Strategy Against Phoenix

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Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2015 7:37 am

Fri Oct 06, 2017 7:08 am

Hi everyone!

So this is partially for me to collect my thoughts, but I think also it's helpful to other players to share what you're doing. I think this game is VERY match-up dependent so I'm planning on doing in-depth testing against other clans and writing up my results on how to deal with them. Hopefully this will get others to share their insights.

First up, Phoenix!

So Phoenix is one of the stronger clans right now and requires a deft hand to play against. First, some key strengths and weaknesses of the firebirds.

First, they have some insane glory values. This is a boon for them if they start honoring their dudes which means expect to try and claim Fire as much as possible. The reason for this is two fold. If you consistently keep their guys dishonored, you effectively shut off the most powerful function of their stronghold which is REALLY important. In addition, because we have High glory on most of our good cards, keeping Fire of the table also means that you aren't getting hit with the dishonor stick. I'd argue keeping their dudes dishonored is MORE important than keeping our dudes honored simply because it's safer and forcing your opponent to bleed honor is important. Especially a clan that can comfortably bid 1 per turn and still have an effective play hand.

Second, they have some incredible cards to stymie attacks. Pacifism is very strong in slowing down our Clan Champ AND makes Born into War far less effective. Display of Power can seriously bite you in the butt flipping a Fire challenge on it's head. If they are running Dragon Splash (MIL/DIS switch), they will also have Fury to bow out your dudes. If they are running Crab Splash (DIS/MIL switch), then expect them to have Watch Commander, which will make it very difficult to use a ton of events in battle.

Third, their clan province and clan holdings are probably some of the best in the game. Their clan holdings let them basically do free card draw, which forces you to go after those provinces hard, and their clan province (which will always be their SH) is a nightmare to try and break.

They don't have too many, but they have a few that are worth considering.

First, a lot of their strength comes from their big dudes. Most of their smaller dudes (1-2 dudes) aren't all that scary. Peacekeeper is a Rout Machine, but most PHX decks are going to have a tough time Running Rout aside from that one dude. Naive Student is card draw, but with MIL dash, isn't really going to threaten us where we want to hit the most, plus Captive Audience just sends him home bowed. Adept at Waves is "strong," but not something Ponies needs to worry about (I'll explain in a bit). Their biggest threat is Asako Diplomat in this range and the one you should always keep your eye on because of her ability to honor and dishonor.

Second, they are reliant on the type of conflict so keep this in mind. While their bigger dudes can be terrifying, many of them are blank in most conflicts, so ring choice becomes of the utmost importance. A long term strategy based around this needs to be considered at all times.


I have a pretty healthy win record over PHX, so I'll tell you some of the key tactics I've adopted in the process.

First, T1 you should play cheap and buy some spuds, with the intention of passing to gain the 1 fate. I usually like to sit on 3-4 fate by the end of the 1st dynasty phase. The key here is that you want to build up some fate for the following turns. If you get some good cheap bodies, feel free to threaten a province, but I'd argue it's more important to scout out provinces so even if you don't break, if you reveal two provinces, you've already figured out a sizable chunk of what you're attacking into because you already know what the SH will be. If you can get a couple more spuds T2, scout out everything. It's a little slower than I'd like, but when you know what you're attacking into, it makes life A LOT easier. Iuchi Wayfinder will be one of your best friends here as well.

Second, Ide Trader is going to be your best friend in this match-up. I'd recommend digging HARD for him and pitching everything that is not Ide Trader until you get him. Once you get him, invest A LOT of fate on him (I frequently hit 4+ fate on him.) The reason here is two-fold. First, he will provide you with a decent P skill to deal with PHX and second, he is our best card draw engine. He also has the added benefit of not being Assassinated. If possible, I recommend throwing a Favored Mount on him, and Spy Glasses as well. This will make it so he can get into as many conflicts as possible. Remember his ability is 1 per conflict, so you can easily begin to draw a ton of cards with him. Our SH isn't all that useful in most situations but converting it into bow this SH to draw a card, is probably one of its better uses.

Third, in general, PHX doesn't have "free kill" like a lot of other clans have. Their Fire dude who kills dudes can only hit 2 fate or lower, and their best chance at killing a really loaded up dude is Fallen in Battle, which you can manage against with smart play and is a pretty sub-optimal card in the meta currently. What this means is that buying one big dude per turn and loading him up with a lot of fate will give you a great advantage long-term and make your dudes vastly more economically efficient. The threat to this strategy is Pacifism, but you can mitigate this a couple of ways.

1) Run Miya Mystic x3 - Yes, she may not seem that great but she does two things for you that are critical to ponies doing well. First, she enables cloud the mind, which is going to be one of the utmost critical cards for pony for a long while. The reason is simple, with our bigger dudes not being all that great, and some other clan bigger dudes straight up being able to take over the game, Cloud the Mind is one of our best tools. It will neutralize the brutal clock the PHX clan champ will put you on AND can stop key big dudes from using their amazing abilities in specific ring conflicts. Second, she can nuke attachments for you. Big attachments can right now completely change the game, and being able to discard a Sashimono, Jade Tetsubo, or even nega attachments on your dudes is really important. She's an unsung hero who will win you games.

2) Pony political is a lot better than people think, and if you load up Ide Trader, the Clan Champ, Giver of Gifts, you should be fine. I've had the Clan Champ Pacified for 4 turns and still won relatively easily because of the P skill she brought to the table. I'm not saying this is desirable, I'm merely saying it's something you can work through. More important though is keeping your dudes honored / opponent's dudes dishonored so you have the skill advantage.

3) With loaded up Traders, don't be afraid to run For Shame! x3 to really control P challenges. It will sit in your hand sometimes, but it's one of the best cards in the game. Giver of Gifts is a solid card as well for Pony and can enable it as well. You'll win a lot of games bowing/dishonoring dudes for 0 fate. Especially considering Pony (for now) has mostly trash in-clan events.

Fourth, the best way to attack the SH is to always make it a two-step process. Do not just swing with everyone on your first attack, as you're giving up the biggest advantage Pony has, which is the ability to move people into the battle. The smarter way to handle the SH is to attack with a small force (that can possibly threaten) and force your opponent into a tough position. PHX has no move in. Now, where things get tricky is Grasp the Earth, as it can straight up stop all of these tricks. This is what Cavalry Reserves is for. If they rely on Grasp the Earth to stop your movement tricks, Cav Reserves will get your dudes into the battle. If you have enough captive audiences to tank a switch to a P conflict from M conflict, go for big M skill. If not, dudes like Shinjo Outrider will usually get you what you need.

Our Splash Options
I'd say Pony best splashes are PHX, SCP, LION, DRG and each offer some interesting things for the PHX match-up. Obviously, you'll have to build to your splash.

PHX - Pacifism can straight up win you games with Pony as you can lock out key Military dudes. In addition, Display of Power can let you ignore Fire challenges, and then reverse them into dishonoring your opponent which is super strong or even honoring your dudes.

LION - The classic. There are some good options here. Ready for Battle is still good, but less effective as many more people are now not auto-splashing DRG so you'll get Fury less. However, it still stops a TON of cards. Strength in Numbers can let you leverage our spuds, but with PHX high glory, it's kind of meh in this situation. I think the best card is Master of the Spear. If you drop her with a a huge fate investment, you can straight up take control of challenges. Simply assign her on her own and force your opponent to assign at least 2 defenders, which will make it tough for them to attack. If your opponent isn't assigning a ton of fate on dudes, definitely don't be afraid to take water and really press them. Grasp The Earth will neutralize a lot of Pony's advantages BUT I have yet to see many PHX players use it as I think there are just generally more powerful cards for PHX to use.

DRG - Fury is still a good card, and so is Let Go. I haven't found Covert worth it (yet) from the monk but I think it's worth considering. That said, the standard Let Go x3, and Fury x3 is still really solid. Monk who let's you steal fate can work since you'll be heavy investing fate on your dudes BUT 3 fate is just too much to invest when you're better off investing directly on dudes.

SCP - This build requires you to splash Otomo Courtier to up the amount of Courtiers you'll have, but Forged Edict stops A LOT of problems. In addition, Calling in Favors is an amazing card. Do not feel bad about dishonoring Ide Trader, since he's glory is only 1, so you aren't losing too much to him stealing attachments. That or use it on nega attachments with Otomo Courtier to get rid of them. In addition, Giver Of Gifts can move attachments around so you can leverage them. The BIGGEST challenge with this build though is it's going to be really tough to keep your honor high, so you'll probably be doing mostly Air for +2 honor and Fire for honoring to tank the honor loss. Not the best against PHX, but should work relatively fine.

Key Pony Cards against PHX
Favored Mount - Making Your Ide Trader more mobile will give you what you need to draw cards. PHX will bid 1 every turn and with Pony honor bleed, you need to make up for this. In addition, if PHX is blowing their best attachment destruction on your favored mount, it means your other cards are getting through.

Born in War - I thought this card was trash initially, but I'm a believer now. It's probably one of the best attachments you can use. Combined with loading up our dudes with a lot of Fate, it can straight up let you steam roll through our opponent. PHX doesn't want to deal with super large M skills.

Captive Audience - The card does it all. Helps against PHX province, can make an Entrenched Position unbreakable, if you play PHX splash, make your Pacifism's a send home action, etc. I will say the 1 honor loss is substantial, so be mindful of when you use it.

Cloud The Mind - Shutting of their Clan Champ is a must if you want to survive and blanking their power actions will give you a VERY big advantage.


White Guard
Posts: 301
Joined: Sun Aug 15, 2010 8:08 am

Thu Oct 12, 2017 6:33 pm

Good write up! Gives me some food for thought for deck construction.

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