Kage Sensei: Designing a Kenjutsu Kata


With our new downtime in L5R, I thought it was time to talk more about Kenjutsu Kata (also known as L5R cube) design and drafting.  We have so many cards now that are now obsolete, we need a good use for them.  Today’s lesson is about how to design your own Kenjutsu Kata.

Picking a Card Pool

First, you must choose whether or not to use the entire card pool to build your Kenjutsu Kata.  For my example today, I will be doing a Kata using only Samurai Era legal cards.

Rules Set

Typically here, you have two options.  If you are using a specific card pool, like I am here with Samurai Arc, then you can use that Arc / format rules set.  Since I have a very high number of players who only learned the game during Ivory, I am going with option two.

Number of Packs

I decided that each player will get 4 x 15 cards booster packs made up of cards from this Kata.  The card packs will be randomized with either 8 dynasty / 7 fate cards or 7 dynasty / 8 fate cards.

Choosing Themes

This is where you really get into the design element.  When you are building a Kata from a large card pool, choosing themes can be difficult.  One thing that you need to know about drafting is that you should have many overlapping themes.  For example, below is what I have set the themes for the Samurai Era Kata:

[table id=3 /]

Every theme is in at least 2 clans (and some in 3 clans).

Samurai Era Kenjutsu Kata

[table id=1 /]

There are a couple of things about the choices here.  I decided to put 0 Region cards in this design.  Also, I only put in 5 events into this design.  The majority of the Dynasty side is holdings and personalities.  I did this as most of my local players were very new to the game and only know the Ivory card types and rule set.

[table id=4 /]

Each clan had 20 Personalities (10 per theme) as well as 15 Unaligned personalities to help fill out themes.


A New Wall
Glory of the Shogun
In Time of War
The Shogun’s Peace
Yobanjin Alliance

I kept the event list small but still quite useful.


Akodo’s Grave
Blessed Library
Castle Barracks
Castle Gate
Castle Moat
Castle Walls
Chugo Seido
City Gate
Clan Estate
Corrupt Officials
Deeds and Words
District Governor
Estate Halls
Family Library
Famous Bazaar
Forest Killer Cavern
Fortified Camp
Governor’s Court
Haiku School
Harmonious Temple
High Courts
House of Exotic Goods
House of the Dead
House of the Fallen Blossom
Kabuki Theater Troupe
Kata Training Grounds
Kitsune Den
Lesser Shrine
Magistrate Station
Minting House
Northern Hub Village Shipwrights
Remote Farms
Revered Sensei
Rich Coffers
Secluded Village
Secluded Waystation
Shinsei’s Tomb
Shrine to Bishamon
Shrine to Fukurokujin
Small Estate
Supply Outpost
Temple of the Righteous Emperor
Temple to Shinsei
Temples of Gisei Toshi
The Khan
The Mikado
Traveling Peddler
Venerable Master
War Encampment
Western Outpost

Now for the holdings, I put 50 in the kata.  There are no Legacy holding.  Those are separate from the Kata.  Each player after the draft may add 1 copy of up to 2 different Legacy holdings.

I won’t list the personalities here but I will post the full Kata link at the bottom of the article.

[table id=2 /]

The fate list has no Rings in it.  Like the Legacy holdings, they are separate from the Kata.  They may be added after the draft before the first round begins.


The question of using the draft stronghold or using the constructed based strongholds is often an interesting one.

The first way is to simply use the Draft Stronghold for that arc.  Since this is a Samurai arc Kata, we used The Shrine of Lady Sun.  In this matter, at the end of the deck building segment, you get to choose two clans who have your allegiance for the rest of the event.

Another way you can play it is after each player drafts their 4 packs, two 9-card packs will be drafted.  One pack contains 1 stronghold for each of the 9 clans and the other pack has a different stronghold for each of the 9 clans.  One pack starts at seat 1 and goes around the table to the left until every player has drafted a stronghold (the last stronghold remaining in that pack is not drafted).  The second pack begins at seat 8 and goes around the table to the right until every player has drafted a second stronghold (the last stronghold remaining in that pack is not drafted).  In using this, you are relegated to having only 1 clan allegiance (that one being the one on your stronghold).

The last way would be to do both.  They could play either stronghold they drafted (under one clan alignment) or play with the draft stronghold (with 2 clan alignments).

Link to the entire Kata is here.

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.