by Aaron Frede
Twenty Years of Memories: 2005
The year is 2005. The winds of change blow strongly on the horizon. Diamond Arc is ending and the next base set offers the chance to shake the Empire. Depending on the purity or corruption of the winners deck the next base set will either be “light” or “dark” Lotus and determine the direction of the story for the entire arc.
The year is 1166. The Bloodspeaker Iuchiban has been defeated by the combined might of the clans and the heroic efforts of the returned Hida Kisada and Isawa Sezaru. The teachings of Rosoku have one final task to be completed for the one who will become the Keeper of the Five Elements, but the heir of Shinsei will not see this day after he is assassinated by one of Iuchiban’s bloodspeakers.
Today we get the chance to hear from Scott Rixson, or Yasuki Blidao on the forums.
Where are you from, tell us about your playgroup?
There is a great game store that I practically grew up in, called Tabletop Game & Hobby located in Overland Park, KS. Like a lot of playgroups, we got in just to play for fun. I recall fond memories of sorting through endless stacks of cards, building silly themed decks, and playing for hours on end. At some point, a couple of us decided to get more serious, and that’s when we started hitting the tournament scene. Very glad that we did because of all the great people we met over the years. The community is really what keeps this game thriving. I started in Hidden Emperor days, and my first starter deck was Mantis. Yoritomo with all his two weapon goodness! Who didn’t like that dude?
Do you consider yourself a clan loyalist?
Crane has always been my clan of choice. I did play some Crab for a while to dish things up. I applied what I learned from Crab military to make myself a better Crane player. I never liked the blitz honor that was a fragile shell. I wanted to get in there, and make the decks slightly aggressive and interactive. Making a deck that can go switch (honor and military) gives you added flexibility against a myriad of tournament opponents, but most importantly makes your opponent attack you. They can’t sit back and build up if you are attacking them too.
What was your first L5R tournament experience?
Oh man, I cannot recall my first few tournaments. I do recall the first time I won something though. I was playing up in Sioux City at my friend Bob Yager’s kotei. I won top of clan with my Crab Berserkers deck, which featured Shosuro Maru. It felt great to win something, and gain some street cred especially on the Crab forums. That crew is feisty!
Is there a story or quote from the fiction that stands out?
Anything involving Emmo-O. Off the top of my head, the story of Diagotsu traveling to Meido to release Fu Leng. How he did it was what made that story great!
(interestingly enough this was the same fiction highlighted by Scott’s friend and also former champ, Eugene Earnshaw – http://www.kazenoshiro.com/2008/08/04/prelude-to-darkness-part-6/)
Who is your favorite character?
Doji Reju. A lot of great characters have come up over the years, and I suppose they all tie in my book. Reju wins ties.
What is the best memory or experience you had playing L5R or because of L5R?
The final match at 2005 World Championship against my friend Matt Demand. He’s playing a faceless Dragon honor deck. Close first game that he wins via honor. Second game, I give up on honor in favor of military. Thank you Fury of Hida! Going into the third game of the final match. Pressure is on! I get a great start, and jump up with honor/card discarding with early duels. Saving Outmaneuvered by Force for any big honor gains, or Tribute to Your House. Being able to win 2-1 with both honor and military victories created the perfect end to a fantastic tournament!
Do you have a favorite deck that you built or played?
Crane Honor Dueling (CHD). I recall hearing a lot of negativity that honor doesn’t work, or Crane in under-powered, when Lotus started. I worked with my friend Chris Nicoll to create CHD. If unprepared, it could provide a negative play experience, but overall was very fun to play. Watch out not to lose your deck to dueling though! The reason this was my favorite deck was because I decided to post it online to share with everyone who was struggling with Crane. I would like to feel that gave Crane players a positive boost!
What was your favorite Arc and why?
Gold Edition. I really liked a lot of the sets, especially 1,000 Years of Darkness. Who didn’t like Hoturi the Heartless?!
Tell us about the lead up to GenCon 05. How did you prepare and how did you decide on what deck to play?
Lots of practice, and fine tuning. I was fortunate to have a fantastic playgroup that was local. A lot of great players have come out of Kansas City! I made a few changes after only making Top 4 at Origins that year. Every card was extremely useful, and I never regretting dropping or adding anything after that. The year before I made Top 16 at Worlds, and was determined to do better. I was thinking Top 8, but #1 was good too!
What was the atmosphere like for the players there, what was the feeling on the story prize and the paths of Light and Dark Lotus?
I feel like there were a handful of people that were corrupting everything under the sun in hopes of Dark Lotus. I personally wanted Light Lotus, but playing tainted is very fitting for Crane. A little dabble of corruption, huh?
Your deck was tainted but not corrupt. Was that a deliberate story decision or were you just playing the best deck possible?
If there were more corrupt cards worth playing that made the deck better, I would probably have included them. I did consider playing totally clean, but the Shadow Dragon was just too good of a card not to play. My hardest matchup at the time was Gatling Gun Unicorn, and had a guy concede to me after dropping a turn 3 Shadow Dragon!
You chose Asahina Sekawa to become Master of the Five Rings what made him the right choice in your mind?
This was all Chris Nicoll. He did a good job convincing me Sekawa was the best choice. He had a rich storyline of fighting against the tainted bloodspeakers, and would be a great fit for the storyline.
You also had the chance to form an alliance that would last the entirety of Lotus with any other clan and you went with the Lion. Now up until this point the Lion and Crane had traditionally been enemies, what made you choose them as your ally?
You know that movie you watched recently. The one that was a remake because Hollywood spends more time remaking movies than making anything original. Yeah, that’s how I feel about the feud between Crane and Lion. Lion attack the Crane. Second Lion attack the Crane. Blah blah blah. I get the animosity, but wanted something different. I wanted to be bold, and force what we had always taken for granted to change. I wanted to see something new develop, and alliances shift as a result. In hindsight, it was the best selection IMO, and I really enjoyed watching it play out. I didn’t expect as much player support though, and soon there were whispers of the Feather and Claw alliance. All fear the Right and Left hands of the Emperor!
Looking back with how Lotus played out storywise were you pleased with the result or does part of you want to go back and add one more shadowlands card to your deck?
I loved how the story played out, and would not have changed a thing. It was sad seeing the Emperor card getting torn to pieces, but watching the Shadow Dragon running around with an Ancient Armor was more enjoyable.
You also placed second two years later at GenCon 07. Tell us a bit about the difference between those two events? What was the atmosphere like? How did players like the story prize?
That was a fun environment too. After 2005, AEG started alternating World Champions between USA and Europe. In 2006, I placed Top of Clan with Lion at the US Championships to support the alliance. I played Crane switch again in 2007 World Championships, and made it to the final table. My teammate Eugene Earnshaw stood in front of me. He was playing for Shosuro Jimen to be Emerald Champion for our fellow teammate Jim Chatham. We all preferred to have Shosuro Jimen gain the rank of Emerald Champion, but I was advised that I was not allowed to forfeit the story prize if I win. So… do I play to win, or concede for my preferred storyline? I conceded, and took second place. The storyline turned out perfect, and played up the concession as Jimen blackmailing Kakita Noritoshi.
Are you still involved with L5R at this time?
I have focused my efforts on work and raising a family. I stay connected online with friends that I have met through L5R. Like I mentioned earlier, the community is what makes this game great. I am very fortunate to have made so many lifelong friends through L5R. I recommend everyone to participate in the tournament scene, and travel if funds allow. Plus, you get to see people dress up, and scream UTZ BANZAI!!
Thank you Scott for taking the time to talk to us about Victory, Freindship, and just a little bit of taint.
You can see Scott’s decklist from the event here: http://kolatinformant.com/2014/05/2005-the-fate-of-lotus/