From the Sensei: Mantis Strategy for The New Order

Kage_Senseiby Julien Boles

Unlike most of my esteemed colleagues in the Design Team, I never was a great tournament player before joining the team. Though I did win the occasional small tournaments here and there and often made Top 32/16, I have no big title to my pedigree. One of the reasons for this is that, like a true Mantis, I always love playing the underdog theme, the decks that people abandoned, claiming the deck couldn’t win anything, and trying to make the most of it. And that’s what I’ll be doing today by giving you a tentative Scout decklist using the set’s new cards.

So without further ado, first, the decklist:

# Pre-Game (2)

# Stronghold (1)
1 The Fruitful Port of the Mantis

# Sensei (1)
1 Shika Sensei

# Dynasty (46)ShikaSensei

# Holding (20)
3 Coastal Lane
1 Deep Harbor
3 Famous Bazaar
3 Jade Mine
3 Jade Pearl Inn
3 Kobune Port
1 Lane of Immorality
3 Slave Pits

# Personality (26)
1 Okazaki, Breaker of Wills
1 Tochiko, the Jagged Tusk of Death
1 Tsuruchi – inexperienced
3 Tsuruchi Kaito
3 Tsuruchi Satou
3 Tsuruchi Taito
1 Tsuruchi Yashiro, Defender of the Obsidian Blades – exp
3 Yoritomo Nishigori
1 Yoritomo Yashinko Experienced
3 Yoritomo Shotsuo
3 Yoritomo Yakuwa
3 Yoritomo Yusuke

# Fate (40)

# Follower (9)
2 Expert Archers
3 Legion of the Khan
3 Sons of Gusai

# Ring (3)
1 Ring of Earth
1 Ring of the Void
1 Ring of Water

# Strategy (28)
1 A Game of Dice
1 Creating Order
2 Deliberations
2 Spirited Dispute
1 Open Ground
3 Overwhelming Offense
2 Fall Back
1 The Crystal Tears
3 Planted Evidence
3 Unholy Strike
2 Scouting Amid the Snow
3 Uncertainty
1 Unexpected Attack
3 Your True Nature

Mantis decks always face the same problem: you go second. A LOT. So first thing you have to do is to decide how you’re going to address that problem. There are several options: either be extremely aggressive by either attacking a turn earlier, threaten multiple provinces in your first attack phase to win the province trading races (a good example of that strategy would be Andre Rinn’s deck at the Sheffield’s World Championship), or try to attrition out your opponent by having strong, lethal, defenses and attacks. This deck will mostly be concerned with the last option.

The Ranged Attack Scout deck suffers from a major drawback: it lacks the force to threaten effectively. To compensate for that, this deck will try to buy a ton of force through both its fate side and its dynasty, meaning it will need a tons of gold. This is apparent in the gold scheme, which is calibrated to generate the maximum amount of gold possible, with Coastal Lane and Jade Pearl Inn (coupled with Lane of Immorality) allowing you to buy 5 Gold production with your stronghold, and the Kobune Port, Jade Mine and Slave Pits allowing you to use the extra 2G of you Stronghold’s second side to buy 3 Gold Production for 2.

Of course, all this gold is for naught if we don’t have enough to purchase with it. That’s why I opted for the Shika sensei. Our defenses should be strong enough to protect our Provinces, and the penalty to our starting Honor doesn’t hurt too much. It could even be a boon against certain decks like the Mantis blitz deck by giving us the bonus gold and not them. It also make the honor losses on some fate cards smaller and makes us immune to Nexus of Lies, which is extremely important. The Sensei’s ability is fantastic, giving us a free refill when buying one of our many Scouts, stabilizing the deck and making sure we see more Personalities each turn to buy.

The gold generation doesn’t stop here, however: in the Personality slots, we find Yoritomo Yashinko acting as a super efficient Holding, Yoritomo Yusuke doing mostly the same, and the newcomer Yoritomo Nishigori to help you pay for Strategies, which as you will see will be quite helpful. Nishigori is key to pay for A Game of Dice, Deliberations, Spirited Dispute, Planted Evidence, and Your True Nature. He produces a lot of free gold for your deck. The rest of the Personalities slots are divided between efficient force (Yakuwa, Tochiko), Conqueror to help defend (Okazaki, Shotsuo), and attrition (everything that begins with “Tsuruchi”, basically; talk about a single minded family! ). In that last section, The New Order’s add the wonderful Tsuruchi Satou, with a big Ranged 4, only rivaled by the famous Daidoji Kinta from the Crane in this arc, a ranged sure to kill worthwhile targets. And that imposter Kinta isn’t a Scout unlike our lovely Satou. Yoritomo Yakuwa should not be overlooked either, as he is the definition of efficiency. 3F Naval Scout for 3G? Yes please!

Fate side, we will first look at the three followers. Thanks to the enormous wealth we have, we will be able to afford some expensive followers along with the rest of our decks. The Khan’s Legion has a big Ranged itself, which should be able to take out the mightiest Onis combined with our archers, and should give our Naval Personalities something to threaten the board with. Sons of Gusai is cheap, efficient force with a solid kill action, and Expert Archers is much of the same. More kill is always good I hear.

The fate side runs a lot of very efficient actions with gold cost, like the Ranged Attack Deliberations, Planted Evidence to kill of large unit, combined with Uncertainty to kill off even bigger ones, Your True Nature to get rid of these pesky attachments getting in the way of our Ranged Attacks, and some optional Invest costs, to allow us to play the strategies while saving gold.

We have Ranged Attack support with Uncertainty getting people into your guy’s range, Overwhelming Offense which is an absolutely brilliant card, and of course Unholy Strike. The last part of the Fate deck is the Terrain package. Thanks to the excellent Scouting Amid the Snow, we can use a wide array of different Terrains without running a ton of them and while maintaining a great chance of seeing them at the right time. Here, the choices were Unexpected Attack, which is a fantastic Terrain to kill off the opponent’s Terrains, The Crystal Tears to deal with huge Personalities, and Open Ground to fight send home actions, or to straighten a Personality with Fall Back, or to drag back a person who tried to escape before battle resolution, leaving him to die without anything to do to help himself.

There are a lot of cards that could have been included but barely missed the cut. Some highlights include:

A New Alliance – Another strategy that replace itself, allowing us to dig through our deck, Yoritomo Raidenand dealing with pesky Personalities abilities. Again the cost is optional, making it easy to play in all situations, and will often be free with Nishigori.

Yoritomo Raiden – Our new favorite Pirate Kolat has good stats, and a good battle action that plays well with both force reduction and fear actions. Due to the amount of gold available, Spider Elite Sohei with its Reserve and fetch Invest is a potential for this deck, and Raiden works well with them. He doesn’t get hit by Blind Honor either, another good card that could find its way in here. Raiden is a great choice that was in there up until the end.

Return to Your Feet – An in battle straighten tech allowing you, in the matchup where it matters, to straighten in the action phase before your opponent’s attack. I preferred Fall back in the end for the option to defend, kill a guy and run, but I could see going the other way. Thanks to the Courtesy and Courage effects of this card, this is a very solid option even though this deck does not get the kicker effect.

I hope you’ll find some new ideas in this deck list. This set has been good to the Mantis, with some great options for every themes and decks, be they Honor, military, control or blitz/swarm. I can’t wait to see what you will do with these cards!

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If you have any questions please let me know.

Yoritomo Arashi

A member of the Mantis Clan, Yoritomo Arashi has been masterful at gathering information for the Silken Sect. The master of information founded The Kolat Informant blog in March of 2011 and The Oni's Eye Podcast in October 2013.