“A lion is more than his roar, more than his mane, more than his teeth, more than his heart. A lion is all of these.”
– Mari Murdock, The Price of War
With the largest standing military in Rokugan, few can stand up to the pure might of the Lion Clan. As the right hand of the emperor, the Lion live, breathe, and die for the Emerald Empire. Throwing themselves into glorious battle, the Lion clan dominates their foes with staggering military might.
Today, we’re previewing the Lion Clan in Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game. With their fierce Bushi, the Lion look to overwhelm their opponents with pure numbers to break through their provinces and prove their superiority.
Traditionally in Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game, players are limited to playing up to four characters during the dynasty phase, one on each province. Opponents of the Lion clan will soon find that they excel at breaking this limit. Staging Ground (Core Set, 80) and Akodo Gunso (Core Set, 71) allow you to turn face down province cards face up to continue recruiting characters you would normally have to wait a turn to view.
While recruiting additional characters would normally take a toll on your fate, the Lion Clan contains plenty of warriors who can enter the fight at little cost. The Obstinate Recruit (Core Set, 67) is free to bring into play, and with two military skill can make a significant impact in conflicts. However, he is immediately discarded if your opponent has more honor than you. While this would be a weakness for any other clan, the noble Lion have many ways to ensure they remain more honorable than their foes. Meanwhile, the Vengeful Oathkeeper (Core Set, 160) can be placed into play freely after a Lion player loses a military conflict. Not only does the Vengeful Oathkeeper reinforce the Lion legions, he does so at an unexpected time that lets you immediately counter attack. In cases like the Vengeful Oathkeeper, it is important to know that characters brought into play through an effect cannot have additional fate placed on them, meaning an Oathkeeper brought into play through its ability will only have one turn to make an impact.
Lion characters also bolster their forces by continuing to remain on the battlefield even if they would normally be discarded. The Steadfast Samurai (Core Set, 70) will not lose fate or be discarded during the fate phase if you have five or more honor than your opponent, and Stand Your Ground allows a character to lose their honored status in order to remain on the field. These tactics allow the Lion to amass a large force for conflicts, and the numbers advantage allows them to use cards like Strength in Numbers (Core Set, 169) to swing battles in their favor. While attacking, a Lion player can use Strength in Numbers to choose a defending character with a glory cost equal to or lesser than the number of attacking characters and move that character home. This allows the Lion horde to remove characters that could hinder their glorious military conquest and trample their foes.
While the Crane Clan rely on their sharp Courtiers to give them the edge on court, the Lion Clan’s Bushi provide dominance in the realm of military conflict. After a conflict in which the Lion Clan breaks a province, For Greater Glory (Core Set, 168) provides one fate to every participating Bushi character you control. The more Bushi you have on the field, the more impact For Greater Glory will have on the rest of the game. The impact is even greater if one of these Bushi is attached with Sashimono (Core Set, 164), which prevents them from bowing during the resolution of a military conflict. Win or lose, a Bushi defending with Sashimono will remain standing to participate in another conflict, and For Greater Glory ensures the Sashimono will be of use during the next turn as well. To get the most out of your samurai though, the Way of the Lion (Core Set, 167) allows you to double the base military skill of one of your characters during a conflict, which can be an impressive boost for the clan that already boasts some of the highest military skill values in the game.
Ikoma Eiji (Core Set, 78) combines the Lion’s capacity for large forces with their focus on Bushi, allowing you to put a Bushi of cost three or less into play from your hand or dynasty discard pile after you lose a political conflict. Though the Lion will often struggle with political conflicts, with Ikoma Eiji on the field, even defeat gives them an advantage and the ability to counter attack. Bear in mind though, characters brought into conflict this way can not have fate placed on them, making them a fleeting bonus. However, if the targeted character was Matsu Beiona (Core Set, 76) and you already control three or more other Bushi, he will receive two fate regardless of how he was brought into play.
Ikoma Eiji isn’t the only method the Lion have of bringing characters into play in unexpected ways; the Kitsu Spiritcaller, one of the few shugenja of the Lion Clan, can bow to bring a character from one of your discard piles into a conflict. Though the chosen character must be discarded at the end of the conflict, the Kitsu Spiritcaller can turn the tide of a battle by bringing back some of the Lion’s most potent samurai, like an Honored General (Core Set, 77).
With shugenja like the Kitsu Spiritcaller, the Lion honor their ancestors and seek guidance from those who have passed. Guidance of the Ancestors (Core Set, 162) gives a plus one bonus to both military and political skills, and more importantly, can be played from the conflict discard pile. Even if it is removed from play, Guidance of the Ancestors can continually lead the Lion Clan to victory at the cost of one fate.
The Lion’s stronghold of Yōjin no Shiro (Core Set, 4) supports their military dominance and swarm strategy, allowing you to bow the stronghold to give every character attacking in a military conflict one additional military skill. This can mean the difference between not only winning or losing a conflict, but whether or not that victory leads to breaking a province. With a starting honor value of 12, Yōjin no Shiro provides the Lion with the highest starting honor in the Core Set!
The Lion get many bonuses from being more honorable than their opponent. To remain so, they will often bid little honor during the draw phase to stay ahead of their foes. Unfortunately, this can lead to a lack of important conflict cards. However, like many of their other affects, the Lion’s conflict cards can be earned in the fires of battle. The Art of War (Core Set, 11) is the Lion Clan’s unique province, and allows a player to draw three cards after it is broken. Like the Crane Clan’s Art of Peace, the Art of War allows the Lion to gain an advantage even when they lose a battle, giving the Lion the perfect opportunity to strike back at those that would dare break through their defenses.
With the death of his brother Akodo Arasou at Toshi Ranbo, the mantle of Lion Clan champion falls to Akodo Toturi (Core Set, 79). Level-headed and calm, Akodo Toturi’s brilliance on the battlefield gives the already formidable Lion Clan army even more teeth. With six military skill and three political skill, Akodo Toturi can nearly break a province on his own during a military conflict, and can hold his own politically. Should he become honored, his military skill value of nine will dominate the battlefield.
Like a mirror image of Crane Clan Champion Doji Hotaru, Akodo Toturi allows you to trigger the effect of a ring after you claim it during a military conflict. This means as a victorious attacker, Akodo Toturi can trigger the effects of a ring twice. As a defender, Toturi can defend his lands while also triggering the effects of a ring, making your opponent think twice before declaring a military conflict when Akodo Toturi is on the field. As a Bushi, Akodo Toturi also has access to the Lion’s extensive support, including Sashimono, allowing him to participate in multiple conflicts a turn.
With an unparalleled military, the Lion Clan are one of the most dominating forces in Rokugan. Those who would stand against them face the full force of the right hand of the emperor, and have little chance to walk away unscathed.
Pursue greater glory and purchase Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game (L5C01) at Gen Con 2017 or from your local retailer in the fourth quarter of 2017.