Common Ground

Developer Tyler Parrott Evaluates the New Elemental Roles

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"It is the nature of man to walk the path. It is the nature of man to turn from the path. This is the nature of man."
   –Shinsei's Gift, apocryphal

The second phase of the 2019 Elemental Championships for Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game has now concluded. The top performers at these high-level tournaments cast their votes for new elemental roles, and those votes have been tallied. Now, lead developer Tyler Parrott reveals and evaluates these new elemental roles for the seven Great Clans. Discover your clan's new role and how it may affect your clan's potential for glory at the upcoming 2019 Winter Court World Championships and the conflicts that lie beyond!

Tyler Parrott on the New Elemental Roles

Honorable samurai,

Though summer is only beginning to wane, winter will soon descend upon us as our glorious hosts prepare for Winter Court in November. As the seasons change, so must we, and so I come with news regarding the next season of roles for the seven Great Clans of Rokugan.

Before I go into the new roles for each of the clans, I would like to discuss a minor schedule change regarding the roles in 2020. As the tournament season for next year standardizes around the new model of Store, Prime, Grand, and Continental Championships, the current Elemental Championships will be going away. This does not mean that role voting will be eliminated, however. We have yet to announce how role votes will be earned for 2020, but I want to make it clear that there will be a tournament series where players can earn vote cards as prizes. These tournaments will not be tied to a voting period in the way that Elemental Championships were—players who earn a vote card can save their vote for whatever period they deem it to be most valuable.

What are the role rotation periods, then? I’m glad you asked!

Roles Voting Period Active Period
Autumn Roles Just ended. These are the results! September 2019 – February 2020
Winter Roles N/A (Roles selected at Winter Court 2019) November 2019 – June 2020
Spring Roles November 2019 – January 2020 March 2020 – October 2020
Autumn Roles March 2020 – May 2020 July 2020 – February 2021

Each voting period will last three full calendar months, and the results will go into effect after a one month break (for tabulation and announcement). As with previous role rotations, a clan cannot vote for (or select) a role that they currently have, and each clan will continue to have two roles: one that they just acquired and one from the season before. Players who earn vote cards can choose when to use them, but can use them exactly once—after that, the vote is logged and any future attempts to vote using that vote card will be ignored.

In addition, the vote cards earned during 2020 will be tied to a specific clan. Rather than earning a vote card and inputting which clan you are casting your vote for, the unique code on your card will determine which clan you are voting for. When you win vote cards at events, you will be earning votes for the clan that you are currently playing, so I encourage you to work with your player community to figure out which role you want your clan to have!

But what you really came for was to know what your clan will be playing in a month and a half at the Winter Court World Championship. Here are the new roles!
 

Clan Effective Until November 11, 2019 Effective Until March 2, 2020


Crab


Seeker of Void


Keeper of Air

The Crab Clan knew what they wanted, and they weren’t going to let anyone stop them. Keeper of Air gives them lots of flexibility in terms of splashes, whether it’s to bolster their own honor (Crane), hammer at their opponent’s honor (Scorpion), or resurrect characters in military conflicts (Lion). What's more, their in-clan Air role character, Guardian of Virtue (Children of the Empire, 49), can be a potent and frustrating defender if the Crab are willing to bid lower than their opponent and activate composure. By selecting Keeper of Air, the clan maintains a balance that continues to give them access to both Keeper and Seeker cards, depending on which cards prove more important at any given time.
 

Clan Effective Until November 11, 2019 Effective Until March 2, 2020


Crane


Seeker of Void


Keeper of Air

While there was a notable contingent of players who voted for Keeper of Earth to give Crane access to Phoenix’s Earth Becomes Sky (Bonds of Blood, 41), the votes for Keeper of Air ultimately won out by a large margin. Air is a very potent role for the Crane Clan, as it cares a great deal about honoring its own characters with Soul Beyond Reproach (The Ebb and Flow, 74) and dishonoring opponents’ characters with Mark of Shame (All and Nothing, 97). I anticipate a number of players will begin exploring the potentially deadly potency of Noble Sacrifice (Core Set, 148) and/or Duel to the Death (Bonds of Blood, 36) when their ability to control status tokens improves with the Keeper of Air role.
 

Clan Effective Until November 11, 2019 Effective Until March 2, 2020


Dragon


Keeper of Water


Seeker of Air

 

The Dragon Clan already had an excellent role for duelist strategies in Keeper of Water, which gives them Fight On (The Ebb and Flow, 72) and Keeper Initiate (Core Set, 124). This voting period saw them focus on acquiring a more generally valuable role, as there are compelling Air-role cards in many of the other clans, and the Dragon’s Solitary Strength (Children of the Empire, 57) can be effective. Sensing a pattern?
 

Clan Effective Until November 11, 2019 Effective Until March 2, 2020


Lion


Seeker of Air


Seeker of Earth

What a nail-biter! With no less than a single vote difference, the Lions of this season voted to select Seeker of Earth (over Keeper of Air). On the one hand, the brand-new Forebearer's Echoes (Bonds of Blood, 39) is a very strong in-clan reward for staying with an Air role. On the other hand, Lion already has an Air role and has benefited greatly from splashing Earth Becomes Sky (Bonds of Blood, 41) out of Phoenix. By diversifying their elements, they have retained more options in how they want to build for the next six months.
 

Clan Effective Until November 11, 2019 Effective Until March 2, 2020


Phoenix


Seeker of Void


Seeker of Earth

Like Lion, Phoenix was an unbelievably close vote between Seeker of Earth and Seeker of Air. After seeing wild success at Gen Con and Sydney with a Keeper of Air deck built around Forebearer's Echoes (Bonds of Blood, 39) and Fushichō (Disciples of the Void, 11), many people wanted to retain their Air role to continue playing the deck. Others disagreed, pointing out that the loss of the Keeper aspect made the deck noticeably weaker, and that they would be better off pursuing powerful in-clan cards such as Earth Becomes Sky (Bonds of Blood, 41). Ultimately, Earth beat out Air (by two votes) and, for the World Championship, the Firebird will not be making a prominent appearance. However, now that they don’t have the Keeper of Air role anymore, I hear it’s one role that Phoenix players may be pursuing in November…
 

Clan Effective Until November 11, 2019 Effective Until March 2, 2020


Scorpion


Keeper of Air


Keeper of Earth

Surprisingly, the Scorpion role vote was also shockingly close. Scorpion players found themselves split evenly between four camps, not entirely sure whether they wanted a Keeper or Seeker role, and whether they wanted an Earth or Void role. Ultimately Keeper of Earth won the most votes—as it opens up fun Shinobi decks featuring Discourage Pursuit (All and Nothing, 98) as well as powering up control decks that want to splash Phoenix for Earth Becomes Sky (Bonds of Blood, 41). Seeker of Earth lost out by a single vote, and Seeker of Void lost out by two, so it’s clear that the other roles are just as appealing to Scorpion players. Perhaps one of these roles will be the next one they choose, if they do well enough at the upcoming World Championship!
 

Clan Effective Until November 11, 2019 Effective Until March 2, 2020


Unicorn


Keeper of Water


Keeper of Earth

Like their Crab, Crane, and Dragon siblings, the Unicorn Clan knew what they wanted and voted overwhelmingly for Keeper of Earth. This makes sense, considering they have just received a powerful in-clan card in the form of Unfulfilled Duty (Bonds of Blood, 44) and because the Phoenix splash that offers Earth Becomes Sky (Bonds of Blood, 41) is already a popular one among many Unicorns. As Unicorn decks gain more tools—including powerful new cards tied to specific roles—I look forward to seeing seeing more success from the followers of Shinjo and the Khan.

The Road to Awe

Clearly this season was dominated by the Air and Earth roles, as every single clan selected one of those two elements for their role, often at the expense of having a Keeper/Seeker split. This was largely fueled by Lion’s Forebearer’s Echoes and Phoenix’s Earth Becomes Sky. These are powerful events, so it only makes sense, but will a Water role return in popularity when all the clans lose access to Fight On? And what about the Void role that three of the clans are losing in November?

Deckbuilding must change as the previous season’s roles fade away. As the rest of the Inheritance cycle and clan packs release, look forward to even more changes in the game… until we begin everything again in the new year!

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