, and she or he doesn’t disappoint. Her synergy together with her brother, Hida Yakamo, will probably be devastating to see in action.
The Story Continues
“Falling Stars” by Mari Murdock was the lone new L5R fiction bestowed to us (the primary since April), which launched on July 24th. Choosing up the story from “The Final Stone Performed”, “Falling Stars” surrounds the events of Bayushi Aramoro’s orders and Akodo Kaede’s fateful selection.
Mari Murdock continues to excel in her depiction of Aramoro, giving us insight into a personality it might be straightforward to hate but accommodates a full depth that belies a simple villain. The action sequences are wonderful, and the stability between Kaede’s narrative and Aramoro’s narrative carries the suspense of the events. The shift to Seppun Ishikawa’s perspective at the end to set up the subsequent piece of improvement is probably the most engaging of all, dulled solely by the continued anticipate the subsequent fiction. As “Falling Stars” coincided with the discharge of Bonds of Blood, it is presumable that we’ll see only a single fiction every month until November. But at this fee, we’ll take it.
And that’s, quite actually, all of the information during the last month from Fantasy Flight Video games relating to Legend of the 5 Rings.
Organized Play (And A Recipe For Confusion)
For Organized Play, we noticed the last of the remaining Elemental Championships play out along with a Kotei in Nürnberg, Germany. Congratulations to Nicholas Simonpietri for profitable that Kotei for the Crane Clan. August can be one of the busiest months thus far for L5R Organized Play, nevertheless, with two Grand Kotei (Gen Con and the FFG European Championship), the Australian Kotei, and each the USA and Canadian Grand Championships. With the state of the current meta recreation, I’m anticipating August to be the month of Phoenix domination, with their Dredge Hen deck easily taking house both the Most Played and Highest Win Rates in the present surroundings. If FFG is going to behave to protect their Organized Play, it should be quick.
One thing FFG has achieved to that impact was to concern new Flooring Guidelines which applies to all of their Organized Play efforts. Whereas this does little to instantly influence the Legend of the Five Rings LCG, it has finally instituted a robust coverage of timeliness in play, as being 5 minutes late to a match will end in an automated loss. I witnessed greater than a type of at Gen Con, the primary event to use them.
It does create a particularly troublesome state of affairs in L5R’s Going to Time guidelines, nevertheless. Within the L5R Event rules, if time in a round has been introduced, every participant has a chance to concede. The Flooring Guidelines, nevertheless, make it specific that asking for an opponent to concede for any purpose counts as Collusion, which ought to end in fast disqualification. I didn’t witness this occurring at Gen Con, however understanding the culture of this recreation, it’s only a matter of time before a state of affairs develops at a serious occasion until FFG takes motion to clarify their language.
Gen Con Dishonor
With that, let us speak of Gen Con, pricey reader.
I obtained to satisfy several of you there, and completely loved my time in Indianapolis. As has been Cardboard Republic tradition, we hopped on the street on Tuesday night time, arriving Wednesday afternoon. A fast bathe and meal later, and I was in place to livetweet the annual Fantasy Flight Games InFlight Report. Last yr noticed the announcement of the progressive new recreation KeyForge, and there was quite a lot of anticipation for this yr’s surprises. For many, there was hypothesis a few new recreation in the Android setting, and others hoped desperately to see an announcement about an L5R Miniatures games. Those that adopted my Twitter coverage or watched the Twitch stream from FFG know that the information was indeed large however not precisely heartening.
The most important announcements by far have been the launch of latest licensed product, a Marvel Comics cooperative LCG, as well as a partnership with Atomic Mass Video games to launch a Marvel Comics skirmish miniatures video games. Neither L5R (nor Recreation of Thrones) was not mentioned at all during this occasion. In the course of the Q&A which adopted, the president of FFG did respond to a question about L5R, stating that releases have been planned via the top of 2020, but that was the one L5R tidbit of word.
This proved the first of many disappointments for L5R followers at Gen Con 2019.
Just before the occasion, FFG had announced that they might have the Lion Clan Pack, The Emperor’s Legion, on sale in their sales space. Yet it was shortly discovered early Thursday morning that this was not true. Altering from their traditional walk-in show setup, FFG switched to an “Order and Take Out” queue set up for their presence within the Expo Hall, the place individuals might queue with a catalog, request what they needed to purchase at the counter, after which decide up their buy as it is fulfilled at a separate counter. This catalog possible did have the Lion Clan Pack in it, judging by the massive blacked out area on the L5R page. As an alternative, they have been selling the third and fourth Dynasty packs from the Inheritance cycle, Justice for Satsume and Youngsters of Heaven. These L5R LCG merchandise have been on a single shelf of the show case, placed at the very bottom, leading many to miss them being there at all.
And then there was the Grand Kotei. Despite hosting almost 200 players, the Legend of the Five Rings Grand Kotei at Gen Con 2019 was abysmally supported by Fantasy Flight Games. With all due respect to the individuals who labored onerous at Cascade Video games operating this occasion, in addition to the aspect events, the extent of help from FFG was drastically disheartening to the Legend of the 5 Rings group. The hotly desired, Gen Con unique promos have been produced in very restricted quantities, with only 50 per card obtainable for purchase per day, utilizing the Koku earned by enjoying in ticketed occasions. While further supplies showed up by Saturday, probably the most desirable promos have been simply bought out on each Thursday and Friday – earlier than the primary occasions even began. There was no streaming arrange for L5R either, regardless of each KeyForge and the Star Wars video games having such. In line with some sources, this was not via a scarcity of participant want, but a request from FFG Organized Play to limit the number of streamers for their major events.
I can be going into my very own experience at the Gen Con Grand Kotei in my subsequent month’s article, however for let me again categorical my gratitude to the individuals at Cascade Games for the work they put into this event and my sympathy in dealing with the shortage of provide from FFG when it comes to help.
The mixture of these three letdowns from Fantasy Flight Video games has left the overall L5R group in a state of basic (and audible) discontent. The shortage of almost any vital news in July was excused as expecting one thing huge through the InFlight Report. When that did not manifest, the anticipation shortly turned to bitterness. This was not helped by the looks of a dominatingly powerful new deck within the meta, as many casual gamers whose first experience in L5R may need been a Skirmish pod or the Grand Kotei itself got here nose to nose with a deck which crushes its opponent shortly by way of unstoppable effects. It’s a hard enough sell to entice new gamers to a recreation with a $200+ buy-in and an enormous talent window when there exists a deck that fills a full quarter of the sector at a serious event despite heavy parts of Clan loyalty.
The Hope For An L5R Genesys
On the tabletop aspect of FFG, issues issues are slightly brighter, which is a coincidental reversal from this time last yr. Despite a scarcity of any product announcement for L5R RPG particularly, FFG did break ground with its new Genesys Foundry platform. In partnership with DriveThruRPG, they’ve created a creator-friendly platform for distribution of content material for Genesys.
Whereas it is limited at present to the Terrinoth (RuneWars) and Android IPs, or generic fantasy or scifi, the Genesys Foundry offers creators with all they need to publish adventures, supplements, and settings for Genesys. Best of all, creators retain partial possession of anything they publish by means of this platform and receive royalties from gross sales. This can be a major win for each FFG and other people trying to break into freelance RPG writing, and one thing I for one would love to see confide in the L5R RPG. The success of the City of Remembrance fanzine proves that there are lots of creators desperate to work with the L5R RPG, and there’s an audience who can pay for it.
On Sunday, I performed in the L5R RPG module “The Highwayman”, a brief journey into the Shinomen Mori looking for a lost sake cargo. It was written by Alexis Dykema and Duke Harrist. The adventure itself was pleasurable, however it was the pre-generated characters which notably caught my interest. As with last yr’s “Wedding ceremony at Kyotei Citadel”, every pre-generated character got here with a backstory, a character sheet, and a small folding display displaying your character. The L5R RPG continues to make strides in representation, with the six characters cut up evenly along gender strains (2 males, 2 ladies, 2 non-binary / non-specified), in addition to ethnic strains (1 samurai, 2 gaijin, 1 monk, 2 burakumin). The backstories didn’t draw back from the challenges dealing with those who will not be within the privileged courses of Rokugan as properly, with one character whose backstory mentions being almost mutilated as a toddler for having inventive skills larger than his caste ever ought to. My desk dealt with the state of affairs effectively, and I want to thank Matt, Cecile, Marten, Dak, Rhiannon, and our GM Chris Renshaw, for the superb time!
(Presently I want to thank Robert Denton III, Rhiannon McCullough, Charles Urbach, Drew Baker, Nen Chang, Amelia and Jude of the Garbage of the 5 Rings podcast, Luis and Brandon from the New England L5R Podcast, Ray and Lauren of Cube or Demise, Trevor Cuba and Jeanne Kalvar of Courtroom Video games, the whole Heroes of Rokugan crew, and Chris Pottorf for making my Gen Con a blast. Whereas I may be on the fence for attending subsequent yr for unrelated causes, it was awesome getting to spend time with you all!)
A Rocky Anniversary
And with that, we flip in the direction of the topic I promised firstly of this article.
It has been two years since Legend of the 5 Rings was launched at Gen Con 2017, and quite a bit has happened. Two and a half Dynasty cycles have been released, two World Championships have been gained, and the game has advanced considerably from what it was first imagined as. Though not almost the runaway success that KeyForge has proved to be, L5R has proven to be a sustainable success as a recreation, and it’s clear that plenty of effort was put into making a recreation that respected its many years of history whereas nonetheless finding methods of evolving to make it a better general experience. Among the many group, nevertheless, the key function seems to be a want for simply more communication from FFG.
To put it more bluntly: many L5R gamers keep in mind the pain of watching a recreation they liked slip into decline close to the top of its AEG tenure on account of poor communication they usually have little endurance for a repeat beneath FFG.
2019 began in a great spot, with the promise of month-to-month releases all year long. And while FFG has principally delivered on this promise, it has accomplished so in an unpredictable method and devoid of any major announcements. Not one of the L5R products presently announced have road dates. We will presume that Justice for Satsume will probably be released sometime in August, but beyond that we simply don’t know. If it is going to be released before the Emperor’s Legion can also be unknown. The announcement that the World Championships might be shifting to invitation only was out for a number of weeks earlier than any particulars concerning the event for many who did not earn invites was recognized. If there are any new L5R themed board games at present in production, or any expansions planned for Battle for Rokugan, we’ve not heard anything.
Tyler Parrott, one of many lead designers of the sport, has been extra communicative with the group by way of unofficial channels than his predecessors have been, however the lack of any
definite response from a group manager is leaving L5R fans in a critical lurch. The emergence of a degenerate, overpowered deck at Gen Con leaves a strong question of if FFG will act relating to this, and in that case, when it should take effect. Even the rumored response of “Now that the Phoenix have gained a serious event, we will start playtesting fixes,” smacks of a basic disregard for the sport which disheartens followers. L5R may need been spoiled as the darling of AEG for therefore a few years, however it definitely has lost any of that shine underneath FFG.
So the place does that depart us as a group?
The good news is that we’ve got individuals working on that. A number of corners of the L5R group are speaking about growing player-created content for the sport, with an emphasis on FFG partaking with the group by providing a platform. Additionally, Trevor Cuba of the Courtroom Video games podcast has begun elevating curiosity in beginning an L5R specific conference, referred to as RokuCon, run for the group, by the group, and supporting all the disparate interests.
Finally, and while this can be a long shot, there’s all the time the Winter Courtroom Worlds Championships in November. Whereas Gen Con has traditionally held a vaunted seat in the L5R group, it is wanting increasingly that it’s turning into FFG’s present to speak about their massive ticket gadgets, like Star Wars and Marvel, licenses they have paid an excellent deal to make use of (and certain have strict press launch deadlines). This leaves the Winter Courtroom event to offer FFG the platform to make their yearly product announcements strictly targeted on L5R.
It is my hope, pricey reader, that we’ll see such engagement at Winter Courtroom this yr, however I can say with confidence that if we start asking for it now it won’t lower those possibilities.
And that is all for this month. Please be a part of us next month as we cover the newest developments of Organized Play, lay down our predictions for the top of the Kunshu Kotei season, and probably even safe an interview relating to a certain factor from Courts of Stone I know we all want to study more about. Till then, pricey reader.
Carry the Fortunes.
David Gordon is a daily contributor to the location. A storyteller by commerce and avowed tabletop veteran, he also has an extended and sophisticated previous with L5R. These are his tales. He could be reached on Twitter.
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Photograph Credit: Legend of the 5 Rings and Genesys Foundry pictures by Fantasy Flight Video games.