The Golden Rule

“Whoever has the gold makes the rules.”  Any good CCG player will tell you that games are won or lost on resources; whoever has the most usually wins.  Thus it is important to gather as many resources as quickly as possible.

Most L5R players will recognize that buying two holdings on turn one is CRITICALLY important to all but the most aggressive boxable builds.  Developing a strong early economy allows you to not only get attackers or defenders into play, but more importantly the stronger your early economy the easier it is to continue developing your economy as the game progresses.  I am constantly seeing opponents flip two 2 for 2 holdings and any two random personalities and just go right to dynasty buying the two holdings they were given.  Personally, I will use my first turn ability on Border Keep to send any non-holdings to the bottom of my deck on turn one if I do not flip at least one holding which produces more than 2 gold.  Even if I do see a clan holding or another 3 or 4 gold producing holding, I will frequently boot one or more cards to the bottom of the deck looking for the absolute best economy I can find.  There is no cost associated with using the first turn ability of Border Keep, in fact if you do not use it on turn one you lose the ability, which I consider wasting resources.  The only ‘cost’ of the first turn Border Keep is that those cards are now on the bottom of your deck.  With very few exceptions, I am of the mind that if your deck cannot win if it doesn’t see a specific card, you shouldn’t be playing that deck competitively to begin with.  With that in mind, for most decks, you can only improve your game by getting the best available economy out of your dynasty as early as possible.  The difference between a 2 for 2 and a clan holding may not be immediately significant on turn two in general, but over the course of a game the one additional gold can lead to a much stronger economy as excess gold each turn is spent to buy more gold.  This is especially true as soon as another 3 gold producing or more holding enters play, as the extra gold now can be spent to buy more gold producing holdings.

The importance of continually developing your economy cannot be overstated.  This is something a lot of players do not recognize.  Most players understand the importance of buying holdings on the first turn, but few understand the importance of buying holdings beyond that.  This is something most good players will do without thought, but something I see many players only do reluctantly.  Turn one they buy two holdings and are happy to do so.  Beginning on turn two they will buy two personalities every turn until they have unspent gold, cannot afford two personalities, or have no personalities face up in their dynasty, at which point they will grudgingly buy the additional gold.  The truth is both players will eventually have to spend economy to build more economy, otherwise games would progress with both players only rarely buying from more than two of their four provinces.  You may lose a little tempo early by buying gold, but when your opponent is eventually forced to do the same, you will regain the lost tempo, often with interest.  Buying one ore more holdings early is like a snowball rolling down a hill.  The snowball will accumulate more snow and gain more momentum as it rolls down the hill.  Turn two gold allows for more gold turn three, which leads to more gold turn four, and so on.  It is also worth mentioning that buying one personality and two holdings on turn two also allows you to see more dynasty cards than you would see buying two personalities which means you get to your better cards faster.  This is why I dislike holdings like Blessed Herd, Imperial Acrobats, Secluded Outpost, and Diamond Mine.  It is widely believed that the best time to buy such holdings is on turn one, but more often than not, I think it is a mistake to buy one holding on turn one when you could produce the same amount of gold by buying two holdings, while also cycling more dynasty cards allowing more opportunities to see your most powerful dynasty cards.  In addition to seeing more cards from your dynasty, it also allows for more flexibility on turn three to adapt to a wider variety of potential flips you may see.

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3 Responses to The Golden Rule

  1. PJ Torres says:

    I have noticed this as well, and for the the most part, find it to be true. However, in my experience, how a player manages their economy depends on several things. Their opponent, the clan they and their opponent are playing, play-style, deck type, and the current environment. Some clans require a more aggressive approach, buying 2 personalities a turn, turn 2 forward. Others may give you time to build and recruit equally, it all depends. I have also been noticing more and more, when not going first, my dynasty phase and how I manage it in the first two turns, is dramatically influenced by my opponents first dynasty. So much in fact that, when I go first, I try to find tactical/psychological advantages over my oppoent. Applying pressure early I have found, sometimes is a worthy trade for economy…

    • DDreischmeyer says:

      Of course there are exceptions to every rule, even The Golden Rule. No strategy exists in a vacuum. When and how much gold to buy, when and with how many personalities to attack or defend, and just about every other decision a player makes in the course of a game will obviously depend heavily on what both players are trying to achieve at any particular point in the game. In general though, a strong economy as early as you can afford it will go a long way in making your game better. The point is that I think a lot of players underestimate the importance of a strong economy and I wanted to address that.

  2. PJ Torres says:

    Agreed. I also think that using your first turn Border Keep as often as possible is REALLY good advice. I am guilty of not utilizing this recource on more than one occasion. Tunnel vision in the early game is a hard habit to break for me…

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