Chapter 4 of Learning L5R
Playing the Crab Clan

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.

The Crab Clan

The Crab Clan have all but removed themselves from the politics of Rokugan. Instead, they fulfill their sacred duty by keeping a watchful eye to the Shadowlands in the south. They are the shield of the Emerald Empire against the horrors of the night. Basically, the Crab keep all sorts of terrifying demons and weirdness from destroying everything.

Below is an intermediate deck list built from three Core Sets. The deck imports a few critical cards from the Lion Clan in accordance with the Influence mechanic found in the rulebook. If you would like to construct a more basic Crab Clan deck for your first few games,we recommend watching the Core Set Deck Building video in Chapter 1: A How to Play Guide for New L5R Players.

Stronghold: Shiro Nishiyama

Defend the Wall (Earth)
Manicured Garden (Air)
Night Raid (Fire)
Elemental Fury (Water)
Pilgrimage (Void)

Dynasty Deck:
3 x Funeral Pyre
3 x Borderlands Fortifications
3 x Eager Scout
3 x Hida Guardian
3 x Kaiu Envoy
3 x Shrewd Yaskui
3 x Hiruma Yojimbo
3 x Vanguard Warrior
3 x Hida Tomonatsu
3 x Intimidating Hida
3 x Borderlands Defender
3 x Vengeful Berserker
3 x Kaiu Shuichi
3 x Steadfast Witch Hunter
3 x Hida Kisada

Conflict Deck:
2 x Good Omen
3 x Levy
2 x Rebuild
3 x The Mountain Does Not Fall
3 x Way of the Crab
2 x Reprieve
3 x Stoic Gunso
2 x Jade Tetsubo
2 x Hiruma Ambusher
3 x Assassination
3 x Fine Katana
2 x Ornate Fan
3 x Charge
2 x Route
3 x Banzai
3 x Watch Commander
2 x Vengeful Oathkeeper (2 influence each)
2 x For Greater Glory (3 influence each)

It only takes one game to realize just how important duty in the form of sacrifice is for the Crab Clan. The clan features many characters, like Hida Tomonatsu and Vanguard Warrior, that have powerful abilities fueled by self-sacrifice. It also has characters like Vengeful Berserker that get more powerful when a character you control leaves play and the game-changing Way of the Crab, which forces both you and your opponent to sacrifice a character. At the right time, this effect can be downright devastating.

Along with their belief in self-sacrifice as the highest honor, a secondary theme of defense runs throughout the clan. Starting with the clan’s stronghold, which allows you to give each defending character an additional military and political strength. It is reinforced with¬†characters like Hiruma Yojimbo. who cannot be declared as an attacker, but has high stats for only two cost. The clan champion, Hida Kisada, has an ability that is only active as long as you have not lost a conflict. The theme also shows up in the conflict deck with cards like The Mountain Does Not Fall, allowing you to keep a defending character from bowing once the conflict ends.

These themes, sacrifice and defense, pair to create a wall-like feeling for your opponent. Playing a few characters and not launching early attacks allows an early commitment to defense. It is common for this deck to not lose a single conflict, let alone a province, during the first several turns of a game. They can slowly save fate until they are ready to strike, playing and investing in a handful of strong characters that turn the tide of the game.

To further their overarching strategy, the Crab Clan takes advantage of an element of the game that most clans do not: holdings. While holdings are not a particularly critical component of most clan’s strategies, Crab has two clan-specific ones! It becomes important to have a holding on the board, since characters like Shrewd Yasuki and Kaiu Shuichi offer powerful actions when they are present.

It is difficult to reserve a province slot for a holding instead of future characters, but the abilities they offer are critical to the success of the deck. The Funeral Pyre lets you sacrifice a character to draw a card as an action, which can be used toward the end of the Conflict Phase to sacrifice a character without fate – they would be leaving anyway! Funeral Pyre also gives Crab the ability to sacrifice a character at any point during a turn, making all of the “when a character leaves play” triggers ever-threatening. Their second holding, Borderlands Fortifications, gives a province +2 strength and can move around to whichever province needs that boost the most. This ability combined with Crab’s natural aptitude at defense can create headaches for any opponent.

When they do take offensive action, Crab often prefers the Water and Void rings. Water allows a powerful defender to stand back up in order to defend again, or can bow an offensive threat. Void keep the opponent’s board state from getting out of hand, making it even easier Crab’s defensive gameplan to take shape. Because they have the ability to draw cards outside of the Draw Phase (Funeral Pyre, for instance), Crab can bid low on their dial and siphon an opponent’s honor. This often opens up Air and Fire as strong options for pushing the Honor victory.

If you are interested in watching this core set Crab deck in action against the Phoenix Clan, check out the gameplay video below.

Next up, we give an overview of the Crane Clan!

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