I originally planned to write this article right after the first one but my health and the review articles got in the way. In the first article I provided broad strokes about how
Lion should play and mentioned a few cards. For this article I wanted to focus on the specific cards some more. As always this article assumes that you have been playing Lion for a while and want to improve. As a side note the delay may have worked out for the best as it allows me to include some new important cards.
Feast or Famine
This is the new blow out province. More than twice as swingy as Shameful Display. This province is so good that it partially dictates how Lion plays and constructs its decks.
Due to the requirements of the card Steadfast Samurai now has additional value and there are instances where I would bring out a character with no fate. In the past I would not bother bringing conflict characters as well since I want to spend all my fate in the dynasty phase to take advantage of the unique Lion dynasty acceleration. With the advent of Feast and Famine I find you always need some 1 cost conflict characters as your characters without fate tend to be hit with Assassination once the province gets flipped.
Lions Pride Brawler
The pride and joy of Lion and the most hated card in the game. Unless there is an extremely good reason Lions Pride Brawler should always be used on characters outside the current conflict. This is because for all intents and purposes the people in the current conflict have already been used for the turn.
I acknowledge there are special circumstances. Must win conflicts for example or Mountain Does Not Fall or even Favorable Grounds but as a general rule your default targets should always be outside the current conflict.
An additional note on the Brawler. Everyone knows how powerful it is and how much easier the game gets with it on the board. If you are practicing for a tourney I encourage you to mulligan away your Brawlers. If they show back up great you can practice with them. They most likely won’t which means you get to practice Lion without the Brawlers.
Due to his evergreen ability he should be the primary target of your items and honor opportunities. He only has one glory but as we discussed in our previous article you are unlikely to get a target that has more than one glory that does not already self honor anyway. Having an honored character stick around forever also gives clans like Crane problems.
As a general rule this character should always be mulliganed. His primary use in the deck is to allow you to flip an extra dynasty card, essentially drawing one card from the dynasty deck. When you mulligan him you are essentially seeing one more card.
A quick note on pride as well. As a general rule Gunso and other characters with pride should always get at least one fate. Pride gives you an honor token which is worth one honor when the character dies and gives you increased stats. Without the extra fate you don’t benefit from the increased stats.
A secondary characteristic of characters with pride is they tend to have high glory. In case things don’t work out and he gets dishonored instead of honored then you can use him to secure the favor next turn which is becoming more and more important.
This section would apply to the incoming 1/0 character with pride as well.
This one is more tricky. While there are plenty of valid scenarios where putting a fate on the Historian is correct, particularly against Crane where having more honored tokens on the board is valuable. I believe that the default scenario should be giving her 0 fate.
I believe Lion should maximize every resource available to them. This includes character abilities. Once you use the ability of the Historian one turn you do not normally get to
use it again. As opposed to something like the Tactician which can trigger every turn. The calculus changes when you run cards like Spies or Calling in Favors or Forged Edict which dishonor you for effects which enable you to use the ability again.
At this point people will point to Crane which always put a fate on the Brash Samurai. I remind everyone that Crane has other reasons for wanting honored tokens on the table.
If you are behind on honor it may still be worth it to bring out the Historian with no fate. She all but guarantees you will have the favor for that turn.
Ikoma Ujiaki and Akodo Toturi
As a general rule the main function of these characters is to get Charged or Spirit Callered in. There are circumstances where you can hard cast these characters. Due to the low curve of the Lion deck there are times where you are floating enough
fate to make it worthwhile to cast these characters.
There are also certain clans where it is safe to bring out Toturi first turn. Against Lion, Phoenix, or even Dragon you can put 2 fate on toturi get a dual ring effect and
potentially bring out a 1 cost conflict character for your political challenge. Just make sure you have a For Greater Glory handy in case you hit Feast or Famine.
I am an advocate of just not running Eiji but for some reason I see a lot of running players running him in jigoku. If you must run Eiji don’t play him on the first turn. In theory Eiji is supposed to make up for his smaller stats with an amazing ability. On the first turn he is not able to make use of his ability as there are no cards in the discard pile. In essence you paid 4 fate for a 1/3 body. At that point your better of just passing early and having a stronger second turn.
The same logic goes towards Ikoma Ujiaki, Matsu Beonia, and Kitsu Spiritcaller.
If all goes according to plan there are two points where the recruit enters play. He either comes in first turn or he comes in at a later point where you have established an honor lead. If everything is not going according to plan they you won’t be able to bring him out anyway as you would have less honor than your opponent.
If you are bringing him out when you have not established a sizable honor lead then placing 0 fate is correct as he can blow up at any time. If you have already established a lead then it is worth it to place 1 fate on him. At that point you would have paid 1 fate for a 2 Miltary body for 2 turns. More than any other clan Lion relies on raw numbers to batter its enemies into submission.
Also note that the 0 cost does not necessarily mean that the Recruit is for free. The extra action would normally mean that your opponent passes first. If you are bringing him out make sure you are in a flow turn.
This is actually a very delicate card to play. You want to use it to accelerate your Dynasty draw but you don’t want it to cost you fate. In my earlier article I wrote about ebb and
flow. As a general rule during the turns you ebb you want to use the Ground in your conflict phase and during the turns you flow you want to use it in the Dynasty phase for more characters.
Way of the Lion
This is one of the few cards in the game that get exponentially better the more you have in your hand. It should always be your last resort in a Military conflict. My default
order for using military buffs is Fine Katana on fated characters then Banzai then Way of the Lion. Having 2 way of the Lions in your hand is usually enough to end the final
stronghold conflict. Having 3 gets your humble Matsu Berserker to 24 Military.
This may be the best poker in the game. Don’t let the 0 Mil fool you. If she is in a position to poke Mil then your Stronghold is most likely ready and she will still be 1 Mil.
As a general rule you poke when the opponent has no obvious defenses available. In order to defend against the attack your opponent has to spend something from their hand. Crone is the only one with built in protection from this by making conflict cards cost more.
Well it looks like this article has went on for longer than I intended it to. For the next part of the Lion Masterclass article I will be discussing the various splashes in depth. Leave any reactions you have in the comments section.