I’m going to talk a little about something I know precious little about, the L5R card game.
Let me first of all say I’ve played this game precisely twice and I think neither time did I ‘get’ it.
My first taste of the cardboard crack genre was, as it is with many other people, Magic: the gathering and I found it relatively simple to pick up. I think that’s because at the time ( Ice Age was the current set IIRC) the only win condition that really had to be concerned which was reducing your opponents life, you had one deck, very few types of cards, creatures only had two states (tapped and untapped) and most rules were explained on the cards. Later I found that magic became much more complex the more i played and not just tactically but the rules and interpretation thereof often became an exercise in finding out who had read the errata most recently..
With L5R I found myself in the opposite situation. There is a lot of complexity upfront, having to worry about Honor and military victories on an even footing , many more stats and abilities of cards, lots of different card states and, I think, a less intuitive background ( Red magic = burn stuff, crab samurai = ?). I suspect that L5R shows its complexity more openly but is actually a more elegant ruleset and that my difficulties were probably more to do with an inclination to try and map the game mechanics to the Magic ones. Regardless at the time I ignored it as yet another CCG destined to die under the weight of its pomp and complexity, a pretender to the MTG throne.
Much later I would volunteer to act as scorekeeper for the Leprecon Kotei. In that capacity I got to meet a lot of players and hear a bit more about the background and how the game works in practice. Not to diss the magic players ( I am one myself) but the L5R crew are a far more interesting bunch. Where the Magic competitions I have seen are quiet and intense ,indeed almost solemn, affairs the L5R games I have seen are Raucous and more relaxed . I From what I can tell the background is an essential part of the game and its a living story that is effected by the players (or more specifically by the Clans, a point I’ll come back to) actions. Costumes are not unusual and the players are rewarded for more than just winning their games (there is an award for furthest distance travelled for the competition attendees).
But the think I think is really clever about L5R is the Clans. Unlike Magic* (or any other CCG )where the focus is on the individual , in L5R the focus is on your Clan, theres a camaraderie (and indeed a rivalry) there which I think has a lightening influence on the atmosphere of the competition events and indeed has created clan events and collaborative efforts to raise the profile of their clans ( I’ve heard tell of large numbers of origami scorpions being sent to Alderac).
Anyhow what spawned this (much longer than I had anticipated) spiel is the following video, there must be something really good about this game when people end up doing this kind of thing:
They were actually on their honeymoon. The Groom was kind enough to purchase me a Crane clan starter set at one point which is sitting on my shelf as yet untested.
So, I guess what I’m trying to say is… anyone for a game?
*I’ll apologise here for picking on Magic, Its simply that Its the one I know well.