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L5r Deck building : Lion

I have gotten feedback from my previous article saying that Phoenix was a very difficult clan for new players to start with. This is fair. Phoenix is a complex clan to master. When I first started the LCG I wanted to play Phoenix due to partisan reasons but chose to play Lion first instead to get a good grasp of the basics of the game. It’s not to say that Lion or Phoenix are better, (I lie Phoenix is better. Phoenix OP) but lion is just more straightforward and easier for new players to handle.

For this article we will go thru how I made the lion Deck. The link to the final deck can be found here.


As always everything starts with the house. Yojin no Shiro gives all of your attackers +1 military strength. Note this does not require a military Conflict so you can use it fuel cards like rout or lions pride brawler. The house rewards three things. First of course is attacking in military conflicts. Second is cards that require the military stat. Third it is a force multiplier which rewards many small characters. One Toturi would get as big a bonus as one Akodo Gunso.

We now have our strategy and win condition. An aggressive deck which would like to win by breaking the opponents provinces preferably through military conflict. Of course we cannot ignore politics as well as we only get one military challenge every turn. We also want to try getting a board that is as wide as possible. There are two ways to achieve this. We either have many smaller characters or have our bigger characters stick around for a long time. Next we would also want to defend as little as possible.

Looking at our clan we have three themes going for us. We have plenty of bushi to go around so we want to exploit this tribal if we can. Our best bushi is also a courtier and we have multiple affordable courtiers so we can exploit that. Lastly our cards reward us for being more honorable than our opponent. This encourages us to bid low which requires us to include cards that let us draw outside the traditional draw phase. Fourth we have ways to bring cards directly from the province or the discard pile and have them stick around.


You may notice that the Void, Air, and Fire provinces are the same as in the phoenix deck. In my opinion they are better than the alternative so all future articles will have those provinces for those elements by default. I will just include a separate entry if I depart from that for a specific deck as there will usually be a good reason for it. For water my default will also be rally to the cause.

Ancestral lands – As mentioned the deck will focus on military. The ancestral lands goes under our stronghold to make sure that the opponent has to beat us by 12 in politics to win the game.

Art of war – We are bidding low and we don’t want to defend. This province rewards us with cards for breaking. Great!


For our dynasty we will try to keep our curve low to bring more characters out. We will only include higher cost characters if they can have an immediate in military conflicts as they will be mostly brought out via charge.


As you can see we have our holdings are focused on drawing cards both from the
dynasty and the conflict deck. This lets us bring out more low cost characters to maximize the benefit of our house and lets us have more targets for charge. It also lets us flip holdings and initiates one turn early to avoid clogging our provinces.

0-1 cost

We have 13 cards in this section. More than 25% of the deck. This allows us to bring these cards out quickly and allows us to put fate on them ensuring they stay for a turn or two. Ideally our provinces should be empty every turn.

2 cost

We have 9 2 cost cards in this section. The three keepers do not really count as cards as you’re trying to get them discarded as fast as possible. The gunso acts as another accelerator letting you draw more dynasty cards. Remember you want them open as fast as possible to get the ones who should go into the discard pile there and to have charge targets. The venerable historian seems to be a strange choice as it goes counter to everything I have said earlier. She cannot even enter into military challenges. At the end of the day she is still a cheap body I can put fate on and she can either probe political challenges or defend against them if needed. Having an easy way to honor her can cause complications for anyone running crane as well.

3 costs

There are 7 cards in this section. Kitsu Spiritcaller and Lions pride brawler are the most powerful cards in lion. Thier power level is such that the theme of the deck does not really matter. They will get slotted in. There is only one of Matsu Beonia however and this will be something a lot of people will question. A game of l5r usually takes 3-4 rounds. If Beonia fullfills her condition then she is a 3 cost that will last the entire game. If she does not then she I have no interest in paying 3 fate for a 3/2 body. Not when I can pay 1 fate and add 2 to have Matsu Berserker stay for 3 rounds. Note that if you charge Beonia in she still gets the 2 additional fate.

4-5 cost

Toturi and the Honored General round out the deck. We dont really want to pay fate to bring these characters out. They are very strong but we want to bring out smaller characters for a wider board. The primary method these characters will enter play is thru Kitsu Spiritcaller and charge. We then use our conflict to have them stay.


Our conflict is divided into two groups. Combat cards to help us in the conflict itself and cards that let our characters stay on the board longer.


People who have read my previous article will see a lot of similarity here. For shame, Court games, Assassination, Banzai, fine katana, ornate fan are all good general use items. You will see them recur from deck to deck until more options occur. New cards will have to be very good to beat thier level of efficiency. Due to their general nature you should expect your opponent to have all these cards as well.

Way of the lion and charge round out round out our combat cards. These are high impact cards that swing the conflict towards the lion. With the exception of crab no other clan can use charge as effectively and way of the lion is a force boost of anywhere from +3- +6. This usually means that lion can win any military conflict it sets its mind too. It is preferable that your opponent blocks your military attacks so you can run over them.


This is what makes the lion deck unique from the other clans. Good Omen, Stand your ground, For Greater Glory. 8 out of our 40 conflict cards extend the lifespan of our characters by one turn. Note that a game of L5r is usually 3-4 turns so this is 1/4th of the game. It is not uncommon to have a charging toturi or honored general stay on the board for the entire game. For greater glory lets your entire army stay another round.


I chose Phoenix for the splash. I expect my characters to stay on the board for multiple turns so having a way to honor them would be beneficial which is why kimono is included. It also works with stand your ground. Unlike the Phoenix lion have no problem winning military conflicts so it should be relatively easy to trigger. The deck does not really want to defend so display of power was selected. Miramutos fury would also have been a valid choice but there are some provinces like art of war which we actively want broken and the ring effect of display of power helps us in future conflicts that turn.


Lion can generally just power thru any items controlled by the opponent. If you are having trouble venerable historian can be replaced with miya mystics. Scorpion is a good splash as well to ensure that the for greater glory goes thru. The smaller lion characters also have 0-1 glory which makes them good thieves. Scorpion splash may even be better than Phoenix splash, depending on your playstyle. Another staging ground can also be placed instead of the otomo courtier. Crab offers reprieve to enable characters to stay longer, Rebuild to cycle your deck and the stoic gunso which is a good military conflict character. Although it is true that crab just helps us do things we already do well better instead of adding anything new to the deck.

Here you go a straightforward deck to help you learn the game before you move on to phoenix.

This post first appeared on TSUKES THOUGHTS – When The Mainstream Gets It Wrong, please read the originial post: here

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L5r Deck building : Lion


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