Even as the seven clans of Rokugan continue to serve the Emperor, the rifts between them begin to widen. Conflicts are intensifying in the Emerald Empire, and each clan must brace itself for the turmoil to come.
The Empire Cycle continues to introduce the themes presented in the Base Set of The Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game and to expand the number of cards linked to the roles of Seeker and Keeper. The cycle explores the heart of the Empire by introducing a number of powerful magistrates and several cards focusing on the Imperial Favour game mechanic.
THE STATE OF ROKUGAN
The Scorpion Clan plots in the shadows: although its agents are trusted advisors to the Emperor, they exploit the favour of darkness to influence events. Illusory Games (L5C02/18) allows you to choose any number of Shinobi attacker characters you control and move each of them to the mansion. Illusory Games, a trick similar to the ones the Unicorn favours, can allow you to feint an attack that your opponent feels compelled to defend against: when your characters return to the mansion, they remain unbowed, while your opponent's defending characters will be forced to bow once the feint is resolved, weakening their defences and allowing you to launch a powerful counterattack.
Meanwhile, the crab continues to call for help in defending the Emerald Empire from the threats that loom beyond the Kaiu Wall. Karada District (L5C02/4) is a property limited to one copy per deck and allows the Crab to turn enemies' tools against them: with one action you may assign your opponent 1 fate to move 1 addition located on a character controlled by that player onto one of your characters; if you have no valid character, that addition will be discarded. This can generate major skill imbalances if your opponent has paid for something like High Crane Fashion (L5C01/143). And as a property, Karada District also feeds cards like Yasuki Scaltro (L5C01/29), allowing the Crab to unlock more of his powerful property-dependent abilities.
Although the Dragon Clan has won favour with the Emperor in the upcoming Winter Court, its members can still focus on the mysterious visions of their champion, Togashi Yokuni (L5C01/65). Kitsuki Yaruma (L5C02, 6) represents the Dragon as a unique new character. With a military skill of 2 and a political skill of 4, Yaruma already presents himself as a force to be reckoned with during conflicts; he also possesses Courtesy, which allows him to gain 1 fate when he leaves the game, and is immune to Poison additions, which means that Fiery Madness (L5C01/183) is ineffective against him. His most extraordinary ability allows him to turn a province face down once when he comes into play. This can power up cards like Fury Mirumoto (L5C01/159) or allow you to resolve a province's 'when revealed' ability a second time. Kitsuki Yaruma is a versatile character who effectively represents the balance that characterises most members of the Dragon Clan.
The events of Kiku Matsuri revolve around Isawa Kaede (L5C02/9), a Phoenix Shugenja who in a vision saw the Meishōdō magic of the Unicorn threatening the entire Empire. Kaede is one of the most powerful characters in the game, she has a cost of 5, a military skill of 3 and a political skill of 4. As a practitioner of the void, Kaede is immune to the ring effects of her opponent, meaning she cannot be targeted by the dishonour of the fire ring or the bowing effect of the water ring. In addition, whenever she attacks, the contested ring gains the element of void: this means that if she wins a conflict as an attacker she can resolve the void effect in addition to the normal ring effect. Isawa Kaede requires a large investment in fate, but his lethal abilities will be feared by any opponent.
The Empire Cycle also offers a wide range of Magistrate cards that negate certain characters' abilities in conflicts. The first of these is Magistrate Soldier (L5C02/10), representing the Unicorn Clan. At a cost of three, with a military skill and a political skill of 2, the magistrate rebalances a clan that often tends to lean towards the martial side. In addition, when the Magistrate attacks, any other character with 1 or more fate does not consider his skill in resolving the conflict: this severely limits your opponent's choice of defenders when the Solemn Magistrate enters a conflict of any kind.
REMEMBER YOUR ROLE
The Empire Cycle will further emphasise the role chosen for each clan during official organised gaming tournaments. Each of the seven great clans will receive one card for the role of Keeper and one card for the role of Seeker.
The first of these are contained in Tears of Amaterasu and are intended for the Lion and Crane Clans.
The haughty Crane, who currently occupies the role of Keeper of the Water, gains his first role-specific tool with Contemptuous Comment (L5C02/13). This cost one event can only be used if you control a participating Courtier character during a conflict and assigns the attacked province +X Strength, where X is equal to the number of cards in your opponent's hand. If your opponent has accumulated conflict cards by bidding high in honour, a Scornful Comment can ensure that your provinces remain intact during all direct attacks, but only if you are using the role of Keeper.
Meanwhile, the mighty Keepers of the Land, members of the Lion clan, receive War Time (L5C02/15). This Seeker-only event allows you to choose a Bushi character that you control after losing a political conflict. You may then put into play from your hand or conflict discard pile a weapon addition with a printed cost of 3 or less and assign it to that character. Like the Vengeful Juror (L5C01/160), Time of War gives you an advantage after losing a conflict and grants the Lion an effective counterattack after a defeat.
Tears of Amaterasu also adds two neutral Seeker and Keeper cards to The Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game in the form of new provinces.
As the Legend of the Five Rings continues, the clans of Rokugan continue to gather strength and weave their plots. Dark forces loom within and without Rokugan, and extraordinary inner strength and sense of honour will be required for the samurai of the Emerald Empire to prevail over their adversaries.
Age group: +14
Number of players: 2
Duration: 45 minutes
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