Chapter 3 of Learning L5R
A How to Play Guide for New L5R Players

Welcome to Rokugan! Learning L5R is a series of tutorial videos and blogs designed to help you learn how to play the Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game.

This blog is updated continuously to provide the most current information.

L5R Front - Trademark FFG

Before we start on this journey, a few important points:

1. Legend of the Five Rings is a living card game (LCG). This means that a) the game is played using cards and b) those cards are released in a very specific way. This is a very different format than the original Legend of the Five Rings Collectible Card Game (CCG), which is no longer being produced. The cards in the CCG cannot be used in the LCG.

2. Every living card game starts with what is called a Core Set. Anyone interested in playing Legend of the Five Rings will need at least one Core Set, as it contains the cards, rulebook, tokens, and components needed for the game to function. Buying a Core Set is like buying a traditional board game – you can open it, learn the rules, and play it for as long as you would like.

3. An L5R Core Set contains 239 cards to be used during the game. There is one copy of most of these cards in a single Core Set. When building a deck of cards for the game, you can include a maximum of three copies of any card. Therefore, many players buy three Core Sets in order to get three copies of every card.

4. Living card games are “living” because they slowly expand over time. This is primarily achieved through Dynasty Pack expansions. These packs generally release once a month, and contain three copies of twenty new cards. The contents of these packs are fixed, with no randomness or rarity involved (anyone who buys the Tears of Amaterasu pack, from now until the end of time, will get the exact same cards) . Players of a living card game typically buy a single copy of the new pack every month. Be aware that Fantasy Flight utilized a faster release schedule for the first cycle of this game. We do not anticipate this to be the norm, and will update this blog when we find out more.

5. Dynasty Packs are conceptually bundled into “cycles” of six packs. A cycle explores a particular theme in the game and fleshes out various new concepts. So Dynasty Pack #1 through Dynasty Pack #6 will be the first cycle. Dynasty Pack #7 through Dynasty Pack #12 will be the second cycle. Dynasty Pack #13 through Dynasty Pack #18 will be the third cycle, and so on. Packs of the same cycle have matching color schemes that make them easy to recognize (the first cycle might have red packaging, second cycle blue packaging, etc).

6. In addition to monthly Dynasty Packs, living cards games occasionally release bigger expansions known as Deluxe Expansions (we also call them Box Expansions). These Deluxe Expansions generally contain three copies of sixty new cards, with a self-contained theme. Think of each Deluxe Expansion as a mini cycle of three Dynasty Packs released all at once.

7. If you intend to dive fully into L5R, you should plan to purchase a Dynasty Pack ($14.97) every month and a Deluxe Expansion ($29.97) a few times a year. If it sounds annoying to purchase packs every month and pay attention to every new release, we created a subscription service that solves this problem. You sign up and enter your payment information, and then we charge you for every new Legend of the Five Rings release and send it right to your door. You can find out more about subscriptions right now, or come back to it after learning the game!

Though it sounds a bit complicated, a living card game is basically just a board game with a mini expansion every month and a big expansion a few times a year. Dedicated players will buy three Core Sets, and then a single copy of every Dynasty Pack and Deluxe Expansion. Laid back players will buy one or two Core Sets, and then buy a Dynasty Pack or Deluxe Expansion if it looks interesting or has cards that they particularly want. You can collect the game as seriously or casually as you like.

With the fundamentals covered, the next logical step is to actually learn how to play the game! We caught up with co-designer Brad Andres at GenCon 2017 and recorded a quick tutorial video that shows L5R in action. Notice how the game has various phases, with the heart of the action taking place during the Conflict Phase. After watching this video, you will have a better idea of whether or not Legend of the Five Rings is the right game for you.

If the game looks like something you want to pursue, the first thing to do is order at least one Core Set. As long-time LCG players, we suggest purchasing three Core Sets in order to have all of your deck building options available to you from the start. Our future videos are built around access to three Core Sets, but you can still follow along if you only get one!

Once you have the cards from your Core Sets on the table and organized, it can be completely overwhelming. While deck customization is one of our favorite aspects of a living card game, it is undoubtedly the biggest barrier for new players. Before you throw your hands up, check out our Core Set Deck Building Guide below! This video will give you a quick, foolproof method for building your first deck – regardless of the clan that you choose.

*Please be aware that FFG has released a restricted list that you can find here. Charge! is now restricted and may not be the best option for your deck.

Of course, deck building is much more complex than what we present here, and the depth of a card game is found in the myriad options available for expressing your desired strategies and tactics. If you are interested in a more advanced deck for each clan, check out the linked blogs below. Each blog features a more nuanced deck list, general tactics, and a video in which we use the deck in a real game (except for Lion Clan, which we feature in the Core Set Deck Building Guide and forthcoming Advanced Deck Building Guide).

Crab Clan
Crane Clan
Dragon Clan

Lion Clan
Phoenix Clan
Scorpion Clan
Unicorn Clan

If you would rather build decks on your own, we also have an advanced deck building guide that you can watch below. We go over higher level concepts that are helpful as you actually begin constructing decks for the Legend of the Five Rings LCG.

We deeply enjoyed learning this game, and you should know that it does take some time before things really start to make sense. It is, ultimately, much more than the sum of its parts. We recommend that you watch the videos in order and check out each clan before making a decision about your participation in it. Remember that Legend of the Five Rings is almost as much about the community and organized play as it is the game itself!

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 below. 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!

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