Knoxville Spring Kotei 2015 Report – 9th Place

Journal of the Tiger

First Day of the Month of the Hare – Kotei Week:

I had to miss the Atlanta Kotei due to the massive amount of ice that hit the Middle Tennessee area two weeks ago and I wasn’t about to miss the Farewell for Donny and Gio in Knoxville no matter the weather conditions.  My friends however ended up having work issues that would not allow them to be able to compete.

I have been to many Kotei where I did not play my clan (being Mantis) but as any good Mantis will tell you, I enjoy being a mercenary for hire ;).

This year, I knew going into Arc event in Atlanta that they were very good but I had not seen much of them in Strict.  So what a good Mantis (and Kolat) does is gather information.  I knew that NH Kotei was a Strict event, so I had The 6th Ring broadcast up watching it on Saturday.  I ended up watching two games where Chris Medico was just tearing through the competition.

I salivated at the deck and its potential.  I had attempted a similar version but I was pushing mine to be more blitz instead of swarm which was causing me issues.  After watching his matches on stream (and the recorded version posted later), I knew the decklist within about 6-8 cards total.  After checking my binder for the cards that was in his list, I shot out a message to some friends who knew were going to be at the event to see what they had.  Turns out it was very few cards they had.  So I ordered the rest I needed and had them scheduled to be delivered on Thursday or Friday to my work office since that way I could leave out right after work on Friday and head straight to Knoxville without going home first.

Then the icy came once again on Wednesday night and the temperate never got above freezing before Friday midday so my cards that had been ordered for my deck we stuck where I couldn’t get them (I found out today that they also shipped me someone else’s cards and not the ones I ordered which would have not help the situation).

Once the ice had cleared off enough I through everything in my car and headed to Knoxville.

6th Day of the Month of the Hare – Let the party begin:

So I get there around 10:30 PM and the house is packed with Gio’s cooking, fire water, and L5R players.


Back Row: Steve Palumbo, Me, Chris Martin Front Row: Lee Shelton, Dan Dineen, Ryan Karetas


Brad, Mel, and Genji 🙂

Dan representin' the Kolat with my honor counter

Dan representin’ the Kolat with my honor counter

I met a lot of players that knew of the blog but had never met me in person.

I got to talk with Chris Medico about the list used last week and saw what he had for this week.

7th Day of the Month of the Hare – The Event:

The Mantis armada began its assault on the banks of the Gaijin river known as the Tennessee.

62 players showed up at Sci-Fi City in Knoxville (amazing venue BTW) for Donny and Gio’s Farewell Kotei in what was a very diverse field:

6 Crab
8 Crane
8 Dragon
8 Lion
9 Mantis
6 Phoenix
7 Scorpion
5 Spider
5 Unicorn

I was filling out the decklist last minute because I was having to borrow cards from Michael Stocks (who brought cards from friends Michael Urbi and David Hanson) as well as from Dan Dineen.  Thanks guys!

Round 1 – Ronnie Hembree (Lion Ancestor Honor / Kagako Sensei)

Ronnie was from the Ohio area and was down in Knoxville with his dad who’d I guess was maybe in his 70’s who was at the next table over from us.  Really nice guys.

Ronnie is in the wheelchair and I'm across from him in my Green KI shirt

Ronnie is in the wheelchair and I’m across from him in my Green KI shirt

Ronnie’s start was just average and mine was explosive (a recurring theme through the day).  He ended up seeing several fortifications (2 Carpenter Shrine, Plain Library) all of which was attached to the same province.  He had a couple of personalities in play and an ancestor token and had left a Dairuko face up in his province with all the forts.  I had too much removal for him to deal with and once that province was destroyed, the game went downhill from there for him even though he made it to 21 honor.

Win 1-0

Round 2 – Chris Medico (Mantis Shika Swarm / Shika Sensei)

Well THAT escalated quickly.  Not only do I have to play Mantis in the second round, I get to play the one credited with creating the deck who is a 3 time Kotei winner and a member of Design Team.

Chris won the die roll and goes first.  He admits that even he doesn’t know if this was the right choice or not.

I get a 3 holding start on turn 1 but all 3 only produce 2 gold but my turn 2 only has 1 holding.  Medico gets great gold on turn 1 and 2 and that pretty much started the downward spiral.  I remember playing a timely VtD as an Open action to keep him from attacking early, but it didn’t matter much because I was being out produced and out gunned.

L 1-1

Round 3 – Jeff Williamson (Crab Military Harpoon / No Sensei)

A Kolat on Kolat match.  Seems intriguing when Master Coin faces Master Silk :).

Also, I get to play another Kotei Winner.

Jeff start was great, but mine was better.

After a couple of turns, I realized what Jeff was playing.

He was playing the deck he won a Winter Court event with in St. Louis.  He was harpooning guys into the battle to pick them off (Determined Challenge, Remote Caravan).  By being opposed, his box also made his Crab bigger which also made them harder to kill.

Between the gold, the cards I’d drawn, and the way I stacked my followers (so I could shoot bigger personalities).  It was eventually too much for him to handle.

Win 2-1

Round 4 – Randy Slaven (Lion Ancestor Honor / Kagako Sensei)

So exactly which Kami did I annoy to deserve this?  Oh yeah, all of them! 🙂

More Kotei winners I see.  Third one in a row even!

Randy gets a terrible gold start on Turn 1 while mine is again fairly amazing.  To his credit, Slaven doesn’t waver.  As I recall, he starts to build up some bodies and lets the first province burn before defending.  When he ends up playing For the Fallen after I shot one of his Kitsu Shugenja personalities dead, I realized that I forgot borrow a particular card to put in my deck for the event, Overwhelming Offense.  I sent home one of the big guys with Ideological then Randy bowed his Shugenja to Wrath of Osano-Wo one of my guys or followers (I don’t remember).  Well, I then shot his shugenja.  Randy promptly played an Encircling Terrain.  I countered with Contentious.  He plays Encircling #2 and I’m now out of playable actions.  I end up sending all of my suited up units home since I cannot take the province or win the battle and I let my Sasada die.

Now I fear that Randy has a chance to win this game.  I calmly continue to press my advantage knowing that he has played 1 For the Fallen and 2 Encircled Terrain.

I eventually have him down to 1 province with him at 32 honor.  I drew into Contentious Terrain #2 and Ideological #2 to set up my final attack.  I start by shooting down as much as I can while Randy plays For the Fallen #2.  He then shoots 1 guy down with Wrath and bows another card with Redirecting Rage.  I continue to pick off guys until he plays For the Fallen #3.  I use Ideological #1 in my discard pile first to sent home a 9 Force Ancestor token.  I don’t remember exactly what happens next but I think Randy plays Encircled #3 which I promptly break with Contentious #2.   I also have another send home action so that’s that.

To Randy’s credit, he played a fantastic game despite the early gold issues.

Win 3-1

Round 5 – Timothy (Crane Scout Military / Akagi Sensei)

I thought I was going to get an easy match this round since I wasn’t playing a player who’d won at least 1 Kotei that I knew of.

Guess again.

Timothy was from the Charlotte, NC area and he was playing Crane Scouts.  I knew what this deck looked like in Arc during Gen*Con but I wasn’t completely sure what it looked like in Strict.

Timothy’s gold was terrible on his first turn and again I get a fairly ridiculous start.  He certainly though he was done after seeing very little gold early but decided to play it out.  It certainly was impressive attempt to make a comeback.

He drew the best follower you could against Mantis in Victorious Wave Men.  Not just 1 copy, or even 2 copies.  No he drew the nut and got to play all 3 copies once his gold smoothed out.

At one point, Tim got out Suzune the Coy with a Tsuruchi Kankyu and a Victorious Wave Men on it and a Zanthaar with 2 Victorious Wave Men and a Crude Dai-kyu.  This doesn’t seem like much by the Victorious Wave Men are impossible to deal with in this deck.

Then he buys Daidoji Nozomi and ends up equipping a Legion of the Khan and a Staff of the Raja’s Court on it.

Now the shoe is on the other foot.  He can take provinces unopposed for a bit while I try to build up so that I can take his last two provinces.  At this point in the game, he has plenty of gold so I can’t shoot through the Wave Men so I have to try and destroy every other card he controls.

This is where this game gets hazy.  I seem to remember him attacking me trying to take my last province.  I think I had left half of my forces back on defense after attacking with the other half.  The battle details are hazy as well but I know that I blew a Your True Nature too early and thought I would lose the game because of that.  Turns out that Timothy realized that he had made a bigger mistake in that battle.  Since that was the case, we end up tying at that battle which wiped out his entire army while I still had the other half of mine left.

After buying a couple of Daidoji Tanshi he pasted the turn.

I suited up and swung in trying to take his last two provinces (it was either 2 or 1 I can’t remember) and after he played a sneak attack and chuckled, he extended the hand

Win 4-1

Round 6 – Paul Ashman (Phoenix Yojimbo / Rae Sensei)

There will be nothing easy today after I get my next round pairing.  Paul Ashman is another great player who happens to have his own L5R blog (Enough Talk! L5R).  He is an accomplished L5R player as a Kotei Winner and has several top 4’s to his name as well.  Another uphill battle.

I saw the stronghold and the sensei and thought ‘****’.

Now we were asked about moving up to The 6th Ring feature match area.  I thought it was a good idea and Ashman seemed a bit annoyed by it but went along.  You can find the start of the game here and the rest of it here.

His deck had all the usually suspects…Burning Spirit, Ward of Air, Strength of the Fifth Ring, Final Ruin, Fire Kami’s Greed, Servitors of Stone, Jade Ascension, Final Sacrifice…Past and Future?  What does this do?

Past and Future

Not only does that CANTRIP if you play it on a Void Shugenja (there was enough to trigger this) but it turns off my Sensei?

Well played sir.

I was able to get a province early, then when I went for the second one I made a major mistake by not discarding the Ring of Earth that I’m staring at in my hand after sending home his only defender which allowed him to save the province.

Now he is drawing fate cards faster than I am (that is a massive rate by the way) and he gets a stacked Isawa Tenkawa, the Scholar in play (3 Final Ruin, 2 Jade Ascensions, Fire Kami’s Greed, Servitors of Stone that I can remember).  His major problem during his setup was trying to get a Shiba Eraki or multiple Burning Spirits in play.  Now this game goes long for that reason.  He finds a copy of Walking the Way and searches up a Burning Spirit so that he can begin taking provinces.

He finally finds a second Burning Spirit and we both know the time limit is about up, so he pushes Erkai in with a completely topped out Isawa Tenkawa.  The card I drew from my last turn was a Sudden Movement.  At that point I thought I had a prayer.

When Ashman attacked with his Eraki, I thought I could Sudden Movement his Shugenja unit in and kill it.  I got the Sudden Movement off, Tenkawa used a Final Ruin to kill something, and then as time was called I had announced a Ranged attack so I could attempt to kill of the stacked Tenkawa unit.  Now I completely missed the Ward of Air that he played that turn.

Now at this point I’m still up by 2 provinces and he can only take 1 of mine this turn.  I think I still have a shot.  At this point, I get asked whether we draw or do we roll for it?

At this point, I wouldn’t like a draw or a loss because both mean that I’d have to play next round to secure a spot in the cut round, so as any Mantis would do, I choose to gamble

I rolled a 5 and Ashman rolled a 2.

Win 5-1

Round 7 – Alan Sarkisian (Scorpion Dishonor)

So I talked it over with Alan from Team Scurbs on Wheels about taking an intentional draw.  I thought it would be better to take the round off and rest our minds since we would not get a bye next round.  The best we could finish from my calculations was 3rd and only the top 2 spots would get a bye.  He agreed and took the ID.

ID 5-1-1

So I finish the Swiss Rounds in 4th place (!) and only the # 1 and 2 seeds got a bye.  All the other 5-2 had to play in.

Cut Round – Steve Palumbo (Scorpion Yojimbo Military / Jutsushi Sensei)

Steve is part of the Manatee Clan from Florida.

I had gotten some ‘information’ before the match that Steve was playing Yojimbo Military and not dishonor.  I knew the deck quite well from its work at the Second Chance event at Gen*Con last year but I knew nothing about the changed since then.

Since we both have 1 starting honor we roll and Steve wins the roll so I get to go second.

Steve’s flip on turn one is terrible and so is his turn 2.  I get a Coastal Lane + 1 flip but my turn 2 flip isn’t that great so I don’t get to capitalize on Steve’s gold issues that turn.  Steve draws out of his gold issues while I load up on bodies so that I can begin the assault.  Steve brings out 3 bodies (Shizuka, Shosuro Kayo, Bayushi Masashi) in preparation for my attack.  I load up some guys and swing all but one guy targeted by Shizuka at one province.  Steve chooses (wisely) not to defend.  I buy a couple of guys and pass turn.

The game gets very fuzzy at this point.  I know that I can’t afford to get personalities dishonored because the force bonus from Jutsushi Sensei means I have a hard time dealing with guys via ranged attacks.  Shizuka makes that an issue.

It comes down to a final battle.  I have to take 2 provinces this turn.  I split my forces to evenly distribute ranged attacks, force, followers, and naval.  Steve defends at one and not the second one.  I decide to deal with the opposed first since if I take that one the game is over.  So I end up playing every card in my hand (5 cards: Sudden Movement, Ring of Earth, Contentious, 2 other cards) and replay 2 Ideological Differences from the discard pile from previous turns.  Thanks to me discarding Ring of Earth to stop a Coward! on one of his own guys he draws 2 cards from it which netted him copy #2 of Overwhelming Offense.  How do I know that it was #2?  Cause he play 2 of them at the battle.  This shrunk my army to the point that I could not take the province even with using Keppo Exp ability to destroy a Kaiu Axe and equip it or a Bounty Hunter to Keppo.

This left me no choice but to concede.

Loss and out 5-2-1

I ended up working the chat some for The 6th Ring as I watched Tan nearly beat Aaron Barto in the Top 8.

Then I got to watch (and broadcast) the Lapp vs. Barto match in Top 4.

Tan vs. Barto with Dineen active judging and me doing The 6th Ring chat coverage.

Tan vs. Barto with Dineen active judging and me doing The 6th Ring chat coverage.


We decided at that point to head to Donny and Gio’s and have the Finals there so there is no coverage of the finals.  Kind of fitting though that we have the finals in a more casual setting as a fond farewell to Donny and Gio.  The US L5R community AND the Knoxville community will miss them.  Save travels and I hope we met again down the road.


After final standings, I ended up finishing 9th and I played the 4th (Steve),  7th (Medico), 8th (Slaven), 10th (Alan Sarkisian) and 12th (Ashman) place finishers in the event.

I should also note that I had zero games with this deck before the event, this was my first Kotei event since 2008, and only my 6th Kotei.  That should give you an idea about how powerful this deck is currently.  Granted the Ivory Strict format is ending soon but it gives a decent basis for what could be continued into the 20F Arc format.

One think that I did notice about the deck is (totally my fault) is that it needs a way to remove force bonus / penalties or some sort of force penalty card (Overwhelming Offense).

The better gold and more dynasty flips usually gets you everything you need on that side while the superior fate card draw gives you most everything you need fate side.  The deck isn’t without issues but similarly to the Khol Wall deck post-errata it has better consistency the majority of the time.

Deck Name: The Crashing Wave
Based upon the list developed by Chris Medico

# Pre-Game (2)

1 The Fruitful Port of the Mantis
1 Shika Sensei

# Dynasty (46)

# Holding (21)
3 Coastal Lane
1 Counting House
3 Famous Bazaar
3 Kobune Port
3 Lonely Dojo
2 Shrine to Hachiman
3 Temple of the Heavenly Crab
3 The Ivory Courtroom

# Personality (25)
2 Keppo – exp
1 Ninube Shiho
3 Sasada
3 Tsuruchi Kaito
3 Tsuruchi Satou
3 Tsuruchi Taito
1 Tsuruchi Yashiro, Defender of the Obsidian Blades – exp
3 Yoritomo Shotsuo
3 Yoritomo Yakuwa
3 Yoritomo Yusuke

# Fate (40)

# Follower (15)
3 Ashigaru Spearmen
3 Colonial Conscripts
3 Expert Archers
3 Sons of Gusai
3 Victorious Wave Men

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

# Strategy (22)
2 Back to the Front
3 Contentious Terrain
3 Ideological Differences
2 Incapacitated
2 Spirited Dispute
2 Sudden Movement
3 Victory Through Deference
3 Way of the Mantis
2 Your True Nature

Hopefully, I will get an opportunity to go to more Kotei this year.  If not, I will see you all at Gen*Con in July (!) this year.

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.