Open Deck Advice (LONG!!)
ltwyman at osf1.gmu.edu
Sat Dec 1 02:53:01 EST 2001
At 05:18 PM 12/1/01 +1300, you wrote:
>Hello fellow Dragons,
>I usually play a Gold legal Dragon deck but have found that many people play
>open in my area (probably don't want to give up their awesome cards). So I
>have decided that I need to "open"ify my deck to stand a better chance
>against them. I don't know much about the open format so I need help on what
>to get. This is what my Gold legal deck current is:
Yay. Open. Something I know a little more about!
Anyway, it's hard to win with Dragon in Open, mostly because of Spirit.
They screw everything up -- they honor run way too fast, and they
militarize uber-quick too. But if your local group doesn't cheese out, it
can really be some fun.
First thing you need to do in Open is figure out exactly how your deck
plans on winning. In Gold, flexibility isn't always a bad thing (in fact,
my Gold deck is based around me being able to both take a couple of
provinces and honor run). In Open, you must be focused.
Your dynasty deck lacks focus. Judging from your fate, you want to honor
run, but you're still including cards like low focus-value followers, which
will only serve to slow you down. I'll assume you want a honor deck with duels.
Honestly, with the breakup of the favor and the MRPings, I think dishonor
is, hands down, Dragon's best deck in Open, but dishonor is an extremely
complicated deck to win with, and requires a *lot* of rares. However,
duelling honor has always been "my" deck -- the one I'm most comfortable
with, and the one I do best with -- so I'll advise you on it to the best of
I plan on ignoring AOF for this analysis, since I don't know its full
Alright. The key word for Dragon honor should be "control". We can't honor
run as fast as Crane, Spirit, or even Phoenix can, but we excell at
controlling the board and having a counter for our opponent's cards. View
duels as a way to control the board first; any honor you might gain is just
gravy. Our shugenja give us a huge advantage when it comes to removing
annoying personalities or grabbing key fate cards.
First off, in Open, you need a sensei. At the very least, it lets you cut
your fate deck down to 39 cards. Dragon honor doesn't really doesn't have a
"correct sensei" -- we either have to base our decks around the sensei, or
run a generic one (like Hantei). I tend to do the latter.
My personal favorite sensei for Dragon in SJ and Open around the time of
Origins (the last time I played Open) was Otomo. Otomo has several
advantages: first, it allowed me to run the card-fetching events Restoring
the Doji Treasury and Wisdom Gained without any real drawback (when my
opponent searched for a card, I simply chucked a card from my fate hand to
cancel it -- basically, I got a free holding or ring for, at most, chucking
a fate card, and usually people refuse to search since they don't want
their cards removed from the game). Both were huge advantages: Restoring
seriously helped me smooth out my gold scheme, and Wisdom Gained let me
grab the all-important Void Ring. Otomo also slowed FETA (which is now
effectively dead) and dishonor, both of which commonly use a great amount
of fate manipulation. I also have caught a military deck using Kaede for
RoV off-guard more than once.
Since FETA is gone, Otomo might no longer be the best choice. For a very
long time I ran Hantei, and was very happy -- the only reason I decided to
switch was that I found that I often didn't use its ability. The key to
Hantei is knowing your opponent, and knowing when to call the card. It's a
bit of trial and error; I know of at least two games in tournaments I lost
for failing to use Hantei. Against other duellers, call Iaijutsu Challenge;
against honor, Deeds or Wind's Truth is a good call (after you've used one
or more of your own, of course); against dishonor, Rise (and/or Breach on
the first turn) is a smart move; and against Scorpion blitz, Shoshuro
Technique is a great call. *The* reason to use Hantei is against blitz
military: you call Sneak Attack. The worst thing that can happen to a
defensive dragon deck is being denied your actions; no Sneak Attack means
you always can play one card before they drop a deadly or storms or
Crushing attack. That single action can win so many games.
There are other senseis Dragon can use to some effect. The most common is
Toshimoko; however, I've found that I usually don't need it to win duels,
and since I play with so many shugenja and so few Samurai (the only Samurai
I played with at Normal and Origins were Daini and Yuyake) it's not really
all that useful, and its drawback (your personalities cannot refuse) has
often hurt me against other duelling decks more than the sensei helped me.
I have toyed with a Yoritomo Sensei deck, smoothing out our poor gold
curve, and allowing me to play with Entrench for Empty Crevasse.
Dragon's gold scheme is very unimpressive. Our guys aren't exceptionally
cheap (do we have anyone who costs less than 4?), we get no cost reductions
for anything (other than 12th Black Scroll :P), and we lack any truly
special holdings to speed us up. I usually go very gold heavy, because I
need early holdings and I have several fate cards that cost gold. Frankly,
Dragon doesn't need to run anyone who can't be bought off the box for
cheap. The only guy with a cost >6 I run is Hoshi XP2, and he's mostly for
flavor reasons (and 'cuz he owns).
DON'T RUN TOO MANY EVENTS/REGIONS. Our gold scheme isn't pretty, so you
want to make sure things are as consistent as possible. I prefer gold and
peeps to most events.
The key behind any Dragon deck in open that plans on staying above 0 honor
is Agasha Gennai. Get and run 3 of him; he is simply amazing. He is what
makes Dragon the kings of the Metagame -- I often found myself not using
cards like Deeds, Not Words or Sun in the Shadow, but I never really
regretted playing them since I could just toss them to Gennai. He's also
the master of the Ring of Void.
Our biggest advantage in Open is our great Shugenja base. Togashi Shinseken
still remains one of my favorite personalities; his ability is once again
useful with the stronghold from AOF, and even in Iron Mountain he is
amazing for cost -- a 3C shugenja who can Kiho, Spell, and lobby for the
favor with the best of them, off the box with 2 honor. The -- HR is what
makes him so great -- with him and Daini, we're one of the best honor decks
against Dishonor. Tamori Chosai's 4 chi has become essential to me, and he
is even better in Open than he is in Gold, since we have Shinseken and
Yuyake off the box, so we can get him out much quicker. Cheiko is still
amazingly solid in Open, and is also a mini-Gennai.
While Togashi Yoshi (the original, non-experienced version) is disliked by
some prominent list members, I have loved him since I started playing back
in FK. The great thing about Yoshi is he's still a relatively cheap 2PH
shugenja, AND pretty much the only duelling support you'll ever need.
Remember, his chi bonus lasts until the end of turn, which is great for
things like Come One at a Time I usually like to run 2.
As for our Samurai, Mirumoto Daini (non-exp) is, of course, the ultimate
all-around guy. There is *no* reason not to run him in your deck -- he's
dishonor protection, he's cheap, he's 3PH, and he has 4 Chi. I love
Mirumoto Yuyake; his ability is beautiful, and he's 2PH off the box.
Yuyake's 2C is a disadvantage, but I'm not planning on duelling with him
anyway (not to say I haven't -- his duelling prowess, with a Yoshi to back
him up, won me the game in the top 16 round of Abandoning the Fortunes,
where he bravely Come One at a Time'd an army of weapon-tokened rats). Uso
(non-exp, his Experienced version is junk) is another incredibly solid
personally, but even at a mere 6 gold he can be a little expensive (I
eventually dropped all the 6G personalities other than Yoshi and Gennai
from my deck).
There are a few personalities with more cost worth considering playing
(even though I don't). The spirit Asako Sagoten is excellent in honor-heavy
environments, particularly when combo'ed with cards to keep your opponent
from gaining honor, like Loss of Face, Deeds not Words, and Tribute to your
House (the latter combos especially well with Sagoten, as you can use it to
temporarily reduce your own honor and then use your Sagotens). He is very
cool to get on turn 2 vs. Unicorn, Lion, or Crane. However, he is a tad
expensive, at 6G for out of clan, and doesn't help you much against
military. Kitsuki Yasu is great if you shoot to 10 honor very quickly (by
running Shinsei's Shrines); 4 honor for 7G isn't too bad of a deal. Kitsuki
Kaagi helps you with the whole board control aspect, and he can have some
force with his tactican trait, but I don't run him anymore since he's not a
samurai. Decks have been based around Kitsuki Mizuochi's ability, and his
cost/PH is very nice; I'm just not a fan of his HR.
IMHO, one of the most important parts of the Dragon control/honor deck is
the focus values -- keep them up. This helps both with winning duels and
with Yoshi's ability. This is not to say that you should not run any low
focus value cards -- quite to the contrary; you must run Challenges and
Duels, and I'm also a big fan of Come One at a Time, Deeds not Words, and
Test of Honor. However, you should try to keep low focus values to a
minimum -- I never run more than 3 1-Focus cards and 12 2-focus cards (my
average is 2 1-focus and 9 2-focus). There are plenty of good high focus
cards; a crazy number of them, in fact. Keeping your focus values up
ensures, along with decent chi, that you don't need any extra fate-based
duel support. Your duels should be mainly ways to eliminate a key opposing
unit or (in the case of I. Challenge) intimidate your opponent.
Fate-based duel support is *BAD*. I can't say this enough. The only cards I
like to run are Snow Crane Tattoo and Poison Weapon, which I *only* run in
strict Gold, since duelling decks and anti-duelling cards are so rampant.
Most non-unique items are not good -- they cost gold you could be spending
on a fate card that directly kills an opponent's guy or on more
defenders/honor. Sure, if your opponent runs a bunch of anti-duelling
stuff, or runs a bunch of duel support, they will win their duels. However,
every card they spend on a duel is one less card they can use to mess you
up, and every card you didn't use on duel support is one more card you can
use to stop them. (The same goes for dynasty-based duel support). If your
focus values are up, you should have a good chance of winning your duels
The heart of my dragon honor deck in Open is the dishonor/kill combo. I run
Secrets, Force of Will, Test of Honor, Bitter, and Judgement. All of them
are relatively useful on their own -- secrets and Judgement being the least
flexible by themselves -- and far more effective when used together. I can
dishonor a personality with Secrets, then be assured of killing them with
Force of Will or Test of Honor, no matter how big they are. Iaijutsu
Challenge is another way to dishonor my opponent's guys (if they refuse),
and when I kill dishonored guys, I slow down their honor gains. Secrets+
Judgement, while a bit difficult to set up, is brutal when it works,
killing up to 4 personalities. I don't even fear Gaheris -- I can kill him
the turn after he hits the board.
Soo.... the easiest/best cards to get that aren't in Gold:
-Mirumoto Daini Non-experienced (Common, in all basic sets through pearl
-Agasha Gennai non-experienced (common, Time of the Void, Jade, Pearl, and
I think some starters)
-Mirumoto Yuyake (Common, Fire and Shadow)
-Togashi Shinseken (Common, Ambition's Debt)
-Togashi Yoshi (Uncommon, Imperial, Emerald, and Obsidian Edition)
- Mirumoto Uso (Common, Honor Bound)
-Merchant Caravan (Common, Forbidden Knowledge and a few starters)
-Empty Crevasse (Common, Soul of the Empire)
-Inheritence (Rare, Imperial-Pearl, hard to get)
-Imperial Gift (rare, all basic sets)
-Kolat Duplicate (rare, Honor Bound, hard to get)
-Imperial Edicts (in gold, but, hey)
-Loss of Face (Common?, Dark Journey Home)
-Test of Honor (Rare, Imperial-Pearl, a bit hard to get, but incredible)
Regions - The only one worth playing (other than Shrines, which I dislike):
- Golden Sun Plains (Rare, Dark Journey Home, Hard to get ahold of)
- a risky alternative: Doji Plains (Uncommon, Anvil of Despair)
-maybe: Clan Heartland (Rare, FK and Jade-Pearl)
Items (most of these are very hard to get):
-12th Black Scroll (Rare, Time of the Void; if you can trade for one of
these, DO IT!)
-Ancestral Sword (fixed in Imperial, Celestial can work)
-Kitsuki Kaagi's Journal (Uncommon/Rare in Hidden Emperor 3?, not to hard
- Bitter (Rare, Spirit Wars)
-Judgement (From Heroes of Rokugan)
-Force of Will (Common, Shadowlands -- My favorite card :P)
-If you go dishonor/kill: Secrets on the Wind (Uncommon, all basic sets)
-Walk the Way (Uncommon/Rare, all basic sets)
-Rise from the Ashes (Uncommon, Dark Journey Home)
-The Wind's Truth (Common, Honor Bound and Gold)
- Banish All Shadows (Rare, Hidden Emperor 4?, hard to get)
See above in text
Right. On to the deck. The big problem with it is that personalities in
Open are far, far superior to ones in Gold. Fortunately, most are common,
so if your playerbase has access to older cards and aren't jerks you should
be able to get what you need easily.
>Dynasty Deck (40):
>3x Mirumoto Rosanjin
Replace with 3x Uso. Uso original is just better, stat-wise.
>3x Mirumoto Ukira
3xDaini. Just better.
>1x Mirumoto Uso (exp)
Drop. He's not good, even in Gold. Focusing two cards is just plain
inferior to double chi, and a 3/4 for 9 isn't great.
>2x Hitomi Vedau
>2x Togashi Nyima
>1x Togashi Genshuo
You're not running tattoo cards, so it's best to replace these dudes with
our great shugenja. 3x Gennai and 3x Shinseken should fit nicely. Think
about adding 2x Yoshi by dropping Uso and one of your other cards, like...
>1x Fortress of Dragonfly
Fortress of the Dragonfly is one of those cards I hate to play against but
also hate to play. It doesn't really move you towards your victory
condition, or slow down your opponent on its own. I actually like it when
my opponent sees these, especially early; it may be tougher for me to duel
them, but it's not another dude to smash me, more honor to push them to the
win, or more gold to give them a resource advantage.
>2x Hiruma Dojo
Drop these for Merchant Caravans and (gasp!) Empty Crevasses. Crevasses
have a *great* gold ratio; while it does suck to lose them with your
province, the added stability is worth it. 6PS, cheap dudes, and your
defensive cards should be able to hold back many early attacks.
>2x Kaiu Forge
Why? It costs more than your stronghold, doesn't give you gold, doesn't
give you honor, isn't better than another personality, and boosts you up
sloooowly. Weapons just aren't worth it. More gold would be better.
>1x Obsidian Statues
>1x Mountain Lookout
Eh? Neither of these are much use. Drop them if you get some good rare
events/regions, or at least replace them with Campsites. Campsites are
yummy in the late game.
>1x Imperial Ambassadorship
Not bad, but not amazing. The more powerful open events would be nice here.
>Fate Deck (40):
>2x Hitomi Technique
Bleh. Extraordinarily conditional (you need a samurai, they need a
shugenja), underpowerd, and it costs gold and requires you to bow a guy. Drop.
These are... ok. You have decent force, and 4 focus is always nice. Other
nice choices include Sun in Shadow (vs. Kihos) and Loss of Face (vs.
Honor), or more D. I also really like Imperial Edicts -- very flexible,
capable of stopping attacks or the many powerful spells and Kihos in open.
If you keep Counterattack, Torrential Rain is kind of neat with it -- bow
and send home the entire attacking army, then counter.
>3x Rallying Cry
How often do you expect to take provinces in Open? You have decent force,
especially if you keep the followers, but your opponents will usually have
lots more force than you if they're military. This could be a defensive
card, like Flattery, To Do What We Must, or Toturi is Drugged.
>2x Entrapping Terrain
This is one of those cards that I can recognize its power, but still
dislike playing. 1 focus, easily destroyed. It's much better in a deck with
lots of terrains -- along with Flooded Pass, Mountains of the Phoenix, etc
-- where you have more terrains than they have Superior Tactics. Its decent
for the last resort save, but that's about it. I prefer Come One at a Time
-- a bit more risky, but it has an immediate effect (at least one duel),
and can potentially decimate an entire army.
I love bloodswords in the story -- Sanzo got Ambition, and Judgement is one
of my favorite cards. The card Bloodsword, however, sucks. 4G for a mere
+1/+1 (you can get Uso or Gennai for the same cost) that requires you to
win a duel in order to become halfway worthwhile. On top of it all, it has
a crappy 2 focus value. I would rather spend my gold on something that
gives me honor, defense, or kills something.
>2x M. Infantry
Low, low focus, not enough military in the deck to be effective, and cost
gold. If you *must* use followers, both Elite Spearmen and Imperial Legion
are much, much better, since they have good abilities and focus. I would
recommend you drop them, anyway. Better things to spend gold on.
>1x Shiryo no Nyoko
Ancestors are generally not very good, unless they have a great ability.
Nyoko isn't even a good ancestor.
>3x Biting Steel
Decent boost to force and chi, but costs gold and has abysmal focus. I'm
not really a fan; better things to do with your shugenja, Togashi Yoshi is
just as good for a duel, and
>3x Purity of Spirit
Sort of cool. One of my favorite kiho's in Gold; of middling value in open.
>1x Double Chi
First off, one of it won't help you much. Secondly, it's fate-based
support, with a bad focus value, and is completely useless unless you also
have a duel in hand.
Also, where on earth is your 3x The Wind's Truth? One of the best Kihos
around, and 4 focus to boot.
Spells like Walk the Way and Force of Will would be very nice.
>1x Ring of the Void
I would also add 1x Ring of Earth
>Thanks in advance for your help (or at least reading this far).
Phew. Almost done. If you wanted a military deck, just ask, and sorry I
wasted so much of your time. :)
I'm thinking of posting the open honor deck I got 17th with at Origins this
year (and only missed getting in by making stupid mistakes on the two games
I lost), since I wasn't on the list at the time. It's a modified version of
the Strict Jade deck that took me to the top four of the Abandoning the
Fortunes $1000 tournament in Normal, Illinois a month earlier. If anyone is
interested, that is...
>kenryoku at email.com
Lucas Twyman / Kitsuki Iyoku
Dragon Clan Villain - Soul of Sanzo
More information about the Dragon