For our third card and our first non-lion card we have the Asako Diplomat. This has been one of my favorite cards in Phoenix and enables potentially devastating combos. When the card first came out it was misunderstood by Phoenix players and some continue to do leading them to undervalue the card.
Asako Diplomat has 1 Mil and 2 Pol and has the ability to place an honor or dishonor token on any character upon winning a conflict. The chief source of complaint from Phoenix players comes from the stats. They argue that the stats are just too weak and Phoenix as a clan in general has trouble winning conflicts. At this point I would just like
to point out that a 2/1 distribution is actually average among 2 cost characters. As far as I know every single Lion 2 cost has a 2/1 distribution. Unicorns mostly have 2/1’s with the exception of Meishodo Wielder which is 2/2. I wont go into further examples but rest assured having more than 3 stats is the exception not the rule for 2 cost characters.
For the role it has I would say that 1/2 is the best distribution of stats that the Diplomat could have (given that there is only 3 points to play around with). In general Pol is harder to gain that Mil so having a higher base stat there is more helpful in winning conflicts. Having 1 mil is better than having 0 like the Mediator as it forces your opponent to defend against Military feints.
This is where people misunderstand the Diplomat. Its effect is so powerful that people go to great lengths to get it to trigger leading them to overcommit to conflicts. As with most powerful effects the threat of it going of is more important than the effect itself.
Phoenix in general does have smaller characters than other clans. Diplomat makes up for this by forcing your opponent to have to commit enough characters to win every conflict. When you send in your Diplomat to attack your opponent has to make sure they win or you can neuter one of their characters with a token and your stronghold.
Remember that the Diplomat triggers on any victory. Even defensive ones. This means that your opponent cannot send in probing attacks anymore while the Diplomat is on the table as you can use it to trigger him.
This warping influence on the board helps Phoenix win conflicts in general as it forces your opponent to spread out his characters while you can focus yours.
Isawa or Shiba?
In my Phoenix masterclass articles I outlined two basic ways to play Phoenix. The conquest style of the Shiba and the dishonor style of the Isawa. Asako Diplomat fits better with Way of the Isawa than Way of the Shiba. The conquest style only really uses one or two main attackers and have other ways of honoring them while the volume of
dishonor produced by Asako Diplomat can easily push an opponent over the edge. Used effectively a Diplomat or two can easily generate black tokens for your opponents board.
The most basic combo for the Diplomat is the Phoenix Stronghold. Most characters have 1-2 glory. The dishonor token and glory boost would usually be enough to reduce a character to a 0 stat causing an attack to fail.
This is where Asako Diplomat truly shines. Some characters can easily absorb a dishonor token and still function. They could have other abilities that can be used and could have items that boost their stats. The Diplomat makes setting up Noble Sacrifice fairly easy. Any time you win the Fire ring with the Diplomat in the conflict she can already generate enough tokens to use Sacrifice. With someone like Tsuki on the board even winning a Water ring is enough.
Voice of Honor
Diplomat generates free honor tokens and can remove opposing honor tokens as well which enables Voice of Honor. This gives high value targets such as Prodigy and Tsukune an additional layer of protection. As you can probably tell Crane is the perfect splash for the Diplomat.
What is better than an Asako Diplomat that your opponent must defend? One that you can pull out at any time. Remember this can also be used to insert a bowed Asako Diplomat that lost a conflict earlier on in the turn at the last-minute.
This is another one of those undervalued cards when it comes to Phoenix. Phoenix has plenty of characters that you can charge in just to use their effects later on in the turn. Tsukune, Prodigy, Solemn, and yes Asako Diplomat. As an added bonus a charged Diplomat can also be sacrificed later on in the turn.
That concludes our in-depth look at the Asako Diplomat. If you’re a Phoenix player I highly recommend playing against a Diplomat with another clan to see the complications he causes. I haven’t decided what the next card will be. If you have any suggestions please do let me know in the comments.