Legend of the Five Rings (collectible card game)

Legend of the Five Rings (collectible card game)

Infobox_Game | subject_name= Legend of the Five Rings
designer= David Seay, John Zinser, and David Williams
publisher= Alderac Entertainment Group
players= 2-8
ages= 12+
playing_time= Approx 1 hour
random_chance= Some
skills= Card playing
Arithmetic|patience|Grasp of stragety
Basic Reading Ability
The Legend of the Five Rings (L5R) collectible card game is a collectible card game created by Alderac Entertainment Group, in 1995. L5R takes place in the fictional empire of Rokugan from the Legend of the Five Rings setting, where several clans and factions vie for domination over the empire.

The card game shares some similarities with but has its own unique game mechanics and flavor, providing "passive" win conditions like the Enlightenment Victory, as opposed to Magic's goal of destroying the opponent. Games can be very long, with some matches lasting hours.

A major distinctive feature of the game is the importance of the storyline: new fiction pieces advancing the story of Rokugan are published on a weekly basis, in addition to being released with every expansion, and in a quarterly publication, the Imperial Herald. Many of these fiction reflect the result of tournaments, where players use their decks to determine which faction will claim a particular prize within the storyline.


The game was created by Alderac Entertainment Group and published by Isomedia. It was first previewed at GenCon in 1995, [ [http://pages.sbcglobal.net/sarah-and-zen/l5r/checklists/index.html L5R checklists ] ] , followed by the release of the first set, Imperial Edition, in October of that year, beginning the Clan War arc. Five Rings Publishing Group (FRPG) took over the Intellectual Property shortly thereafter, before being purchased by Wizards of the Coast in 1997.

In 2000, at the behest of Wizards' mother company, Hasbro, the intellectual property to the game was put up for sale. Alderac Entertainment eventually acquired the rights to publish the game in 2001, and full rights over the game within the following years, and have since published the game.

The release of Lotus Edition (in 2005) and Samurai Edition (2007) saw extensive changes to several aspects of the game.

Card Look Changes

Originally, cards featured intricately ornate fronts sides, while the back of the card, either black or green, featured five interlocked rings and the words, "Legend of the Five Rings".

Starting with the release of Pearl Edition in 1999, the card fronts were changed to a simpler, cleaner look that allowed for more card text, as well as returning the visual focus of the card on the art, rather than the borders of the card.

Following a legal issue with the International Olympic Committee, which has an exclusive copyright in the United States to all designs featuring five interlocking rings, it was agreed that Wizards of the Coast would change the card back. This was done with The Spirit Wars in 2000, when the design was changed to five non-interlocking circular symbols depicting each of the five elements of the game (Fire, Air, Earth, Water and Void).

These still stand as the basic layout of the card.

Game play

Legend of the Five Rings can be played with any number of players, although two to four are most common. Unlike most CCGs, which are geared towards one-on-one duels, L5R was designed with multi-player matches in mind. Each player represents the leader of one of the "Factions" battling for power.

Before the Game

Each player has two decks that are kept separate during play: One "Dynasty" deck, consisting of black-backed cards, and one "Fate" deck, consisting of green-backed cards. In tournament games, each deck must contain at least 40 cards, and this has become a "de facto" standard in casual games. (There is no upper limit.) No deck may contain more than three of any particular card, and no more than one of any particular "Unique" card. In addition to a Fate deck and a Dynasty deck, each player must choose one Stronghold card to represent his Faction and ancestral home.

At the beginning of a game, all players start by simultaneously revealing their chosen Stronghold. The family honor value printed on the stronghold determines play order, with the highest value going first. If a tie occurs, a random method such as a die roll or coin toss is used. Each player shuffles his or her Fate and Dynasty decks, and places them some distance apart on the game surface. Each player then takes the first four cards of their Dynasty deck face down on the table in front of them next to each other, between their two decks. This represents their "Provinces", the lands their clan control. Finally, each player draws five Fate cards and places in his or her "hand".

The two most important type of card in the game are the personality and the holding. Personalities represent warriors, courtiers, scholars, monks and creatures of the empire. Almost every Personality card has a unique name corresponding to a character in the story of Legend of the Five Rings; many characters have several versions, representing the evolution of the character over the course of the story. Many cards require a Personality in play to be played; in addition, Personalities are necessary in order to attack or defend. Holdings, meanwhile, are used to produce gold, which is in turn used to pay for further cards.

Turn Sequence

At the beginning of each turn, a player turns face-up all of the face-down Dynasty cards in his Provinces. If these cards are Regions (representing places in Rokugan) or Events (representing rare specific occurrences), they immediately take effect, regions modifying the province they are revealed in, and events having one global effect then being discarded. Whenever a province becomes empty, the player takes the top card of his dynasty deck and put it, face-down, in the province.

The player then proceed to his limited phase, where he may purchase a variety of cards to improve personalities he control. These cards, collectively known as attachments, are Items Followers (representing troops and retainers that may assist your personalities), Spells and Ancestors (guiding spirits that may assist your personalities). During the limited phase, the player may also use certain abilities on cards in play or on action cards in hand; the later are discarded when used. Other players may also take actions during this phase, but the abilities available to them are more limited.

The player then has the option of attacking one of his opponents. If he does so, the attacking and defending players takes turn assigning personalities they control to attack or defend the defending player's provinces. The attacking player assigns his cards first, allowing the defending player to position his cards in response to the attacking player's choices. Once all assignment is done, the battles at each province are played out, with players using abilities on cards they control or in hand in turn until both player passes ; the battle is then resolved with the side having the highest total force becoming victorious. All cards on the losing side are destroyed; if the defending player loses, the province may also be destroyed. Destroyed provinces hold no dynasty cards.

Once all battles (if any) are played out, the player moves on to his dynasty phase, where he may purchase face-up personality or holding cards in his provinces. The abilities of newly purchased holdings generally cannot be used until the beginning of their controller's next turn, whereas those of personalities can be used immediately. Once a player is done with his dynasty phase, he draws a card, then end his turn.

Victory and Defeat

There are several ways to achieve victory or defeat in Legend of the Five Rings. A player may win the game by having his honor score (representing the public view of his clan) reach over 40, at which point he will win the game by an Honor Victory at the beginning of his next turn. He may also win by playing all five elemental rings, cards representing philosophical mastery of the universe; such a victory is called the Enlightenment Victory.

Another way to achieve victory is simply by eliminating all opposing players from the game. Players can be eliminated in two ways. The first is to destroy all of a player's province, (winning by eliminating players in this way is termed a Military Victory) while the second involve reducing another player's honor score below -19 (which is termed as Dishonor Victory). (Until Samurai Edition, published in 2007, victory by eliminating other players was termed "Military Victory" regardless of how the elimination was achieved).

In addition, several cards offer alternate, unique paths to victory or defeat, and certain factions are similarly immune to winning or losing the game in some ways.

Product information

Legend of the Five Rings is produced and marketed by the Alderac Entertainment Group.

Release History

The history of the game is divided in arcs. The beginning of each new arc redefines which card may be used in tournament formats. Arcs typically begin with the publication of a base set of 300 or more cards, primarily reprinted older cards, followed by the release of several expansions of 50 to 180 new cards, and one promotional set, of variable size, which is sold directly to player by the manufacturer. Often, the last few expansions of one arc will be legal for play in the next arc.

So far, these have been :

The Clan War (Imperial Edition)

The Clan War arc began in October 1995 with the release of Imperial Edition. It initially had six legal faction for play (Crab Clan, Crane Clan, Dragon Clan, Lion Clan, Phoenix Clan and Unicorn Clan). Later expansions added six more : the Naga and Scorpion Clan in Shadowlands, Toturi's Army and Yogo Junzo's Army in Anvil of Despair, and Yoritomo's Alliance and The Brotherhood of Shinsei in Crimson and Jade. The arc ended with the release of Scorpion Clan Coup, in early 1998.

The Hidden Emperor (Jade Edition)

This arc began with the release of the base set Jade Edition in May 1998. It contained originally all twelve factions playable at the end of the Clan War arc, to which were later added the Ninja in Dark Journey Home, the Ratlings in Heroes of Rokugan (the first promotional set, depicting certain past figures of Rokugan's history), and the Spirits in The Spirit Wars. The Spirit Wars was the final expansion of the Hidden Emperor arc.

The Four Winds (Gold Edition)

This arc began in July 2001 with the release of Gold Edition. Several factions were removed from the game for various reasons, to retain only eight : the original six factions from Imperial Edition, the Scorpion Clan, and the Shadowlands Horde (until then known as Yogo Junzo's Army). In addition, because all cards in Heroes of Rokugan were also legal for play in the next arc (The Four Winds), the Ratling faction remained, although they received only limited support. Later, in the Dark Allies expansion, Yoritomo's Alliance was re-introduced as the Mantis Clan. The promotional set for The Four Winds arc was A Thousand Year of Darkness, depicting an alternate timeline where the Shadowlands Horde ruled over Rokugan.

The Diamond Arc (Diamond Edition)

This arc began with the release of Diamond Edition (October 2003) and lasted two years. It featured all the factions of the Four Winds arc (including Ratling), this time all fully supported. The promotional set for the Diamond Arc was Dawn of the Empire, depicting events surrounding the creation of Rokugan.

The Age of Enlightenment (Lotus Edition)

The release of Lotus edition (October 2005) heralded the beginning of the Age of Enlightenment. Several significant rules change marked this release, redefining several key concepts of the game. A new faction, the Spider Clan was introduced at the very end of the Age of Enlightenement, with the release of The Truest Test. The promotional set was Test of Enlightenment, which, unlike previous promotional sets, depicted current events, focused on result of the 2006 tournament season.

The Samurai arc (Samurai Edition)

This arc began with the release of the eponymous Samurai Edition, in July 2007. It featured significant faction changes, with the removal of the Ratlings and Shadowlands Horde. The latter group was replaced with the newly introduced Spider Clan. The promotional set for the Samurai arc will be Test of the Emerald and Jade Champion, again depicting current events within the game, this time centered on the results of the 2007 World Championship.

Learn to Play Sets

Learn to play sets allow new players to be easily introduced to the game. Several learn to play sets have been released over the course of the game history. Generally, these sets features particular flavor text and promotional cards relating to a specific events in the storyline. So far, these have been Battle at Beiden Pass (November 1996), Siege of Sleeping Mountain (May 1999), Storms over Matsu Palace (July 2000), The L5R Experience (July 2002, simple demonstration decks freely distributed), The Training Grounds (November 2003), and The Training Grounds II (July 2006).


ee also

*Legend of the Burning Sands
*Legend of the Five Rings Role-Playing Game
*Miyamoto Musashi

External links

* [http://www.l5r.com Legend of the Five Rings] - official Legend of the Five Rings home page
* [http://www.alderac.com Alderac Entertainment Group] - creators of Legend of the Five Rings
* [http://www.samuraiedition.com Samurai Edition] - promotional website for the next base set and new game events
* [http://www.l5rsearch.com Legendary L5R Search] - searchable database of Legend of the Five Rings cards
* [http://toysmakeuspowerful.com/search?dbase=l5r Websune Search Engine] - searchable database of Legend of the Five Rings cards

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