No clan is misunderstood by the Empire than the Dragon Clan. They usually stay in their mountains and practice their techniques and meditate hoping to reach enlightenment. Their monks always speak of wisdom but typically have that answer wrapped in a riddle. When they intercede in Rokugani politics, there is always a reason.
The Dragon clan have several base themes in the Core Set.
The first one is based on Weapons / Attachments. This comes from their history as the Mirumoto family practiced the Niten, or two weapon, style. This leads to building a stronger unit or two and not swarming the board with many units.
Their second theme is based around the Monks and their atonement to the elements. They understand that their fate hangs within their journey towards enlightenment. This is reflected in several cards and abilities that center around Fate on unclaimed Rings.
STRONGHOLD, PROVINCE, and HOLDING
Mountain’s Anvil Castle – The Dragon Stronghold shows how ready the Dragon truly are. While having an attachment requirement can be an issue some, it is still quite powerful. Few strongholds are as versatile as the Dragon clan’s. The stronghold can be used for both offense and defense and gives a bonus to both Military and Political skill.
Restoration of Balance – The Dragon understand balance. If you hit this province after bidding 5, it will leave a mark and can certainly shift the balance of a game.
Secluded Temple – The Dragon also have ways of wearing you down. Climbing their mountains can cause a shorter lifespan. With the larger single units on your side, this should be easy to trigger. Your opponent will not be happy about seeing it flip face up.
Togashi Initiate – While a 1/1 doesn’t seem like much, the potential ability to become a 3/3 means he is a threat to take a province by himself. Spending fate to unclaimed rings can be problematic as your opponent gets the next conflict (usually). The balance of yin and yang truly shows here.
Doomed Shugenja – She might be doomed, but she’s taking a province with her. This character seems to fit best in a blitz style deck. I’m just not sure how effective that will be in the LCG.
Agasha Swordsmith – With the heavy attachment theme, you need a good way to find them. Agasha Swordsmith does the job very well. It is the most effective ‘dig’ effect available.
Mirumoto Prodigy – The prodigy certainly is. It is one of the best 2 drops in the game puts your opponent in a difficult bind. Does your opponent try to use his best character to stop the Prodigy from mowing down a province or simply throw something feeble in front? Watch out for it swinging in on your Stronghold province alone!
Seeker of Enlightenment – This character can get quite huge and puts your opponent in an interesting situation. Do they pick rings with Fate on them to shrink him or choose a ring that fits their current plan? These monks are tricky.
Niten Adept – Speaking of powerful 2 drops, this Bushi is certainly adept at being a pain for your opponent. Bowing a character is second only to direct removal as there are very few answers. Your opponent must always be conscious of the Adept or a win can turn into a loss quickly.
Enlightened Warrior – While this character’s stats are slightly below some of the lower costed characters, his ability can constantly keep him around. This really puts your opponent in a difficult position (this is recurring theme with the Dragon).
Kitsuki Investigator – If you are in the market for some way to pick apart your opponent’s hand, the Kitsuki has your answer. This is one of the few cards that doesn’t really fit the major themes for Dragon, so it is hard to test if this is will see play. The effect can be really good though.
*Mirumoto Raitsugu – Some people might not like this, but I despise the dueling mechanic. I believe that the mechanic seems rushed. Despite my opinion, Raitsugu is really strong. Winning a duel either removes fate or discards the character which is perfect flavor for a Rokugani duel.
Ascetic Visionary – Both of the 4 drops for Dragon are nightmares for opponents. The Visionary can straighten a Monk or a character with Monk attachment. Now potentially giving your opponent a fate is not inconsequential, but straightening a large unit for another conflict or for taking the Favor can help swing games. Monk based decks are going to enjoy the Visionary as their powerful 4 drop of choice.
Niten Master – As a master of the Niten technique, would you expect anything less than the ability to be apart of multiple conflicts a turn? The master might be the best 4 drop in the game.
*Togashi Yokuni – One of my favorite characters is Yokuni. His ability puts your opponent into a different spot. If they play someone with a powerful ability, you get to use it too. Better still, you get to copy some of the bonkers effects on your characters. Ugh, what a nightmare.
Tattooed Wanderer – Both of Dragon’s conflict deck characters are Monks who can be played either as a character or as an attachment. Now if you play him as attachment, he doesn’t contribute his stats. Instead, he gives attached character Covert.
*Togashi Kazue – The ability as an attachment is extremely powerful. Being able to move fate off of other characters onto the attached character can help keep around your ‘voltron’ unit. Notice that you don’t have to take the fate off of your opponent’s character. You can actually move fate off your other characters onto you big unit in a pinch.
Daimyo’s Favor – Now we get into the real attachments. Daimyo’s Favor helps with costs which makes this a powerful card for their strategy.
Ancestral Daisho & Kitsuki’s Method – Now we get to the problem attachments. Ancestral weapons are trouble since when the attached character leaves play, they go back to your hand. Your opponent will hate these. Now they are Restricted so they won’t be able to stack more than two of these total on one character. This doesn’t diminish these attachments.
Way of the Dragon – The only Way of that is not an event is the Way of the Dragon. It is expensive at 2 Fate but the combination of MIL / POL boost and the ability can make it worth it. On someone like Niten Adept, Niten Master, or *Mirumoto Raitsugu, the value is insane.
Mirumoto’s Fury – With the Dragon staying in their mountain home, the flavor of Mirumoto’s Fury is spot on. What makes this card so strong is that it bows. With few ways to straighten, your opponent will be facing your fury.
Indomitable Will – Using attachments as a theme, you are bound to have large single units. That’s what makes a card like Indomitable Will so good. With the default rule being that characters return home bowed after conflict resolution, having a character return home unbowed is a powerful effect. When the same large character gets to take part in multiple conflicts in a single turn, the balance of the game can turn.
Let Go – Of all the events in the game, this one has the most potential to be splashed in as many decks as possible. Let Go does something very simple; it discards attachments. This is very important for and against many decks, including the matches against Dragon since Ancestral won’t trigger if the attachment is discarded.
Tranquility – Abilities that can be used while outside of conflicts can be a major pain to deal with. Tranquility keeps your opponent from triggering any of those abilities. The ability is fantastic against several clans, such as the Crane, Scorpion, and Unicorn.
Mantra of Fire -Of all the Dragon cards in the Core Set, this one is the weakest at the moment. While I believe given more cards (both Monks and Kihos), this theme has some power behind it, it just isn’t ready for prime time.
Dragon Clan Grade
Ally Grade: A
Dragon clan’s conflict cards are highly usable by other clans in a variety of different decks. Let Go and Mirumoto’s Fury seem to be the most powerful events for other clans while the attachments and the Wanderer are the strongest for those with military goals.
Best Clan to Ally with the Dragon: Lion
My personal favorite clan to ally with the Dragon is the Lion clan. Cards like Guidance of the Ancestors, Sashimono, and Honored Blade give the Dragon a number of powerful attachments to draw on. Particularly the Guidance is of note since it can be played from the discard pile.
Overall Grade: A-
While they have some holes if you don’t draw attachments, the Dragon feel like the best clan coming out of the core set