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Subject: The Harbinger Expansion - How It Shuffles Up rss

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Jaime Lawrence
New South Wales
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Jingle Bells, Cthanta Smells, I will kick his ass
Because I am an awesome Crab with style, charm and class, oh!
The most recent release for Legend of the Five Rings, The Harbinger, shows a little innovation, some solid play mechanics and very great promise. There's a few surprises for the older player amongst us and a few stable cards for newbies. But is this set, half created by the players, going to see much play?

Let's start with the good points; Harbinger is what L5R is all about. A large portion of the cards in the set were created by tournament winners from around the world and reflect those players' storyline desires. The personalities have, well, personality! Like The Dread Kar, for example:

Not the kind of guy that the story team would come up with, but fun.

Also good is the power level of the cards. Most of the cards in Harbinger present options for construction; they aren't 'auto-includes' that replace cards from older sets. Clans most boosted by this expansion are probably Dragon, Scorpion and Mantis, but there's someone for everyone (he begrudgingly admitted, despite feeling that the Crab got stiffed again).

But there is a downside: less uncommons. Every single packet of this expansion has one less uncommon than other expansions, meaning it's probably a bad buy for the casual player.

There are also an increasing number of Clan-specific cards in this expansion, like this:

On the interesting (not good, not bad) side of things are the mechanics, which have no cohesive flavour due to the set's origins as a hodge-podge of player-made cards. Some clans will find that they have access to completely new strategies (Dragon Cavalry, here I come!) whereas others will just be confused (My Phoenix cards help the Unicorn??).

Also of note are the inclusion of tokens in common slots - fantastic for older players who need (and like) the tokens, not so cool for new players who see "Spirit of Maigo no Musha; may not be included in decks" and have no idea what to do with it.

Overall, the expansion scores a strong 7.5, creeping towards an 8. There are some great cards here if you're a fan, but if you only play casually, you may want to hold off until the boxes are well discounted.
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