Welcome to Rokugan! Learning L5R is a series of videos and blogs to help you jump straight into the action of the Legend of the Five Rings LCG as soon as you get your Core Sets. If you are new to the Learning L5R series, we recommend that you start by reading Chapter 1: A How to Play Guide for New L5R Players.
This blog is updated continuously to provide the most current information.
You have watched all the videos, read all the blogs and are ready to dive in. We have been there, and it can be overwhelming. Before discussing what to buy, we need to cover the basics of the living card game format!
Why is it called a “Living” Card Game?
It is important to understand that L5R is a Living Card Game, or LCG, and that means that there is a steady stream of new cards released over time. Basically, a “living” game is one that expands regularly and has non-random distribution. Every product you buy is identical to every other version of that product.
Cards are released in three distinct ways: Core Sets, Clan Packs, and Dynasty Packs.
First, a Core Set is the basic, board game-sized box that everyone needs to start playing. It includes the tokens and rulebook, as well as staple neutral and clan-specific cards. If you have seen an image of an L5R product, it is probably the Core Set (the largest box in the image above).
Clan Packs (second biggest item in the image above) are more significant expansions released about twice a year. They are dedicated to specific clans, so there is a Phoenix Clan Pack, Scorpion Clan Pack, etc. The majority of cards in a Clan Pack belong to the clan it represents, but every Clan Pack does have a few neutral cards and at least one card (so far) for the other clans.
The Phoenix Clan Pack, Disciples of the Void, has 18 Phoenix cards, 4 neutral cards, and 1 card each for Crab, Crane, Dragon, Lion, Scorpion, and Unicorn.
Dynasty Packs are the smallest and most common expansions for the game. Every Dynasty Pack contains a few cards for every clan, and usually a few neutral cards as well. These packs are released in groups of 6, called cycles (as seen in the image above). Every cycle of 6 packs explores one or two new themes, like a new mechanic, card type, or storyline.
What To Buy
The easiest way to start collecting L5R is buying from biggest to smallest – Core Sets, then Clan Packs, then Dynasty Packs, as explained below.
The Core Set: Your first stop is undoubtedly the L5R Core Set. It contains 239 cards as well as all necessary components for use during the game. Buy a single Core Set and play the game a few times to see if you like it!
If you do like it and want to dive in fully, it is probably best to just buy three Core Sets. There is only a single copy of most of the cards included in the Core Set, even though you can include up to three of any card when building your deck. If you buy three Core Sets, you will have three copies of every Core Set card, and so can include the max number of any of those cards in your deck.
The other perspective on this is to stick to the one Core Set and buy Clan Packs and Dynasty Packs instead of more Core Sets. That increases the diversity of cards in your collection, but being able to consistently include the staple Core Set cards in every one of your future decks is hard to beat. If you prefer having access to as many different cards as possible, stick to a single Core Set. If you prefer the consistency of having a full suite of staple cards, go for three.
Core Sets have a standard price of $39.95, and you can buy them from our store.
Clan Packs: After some experience with the Core Set, you will generally start favoring a few clans. Each clan represents a certain play style and you will find yourself gravitating accordingly. Because of this, the next stop is buying a Clan Pack for your favorite clan(s). If you really love Phoenix Clan, for instance, grab a copy of Disciples of the Void, the Phoenix Clan Pack.
Each Clan Pack (so far) contains 78 new cards (3 copies each of 25 different cards, and 1 copy each of 3 different cards) with a faction-specific theme. Buying a Clan Pack really bolsters your options for the clan(s) that you prefer, and having a lot of different tools during deck building makes the every part of the process much more enjoyable. You only need to purchase one of any given Clan Pack to unlock all of your options.
If your preferred clan does not have a Clan Pack yet, just start with Dynasty Packs (read below).
Clan Packs have a standard price of $19.95, and you can buy them from our store. We also have an L5R Clan Pack Subscription service that automatically charges you for every new Clan Pack and sends it to you on release day.
Dynasty Packs: After a Core Set (or three) and your desired Clan Pack(s), it is time to dive into the wild diversity of Dynasty Packs! These packs are released differently than living card games in the past, in that all six packs in a cycle are released during a six week period, twice a year – a release strategy marketed as “six packs, six weeks”.
As an example, imagine that the fifth cycle of Legend of the Five Rings is going to start releasing in May. Those six packs will release in the following way:
Cycle 5 – Pack 1: First week of May
Cycle 5 – Pack 2: Second week of May
Cycle 5 – Pack 3: Third week of May
Cycle 5 – Pack 4: Fourth week of May
Cycle 5 – Pack 5: First week of June
Cycle 5 – Pack 6: Second week of June
Then, about six months later, it will happen again with the sixth cycle.
Cycle 6 – Pack 1: First week of October
Cycle 6 – Pack 2: Second week of October
Cycle 6 – Pack 3: Third week of October
Cycle 6 – Pack 4: Fourth week of October
Cycle 6 – Pack 5: First week of November
Cycle 6 – Pack 6: Second week of November
And that will continue indefinitely.
Once a player has all of the current cards, they will generally just buy the new Dynasty Packs when they release or pick them up slowly over a couple of months. For new players, though, it can be difficult to know exactly which packs you should buy to get up to speed. There are three strategies that we recommend.
*Note the green packaging, these dynasty packs are all in the same cycle.
Keep it simple and buy one cycle at a time: This is the easiest way to collect the game, as no research is required and you get to experience the thrill of discovering the cards in each pack. Quite simply, start buying the Dynasty Packs in the most recent cycle. Once you have all of those, start buying the Dynasty Packs from the cycle before that one. Continue doing that until you have all of the cards and are fully caught up! You can buy one pack every few weeks, all six packs of a cycle at a time, or even the entire back catalogue in one fell swoop.
Do your research and buy strategically: Because every Dynasty Pack is non-random, you can easily look up the contents inside. Just go to a site like fiveringsdb.com to see the contents of every Dynasty Pack. You can take a clan or deck that you really enjoy playing and look through every card in the game to determine what you need, then decide which packs to buy accordingly. This takes more work and is generally best for those who are more experienced with the game and/or experienced with card games in the past. Asking experienced players for help at your local store or on Facebook, Reddit, and the like is certainly worthwhile!
Just forget the older packs and start buying the new ones: You will certainly lose out on some options for a while and you might not have perfectly optimized decks, but it is perfectly acceptable to just skip the back catalogue of products and only buy new releases starting now. That removes the financial burden of “catching up” and still allows you to join in the “new card” rush that happens when a new cycle releases. It is also perfectly acceptable to take this approach until you feel really comfortable with the game, and then start strategically buying packs to fill in the gaps that become obvious. Our Covenant Subscriptions service is ideal for this.
Dynasty Packs have a standard price of $14.95, and you can buy all of them from our store. We also have an L5R Dynasty Pack Subscription service that automatically charges you for every new Dynasty Pack and sends it to you on release day.
Where to buy
Core Sets, Clan Packs and Dynasty Packs are pretty standard “buy from publisher/distribution, ship to customer” items, so there is plenty of competition out there among retailers.
We suggest that you start by calling, emailing, or visiting any local stores that support Legend of the Five Rings. Because shipping is not a factor (though be aware of local taxes), local packs are sometimes cheaper than buying online. Find out what prices, timelines, and availability look like locally, and then keep that information handy.
This is also a good time to see if any local stores are running L5R events, providing play space, or otherwise supporting the game beyond stocking the products.
Then, if none of your local options are acceptable, you can buy L5R products online from warehouses (Amazon, etc) or retailers like us. We sell products locally in Tulsa and online, and we stock the full L5R (and other living card game) catalogue. Our Covenant Subscriptions service is one of the most popular offerings for living card games, including L5R – you sign up for the products you want to receive and we automatically send them to you as soon as they release.
We also offer specialty custom products for L5R and other living card games. Check out our Dynasty Rings!
A few final accessories
Cards are an investment, so it is worthwhile to protect them accordingly – especially when doing so also enhances the quality of every game! These accessory purchases might be right after buying a Core Set or after you dive a little bit deeper into the game. Either way, you will want to acquire a playmat, card sleeves, and one or more deck boxes.
Playmats: There are a multitude of options for playmats, as they are essentially the currency of card games. Constantly given out as prizes, used as promotional incentives, or utilized as a canvas for great artists, it is easy (and a lot of fun) to find the perfect playmat. Just do a quick google search for “legend of the five rings playmats” or head to an official printer like Inked Gaming to browse their collection or upload an image of your own.
Card Sleeves: Quite simply, we suggest one type of card sleeve based on 20+ years of in-game testing. Dragon Shield Mattes are undoubtedly our favorite sleeves, and each pack also acts as a perfectly acceptable deckbox. Win-win.
You can buy them from our store in various colors at $11 per pack. It is a good idea to get a few different colors in order to differentiate decks, strongholds, etc.
Deckboxes: It is a box to hold your deck of cards, and while that may seem pretty simple, there are a myriad of options. The cheapest and most common choice is the Ultra Pro Deckbox, but high end options like the Dex Pro are also available. You can buy the former from our store for $2 each.
You are ready
That is it! Start with the Core Set, then look at Clan Packs and Dynasty Packs. At some point along the way grab a playmat, deckbox, and card sleeves. Most importantly, play as much L5R as you possibly can along the way! There is no shortage of entertainment right out of the Core Set, so there is no need to be in a rush to buy more. Living card games are great because they slowly expand and change over time, and you can be as invested or casual as you like.
The most important thing to do is start playing!
If you would like to stay updated about all of the latest for Legend of the Five Rings, sign up for our Legend of the Five Rings e-mail list. We send hand-crafted updates about our L5R offerings and any significant changes to the landscape.
If you have any questions, please comment below and we will be happy to help!
- Chapter 1
Playing the Crane Clan
- Chapter 2
Playing the Scorpion Clan
- Chapter 3
A How to Play Guide for New L5R Players
- Chapter 4
Playing the Crab Clan
- Chapter 5
Playing the Dragon Clan
- Chapter 6
Playing the Lion Clan
- Chapter 7
Playing the Phoenix Clan
- Chapter 8
Playing the Unicorn Clan
- Chapter 9
The Legend of the Five Rings Buyers Guide
- Chapter 10
Additional Resources for L5R Players