“The pen may not be mightier than the sword, but a samurai should have a taste of both.”
It was summer 1995 when I first fell in love with Legend of the Five Rings (L5R) through an advertisement in some gaming magazine. Samurai, mystical creatures and an artwork which stunned me to the core compared to other games on the market at that time. Starters were bought, games at home turned into local store tournaments, to Koteis in Germany and across the borders. Going to my first EC in Metz (France) was celebrated as well as the participation in the Worlds.
The players suffered with their clans, their heroes and villains. We had good times and bad. As it is a game with now many arcs it was evolving. In style and in rules. Many changes to the game made in the history where first seen as bad. But change is good and most of the time was urgently needed at that certain point of time in the past.
Many people forget that in Open you could just lose the game if your opponent turned up the right events in their provinces. Or a whole board was cleared with 3 Evil Portents. We have seen unplaytested sets going to the printers and last minute changes to well-designed sets breaking environments. We have seen erratas too late to turn around a Kotei season and ban-hammers of cards just shipped to the paying customers. We saw misprints and miscommunication. But we still loved the game and played it and tried our best to get new players into the game.
But it is an old game with all the benefits and the flaws. Over the time mistakes from both sides, players and company alike, accumulated and the shining phoenix that this game was for a long time became a burned out canary like in the Harry Potter movie. It needed a rebirth. We discussed this in our playgroup since the start of Ivory Edition. If you are not MtG the TCG principal for a game with the player numbers L5R held at that time was simply outdated. With two expansions and at least one stand-alone edition before a new base-set new-comers had to invest hard to get into the game and still needed to read the accumulated rulings next to the rule book.
With a fresh start, the rebirth of the Phoenix, we can let our game shine again. And really I am not a Phoenix Clan player, I just like the metaphor, so if you will the rise of the dragon, the waking of the Naga etc. Let us profit from the good distribution system of L5Rs new home and the affordable price of the LCG system to bring back the former glory to the game. It is a change. But it is the chance for L5R to survive in the modern world with many other high quality games on the shelves.
Some people complain about the break till GenCon 2017. My opinion is that FFG should take their time to evaluate what they have acquired. Break down the rules to a simple system as they did with AGoT 2nd Edition. If that takes two years, so be it. If it is done with a sharp wits and courage to change some fundaments (I am looking at you 4 Gold Strongholds for every clan) I will not complain.
The best reaction we got was on the Saturday morning after AEG announced the sale to FFG. We had a Warhammer 40K: Conquest tournament and really all gamers coming into the store that morning called out the news and said in the same sentence that we should count on them, when L5R hits autumn 2017. I really got goosebumps by that. So I will unroll my Blood of Shahai playmath for the coming two years and celebrate nostalgia and change alike.