Hey fellow equine-but-with-sharp-pointy-horn lovers!
I'm finally getting my review of Ivory done! I'm not late because Ivory hasn't been released yet! Bonus, Ive also had a lot more time to actually PLAY with the cards so this list will be more inclusive and more thought out reviews rather then lots of heavy breathing and random speculation. So away we go!
The Golden Plains of the Unicorn - Let's start with the most important aspect of the clan, the stronghold. Most important feature you will notice is the 5 gold production ACTUALLY is a benefit now with gold splitting. It allows Unicorn to run a very consistent gold scheme of 3 and 2 gold cost holdings and consistently push out 10-11 gold 2nd turn. The Stronghold ability is good, allowing you flexibility in assigning units to take out a smaller army. However, with the advent of more infantry personalities, I wish the stronghold would have worked on infantry guys seeing as it can be limiting to deck construction. Also, Tireless on the going second side of the Stronghold would have been much appreciated. The double flip on the second side is nice, but not a real benefit. Will occasionally save you/make a better start but you deck needs to be consistent enough on one flip because you go first half the time. Overall, my biggest complaint is how the Crane box with Akagi Sensei is just simply better. They produce the same amount of gold after turn 1, go first more often, box doesn't need to be straight to use it, no targeting restrictions, Absent, and a run away ability. Unicorn's only advantages are using it at engage speed (which is good) and the ability to use it twice in a turn cycle (rarely ever comes up). I like the stronghold, I just feel it's over all too restrictive, comparably to another super competitive deck. 6 out of 10 Cheeseburgers.
Akikazu Sensei - The next important thing to consider is our Clan's Sensei, which will allow us to possibly change our Abilities in play. First, the good: Akikazu is gives us a reusable battle action that scales with force on personalities. Fear is not the worst ability to have and with Okura is Released in the environment, it can be quite deadly. However, this ability is not given freely. In fact, it costs A LOT to have this ability. Minus 1 province strength, minus 1 starting honor AND a dead guy needs to be in a discard pile. Now minus 1 province strength is annoying and makes it easier for military decks to take our provinces and the having a dead guy in the discard is usually just achieved by natural game progression or just playing a few cards like Iuchi Wattu or Moto Ulagan. However, the minus 1 starting honor is pretty devastating. 13 Ivory legal Unicorn personalities have 4 Honor requirement, significantly more than any other clan for personalities at starting family honor (Crane is second with 8 personalities with 6 Honor requirements). At this point of the arc, Unicorn decks would be neutering their personality choices available to make this stronghold work. Plus, with almost 0 support of fear actions available to us (hey Shinjo Tobita has a fear effect.... with a 4 Honor requirement....) really puts a nail in this coffin. Hey at least if you run Akikazu you can only lose 1 honor off of Nexus of Lies if you run dishonorable cards (silver lining right?). 2 out of 10 Cheeseburgers
Ide Kotono - Beautiful William O'Connor artwork. That's about all I can say good about this card. Doesn't have a home; her ability is extremely narrow, low force to gold ratio, low personal for MAYBE a honor deck. I don't know what choice there was to reprint this card, but her gold cost should have been 5 to even consider her playable. Perhaps a sleeper 3rd pick from a draft pack. 1 out of 10 Cheeseburgers
Ide Okinomi - When Unicorn Ide honor is playable, Okinomi will no doubt be a staple of that deck. I could see her use in an economic disruption deck with cards like Frost Dragon Festival to slow down your opponent and capitalize on their gold issues. Multiples of her make your opponent cringe. That deck is not ready yet, but Okinomi will be good once it is ready to go. 8 out of 10 Cheeseburgers
Iuchi Chiwa - Another reprint and a solid reprint. One of the few ways to move into Battles as an Absent action and one of the few move and straighten effects as well. Dash honor with 2 Personal Honor is great stat wise for a 4 gold cavalry shugenja. If we ever get a large unit military deck going, she will be a solid addition. Solid support personality. 7 out of 10 Cheeseburgers
Iuchi Honma - Just bad. 4F for 8 gold is not uncommon for cavalry units but you generally get an action with said force. Even a small Fear effect would be nice to have synergy with the sensei (...if you ignore the 4 Honor requirement...). Sadly, Honma doesn't have anything to do with any of our decks. I don't know what thinking went into his design/lack of design but her ugly ass card art will only grace the bottom of our cups. Draft card I guess? 1 out of 10 Cheeseburgers
Moto Alagh - 4F Cavalry for 8G... seems familiar? I'm guessing we will see this a lot more of this. This flavor doesn't come with an ability but rather a powerful trait. Conqueror is a great trait in trading provinces with your opponent as it will limit your opponent's options for their counterattack. Probably not as great of a card as Shinjo Sujikaro but can be built up as a great platform for soloing provinces. Not bad, not great either, will probably get replaced early arc on. 5 out of 10 Cheeseburgers
Moto Chinua - Remember the Sensei and stronghold being restrictive on when/if you can use their abilities? Well they have nothing on Moto Chinua. Force is low for a 5 gold personality but it is that way to tie into his ability which is.... sub-par at best. Three (!) restrictions on when/if you can use his ability: Chinua has lower force, target personality has no attachments and has to be non-unique. Lame. Draft card... I guess? 3 out of 10 Cheeseburgers
Moto Naleesh, the Living Goddess - Champions in Ivory edition are share a common theme: they aren't very good. Sure they are for the most part playable but you aren't getting as much bang for your buck considering their cost. Naleesh is no exception to this. Her cost actually decreased for Ivory Edition and she picked up a decent military trait and all around useful ability. She keeps her stable of traits as well, allowing her to solo most provinces with a single discard from hand. So where does she go wrong? Her honor requirement can/is debilitating. We only have one option that gets us to her Honor Requirement with a single proclaim, really limiting when we can get her out. By the time we get her out, the game is mostly decided in terms of numbers. Also, if she shows up early, it can be awful as you lack a purchasable province, limiting Dynasty flow. I can see her possibly in honor as she can make it extremely hard for your opponent to take a province with her force reduction as well as being able to snag some provinces vs a honor opponent. She is very good in Sealed deck. 5 out of 10 Cheeseburgers
Moto Okano - Who would have known our premier personality from Ivory would be Infantry? I didn't but here he is. Moto Okano might not be the most flashy personality but he is the most efficient. 3F for 5G isn't great stats but makes up for his ability. Battle minus 3 Force makes Okano in almost all relevant situations 6F for 5G which are great numbers. The force penalties are also nice for running cards like Unholy Strike and Deliberations. He is also great at making the math work against your opponent by his ability to be an efficient chump blocking machine. Just solid all the way around. 9 out of 10 Cheeseburgers
Moto Ulagan - As a new person, Moto Ulagan whole shitck is providing support for our Sensei.... which isn't a good sign considering how much I already ripped the Sensei. Making people dead in a discard could be a powerful ability.... if there was anything to combo with it. Outside of the Sensei, there are only two cards worth combo-ing with him: Diagotsu Endo and Blood of the Perserver exp. Not bad options, just not really cheap. So it would be nice if Ulagan's stat line was more effective. Considering his line is strictly worse than the unaligned Komori Taruko (whose ability and Air trait are better as well) and he is also worse for activating the Sensei than another of our personalities (Iuchi Wattu), Moto Ulagan will be replaced quickly if hes ever run. Can Wrath of Osano-Wo like a boss though. 3 of out of 10 Cheeseburgers
Shinjo Okiau - Cheap, efficient force to gold cost, Shinjo Okiau is a good personality. Like Okano, he isn't flashy but he is solid swarm personality. Probably not as versatile as the Unaligned Myuken, but between the two of them you can run a set of nice force to gold cavalry personalities. Bonus trait is Scout which works well with Advance Warning and False Route (which, as a side note works well with the Unicorn box). 3F is just great with so much Unholy Strike in the environment. 8 out of 10 Cheeseburgers
Shinjo Tobita - 4F for 7 gold and ability is standard military curve for most clans so all that is determined is how great the ability is. Tobita's ability is just Fear 3. Fear 3? Doesn't seem very good and it doesn't take long to see that when compared to other personalities it is pretty bad. Daigotsu Roburo is same stats and Fear 4. Bayushi Toshimo is same stats, Kensai, Yojimbo and straight bows a card without attachments, and Matsu Morito is same stats and bows to send a unit home. I could list more guys at the same cost that Tobita just fails to stack up against. Ultimately, probably just a draft guy and not much to fit into an actual deck. 4 out of 10 Cheeseburgers
Utaku Hyo-Yeon - Another Scout for our decks, Utaku Hyo-Yeon's playability simply comes down to one question: Is the Reserve trait worth 2 gold? Hyo-Yeon's only mattering difference to Shinjo Okaiu, a strong personality, is +2 Gold and the Reserve trait. The answer to that is... probably not. Reserve is overrated comparably to the force of attachments and what they bring to the table. Just bringing in a 3F guy at 6 gold is not a great deal. Might fill a spot early on (probably not) and then will get quickly replaced. 4 out of 10 Cheeseburgers
Utaku Izimi - An above curve Force to Gold Personality with a decent (somewhat restrictive) Battle ability, Izimi falls into the same trap that Naleesh brings: an honor requirement that requires two proclaims. Not being able to buy one guy to be able to purchase makes her really hard to fit in the deck. Perhaps if our honor Sensei increases starting honor by 1 I can see her stock rising. But until then I just can't see myself fitting her into any of my decks. 5 out of 10 Cheeseburgers
Overall, I think Unicorn has way too many built in restrictions comparably to what other clans can bring to the table. Good news is that there is some good, but it feels rough at the moment. Maybe after an expansion or two we can see the themes develop and see some consistency. Until next time, Pony lovers, don't let cholesterol stop you!