Looking for something a little bit different in a card game? Perhaps something with a bit more thought? Perhaps something that doesn’t including game shattering over powered cards, but still has the collectible format? Perhaps something a little more niche but has a very dedicated and loyal fan base? Perhaps something with an involving and evolving storyline that players can directly effect? Then perhaps you should take a look at Legend of the Five Rings.
Legend of the Five Rings (or L5R for short) isn’t a new game. In fact it’s the second longest running collectible card game, having been originally released in 1995. It’s had an interesting life cycle and for a while there was actually owned by Wizards of the Coast. Alderac Entertainment Group (or AEG) acquired the intellectual rights in late 2000 and have been going strong with it ever since.
The game itself is set in the world of ‘Rokugan’ which is loosely based on feudal Japan with a few other Asian influences thrown in. The world is so deep and rich that it even spawned it’s own Role-Playing Game which is currently in its fourth edition.
Unlike many other games where the storyline is dictated and pre-determined, AEG take results from certain key tournaments and events and use that to effect the story. How many people play a particular faction and how many times that faction wins can and will change the story going forward.
I traveled out to Ace Comics & Games Annerley on Wednesday night to catch up with a group of regular L5r players. They meet every Wednesday night at Ace and hold tournaments usually every fortnight.
Ben on the left concentrating very hard while I distract him with questions.
I was a bit naughty and interrupted Ben while he was playing to ask him a few questions. My apologies again to him, L5R really requires concentration and I was definitely distracting him with my questions. But from it I managed to gain a bit of a inside look at the game –
BTGN: How long have you been playing L5R for?
Ben: Since probably 1999 or 2000.
BTGN: What really appealed to you with L5R and got you into it?
Ben: The different clans you could play and the fact that it was a bit more involved than other card games.
BTGN: Was the oriental aspect appealing to you, was that part of the reason you where drawn to the game?
Ben: It was definitely a part of it.
BTGN: So if I was a new player interested in getting into get into L5R what would your recommendations or suggestions be?
Ben: To come into Ace on a Wednesday night and meet the gang.
BTGN: What sort of price point would I be looking at to get started with L5R?
Ben: You can pickup a starter deck for about $25. Generally the players here are pretty good at helping ‘noobies’ getting started and providing cards, we have pretty big collections.
BTGN: With other games you might have a starter box for say $25, but then realistically to become a semi-respectable player you are probably looking to spend a few hundred dollars. Is that similar with L5R?
Ben: Not necessarily, a lot of the guys here are collectors as well, and again, the community here is more than willing to help out new players. Unlike other games you don’t have the same ‘power rares’ that are going to cost you a lot of money to obtain.
BTGN: What about sanction play? What sort of opportunities exist in Brisbane to participate in tournaments and pre-releases, etc?
Ben: Yeah, there are pre-releases every time there is a release. We have our regular games here at Ace and then there tends be two or three major events which take place in Australia each year which usually move up and down the east coast.
BTGN: Okay thanks for your time tonight Ben. Good luck with the tournament!
Ben: Okay, thanks.
Excuse the ‘Magic: The Gathering’ tablecloth. 😛
I had a quick chat with a few of the other guys and learnt that a couple of them drift down to Ace Comics on a Friday night as well and would be happy to teach folks then if they couldn’t make it down on a Wednesday night. A quick look behind the sales counter at Ace revealed a wealth of L5R product and they appeared fairly well stocked.
If you can’t get out to Ace Comics & Games Annerley though, fear not, a quick look on the local wholesaler website revealed plenty of L5R product in stock, so if you are keen to have a go you can always convince your local gaming store to get some on the shelf for you.
If you are intrigued and are looking for further reading I suggest you checkout the official L5R website here.
Until next time!