|Mmmm, Scorpion girls are sexy!|
Well, my LGS finally got its shipment of H&T in (don't get me started on that!), and I just couldn't wait to get my hands on it and start sifting through the cards! In this thread, I'll be posting pictures of the box's contents one by one, and going through MY personal views on the ups and downs on the set. I'll jump right in...
The box ran me $25, and contains the following: 2x Pre-constructed decks (one for the Scorpion, one for the Phoenix) 2x deck boxes (again, 1 for each clan), a larger "learn to play" rulebook, and a story book (63 pages) containing fiction regarding the "War of the Twins" that the set is based on.
The box itself came as pictured above. It slides open top-to-bottom, the same way the standard EE decks do, and is made out of the same materials. It has a sleeve around the box that keeps it from sliding apart. Once the top is slid off, the view is this:
On one side (left as pictured) you have the 2 books, while the decks are sandwiched between pieces of white cardboard. (one on the right as pictured, one in the middle) Everything fits nice, snug. and secure, so the deck boxes themselves won't get rattled around, damaged, corners bent, etc. If you plan on traveling with your whole H&T as is to the the game store, friend's house, etc I'd keep the cardboard components to keep this from rattling around. Me, I'll be breaking everything down, sorting the cards, using the deck boxes etc, so I doubt I'll be the cardboard...
The Books. You have a larger "Learn to play" rulebook, and the 63 page fiction book. I have yet to start reading it, so I cannot comment on the quality of the fiction within. That said, I do enjoy reading what the L5R story team comes up with, so I'm sure I'll enjoy this book all the same. Size wise, at 63 pages it's a bit small, but it's perfect for those "times of solitude at the porcelain altar" if you catch my drift! As an added bonus, it fits perfectly into a back pocket for some "discreet reading material" if you happen to be in a public place.
In regards to the rulebook, it does not contain the FULL rules of L5R, it's limited to what is relevant to the contents of the H&T box. That said, it is laid much better than the regular rulebook, which can be a major pain to sift through if you need to look up a quick ruling. It also guides players completely setp-by-step through an intro game, complete with what cards to draw in your hand 1st etc, which can definitely be handy if two players have never touched the game before.
Next, we get to the deck boxes themselves. They feature 2 characters from the story, Yogo Haruto on the front with Bayushi Nitoshi (my homeboy) for the Scorpion, and Shiba Mitsushen on the front and Shiba Tsukimi on the back for the Phoenix. Construction wise, it is made out of the same materials as the H&T box and EE deck boxes, so they seem pretty sturdy. It features velcro closures on the front flap, similar to other deck boxes on the market.
Here you can see both the velcro enclosure as well as how the cards were packed in. The 80+ cards wrapped in the typical clear wrapping seen in other starter decks, and some black foam to keep it all secure. As with the white cardboard in the box, if you are not going to sleeve your cards (for some odd reason) and plan to travel with your decks, I'd advise keeping the black foam.
Finally, in regards to the deck boxes, to the left you can see how the standard sized deck will fit. It fits snugly, which is both an upside and a downside. I like to use larger, plastic loaders on my Stronghold, Imperial Favor, and Border Keep/Bamboo Harvesters to keep them separate from the rest of the deck. I can keep all that stuff, including a small amount of tokens and a few dice inside of the EE deck boxes. Clearly, I can't do that with these. So, more than likely, instead of keeping a BK/BH, favor, and tokens inside their respective boxes along with each deck, I'll probably dedicate this H&T box to carrying those items instead. So, when I play I'll grab whatever deck I want to use, along with this box, and I should be good to go!
Onto the cards themselves...
|My 2 yr old daughter opening the Phoenix deck,|
I'll make a gamer out of her yet!
As I've said before, H&T comes with 2 pre-constructed decks. In general, they are both a mix of current existing cards from earlier sets along with a few new, exclusive ones. As a bit of a bonus, the cards that were printed in earlier sets either feature alternate artwork, and/or new flavor text that goes along with the story of the H&T set. That said, only a couple of the personalities are reprints, most are new with this set. There are also a couple of out of clan personalities in each deck, usually due to the fact that they played a part in the overall story somehow. The same goes with the fate deck, a few reprints with alt art/text, a few new cards as well. Back on the Dynasty side, there are no events, and no regions. The only new holding as far as I can tell is the Border Keep inexperienced, which outside of sealed H&T games, you probably will not use as it only has the "if it's your 1st turn" Limited effect and not the "once per game" of the regular version. Fate side, you have Strategies, Spells, and Followers, but no rings, and no item attachments.
Power wise, there are some nice cards in the set, but nothing seems OP in any way. (on paper, the Scorpion stronghold seems pretty strong) Cards here and there may make their way into other decks, but nothing too extreme. The Towers of the Yogo could play pretty interesting with a swarm style, deck using Kodanshi and other methods to create the free 0 force "ninja spuds" to tie up enemy units. It will take some experimenting, and probably won't rank very high by Kotei standards, but it should be fun to play locally! I shall experiment with it and see what I can come up with...
Play wise, the two decks are pretty interesting. The Scorpion deck seems to focus on bowing in battle, (duh, look at their stronghold) while the Phoenix one has a lot of straighten mechanics built in to counter. The Phoenix deck has a lot of spells and followers, but few strategies, while the Scorpion deck has several strategies, a few followers, and no spells. I played a couple of standard games, using the two sealed decks against each other, and this is what I found based on my playstyle: early game seems to favor the Phoenix, while mid-late game seems to favor the Scorpion. With a single personality out, and the right hand as far as attachments go, you can effectively start taking a provence turn 2... and you'll need to if you want to keep ahead of the Scorpion's bow mechanic. As the Scorpion, you need get a body advantage ASAP, which with a set of Irezu's and cards with Elite, it shouldn't be too hard to do, as long as you survive the early blitz. I think I'd give a slight advantage to the Scorpion, at least after the few games I have played. Of course, it may also be part luck, part playstyle, which has lead me to this conclusion after the couple of test games I played. All in all, I'd say they did a pretty good job as far as balance is concerned.
Edit: Thanks to Kempy on the Dojo of Lies forum for posting a full list!
So, there you have it! In general, I'm pretty happy with Honor & Treachery overall. I'd say if you play either of these two clans, H&T would be worth picking up. If you are brand new to the game, it likewise would be worth it as you'd get two fully playable, streamlined decks to learn the game with. If you are not new, and don't play either of these two clans, you can probably honestly skip picking it up without missing out on too much.
Thanks for reading! If you have any questions or comments regarding the set, just let me know...