The Conflicts of Rokugan

There comes a time when the planning and politicking of those who serve the Emperor reaches a boiling point, and conflict is unavoidable. When this time comes, military battles and political intrigue reign supreme, and the future of Rokugan can be decided by a flash of steel or the slip of a tongue. The fate of the clans rests on the outcome of these conflicts, and each must be well prepared for the challenges that face them.

Today, we’re looking at the conflict, fate, and regroup phases of Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game. These phases make up the end of a round of Legend of the Five Rings—to see how each round begins, check out last week’s article here.

The Battle Begins

After each player bids their honor and conflict cards are drawn, the conflict phase itself begins. Players will alternate sending their characters to their opponent’s provinces to break them through military or political conflicts.

The first player has the first opportunity to declare a conflict, and to do so must decide what kind of conflict they want to declare, who they will send to the conflict, where that conflict will take place, and of what element the conflict will embody. All of these decisions are made simultaneously, and all must be declared before a conflict can commence.

Each player may only declare one military and one political conflict during the conflict phase, meaning, at maximum, four conflicts will take place during a round. Military conflicts take place on the field of battle, where even the bravest bushi can  fall in battle  (Core Set, 211). Meanwhile, just-as-deadly political conflicts take place in court, and are the dominion of courtiers who test their mental resolve to outwit their opponents through diplomacy and subterfuge, like utilizing  Spies at Court  (Core Set, 209) to undercut their foes.

Any amount of ready characters in a player’s home area can be sent to a conflict, provided they have a value in the matching skill. Not every character will be able to participate in every conflict, as characters with a dash in a skill value cannot participate in conflicts of that type. Bear in mind though, if a character possesses a zero in a certain skill, they may still participate, but contribute no strength to their side… for now.

These characters must then be sent to a specific province, all of which begin the game face down, and provide their owner special effects during a conflict. At the start of the game, any of the four provinces between a player’s dynasty and conflict decks may be targeted—once a player has broken three of these provinces, their opponent’s stronghold province may be targeted. Should a player break that province, they win the game.

The attacker also declares the element of the attack, which will determine the ring effect the attacker will receive should they win the conflict. The five elements and their effects are:

 

Air – Take one honor from your opponent or gain two honor from the token pool.

Earth – Draw one card from your conflict deck and discard one random card from your opponent’s hand.

Fire – Choose a character in play and honor or dishonor that character. (Honoring a character adds their glory value to their skills and causes their owner to gain honor when that character leaves play, while dishonoring a character subtracts their glory from their skills and causes their owner to lose honor when that character leaves play.)

Water – Choose a character and ready it or choose a character with no fate on it and bow it.

Void – Choose a character and remove one fate from it.

These ring effects are powerful, and certain cards and actions can trigger based on the element of the current conflict, and what rings you have already claimed. This is the domain of the Phoenix Clan, with cards likeSolemn Scholar  (Core Set, 83) granting advantages based on the elements you have claimed.

Once all of these have been declared, the defender sends his characters to defend his lands. Any ready characters in a player’s home area with the appropriate skill may be sent to the conflict.

Once a conflict is underway, a clan’s strategic planning comes into play. Through conflict cards and character actions, the flow of the conflict changes. Characters may produce powerful attachments, become honored or dishonored, become bowed, leave the battle completely, and more. All of these scenarios affect the total skill value of your characters, and players will have back and forth opportunities to play cards and use actions until both consecutively pass. Character abilities may only be used once per round, unless otherwise specified, like theWandering Ronin  (Core Set, 127).

Whoever has the highest total skill value when both players pass wins the conflict, with ties going to the attacking player. If the defending player wins, they claim the ring of the conflict; if the attacking player wins, they claim the ring, use its effect, and if their skill exceeds the defender’s by the conflict’s province strength, they break the province. Regardless of the outcome, all participating characters are then bowed and returned to their owner’s home area.

In this military air conflict, the attacking Unicorn player has seven total military skill—three from the Aggressive Moto, two from the Shinjo Outrider’s base military skill, and an additional two from the Shinjo Outrider because he is honored. The Lion player only has a total military skill of three. The Unicorn player wins the conflict and claims the Air ring, additionally breaking the attacked province, having won the conflict by four.

Some clans, like the Lion, will focus on a wide range of honored characters to overwhelm their opponent with pure military skill. Others, like the Unicorn, will specialize in moving characters to and from conflicts, allowing for strategic retreats and timely reinforcements with cards like Shinjo Outrider  (Core Set, 114).

Some events and actions will bow a character during a conflict; bowed characters participating in a conflict do not add their skill value to their owner’s cumulative total.

Fate of the Clans

Once all conflicts have been resolved, a contest is held for the Imperial Favor. Players count both the number of rings they have claimed and the total amount of glory on their ready characters and add them together. Whichever player has the higher total claims the Imperial Favor, and may place it on either the political or military side. The Imperial Favor provides an additional point of skill to conflicts of that type during the next round. Other cards will reference the Imperial Favor, like the Otomo Courtier (Core Set, 122), who cannot participate in a conflicts as an attacker against a player that controls the Imperial Favor.

The Crab player, with two claimed rings and one standing glory, has a total glory of three. The Lion player, with one claimed ring, has a total glory of one. The Crab player claims the Imperial Favor, choosing to put it on the military side for the coming round.

After all conflicts have resolved, play moves to the fate phase, which represents the moment at which the forces of karma and destiny make themselves known, and the various personalities in play move one step closer to their ultimate fate.

First, all characters with no fate on them are discarded from play, including any attachments currently equipped to them. Though their part in the ongoing saga of your game is over for now, they may return via another copy of their card or other card effects. Next, each remaining character loses one fate, and moves one step closer to their destiny.

Finally, a fate is placed on each unclaimed ring in the general pool. The next time a conflict of that element is declared, the attacking player moves all fate on that ring to their pool. This presents a strategic choice for players—though a ring’s effect may not be optimal, the extra fate on it is a valuable resource that can be used immediately. Some cards even interact with this fate, a specialty found in the Dragon Clan.

Reprieve

The final phase of each round is the regroup phase, allowing for the leaders of the clans to take stock of their current position and prepare for the following game round. First, each character remaining in a player’s home area is readied, preparing for the conflicts ahead. Next, players discard unwanted faceup cards from provinces and immediately replace them with cards from the dynasty deck.

This provides players the option of getting rid of dynasty cards they may not need. However, during this phase, all faceup cards on broken provinces are also replaced. Players then return all claimed rings to the general pool and pass the first player token. The next round can then begin.

During the regroup phase, the Crab player must discard the Borderlands Fortifications on his broken province. They also decide to replace their Shrewd Yasuki on an unrevealed province. Both of these cards are immediately replaced by cards from the top of the dynasty deck.

A Cycle of Conflict

With the end of the regroup phase, players move on to the dynasty phase of the next round, starting a whole new cycle of plans and conflict. Players will continue to clash until they crush their opponent, bringing glory and honor to their clan. Join us next week for an in-depth look at a conflict example.

Choose your clan and purchase Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game (L5C01) at Gen Con 2017, or from your local retailer during the fourth quarter of 2017!

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ShortandLoud

General Manager of The Game Shoppe

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