1. Cardinal Rules
        1. Cardinal Rule 1
        2. Cardinal Rule 2
        3. Cardinal Rule 3
      2. The Player
        1. Clan Alignment
        2. Family Honor
          1. Honor gains and losses
          2. Points of Family Honor
        3. Maximum hand size
        4. Player abilities and traits
        5. Players winning and losing
          1. Military loss/victory
          2. Dishonor loss/victory
          3. Honor victory
          4. Enlightenment victory
          5. Special victory conditions
        6. Player elimination
        7. Turn order
        8. The play deck
        9. Deck construction rules
      3. Card Types
        1. Starting Card Types
          1. Stronghold
            1. Starting Family Honor
            2. Stronghold Immunity
          2. Sensei
        2. Dynasty Card Types
          1. Holding
            1. Holding “Gold Production”
          2. Personality
            1. Force (Personality)
            2. Chi
            3. Honor Requirement
            4. Gold Cost (Personality)
            5. Personal Honor
            6. Chi Death Rule
          3. Event
        3. Fate Cards
          1. Focus Value
          2. Strategy
          3. Ring
          4. Attachments
          5. Follower
          6. Item
            1. Force modifier
            2. Chi modifier
          7. Spell
      4. Card Features
        1. Card Title
          1. Card subtitles
        2. Text Box
        3. Stats
          1. Minimums and maximums
          2. Absent stats
          3. Calculating stats
          4. Bonuses and penalties
          5. Modifying changes
          6. To a minimum/to a maximum
          7. Asterisks
          8. Setting stats to values
          9. Unit and army Force
          10. Gold Cost stat changes
        4. Keywords
          1. Boldface
          2. Keyword inheritance
          3. Different and same keywords
          4. Number of keywords
        5. Traits
          1. Triggered traits
            1. Triggered trait costs and targeting
            2. Special triggered traits
          2. Continuous traits
        6. Abilities
          1. Costs
          2. Effects
            1. Embedded text
        7. Flavor, color, credit and reminder text
          1. Flavor text
          2. Color text
          3. Reminder text
      5. Areas of the Game
          1. Entering and leaving
        1. Fate and Dynasty decks
        2. Provinces
        3. Discard piles
          1. Discard
          2. Dead
            1. Honorable and dishonorable dead
        4. Hand
        5. Home
        6. Outside the game
        7. Battlefields
          1. Side
        8. Focusing area
          1. Focused card
        9. Entering-play areas
        10. Resolution area
        11. Under another card
        12. Game area knowledge
      6. Physical Card States
        1. In play and out of play
        2. Bowed and unbowed
        3. Honorable and dishonorable
          1. Rehonoring
        4. Discarded and Dead
        5. Locations
          1. Moving to attack/defend
        6. Attachments and tokens
        7. Card control
        8. Card ownership
        9. Face up and face down
        10. Material destruction
      7. Game Mechanics
        1. Paying Gold Costs
          1. Gold-producing traits
        2. Action Rounds
        3. Taking actions
          1. Limited actions
          2. Open actions
          3. Engage actions
          4. Battle actions
          5. Interrupt actions
          6. Dynasty actions
          7. Using abilities
          8. Good Faith Rule
          9. Action Sequence
      8. Effects
        1. Definition of effects
        2. Effects and abilities “on” a card
        3. Independence of effects
        4. Duration of effects
          1. Instantaneous
          2. Ongoing
            1. Card Memory Rule
        5. Order of effects
        6. Delayed effects
        7. Indefinite conditional effects
        8. Restrictions on number of times
        9. Permissions
      9. Timing
        1. Triggers
          1. “When” triggers
        2. Timing Conflicts
      10. Choices and Targeting
        1. Choices
          1. Choice conflicts
          2. Choice paradoxes
          3. Continuous effect conflicts
        2. Targeting
          1. References to targeting
          2. Targeting paradoxes
      11. Play of the Game
        1. Turns and turn order
        2. Start of game
        3. The Turn Sequence
          1. Action Phase
            1. Cycle
            2. Equip
            3. Lobby
            4. Rulebook Favor Limited
            5. Rulebook Favor Battle
          2. Attack Phase
            1. Attack Phase Sequence
              1. Declaration Segment
              2. Maneuvers Segment
              3. Fight Battles
          3. Dynasty Phase
            1. Recruit
            2. Proclaim
            3. Dynasty Discard
          4. Drawing and discarding Fate cards
      12. Battles
        1. Actions in Battle
          1. Rule of Presence
          2. Rules of Location
        2. No Second Battle Rule
        3. Battle Sequence
        4. Engage Segment
        5. Combat Segment
        6. Resolution Segment
        7. This segment is also known as “battle resolution.”
            1. Army Force
            2. Battle Resolution
        8. After Resolution
      13. Special Wording Rules
        1. Perspective
        2. Numbers of things
        3. Conjunctions
        4. Pronouns
        5. Possessive case
        6. References
        7. References to other points in time
        8. Blind cards rule
        9. Comparing stats
      14. Specific Game Terms and Procedures
        1. Ability
        2. Absent
        3. Action
        4. Action phase
        5. Action round
        6. Active player
        7. Additional action
        8. Additional phase or segment
        9. Additional use
        10. After
        11. Ally
        12. And
        13. Announce
        14. Another
        15. Armor
        16. Army
        17. Assign
        18. Attach
        19. Attachment
        20. Attack
        21. Battles
        22. Battle actions
        23. Battlefield
        24. Before
        25. Bonus
        26. Bowed
        27. Cavalry
        28. Cannot
        29. Cast
        30. Challenge
        31. Chi
        32. Chi Death
        33. Clan Alignment
        34. Combat Segment
        35. Combining
        36. Compare
        37. Conqueror
        38. Continuous
        39. Contribute
        40. Control
        41. Copy
        42. Cost
        43. Courage
        44. Created cards
        45. Creating a copy
        46. Dead
        47. Deck
        48. Declare an attack
        49. Declaration Segment
        50. Defend
        51. Defender
        52. Delayed
        53. Destined
        54. Designator
        55. Destroy
        56. Die
        57. Different
        58. Discard
        59. Discarded
        60. Discard piles
        61. Discipline
        62. Dishonor, dishonorable, dishonorably dead
        63. Dishonor Victory
        64. Do Not
        65. Draw
        66. Duel
        67. Duelist
        68. Duel stat
        69. Dynasty action
        70. Dynasty Phase
        71. Element keyword
        72. Enemy
        73. Engage actions
        74. Engage Segment
        75. Enlightenment Victory, Enlighten
        76. Enter
        77. Entering-play
        78. Equip
        79. Event
        80. Even if
        81. Exchange
        82. Expendable
        83. Expensive
        84. Experienced
        85. Face up, face down
        86. Facing
        87. Family Honor
        88. Family name
        89. Fail
        90. Favor abilities
        91. Fear
        92. Focus, Focus Effect
        93. Follower
        94. For
        95. For each
        96. Fortification
        97. From
        98. Gold Cost
        99. Gold Production
        100. Good Faith
        101. Hand
        102. Higher than
        103. Home keyword
        104. Honor
        105. Honorable
        106. Honor Requirement
        107. Honor Victory
        108. Human
        109. Ignore
        110. Imperial Favor
        111. In play
        112. Increase
        113. Indefinite conditional effect
        114. Infantry
        115. Instantaneous
        116. Instead
        117. Interrupt
        118. Invest
        119. Item
        120. Join
        121. Kensai
        122. Keyword
        123. Kharmic
        124. Leader
        125. Leave
        126. Legal
        127. Limited
        128. Lobby
        129. Lobby Bonus
        130. Location
        131. Look
        132. Lower than
        133. Loyal
        134. Maneuvers Segment
        135. Maximum
        136. Maximum hand size
        137. May not
        138. May remain bowed
        139. Melee Attack
        140. Military Victory
        141. Minimum
        142. Modifier
        143. Move
        144. Multiplayer
        145. Naval
          1. Naval Invasion
        146. Need not
        147. Negate
          1. Negate an action
        148. Next
        149. Non-
        150. Normal
        151. On
        152. Once per
        153. Opposed
        154. Opposing
        155. Or
        156. Overlay
        157. Own
        158. Paying
        159. Penalty
        160. Permanent
        161. Personality
        162. Play
        163. Play deck
        164. Player abilities
        165. Presence
        166. Prevention
        167. Printed
        168. Proclaim
        169. Province Strength
        170. Province
        171. Ranged Attack
        172. Recruit
        173. Reduction
        174. Refill
        175. Refuse
        176. Rehonor
        177. Remain
        178. Remove from the game
        179. Repeatable
        180. Reserve
        181. Resilient
        182. Resolution
        183. Return home
        184. Reveal
        185. Ring
        186. Same
        187. Search
        188. Sensei
        189. Seppuku
        190. Set
        191. Show
        192. Shugenja
        193. Side
        194. “Soul of …”
        195. Source
        196. Spell
        197. Straighten
        198. Strategy
        199. Stronghold
        200. Substitution
        201. Switch
        202. Tactician
          1. Tactical Advantage
        203. Target
        204. Terrain
        205. Text box
        206. This
        207. Tie
        208. Tireless
        209. Title
        210. To
        211. To a minimum/maximum of
        212. Token
        213. Traits
        214. Transfer
        215. Turn
        216. Two-handed
        217. Unaligned
        218. Unbowed
        219. Undead
        220. Unique
        221. Unit
          1. Unit keywords
        222. Until
        223. Upon
        224. Weapon
        225. When
        226. Will not
        227. Win
      15. Appendix A
      16. Appendix B

Cardinal Rules #

Cardinal Rule 1 #

Cards vs. rules: If the text of any card contradicts these Comprehensive Rules, follow the card text, not the rules. Something that changes one aspect of a rule does not by itself change any other aspects of the rule.

Example: An effect that lets you make a Ranged Attack against a card in a player’s home only changes the rule that the target of a Ranged Attack must be in the current enemy army; it does not change the rule that the target of a Ranged Attack must be a Follower or a Personality without Followers.

Cardinal Rule 2 #

Cards vs. cards: New versions of cards with a given identity (title and experience level) may sometimes be printed. If different printings contradict each other, follow the most recent Ivory-legal printing of the card, or the most recent printing if the card was never Ivory-legal.

Cardinal Rule 3 #

Rules vs. rules: If the text of any other rules document (such as the rulebook or rulesheet in starter boxes) contradicts these Comprehensive Rules, follow the most recent online version of the Comprehensive Rules.

The Player #

Clan Alignment #

A player’s Clan Alignment derives from his or her Stronghold’s Clan Alignment. Effects that say “You are an [X] Clan player” give the player that Clan Alignment.

A player using a Stronghold with no Clan Alignment has no Clan Alignment, and is unaligned. An unaligned player does not have the same Clan Alignment as unaligned Personalities.

Legal Clan Alignments in Ivory Edition are:

      • Crab Clan
      • Crane Clan
      • Dragon Clan
      • Lion Clan
      • Mantis Clan
      • Phoenix Clan
      • Scorpion Clan
      • Spider Clan
      • Unicorn Clan

Other Clan Alignments given by effects only exist in games where those effects apply.

For “control a Clan Alignment” see Control.

Family Honor #

A player’s Family Honor, or Honor for short, is a number that represents the respect and integrity he or she is seen to have in the Imperial Court. It may rise and fall over the course of the game. A player is responsible for keeping an accurate record of his or her Family Honor that other players can check. Players may also confirm their opponents’ Family Honor by keeping their own record.

A player’s starting Family Honor is taken from his or her Stronghold’s Starting Family Honor stat.

Family Honor is a numerical value, but follows different rules than card stats.. Family Honor may have a negative value. Also, because Family Honor is marked in the game, changes to it do not have a duration; they are instantaneous.

Honor gains and losses #

If an Honor gain or loss is reduced or increased by another effect, the reduction or increase is not itself an Honor gain or loss.

Reduction of an Honor gain cannot turn it into a loss, nor can reduction of a loss turn it into a gain; the minimum value of a gain or loss is zero. Losses are expressed in positive numbers even though their ultimate effect is to reduce Honor.

An Honor gain of 0 points is not considered an Honor gain for things that check whether a gain happened. Likewise, an Honor loss of 0 points is not considered an Honor loss for such purposes. Reduction of an Honor gain or loss to 0 points may effectively prevent it. See Timing. Each separate Honor loss or gain happens all at once.

Points of Family Honor #

References to “points of Family Honor” assume a positive Family Honor value.

Example: A Ranged 3 Attack that gains “+1 strength for every 10 points of Family Honor you have,” does not gain any strength when the player is at -10 Family Honor.

Maximum hand size #

A player starts with a maximum hand size of 8, referring to the number of cards he or she is allowed to keep in hand at the end of the turn. A player with no maximum hand size has an effectively infinite maximum hand size.

Maximum hand size is a stat of the player and follows the rules about stats.

Player abilities and traits #

Players may gain abilities and traits from effects, and start the game with a number of abilities. The following is a list of default player abilities from the rulebook:


Player abilities, like abilities on cards, may only be taken once per turn per player by default. Each player has a separate “copy” of all his or her player abilities.

Players winning and losing #

L5R has a number of different victory conditions that reflect different paths to mastering the world of Rokugan or eliminating other players from contention.

Military loss/victory #

A player loses immediately when he or she has no Provinces remaining.

When two players are in a game (including the later stages of a game that started with more players), and one player loses this way, the last remaining player has won a Military Victory.

Dishonor loss/victory #

If a player’s Family Honor is –20 or below at the end of his or her turn, he or she loses. When two or more players are in a game and a player loses in this way, if there is only one remaining player, he or she has won a Dishonor Victory.

Honor victory #

A player wins by starting his or her turn on 40 Family Honor or higher. This is an Honor victory.

Enlightenment victory #

A player wins immediately by controlling five Rings with five different element keywords (Air, Earth, Fire, Water and Void). “Enlighten” means to win by Enlightenment.

Special victory conditions #

Cards in the game may give other conditions of winning or losing. Winning by one of these cards, or because one of them caused the last remaining other player to lose, is designated by the title of that card.

Example: The card Political Standoff has the trait, “A player who begins his turn with 50 or more Influence tokens wins the game.” Winning this way is known as a Political Standoff victory.

Player elimination #

The following rules apply to multiplayer games.

If a player loses the game and two or more players remain, all cards from the eliminated player’s play deck are removed from the game (regardless of who controls them), all created cards under his control are removed from the game, all his remaining Provinces leave the game (without literally being destroyed), and he leaves the game. An eliminated player’s tokens that are still in play after this, as well as his created cards that are controlled by other players, remain in play.

If an attacker is eliminated in the middle of a series of battles, the player to his left determines the order remaining battles will resolve in.

Effects generated by eliminated players’ cards or actions persist for their normal duration. For effects that will end during some future turn of the eliminated player, end them after the previous remaining player’s turn and before the next remaining player’s turn.

Turn order #

Turn order proceeds to the left. If no order or starting player is specified for a sequence of occurrences affecting different players, they are carried out in turn order, starting with the active player.

If an effect alters which player goes first in an action round (for example, taking Battle actions in a battle), turn order proceeds leftwards from him or her.

The play deck #

The “play deck” is the set of cards chosen by the player with which to play the game. It actually consists of two decks – one of black-backed Dynasty cards, one of green-backed Fate cards – one Stronghold card, and optionally one Sensei card. These cards are chosen according to a format.

Deck construction rules #

L5R has a standard competitive format, Ivory Extended 40/40 (referring to current base set and the minimum number of cards in the Dynasty and Fate decks, respectively), and a number of alternate formats.

The two numbers refer to the minimum number of cards in the Dynasty and Fate decks, respectively.

Unless the format’s rules or a card in a player’s play deck specifically states otherwise, all play decks must be constructed according to the following rules:

      • All cards in the play deck (including the Stronghold and Sensei) must be Ivory Edition legal, having the Ivory 1, Ivory 2 or Eternity symbol in the lower left hand corner of their most recent printing (MRP). Older printings of the cards may be used (see also “Soul of …”,), but in all L5R formats, cards are considered to have the stats and text of their MRP. A player using older cards is responsible for knowing these differences and communicating them to the opponent.
      • The Dynasty and Fate decks must each have at least 40 cards. The Stronghold and Sensei do not count toward this minimum. Note also that some cards may alter deck minimum sizes, and others may say they do not count toward deck minimums.
      • No more than one copy of each Unique card, by card title, may be included in the play deck.
      • No more than three copies of any non-Unique card, by card title, may be included in a play deck.EXCEPTION: Cards with the same title but different Experienced levels (including non-experienced versions) count as different copies for deck construction.

Rules for formats other than Ivory Extended 40/40 are listed under the Alternate Format Rules section.

Card Types #

Starting Card Types #

Stronghold #

This two-sided card does not go into the Dynasty or Fate deck and is neither a Dynasty nor Fate card. A player starts with it in play; the choice of Stronghold is part of deck construction. An object incorporating a legal Stronghold card can be used if it shows all stats, text and symbols of the original card.

The player starts with the “going first” side face up (one clan mon, black border) if he or she is going first this game; otherwise, the other side is used (two clan mons, white border).

Clan Mon: Next to a Stronghold’s title is an insignia, or mon, that shows what Clan Alignment the player is. If there is no mon, the Stronghold is Unaligned.

Province Strength: The topmost of three icons at the right of the Stronghold shows the starting strength of each of the player’s Provinces. Strength may go up and down separately for each Province during the game.

Gold Production: The middle of a Stronghold’s three icons, the coin, shows its Gold Production (abbreviated GP); the amount of Gold the Stronghold produces when bowed. A Stronghold’s GP is a stat that can be affected by tokens and effects.

Starting Family Honor #

The bottom icon on a Stronghold shows its Starting Family Honor stat, which gives a starting value for the player’s Family Honor score.

Stronghold Immunity #

Effects and costs will not make a Stronghold leave play unless they specifically mention Strongholds.

Sensei #

A Sensei is a starting card with modifiers for Province Strength, Gold Production and Starting Family Honor which are continually applied to the Stronghold’s stats. A Sensei may also have traits and abilities. The Sensei does not go into the Dynasty or Fate deck and is neither a Dynasty nor Fate card.

A play deck may only have one Sensei, and it starts in play (if included). The choice of Sensei is part of deck construction; for example, it may not be changed, added, or removed between rounds in a tournament.

(Unlike previous rules sets, modifiers from a Sensei are treated like any other modifier; they do not modify the printed values on the Stronghold. Also, unlike previous rules sets, these traits and abilities are not considered to be on the Stronghold; Sensei cards bow and have abilities separately from the Stronghold.)

A Sensei may have clan restrictions, expressed either with the full Clan name or with a short form (“Dragon” for “Dragon Clan”). A player may only start with a Sensei that is “All Clans” or has his or her Stronghold’s Clan in the restriction list. These restrictions appear in the normal keyword area but are not keywords; a “Dragon” Sensei is not a “Dragon,” for example.

Dynasty Card Types #

Holding #

Holding cards have metallic bronze frames and represent a player’s resources. They often can be bowed to produce Gold.

Holdings, like many cards, have a Gold Cost—the number in the round yellow coin icon—which determines how much must be paid to bring them into play.

Holdings use the Recruit action or procedure to enter play, and enter play in the bowed state (that is, already bowed, without bowing).

Fortification is a keyword on Holdings that makes them follow special rules.

Holding “Gold Production” #

A Holding’s “Gold Production” is not a stat but can be affected by tokens and effects. Effects that alter a Holding’s “Gold Production” add to or subtract from the amount produced, each separate time the Holding’s text produces Gold.

Personality #

Clan Mon: Like a Stronghold, the title bar of a Personality will have a mon indicating his Clan Alignment, or no mon if Unaligned. Earlier Ivory Edition legal cards indicate Personality Clan Alignment with both the mon and a keyword; later cards indicate Clan Alignment only with the mon, but are also considered to have the keyword.

Personalities enter play using the Recruit action or procedure.

Force (Personality) #

A Personality’s Force, abbreviated as “F,” is found in the lighter colored icon at the top left.

Chi #

Chi, abbreviated “C”, is found in the dark colored icon at top right.

Honor Requirement #

Personalities may have an Honor Requirement, abbreviated “HR,” shown in the leftmost of the three icons in the middle (the square banner). A dash (–) in this icon means that the Personality has an infinitely low Honor Requirement, with no numeric value except that it is always lower than any numeric HR. Honor Requirement may be lower than zero.

A player cannot bring a Personality into play with Honor Requirement higher than his or her current Family Honor.

If anything but a player’s own cards causes him or her to lose Honor (that is, other players’ cards and rulebook Honor losses, such as dying dishonorably), then for the rest of the game, that player ignore Honor Requirements when bringing Personalities with his or her Clan Alignment into play.

Gold Cost (Personality) #

Personalities have a Gold Cost, the number in a round yellow coin shape, which must be paid to Recruit them. The player pays an additional cost to recruit Personalities with a Clan Alignment; see Recruit.

Personal Honor #

Personal Honor is found in the fan, the rightmost of the three icons. Its abbreviation is “PH.”

Unit: A Personality and attached cards make up a unit.

Chi Death Rule #

If a Personality’s Chi is ever zero, destroy him immediately. Effects that prevent a single instance of destruction will not prevent this; only continuous effects work against Chi death (for example, “This Personality will not be destroyed.”)

Event #

Events, with white and gray scroll frames, represent important happenings in Rokugan. While they are face-up in their player’s Provinces, their abilities can be used. If they enter play, their traits are active while in play, but their abilities cannot be used unless otherwise stated. Events in Provinces are discarded once an ability on them is used, unless the ability puts the Event itself into play.

Fate Cards #

Focus Value #

All Fate cards have a Focus Value stat, in the black circle at the bottom of the card.

Strategy #

Strategy cards are cards normally played from the hand to use an ability on them. When played from any area, they go to an entering-play area while Good Faith is checked, costs are paid, and effects resolve. Once the action has finished resolving, the player discards the Strategy, unless the Strategy put itself into play.

A Strategy usually has one or more abilities. Traits on a Strategy always modify its own abilities, and may affect play more generally if the Strategy enters play. If a Strategy enters play, its abilities may be used as normal.

Ring #

A player may put a Ring into play from his or her hand immediately after he or she has fulfilled its condition for entering play. This may not be delayed. However, a condition may be fulfilled more than once by new occurrences; for example, if a player takes a third Favor action after having already taken two, he or she can play the Ring of Air after the third.

A Ring’s text may also let a player discard it from his or her hand for an effect, as stated on each Ring. Normally, this effect is to use the Ring’s ability without cost; in this case, the Ring enters a resolution area while the relevant ability is resolving, and is discarded afterwards.

Attachments #

Followers, Items and Spells are all attachment cards. They normally attach to Personalities in play using the Equip procedure, placing the card under the Personality with the title showing. Attaching a card requires choosing or targeting a Personality to attach to. Attachments may only enter play by being attached to a Personality, are discarded if in play and not attached to a Personality, and they are the only card type that may attach to a Personality.

A player may only attach attachments to a Personality he or she controls.

Gold Cost: Attachments have a Gold Cost stat which equals the amount a player must pay when Equipping them.

Follower #

Followers have a yellow-brown background.

They have Force, in the icon at the top left, which helps their unit in battle. A Follower’s Force is independent and does not contribute in battle resolution if the Follower is bowed (regardless of the Personality being bowed or not).

Item #

Items have a dark blue background and sword frame at the bottom of their artwork. Unlike the separate Force of Followers,

Force modifier #

Items have a Force modifier in the upper left hand icon that directly raises or lowers their Personality’s Force.

Chi modifier #

Items likewise have a Chi modifier. These modifiers are not bonuses, but affect their stat in the same way as bonuses do, including being subject to maximum and minimum values (see Stats.

If something in the game needs to check an Item’s Force or Chi separately from its Personality’s stats, use the value of its modifier (minimum zero).

Force and Chi bonuses or penalties to an Item affect the modifier; for example, a +1F Item that suffers -2F now has a -1F modifier.

Spell #

Spells, with a light blue background, have no Force or Chi stats or modifiers. They will only attach to a Shugenja Personality, and their abilities can only be used (“cast”) if attached to a Shugenja.

Card Features #

Card Title #

At the top of every card is its title bar. All L5R cards have a title in this bar, except for created cards, which have no title.

The text at the top of proxy created cards printed by AEG is for reference purposes only, and does not constitute a title.

References to “different” and “same” titles follow the rules for “different” and “same” keywords.

Card subtitles #

Subtitles in smaller font inside the title bar, and the comma that separates them from the card title, are not part of the card title (For example, Hiruma Nikaru, The Flesh Eater is titled “Hiruma Nikaru” for play purposes.)

Text Box #

All cards also have a text box. This can contain up to three game-relevant elements: Keywords, which are printed in all caps above a separating line; traits, or normal text in the text box; abilities, or normal text preceded by boldface words in the text box. The text box also includes color text and flavor text.

Stats #

Force, Chi, Province Strength and Gold Cost are examples of stats, or number values. Stats may gain bonuses or penalties from effects in the game, and effects may also give stats a minimum or maximum value.

Minimums and maximums #

Minimums and maximums are applied on top of any existing bonuses, penalties, or modifiers. If multiple minimums or multiple maximums apply, use the most restrictive one (for example, a minimum of 1 overrides a minimum of 0, and a maximum of 0 overrides a maximum of 5); note that this does not cover “to a minimum/maximum” wording, which has its own meaning.

In the event that a stat receives a minimum value that is above its existing maximum value, or a maximum that is below its minimum, the minimum and maximum cancel each other out; neither one is applied until the other one ends.

Most stats have a basic minimum value of zero. Only Honor Requirement, Family Honor, and modifiers with a + or – sign can have negative values.

Absent stats #

If an effect checks a stat’s value that is absent on the card type (for example, a Spell’s Force) the value is zero. Absent values cannot receive bonuses, penalties or modifiers. If a side at a battlefield has no units, its total army Force is treated as an absent stat.

Calculating stats #

If anyone needs to know a stat’s value at any time, apply all current modifiers, bonuses and penalties first, then apply any minimum or maximum value.

Example: If a card with 2 Force gets a -3F penalty, apply the penalty, then the basic minimum of zero. This means that the card’s Force is zero for all purposes, not -1. If it then gets a +2F bonus, apply the bonus, the penalty, and the minimum, so that it now has 1 Force.

Bonuses and penalties #

Any change in a stat’s value is considered a bonus (if increased) or penalty (if decreased), with the following exceptions:

      • Modifiers to Personality stats from the modifier stats on attached Items are not bonuses or penalties. Other text on items gives bonuses or penalties as normal.
      • Modifiers to Stronghold stats from the modifier stats on Sensei are not bonuses or penalties.
      • When a maximum or minimum is applied, any change in the stat because of this is not a penalty or bonus.
      • When a bonus, penalty, maximum, or minimum ends or is negated, the resulting stat change is not a penalty or bonus.
      • A fluctuating bonus or penalty is one that explicitly changes with the game state. Example: A card that has +1F for each Samurai in play. Changes in the size of a fluctuating bonus or penalty due to changes in the game state are not bonuses or penalties. Example: A card that has +1F for each Samurai in play goes from +3F to +2F when a Samurai is destroyed. This is not a Force penalty.
      • Changes in total Force of a unit or army which are not due to changes to the Force of its component cards (for example, because of a Follower being destroyed) do not count as Force bonuses or penalties.
      • A bonus or penalty of +0 or -0 is not counted as a bonus or penalty.

Modifying changes #

Some things may increase, reduce, or set limits on changes to stats and values. Example: reducing an Honor gain or increasing a Force penalty.

A change must always go in the direction specified, or be zero otherwise: “Increase” or “gain” are always positive or zero, “reduce” or “loss” are always negative or zero. Initial calculations and effects cannot turn an increase to a reduction or vice versa.

Changes to stats and values are calculated in the same way that stats themselves are calculated: all current increases and reductions to the change are applied, the change can never be less than zero, other minimums and maximums for the change are applied, and then the change is either added to the stat or value (if a bonus or gain) or subtracted from the stat or value (if a loss or penalty).

Examples: Reductions to an Honor gain can never convert it into a loss, and increases to a Force penalty are ultimately reflected in Force being reduced.

To a minimum/to a maximum #

Bonuses, penalties and other stat changes that are restricted by “to a minimum” or “to a maximum” are applied after any other modifiers, bonuses and penalties, and are limited in their amount by the stated minimum and maximum values.

Example: If an Honor Loss of 3 that was decreased by 2 is reduced by 1 “to a minimum of 1,” that penalty comes after the reduction of the Honor loss to 1, so the final Honor loss is the minimum of 1.

Asterisks #

An asterisk (*) appearing instead of a stat on a card means that the stat is variable, with a printed value of zero and actual value determined according to other circumstances.

Setting stats to values #

Various effects “set” a stat to some particular value. Some effects also exchange or copy stats, which involve setting stats to a particular value. To set a stat to a value, give it the smallest possible bonus or penalty as appropriate (or the smallest possible gain or loss, for Honor) such that it would reach that value, not counting maximums or minimums. Then, apply any maximum or minimum in effect for that stat.

Example: A 3F Personality is under an effect giving him a maximum Force of 5, but has his Force raised to that of another Personality with 8F. The 3F Personality gets +5F, but after the maximum of 5 is applied has effectively only 5F. If he then received a -4 Force Penalty, this would be assessed against his bonus of +5F from the raising effect, and he would have base 3F +1F = 4.

Effects that “raise,” or “lower,” a stat to a particular value use these rules as well, but will only give a bonus (“raise”) or penalty (“lower”).

Unit and army Force #

The total Force of a unit or army outside of battle resolution counts all cards in that unit or army, bowed and unbowed. In battle resolution, bowed Personalities and Followers do not contribute to an army’s total Force; bowed Items give their Force modifier directly to the Personality, who then contributes or not depending on whether he is bowed.

Gold Cost stat changes #

Effects that change how much is paid for a card (for example “enters play for 2 less Gold” or “paying 2 more Gold”) do not change the Gold Cost stat of the card itself after the payment is done.

Keywords #

A keyword is a phrase of one or more words that usually appears at the top of a card’s text box, above a dividing line. For example, a Personality can be aligned to the Phoenix Clan and be a Samurai.

Keywords are separated from each other by solid dots (•). If keywords appear on more than one line in a text box, the ones on different lines are separate as well.

A keyword may be made up of multiple words, like Geisha House, but it is treated as a single phrase; a “Geisha House” card is not a “Geisha” card.

Multiple keywords created or granted by a trait or ability are separated only by bullets or commas, not by line breaks. Example: If “Phoenix Clan” wraps from one line to another within the text of an ability, it is treated as the two-word keyword “Phoenix Clan.”

Some terms embedded in the text (that is, appearing in quotation marks that grant a trait or ability) may appear in boldface, but they are not considered part of the card’s keywords.

Battle,” “Limited,” “Open”, “Engage,” “Dynasty” and “Interrupt” appear in boldface, but are action designators, not keywords. Individual abilities can have their own keywords as well.

A unit can have keywords—for example, “A Cavalry unit”. See Unit.

A card either has a given keyword or it does not. Effects that grant a keyword to a card that already has it do not give it an extra copy of the keyword, and do not protect that card against a future effect that would remove that keyword.

Boldface #

Some keywords are boldface, showing that they have rules associated with them. Other keywords may work with effects on other cards but don’t have meaning in the rules, and are not printed in boldface.

However, when rules refer to “boldface,” the physical boldfacing of keywords on cards is overriden by the keyword’s rules relevance in the present arc. Appendix B gives a complete listing of keywords that should be boldface by the current arc rules.

Keyword inheritance #

Keywords on abilities also apply to their cards. Example: A Strategy with a Political ability is a Political Strategy.

Keywords on cards do not apply to their abilities. Example: An ability on a Ninja card is not a Ninja ability unless it says so, for example, “Ninja Battle:

Different and same keywords #

These rules also apply to Clan Alignment.

Two cards have the “same” keyword if they share one or more eligible keywords.

Two cards have “different” keywords if, when all shared keywords are ignored, each card has an eligible keyword the other does not.

With multiple keywords on cards, two cards can have both the same and different keywords.

Example 1: A Personality with Dragon Clan and Scorpion Clan has both “a different” and “the same” Clan Alignment compared to a Personality with the Dragon Clan and Phoenix Clan keywords.

Example 2: A Personality with Dragon Clan and Scorpion Clan does not have a different Clan Alignment from a Personality with the Dragon Clan keyword alone. The two Personalities only have the same Clan Alignment.

When comparing more than two cards with multiple keywords, in order for all of them to be different from each other, each pair must be different from each other.

A card without a certain type of keyword has neither a “different” nor “the same” keyword as another card.

Example: An unaligned Personality has neither a different nor the same Clan Alignment as an unaligned Stronghold or player.

Number of keywords #

Effects that count the number of keywords on cards simply count the number of eligible keywords on those cards, ignoring duplicates. If there is only one eligible keyword, it is still counted; “different” does not imply there have to be two or more keywords.

Traits #

After keywords, the first instances of plain text in a text box are traits: phrases in normal print that describe the card’s effects or restrictions. Players and other game entities can also have traits.

Each sentence that ends in a period in the traits section of a card is a separate trait.

EXCEPTION: If a trait uses a pronoun or other language that can only refer back to something named in the previous sentence, the sentences are part of the same trait.

Example: “Lose 2 Honor. This Personality may not issue challenges.” are two separate traits because they make sense independently of each other. However, “After your turn begins: Target another player’s Personality. This Personality challenges him.” is a single trait because the “him” in the second sentence makes no sense without the previous sentence.

As with keywords, if a thing in the game is given a trait it already has, it does not get an additional copy of that trait or become any more resistant to removal of that trait.

Triggered traits #

Triggered traits include a trigger – a timing reference such as “Before your turn ends,” or “After this Personality enters play.” Triggered traits happen every time that trigger occurs in the game, but only if the card they are on is (a) in play, (b) in the focusing area, (c) in a resolution or entering-play area, or (d) if they say they are triggered from an area not in play.

Triggered traits are not optional – they must happen if the trigger occurs. Likewise, costs of triggered traits are not optional – they must be paid if the player can pay the cost.

A triggered trait on a given card or stronghold happens once and only once each time that trigger occurs.

The occurrence of a trait’s trigger, and the successful meeting of any other conditions or costs, means that the trait resolves and its effects are applied in order, even if the card leaves play during the effects’ application.

Usage limits on traits in the general form “once (or twice, etc.) per turn (or phase, game, etc.)” mean that the trait is triggered every time the triggering condition is met, but its effects can only be applied a certain number of times. If the effects are optional, the “once per turn” restriction is only used up if the effects are actually chosen.

If the effects of a triggered trait fail, the trait is still considered to have been activated for purpose of its maximum number of uses.

Triggered trait costs and targeting #

Traits may sometimes have costs which must be paid to generate their effects.

Targeting in a trait must be carried out if possible. If non-optional targeting fails, any further effects and targeting in the trait do not happen.

Special triggered traits #

Gold-producing cards follow special rules for their traits that produce Gold.

Traits that are triggered when paying a Gold cost, and whose effects produce Gold or reduce Gold costs, are optional; they do not have to be triggered when any given Gold cost is paid.

Gold-producing holdings often have traits written as “Bowing_s: Produce X Gold” which is shorthand for the triggered trait, “When paying a Gold cost, Bowing_s: Produce X Gold.” Sentences following this phrase, prior to any other ability or triggered trait, should be read as additional effects of bowing to produce Gold.

The trigger “As a Focus Effect:” refers to a particular point in a duel.

Invest traits have special triggers.

Continuous traits #

A trait without a trigger on a card, such as “Your Samurai each have +1F,” is a continuous effect that is “always on” while the card is in play and while all conditions of the trait are met. While their card is out of play, continuous traits affect the card they are on, and only that card, unless the trait states otherwise.

Abilities #

Below any traits, there may be one or more abilities: blocks of text that describe actions that players can take at certain points in the game. An ability starts with one or more of the boldface terms Battle:, Dynasty:, Limited:, Open:, Interrupt: or Engage:. This term, the designator, tells when in the game the action can be taken.

An ability with two designators, such as “Battle/Open:”, can be used at either time. The ability always has both designators, but the action taken using it only has the designator appropriate to the Action Round when it is used.

Abilities given to a card or player “stack,” unlike keywords and traits. A card or player can have more than one identical copy of an ability, each of which is used separately.

Each ability on each separate source is a separate ability, even if they are identical abilities or exist on identical cards.

Example: The “once per turn” limit on using an ability does not prevent a player from using the ability on two identical cards in the same turn.

Ability keywords: Abilities have keywords, which appear in boldface before the designator and are applied to the ability, its action and its effects. For relationships between card and ability keywords, see Keyword inheritance

Each word in an ability’s own keywords is a separate keyword.

Example: A “Bushido Virtue” ability is a Bushido ability and a Virtue ability.

Costs #

Sometimes, after the ability’s designator, there is an icon of a bowing samurai, or of a gold coin with a number in it.

Open:Bowing_s: Gain 1 Honor.

Battle: Gold 2 20: Give your target Personality +4F.

These are costs, which may be found on traits as well as abilities. The Gold icon means that a Gold cost must be paid in order to take the action (or activate the trait’s effects). If there is a star Gold star 20 in the icon, it means that the player can choose to pay any amount of Gold, and the effect scales to the amount paid.

The bowing icon means the player needs to bow the card the ability is on in order to take the action (or activate the trait’s effects); if the card is already bowed, he or she cannot take the action.

A card out of play cannot normally bow to pay costs. However, if an Interrupt action on a card is played to an action that brings it into play, the payment of the Interrupt’s bow cost may be delayed until after the card enters play.

Effects #

The text after the designator and cost describes the effects the action has when it resolves. Sometimes, an action’s effects (after the colon) will allow Gold to be paid, or bow Personalities. These are not costs.

In traits and abilities, a card may refer directly to its own title; for example, a card named ‘Bayushi Rentatsu’ may read “Bow Rentatsu.” This refers to the card itself, and not to any other copy of the card with the same name.

Embedded text #

Embedded text appears within a trait or ability in quotation marks (“) and usually is part of an effect that grants the embedded text as a trait or ability.

Any features of embedded text are not a part of the text that contains them.

Example: “Limited: Give a Personality “Ninja Battle: This Personality challenges a target Personality opposing him.” The Limited ability is not a Battle or Ninja ability and does not create a challenge.

Flavor, color, credit and reminder text #

Flavor text and color text have no impact on the game. The small credit text lines along the lower edge of the card (expansion, numbering, rarity and artist name) and along the right edge of the card (story credits) also have no impact on the game.

Flavor text #

Flavor text is found in italic face at the bottom of the text box.

Color text #

Traits and abilities may also include color text (italic, no parentheses) that describes what the effects are simulating, but has no game impact. Color text will always be a separate sentence in italics. Example: “You suspect him of the taint.”

Reminder text #

Reminder text is shown by italicized text in parentheses. It is there to help players remember the wording implication of the rules. It carries no rules implications itself, and sometimes intentionally describes effects in a shortened or non-standard way (for example, using the word “dies,” which does not exist in the game rules, for “is destroyed”.)

Areas of the Game #

All cards in any given area are either in play or out of play; each area’s description in this section will tell you which kind it is.

Temporary areas are created in the course of play, such as during an attack or when playing a Strategy card, and cease to exist after they have served their purpose.

Only a few areas are communal, potentially containing cards belonging to more than one player. Most areas, instead, are associated with players, so that each player has his or her own such area, normally containing his or her own cards.

Entering and leaving #

The terms “enter” and “leave” refer to all forms of going to and from an area.

Example: For a unit to “enter” an army, it can do so by movement, assignment, entering play there, or any other effect that causes it to go to the army from another location.

The following is a list of areas in the game with their rules and characteristics.

Fate and Dynasty decks #

Out of play

The decks are placed with the Dynasty deck on the left, the Fate deck on the right, and the Provinces in between.

All cards in decks begin face-down. All cards that enter decks turn face-down before doing so.

If a card a player owns is about to enter another player’s deck, it enters the owner’s deck instead in the same manner.

If a card is about to enter the wrong deck (Dynasty vs. Fate) it goes into the correct deck instead.

An effect that lets a player “look” at cards in a deck does not by itself allow the player to change their order.

Nothing special happens if either deck contains no cards.

If text allows an ability on a card in a deck to be used, it first enters a resolution area in the same way as a card played from hand.

Provinces #

Out of play

These areas are arranged in a row from left to right between the two decks. A player starts with four Provinces, created after first shuffling the decks. The Provinces are indicated by filling each one with a face-down Dynasty card from the top of the player’s deck, left to right.

Each Province normally holds a maximum of one Dynasty card. When a card leaves a Province and the Province then holds fewer than its maximum number of cards, effects triggered by the card leaving the Province or entering play resolve first. Then, if the Province still holds fewer than its maximum number of cards, it is refilled with a face-down Dynasty card from the top of the Province’s owner’s deck, unless something else has refilled it.

Some effects may make it possible for a Province to hold more than one Dynasty card. If that happens, things that happen to “the Dynasty card” in a Province happen to a Dynasty card chosen by the Province’s owner.

If the Dynasty deck becomes empty or otherwise cannot refill Provinces, empty Provinces are indicated by markers of some kind. If it then becomes possible again to fill empty Provinces, immediately refill the Provinces face down, from left to right and from the top of the deck.

Cards in Provinces may be face-up or face-down.

If a Province is destroyed, any Dynasty cards in it and Fortifications attached to it go to the discard pile. This is not considered “discarding” the card. Any remaining Provinces, and the two decks, are pushed together to show the reduction of the player’s Provinces.

If a Fate card would enter a Province from play, it is discarded instead.

If a Fate card would enter a Province from out of play, it goes to the top of its owner’s Fate deck instead.

Cards attached to a Province are not “in,” nor can be discarded “from,” that Province.

Discard piles #

Out of play

The Fate and Dynasty decks each have an associated discard pile. The Dynasty discard pile is to its left, and the Fate discard pile is to its deck’s right.

Cards enter discard piles face-up.

The order of cards in the discard piles has no consequence for the game.

If a card a player owns is about to enter another player’s discard pile, it enters the owner’s corresponding discard pile instead.

Discard #

“Discard,” when referring to cards, has several meanings, all involving the discard pile:

      • By itself, referring to a Fate card: To put a card from one’s own hand into the discard pile.
      • By itself, referring to a Dynasty card: To put a card from one’s own Province into the discard pile.
      • A card may also be discarded from other areas than one’s own hand or Provinces, going to the discard pile, but this must be stated explicitly.

By default, the phrase “discard a card” refers to discarding a Fate card from hand. The phrase “discard a [card type or keyword]” also refers to discarding from the hand, unless otherwise stated.

Dead #

Special rules cover Personality cards in the discard pile. A Personality who is destroyed is in the dead state while he remains in the discard pile; the card is turned 90° in the pile, or otherwise set apart from other discarded cards there. This is not bowing.

Personalities who are not dead in the discard pile, and all other cards in discard piles, are in the discarded state. There is no distinction between destroyed and discarded non-Personality cards while they are in the discard pile.

Rarely, a dishonorable Personality may become discarded. In this case, indicate the card’s dishonorable status in the discard pile by keeping it 180° upside down.

Honorable and dishonorable dead #

A dead Personality who was honorable when last destroyed remains honorable and is known as ‘’honorably dead’’ (turned 90° clockwise, or right side up if kept separately)

A dead Personality who was dishonorable when last destroyed remains dishonorable and is known as ‘’dishonorably dead’’ (turned 90° counterclockwise, or upside down if kept separately).

Hand #

Out of play

Each player starts with five face-down Fate cards as a hand, drawn from the top of his or her Fate deck. A player may look at the cards in his or her hand at any time.

Cards become face-down when they enter the hand, and can not become face-up while in the hand.

A player may rearrange any number of cards in his or her hand that have the same owner at any time, except when this will cause a sequence of effects on the same card to become unverifiable.

Example: When an action asks the player to show a card in his or her hand, then shuffle it back into the deck, the cards may not be rearranged between the two effects.

If a Dynasty card is about to enter the hand, it instead goes to the top of its owner’s Dynasty deck.

Home #

In play

The home is the area where a player’s Stronghold is located and where cards usually enter play. It is represented by the area in front of the Provinces and decks. It is also a location.

A Personality will not move to, enter play in, or otherwise change location to the home of a player who does not control the Personality, unless the Personality is also changing control to the new player. An effect that moves a Personality or unit to an unspecified “location” will not allow the home of a non-controller player to be chosen.

Outside the game #

Out of play; communal

“Outside the game” is an area where both players, in separate piles, put cards they own that have been removed from the game. Cards removed from the game become face-up when they enter this area. Cards outside the game will not enter other areas unless an effect specifically says it returns them from outside the game.

Example: A card that is removed from the game by an effect, but is under a delayed effect that says “Discard this card at the end of the turn,” will not enter the discard pile at the end of the turn.

Battlefields #

In play; communal; temporary

Battlefields are areas created during an attack or by a card effect that creates a battle. Together with each player’s home, they are locations during the attack or battle.

Battlefields associated with adjacent Provinces are themselves adjacent. Battlefields not associated with a Province are not adjacent to any other battlefield.

If multiple battlefields are associated with a single Province, they are treated as battlefields arranged in a line between the flanking Provinces, if any. The leftmost is adjacent to the Province on the left, the rightmost to the Province on the right, and each of the multiple battlefields is adjacent to its neighbor(s) within that Province.

Terrains in play for a battle are located at the relevant battlefield but are not in any army or side. Fortifications are located at the battlefield associated with their Province.

Effects that move units to, or create units at, a battlefield normally put the units into the unit’s controller’s own side and army there.

Battlefields associated with adjacent Provinces are themselves adjacent. Battlefields not associated with a Province are not adjacent to any other battlefield.

If a Province is destroyed, for any reason, other than during battle resolution, its battlefield immediately ceases to exist.

Even though a subsequent attack or effect may create a battlefield associated with the same Province as a previously existing battlefield, the new battlefield is a different area from the old battlefield.

Side #

Sides are sub-areas of battlefields that hold the armies belonging to the opposing players. Some non-unit cards (for example, a Terrain) may be in play at a battlefield, but those cards do not exist in either side or army.

The Attacker and Defender each have their own side. When a player assigns his or her Personalities and units to a battlefield, moves them to a battlefield, or brings them into play at a battlefield, they go to the player’s own side there.

Focusing area #

Out of play; temporary

During a duel, each player focuses cards in his or her own focusing area. Cards in a focusing area are normally focused face down and then turned face up after a strike is called.

Once a card is in a player’s focused cards area, that player may look at it and the other cards there, but may not look at another player’s face-down focused cards.

Focused card #

The term “focused card” refers to a card currently in the focusing area. This is not necessarily restricted to cards that entered that area by being focused.

Entering-play areas #

Out of play; temporary

When checking conditions and costs of a card entering play, through Equip, Recruit, or other means, the card in question exists in a special temporary area; face-up but out of play.

Resolution area #

Out of play; temporary

After announcing an action from an ability on a Strategy or other card in a player’s hand, or from an Event in a Province, the card in question is placed in a special temporary area, face-up but out of play.

If an effect of the action puts the card into play, it goes from the resolution area to a new entering-play area. If it fails to enter play, it returns to the resolution area, and is discarded after the action or event ends.

If the card discards itself from the hand as part of its ability, this discard is done from the resolution area.

Under another card #

Out of play

Some effects may put cards under another card. Each group of cards under a separate card is a separate area.

Cards under another card are face-down unless otherwise specified. The owner of cards under another card can look at them at any time.

If a card leaves play, all cards under it leave play in the same manner.

Game area knowledge #

Each player is normally entitled to know the following things in the game without needing effects to do so:

      • The title, stats, and text of the most recent printing (MRP) of any player’s face-up cards, including those in discard piles; and of any cards in the player’s own hand or focus pool.
      • The game state of all cards and other entities in the game, including ongoing effects, and stat totals relevant to game procedures.
      • The details of any game procedures using face-up cards that is being carried out by another player (for example, how they are assigning units, or how they are producing Gold).
      • Each player’s Family Honor and number of cards in hand.

Players are not normally entitled to know, without in-game effects, the following things:

      • The number of cards currently in a deck, even their own.
      • The order or identity of face-down cards in decks or Provinces, even their own.
      • The identity of face-down cards in other players’ hands or focusing areas.

Physical Card States #

In play and out of play #

Whether a card is in or out of play is determined by the game area it is in.

Cards that are not either in play or in a resolution, entering-play or focusing area have the following limitations:

      • They may not be targeted.
      • They may not be bowed to pay costs.
      • They are not influenced by effects. EXCEPTION: A delayed effect can affect a card out of play if it was in play when the effect was activated.

The above limitations are overridden by a reference to cards in an out-of-play area, or to a card that would normally be put in an out-of-play area by an effect being referred to.

Examples: “Target a discarded card”; “Your Samurai enter play paying 1 less Gold”; “After one of your cards is destroyed”; “All Samurai in and out of play.”

Similarly, if an Interrupt creates an effect that triggers after its card enters play, the Interrupt can be used for the action that brings it into play.

Each of the limitations must be overridden separately, and is overridden only for the specific area or areas mentioned or implied.

Example: “After a target card is discarded: Put it in your hand” specifically targets a discarded card, and specifically tells you to put it in another out-of-play area (your hand), so both effects work. It does not allow you to use an ability on the card while it is out of play, or to have it produce effects.

Bowed and unbowed #

Some effects and costs turn a card 90° clockwise to indicate a state of unreadiness. This state is known as “bowed” and cards not in this state are “unbowed.” See also Remain.

When a card goes from unbowed to bowed, the card “bows”. When a card goes from bowed to unbowed, the card “straightens.”

Only cards in play can bow or straighten, or have the bowed or unbowed state.

Cards, other than non-Fortification Holdings, enter play in the unbowed state.

When a card enters play bowed, it is not considered to bow, because it was not in play as an unbowed card.

Abilities on a bowed card cannot be used and bowed Personalities cannot assign.

Honorable and dishonorable #

A Personality card is sometimes turned 180° upside down to indicate a state of disgrace (or exposure, in the case of Personalities with no concept of honor). This state is known as “dishonorable” and Personalities not in this state are “honorable.” A Personality who is both dishonorable and bowed should have the top of his or her card facing left instead of right, indicating the 90° turn of bowing plus the 180° turn of dishonorable status.

Only Personalities can be honorable or dishonorable. Personalities are normally honorable unless a cost or effect has made them dishonorable.

When a personality goes from honorable to dishonorable, he or she is “dishonored.” When a personality goes from dishonorable to honorable, he or she is “rehonored.”

A face-up Personality out of play can be dishonorable or honorable. Leaving or entering play does not change a Personality’s dishonorable or honorable status.

Dishonorable Personalities have a maximum Personal Honor of zero.

After a dishonorable Personality is destroyed, the player who controlled him or her loses Honor equal to the Personality’s printed Personal Honor. This is a rulebook effect, not a card effect.

Rehonoring #

There are a number of ways to rehonor dishonorable Personalities.

      • Before a player gains one or more points of Honor from an action or trait that targeted or came from one or more of his or her dishonorable Personalities. If rehonoring the Personalities is not one of that action or trait’s effects, the dishonorable Personalities’ rehonoring is substituted for the Honor gain.
      • Before a player gains Honor from attaching a card to one of his or her dishonorable Personalities, the Personality’s rehonoring is substituted for the Honor gain.
      • Before a player with one or more dishonorable Personalities in his or her army gains Honor from destroying enemy cards in battle resolution, all such dishonorable Personalities are rehonored, substituting for the Honor gain. In a tied battle, all dishonorable Personalities in an army are rehonored before being destroyed, in substitution for their army’s leader’s Honor gain.

The rules on substitution mean that preventing the Honor gain also prevents its substituted rehonoring and if, during one of these effects, the rehonoring is negated or otherwise fails, the Honor is still not gained.

Discarded and Dead #

Dead” is a special state that only applies to some Personalities in the discard pile. All other cards in discard piles are merely “discarded” instead.

Locations #

Cards in play have a location – the home or a battlefield. Areas out of play are not locations.

Cards enter play in their controller’s home.

Cards that are not in a unit can only be in a player’s home while in play.

EXCEPTION: Terrains and Fortification Holdings are in play at their battlefield.

When a unit goes from one location to another, it moves.

EXCEPTION: The following changes of location are not movement: assigning to a battlefield, entering a player’s home or other area due to change of control, returning home after a battle, and returning home due to a battlefield ceasing to exist.

When a unit “moves home” it moves to its controller’s home.

Moving to attack/defend #

When a unit “moves to attack” it moves into the attacking side of a battlefield. Specifically, moving to attack also includes moving between two battlefields on the attacking side. “Move to defend” has a parallel meaning involving the defending side.

Attachments and tokens #

The particular Personality that an attachment is attached to is considered a physically marked state of the attachment.

The reverse is not true; which attachments a Personality has are not part of the Personality’s physically marked state.

Tokens on any type of card are part of its physical state.

Card control #

Cards come in play controlled by the player who brought them into play.

EXCEPTIONS: An attached card in a unit is controlled by the unit’s Personality’s controller. A Fortification or other card attached to a province is controlled by the player whose province it is.

Only the controller of a card may use its abilities or use it to pay costs.

Immediately after a player successfully takes control of another player’s non-attachment card:

• if the card is at a battlefield, it goes to the new player’s side of the battlefield, attaching to one of the new controller’s legal Personalities there if necessary;

• otherwise, it enters the new player’s home.

An attachment card that changes control must be transferred to one of the new controller’s Personalities who can legally attach it.

To control a Clan Alignment means to control a card with that Clan Alignment.

Changing control is instantaneous and does not have a duration.

Card ownership #

A card is owned by the player whose play deck it was originally in, or the player who brought it into play if the card was created or brought in from outside the play deck. A card’s ownership can not change.

Face up and face down #

A card, in or out of play, is either face up or face down. The card’s current area of play will often determine its default status, and for some areas of play, cards cannot exist face up or face down.

Material destruction #

An effect may call for the material destruction of a card (for example, “tear this card in half”). A card that has been materially destroyed is removed from the game, is no longer part of its owner’s decks, and may not be included in decks in any future game.

Game Mechanics #

Paying Gold Costs #

The Stronghold and most Holdings can be bowed to produce Gold for actions using the rules (Stronghold) or their Gold-producing traits (Holdings). The amount of Gold produced can be read from a Stronghold’s Gold Production stat, or from a Holding’s text.

If a player produces more Gold than is needed to pay a cost, the extra Gold is added to the player’s Gold pool, and is available to help pay other costs later in that phase of the game. At the end of each phase, any unspent Gold in the pool disappears into the hands of Imperial tax collectors.

Example: Your unbowed Crane Clan Stronghold has a Gold Production of 4. You also have a ‘Marketplace’ Holding and a ‘Border Keep’ Holding in play and unbowed. The ‘Marketplace’ bows to produce 3 for you and the ‘Border Keep’ bows to produce 2.

If you now wish to buy a card that costs you 8 Gold, you need to bow all three of these cards to produce 9. This is because the most you can produce from any two of them is 7. The extra 1 Gold is available to pay costs later in that phase, and may be used on its own or combined with further Gold production from Holdings.

EXCEPTION: Some Gold production says it may only pay for a certain cost or type of cost. That Gold is tracked separately, does not enter the pool, and cannot pay for anything else; excess production disappears after the Pay Costs step of the action.

Gold paid for a Recruit or Equip action, or for an action with a Recruit or Equip effect, is considered to pay both the cost of the action and the cost of the card Recruited or Equipped.

Gold-producing traits #

If a card bows to produce Gold, and that Gold-producing trait has other effects that depend on what it is paying for or bringing into play, these effects only look at the payment for which the card bowed, not any future payments from left-over extra Gold.

Action Rounds #

All actions are taken during an Action Round, with the type of Action Round determining which types of action may be taken, and who gets the first opportunity to act. The player with the opportunity to act may take an action or pass, and the opportunity then passes to the next player in turn order. After all player pass consecutively, the Action Round ends.

The types of Action Round are:

• Action Phase: The active player may take Open and Limited actions; other players may take Open actions. The active player has the first opportunity to act.

• Engage Segment: All players may take Engage Actions. The Defender has the first opportunity to act.

• Combat Segment: All players may take Battle Actions. The Defender has the first opportunity to act.

• Dynasty Phase: The active player may take Dynasty Actions, and has the first opportunity to act.

• Interrupt Step: All players may take Interrupt Actions. The active player has the first opportunity to act.

Taking actions #

Players can normally take actions from abilities on Strategies and Rings in their hand, from abilities on their non-Event cards in play, from abilities on Events face-up in their Provinces (but not in play), or from abilities given to the player by the rules or card effects.

Rarely, the existence of an ability may depend on a condition being met. Example: While Domo is honorable, he has the ability, “Battle: Ranged 4 Attack.” When such an ability is used, it is considered to have been used that turn (or other amount of time) even if the condition fails to be met, and is met again, within that time.

Limited actions #

May be taken in the Action Phase only by the active player (the player whose turn it is).

Open actions #

May be taken in the Action Phase by any player.

Engage actions #

May only be taken during a battle’s Engage Segment.

Battle actions #

May only be taken during a battle’s Combat Segment.

Interrupt actions #

These actions are announced during a non-Interrupt action – either the Interrupt’s player’s or another player’s – at the point after costs are paid and before the action’s effects start to resolve. The other action is suspended while the Interrupt’s player goes through the sequence of steps in the Interrupt action; then it resumes. An Interrupt may not be played to another Interrupt action.

An Interrupt may modify the effects of the action it interrupts – including preventing some or all of these effects – and it may also have effects of its own. An Interrupt’s effects do not change actions other than the one it interrupted, unless explicitly stated.

Phrases in an Interrupt’s effects such as “After a Personality is destroyed” refer to the effects of the interrupted action, and are delayed until those effects occur; they do not refer to when the Interrupt is played. This will usually mean that the interrupted action’s player can target or make other choices in the action after the Interrupt is played, knowing it will take effect.

References to “the action” in an Interrupt also mean the action being interrupted.

If more than one Interrupt can be triggered at the same time, decide the order in which they happen using a separate action round in which the active player goes first.

Dynasty actions #

These actions are taken during the Dynasty phase by the active player.

Using abilities #

There are three limitations on using abilities:

      • Abilities on bowed cards may not normally be used.
      • To use its abilities, a card must be: in play, an Event in the player’s Province, or a Strategy or Ring that is being played from the player’s hand, using its ability from a resolution area. EXCEPTION: Interrupt abilities on a card out of play may be taken if they Interrupt the action that brings the card into play. In this case, if the action has a “bow this card” cost, it is satisfied by bowing the card after it enters play, as a delayed effect.
      • Each separate card ability and player ability may normally only be used once per turn. Abilities on two different cards with the same title are separate, though, and both can be used in the same turn.

Good Faith Rule #

To legally announce an action, a player must be able to:

      • meet any targeting of the action that is not optional, delayed, or done by another player, including targeting in Ranged and Melee Attacks and Fear effects;
      • meet the conditions of any phrase beginning with “If” that starts the action’s effects (such as “If you are the Attacker, …”).
      • Favor actions require that their player control the Imperial Favor, or have an alternate effect, substitute, or waiver (“need not”) for discarding the Favor.
      • Actions that base their required targeting on a variable Gold cost paid require that the player can, and does, pay the Gold cost that corresponds to a legal target.
      • The rulebook Equip and Recruit actions, likewise, require that the player can and does pay the Gold cost that corresponds to a legal card to bring into play.
      • In the special case where an Interrupt action on a card is announced before its card enters play, the costs and requirements for that card to enter play must be met in Good Faith, and the card itself must be chosen to enter play.

Otherwise, a player may announce and take an action even if it will have no effects.

The Good Faith rule takes into account future changes in the game state that are known to the player. Example: if Bob plans to play an Interrupt that gives the action a target it wouldn’t have when he announced it, this allows him to play the action, but also requires him to play that Interrupt having announced it.

Action Sequence #

The steps in taking an action are as follows. The action’s player, in turn:

A. Announces the action, saying which card or player ability he is using to take the action, and showing the card if the ability is on a Strategy or Ring in your hand.

B. Pays any costs of the action. Only the bowing and Gold icon in an ability are costs.

During the Pay Costs step, if the action has a Gold cost (or if a targeting paradox makes it potentially have one), its player may produce Gold and then pay for the action using the Gold just produced and Gold in that player’s Gold pool. Any Gold produced that is not spent on the action goes to the player’s Gold pool.

C. Gives all players a chance to play Interrupts to the action.

D. Resolves the action (action resolution), carrying out out the action’s effects in the order mentioned by the ability. If an effect requires a target and the player cannot find a legal target, the effects stop immediately, and no further effects or targeting happen.

An action’s resolution happens even if all its effects are negated or otherwise fail.

Once the action resolution has begun, effects that influence the action’s ability to have been taken in the first place do not influence the activation of the action’s effects.

Example: If an action’s required targeting becomes illegal during resolution, or the ability’s card leaves play during resolution, all remaining effects are still activated.

When all effects of the action have been activated, the resolution is done and the action ends.

E. Finally, if the player took the action from a Strategy, or from another card type in hand, he or she discards it unless it is now in play.

Effects #

Definition of effects #

An effect is anything, other than a cost, that creates a card or other thing in the game, changes the characteristics or state of a card, stat or other thing in the game, adds restrictions or permissions to the game’s procedures, or creates a new instance of a game procedure.

Each individual change or creation of a card, a player, a game entity (such as Provinces), or a game procedure is a separate effect.

Targeting and costs are not effects. Aspects of card memory (such as the fact that a card has been in a battle this turn, or has used its ability) are also not effects.

An effect is not necessarily equal to a sentence. One sentence may contain multiple effects (for example, “Bow two Samurai and gain 2 Honor” creates 3 effects.) Also, a sentence referring directly to and modifying an effect in a previous sentence from the same source text, is part of that effect (for example, in “Gain 2 Honor. This gain will not be negated,” “This gain will not be negated” is part of the “Gain 2 Honor effect.”)

Effects and abilities “on” a card #

An effect “on” or “upon” a particular card is an effect that modifies any of:

      • the card’s stats, traits, keywords, abilities, tokens, ability to perform actions, ability to have attachments, or physically marked state.
      • the use of one of those things
      • changes to one of those things

To be “on” a card, an effect need not specify the individual card; for example, an effect that destroys all cards at the battlefield is an effect on each card it destroys.

This is different from an ability “on” a card, which refers to an ability printed on or granted to a card.

Independence of effects #

Each of an action or trait’s effects happens separately regardless of whether other effects can be applied.

There are two exceptions:

      • failing to meet targeting will stop later effects from happening (see step C of the action sequence, above)
      • effects linked by the word “to” mean that the second effect depends on the first effect actually happening; likewise, effects linked by the word “as” or “after” mean the first effect depends on the second.

Example: “Bow your Samurai to draw two cards” means the player only draws the cards if the Samurai actually goes from the unbowed to bowed state. The player doesn’t draw the cards if the Samurai was already bowed at the time, or if something prevented him from bowing. Likewise, “Bow him as he moves” means the bowing doesn’t happen if the moving is prevented.

Duration of effects #

Instantaneous #

Some effects, as well as bowing to pay costs, are instantaneous, and marked by or physically marked changes to the game components, such as bowing cards, adding tokens, and changes to Family Honor. These changes do not wear off by themselves.

Effects that add game procedures, such as duels, battles or additional phases, are known as procedural and are also treated as instantaneous; they insert the procedure into the game at a given moment in time.

Ongoing #

Other effects involve changes that are ongoing. That is, they last until a certain point in the game, and are not physically marked by the game components.

These include changes to stats such as “Give a target attacking Personality +2F,” as well as changes to abilities, traits, keywords and conditions of things in the game, such as giving a card the trait, “This Personality will not bow.”

All ongoing effects last until the end of the current turn, unless they give a different duration.

Finally, non-triggered traits like “Your Samurai have +1F” have continuous effects that apply while the card is in play and all conditions on the trait, if any, are met (see Traits, previous section). If a continuous effect ceases to apply, then is reapplied, it is a new effect; for example, a Force bonus that was negated by an ongoing effect will reassert itself.

Card Memory Rule #

If a card is both out of play and face-down (including returning to the hand), it “forgets” ongoing effects specific to it, and other changes such as whether its abilities have been used. A card does not “forget” generic effects such as “All Samurai in and out of play have +1F.”

EXCEPTION: A card’s role in a series of consecutively applied costs and effects from a single source is not “forgotten” from one effect to the other — for example, if a player is asked to draw a card and then show it, he or she must show the same card. If a card being tracked in this way is in a deck that is then shuffled, the tracked card is set aside during the shuffling; if it then needs to return to the deck, it is shuffled in again.

Order of effects #

Effects occur in the order they are written.

EXCEPTION 1: Phrases modifying effects that come after the effect’s text are applied at the same time as the effect. Such phrases will directly refer to the effect, increasing or reducing its restrictions or scope. Modifying phrases that refer to multiple effects refer to all relevant effects in that trait or ability.

Example: In an effect that creates several duels, the duel consequence “Destroy each duel’s loser” is applied immediately after each duel, following the duel sequence.

EXCEPTION 2: Phrases in an ability’s effects that refer to an ability itself, such as “This ability may be used once per battle,” or “This ability will not be copied,” apply to the ability at all times, even when the ability is not being used.

EXCEPTION 3: Battles created by effects, and additional phases, segments, and actions granted by effects, are delayed until the action or triggered trait that granted them has ended.

Example: Ambush reads, “Fight a battle there. After the battle ends, lose 5 Honor.” The battle is delayed until the “Lose 5 Honor” effect has been activated, and the action has resolved. The Honor loss itself is a delayed effect timed to the end of the battle, and is only actually applied after the battle ends.

Some effects logically involve targeting first, even though the targeting is written after the effect; for example, in “Bow your target Personality,” the target has to be chosen before it can be bowed.

Delayed effects #

Effects that will occur at a given time in the future are delayed effects.

Example: “After your next turn begins” or “After the next time this game a Samurai assigns to attack.”

The duration of a delayed ongoing effect takes into account the turn, or other time period, in which it was applied – not the time period in which it was initially activated.

Example: in “After the start of your next turn, give him +2F,” the Force bonus lasts until the end of your next turn.

A delayed effect that has been activated but not yet applied is an ongoing effect, and can still be prevented by something that prevents effects in general, such as “effects of that action do not happen.” However, something that prevents a specific type of effect, such as bowing, will only negate a delayed effect when it is actually applied.

When an effect delays another effect, if the delayed effect has already happened, the delaying has no effect.

Indefinite conditional effects #

Some effects create other effects whenever a certain condition is met; these are collectively known as indefinite conditional effects. The creating effect is a “parent” effect, and the conditional effects are “child” effects. Parent effects are different from delayed effects, which create definite effect(s) at a set time in the future.

Example: In “After the next time this turn a Personality is destroyed, gain +1F” the +1F is a delayed effect; but, in “After each time this turn a Personality is destroyed, gain +1F” the +1F is not a delayed effect, but a child effect of the larger conditional effect.

Restrictions on number of times #

Some effects restrict the number of times a type of occurrence can happen in a time period.

Example: “You can only issue one challenge per turn.”

If such a restricting effect takes place in the middle of the time period covered, previous occurrences of the restricted effect count against the limit.

Example: When “You can only issue one challenge per turn” resolves, any challenges you issued that turn count against the limit (even if you issued more than one) and any further challenges you issue that turn fail.

Permissions #

Some text permits things to happen in violation of the rules, using terms such as “can” or “may.” Such permissions override specific restrictions and prevention effects in the rules; for example, “He may assign even if bowed.”

A permission does not break rules that it doesn’t specifically refer to.

Example: “Your target Infantry Personality may assign in Cavalry Maneuvers” does not allow a bowed unit to assign.

Likewise, a permission does not overcome restrictions or negations from card sources, unless overcoming card effects is specifically mentioned.

Example: If a card says its Ranged Attack “can target Personalities with attached Followers,” this does not overcome another effect that says “This Personality cannot be targeted by Ranged Attacks.”

Timing #

Triggers #

Triggered traits and some effects have an occurrence in the game they respond to, known as a trigger. Triggers are usually written as happening “before” or “after” something else.

Some triggers refer to a time point in the game by what normally happens then, using the indefinite plural. These timings do not require that anything happens at that time point.

Example: “After Focus Effects resolve in a duel” does not require that any Focus Effects actually resolved.

Triggers worded using more definite language, about an actual occurrence rather than the general time point, do require that the occurrence actually happen.

Example: “After a Focus Effect resolves in a duel:” requires that a Focus Effect resolved.

A trigger of “after” one step in a sequence ends will happen prior to the trigger of “before” the next step begins. Both triggers happen between the two steps.

Example: A triggered trait with the trigger “after your Attack Phase ends” comes before a triggered trait with the trigger “before your Dynasty Phase begins,” and happens in neither phase.

A phrase such as “before X would happen” is equivalent to “before X happens.” The conditional mood indicated by “would” is irrelevant to the function of the “before” timing point.

“When” triggers #

Timing “when” a trigger occurs comes later than “before” but earlier than “after” the trigger. “When” timing usually only appears in specific cases:

      • Effects that produce Gold and are triggered by a Gold payment are triggered explicitly or implicitly by “when” the payment occurs.
      • Effects that alter a player’s choice, such as targeting or assignment, are written as “when (the player) would.” The timing of such a “when… would” effect occurs later than the player indicates his or her initial choice, but earlier than the point at which the targeting (or other outcome of the choice) actually happens.

Example: “When another player would assign a unit to attack one of your provinces, you may assign it to a different province.” Your choice to assign the unit comes after the player indicates his or her choice of assignment, and your choice then goes on to determine actual assignment.

      • When a condition becomes true, any continuous traits and ongoing effects that depend on the condition begin “when” the thing happens that made the condition true. When a condition becomes false, any continuous traits and ongoing effects that depend on the condition likewise end at the “when” point.

Example: “This card has +2F while bowed.” The Force bonus is gained “when” the card bows and lost “when” the card straightens.

Once a triggered trait starts, activate all its costs, targeting, and effects in sequence before proceeding, even if another action or triggered trait is under way.

Timing Conflicts #

Two things in the game can happen at the same time (e.g., two Personalities being destroyed in battle resolution.) However, two triggered occurrences (e.g., Honor loss after a dishonorable Personality dies; delayed effects) will never begin at the same time.

When simultaneous effects caused by a single piece of text create multiple game procedures containing more than one step, each step of each procedure takes place simultaneously, in parallel.

Example: When instructed “The two target Samurai each commit Seppuku,” the Seppuku play procedure actually has two effects in sequence. So, each Samurai simultaneously rehonors; then, each Samurai is destroyed.

Timing conflicts happen when multiple triggers either respond to the same occurrence, or to simultaneous occurrences (e.g., more than one Personality destroyed simultaneously in battle resolution; delayed effects generated by multiple copies of the same card).

Multi-step procedures, such as bringing cards into play, follow special rules when they happen simultaneously. See Order of effects.

If two or more traits or rules procedures are triggered at the same point in time, follow this sequence to decide their order.

A: Delay, negation, prevention. Apply any ongoing, continuous, or triggered effects that delay, negate or prevent the occurrence that defines the trigger. If more than one of these effects conflict, the active player decides the order in which they happen.

Example: An ongoing prevention effect says “Units will not move home.” This prevention happens at the earliest step, so that no other triggered effects, traits or actions can respond to the unit’s movement.

B: Substitution. Apply any ongoing, continuous, or triggered effects that substitute the occurrence that defines the trigger, making the occurrence not happen and something else happen instead. If more than one of these effects conflict, the active player decides the order in which they happen. If a substituted effect has been delayed, the substitution still happens at the delayed point.

Example: An ongoing substitution effect says “Units that move home are destroyed instead.” Any negation and prevention of moving home happens first, then the destruction substitution happens.

C: Triggered effects. Anything else that is triggered at this point happens now. This includes triggered traits, delayed effects, indefinite conditional effects, and triggered rulebook effects (such as losing Honor after a dishonorable Personality is destroyed). If more than one of these things conflict, the active player decides the order in which they happen.

Choices and Targeting #

Choices #

Sometimes a choice has to be made in the game. This includes alternate effects (“gain +2F or +1C”), optional effects (“may bow him”), variable effects (“up to three cards”), and assignment.

If an action does not explicitly state which player makes a choice between several options, the choice belongs to the player taking the action. In traits, the choice belongs to the player whose card it is (that is, the controller of the card if it is in play, or its owner if it is not).

A choice involving multiple effects following a “may” must be taken in an all-or-none fashion, unless they are phrased as alternatives to each other using “or.”

Example: “He may target one of his Shugenja and discard a card.” If this choice is taken, the targeting and discard are both either carried out or not carried out; there is no option to target a Shugenja and not discard. Compare with “he may target one of his Shugenja and may discard a card,” in which the two choices are separate; either, none, or both options may be taken. Also, in “he may target one of his Shugenja or discard a card,” one choice or the other (but not both) may be taken.

Regardless of these considerations, each of the effects following “may” is activated and applied separately, and can be negated separately.

A choice may be made even if its consequences would fail or be prevented.

Example: If a Personality is already bowed, or will not bow due to an effect, you may still make a choice to bow him. If you do not control any unbowed Personalities, you may also make a choice to “bow an unbowed Personality,” which just fails.

References to the result of a choice are phrased differently according to whether the choice was only made, or whether a choice made had any effect.

Example: “You may choose to bow the Personality. If you choose this, gain 2 Honor.” If the bowing is somehow prevented or the Personality is already bowed, you still gain 2 Honor.

Example: “You may bow the personality. If he bowed, gain 2 Honor.” If the bowing is prevented or the Personality is already bowed, you do not gain the Honor.

In assignment and targeting, references to the player who assigns or targets refer to the player who made the actual choice, not necessarily the player whose choice it originally was.

Choice conflicts #

When effects restrict or force choice, conflicts and paradoxes are resolved by removing all such conflicting restrictions. This applies to positive restrictions such as “The action must target this card” as well as negative restrictions such as “This card may not be targeted if there are other legal targets.”

Example: Two cards in the same army say “This card must be chosen, if legal, as a target for enemy players’ Battle actions.” The paradox is that each card makes each other an illegal target, thus waiving the “must be chosen” effect, but then turning it on again because both are legal, and so on to infinity. In this situation, the restrictions cancel out, and both cards may be freely chosen as targets.

Choice paradoxes #

If a choice (such as choosing a target, cost payment or announcing an Interrupt) requires information from another choice that has not been made yet, the player must make that second choice at the time of targeting or payment, as a prerequisite for the first choice. He or she must also stay with that choice through the rest of the action or trait in question, until the choice is officially called for. In such a situation, if the game state changes so that the choice is no longer valid, then the player cannot make an alternate choice; the cost is not paid, or the effect fails, as appropriate.

Continuous effect conflicts #

If two continuous card effects conflict, then the more specific effect (applying to a more exclusive category of cards) overcomes the more general effect. Effects on a single card are more exclusive than effects applying to a card with a particular keyword or trait, which in turn are more exclusive than effects that apply to all cards of a particular type. With two effects of equal specificity, the effect applied later overcomes the effect applied earlier. Card effects always overcome rules effects by the Cardinal Rule.

Example: If a Kensai Personality’s text says “May only attach one Weapon” and an Event comes into play that says “Your Personalities may attach two Weapons,” the text specifically applying to the Personality overcomes the Event’s general text.

Targeting #

Targeting is a special kind of choice that involves designating one or more cards or other game entities (such as a Province or player).

The word “target” must appear for the procedure to be considered targeting — just “choosing” something is not targeting.

Cards must be in play to be legal targets, unless the ability says or implies otherwise (for example, “Target a dead Personality” implies he is in the discard pile.)

Choosing a target comes before the actual targeting. Specifically, if an effect interferes with one player’s action so that another player chooses one of the action’s final targets, the player of the action is still the one who “targets” the final target.

The phrase “target and [verb] X” means to target X, and to carry out the verb on the targeted object.

Example: “Target and bow your Samurai” means to target one of your Samurai, and bow that same Samurai. The bowing depends on the targeting.

When multiple targets are chosen simultaneously, the same target cannot be chosen twice. This also means that when one target out of multiple, already-chosen targets is being changed, another one of those already-chosen targets cannot legally become the new target.

Example: If you target a Samurai and a Shugenja simultaneously, another player cannot change your targeting of the Samurai to target that Shugenja, because you have already chosen the Shugenja for the same targeting.

References to targeting #

New instances of targeting are created by:

1. The use of “target” as a verb (example: “Target an unbowed Samurai.”)

2. The use of “target” as an adjective (example: “Bow the player’s target Shugenja;” “Move a target Courtier home.”)

Previous instances of targeting are referred to, without creating a new targeting procedure, by:

1. “Targeting” or “targeted” (example: “Negate an action targeting your Monk.”; “If the action targeted your Ninja, straighten him;” “Bow the targeted Commander.”)

2. The use of “target” as a noun (example: “Straighten the target;” “Choose one of these targets.”)

Targeting paradoxes #

If a cost or effect depends on a specific targeting choice before it is actually made, the cost or effect instead constrains the targeting choice, so that it must target the thing mentioned if the effect is invoked, and cannot target the thing if the cost is not paid. Traits on cards in play that create extra costs for targeting something also create the opportunity to pay those costs.

Example 1: “Actions on your Spells have Home if you target your Samurai with them.” (Rae Sensei, Ivory Edition.) This trait creates a paradox because the determination of action legality involving Home takes place well before targeting in the action sequence. In practice, it means that 1. by the Good Faith Rule, you can only take an action during battle from your spell at home (unless it has Home by other means) if it can target your Samurai; 2. if you take advantage of the Home-granting trait, you must choose your Samurai to target with the Spell.

Example 2: “Other players’ actions targeting The Abbot cost 2 more Gold.” (The Abbot, Exp. 3, TNO) This trait creates a paradox because costs are paid before targeting. In practice, when the Abbot is in play, all actions that can target him may be taken with an additional Gold Cost of 2; if this is not paid they may not target The Abbot, and if the cost is paid the action must target him. 

Play of the Game #

Turns and turn order #

A game of L5R is divided into turns. Beginning with the starting player, and continuing in turn order (that is, proceeding to the left), each player takes a turn.

At any time after the start of the game, turn order starts with the active player and continues clockwise, to each player’s left.

Whenever an effect asks “each player” to do something, the default is to start with the active player and continue once in turn order, skipping any players who are not eligible to do that thing.

Start of game #

After a game of L5R starts, follow steps A through F in sequence.

A. All players show their Strongholds and Sensei (if any), and start with the Stronghold and any Sensei in play. Each player begins with his or her Family Honor stat at his or her Stronghold’s Starting Honor, modified by his or her Sensei.

B. The starting player is the player with the highest Family Honor. If one or more players are tied in Family Honor, they decide who goes first randomly, such as by rolling dice or flipping a coin. The starting player uses the “going first” side of his or her Stronghold, and the others turn their Stronghold to the “going second” side.

C. All players shuffle both their decks separately. Players should offer their decks to the other players for further shuffling or cutting.

D. Players place their decks and create four Provinces, then fill each one from left to right with a card from the top of their Dynasty deck.

E. All players draw five Fate cards simultaneously.

F. Play begins; the starting player becomes the active player and takes a turn sequence (Action Phase through Dynasty Phase). When his or her turn has ended, the next player’s turn, in turn order, begins, and he or she becomes the active player. This continues until one player has won the game, at which point the game ends immediately.

When the starting player is determined, he or she is also considered the active player for purposes of things that happen before the first turn begins.

The Turn Sequence #

      1. Action Phase
      2. Attack Phase (optional)
      3. Dynasty Phase

Action Phase #

At the start of the Action Phase, the active player straightens all his or her bowed cards. Then, in any order, the active player turns all face-down cards in his or her Provinces face-up.

In the Action Phase, players take an action round of Limited actions (for the active player only) and Open actions.

The active player has the first opportunity in the Action Phase to take a Limited or Open action, or pass. The other player then has a chance to take an Open action or pass.

There are several Limited actions that players may take in the Action Phase (player abilities). Each of these has its own descriptive term. Other player abilities that depend on specific keywords may be found in the alphabetical listing of game terms.

Cycle #

Limited: If it is your first turn, choose one or more face-up cards in your Provinces. Put them on the bottom of your deck in any order. Then (after refilling Provinces), turn all cards in your Provinces face-up.

Equip #

Repeatable Open, Gold star 20: Attach an attachment card, with Gold Cost equal to the amount you paid, from your hand to your target Personality.

Sometimes “Equip” is used as an effect in card text. This means that the effects of the Equip action are activated, and the card’s Gold Cost is checked against the amount paid for the original action. If the original action did not give the opportunity to pay Gold, then before the card is attached, its Gold Cost must be paid or the attachment fails. The original action may modify any of the rules of the Equip procedure; for example, it may Equip a card “ignoring cost.”
Effects that merely “attach” a card do not invoke the Equip procedure or action.

Lobby #

Political Limited: If you have higher Family Honor than each other player, bow your target unbowed Personality with 1 or more Personal Honor to take the Imperial Favor.

Discarding the Favor is required for certain actions, including the two rulebook Favor player abilities:

Rulebook Favor Limited #

Favor Political Limited: Discard the Imperial Favor and a Fate card to draw a card.

(“Discard a card” is short for “Discard a Fate card from your hand.”)

Rulebook Favor Battle #

Favor Political Battle: Discard the Imperial Favor to move a target attacking enemy Personality home.

Attack Phase #

The active player may now optionally create (“declare”) an Attack Phase. An Attack Phase has several segments in order.

Attack Phase Sequence #

Declaration Segment

Maneuvers Segment

Fight Battles

Declaration Segment #

The player declaring the attack is the Attacker, and the other player is the Defender. The attack creates battlefields associated with each of the Defender’s Provinces. One or more units on the same side of a battlefield make up an army.

Maneuvers Segment #

The Attacker first simultaneously assigns any number of his or her unbowed Personalities from home to the attacking side at battlefields. The Attacker may assign Personalities to one battlefield or different battlefields, and may keep some or all of them home.

Then the Defender assigns unbowed Personalities from home to the defending side at battlefields, in the same way.

Assigning a Personality places it at that battlefield, and is different from “moving” between locations. A unit led by a bowed Personality may not be assigned.

Fight Battles #

The Attacker chooses a battlefield, and a battle is fought there. When that battle is over, the Attacker chooses a new battlefield where a battle has not yet been fought, and another battle is fought there. This repeats until all battlefields have been fought at.

Exactly one battle happens at each battlefield, even ones with no units. There is no further opportunity for a battle at a battlefield that has already been fought at, even if some units find their way there.

Once the last battle has ended, the Attack Phase ends. Battlefields cease to exist. Any units still at battlefields return home, and if they were attacking they bow.

Dynasty Phase #

In the Dynasty phase, the active player only takes Dynasty actions. The following player abilities are relevant.

Recruit #

Repeatable Dynasty, Gold star 20: Bring into play a face-up Personality or Holding from your Province with Gold Cost equal to the amount you paid, paying 2 more Gold if the Personality has a Clan Alignment but does not have your Clan Alignment.

If it is a Personality, the Recruiting player’s Family Honor must additionally be equal to or higher than his Honor Requirement, if any, unless the player has lost Honor under certain circumstances. Then, the Recruited card is brought into play, bowed if it is a Holding. Personalities Recruited during a battle enter play in their controller’s army at the current battlefield.

Sometimes, as with Equip, “Recruit” is used as an effect in card text. This means that the effects of the Recruit action are activated, and the card’s Gold Cost is checked against the amount paid for the original action. If the original action did not give the opportunity to pay Gold, then before the card enters play, its Gold Cost must be paid or the entering play fails. The original action may modify any of the rules of the Recruit procedure; for example, it may ask you to Recruit a card “from the discard pile.”

Furthermore, any time an effect brings a Personality or Holding into play from an out-of-play area, it is considered Recruiting and follows the Recruit procedure with any stated modifications. This does not apply to created cards because they are brought into existence from nothingness.

Proclaim #

After a player announces a Recruit action or an action with Recruit as an effect, he or she may choose to Proclaim the Personality being recruited if he has the player’s Clan Alignment and is being Recruited from a Province.

A player may only Proclaim once per turn and only on his or her own turn.

If Proclaiming is chosen, then after the Personality enters play, add the Personality’s Personal Honor to the player’s Family Honor.

Proclaiming gives the Proclaim keyword to the recruiting action. Honor gains from Proclaiming are from the rulebook Recruit action, or from the rulebook Recruit procedure if the action calling it was on a card.

Dynasty Discard #

Repeatable Dynasty: Discard a face-up card from one of your Provinces.

Drawing and discarding Fate cards #

At the end of the Dynasty Phase, that is, “at the end of the turn,” the active player draws a Fate card. Then, if the active player has more Fate cards in hand than his or her maximum hand size, the player discards Fate cards until he or she has equal or fewer. Effects “before the turn ends” happen prior to this drawing and discarding.

The other player now takes his or her turn.

Battles #

Most battles will happen as part of an Attack Phase, but some effects create battles separately.

Actions in Battle #

All actions taken during a battle – Battle actions, Engage actions, or even Interrupts during a battle — follow the additional rules of Presence and Location. (The rules of Presence and Location apply to all action types, including Interrupt and Engage).

Rule of Presence #

To legally take an action during battle, a player must control one or more units at the current battlefield. Actions with the Absent keyword are an exception.

Rules of Location #

      • To legally take an action from a card in a unit during battle, the unit must be at the current battlefield. Actions with the Home keyword are an exception.
      • To be legally targeted by an action during battle, any cards in a unit must be at the current battlefield.
      • When phrases such as “at two different locations” create an exception to the Rule of Location, the Rule should be followed as much as possible. In that case, “two different locations” should include the current battlefield and one other location.

No Second Battle Rule #

A Personality who has already been in an attacking army during a battle resolution in the current Attack Phase will not move to a battlefield.

Battle Sequence #

      1. Engage Segment
      1. Combat Segment
      1. Resolution Segment
      1. After Resolution

Engage Segment #

Engage actions represent especially well-prepared or rapid maneuvers in battle. The Engage Segment is an action round of Engage actions, starting with the Defender.

Combat Segment #

The Combat Segment is action round of Battle actions, starting with the Defender.

Resolution Segment #

This segment is also known as “battle resolution.” #

Army Force #

An army’s Force is the total of the Force of all unbowed Personalities and Followers in it. (Items modify their Personality’s Force, bowed or unbowed.)

Battle Resolution #

In the Resolution Segment, the Attacker and Defender total their armies’ Force at the battlefield. A side with no units has zero Force.

The side with the higher Force wins, and the side with the lower Force loses.

If the Attacker wins, he or she destroys all units in the defending army. If the attacking army’s Force was greater than the defending army’s Force plus the Province Strength of the battlefield’s Province, the Attacker also destroys the Province.

When a Province is destroyed, discard any cards in it, and any Regions attached to it. Push together the other Provinces and the two decks to show the shrinking of their owner’s lands.

If the Defender wins, he or she destroys all units in the attacking army.

If two armies have equal Force, the battle is a tie. If the battle is tied and there are one or more units on both sides of the battlefield, the Attacker and Defender each destroy all units in the enemy army. If the battle is tied on zero Force and either or both sides have no units, the battle has no outcome.

The winner of a battle also gains Honor equal to twice the number of cards in the enemy army that were destroyed by resolution. If the battle was tied, each player gains Honor for destroying the other army.

After Resolution #

Then, the battle’s resolution ends. In its aftermath, a number of things happen.

      • All attacking units at that battlefield bow, then return home, as effects of battle resolution. This return after battle is not movement.
      • Defending units stay at that battlefield, and return home only at the end of the Attack Phase. They do not bow.
      • Discard any Terrain cards at the battlefield.

The battle itself then ends. Then, fight any remaining battles.

Special Wording Rules #

Ambiguous wordings in the cards and rules of L5R follow rules of grammar that are more precise than ordinary language. These rules should not be used to force an unnatural reading onto a phrase; they are meant to clarify ambiguous usage only. Grammar rules for single words are found in the section, “Specific Game Terms and Procedures” under the entry for that word.

Perspective #

A card’s text (such as, “Lose 3 Honor” or “You may not take Political actions”) is to be read from the perspective of its controller while the card is in play, and its owner while card is not. See also Possessive case.

Numbers of things #

When something checks for the presence of “a [thing]” or “any [things],” the check is met by one of those things even if the player in question has more than one in play.

Example: “If you have a Samurai in play” is met if you have one, two or any higher number of Samurai in play.

When something checks for the presence of a number of things, the check is also met by more than that number of those things.

Example: If you have four Shugenja in play you meet the conditions “If you control two Shugenja” and “If you control a Shugenja.”

If the presence of an exact number of things is being checked for, this will be noted by language such as “exactly two” or “only one,” or by mentioning two or more specific numbers such as “zero or one.”

EXCEPTION: The wordings “once”, “twice”, “the third time”, etc., mean exactly that number of times. If later occurrences are meant to count, wordings such as “third or later” will be used.

The phrase “any number of” something includes zero.

Example: “Bow any number of your Personalities” can be satisfied by bowing zero Personalities.

Something that allows a “second” use of an ability in a turn, etc., only allows the second use of the ability that turn. Multiple effects that allow second uses do not allow the ability to be used three or more times.

Conjunctions #

Conjunctions are connecting words. These rules cover usage of the conjunctions “and” and “or.”

The phrase “a [keyword 1] and a [keyword 2]” refers to two different cards, each with the relevant keyword.

Example: “Bow a Samurai and a Courtier” is not fulfilled by bowing a single card with both Samurai and Courtier as keywords.

Modifying words and phrases appearing before or behind a phrase in the form of “a [modifier] X or Y” or “a X and Y [modifier]” modify both things in that phrase.

Example: “A Shadowlands Shugenja or Monk” means “a Shadowlands Shugenja or a Shadowlands Monk.” If “a Monk or a Shadowlands Shugenja” is meant, it will be written that way. Likewise, “a Shugenja or Monk without attachments” means “a Shugenja without attachments or a Monk without attachments.”

Conditions are treated like modifiers; they also carry through to both clauses separated only by a conjunction.

Example: “If Ono is honorable, gain 2 Honor or give him +2F” means he must be honorable to activate either of those effects.

Modifiers attached to a phrase in the form of “a [modifier] X or a Y” modify only the first thing in the phrase; they do not carry over the “a.”

Example: “A Shadowlands Shugenja or a Monk” does not imply that the Monk has to be Shadowlands.

Effects that check for a condition phrased as “X or Y” are also satisfied if both X and Y are met.

Example: “Destroyed during a duel or a battle” would apply even if the duel was during a battle, and “target a Samurai or Shugenja” could target one Personality with both keywords.

Pronouns #

Pronouns and pronoun-like terms, like “him or her,” “it,” “them,” or “that Personality,” refer to the last possible thing mentioned in the text that the term would logically refer to.


A. “Target a Samurai and a Shugenja. Bow him.” “Him” would refer to the Shugenja.

B. “Target one of your Personalities: Bow a target Personality opposing him.” “him” would refer to your Personality, as a Personality cannot oppose himself.

C. “Target a Personality and an Item. Give him +2F”. “Him” refers to the Personality because an Item would be referred to as “it.”

Pronouns referring to “each” of a number of players refer separately to each of those players.

Example: “Target another player. Each of you discards a card from his hand.” “His” in this example refers to the other player discarding from his own hand, and you discarding from your own hand.

Possessive case #

The possessive case – terms such as “your,” “his” or “a player’s” – is used in a number of different ways.

When referring to the relationship between a player and a card or cards, possessive terms refer to a card in play controlled by the player, or a card out of play owned by the player.

Attached and attaching cards in a unit refer to each other with the possessive case.

Example: A Follower’s Personality is the Personality it is attached to, and a Personality’s Followers are those attached to him.

Possessive case referring to a unit’s cards indicates cards in that unit.

Example: “The unit’s Personality” or “the unit’s Followers.”

Possessive case can also refer to a card’s stats, traits, or abilities.

Example: “His Chi,” “its abilities.”

When referring to actions (as distinct from abilities), the possessive case refers to the player who took the action, regardless of the owner or controller of a card it is on.

Example: If a player is able to take an action from an ability on one of your cards, the effects come from that player’s action, but come from your cards and are your card effects.

References #

A card’s text can refer to itself or other cards in a number of ways.

Most simply, references to “this card” or “this (card type)” refer to the card itself. Restrictions in a card’s traits that don’t explicitly refer to anything are understood to refer to the card itself.

Example: “Will only attach to a Samurai” should be read as “This card will only attach to a Samurai.”

References on a card to the card’s own title or to a shortened form of the title in the case of Personalities (such as “Kei” as short for “Mirumoto Kei”), refer to the card itself. Such references by title refer only to that copy of the card, not to any other copy that might exist, unless they use wording such as “a Mirumoto Kei” or “a copy of Mirumoto Kei.”

Attachments with triggered traits or actions referring to “this Personality” refer to the Personality the card was attached to at the time when the trait was triggered or the action taken. Ongoing effects of such traits or actions do not change their reference if the attachment is later transferred.

Example: if you use an Item’s ability “Limited: This Personality has Tactician until the end of the game” and later transfer the Item to another Personality, the original Personality still keeps Tactician, and the new one does not gain it until you use the ability again.

“This” before a keyword (for example, “this Shugenja”) refers to the Personality in the attachment’s unit, even if the Personality has lost or otherwise does not have that keyword.

Example: An effect on a Spell that says “Bow this Shugenja” still bows its Personality when he or she has lost the Shugenja keyword.

An attachment referring to “this Personality” in a triggered trait or action refer to the Personality the card was attached to when the trait was triggered or the action taken. Effects of such traits or actions do not change their reference if the attachment is later transferred.

“This unit” refers to the card’s unit.

“This battle” refers to the current battle.

“This battlefield” refers to the current battlefield.

“This card” refers to the card itself.

“This Province” on an Event refers to the Province the Event is in.

“This Province” on a Fortification refers to the Province it is attached to.

“This Province” on any other card refers to the current battlefield’s Province.

Other uses of “this” follow normal language, such as “this turn.”

Example: An item with the cost “Bow this Shugenja” cannot have the cost paid by a non-Shugenja personality.

In triggers that involve a card leaving play, references to an in-play state of the card, such as its unit or location, refer to the state of the card before it left play.

References to other points in time #

Once a card or other game element is identified by a keyword in a trait or action’s text (such as, “Bow one of your Samurai”) further references to that keyword within that trait or action are meant to only identify the particular game element clearly (such as, “Your Samurai gains +2F”). Specifically, if the Samurai somehow loses the Samurai keyword between the first and second references, the second effect still applies.

References to a game element that mention what happened to it in previous effects or costs of the same action or trait (such as “the discarded card” or “the Samurai you bowed”) should also be treated this way – as a reference to the particular element intended, rather than a requirement that the thing actually happened. When one thing is truly conditional on the other, it will be stated explicitly.

Example: In “Target two of your Samurai and bow one of them: Give +3F to the one who did not bow and give a +1F token to the one who bowed,” if the second Samurai pays the cost in some other way than bowing, he still gets the token. However, if the same effect ends “…attach a +1F token to the other Samurai if he bowed,” the Samurai who paid the cost in a different way does not get the token.

References involving a game state in the context of a past occurrence check the game state only at the time of the occurrence.

Example: The rules for rehonoring say a Personality is rehonored, “Before a player gains Honor from an action or trait that targeted or came from one or more of his or her dishonorable Personalities…” Dishonorable status is checked only at the time the targeting, origin or performing of the action or trait is established.

Blind cards rule #

When a rule or card text needs to know what an action does or will do, it only takes into account the current text of the action. It does not consider any continuous, ongoing or triggered effects that change the action’s effects or cause them to fail.

Example: “Search your deck for a Strategy card with a challenge as one of its effects.” Even if the condition “Challenges do not happen” is in effect, you may search your deck for such a card because of the blind cards rule.

This rule should not be applied to retrospective knowledge of whether an action actually did something.

The blind cards principle should not be over-applied beyond the specific case of of a game element needing to check what an action does.

Comparing stats #

If an action compares one stat to another without specifying one of the stats being compared, the card last referred to is meant.  If there is no appropriate last reference, then the card the action is on is meant.

Example 1: “Target a Samurai and a Personality opposing him with lower Chi” means “lower Chi than the targeted Samurai.”

Example 2: “Target an enemy Personality with lower Force” on a Follower checks the target’s Force against the Force of the Follower itself.

Specific Game Terms and Procedures #

In alphabetical order, this section lists rules associated with specific terms and keywords that have not been mentioned so far. It also serves as an index of terms that are described in the main rules, with links to their definition there.


Text on a card, rules or player that produces an action.

Absent #

An ability with the Absent keyword may be used during battle even if its player controls no units at the current battlefield.


A procedure that creates effects and may have costs or other requirements.

Action phase

The first phase of the game.

Action round

A procedure for players taking actions.

Active player #

The player whose turn it is.

Additional action #

Additional actions granted by effects are taken after the current action resolves. In effect, they allow their player to take another action in the present action round without opponents getting an action.

If the type of additional action is not specified, it is the type appropriate to the current action round – Limited in the player’s own Action Phase, Open in any Action Phase, Engage in the Engage Segment and Battle in the Combat Segment.

If, at his or her additional opportunity to act, a player chooses to pass rather than taking an action, this does not count towards ending the Action Round.

Additional phase or segment #

Some effects grant an “additional” phase or segment within the sequence of play. By default, it occurs once the action or trait that granted it has ended, regardless of what phase or segment the sequence of play is currently in.

Additional use #

Some effects grant an additional time an ability or trait can be used in a period of time (for example, “an additional time per turn”). This additional time also applies to any period of time greater than the one granted.

Example: An ability that can be used “one additional time this battle” can also be used once during the battle even if it was restricted to once per turn or once per game.

The stated period of time also means the original ability’s first use must be taken within that period in order to gain an additional use.

Example: If a “once per game” effect can be used “one additional time this turn,” Tte player must take the use with the “once per game” limitation during this turn, otherwise there is no additional use.

After #

See Timing.

Ally #

A term used in the multiplayer rules.

And #

See Conjunctions.

Announce #

See Actions.

Another #

“Another” usually refers to a card, player or other thing in the game that is different from the card, player, etc., in question.

“Another” should not be taken as a restriction on the keywords or other characteristics of the source of an effect, cost or targeting.

Example: If a Lion Clan Personality, Matsu Ichi, has the text ”Target another Lion Clan Personality,” the targeting is legal even if Matsu Ichi loses the Lion Clan keyword.

Armor #

A keyword found on some Items. A Personality cannot attach more than one Armor.

Army #

One or more units in a given side at a battlefield.

A side with no units is not an army and has no Force total. If text refers only to “your army” it means “your army at the current battlefield.”

When “army” is used to refer to a side of a battle that units are being moved to, assigned to, entering play in, or created in, this does not imply that an army must already exist there; the location may have no units to begin with, as an army is being brought into existence there.

Assign #

A non-movement way to change the location of one or more units from home to a battlefield. See Maneuvers Phase.

References to assigning a Personality should be taken to mean assigning the Personality’s unit. Likewise, when a player assigns a unit, the unit can also be said to assign.

In effects that allow a player to just assign a unit, that player may normally only assign units he or she controls. Some effects, however, may explicitly allow the player to assign other players’ units.

Whether a unit assigns to the defending or attacking army depends on who controls the unit, not necessarily who assigns it.

Example: If the Attacker is allowed to assign one of the Defender’s units he or she does not control, he or she must normally still assign it to the defending army.

The choice of assignment refers to which one of several battlefields a unit is assigned but not the choice to have a unit assign or stay at home.

Example: If player A “may assign” one of player B’s units, player A does not have the option to make player B’s unit stay at home instead of assign. In the case of the optional “may assign,” player A’s options are either to assign the unit to a battlefield, or to let player B have the option to assign it or not.

For purposes of knowing which player actually assigns a unit, it is the player who chooses where it assigns to.

Attach #

To put an attachment on a Personality. See Attachments andEquip.

Attachment #

A card type that attaches to a Personality. See Attachments.

Attack #

To assign to, move to, or enter play in an attacking army.


Procedures in which units conflict and Provinces may be destroyed.

Battle actions

Actions taken in the Combat Segment of a battle.


Location where a battle is fought.

Before #

See Timing.

Bonus #

A type of increase to stats. See Bonuses and penalties.

Bowed #

A state of a card, marked by turning it 90 degrees to the right. See Bowed and unbowed.

Cavalry #

The Cavalry keyword is relevant to the following player ability which all players have:

Absent Engage: Target your unbowed Personality in a Cavalry unit at any location. Move it to the current battlefield.

Note that a “Cavalry unit” is one in which the Personality and all Followers, if any, have the Cavalry keyword (see Unit keywords).

Cannot #

“Cannot” or “can not” mean that a type of effect is prevented.

Cast #

When a player takes an action from a Spell attached to a Personality (usually a Shugenja) the Personality with the Spell attached “casts” the Spell and is the “caster.”

Challenge #

A challenge is an effect that creates a duel between two Personalities. One Personality will be the challenger, and the other will be the challenged; they must be controlled by different players. “A duels B” is shorthand for “A issues a challenge to B.” The Personalities’ players can also be referred to as “challenger” and “challenged” respectively.

Some challenges will offer the opportunity to be refused. If the challenged Personality’s player chooses to refuse the duel, then the duel doesn’t happen. There may be consequences of refusing. Otherwise, the challenged player accepts, and the two Personalities enter a duel.

A challenge will not happen if its two Personalities are controlled by the same player, or if either card in the duel is not a Personality.

If a Personality involved in a challenge or duel leaves play during it, the challenge or duel ends immediately without resolution. In particular, Focus Effects that have not yet resolved at that point do not resolve at all.

Effects may substitute one Personality for another in a challenge or duel. This does not change the original targeting of the challenge. The new Personality carries out the remaining steps instead of the original one, goes through resolution and takes the consequences of winning or losing.


A stat on a Personality, which can be modified by a stat on Items.

Chi Death

The rule that a Personality with 0 Chi is destroyed.

Clan Alignment

Which of the factions of L5R a Stronghold, player or Personality belongs to. See also Stronghold and Personality. For rules on the same and different Clan alignment, see Different and same keywords.

Combat Segment

The segment of a battle in which Battle actions are taken.

Combining #

A way to use similar actions from cards in the same unit to create a larger strength effect. Fear effects, Ranged Attacks, and Melee Attacks can each be combined, but only with other effects of the same kind (that is, Ranged and Melee Attacks cannot combine with each other, etc.)

To explain this rule we’ll use the term “attack effect” and “kind of effect” to refer to the particular effect being combined, whether Fear, Ranged or Melee.

Combining starts with an original action that creates an attack effect from a card in a unit. As an Interrupt to that action, the player may use an ability from another card in the same unit that is appropriate to the phase and that creates another attack effect of the same kind. The player pays that ability’s costs, then resolves its action’s effects, with one change: instead of creating a separate attack effect, each of those actions’ relevant attack effects adds its own strength (with any modifications) to the strength of the original attack effect.

The original attack effect may only target a card that it, as well as each of the combining actions, could target. All other characteristics of the attack effect come from the original. You may combine more than one attack effect with the same initial action.

Because only the original effect actually targets the card, a reduction or increase to the effect’s strength that depends on a particular card being targeted only reduced the total combined attack (for example, “Ranged Attacks targeting this card have -2 strength”). However, an effect that reduces or increases all attack effects will change the strengths of the combining effects before they are added together (“Ranged Attacks from cards at this battlefield have -2 strength).

Compare #

A term used in Fear effects, Ranged Attacks and Melee Attacks.

Conqueror #

Cards in a Conqueror Personality’s unit do not bow prior to returning home after a battle’s resolution.


A kind of trait that has no fixed duration.

Contribute #

A Personality or Follower contributes Force when its Force is added into its army’s total Force. This is part of a battle’s resolution, but can also happen when an army’s total Force is calculated for other reasons.

Control #

A game state relating cards to players; see [[#Card-control|.

Copy #

Some effects may copy a keyword, trait, or stat from one card to another. If a stat is copied, set the copying card’s stat to the current value of the copied card’s stat. Copied abilities can be used regardless of whether the original has been used. References to the original ability’s card become references to the copying card in the copied ability.

A card will not copy its own text or stats.

For “creates a copy” see Created cards.


A condition of taking an action or using a trait that requires paying Gold or bowing the card itself. See Costs, and Paying Gold.

Courage #

All players have the following ability relevant to the Courage keyword.

Repeatable Courage Interrupt: Discard a Courage card from your hand to give one of the action’s Fear effects either +2 or-2 strength.

Created cards #

Some effects may create cards in addition to the cards included in decks. You may use pieces of paper, face–down spare cards, or other objects to keep track of these. Official proxies for created cards may sometimes be included in L5R booster packs.

Creating a card is an instantaneous effect with no duration. The printed text and stats of a created card are determined by the effect that created it. If an effect that creates a card gives no value for a stat the card type normally has, that stat’s base value is zero. EXCEPTION: Created Personalities have a “–“ Honor Requirement.

Created attachments attach to a Personality as part of their creation effect. Other cards a player create enter play in his or her home; cards created during a battle join his or her current army, attaching to a Personality if necessary. A created card enters play without being Recruited or Equipped (so for example, a player cannot Proclaim it.)

When a created card leaves play, it ceases to exist. A created card that fails to enter play never exists. If a sequence of effects from the same action or trait first puts a created card out of play, and subsequently refers to any aspect of that card, the state of the created card just before it left play is checked.

Creating a copy #

If an effect “creates a copy” of a card, it creates a copy of the printed card without copying any effects, attachments or tokens on the original.

Dead #

A state of a Personality who was destroyed. See Dead.

Deck #

A player’s stack of shuffled Dynasty or Fate cards. Different from the play deck. See Deck.

Declare an attack #

To create an Attack Phase.

Declaration Segment #

The first segment of the Attack Phase. See Declaration Segment.

Defend #

To assign to, move to, or enter play in a defending army. Units and cards on the defending side, and a player with units on the defending side, can all be classed as “defending.”

Defender #

The player being attacked in an Attack Phase or battle.

Delayed #

An effect that is not applied immediately after it is activated, due to its own text or another effect. See Delayed effects.

Destined #

After a player’s card with the Destined keyword enters play, he or she draws a Fate card.

Designator #

Boldface text such as “Open:” in an ability, that determines when its action may be taken. See Abilities.

Destroy #

      1. To remove a card from play through an effect that specifically destroys it (as opposed to discarding, removing from the game, etc.) Destroyed cards normally go to their appropriate discard pile; see Discard piles.
      2. To eliminate a Province; see Provinces.

Die #

To be destroyed.

Different #

For rules on when cards have different keywords or Clan Alignments see here. For the Rule of Location and “different locations,” see here.

Discard #

      1. To put a card into its discard pile. An effect that instructs the player to “discard a card” or “discard [a number of] cards” is shorthand for discarding Fate cards from his or her hand. References to discarding a card that do not create a discard effect should be read more generally.
      2. To return the Imperial Favor to the uncontrolled state. See Imperial Favor, p. 53.
      3. Related: A player ability allowing discard of cards from Provinces (“Dynasty Discard“).
      4. Related: A procedure at the end of the turn discarding cards down to the maximum hand size.

Discarded #

Used as an adjective, the state of a card that is in a discard pile and is not dead.

Discard piles

Areas where discarded cards go, one for Dynasty and one for Fate.

Discipline #

A special trait that consists of the word “Discipline” and a Gold cost icon. Players may play a card with Discipline from their own discard pile for one of its action, paying the Gold cost in the icon as an additional cost of the action, or adding the Gold cost to the action’s if it already has a Gold cost. Then, after that action ends, remove the card from the game.

Discipline Strategies that put themselves into play (for example, Terrains) are instead removed from the game when they next leave play.

Dishonor, dishonorable, dishonorably dead

A condition of Personalities indicating disgrace.

Dishonor Victory

To win by reducing the last other player to -20 Honor or below.

Do Not #

“Do not” or “does not” in a card effect mean that another effect is prevented.

Draw #

For a player to put the top card of his or her Fate deck into his or her hand. This normally happens at the end of turn.

Effects that happen to put the top card of the deck into a player’s hand without saying “draw” are not considered drawing – for example, when a player looks at the top four cards of her deck, and chooses to put into hand the one that happened to be on top.

Effects that draw more than one card at the same time (such as, “Draw 3 cards”) occur simultaneously, unless they say otherwise (such as, “Draw 3 cards consecutively”).

Duel #

A duel is a confrontation that comes from a challenge between two Personalities, who must be controlled by different players.

Follow these steps in a duel:

      1. Each player has a focusing area created for that duel.
      2. The challenged player has the first option to focus or strike; if “A duels B,” then B’s player is the challenged.
        • To focus, a player either chooses a card from his or her hand, or takes the top card of his or her Fate deck without looking at it, and puts it face–down in a special focused cards area. Focusing is not “playing” the card.
        • If one player focused, the other player then chooses to focus or strike.
        • The players continue to take turns focusing until one of them chooses to strike. A player who can’t focus must strike.
        • A player who has focused four times may not focus any more in that duel.
      3. Once a strike has been called, turn all focused cards face–up.
      4. Any traits on focused cards with the special trigger “As a Focus Effect:” resolve. The player whose turn it is chooses the order. Ignore any other text on focused cards.
      5. Duel resolution. The duel now resolves.
        • Each player totals the Focus Values of his or her focused cards, and adds his or her Personality’s duel stat to this total. The duel stat is Chi unless another stat is given; for example, a “duel of Force” is one in which both Personalities use Force instead of Chi as their duel stat.
        • The higher total wins the duel, and the lower total loses.
        • If the two totals are tied, both players lose and take the loser’s consequences.

The duel ends when this duel resolution step ends.

Further effects from the duel or other cards may give consequences for the loser or winner. Apply these consequences now.

Consequences that alter who wins or loses the duel are applied first, in an order chosen by the active player. If an effect directly makes one Personality win the duel, this makes the other Personality lose, unless another effect alters the other Personality’s outcome. Likewise, if an effect directly makes one Personality lose the duel, this makes the other Personality win, unless another effect alters that Personality’s outcome. If outcome-altering effects apply to both Personalities, this means that both of them can win or lose.


Then all other consequences are applied, again in an order chosen by the active player.

      1. Discard all focused cards and end all changes to their Focus Value.

Duelist #

If a Personality in a duel has the Duelist keyword then, if scores are tied in the duel’s resolution, and the other Personality is not a Duelist, the Duelist wins.

Duel stat #

The stat compared in a duel, which is Chi by default.

If more than one effect changes which stat is used in a duel, first apply effects from the action or trait that created the duel, then apply effects from other sources which override the stats specified in the duel, in the order they were applied. See Timing.

Dynasty action

A type of action taken in the Dynasty Phase.

Dynasty Phase

A phase of the game in which, among other things, Dynasty cards can be brought into play.

Element keyword #

One of the five keywords for the mystic elements of Rokugan: Air, Earth, Fire, Water, and Void.

Thunder” and “Jade” are not element keywords.

Enemy #

Referring to the player on the opposing side to the player of reference during a battle (also, the “enemy leader”), and to cards in units he or she controls. Cards not in units, such as Holdings or Terrains, are not “enemy cards.”

Engage actions

A type of action taken in battle.

Engage Segment

The segment prior to a battle’s Combat Segment when Engage actions may be taken.

Enlightenment Victory, Enlighten

Winning the game by having all five Rings in play.


To go into an area of the game.

Entering-play #

An entering-play effect is one that is triggered by a card entering play.

The phrase “ignoring entering-play effects,” referring to cards entering play, means that all effects dependent on the trigger of those cards entering play are prevented.


An ability and procedure for bringing attachments into play.


A type of Dynasty card.

Even if #

The phrase “Even if” is a permission. The phrase “Even if” followed by a condition means that something can happen in spite of a rule that says it can’t happen while that condition is true. It only supersedes rulebook rules, not card effects. For example, “Assign him, even if bowed” overrides the limitation that bowed cards cannot assign.

Exchange #

When an effect exchanges two stats, note their current values. Then, simultaneously set each stat to the noted value of the other one.

Expendable #

After a card with the Expendable keyword is destroyed, the player who controlled it draws a card. “Expendable” status is checked just before being destroyed.

Expensive #

A card with a higher Gold Cost stat relative to another is more expensive.

Experienced #

Some Personality cards have the Experienced keyword, which is sometimes followed by a number representing the Personality’s experience level. A Personality with Experienced and no number has experience level of one. A Personality without Experienced has experience level zero.

Any number of single Personalities with the same title but different experience levels may be included in a deck.

During the Dynasty Phase, a player may bring an Experienced Personality into play normally, or may overlay him onto one of his or her Personalities in play with the same title but lower experience level. When overlaying, a player does not need to meet Honor Requirements or pay costs, but does need to meet other requirements and restrictions, including Loyal.

An overlaying card replaces its less experienced version without entering play, and the less experienced card is removed from the game without leaving play. On overlaying, the new card keeps all states, ongoing effects, attachments, and tokens of the old card, and is considered to be the same card. Overlaying is not Recruiting.

Experienced cards that are not Personalities follow the Experienced deck construction rules, but do not overlay.

Some cards released in the Coils of Madness expansion have the “Experienced CoM” keyword. These may overlay a non-Experienced version as usual, but may not be overlaid by a higher level version.

Face up, face down

Game states that cards can be in. When used as an adjective, they are hyphenated.

Facing #

A Personality is “facing” another player’s Personality in a duel while both are involved in the same duel.

Family Honor

A player’s Honor score.

Family name #

The family name is part of the title of some Personalities. Some families are affiliated with Clans; others are not.

Typically, a Personality’s family name will be the first word in a two-word non-English name. However, the list of names in Appendix A is the final authority. If any of the words in the lists (other than the Clan Alignments) appear in a Personality’s title, that is his or her family name.

Example: The Personality Naka Mahatsu does not have the family name Naka, because it does not appear in the lists. (In the setting, “Naka” is an honorific title, not a family name.)

Alternate titles from an Experienced or Inexperienced keyword do not give their family names to the card.

Fail #

When a cost or effect is activated by the game text but does not happen, it fails. This can be because of prevention or lack of suitable object (for example, “Bow an unbowed Shugenja” when no Shugenja are in the game).

Fate: A deck in the game and the type of cards that go in it.

Favor abilities #

Player abilities granted by the rules that require discarding the Imperial Favor, known as Rulebook Favor Limited and Rulebook Favor Battle.

Fear #

A Fear effect has a numerical strength (example: Fear 4). “Fear X” is shorthand for the effect “Target an enemy Follower or Personality without Followers and bow it if its Force is equal to or lower than X.” Fear effects from cards in the same unit can be combined with each other in the same way as Ranged and Melee attacks can.

Focus, Focus Effect

Terms used in duels.


A type of attachment.

For #

An effect that depends on another effect or occurrence is indicated by “for” wording.

Example: An Honor loss “for” losing a duel is any Honor loss from any source that is specifically contingent on losing a duel, be it an effect of the duel itself, a triggered trait, or something else.

“For” wording only refers to a specifically named consequence of the effect, not to a consequence arising from a chain of contingent effects.

Example: In the case above, if a dishonorable Personality is destroyed for losing a duel, and his controller loses Honor, this is not an Honor loss “for” losing the duel, but an Honor loss for dying.

For each #

The term “for each”, such as “Gain 1 Honor for each Samurai you control,” creates a single effect rather than numerous separate effects. In this instance, a player controlling 3 Samurai would gain 3 Honor at once, not 1 Honor three separate times.

Sometimes “for each” refers back to effects in the same action or trait. In this particular wording, only the actual occurrences created by the first effect count toward the second, not effects triggered by other cards or rules.

Example: “Destroy 1 to 3 enemy cards. Gain 1 Honor for each card destroyed.” If the destruction of one enemy card triggers the destruction of another (as when a Personality’s attachments are destroyed via the rules), the additional card is not counted towards the Honor. Also note that if the destruction of one enemy card is prevented, one less Honor will be gained.

Fortification #

When brought into play, Holdings with the Fortification keyword are attached to the Province they entered play from, or to any of their player’s Provinces if they were not brought in from a Province. Holding card are kept under the card in the Province (if any), in the same way an attachment is kept under its Personality.

Fortifications are Recruited as normal, but enter play unbowed (straightened). They are discarded if the Province is destroyed. During a battle, abilities on a Fortification can only be used if the Fortification is attached to the current battlefield’s Province.

From #

Some things check to see if other effects, actions, or targeting come “from” a given source. The source is the card that the effect, action or targeting is printed on, or the rulebook if it is printed there.

Examples: Destruction from Chi death is from the rulebook. Honor gains from Proclaiming are from the rulebook.

If a card effect creates a procedure, effects written in the rulebook that are part of the procedure come from the rulebook.

Example: An action on a card creates a battle. Returning home and bowing after the battle is a rulebook effect, rather than action or card effect, because the procedure that includes the returning home and bowing is described in the rulebook.

There are two exceptions:

•Targeting and effects of Fear effects, Ranged Attacks and Melee Attacks come from the card that created the Fear, Ranged Attack or Melee Attack, not the rulebook.
•Effects of traits and abilities given to other cards, copied from other cards, or on created cards, come from the card they are on.

Gold Cost #

A stat found on many cards; also, as “Gold cost,” the amount that must be paid for an action, including Equip or Recruit, which both relate to the Gold Cost of the card entering play. See Costs, and see Personalities for special rules about their Gold Costs.

Gold Production #

A stat on a Stronghold and a feature of a Holding that can be changed by effects.

Good Faith

A rule that prevents actions from being taken if their costs or some conditions cannot be met.


Fate cards held by a player.

Higher than

See Comparing Stats.

Home keyword #

An ability with the Home keyword may be used during battle even if the card it is on is at home.

Honor #

Short for Family Honor. See also Honor gains and losses.

Honorable #

A Personality not in the dishonorable state. See Dishonor.

“Honorably dead” refers to such a Personality who is dead.

Honor Requirement

A stat on Personalities.

Honor Victory

To win by reaching 40 Honor.

Human #

This term refers to a Personality or Follower who does not have the Nonhuman keyword. It is not itself a keyword.

Ignore #

When a cost, effect or requirement is ignored, it is no longer a cost, effect or requirement of that thing.

Imperial Favor #

An object in the game representing political graces. It must be supplied by the players.

The Imperial Favor is only controlled by one player at a time. It starts the game uncontrolled. When a player controls the Favor and discards it, it becomes uncontrolled.

“Discard the Imperial Favor to …” may be required as part of an effect sequence; in this case, discarding the Favor can happen only if you control it. Effects that discard the Favor otherwise do not require you to control it.

Changes to control of the Favor are instantaneous.

The Favor is not a card, though it may be represented by one. The default abilities associated with the Favor are not actually on the Favor, but on the player.

A player who controls the Favor keeps it in his or her home, regardless of the means used to represent it.

The Lobby, Favor Limited and Favor Battle player abilities also relate to the Imperial Favor.

In play

A state of a card.


See Reduction.

Indefinite conditional effect

An effect triggered in the future whenever something happens.

Infantry #

This term refers to a Personality or Follower who does not have the Cavalry keyword. It is not itself a keyword.


A type of effect that happens and is over with, having no duration.


See Substitution.


A type of action played during another action.

Invest #

This is a trait that starts with “Invest” and a Gold cost (for example, “Invest Gold 2 20:”).
Before paying for a card entering play, a player may permanently increase the card’s Gold Cost by the additional cost in its Invest trait, once, to get an additional effect after it enters play (for example, “Gain 1 Honor” or “Give this card a +2F token.”) When Invest appears on a non-Strategy card, its effects come from the Invest trait, not the action that brought the card into play.

An Invest cost on a Strategy may be added to the cost of any action the player is taking from the Strategy, at the point when that cost would be paid. If it creates distinct effects, as opposed to just modifying the action, they are added to the action’s effects, resolving last, and become part of the action. Things that can pay for an action on a Strategy can also pay for an Invest cost on a Strategy.


A type of attachment.

Join #

To come under a player’s control, whether by entering play or changing controller.

Kensai #

A Kensai Personality can attach two Weapons if neither of them is Two-handed.


A word at the top of a card’s text box, or in boldface in an ability. For ability keywords, see here. To deal with effects that count keywords, see here.

Kharmic #

A keyword that can appear on Dynasty or Fate cards.

Players have the following ability relevant to Kharmic cards:

Kharmic Repeatable Limited, Gold 2 20: Discard a Kharmic card from your hand to draw a card, or discard a Kharmic card from your Province to refill the Province face-up.

Leader #

The Attacker or Defender in a battle. The referred-to player is the friendly leader; the other player is the enemy leader. This term is more relevant to the multiplayer rules.

Leave #

To go out of an area of the game. See Entering and leaving.

Something is legal to do if it meets all restrictions on it from the rules and cards.


A type of action you only take in your Action Phase.


A player ability that allows taking the Imperial Favor.

Lobby Bonus #

When a player’s Family Honor is checked during any Lobby action (the player’s own, or another player’s), it is considered to be higher by the amount of any Lobby Bonus in effect on the player. This is not an Honor gain.


An area holding cards in play.

Look #

To inspect a face–down card without showing it to anyone else or changing its position (for example, in a deck).

Lower than

See Comparing Stats.

Loyal #

A Personality with the Loyal keyword will not be controlled by a player who does not share a Clan Alignment with the Personality. This restricts entering play as well as changing control.

Maneuvers Segment

The part of an Attack Phase when personalities are assigned.

Maximum #

See Minimums and Maximums.

Maximum hand size

Normally, eight.

May not #

See Prevention.

May remain bowed #

This phrase refers to a card. It means that a card’s controller may choose to prevent its straightening before each time it straightens. The “may remain bowed” effect lasts until the next time the card actually does straighten. See also Remain.

Melee Attack #

An effect that follows the same rules as Ranged Attacks, representing destruction from close-range combat. Melee Attacks may be combined with other Melee Attacks.

Military Victory

To win by destroying the last opponent’s last province.

Minimum #

See Minimums and Maximums.

Modifier #

A stat (such as on an Item or Sensei) that continually changes another card’s stat. Changes from a modifier are not considered bonuses or penalties.

Move #

To change the position of a unit from one location to another. Effects that move a Personality to a battlefield always move it into his controller’s side there. Assigning to battlefields, and returning home from them, is not moving.

“Move to attack” means to use movement to enter an attacking army, and “move to defend means to use movement to enter a defending army.

Multiplayer #

A keyword indicating that a card is most useful (or only useful) in a multiplayer game.

Players have the following ability relevant to Naval cards, known as Naval Invasion:

Engage: If you are the Attacker, you have the first opportunity to take a Battle action, which must come from a card in a Naval Personality’s unit. Passing that action does not count toward ending the action round.

Need not #

This phrase, “need not X”, means that the card’s player can optionally have an effect (X) not happen, but later effects within the same action or trait proceed as if the effect had happened. This also means that even if the effect X fails, the later effects proceed as if the effect had happened.

‘’Example: When taking the action “’’’Kiho Open:’’’ Bow your target Monk to draw a card,” if its player’s Monk has the trait “Need not bow for your Kiho,” the player may target him, not bow him and still draw a card.’’

Negate #

A word that indicates a prevention effect.

Negate an action #

To prevent all the action’s effects and targeting, from the time the negation is applied.

Next #

If the “next” period of time is referred to while one such period of time is in progress, this does not refer to the current period of time.

Example 1: “After the next battle ends” does not refer to the end of the current battle.

Example 2: “After the next time an action resolves” does not refer to the current action.

A delayed effect that will resolve the “next time” something happens refers by default to the next time this turn.

Non- #

A prefix that means “not having that keyword or other game-relevant state”; for example, “non-Samurai” refers to anything without Samurai. An exception is “Nonhuman” which is its own keyword; “Human” is used to refer to its absence.

Normal #

A normal occurrence is one created by the rules rather than cards.

Example: A normal Attack Phase is one that is created by the sequence of the game.

On #

      1. Effects “on” or “upon” cards refer to effects that influence that card. See Effects and abilities “on” a card.
      2. Abilities, keywords and other card features “on” a card are those that come from its text, either printed or granted to it. This is similar to the feature being “from” a card.

Once per #

See Restrictions on number of times.

Ongoing: A type of effect that has a definite duration.

Open: A type of action that can be taken in the Action Phase.

Opposed #

A card, side, or army is opposed at a battlefield if there are one or more units in the enemy army.

Opposing #

“Opposing” refers to cards at the same battlefield, on different sides.

Or #

See Conjunctions.

Overlay #

A special way to bring an Experienced card into play. See Experienced.

Own #

A player owns all cards that were originally in his or her play deck or that he or she brought into play from outside the game, including cards he or she created. Compare to Control.

Paying #

For implications of the word “paying”, as in “paying 2 less Gold”, see Gold Cost.

Penalty #

See Bonuses and penalties.

Permanent #

A permanent effect refers to an effect whose duration lasts until the end of the game. Permanent effects can still be negated, ended, and changed by other effects.


A Dynasty card type.

Play #

As a verb, “play” can refer to: putting into play a card type that normally enters play; using a Strategy card by putting it into the resolution area; bringing a Ring into play; or using an ability on a Ring that is out of play.

Play deck #

See The Play Deck.

Player abilities #

Abilities that a player can take which come from the rules and not cards. See the indexed list of player abilities.

Presence #

A player’s having units at a battlefield, relevant to the Rule of Presence. . 38.

Prevention #

A prevention effect is one that uses language such as “negate,” “cannot,” “does not,” or “will not”. While a prevention effect lasts, it makes another effect or type of effect fail to happen whenever it would occur.

The various terms used to indicate prevention are interchangeable, and vary only according to grammar and readability.

Example: An effect that “will not be negated” also causes “does not” and “cannot” prevention effects to fail.

When an ongoing type of effect is prevented (for example, “Negate all Force bonuses on him”), this only suppresses existing effects for as long as the prevention lasts; it does not prevent new ones from applying. When an instant type of effect is prevented (for example, “Negate his destruction”) this prevents new effects of that type for as long as the negation effect lasts.

Printed #

Refers to a stat, keyword, or other game text as printed on the most recent printing of the card, without modification. If the card is a created card, “printed” refers to the text it was created with.

The printed value for a Province’s strength comes from the Stronghold, before modification.


A way to gain Honor from Recruiting a Personality.

Province Strength

A stat of a Stronghold, or of a Province.


An area of the game that holds Dynasty cards.

Ranged Attack #

A Ranged Attack represents a military effect that destroys at a distance, such as archers’ arrows or a magical fiery bolt. “Ranged X Attack”, where X stands for a number, is shorthand for the text “Target a Follower or a Personality without Followers in the current enemy army. If its Force is equal to or less than X, destroy it.” A Ranged Attack action is one with a Ranged Attack effect.

If a Ranged Attack effect ends up being compared against a different stat than Force, compare that stat against the Ranged Attack’s strength instead to determine whether the target is destroyed.

The targeting in a Ranged Attack is required as part of Good Faith to announce the action unless the Ranged Attack is optional or delayed.

Melee Attacks follow the above rules but are not considered Ranged Attacks.

Ranged Attacks can be combined.


The action or procedure that usually brings Personalities and Holdings into play.

Reduction #

To “reduce” some number only refers to effects that work by directly changing the number of something.

Examples of reduction: “All Honor gains this turn are reduced by 1;” “Reduce the Force bonus to 1;” “Set his Force to 3” (if his Force was over 3); “He copies the other Personality’s Force” (if this lowered his own Force).

Examples that are not reduction: Setting a maximum on a stat; changing the trait “Has +1F for each Oni in play” by destroying an Oni.

Such effects are reduction, and not negation, even if they happen to reduce an Honor gain or loss to zero.

Refill #

The process of putting a Dynasty card into a momentarily empty province. Instructions to “refill” a province, unless otherwise specified, will refill it with a face-down card from the top of the Dynasty deck.

An effect that tells a player to refill a province in a special way – for example, face-up and/or with a specific card – will only affect the refilling of a province that is momentarily empty for other reasons. Refill effects by themselves do not discard cards or put them in already filled provinces.

Refuse #

An effect that allows a player to avoid a duel his or her Personality was challenged to. As with duel stat changes, apply refusal conditions from the text that created the duel first, followed by refusal conditions from other sources.

‘’Example: A duel whose creating card says it “may be refused” is overridden by a challenger with the trait “Challenges from Itto may not be refused.”’’


To return a Personality to honorable status.

Remain #

A duration that lasts while something “remains” in a given state starts only if the thing is in that state at the time the duration begin, and ends whenever the thing is no longer in that state.

Example: “Open: Bow your Personality. While he remains bowed, you gain 1 Honor before your turn ends.” If the bowing is prevented, the effect does not happen, even if he bows later. If he straightens, the effect ends and does not resume if he bows. The effect also can last beyond the normal end-of-turn duration so long as he is bowed that whole time.

Contrast this with an effect that applies while something “is” in a given state (“While he is bowed” in the above example). This effect has a normal duration and can turn on and off as the thing fluctuates between states.

Remove from the game #

When a card is removed from the game, set it aside. It exists outside all areas of the game.

Repeatable #

An ability with the Repeatable keyword may be used any number of times per turn.

Reserve #

The following player abilities are relevant to the Reserve keyword:

Absent Repeatable Battle, Bowing_s : If he would be opposed, Recruit your target Reserve Personality (into the current battlefield).

Repeatable Battle, Bowing_s: If it would be opposed, Equip a Reserve attachment to your target Personality (at the current battlefield).

Resilient #

The Resilient keyword means that, once per game per card, the card is not destroyed by the rulebook effects of battle resolution; that is, if its side loses or it ties. Its attached cards are still destroyed normally.

A card that loses and then gains Resilient is still bound by the “once per game per card” restriction.

Resolution #

      1. The step of activating an action’s effects.
      2. The step of determining the winner of a battle; Resolution Segment.
      3. The step of determining the winner of a duel. See Duels.

Return home #

To go home after a battle. See After Resolution.

Reveal #

To turn a face–down card face–up.


A Fate card type.

Same #

For rules on when cards have the same keywords or Clan Alignments see here.

To look through a deck or other area for a card of a specified kind. After a player searches a deck, he or she must reshuffle it after taking any card(s) searched for.

If multiple areas are searched, such as discard pile and deck, the player must declare whether he or she found any searched-for cards in one area before moving to the other, and cannot go back to a previously searched area. Once the desired number of cards are declared to be found, the search procedure stops and the player shuffles any decks that were actually searched.

If the effect directs the player to do something with the searched-for card (for example, Equip or play it) and that effect fails, discard the card.

A player may choose to have a search fail even if he or she is able to find the card searched for.


A starting card type.

Seppuku #

An act of ritual suicide. If an effect directs a Personality to commit seppuku, apply the following effects: “Rehonor the Personality, then destroy him; these effects cannot be negated.” (Unlike in previous editions, there is no rulebook ability allowing Seppuku.)

Set #

When a stat is set to a particular value, give it a bonus or penalty such that it reaches that value. See Setting stats for more details.

Show #

When an effect asks a player to show a card, he or she displays the face of a face–down card to all other players, then return it to its face–down state. In a two-player game, this is the same effect as looking at another player’s card, but from the other player’s perspective. However, this is not the same as revealing, which keeps the card face-up.

In any game, a reference that depends on showing a card also includes “look” effects.

Shugenja #

A person trained in the magic of Rokugan. Only Shugenja Personalities can attach Spell cards and cast Spells.


In a battle, an area that holds units fighting together.

“Soul of …” #

This is a keyword that includes another, older Personality’s title. “Soul of” Personalities are equivalent to the older card for deck construction purposes. In a game, players may use the older card as a proxy for the “Soul of” version, but they must inform the other player of any differences in stats or wording between the two when it appears in the game.

Source #

An effect’s source is the instance of the procedure that produces it; that is, a single use of an ability, a single triggering of a trait or other triggered procedure, or a continuous trait.

‘’Example: Two Force bonuses that come from the ability “Battle: Give your two target Samurai +2F each” are from the same source, while two Force bonuses that come from separate uses of “Repeatable Battle: Bow your target Samurai to give another Samurai +2F” are not.’’


An attachment card type.

Straighten #

To go from the See bowed to unbowed state for the straightening procedure in the game sequence, see Action Phase.


A Fate card type.


A starting card that determines a deck’s identity.

Substitution #

“X instead (of Y)” refers to the substitution of an old targeting, effect, choice, cost, or other game element (Y) with a new one (X). The following rules refer to any use of “instead” or “instead of.”

If the old Y is prevented or fails before the substitution is applied, the new X doesn’t happen.

Example: A card says “you may bow a Personality instead of losing Honor,” but you cannot use this to bow a Personality if an existing trait says that you do not gain or lose Honor.

If the new X is prevented or fails, the old Y doesn’t happen.

Example: A card says “a target enemy unit adds Force to your army instead of the enemy army.” If you have no army (i.e. no units) then the new adding Force fails, and your unit does not add Force to the enemy army.

EXCEPTION: In effects that substitute targeting, if the new target has to be a “legal” target, then failure to find a new legal target means the original targeting happens normally.

Example: In “The action instead targets another of your legal Personalities with the same Clan Alignment,” if you control no Personality with the same Clan Alignment who also satisfies the targeting requirements of the original action, the original targeting happens normally.

Switch #

When an effect switches the locations of two units, each one simultaneously moves to the location of the other. If one movement is negated, the other one is also negated.

Tactician #

All Tactician Personalities have the following ability, known as “Tactical Advantage”.

This ability is not printed on the Tactician and cannot be removed or copied from him or her.

Tactical Advantage #

Battle: Discard a card to give this Personality a Force bonus equal to the Focus Value of the discarded card.

Target #

To use a special process of choosing things to affect with an action or trait. See here for the targeting step in an action.

Terrain #

A Strategy with the Terrain keyword represents the ground on which a battle is fought. Most Terrains have a Battle ability that puts them into play at the current battlefield. After a battle ends, discard any Terrain at its battlefield.

Text box

The part of the card that holds its game text.

This #

For usage of the term “this”, see References.

Tie #

      1. For a battle to end in a draw.
      2. For a duel to end in a draw.

Tireless #

An ability with the Tireless keyword may be used even if the card it is on is bowed.


The name of a card.

To #

In effects (“do X to do Y”), the word “to” indicates a contingency of one effect on another.

To a minimum/maximum of

Phrase indicating an absolute cap on the amount a bonus or penalty can take a value to.

Token #

A marker in the game, represented by beads, pieces of paper, or other distinct objects. Tokens may have a keyword, such as Corruption. They may also give a stat bonus or penalty, such as –1C, to whatever they are on. This bonus or penalty is considered to come from the last effect that placed the token on the card or area.

Gold Production bonuses and tokens affect a Stronghold’s Gold Production stat and have a special effect on Holdings whenever they produce Gold.

Tokens may be placed on cards or Provinces, or “on” players (not literally), as directed by the text that created them. Adding, removing or transferring tokens is an instantaneous game state change.

A token conveys its stat modifications to any card or Province it is on, and these modifications are considered bonuses and penalties. A token’s “printed” stat bonus or penalty is the one it was created with.

Tokens cannot exist on cards out of play. If a card or Province leaves play, all tokens on it are removed from the game. They do not come back if the card re-enters play.

(Tokens are not cards, and created cards are not tokens.)


Text on a card creating or modifying effects outside of an action.

Transfer #

To move an attached card or token from one Personality or Province to another. The player does not need to pay the costs of a transferred card, but does need to meet any restrictions on attaching.

Turn #

A period of game time in which the active player takes the lead in playing actions and cards.

When “turn” refers to part of a particular player’s turn (for example, “the end of his Action Phase two turns from now”) this means “two of the player’s turns from now.”

References to “this turn” or “the turn” refer to the current turn.

Two-handed #

A Personality, even a Kensai, cannot attach a Two-Handed Weapon if they have a Weapon attached, and cannot attach a Weapon if they have a Two-Handed Weapon attached.

Unaligned #

Refers to a Personality, player, or Stronghold without a Clan Alignment. “Unaligned” is not a keyword in its own right.

Unbowed #

Not in the bowed state.

Undead #

“Undead” is a keyword with meaning in the setting. It does not mean “not dead” in terms of the game state.

Unique #

A player will not bring into play or take control of a Unique card if he or she already controls a Unique card with the same title (but see Experienced for exceptions). If a player takes control of a unit with a copy of a Unique attachment he or she already controls, discard the new attachment.

The Unique keyword also restricts deck construction.

Unit #

A Personality, together with any cards attached to him or her, makes up a unit.

If a unit or Personality changes location in play, all attached cards go with him or her. If a Personality leaves play (for example, by being destroyed), all cards in the unit leave play in the same way.

Things that affect a unit affect all cards in the unit. However, things that target a unit target only its Personality.

Unit keywords #

A unit has a keyword (Cavalry, Ninja) when the Personality and all Followers each have that keyword.

Unit Force follows special rules.

Unstoppable #

The Unstoppable keyword on an action means that other players cannot take Interrupts to that action (but the action’s own player can).

Until #

The word ”until” will not create an infinite repetition due to a limit having already been passed. It will simply fail in that case.

For example, if an effect says “Give Mitsu +1F Fire tokens until he has exactly five” and he already has six, he cannot gain any Fire tokens from the effect.

Upon #

See On.

Weapon #

A Personality can have only one Weapon Item attached. Exception: Kensai.

When #

A point in triggered timing.

Will not #

This phrase in a card effect means that another effect is prevented.

Win #

      1. To win a battle.
      2. To win a duel.
      3. To win the game.

Main rules: Roger SG Sorolla, L5R Rules Editor Support and editing: The L5R Rules Team: Abraham Arce, Brook Cunningham, Ben Higgins, Alexander Lewis Jones, Jon Palmer Additional feedback: Karl Prince, Brian Stewart, Steve Jones

Current Wiki version is based on version 1.8 of the downloadable Ivory Comprehensive rules document.

Appendix A #

Complete list of Family Names

Family names are listed under their current Clan affiliation for convenience only. A family name does not by itself give Clan Alignment.

Crab Clan

      • Hida
      • Hiruma
      • Kaiu
      • Kuni
      • Toritaka
      • Yasuki

Crane Clan

      • Asahina
      • Daidoji
      • Doji
      • Kakita

Dragon Clan

      • Kitsuki
      • Mirumoto
      • Tamori
      • Togashi

Lion Clan

      • Akodo
      • Ikoma
      • Kitsu
      • Matsu

Mantis Clan

      • Kitsune
      • Moshi
      • Tsuruchi
      • Yoritomo

Phoenix Clan

      • Agasha
      • Asako
      • Isawa
      • Shiba

Scorpion Clan

      • Bayushi
      • Shosuro
      • Soshi
      • Yogo

Spider Clan

      • Daigotsu
      • Goju
      • Ninube
      • Susumu


      • Chuda
      • Hantei
      • Ichiro
      • Iweko
      • Komori
      • Miya
      • Otomo
      • Seppun
      • Suzume
      • Tonbo
      • Toturi
      • Tsi
      • Ujina
      • Usagi
      • Yotsu

Unicorn Clan

      • Ide
      • Iuchi
      • Moto
      • Shinjo
      • Utaku

Appendix B #

Complete listing of boldface (rules-relevant) keywords in the current arc rules.

      • Armor
      • Cavalry
      • Conqueror
      • Courage
      • Destined
      • Duelist
      • Expendable
      • Experienced [#; name]
      • Fortification
      • Inexperienced [#; name]
      • Kensai
      • Kharmic
      • Legacy
      • Loyal
      • Naval
      • Reserve
      • Resilient
      • Shugenja
      • Tactician
      • Weapon
      • Unique


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