The month of March is very exciting for multiple reasons. There is the return of spring and the long awaited release from the grasp of winter. March Madness is exciting even for the most modest of sports fans. However, for a card game fan this March means something more; the release of the newest edition of Alderac Entertainment Group’s (AEG shorthand) flagship game, the Legend of the Five Rings. For those unfamiliar with Legend of the Five Rings (L5R shorthand), it is a collectible card game set in the fantasy world of Rokugan. Rokugan isn’t just another swords and sorcery world, it is a world heavily influenced by Asian mythologies, creating a world where samurai must battle each other with swords and politics and keep the ever-present threat of the Shadowlands in check.
Within this game are nine playable great clans; descendants of heroes and gods in the world setting. These clans are the basis for what deck you will play and run but beyond those are other groups, like the above mentioned Shadowlands and others such as ronin.
Now, with Ivory Edition (IvE shorthand) a slew of massive changes are coming to the game. Each clan effectively gets two strongholds, one for going first and one for going second. The long standing starting production cards no longer start in play, but rather must be purchased into play. However on a positive note to that, the way the game’s built in economy works has been streamlined to effectively have a “pool” for your gold in contrast to the old system where anything leftover was simply wasted. Old players of the game will be delighted to see the return of the Fear mechanics as well as letting people combine both ranged and melee attacks to get some real power out on the field. As far as that goes, the real power of the game has greatly stepped down from the kill-heavy environment of Emperor Edtion (EE shorthand). The battles of IvE have been a much slower, but more involved pace than EE.
The launch kit release date for IvE is March 10, 2014 and the game fully releases on March 24, 2014! However, AEG did release a PDF of every card so you can put together decks with those cards to try out in the interim. In addition to this, they put starter deck lists on their website so those new to the game can play with a pre-constructed deck to get a feel for the game. Finally, AEG has released a separate product called A Matter of Honor that serves as a Learn to Play set for Ivory Edition. A Matter of Honor touches on the story between two of the Great Clans as they go to war against each other over courtly insults flung carelessly.
IvE continues the story started in EE, where the forces of Rokugan have finally secured a distant kingdom as a colonial front. However, with the threats there defeated they must now deal with the inevitability of their Empress’ mortality and select one of her two sons to lead. This will be done by storyline events and player choice tournaments. This is done with their “kotei” season where a line of story prizes will be laid out and at specially announced tournaments for different game stores.
In the post-EE community, IvE is a much needed breath of fresh air. A simplification of the overall game rules, making it less intimidating to new players and a real sense of balance has been restored. Coupled with the fact that AEG is, as always, sending plenty of love to the brick-and-mortar stores that supply both product and a place for players to enjoy the game. IvE is definitely the edition for the player, both new and old. So find your local store and playgroup and get ready to flip cardboard for the glory of clan and empire. Banzai!