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    • Owlbear

    by Gustavo Caperán

    EE has been a good arc for the Phoenix overall; we have always had a powerful deck, but more than once, these decks have been much too powerful. Therefore it has been necessary to take harsh measures for the good of the game, such as banning cards, which is the case with the current list. After these bans, and with the upcoming legality of the GoC cards, relevant changes are going to take place, in particular for the Phoenix, since our two most powerful decks from the past months are disappearing – but so are the other strongest decks of the environment (eg Kalani’s Landing or Imperial Faceless), or at least they’re undergoing a dramatic reduction of power (eg Crab Berserkers).

    Following all these changes, the Phoenix still has some already known, still viable options, mainly ToP Honor and Water Shugenja. The first one is not only being benefitted by the bans (despite being affected by Seppun Jiramu’s ban), but it’s also receiving a new powerful weapon in GoC, the holding “Coastal Pearl Bed” (the list of holdings worth being blocked is endless: Recruitment Officer, Traveling Peddler, Chugo Seido, Incense Mill, Jungle Stockade, Ageless Shrine…). This deck is still one of the best honor builds in the environment, mainly because it has the tools to beat other honor decks (and specially now, that the Imperial honor deck has lost its best weapon).

    The second one could be considered LizWiz’s “ancestor”, and even though it doesn’t own some of the tools that made the naga build so powerful (such as the naga items or the now banned Oblivious), it has got other remarkable advantages, such as being able to play “Bo of Water” or “Skipping the Puddle” consistently; or counting with Naka Mahatsu among its Personality line-up (very cheap to bring into play if you’re also running Mahatsu basic) – one of the best shugenja of the arc, really game-swinging. From GoC this deck also profits from at least two cards: Lakeside Retreat (a Terrain that straightens and destroys other Terrains) and Unsettling Gathering (probably one of the cards that will see most play from now on).

    Aside from these two well-known decks, there are at least two other Phoenix archetypes that profit from the bans and new cards: dueling and Waystation of the Path (WotP) decks. The latter is particularly helped by the ban of “The Wall is Breached”, as it was a card that could ruin our entire strategy single-handedly and it wasn’t easy to avoid. The former can be divided into two main variants, Yojimbo and high chi Shugenja (from my point of view, the best of them). In both cases, the average cost of the Personalities is quite high, and with GoC, our gold scheme is improved and it’ll be easier to pay for them thanks to Fudoist Temple and Productive Mine (in a build with Border Keep XP2 and Remote Village). This is a notable improvement as it will give us, among other things, more speed, which was direly needed in these decks. But there are more new cards that could be useful in these decks – Ivinda Village, Boiling point, or Shard of the Great Death’s Bones are some examples of cards that could fit into these decks perfectly.

    Back to WotP, again Lakeside retreat and Unsettling Gathering are good options to be considered, even (once again) Boiling point and Shard of the Great Death’s Bones. But what has really powered the deck is the release of Unparalled Sword and Strength in the Earth, and it’s a very remarkable option, overlooked by most players.

    There are possibly other viable decks aside from these, such as the ToP Force-manipulation Henshin deck (even without Karachu and not so blitz, it’s still strong), or the Inquisitor dishonor deck, that receives the new holding “Exquisite Silk Works”; as it’s Personal Honor independent, it solves one of the deck’s issues.

    With all these changes, it’s hard to predict which one will be the new enemy to beat in the new environment, but it’s safe to bet that we’ll keep facing, among others, LoDD, Crane Honor, Phoenix Honor, Dragon Honor,  Ancestors Honor, Lion Scouts, Lion Paragons, Crab Berserkers, dueling decks (watch for the new Fallen dueling deck), Oni, Unicorn Battle Maidens and Commanders… just to name a few. Now the environment is expected to be more open and varied, which should be positive for the game and make the tournament scene more enjoyable for all players.

    Here is an example of a Phoenix Water Shugenja deck, post-Gates of Chaos. This should give you a good platform to start with, tweaking and tuning the deck as befits your play style and local environment.


    Library of Rebirth
    Border keep xp
    Bamboo harvesters

    3x Colonial harbor 3x Skipping the Puddle
    3x Jungle stockade 3x Broken cipher
    3x Silver mine 2x Unsettling Gathering
    3x Small farm 2x Improper papers
    1x Temples of gisei toshi 2x Looming danger
    1x Merchant outpost 2x Sneak attack
    1x Shiba’s guidance 2x Lakeside retreat
    1x Ryoshun’s guidance 2x Sundering strike
    1x Glory of the shogun 1x A game of dice
    1x Imperial gift 1x Closing the gap
    1x Seppun ritisharu 1x creating order
    3x Isawa kojiro 3x Strength of the tsunami
    3x Mahatsu 1x Mastering the elements
    1x Naka mahatsu 2x A dragon’s favor
    1x Asako chukage 1x Unnatural flood
    1x Kunji exp 2x Cleasing the path
    2x Isawa mizuhama 3x Channeling the fallen
    3x Isawa shunsuko 1x pearl of rage
    3x Natsumi 2x Bo of water
    3x Shiba sansesuke 1x Ring of fire
    1x Ring of water
    1x The sacred rosary of the
    1x The emerald armor exp2


    Gustavo Caperán is a renowned, old-school spanish player, commonly known as “Shiba Toku” or simply “Toku”. He has been playing L5R since Jade edition, mainly as a loyal Phoenix player, and he has learnt to play the game alongside some of the best players of the world, such as Pablo Rojo (Samurai Arc Champion) or Jose Luis Tagarro (2011 European Champion). In the last few years, among other achievements, he has won three Kotei tournaments (Valencia 2009, Barcelona 2011, Sevilla 2013), one of “The Seven Soheis” tournaments and one of the “Legion of the 10,000” tournaments.

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