**Note: This is the first World Championship to included two players who had both won a World Championship previously. Also, this is the first time that a dedicated dishonor deck would win Worlds.**
At GenCon 2007, the best and the brightest from each Clan will compete in the Test of the Emerald Champion to determine who will claim the most powerful position in an Empire without an Emperor. Some will be expected, some will be surprises, but all have what it takes to earn the title. Who will it be? That’s for you to decide. Each player in the tournament will choose one competitor from their Clan* when they sign up for the qualifiers. Should they win the Championship, their competitor wins the Test in the story!
Below are the candidates you can choose from. More will be revealed as we come closer to the Test!
* The candidate must come from the same Clan as the deck played in the tournament, with the following exceptions. Tamago and Utagawa may only be selected by one playing a Hare deck in the tournament. Shadowlands (The Maw’s Grave) players may choose one of the two Spider Clan contestants only.
From a post made on the Kuroiban Scorpion forum (slightly edited)
Promoting Jimen — a tournament report
So. here’s a tournament report for the elevation of Shosuro Jimen to the Emerald championship.
1. The Candidate:
For the past year, Jim Chatham pretty much single-handedly defended Scorpion pride at Lotus edition tournaments in North America, winning a truly ridiculous number of top Scorpion finishes. One of those was last year’s GenCon Indy, where he bucked the prevailing trend and rejected the Shogun’s offer. His reward was Shosuro Jimen, who got some story time and a pretty awesome card in Truest Test. Jim really, really wanted Jimen to accomplish big things, and so when Jimen was revealed as one of the Emerald Champion competitors, Jim was determined to do his best to get Jimen chosen.
As for myself, I’m a big fan of the political wing of the Scorpion clan, and Jim is a friend of mine, so I might well have chosen Jimen anyway. But at the last minute when my other plans fell through, Jim was able to give me a ride from Detroit to Indianapolis to Gencon, and we had a chance to talk over what pick to make for EC. So I didn’t really think twice about my choice of Jimen. But if I hadn’t gotten that ride, it’s quite possible I would have chosen Bayushi Adachi, whose art and character I like and who I had enlightened last year by winning the Detroit kotei.
2. The deck
This is probably the most unlikely part of the whole thing. The deck I played was built on the Wednesday night before the Thursday qualifiers and was not altered at all before the Saturday swiss rounds. I had done a fair amount of testing with DVD, but I had never tried duels in one. I had noticed that a lot of military decks were running followers and had pretty bad focus values, so I had thought that duels might be a good and surprising way of keeping the number of military personalities on the board down to manageable levels. Also, most of the emphasis of the Scorpion dishonour players I had talked to seemed to be on drawing as many cards as possible and trying to do one big dishonour hit to knock players out of the game, but that didn’t really appeal much to me for a variety of reasons. So I thought it might be worthwhile to test out if a slower, more versatile dishonor deck that could defend its provinces well could be competitive. I figured it probably would be too slow and get rolled by military. But I figured if I scrubbed out of the qualifiers with it on Thursday, I could try more of a bomb style thing.
I was also pretty tempted to try a Kyuden Wasuremono military deck, because I had some ideas for how to build a good one and I wanted to see whether it was really as weak against the field as people thought. But in the end, I had spent all of Lotus playing military, so I wanted to get back to some political action.
3. The qualifiers
It turned out I didn’t have to play the qualifier because I already had a seed, apparently. But I didn’t know, and I probably would have anyway. Supposedly former world champions get seeds into the Saturday swiss of worlds automatically. This is a recent innovation. Nobody told me that in 2002. I did get a seed into the 2003 Swiss rounds, but that was because I was the defending champion (or so I thought). But I probably would have played a qualifier anyway, because the whole point of me being at GenCon was to have fun and play L5R, and I didn’t really expect my deck to be that good. So by playing in a qualifier, I would get some L5R in, and could see how tragic the deck actually was, and switch to something better. Plus most of the point of me playing in the tournament was to see the Samurai environment in action, and I could do that in some ways better in the qualifiers than in the Saturday swiss.
So what I found out was that the deck was slow, but resilient. In the qualifiers, I went to time 3 times, and lost 2 of the die rolls – but those were my only losses in 8 rounds. Against military, I could pretty consistently kill enough of their guys to keep them from threatening multiple provinces and gradually claw them down in honor, whereas against honor I could keep them from winning basically indefinitely and gradually smash their provinces. It just sometimes took a while.
Some memorable moments from qualifying games: against Lion, one opponent gained 12 honor off of Flash of Steel, which kept him from being dishonoured out, and that game went to time. I lost that die roll. Another one: A crab attacked into me with Hida Genichi. I completely forgot about Genichi’s ability, and defended with Bayushi Kurumi, but he forgot to use his ability too. When Kurumi warrior challenged Genichi, he was sad. Another one: A defensive crane honor deck had finally crawled up to thirty something honor, and I could see a faint gleam of hope in my opponent’s eye. So I finally played my denounced on courts and unfortunate incidents and dropped him back down to the mid teens, then took another province with Paneki and friends. He resigned. Another one: A Crane player was having his provinces mashed by Paneki, who had been hit with Control but then I had killed the Control-er. So the Crane targeted Paneki twice with Asahina Beniha (losing 2 honor) and played Hired Killer on him, losing 4 honor but gaining 6. He broke even honor wise, but my main province-buster was dead. The game went to time and I lost the die roll.
4. An unfortunate incident
I had a bag with a lot of my cards with me while playing the qualifiers, and because I am stupid and forgetful I left it at one of my seats and didn’t even think about it until hours later, at which point it was gone. It had all the Truest Test foils I got as design rewards, plus a bunch of my decks plus some decks belonging to friends. It was a black and blue shoulder bag with one strap.
Partly because all my other cards were gone, and partly because I hadn’t actually lost any games, only die rolls, I didn’t change my deck at all before Saturday. Thursday night I missed the Karaoke because I am an enormous boardgame geek and was playing the new version of Brittania. It took longer than I expected. I spent most of Friday trying to play the Starcraft boardgame, and I got to try the demo, but not the full thing. It looks pretty cool, though.
5. Saturday Swiss.
I went 6-1 on Saturday, going to time once against Unicorn battle-maidens (but winning the die roll) and losing once to Unicorn out of Temple of Death. Unicorn isn’t a great matchup for the deck because all of my defense requires presence. I believe the matches went something like this, but I can’t guarantee the order:
Round 1. Lion – Hall of Ancestors
I remember least about this game. This was one of the games where he couldn’t keep more than two or three people on the board. 1-0
Round 2. Unicorn – The Utaku Plains
This was the battle maiden game that went to time. I was able to save provinces using reinforce the gates and two front war, and stabilised at 3 provinces while keeping hhis honor in check. He thought he would win in the long run, but I was dubious – I had lots of defenders and plenty of hand and was drawing 3 cards a turn because I had ring of void and Shrine to Fukurokujin out. He was hovering around 10 honor. It would have taken probably another 10-15 minutes to become really clear who had the upper hand. We rolled off, and I won (bringing my die roll record for GenCon indy to a cool 50%). 2-0
Round 3. Crab – The Seventh Tower
The crab matches have kind of blended together for me. Was this the one I Hired Killered Kuon? I think it might have been the one where he got gold-flooded in mid-game. And it could have been the one where afterwards, he told me he had forgotten to use his Courage in Death’s when I killed his guys with duels in battle. Anyway, Crab doesn’t gain much honor, and the fact that I kill their guys when they attack means it’s hard for them to build up overwhelming force. So they are probably my best matchup (although I never played against Spider). 3-0
Round 4. Unicorn – The Temple of Death
This game I should have lost for two reasons. First, I got gold screwed within an inch of my life – not just ‘I got only one holding turn 2’ (which I can recover from) but ‘I got no boxables either’ and ‘I had a holding I couldn’t use to buy anything on turns 3 and 4’. Not only that, all his guys had 4 chi, so I couldn’t duel them. Not only that, but they were all uniques, so I couldn’t use bitter shadow of shame. He got chags (KD edition) on turn 4, took two provinces on turn 5, and attacked into both my provinces on turn 6 with me having no way to defend them. He was at -12 honor (box, Saya, Kaukatsu, unfortunate incident, Hired Killer of a dishonoured guy), but I had only two dishonour card in hand: a share the blame and an assigning blame, and it is an undeniable fact that -12-6 = not -20. So I defended with Jimen and Saya at one province and Stayed my blade, and drew rocking cards. He sent jimen home, but I reacted with Share the blame and I then used him to play two Front war and move my whole army back in. I then duelled one of his 5 chi cavalry guys with a Shosuro Uyeda, who unsurprisingly lost, but Assigned blame twice, dropping him to -21, with his army still large enough to destroy my last remaining province.
The second reason I should have lost was that he sent home Jimen using Moto Chen, which meant that Jimen should have been bowed, which meant that I couldn’t have played two front war. But I didn’t know Chen sent home bowed, and he didn’t know Two Front War require an unbowed courtier. So we didn’t find out our mistake until later. He was an extraordinarily good sport about it, and said he was fine with the result, and it had been worth it just to see me pull that game out of nowhere in such a tech fashion. 4-0
Round 5. Unicorn – The Temple of Death
The difference between this game and most of my games against military was that, in most of my games against military, when they attacked into me I would kill some of their guys and just barely save the province. In this game, I would kill some of his guys and just barely lose the province. Hence, I ran out of provinces a little before I had planned. I got him into the negative honor, but the game wasn’t all that close in the end. 4-1
Round 6: Mantis – Eastern Hub Port
This game was the clearest example of my duels totally smoking a military deck. He brought out a Tadame on his second turn, but my third turn I flipped up a Tsuruchi Etsui exp. (who he also had sitting in his own province) and locked Tadame down. The next two turns, I killed two more of his guys with a impromptu duels, and when he finally attacked into me I killed him yet more with battle duels. It was very one-sided. I don’t remember if he took a province before he conceded, but I don’t think so. 5-1
Round 7: Dragon – Tetsu Kama Mura
This game ended up being a dishonour on dishonour matchup. He was basically a control type of deck, with some assigning blames and such, and running duels and magistrate tech. I knew from the outset that duelling him would be pointless because of his focus values. I had to play a delicate game of looking too strong to attack and keeping his force down, because if he swung at my provinces most of my defensive actions would be useless. Quite a few of my personalities were locked down with control or dishonoured, whereas he was very careful to keep all of his personalities honourable (and I didn’t draw any assigning blames). My honor dropped from hired killers and share the blame and such, whereas he lost at minimum 3 every turn from the stronghold, and Proposal of Peace kicked in at one point to deny him several honor gains.
It came down to me drawing into the cards I needed to finish him off one turn before he did. He was at -3 honor, having just brought out Satsu, and I was at -13. I used the stronghold on Satsu, and he took the loss, bringing him to negative 6. I then used Saya on Shosuro Adeiko and then used the shrine to Fukurokujin on her, dishonouring her, drawing a card, and herself, and losing one honor, bringing me to -14. I then played 2 denounced on stage, then an unfortunate incident (bringing him to -13) then another, bringing him to -20. Apparently, next turn he would have been able to dishonor me out with a hired killer and 2 assigning blames. 6-1
So that was Swiss. I finished 6th overall.
6. Saturday Elimination
We went quite quickly on to the elimination rounds. The top 16 had a good mix of clans, although Crab and Spider weren’t represented. Lion had the largest contingent, but as it turned out all were eliminated in the first round. Scorpion only had 2 but both eventually made the final 4…
My top 16 match was against David Navarez, playing Crane. This was very lucky for me, because my best matchup is probably against ‘speed’ honor runners, and he was one of only two decks in the final 16 that met that description. So I was pretty confident.
We were now in best 2 of 3 matches in 90 minutes using the Palmer rule. It turned out that, given how slow my deck was, this was for my matches more or less equivalent to having single matches to determine the winner. For those who have seen me play in the past, I think I played much faster than I usually do, but the deck just wasn’t a quick one.
Top 16: Crane – Shizuka Toshi, David Navarez
This was a pretty fast build that relied on control cards like Saya and Control to delay military decks long enough to cross. He actually took a province from me using Daidoji Kikaze, but Kikaze got Hired Killered shortly thereafter and I took a province right back with Paneki. Quite a lot of his guys got dishonoured, and he started taking the honor hits rather than seppuku people – quite reasonably, since a military win was his only real option at this point. I was expecting to military him out with Paneki, but I drew into the cards I needed to dishonour him out before the last province fell. It took about an hour, all told.
In our second game, I killed Kikaze before he could get a province, and if anything the situation seemed to be going better for me. He conceded, since I was winning and we were almost out of time.
There was a break for the clan councils. I was shocked to learn we were playing the top 8 the same night, so I did the council and then headed right back for the next match.
Top 8: Crane – Mountain’s Shadow Dojo, Chris Yau
Chris was playing Crane on behalf of his brother Dennis, who was unable to attend GenCon on account of being on his honeymoon. Since Dennis plays L5R with me on a weekly basis and Chris was using his deck, I had seen what I was up against and I knew it wasn’t pretty. He could gain lots of honor and threaten my provinces, and had good focus values because he ran some duels of his own. Pretty much the worst possible combination of factors. And I knew that Chris would play his deck extremely well. Before our match, I made a half-hearted attempt to talk him into conceding (‘you don’t really care about Akagi – you’re a Mantis player!’) but as I expected, he wasn’t biting.
Lucky for me, I drew a really good opening hand. On my third turn, I brought out Saya and Kurumi. He didn’t attack me yet – he was still setting up, having bought some gold and one person 3rd turn. However, he hadn’t yet bought anybody for full. So I used Saya on Kurumi, used shrine to fukurokujin on her, dishonouring her and losing 2 honor. She seppuku’d to reduce the loss to 1, at which point I played 2 assigning blame, reducing Chris’s honor to 0 and dishonouring 2 of his Crane Samurai. I then Hired Killered one of them, dropping his honor to negative 3. For the rest of the game, he paid 2 extra gold for all of his personalities – in all of my tournament games, this was the only time I dropped someone below their honor requirements without using the stronghold or an unfortunate incident.
So Chris’s economy was seriously hit, and that slowed him down enough for me to have the upper hand. He managed to take 3 of my provinces before I finished him off, which is a tribute to the quality of that deck, but the game still took 70 minutes. We played the second game as fast as we could, but it soon became clear he wasn’t going to be able to blitz his way through me and he conceded once I brought out Paneki and still had all 4 provinces with 5 minutes left on the clock.
This was probably the match that was most likely to knock me out of the tournament.
That finished us up for that Saturday.
7. A drunken agreement
That night I went on the pub crawl. I resolved not to stay up too late, though, because I wanted to play my best the next day and you really can’t do that when you’re exhausted and hung over. I was matched up against Myke Clark in the top 4, which was cool, because we had been offering each other encouragement through the whole tournament and he is a nice guy and he had a very cool and original deck. I had tried to talk him into joining the Jimen bandwagon, but he really wanted to try and go as far as he could and support his favourite character. I felt I probably had the upper hand in the matchup, however. For one thing, I was probably one of the few people in the tournament who knew almost all the battle tricks he was likely to pull. And for another, Scorpion military is usually good at winning battles, but not as good at taking provinces, and as long as I could keep my provinces intact long enough, he would be dishonoured out.
But that night at the pub crawl, I ran into Scott Rixson, who was in the other bracket of the top 4. I first met Scott at origins 2005 in the top 8, where my Scorpion Chi-kill/duelling deck got steamrolled by an earlier version of the switch dueller he won GenCon with later that year. We had had fun playing the match and he later joined my L5R team, the Straw Dogs. So we knew each other pretty well, and we started talking about how cool it would be if we got to play each other in the finals. Being a Scorpion player, I tried to talk Scott into conceding the match, and found him to be a willing accomplice. It turned out he thought that Jimen would be a cooler Emerald Champion than Noritoshi, and he liked the idea of some sort of political deal or blackmail that would force Noritoshi to concede. And what better way for a political deal in the story to be represented than by a political deal in the final match?
8. Sunday Finals
I woke up much earlier than I wished and went to the card hall. It was sparsely populated, understandably. We sat down and began to play the finals. It was a totally different atmosphere than it had in past years, because almost nobody was around. In 2002 and 2004, I had played my top 4 match surrounded by what seemed like hundreds of people. This time, it seemed more like I was playing a friendly game, not like a tournament – although the judges watching us did give it a bit more of a tournament feel. I don’t think most of the players there even knew the top 4 match was happening.
Semifinals: Scorpion – Kyuden Wasuremono, Myke Clark
I lost the die roll to go first. I brought out a Personality turn 2, however, so I could start hitting him with the stronghold. His deck was able to put an impressive amount of force on the board because he was running both Bayushi Iyona and Yogo Rieko. I got Paneki early, but I knew I had to be extremely careful with him because even with Seat of Power it would be easy for Mike to deal with him in a battle – the worst possibility being dishonouring Paneki off of Assigning Blame and then hitting him with Unexpected Betrayal. For that reason, I mostly defended with Paneki at the province he wasn’t attacking, which allowed me to use Paneki’s ability to kill his dishonoured courtiers from afar. I was wary of duelling him because I knew he ran weigh the cost, but he was wary of killing my personalities because of Adieko and assigning blame. He was able to take a province or two, but Paneki and hired killers and Adeiko did a good job of keeping the number of Personalities manageable, and I gradually dragged his honor down until I could finish him off.
In the Second game, I went first and brought out Maru exp. 2 and a Saya. He flipped up all gold in his provinces. I had farmlands out, and was one force away from taking his province, but couldn’t quite manage it. It would have been cool, though. It developed very similarly to the first game, but we couldn’t finish it and when we were almost out of time he conceded. I think the final 4 of a tournament as important as gencon should have been allocated more time to be completed, but by that point there wasn’t much we could do about it. Pablo and Scott’s game went all the way to time too, which tends to suggest a bit more time would be a good idea.
Afterwards, Myke and I talked to story and answered the Top of Clan question for Scorpion together, and asked if Hisako could end up as Jimen’s Yojimbo in the aftermath of the tournament. After all, he ought to have been pretty impressed with her Iaijutsu skills!
Scott and I talked to Shawn, the head of Story, about our plan. He thought it was reasonable. We shuffled our cards, dealt them out, and then Scott conceded. The only way for Jimen to be Champion, was for me to win the tournament. But really, this was a championship for both Scott and me. I didn’t beat him, and his deck probably has the edge over mine in the head to head matchup. But since we are both former world champions, I don’t think either of us felt the need that most other players would have felt to win. We just wanted a cool story and a cool Emerald champion, and we’d proved anything we needed to prove about our playskill and/or decks by making the finals. I gave Scott the special green honor counter that went to the tournament champion, since he had earned it just as much as me.
And that’s pretty much the story. I think there are two types of decks that win worlds: the almost unstoppable overwhelming favourite kind – like Scott’s in 2005 or Bryan’s in 2003 – and the solid deck with good matchups, like Salman’s in 2004. My deck and Scott’s both fell into that second category. Play out the tournament again, and there would be no particular guarantee I would be in the final 4 – or even make the cut to top 16 (making top 16 with 120 players is hard). But the deck was good, and it surprised people (which was a big advantage), and I played it well, and that turned out to be enough, when you added a bit of luck. My congratulations go out to all the other players, especially those who went 5-2 but missed the cut, as well as the rest of the top 4 and especially Scott, who has an equal right to call himself Champion. I personally hope that the storyline result will make Crane players just as happy as Scorpion players (as long as they don’t mind being blackmailed a little): as I think I mentioned, I am hoping there will be both a carrot and a stick involved in Noritoshi’s concession, and the carrot may end up tasting pretty sweet. But that is all up to the story team.
Dynasty Deck (40 Cards)
1 Bayushi Hisoka
1 Bayushi Kaukatsu (Experienced 2)
3 Bayushi Kurumi
3 Bayushi Maemi
1 Bayushi Paneki (Experienced 4)
3 Bayushi Saya
3 Shosuro Adeiko
1 Shosuro Jimen
1 Shosuro Maru (Experienced 2)
3 Shosuro Uyeda
1 Tsuruchi Etsui (Experienced)
Fate Deck (40 cards)
3 Assigning Blame
2 The Bitter Shadow of Shame
3 Denounced on Stage
3 First and Final Strike
3 Hired Killer
3 Impromptu Duel
3 Insolence Punished
3 Reinforce the Gates
2 Share the Blame
3 Stay Your Blade
2 Two-Front War
3 Unfortunate Incident
3 Warrior Challenge
3 Weigh the Cost