Legend of the 5 Rings... London style

Some of you may have heard of The Kiku Masturi preview event at this year's GenCon. Well FFG decided to run a similar event in London a couple of weeks later on an invitational basis. The Honored Preview Event (I'm going to gloss over the fact that a London event should really have spelled it Honoured) required the most dedicated fans of the L5R universe to post some demonstration of their dedication through a social media post about their favored clan. Examples given:
  • Video or photo 
  • Cosplay costume or accessories 
  • Original fan art or sculpture 
  • Haiku, prose, or lyrics 
  • Thematic food recipe or dish 
  • Any other appropriate display of dedication 
Well I saw this, and having loved the Rokugan universe for many years but missing the CCG back in the day, I thought this would be a great opportunity to try it out and so I made a submission:

In my excitement for the day to get going, I got the the event space a half hour before doors opened... and was apparently the only one there! I stopped and took some snaps of the venue:
Unicorn clan noboriLion clan nobori
Scorpion clan noboriCrab, Crane, Dragon & Phoenix clan nobori

Clearly FFG were pulling out the big guns for this event. I also soon found out that I was far from the first person there! The FFG crew had set up a chill out room in the back of the event space and it wasn't long before I was chilling out with some fellow enthusiasts in a very nice space:
Shoji with clan mon

The prizes were also on display and looking very tasty:
The major prizes surrounded by the deckboxes

Close up of the prizes up for grabs.

The game itself:
A spread of the contents of game.

Once everyone had arrived, we sat down to receive our copies of the game and commence deck building! My buddy, and 2016 UK Imperial Assault Champion, Alistair Scott was along for the ride and we were ready to game:
The tournament hall filled with excited gamers, and a surprised looking Alistair

Ok... well I was ready to game, I think Alistair was still just amazed to be at the event. In addition to the game, we got a special deck box:

Cardboard Deckbox with L5R artwork

Every player got a clan badge to identify their allegiance:
Crane clan pin badge

We also each received 6 copies of an alternate 'Way of' art card for our clan. The intention is to swap the cards with your opponents as you progress. I got Unicorn, Phoenix and Crab through matches and additional trades netted me Dragon and Scorpion:

6 Way of Clan alternate art cards

Before I get into my games and how they went - for those of you not familiar with the game, or the rules. I have written a full review on BoardGameGeek. I'd also suggest watching this learn to play video from the folks at PeachHack.

Round 1:

My first game was up against another total novice (I was soon to learn that around half of those attending had been Beta testers / at the GenCon event / zealous enough to print homebrew decks to get some test games in).
My opponent was running a Unicorn deck and whilst it was pretty close for the first round or two, I was soon well honoured and in a position to inflict enough damage that there was a clear winner by the end of time.

Round 2:

My Crane faced off against another Crane clan deck - this player had been a beta tester of the game and my strategy of investing extra fate in more expensive clan members to keep them around really paid off as I broke multiple provinces with relatively little sweat. And I secured myself a Keeper Initiate alternate art card!

Alternate Art cards of Seeker Initiate and Keeper Initiate

Round 3:

I was starting to think I might go all the way, visualizing myself as 'Hatamoto' (undefeated in a five game tournament), two victories in a tournament is an unheard of thing for me let alone in a row, without defeat... I was feeling pretty good... The fact that I was now playing at Table 5 should've given me some pause. My opponent this time was clearly serious.
During lunch, Alistair and I had started a quick game that was fairly one sided in his favor; I made a couple of bad choices - particularly regarding my opening characters and getting out characters to push back against Crab's defences.
This new opponent was also Crab clan and although I got a slightly better distribution of opening characters, I was totally out classed and my stronghold fell.

Round 4:

Feeling a little disheartened with my bubble burst, I lined up to what I thought would be a very tough match against a Scorpion player that had just flattened Alistair... only to find out he'd got the wrong table number! Instead I faced off against a Phoenix clan player and another beta tester. This match was going reasonably well despite the Phoenix champion coming out early and my own champion being denied... and then I played my second assassination card and my honor was simply too low to recover from. A turn before taking out his Stronghold, I got honor defeated. This one was really my own fault and that was frustrating. Tip: Do Not Play two Assassinations in a single game!

Round 5:

Well it was all to play for in this final game... and by 'all' I mean a shiny plastic promo Stronghold card. My opponent was another Unicorn player and also new to the game... he was also on 2-2 and we both wanted that card! Of course only one of us was going to make it, but who would it be?
The game was pretty close, I was haemorrhaging provinces, but I had forced his honor down to two... In a pretty exciting final round we turned our dynasty characters over... and revealed everything I needed to secure honor denial for him... at the same time his characters were unable to attack against imperial favor (which I held). A very lucky final draw for me and I was able to take the victory, the Plastic Crane Stronghold AND Seeker Initiate Alternate art card!
Final tally: 3-2
Plastic Crane Stronghold card - Shizuka Toshi

The event was fantastic, the game is worlds better than I had expected and I am now really looking forward to the full release and really trying out the deck building.

My final position? 33rd of 100!

*Disclaimer - this was a free event I got into through the competition mentioned in the post. The game and promotional items are provided to all attendees of the event and this post and the review are provided independent of that. 

- Raggy, signing out