Superior Strategist – Crab Clan Analysis

I want to thank teammate Christopher Martin for some 0f the card analysis of the Crab.

The stoic Crab Clan.

To the south of Rokugan lie the blighted Shadowlands, a dark realm under the sway of Fu Leng and the corrupted armies from the realm of Jigoku. The only safeguard between the Shadowlands and Rokugan is the mighty Kaiu Wall and its constructers and defenders, the Crab Clan.

To those who look upon the Crab kindly, their strength is impressive and their determination honorable. But to those who do not—those who benefit from the protection of the Wall without knowing the sacrifices it requires—the Crab are impolite brutes, too pigheaded to comprehend the intricacies of court decorum. Regardless of how others might view them, the Crab cannot mire themselves in bickering and intrigue. They present their back to the court only so they may more fully face the true enemy in the Shadowlands beyond.

As rugged, stoic, and tenacious defenders of the Empire, the Crab are at their best when they are defending against attacks and reacting to an opponent’s aggression, weathering your opponent’s best attacks, and retaliating when your foe is most vulnerable. As builders who excel at living off the land, holdings are important to the Crab to protect their provinces and power their characters.

The Crab Clan have three major themes in the Core Set.

The first one is based on defense.  The Crab have defended the Wall and the Empire since the dawn of the Empire.  They are as stoic as the mountains almost impossible to move.  Many of the Crab are strong defenders but don’t let that fool you.  They can turn aggressive once their opponent gets a bit too aggressive.

The second theme is based around sacrifice.  The Crab regularly give their lives to defend the Empire.  This is shown in the many cards that deal with sacrifice for a bonus or effect.

Their third theme is based around holdings.  The Kaiu family build massive fortresses including the Great Wall of Kaiu.  The Crab are the only clan in the core set with 2 holdings as well as other bonuses.


*Shiro Nishiyama – The best offense is a good defense.  The central defense of the Crab fortress helps fend off both MIL and POL conflicts.  Busting provinces against Crab will be difficult.

Defend the Wall – When I said that attacking the Crab was dangerous, I was not kidding.  Defend the Wall can be a complete blowout if you aren’t ready.  I’ve made that mistake a couple of time in testing and I can promise you it is not fun.

Funeral Pyre – Crab was the only clan to get 2 holdings in the Core Set.  The first is Funeral Pyre which also hits another Crab theme, sacrifice.  What this card does that most players miss at first glance deals with the Fate mechanic.  Since all characters have a ‘shelf life’,  Since your characters will die, usually naturally, Funeral Pyre will be a natural source of card advantage over time.

Borderlands Fortifications – The Kaiu know how to erect a quick defense.  This is a real province strength boost.  The fact that you can move around to either keep your province from breaking or you can save the card in that province and just lose this holding instead.


0 Cost

Eager Scout – He doesn’t look like much but he does facilitate some of the Crab themes, particularly sacrifice.  More often than not, he’ll come out a cheap character, defend a conflict with a pump from the stronghold, and then sacrifices himself for the greater good.  Probably will get replaced later on as packs start releasing but he is OK for now.

1 Cost

Hida Guardian – The guardian has some high potential for a 1 cost character.  The stats are average but its the trait is the real boon.  Giving another character +2 MIL / +2 POL for each holding you control can be a massive boost.  Now, there is a downside to this.  In certain board states, this character is good.  In others, she won’t save you.

Kaiu Envoy – This character is a perfect example of what a Crab is.  The Envoy provides multiple things for the clan.  This is a cheap body for short term offense / defense that pays for himself thanks to having both Courtesy and Sincerity traits.  You can even get a bonus with the sacrifice effects.

2 Cost

Shrewd Yasuki – You cannot talk about the Crab without speaking about the Yasuki.  The Yasuki are the financial backbone of the Crab.  This Yasuki helps you with resources other than fate as only as you have a holding in play.  He’s an OK character with a bonus if you control a holding.

Vanguard Warrior – This is another card that not only flavorful for the Crab but shows how strong they can be.  The Warrior is a simple character that is great to keep another character around a turn longer when it is time for the Vanguard Warrior to move on.  That is what really pushes the Crab in my eyes.

Hiruma Yojimbo – The Yojimbo shows more of the defensive prowess of the Crab.  Her 4 MIL skill is unmatched for a 2 cost character.  While that game text suggests that she cannot take part in offensive battles, you can sneak her into an attack with Charge!

3 Cost

*Hida Tomonatsu – This character was mentioned in the Crab story and the flavor of the design is perfect.  Practically though, Tomonatsu trait won’t be very useful most of the time.  The card is decent but it isn’t anything to write home about.

Borderlands Defender – The borders of the Crab are safe during her watch.  Borderlands Defender is the strongest defender in the game because she cannot be moved or bowed during a conflict by an opponents’ cards.

Vengeful Berserker – The berserkers are ruthless killing machines on the battlefield.  As Crab are falling on the battlefield, the rage of the berserker drew strength from the death of his clansmen.  Vengeful Berserker is the complete package from design to flavor to power.  He is like a bull in the China shop and he will be taking provinces.  While not being able to participate in POL conflicts is a deterrent, would you really want a berserker loose in court?

Intimidating Hida – This character shows the more brash, taunting side of the Hida.  I’m not used to seeing an aggressively built Crab character that could cause an opponent an honor loss.  Being able to attack you on multiple fronts (honor, provinces) makes him an all-star.

4 Cost

Steadfast Witch Hunter – The Witch Hunters of the Kuni are truly determined to root out the taint.  This 4 drop has an amazing ability.  Getting a chance for a character to get to be in more than one conflict in a turn makes for a game-breaking effect.  Trading in a cheap character that is leaving during the Fate phase for another attack / defense with someone can swing a game.

*Kaiu Shuichi – The Kaiu are amazing builders and engineers.  The Great Carpenter Wall guarding the Empire was designed by the Kaiu family.  While his stats are a bit under the average, the Covert trait and the ability certainly help.  For most games, you’ll be buying him for the Covert trait.  Some games you’ll get to use the action and gain some fate.

5 Cost

*Hida Kisada – So I know you guys were wondering “Where’s the beef?”  Time to meet the Champion of the Crab, The Great Bear.  Weighing in at a 7 MIL skill, he is the biggest character in the Core Set.  Kisada doesn’t really do politics unless he absolutely has to.  Beyond his stats, his ability is second to none.  Kisada is a master tactician and is always one step ahead of his opponents.


Conflict Characters

Stoic Gunso – Now come the beats from the Conflict deck.  This fellow has brought his tetsubo to bash in skulls.  Now he does require a sacrifice though.

Hiruma Ambusher – The Hiruma family are known for their excellent scouts.  They usually gather the intelligence on upcoming attacks from the Shadowlands and do their best to slow down their assault.  The Ambusher comes into a conflict and keeps a character from using their ability.  Hard to be effective if you have a blade to your throat.  He almost feels like a Scorpion.  I can see a character like this being used in almost any clan because of that ability.


Reprieve – While this attachment doesn’t boost any stats, its the ability to keep a character around another turn is why you might want to play it.  What most players fail to see is that, typically, adding fate to a character after they have made it into play is rare.  Being able to spend 1 fate later on to save a character for another turn can really surprise an opponent.  I can see several clans that would like this attachment including Dragon.

Watch Commander – Now to a couple of haymakers.  Watch Commander is going leave its mark on your opponent’s honor total.  You must deal with the attached character or this attachment quickly or you will be in a very bad position.  3 Influence cost is going to make this card hard to splash in other clans, but I still expect to see some Scorpion players to push a dishonor strategy.

Jade Tetsubo – Speaking of beatings, the Crab also bring the strongest MIL bonus attachment to the field with Jade Tetsubo.  Very few effects remove Fate from characters and only one that can remove more than 1 Fate.  While that character’s controller will get the Fate on that character back into their pool, this does really have an affect on the board state.  Hitting a champion with 2 or 3 fate on it when it was the only character they bought that turn is game swinging.


Rebuild – With a holding theme, a card like Rebuild can be quite nice to reuse a holding later on.  I particularly like Rebuild in decks that can reuse Imperial Storehouses or Favorable Ground.

Levy – Crab really have a number of cards that can put your opponent in a bind.  A smart player can use this card to easily take an honor from an opponent or can put him in a real spot.  Have you noticed that all the best cards to ally all have 3 influence?  This would be an auto include in Scorpion if they didn’t want to play Watch Commander.

The Mountain Does Not Fall – The Crab are used to standing at the Wall. That is their duty and they do it with a bloodthirsty vigor. Once the attack is blunted it, the Crab set up their counter attack. This is a fantastic card that allows for a character to participate in multiple conflicts on a single turn. Can you see a pattern with 3 influence cards?

Way of the Crab – The Crab truly know sacrifice and they will teach you.  This card will play best in certain situations when you can get your opponent’s board clear or when you can get a powerful personality off the table.  Watch out for the first turn dynasty turn as you can possibly bait your opponent into playing out a really strong character and then getting rid of it with Way of the Crab.

Crab Clan Grade

Ally Grade: C+

The Crab have some very powerful Conflict cards that clans could be interested it.  The biggest problem with the Crab cards are that many of the ones that have the most power all have 3 influence (The Mountain Does Not Fall, Watch Commander, Levy) and both Rebuild and Jade Tetsubo have 2 influence.  I have to believe that design thought that many of these cards were too good to be paired together in other factions.  Because of this, that limits what clans will look to Crab for allies.  Dragon will look at attachments like Reprieve and Jade Tetsubo for sure.  Scorpion will have a tough decision between Watch Commander or Levy and possibly Hiruma Ambusher.

Best Clan to Ally with the Crab: Dragon or Lion

Both Dragon and Lion offer a number of solid cards for Crab to use.  Dragon has attachments which help buff character (Ancestral Daisho, Kitsuki’s Method), a powerful character / attachment (Tattooed Wanderer), and a way to deal with attachments (Let Go).  Lion cards that help Crab the most are attachments (Guidance of the Ancestors, Honored Blade, Sashimono), anti-bow tech (Ready for Battle), and a massive fate producer (For Greater Glory!).

Overall Grade: B-

While the Crab have some powerful individual cards and themes, they suffer from a couple of problems.  First, they are difficult to play.  The sacrifice theme takes careful consideration from the pilot if they are having to sacrifice a character that actually has Fate on it.  Timing on when to counterattack is very tricky also.  I’m not sure this clan would be an easy one to pick up, but if you are skilled player or you practice a lot, Crab will be a strong clan for you.

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.