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By AFrede
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This is the list I played at Winter Court this year and managed to get a top 8 finish with. For those that enjoy reading I thought I would add a few thoughts on deck construction and a brief tournament report.

Caveat - I do not think that this is “the best” Unicorn build or should be what everyone plays, I think success in big events has more to do with matchups and draws than deckbuilding so credit my results more to adequate play and decent draws rather than superior deckbuilding. Any of the Unicorn builds could have just as easily done as well or better under different circumstances.

Leading up to this event I was a little rusty and although I was a loyal Dragon player in the original game, the lack of real story significance for top of clan players has caused me to be less loyal in the new game, so not loving where Dragon was at I saddled up with Unicorn because I enjoyed the deck, and because as an aggro deck sometimes the right amount of pressure can make up for inexperience and win games that I might not have otherwise won.

So a few comments on the deck:

Provinces: Khan’s Ordu and Appealing to the Fortunes are pretty standard so I won’t talk about those.

Demonstrating Excellence - Many decks go with Manicured Garden for the repeatable fate gain, I wasn’t planning on defending any attacks so I was happier getting a card along with the fate and just moving on.

Endless Plains - Say what you will about this card, in a deck that doesn’t want to defend I like this province a lot, best case scenario you blow up a big tower, worst case scenario you pop it for a chud who had no fate and they drop another conflict character in. Knowing that it is in your lineup can cause people to play differently which is good enough for me. Often it would only kill a small chud, but then they wouldn’t be able to claim a ring which was great.

Entrenched Position - This is probably the strangest choice of the bunch, giving up one of the best provinces in the game (Upholding Authority) is a tough choice, although since I was on earth role 5 strength Upholding is much less effective. This was a concession to the fact that I expected the tournament to primarily be Crane/Phoenix/Unicorn and while I thought the Phoenix matchup was fine and the Crane matchup unfavored, the Unicorn I thought was a coin flip and I wanted overall favorable matchups against the main 3 clans (Turns out there were less Phoenix than I thought). It is hard to make the Crane matchup better without weakening others significantly so this was a single change I could make to weaken a few matchups, but really strengthen the Unicorn one. It won me one game on day 2 although who knows if having Upholding in the row might have won me more games. I think it was a debatable but fine call, but I am prepared to be wrong on that.

The rest of the deck is all about consistency. I want every game to play out as consistently as possible so I want to minimize variance by running 3x whenever possible. I found that overcommitting with smaller bodies and Ujik Tactics was really only good in the final battle at strongholds which most of the time I wasn’t having trouble with so Shono became Altansarnai and Ujik Tactics became A Perfect Cut which could help against Crane (possibly shutting off Voice of Honor) and Scorp (extra honorable people dying).

Since the Crane matchup is really bad Altansarnai had one job. Show up in the row on turn 1 and cause them to buy characters in a way that they normally wouldn’t. No big guy with 3 fate for fear of losing them. In order to make this threat viable I had to run 2x Assassination, which is a good card in a ton of matchups and playing 1x is not consistent, hence I wanted 2 anyway since I always wanted to draw one a game (except maybe against Scorp where I could funnel it away to Spoils of War).

I was on Lion splash to also try to help with the Crane matchup with 3x Strength in Numbers, and I thought that with all the Earth roles that Earth becomes Sky would be everywhere so I went with 3x Ready for Battle (I was wrong on EBS, but the Ready’s were fine all event, stopping water rings, Midnight Revels, and bow duels). Dragon splash I think has equally has valuable strengths so I think it is just as good. I also heard about one person running Crab splash for Skirmisher and possibly Reprieve or the “lose 2 honor +4F and can’t touch me” (googling card names is hard), which I think is possibly better.

Didn’t bother with Hand to Hand in the Lion splash since most of my guys didn’t get fate so negative attachments didn’t bother me, and if I wanted to remove an opponent’s positive attachment, most of the time it would cost me one of my own so it was too situational.

One notable absence is the reason people play Keeper in Unicorn right? Talisman of the Sun. I found that as 1x it was too inconsistent to draw and I didn't want 2x in my deck which would leave me with less ways to win battles on the offense which is what I want to do. So with the Entrenched being my anti unicorn tech rather than Talisman I felt ok cutting it. Maybe this is just wrong.

And on to the Show….

Worlds is awesome, before I talk about any games I want to say that, if you get a chance to go I highly suggest it. It is fun chatting with people from all over, and FFG is great with prizes, just for showing up the prizes were awesome. Special thanks to my bunkmates this year Konnor, Augustine, Tim, Dave and Yanick and to all the BC and Canada crew that I play and test with, especially Rudy, Dan, and Chris for showing me the power of the Unicorn clan.

So I had a buy into the second day going 5-1 the first day, I didn’t take notes down and I can’t recall a ton from those games, but I know I played a Lion/Unicorn/Crane/Unicorn/Scorp/Crab losing to Jakub the scorpion player thanks to his clutch Kirieko. The majority of the other games were Unicorn doing HMT things and my opponents not having answers which is what the deck ideally does.

Top 64 - Jesse Butler: Crane SoV

Jesse was playing honor/dishonor Crane with Dragon splash and Mirumoto’s Daisho’s, Gossips, Policy Debate, Voice of Honor, and Defend your Honor (maybe not that last one). A Unicorn’s nightmare of cancels. Against this sort of deck the game plan is mulligan for Chags/Altansarnai on dynasty and swords on the conflict, then hard buy them (chags preffered) and try and strap them up and smash provinces. I didn’t see either so I bought a Gunso, got a Border Rider and passed, while he bought Toshimoko with 3 fate. I pressured him and forced his Toshimoko duel out on my first attack which let me take a province on my second attack with Captive Audience, and then again on my extra Mil with conflict characters from hand so I was up two breaks pretty quick. Then the game bogged down a little with him being able to defend, gossiping some key cards and chipping away at my honor with daisho duels. I think around turn 4 I am heading to his box and he bids low taking me down to two honor. I attack first, he duels me down to 1 honor, but I have Strength in Numbers to send home Toshimoko and he doesn’t have a cancel or move back as his hand had been depleted. WHEW very tight match, well played by Jesse.

Top 32 - Tim Scarrow: Unicorn KoE

Tim and I are on really similar lists, he has Goblin Sneaks (which I wish I could fit in) and more 2x cards to give room for a few different Lion cards like H2H. I know it is going to be a shootout. He wins the roll off and goes first, we both flip Chags. He buys a chud, I know that if I charge chags in on the defense it is going to be useless for me so I hard buy him and hope to trade. He attacks, charges, breaks goes home straight. I attack water, break, he has Ready for battle, he breaks again, I break again then I full block his last attack and get a loss, but no break. My first attack I break, he swings back and breaks, I go for his box it is revels, but I have Ready for battle, he has talisman of the sun to move me, so I break that instead and go home. He attacks my box I defend and am able to hold him thanks to Entrenched Position so he gets a win but no break, then I swing at his box again and have 2x Strength in Numbers and an Assasination for the win. Very close one and well played by Tim.

Top 16 - Alain Laugier: Crane SoV

Top 16 is where my run ended last year thanks to not one but two boneheaded mistakes that caused me to throw away a game that should have been in the bag to then Shogun Sam Benies so I was hoping to push into the top 8 this year. Again against Crane I mull for Chags/Altansarnai and Assassinate/Swords, this time I see everything. Chags/altansarnai, Assassinate, and a Scimtar. Sweet! I hard buy Chags with 2 fate, He buys Challenger 3 fate and a 1 cost chud, and we both strap up weapons (I drew another Scimatar and Katana on the draw). After some let go’s from him we have his 8F challenger (honored, fine katana, A new name) to my 8F chags (Katana), I attack fire ring hoping to honor and deny Voice, he blocks, policy debates me and sees Assassinate, charge, Cav reserves, chooses to get rid of the assassinate so Altansarnai doesn’t get him. I take fire ring but no break and an honored chags goes home. He attacks with chud to take the water ring and stand Challenger, I drop a conflict character and attack into challenger to make him defend and bow out. Uneventful turn 1. His second flip he flips no chuds only big people so he goes 3fate Toshimoko. Chags is now honored with a sword and my 3rd scimatar and about to wreck face so he knows that endless plains is a risk, but he has no conflict characters in hand and no cheap bodies to buy on row, so he sends Challenger in because he needs to draw Chags in on defense and bow him out or I will run over 3 provinces this turn because Chags is bigger than challenger and Toshimoko together. He takes the ⅓ chance, he hits endless loses challenger, I swing mil, Cav reserves Altansarnai, take out Toshimoko and that is the game. We discussed it after and attacking was the right play for him for sure, he knew about Cav reserves and Altansarnai, but he had to bow Chags out otherwise he was dead, so unlucky for him, lucky for me.

Top 8 - Jose Luis Saenz: Phoenix SoV

Jose had just run through 2 Unicorns one of whom was a meta mate Dan and I told him that enough was enough I was going to put a stop to his Unicorn hate crimes (spoiler, I didn't). I mulligan for Minami Kaze Regulars since they are immune to Pacifism and Child for the sneak Charge before they can policy debate (thanks to Dan and "Fan Favorite" (sorry I forget your real name) for mulligan discussions/strategy). I saw neither of those so I settled for a Border Rider. I did HMT stuff and broke provinces fast and early. By turn 2 I was on his box, I had 1 Captive for the Kuro Mori, but my hand was trash other than that with 3x Ready for Battle 3x Spoils of War so I knew I wouldn’t win the fight so I opted not to use it and went home, saving it for when I drew more pumps/Cav Reserves. My dynasty flips were mostly small people and holdings for a few turns so I sat on tons of fate (I think at one point I had over 17), and he got a policy debate off to take my CA away, and then later a Tadaka to take another one that I had drawn but was unable to play since he had Censure in hand and favor ( I assumed). So I played the waiting game since I was still up a lot of breaks and tried to get into a scenario to win favor so I could draw/play my last CA and win the game. Eventually he is getting close to my box, I had already bounced off of KM once this turn, then he attacks Mil to see what is under my SH, I defend and think I have won the game since I have so many Mil pumps I will win, trigger box on defense and then go crack his SH since KM is used and my hand is loaded now. We exchange force pumps. I am ahead, he passes. I say “reactions to winnings” and reach for my box before looking at the battle where we each have two people. I ask the judge if that counts as passing, he says it does, and I kick myself for another game thrown away. He takes my box Political next turn. In hindsight he should have probably never attacked me Military and just taken my box on Political next turn, so I guess we each made one mistake. He played very well and was deserving of the win and he went on to be the new Shogun to contratz to Jose.

So thanks to all my opponents, it was a lot of fun.

Hope to see everyone again next Winter Court (Also, buy my promos online so I can go next year haha)

Slops - me, maybe next year I will make my soul crushing mistake in the top 4 and get one step closer.

Props - FFg for a well run even, Tyler for freeing the roles (it was funny because I was going to try and force all the top of clans to not choose a role in the hope that he would free them, but he did anyway), A crane player who made these beautiful hand painted fans for the top of clan players, I am sorry I forget your name, getting that was the highlight of my weekend, it was wonderful. It will hang on my office wall beside the haiku. Also big ups to the Canadian crew for a great showing overall.
call_split Inspiration For
Winter Court Top 8 - Clone by Selderane  (1 week ago)
comment Comments
Great write up and well played mate! We were all watching Chaterve's blow by blow in discord as you played the Shogun and I remember the mil defence on box. For a moment we dared to dream, but alas, Kori Mori strikes again. Top 8 is sensational and you are very much an honorary Khan of the Unicorn.
Any updates you'd make with the new cards? I swapped out Moto Nergui for the covert guy in the Crab Park. My thought was I'd rather have a dude never be able to defend during the conflict phase, than kick a dude out of one conflict

Doubly clutch if HMT is doing its job and Chags is on rampage mode (and he frequently was).

Obviously this makes Cav Reserves a bit weaker, but I'm okay with the tradeoff.

In my local meta this deck obliterated. We were all stunned how fast it was.
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Keeper of Air
Increase your deck building influence value by 3.
After you win an conflict as the defending player - gain 1 fate.
Seeker of Air
You may replace 1 province of any element with an additional province while deck building.
After an province you control is revealed - gain 1 fate.
Keeper of Earth
Increase your deck building influence value by 3.
After you win an conflict as the defending player - gain 1 fate.
Seeker of Earth
You may replace 1 province of any element with an additional province while deck building.
After an province you control is revealed - gain 1 fate.
Keeper of Fire
Increase your deck building influence value by 3.
After you win a conflict as the defending player - gain 1 fate.
Seeker of Fire
You may replace 1 province of any element with an additional province while deck building.
After an province you control is revealed - gain 1 fate.
Keeper of Void
Increase your deck building influence value by 3.
After you win a conflict as the defending player - gain 1 fate.
Seeker of Void
You may replace 1 province of any element with an additional province while deck building.
After an province you control is revealed - gain 1 fate.
Keeper of Water
Increase your deck building influence value by 3.
After you win a conflict as the defending player - gain 1 fate.
Seeker of Water
You may replace 1 province of any element with an additional province while deck building.
After an province you control is revealed - gain 1 fate.
Support of the Crab
Increase your deckbuilding influence value by 8.
You may only spend influence on clan cards.
Support of the Crane
Increase your deckbuilding influence value by 8.
You may only spend Influence on clan cards.
Support of the Dragon
Increase your deckbuilding influence value by 8.
You may only spend influence on clan cards.
Support of the Lion
Increase your deckbuilding influence value by 8.
You may only spend influence on clan cards.
Support of the Phoenix
Increase your deckbuilding influence value by 8.
You may only spend influence on cards.
Support of the Scorpion
Increase your deckbuilding influence value by 8.
You may only spend influence on clan cards.
Support of the Unicorn
Increase your deckbuilding influence value by 8.
You may only spend influence on clan cards.
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Conflict Initial Draw Probability & Mulligan by Card
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Conflict Initial Draw Probability + Bid by Card
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Conflict Initial Draw Probability & Mulligan by Trait
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Conflict Initial Draw + Bid Probability by Trait
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