Waiting for EE … alternate format anyone?

This holiday season, while most people are waiting for Santa or baby Jesus to arrive, L5R players everywhere have only one thing on their minds … Hurry up Emperor Edition! The dead time between the end of one arc and the beginning of the next always seems to drag on for far too long, causing veteran and new players alike to turn to other forms of entertainment. Sadly, I’ve witnessed the demise of more than one promising L5R “career” during this down time (curse you World of Warcraft!)Highlander

This year, the Portland L5R team decided to alleviate some of the boredom and apathy by setting aside a few weeks for alternate L5R formats. The hope was to take a break from constructed, competitive play, and just have some fun playing with new cards and different decks … Mission Accomplished! These events were very well received and attendance was excellent, but best of all, everyone was reminded of why they started playing this game in the first place … FUN! Below you will find descriptions of the three alternate formats we ran, and deck-lists for the winners of each tournament.

Family Values

In the family values format, deck construction is limited by two restrictions: all your personalities have to have the same family name (Bayushi, Hida, Daigotsu, etc.) and all your focus values have to be the same. This is definitely a format that forces you to build and play decks in new and interesting ways. Our Family Values tournament was won by Tanjen Carr playing an Isawa-4 enlightenment deck, and his decklist is as follows:

Isawa Mizuhiko x3
Isawa Kyoko x2
Isawa Yutako x3
Isawa Takino x3
Isawa Kumai x3
Isawa Hachiko x3
Isawa Mizuhiko xp
Isawa Fosuta xp
Isawa Kumai xp
Isawa Mitsuko
Isawa Ochiai xp3
Barley Farm x2
Seiden Sanzo x2
Recruitment Officer x3
Silver mine x3
Traveling Peddler
Counting House
Shiba’s Guidance
Mountainous Region x2
Wisdom Gained
Signs and Portents
Imperial Ambasadorship

5 rings
Flow of the Elements x2
Song of the World x3
Knowledge from Within x3
Changing paths x3
Master the Body x3
Deception Revealed x3
Retribution x2
Cowed by Wisdom x3
Entrenched Position x3
Crippling weather x2
String of Victories x3
Hamstrung x2
The Fires of War
Creating Order
A Game of Dice


Poor Man L5R

In the poor man format, deck construction is limited to only cards that are inexpensive to obtain. The rules for this are pretty flexible, but for this particular tournament, the card pool included commons, Imperial Gift cards, and cards only found fixed in starter decks like your champion, clan sword and strongholds, but not other “fixed” cards like Barley Farm which is an uncommon that was “fixed” in many starter decks. At the conclusion of your Poor Man L5R tournament, consider keeping everyone’s deck in a box at the shop to use as demo decks which can be given away to new players. Our Poor Man tournament was won by Andres Ford playing his “Common Monsters” Spider deck listed below:

“The Common Monsters”
Clan: Spider
Stronghold: Fields of the Dead
Border Keep
Bamboo Harvesters

# Dynasty (40)

# Events (1)
1 Celestial Disfavor

# Celestials (1)
1 Fu Leng’s Guidance

# Holdings (14)
3 Shinomen Marsh
3 Remote Village
3 Border Village
1 Counting House
2 War Encampment
2 Wooden Barricade

# Personalities (24)
1 Daigotsu – exp3 (The Man!)
1 Daigotsu Susumu – exp (The Brains!)
3 Daigotsu Arima (The Machine!)
1 Kazuwaru (Ogre!)
3 The Cursed Dead (Zombies!)
3 Fosuta no Oni (One Star Oni)
3 Akaru no Oni (Two Star Oni)
3 Daku no Oni (Three Star Oni)
3 Utogu no Oni (FIVE STAR ONI!)
3 Sea Troll Predator (Body Snatcher!)

# Fate (40)

# Strategies (34)
3 Drinking One’s Life
3 Savagery
3 Ogre Savagery
3 Incapacitated
3 Border Ambush
3 Reckless Rush
3 Rout
3 The Height of Courage
3 Strike Quickly
3 Endless Stamina
3 Maws of Stone
1 Crushing Strength

# Followers (3)
3 Village Guardian

# Items (3)
3 Dependable Gear


The highlander format is popular in many CCGs, and the concept is pretty basic … only one of any card. No other format encourages such a wide variety of card choices, and for this reason it is definitely my favorite. I personally think it is also an excellent way to learn and play-test for a new environment or arc. Our Highlander tournament was won by Jami Bradford playing Phoenix. Her deck-list is not available at this time (probably locked away in a top-secret bunker somewhere), but here’s an example of a “fun” Dragon highlander deck with a few different play-style options, out of a stronghold that doesn’t see a lot of use:

“Uniques trying to Enlighten … with big swords!”

Farthest Fortress
Border Keep
Bamboo Harvester (Exp)

Dynasty Deck

Togashi’s Guidance

Wisdom Gained

Gold Mine
Barley Farm
Recruitment Officer
Tsi Mokotsu
Border Village
Temple of Harmony
Family Keep
Famous Bazaar
Traveling Peddler
Stolen Merchandise
Counting House
War Encampment
Permanent Encampment
Wooden Barricade
Chugo Seido

Togashi Satsu (Exp 5)
Mirumoto Shiki
Mirumoto Hojatsu
Mirumoto Ichizo (Exp)
Mirumoto Kei (Exp 2)
Mirumoto Kenzo (Exp 2)
Mirumoto Yozo (Exp)
Tamori Ochima
Togashi Kazuki (Exp)
Togashi Nakahara
Togashi Osawa (Exp)
Togashi Shiori (Exp)
Togashi Shiori
Togashi Shintaro
Mirumoto Kalen
Mirumoto Bokuko
Mirumoto Eikaru
Mirumoto Mori
Togashi Gato
Togashi Kanmu
Togashi Kyoshi
Togashi Sakata
Mirumoto Haru

Shinden Shorai

Fate Deck

5 Rings

Scouting Far Afield
Steel on Steel
Awed Witness
Impetuous Challenge
Master the Body
Imperial Command
Deathly Aura
Kami Unleashed
Changing Paths
Balance in Water
Cold Hands, Stone Heart
Dove Tattoo
Nerve Strike
Spinning Heel Kick
The World Disappears
Fall Back!
Cowed by Wisdom
Deception Revealed
String of Victories

Rising Sun Blade
Wyrmbone Katana
Yagimaki’s Fist
Awakened Blade
Blade of Champions
Fubatsu no-Dachi
Heavenly Daisho of the Dragon
Infamous Blade
Radiant Steel
Rekai’s Yumi
Seppun Blade
Tsuruchi Daikyu

My hope is that this article will inspire bored L5R play-groups everywhere to get together and have some fun with alternate formats while they wait for the arrival of Emperor Edition. If none of these strike your fancy, here are some additional ideas:

  • War of Honor – multi-player is fun again!
  • The Deck Exchange – Everyone brings their best deck to the tournament, and before each round each player is assigned a random deck (not their own) to play. I’m pretty sure this is the Portland L5R team favorite.
  • One of the many variants of Strategic L5R – This is a very fun format, but pretty involved, and a little too complex to describe here. Google it!

We wish you a very happy holiday season, and best of luck surviving until Emperor Edition arrives!

The Portland L5R Team

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