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Kraye

Shenlong, what should he be doing?

23 posts in this topic

Hi everyone I am a newer player and my first box set with shenlong but I can't quite figure out what he should be doing. Unlick my first few games with him have been lackluster when I started playing with the Asami I quickly picked up her play style but I want to play more shenlong I can't figure out what I'm not doing right with him my feelings are that he does not quite have the hitting power of other Masters nor does he have the same late-game buffing as some of our other Masters do and I feel as the game goes on he loses his punch. I like to use the standard lists with shenlong such as snipers and a few Heavy Hitters I love the shadow emissary and of the whole idea of having a toolbox but can't quite seem to make it work I don't understand how to fit in his different styles or stances throughout the game. I have listed to the schemes and stones podcast and run some other threats but still can't connect the dots does anyone have good advice for me thanks.

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Shenlong is, above all, the tool that allows for some of the best positioning of an entire crew in the game. And as we know, positioning is what wins you games. Besides that just being near him gives ample free focus, he can manipulate scheme markers easily in a pinch, and most importantly he is flexible and can react and change playstyle midgame. He requires you to have a very good feel for the board, schemes and timing and flow of the game, which makes him hard to pick up when you're fairly new to the game.

There's no cookie cutter style to play him, really. Just start with a burning and flow with the battle, taking control somewhere around the center and emit pressure from there.

Some basic advice;

:aura Know all threat ranges. When looking at the board you should essentially be envisioning bubbles of range and lanes that you want to stay in and out of and what you can reach with that 5/10" push+charge/shooting. Punish the opponent for entering yours and be sure to drag whatever you have in suboptimal positions out of theirs.

:aura Know how and when to manage your upgrades. Make sure you have the upgrade just before you need it, allowing you to use your 0 for stacking conditions.

:aura Know your crew. Because ultimately, Shenlong lives through them. It's them that should be able to take on the schemes you're doing even without Shen, and let him be the one pumping the 'roids through their veins. 

All in all I'd say he's one of our best masters, contending for first place with McCabe (though as someone who just can't really get into McCabe, Shen is the big winner for me). He's really just someone that you'll have to learn through practice - and when he suddenly clicks, he clicks.

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If you have the time, and the friends prepared to help then I suggest the first thing to do to understand Shenlong is to understand his limited upgrades. 

The best way is to just use 1 limited upgrade for a game. Then play the same game but with a different upgrade, and so forth (Hence the need for time and understanding friends) until you have tried all 4, and then you at least will have a better idea of which upgrade you want for when. 

I thought his damage track was pretty solid, especially since he can use focus on 2 of those attacks (gain 1 at start of turn, and then after you have used that one you 0 for another one). Try and play the games focusing on 1 aspect of him, to understand what he can do and then you will know when best to switch his approach.

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They're hardly rocket science. Just a handful of nice abilities. What's important is knowing when and how to switch to the right upgrade. Using an entire game to get used to them is honestly making the process far more time consuming and tedious than it has to be and will assure the next few games he's getting will be crushing losses. 

For a basic rundown on them;

Wandering River is for early game positioning, after that it's generally slightly better on Yu though Shen can still make good use out of it. Key here is that it can also push and pull opponents out of position, as well as markers.

Low River is a repair button that is always nice to have ready to be swapped in and can even save you in a pinch with the defensive stacking. However..

If given the choice I would always want to have t2/3+ Shen stuck with this High River when his activation ends. The ability to raise his total is just so powerful and a great deterrent against single opponents that manage to sneak into your center. Also, if you've been building it up, the lightning kick can make for either a great finale or a constant threat that will be looming over opponents getting too close for comfort (since focus shouldn't be too hard to get by).

And Fermented River is... well... situational. It's great to have the option, but you'll rarely be using it against something that isn't HtW/Yin/Jack (and even then I find the HtW's not really worth it). The Stumble action just requires too much effort to have it be anything but a slight nuisance.

You don't need to study these actions, you just have to know when to go for and discard them. 

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As you say the trick with Shenlong is knowing when you want each upgrade. If you can read the abilities and the board state and know which you want, then don't follow my advice, but if you don't fully know how each upgrade will effect you throughout a turn, its hard to know what you do want (I keep forgetting that I can use High river style defensively as well for example) and being forced to only use 1 style for a game can be a good way to find out what it can actually do. 

 

 

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TL;DR Each style has a bit of nuance to what you are going to use it for so it behooves you to become familiar with not only the primary aspects, but the oft overlooked interactions that take Shenlong up to 11. Of note, learn about Low River Style's interactions with Yu's Brutal and defensive. Don't forget the free interact off Wandering, or it's ability to deny your opponent VP with scheme markers. High River is pretty straightforward, and don't underestimate the raw power that Fermented Style can bring by turning your weak negative damage flips into positives.

Shenlong is one of my go-to, primary masters. So I have a lot of input. I both agree and disagree with some of what Toka is saying. But that's the greatest and hardest part of Shenlong... you can play him multiple ways and be effective. I'm going to add in a couple of things for Shen's upgrades, including other choices you may want to consider. I'm going to assume you understand the core concept of his stance changes as well as promising disciple on Yu. I'll address Shen's play styles directly, in another post.

Wandering River Style - Used to pass out fast/slow and help position. This is often on Sensei Yu when not with Shen, and generally gets thrown to Yu after Shen uses it his first activation. Here's some nitty gritty: First of all it allows you to reposition scheme, corpse and scrap markers. Really process that ability. Any of those markers within 3" of your target get picked up. Then placed within 3" of the target's position after you finish they push from Mighty Gust. This is enabling and denial like you wouldn't believe. From guaranteeing Setup/Claim Jump/Search the Ruins/Leave your Mark/Dig their Graves/et cetera, to denying those same schemes... this ability is quite literally a game changer. The other thing that gets often overlooked is that it grants Sensei's Yu built in ability to lower your focus to take an interact for FREE. Not as a 0 action. But just costing no AP. This is phenomenal for placement of schemes, accusing, marking, headhunter... etc. Big big thing. Always keep it in mind. Shen can walk 6" three times and then lower focus to interact... that's HUGE. Or drop a scheme marker, walk 12 and drop another... assuming you didn't get a chance to fast him. So many things you can do here.

High River Style - This style is probably the most straight-forward style we have, believe it or not. But there's some stuff to consider here as well. First and foremost is the passive ability. As long as Shen has ONE burning (often why his gains turn 1 is burning and focus), you can take a damage to raise your duel total AFTER cheating is done. That massive Nekima coming to say hello? Take a point or two of damage to miss that min4 swing. If you have high cards in your hand, this is the deal breaker. Pandora coming up with her Ca7 paralyze cuz she has the 13 in hand? Drop your own 13 and take some damage. Now the caveat here is that you need to know WHEN to do this. And this is touches on the depth of Shenlong. If you find yourself facing a pandora crew who is going to condition your face off potentially, you adjust to the most effective style (probably low river for the condition removal). But High River Style just flat out lets you trade life for winning duels. Low River Monks have a great ranged heal now to help top you up, and they are an auto-take with Shen (more on this below). It's all about determining if it's better to take a point of damage or two, or just deal with the losing the duel. Generally, taking a point of damage to prevent your opponent from hitting you with his models is almost always better. They can't flip the red joker if there is no damage flip! 

Now as to the melee attack from High River... keep in mind it's Rg: 3:melee. That's a huge bubble of why yes, I will take a disengaging strike against you. It allows Shen to tie up a lot of models, but remember the larger your reach, the more wiggle room they have. A 50mm model can toe in your 3" bubble to avoid the strike and reach out and touch someone 4-5" away depending on their reach. That's still quite a range. The min damage is forgettable, but remember Shen loves his focus. So if you are swinging with this attack, you're hunting blasts, so don't forget to focus. Lastly, stacking burning isn't terrible, especially if you don't have anything else you need to stack at that moment, and being able to dump some burning on a model you need dead by EoT is a thing.

Low River Style There's some weirdness with this style. From a different post that explains it well: 

On 7/28/2016 at 2:33 PM, Icemyn said:

If you take the defensive stance action it will end at the beginning of your next activation, but the defensive +1 condition gained from the Low River Style will end at the end of the turn. The reason for this is because it is a condition that doesn't have a set duration and all conditions like that end at eot.

This is actually beneficial as the FAQ tells us that the most recently applied stack of a condition determines its end timing. So if Shenlong is attacked and successfully defends he gets defensive +1 until EOT. Then he can activate and take the defensive stance action and have defensive + 2 until his next activation. Unless you get attacked again and succeed in a duel, then the condition would once again end EOT.

FAQ for reference:

40) Q: If a model gains a stackable Condition from two different sources each with a different timing for when the Condition ends, when does the Condition end? For example, if a model takes the Defensive Stance Action to gain Defensive +1 until the start of its next Activation, but then gains the Defensive Condition from the Guardian which lasts until the start of the Guardian’s Activation, when does the Condition end?
A: The most recent application of a stackable Condition determines its end point. So in the example above, the model would gain Defensive +1 which ends at the start of its next Activation. Then the model gains an additional Defensive +2 from the Guardian, which stacks to Defensive +3 and ends when the Guardian starts its next Activation or is removed from play. The end time on the Defensive gained from the Guardian is used because that was the most recent application of the Condition.

Above and beyond that, don't forget that Low River Style's heal is a Ml action, so when Sensei Yu uses it, he passes out a condition of your choice. This can be quite beneficial for helping to stacking conditions as the actual removal of conditions is a may: "removes up to one condition". This means you can choose to remove 0 conditions.  Also the timing on this doesn't follow trigger resolution timing, as Brutal isn't a trigger. So you do apply Yu's condition first, then resolve Stones on the River. This is useful to keep in mind, as it allows you to heal your models and remove the condition Yu would add.

Fermented River Style - Last but not least... pay special note that Fermented River Style only swaps fate modifiers DURING his activation. This makes it wonderful for still going defensive, but also doesn't mean that he's invulnerable to :-fate 's added to his duels out of activation. Brewmaster comes to mind. Swill still hurts when you are being attacked. But it doesn't neuter you during the activation at least... so there is that. I tout this upgrade a lot, and it's one of my main picks, even before high river style. The reason for this is that... on average, this game works on weak damage. That means a single :-fate to your damage flip. This upgrade makes it a :+fate now. Tying? Double :+fate . And on the rare chance that you are getting a :+fate flip for hitting the severe accuracy? You can either cheat in a lower card, or just take the negative flip... because that's what you flip most of the time anyways. This upgrade plays mind tricks on how your opponent needs to cheat and is the bane of Hard to Wound and Impossible to Wound. This is your henchman killer (combined with Shen's trigger to prevent soulstone use). 

Stumble takes some gearing up, but it's absolutely devastating to fire this off on turn 4-5 at a clutch point when you were already tying up models. Remember the and fall let's you specify how much poison you lower, so you can always leave that 1 poison needed to enable Drunken Kung Fu. And negatives on your opponent don't hurt you at all, even with Drunken. It's fairly easy to get your poison stack to 5 by turn 3, if that's a major goal. I typically am ok with 4 on turn 3 (using a peasant or two to help facilitate) as that means that most models need a 9-11 to not be on negatives for the turn.

Other upgrades to consider: Misdirection, Recalled Training, Blot the Sky (there's a cute thing with Yu here), Death Contract, On Peaceful Waters, Hidden Agenda. I'll go into these with playstyles in my next post, but I actually tend to run Shen with only one upgrade, and that's his whatever Style I start the game with. On Peaceful Waters normally makes its way onto Yu, but as you'll see in the next post... not always.

Hope this helps. I'll write that other post after dinner :D 

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You have all brought so much to the conversation and I want to say thanks for that! :DI feel that have a good starting understanding of the stances but it is those extra tidbits that "turn it up to 11" that I need to work on. I have found that mid game I am just making the wrong stance changes and placing him in combats or areas he should not be. It is mostly up to you if you lose him or misplay him, which is the main draw I have to him, skill cap. I think I am going to do more playing around with this. Also I am finding my lists are not as solid as some that I have seen. I will usually take Shenlong plus wondering river and recalled, Yu with promising disciple, shadow emissary plus conflux of dawn, peasant, wondering river, low river, ten thunder bro. I have found that I just don't have the hitting power that most of my opponents do. I am thinking a samurai or lone swordsman or dawn serpent or Izamu might be a good addition. 

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I recently got Shen Long as well and overwhelmed with the options available to me.  Thanks for the advice!

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5 hours ago, Kraye said:

Also I am finding my lists are not as solid as some that I have seen. I will usually take Shenlong plus wondering river and recalled, Yu with promising disciple, shadow emissary plus conflux of dawn, peasant, wondering river, low river, ten thunder bro. I have found that I just don't have the hitting power that most of my opponents do. I am thinking a samurai or lone swordsman or dawn serpent or Izamu might be a good addition.

I've found that I really like to have at least two beaters in a list, and no, Shenlong does not count as a beater for me in this. My go-to aggro model is The Lone Swordsman because he's relatively cheap and deadly. Makes good secondary for whatever's your primary beater, like Emissary maybe? But it's really up to your taste and schemes. I'd gladly field any you listed.

You could also look at your cheaper models and figure if maybe some could be replaced with more hitting power, if that's what you're after. Rail Worker is the same price as Thunder Bro, sacrificing scheme utility for combat prowess. Torakage at +1ss share Bro's ml and damage profile but get a +flip to both, with a bit different scheme utility. Both of these models can spike damage far more reliably than brothers can.

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Part 2! Only marginally delayed, lol

TL; DR Normally I try to synopsis these long posts... but I got nothing here. Other than Shen is a varied master with tons of choices that you should always try to keep in mind and adapt to the situation that presents itself... simple right? :P Choose if you want Yu. Choose if you want a 9 card hand. Then get that crew filled out with what's left! Don't forget a second (or even first depending on your build!) beater. Also forgive my rambling and sometimes lack of coherent thought... I'm on only a couple of hours of sleep.

I personally run Shenlong in a very aggressive fashion.  I know several people who run him more defensive. Then there's the traditional positioning and fasting crew... oh and don't forget the super tarpit! No matter how you run Shenlong, there's a couple of really important decisions you need to make out the gate. After that, you can simplify him down to a few different playstyles. Whilst playing with a singular upgrade as mentioned above appeals to some and not others, I would say that running Shen in a specific "playstyle" for a full game is something we can probably all get behind. The reasoning for this is that stance-dancing happens in any playstyle, it's more what tricks and crews are you bringing to accomplish whatever your overall goal is. The focus of this post will be ask a couple of questions before you decide how you should build the rest of your list. Let's take a look at the common core Shen list and it's two major components:

Shenlong - 5ss cache (18ss remaining)
-Wandering River Style - 2ss
-On Peaceful Waters

Peasant - 2ss

Sensei Yu - 9ss
-Promising Disciple - 2ss

Shadow Emissary - 10ss
-Confliux of Dawn - 0ss
Low River Monk - 4ss

Let's start with the first component:

To Yu or not to Yu

Hot topic: Sensei Yu. Do Yu or Do Yu not? This is a very complex question with a lot of complex reasoning behind it that often gets distilled down to "why of course!". And it's easy to see why... Yu can grab any stance that Shen has, and that specifically means Wandering River and Low River (we will ignore the latter for this post for the sake of "brevity").

With an impressive walk, the ability to copy Shen's 0 action (usually the condition one) and Airburst with a built in trigger to gain a focus... this guy can be bananas. Shadow Emissary is basically an auto-take as well (and the subject of our next piece of information) and can fast and push Yu for 1AP, then walk.  Which allows Yu to 0 action to gain focus and some other condition by copying Shen, then mighty gust some one and give them fast (like Shen), then airburst and gain focus, then mighty gust and give someone fast again.

The big downside to that series of events is that you don't walk, only get the push from Shadow... and this can leave Sensei Yu behind. Or just put you in a perpetual situation of Emissary pushes to fast him, then walks (or maybe attacks if something is in range). This isn't a bad strategy at all, and it moves a good chunk of your army while also handing out fast to key models. And at some point everyone is going to go off and do their thing, leaving Yu to start pushing enemies and slowing them, instead. But it's something to keep in mind.

Then there's the cost... Yu's 11 pts. 9 + 2 for promising disciple. That's a lot of bloody points. So there needs to be an economy of effect to make him worth hit. Here's how it breaks down:

You can assume that Airburst and Mighty Gust, without triggers, are a straight trade. 1 AP for 5" push. Flexibility of moving enemies aside, it's like granting a walk to another model. So at worst case, it's a trading an AP for an AP.

Mighty Gust handing out fast or slow is where the AP efficiency is MUCH more appealing. As you are directly handing swapping out AP as well as pushing.  That's a much more desirable situation. Translation, you don't want to really be using Airburst if you don't have to. While the focus is nice, it just doesn't have the economy of effect that Mighty Gust does if you pop the focus trigger. And with access to focus as a 0 action, it's the de facto choice if Yu has Wandering equipped.

This mentality follows through with Emissary pushing and fasting Yu. It's more efficient because it gives Yu a "walk" and then an AP. It also allows Yu to trade out his 3AP for 5AP effectively on other models. This is the appeal of the whole situation. Now imagine you are doing something similar with Shen!

Now why wouldn't you take this every time?  Because to get "maximum" value you need some outside interference. Yu on 2AP can only fast and push one model, then walk (or push another). Giving him a 3rd AP suddenly allows him to fast 2 models while pushing 3. Or Fast 1 model, push 2 and walk. This is a big difference. That third AP basically dials him up to the 11 that is his worth. So you either need to get it from Shen or the Emissary.  I think Shen has much better things to do with his AP, then just helping to enable Yu's efficiency, which is one of two reasons the Emissary is such a pivotal take.

So first thing you need to figure out is do you want that level of synergy, interworking and value that Yu brings? It's purely a support, enable other models situation. Yu doesn't pump out damage, cannot charge and doesn't have a solid attack. He is designed to disrupt and facilitate.

Other options you might consider without Yu? A beater. Hands down. Shen can pump out some damage but his "core" crew (discussed later) doesn't carry a whole lot of heavy hitters. It carries a few damage capable models... not the same thing. But Yu is 11 pts! That's a lot of wiggle room! Yasunori is fantastic for 1 point more. Izamu is most certainly a wonderful choice. Kang is also great, and can provide a crazy edge against rezzers and most of arcanists (except Marcus). Then there are Mercs... there are absolutely some heavy hitters that can get dialed up thanks to Shen's crew. Bishop's major weakness is taken care of as soon as he gets pushed and fasted, for instance (his slow walk and 1" melee). Experiment!

Shadow Emissary and the Dance of Nine Heavens (or the 9 card hand)

14ss. What would you expect to get for 14ss? Nekima plus an upgrade is 14ss. Yasunori with misdirect... Archie, with his armor upgrade. Izamu with decaying Aura is 12... Now we don't have access to all those things, but you get the situation here. 14ss get's you a lot. And that's what I'm asking you to spend when for this trick. So it better deliver right? Oh it does.

Shadow Emissary's conflux for Shenlong has a 0 action that removes a condition. No check. Just happens. That in and of itself is fantastic. But the money is in the second part of it... which allows you to draw cards (max 3) for each numerical point of that condition. For our purposes that is going to be Focus +3 typically. How? Low River Monk... Who with Shenlong can gain Focus +2 for a 0 action thanks to their passive ability. Then take 1AP to focus a 3rd time. Then walk or take advantage of it's new upgrade to heal at range. But that's not all!

Not only do you get 3 extra cards for next to no effort, but you also have the Emissary! Who by himself has a respectable damage output, an the ability to push and fast any non-leader model carrying an upgrade! Now that's value! The issue is here, that because you really want to be fasting something every turn with the Emissary, it really becomes a mobile pushbot that draws you cards with some built in utility and damage dealing. That is NOT bad mind you. Not at all. It's fantastic. Playing with a 9 card hand opens doors to your wildest imagination!

But it costs 14ss to facilitate. If ALL it did was net you 3 more cards a turn, it wouldn't be worth it. But the ability to have two activations, still keep an AP for each model and have access to their kits make up for it as long as you position and play them properly.

Or you could not.

Conclusion

Controversially, the Emissary is a crutch in Shenlong. A guaranteed 14ss take gives utility and card advantage. Add in the 11ss package (crutch part 2?) that is Yu, and you spend 25ss between three models that do "nothing" but support your crew. I highly recommend putting this on the table with no opponent. Try it out. Get used to it. There's a symphony to be played between how you activate Shen, Yu, Shadow and the Monk... And from those four models you can potentially enable the rest of your crew... all 25 pts of it. Account for 2pts to a peasant, 2pts to a style upgrade and Shen likes 5ss... another 3. 32ss all in all, leaving 18 left for which to do what needs done.

So this is why I recommend thinking it over. Debating whether or not you want these options. I use them. They are good. But try a list without them. Only one of them. Experiment. Get used to how you need to activate things. It's a minor puzzle, but one that is worth solving and mastering.

I have recently begun leaving Yu out of my lists. It's too rich for my blood. I want a beater. Too many times, I have no real response to my opponen'ts major hitters. And many of them have ways of generating more actions either via triggers or built in, so pushing them away and slowing them only does so much. Despite what almost everyone says... this is a game of killing your opponent's threats. It's a resource management game at it's finest, and model count and potency is an oft overlooked resource. "Can't scheme if your dead," my local Sonnia player is fond of saying.

Now while this is true, I have won games where I was tabled. I have won games where I only killed 1-2 models. Each game and crew is different but I will tell you that aggression is popular. You need to be willing to fight fire with fire and sometimes that means leaving some of the shiny Yu/Emissary goodness at home in favor of what's going to help you win the game.

Mull this over. Try it all out. Get comfortable with the core shenanigans. Then look at what happens when you take it away. Shen works with EVERYONE, much like McCabe. But he does have models he helps more than others, and its up to you to determine how much added aid you feel you need.

Stay tuned for part 3 where I finally get into actual list building and playstyles.

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Part 3! Only one more part after this!

So I've talked about upgrades and about the common core... so let's talk about what Shenlong actually DOES when you bring him in said common core. 

Traditional Shenlong aka Common Core

Typical List

Shenlong - 5ss cache
-Wandering River Style
Peasant
Sensei Yu
-Promising Disciple
-On Peaceful Waters
Shadow Emissary
-Conflux of Dawn
Monk of Low River
The Lone Swordsman
-Recalled Training
Ten Thunders Brother (or Yokai)

The highlighted components are your changeable models. Ohagura Bettari is good as is Samurai to get some ranged support. Katanka Sniper isn't bad, but leaves the list a bit pillow fisted. If you want to run a bit lower on stones, you can swap the 10T Bros for something in the 6-7ss range, like an obsidian oni or the aforementioned sniper. Any heavy beater has potential, just try to keep that Cache at 4... which means if you bring any of the 10ss guys, you probably aren't going to bring an upgrade. This is fine, it just means emissary is always fasting Yu. This list is light on activations, having only 8 after summoning the second peasant. What this list lacks in activations it makes up for in synergy and capability. Shenlong is typically an early activation on Turn 1.  Your goal is to push and fast everything you can. The thing to remember here is that you are trading AP back and forth, but doing so with pushes. So you end up with a net gain. Sample order of activations:

After initiative - drop scheme marker and witness a miracle to summon second peasant.

LRM - Focus +3 and walk

Emissary - Push and fast Yu. Remove focus off LRM to draw 3 cards. Walk.

Hired Peasant - Bop focus on Shen and walk.

Shen - Mighty Gust and lower focus to give Emissary fast. Focus. Mighty Gust and lower focus to give Swordsman fast. 0 action to pick up a style and give the discarded Wandering to Yu. You could attach Wandering onto Shen as well if you wish, as you are allowed to re-attach the same upgrade (they aren't rare). High River Style is pretty common here as well. Low River if you need condition removal.

Yu - Airburst Swordsman into position and gain focus. Mighty Gust Shen and give Fast. 0 action to copy Shen and get focus and burning. Mighty Gust summoned peasant to move scheme markers and give it fast.

Summoned Peasant - Sacrifice to give Shen a 0 to gain burning and poison (or defensive if needed)

10T Bros - does whatever you want him to, but getting into position to scheme is good. double walking and hopefully placing is typical.

Lone Swordsman - should now be upwards of 10" from the deployment zone and ready to bring business if you want to dive him. I have done this on many an occasion, but you better have the hand to earn his points. This is one of those super dangerous situations. If you have activation control, and a solid hand... pop your recalled training, use your fast to walk (if needed) into charge range of your target. Pitch 2 cards to declare it as your reactivate target and dive. You BETTER kill it though. Dangerous, but feels great when it works. 4-5 attacks on positive flips with strong hand support is usually good enough to kill whatever you're after, but cards are cards and if you fail, you pay the ultimate price. If he's not in position to go hard, flank. He's fast enough to go after any scheme runners who may have overcommitted. Alternatively you can activate the Lone Swordsman earlier in the turn and push and fast him after activation in prep of turn 2.

This setup makes Shen, Emissary and possibly Swordsman all fast for round 2, while moving your force up the board. You aren't wasting fast on the peasant because if you don't sacrifice it, you can't get that free scheme marker and resummons it the following turn. Alternatively, if you want to Fast the 10T bros... that's fine, just use your 0 action after initiative to get the poison and burning. I like cycling peasants so one doesn't get left behind and it helps provide scheme markers for my oft taken Claim Jump. Speaking of:

Schemes and Strats that this list likes: Anything that involves interactions and scheme marker positioning. Be careful on Covert though, nothing in this list is particularly mobile or stalwart enough to try to flank around into range of enemy deployment. You can totally do it, but it's not quite as simple as it seems, even with 10T Bros or Yokai. Claim Jump is kind of an auto take here due to 10T bros and the constant mighty gusting with the free scheme markers. Setup can be super easy to complete, as can hidden trap. Show of force is usually decent, but remember that the pitched upgrade from Shen doesn't count as it started on Shen. At least the first one did :D  If you change stances a second time, that one counts as it was attached after start of play. Accusation is pretty easy to do as you can drag people in and then accuse them. Recover evidence is actually ok here as you can push models away then go grab it!

Schemes and Strats that this list doesn't like: Killing. You don't have the firepower, despite the lone swordsman, to guarantee these points. The Swordsman is there to eliminate threats that could impact your scheming. Or at least tie them up for a turn or two. If you don't pull the right cards, or have activation control, it's extremely hard to guarantee death from him with only a min 2. Especially if they have armor or soulstone prevention. HtK is a bane as well. Headhunter is good because you can focus on squishier targets and then push things in and out. Don't forget that free interact for focus on Yu and Shen! Mark for Death has some janky shenanigans where if you are in Wandering River with a focus you can free action to mark, then swap to Fermented River and smack it three times to try to score. But it requires setup to get it off (typically leaving peasants alive so your initiative 0 action is to add focus and poison/defensive). Also do to low model counts, interference isn't the best. It's not the worst, but I want more hitting power to keep my opponent reeling than this list brings. Inspection can be hard too as you really only have one scheme runner. I wouldn't do Last Stand either as you only have 3 models that qualify and I typically want 4 to be safe.

Style Focus: Wandering River is the go-to here. Followed by High River with Low River on support. Fermented River is only used when needed for the schemes and strat. Your goal here is location, location, location... Keeping your guys in position, and ideally keeping your opponent's out. If you double up on wandering river, you have at the least 6x 5" pushes a turn (fasting yu with emissary). That is an incredible amount of board control. And you can slow/fast 3-4 of them. If their beater doesn't have any extra AP granting abilities, and they don't have any pushes themselves, you can lock that beater out simply by pushing and slowing. Now they have to walk in just to engage. High River is the de facto secondary style if you don't need so much control, to allow Shen to tie up models and win those duels. There is some consideration here to going low river style turn 1, then turn 2 going to high river so that Shen can tie up models. Yu picks up low river and keeps Shen topped up, while buffing his burning to help with damage output. Again, Fermented is used when needed, but is not a focus (hehe) for this list.

 

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9 hours ago, Somnicide said:

Will you be the father of my children @InvokeChaos?

 

seriously, this should be stickied 

If InvokeChaos turns you down and by father, you mean legitimate owner and children, plastic miniatures by Wyrd; I'll gladly accept!

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For real though more thank I could have hoped for when I asked the question. Can we all internet first bump InvokeChaos?! I am trying some of this tonight! Go Shenlong!

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Hehe, thanks all.  But I've got one more post! Part 4, and theoretically the final! And man is it a doozy!

TL; DR So last post we talked about common core and how it works. So now that we have done that I want to go over the other three playstyles that I typically have in the back of my mind for what I'm going to do with Shenlong. You can distill them down to RPG class types, haha: Support, Tank, DPS. I would consider the common core list a controller, not support.

As mentioned above I won't be doing a detailed first turn break down, as it's either similar to the above, or nothing like it and varies completely from game to game. I want to focus more on crew choices, schemes and general playstyles. So without further ado:

Support Shenlong aka Screw Neverborn

This build can be done from either common core, or a slightly modified core, as detailed below:

Sample List

Shenlong - 4ss
-Wandering River Style
-The Peaceful Waters
Peasant
Shadow Emissary
-Conflux of Dawn
Monk of Low River
Chiaki, the Niece
-Pull of the Grave
Ohagura Bettari
-Recalled Training
Izamu the Armor
-Hidden Agenda
Monk of Low River

This list has a lot of healing in it and a lot of swappable components. Bettari could be a lone swordsman, samurai, graves or kang. Izamu could be ototo or fuhatsu (or free up a couple of points to run yasunori). Chiaki and Monk could be swapped out for yokai or 10T bros.  Or maybe tengu if you are so inclined. The core concept of the list relies on the 9 card draw mechanic, but the reason for that is actually do to the 0 action to end conditions and the heal Shen gets from stance dancing.  I often do this every turn, between Wandering River and Low River, topping up whoever needs it and pushing whoever needs it. Shen usually isn't in the thick, and between Chiaki, Emissary, Shen and LRM, conditions are trivial against this list. It's why I often take it into neverborn, as there are so many BAD conditions in that faction. From incite, paralyze, wicked vines... yeah. Condition removal is a thing. The healing from emissary keeps shen topped up typically. Izamu can heal if he's just tarpitting, Chiaki can heal on a trigger, two monks can heal 4 times a turn when in position and Shen can heal upwards of 4 times a turn himself. This list is incredibly hard to shift and I've had Izamu just dig in and never leave. Bettari is here as a second beater, but it can easily fill the role of a second tarpit to Izamu, such as Yin the Penangalan with smoke grenades (and idea more fully explored below). More board control desired? Take lust. There is a tremendous amount of flexibility here. The important thing is that you keep in mind what you are attempting to do: eliminate larger threats with pushes, slow or a beater to the face, and keep everyone topped up and in position themselves. Don't forget to use those peasants to bop people for focus or defensive as needed! Even their 1" push broom is fine, as you have plenty of ways to top up. Try tossing out the damage reduction buff from Emissary if you don't need cards (ha!) and bop people who have activated for defensive... pseudo armor!

Schemes and Strats that this list likes: This is one of those random lists that actually can pull off Last Stand. I've done it. It's fun and feels great to accomplish a scheme like that! I love this list for anything that involves holding a point: guard the stash, extraction, squatter's rights... that type of thing. It's upgrade heavy and recalled training could become eat your fill and hidden agenda can become smoke grenades (or equality!), just to help fill out the show of force requirements. I'd drop a low river monk in this case to get that cache back up, though I've run him at 3ss before. A quick murder can be quite hard to get off against this list and eliminate the leadership is not happening unless they have a way to dive past your frontline and remove soulstone use. Still need to give respect to big threats. Healing doesn't help if you get one-shotted, so be careful.

Schemes and Strats that this list doesn't like: Anything that wants you to spread out or traverse the board. This list is about staying in range of the heals, which is 6". You have a front line and a support line. You need to be wary of both. If you're front line crumbles, the back line has nothing to save it. Shen should be center of your back line. So he can reach out and touch whoever needs it. Now your choice of beaters and additional models can heavily dictate what you can and cannot do. But the major concept here is to turtle. So I tend to not take too many lone flyers. But even one Yokai can suddenly make Covert Breakthrough possible. Just be mindful of your opponents faction choice and the scheme pool. There is actually enough kill-y here to contend with some of the more aggressive schemes, but I'd still be careful of ones that force you to overextend (such as say Elminate the Leadership).

Style Focus: Low River is the go-to here with heavy support from Wandering River. I often do a 2-1 situation here, with using 2AP from one, swapping, then 1AP from the other. Peasants I don't tend to sacrifice here after turn 1, so they can add support on the front lines, dying for SS and then getting resummoned if needed. One stays by shen so it can walk and bop focus when needed. I almost never use high river style here. But I have on occasion used Fermented River to bolster the front line. Shen can be in front or back as needed. But you want low river style because you want to win duels for defensive. If you plan on playing him front and center, consider throwing Misdirection on him, for mask fishing. Also remember low river's weirdness? Keep a peasant in the back behind Shen and once he's built up some defensive from being attacked while in Low River Style, walk that peasant up at EoT to bop defensive on him. Provide for the Temple specifies it lasts until that models next activation, so it overwrites the timing!

Tank Shenlong aka Where You Going? Nowhere

Sample List

Shenlong - 3ss
-Wandering River Style
-Misdirection
Kamaitachi
Terracotta Warrior
Monk of Low River
Izamu the Armor
-Equality
Yin the Penangalan
-Smoke Grenades
Chiaki the Niece
-The Peaceful Waters
Terracotta Warrior

Another set of highly swappable key models, I like the ancestors setup because they are all very tarpit already. Chiaki is a great wielder of the upgrade for Low River Monk, but it can go to Shen if needed. The core concept here is to swap to High River Style and just lock down your opponent, using the Terracotta's to mitigate damage on Izamu and Yin, while scheme running. This list can spread out a bit more, but generally you still want to keep Izamu and Yin within 6" of Shen. It's amazing how useful being able to push Shen out of engagement so he can reposition can be (with the Kamaitachi). Be wary though you are typically on a 7 card hand (thanks to Wonder Weasel and Warrior), not 9 because of no emissary. Kamaitachi and both warriors can eat cards... so be mindful. Also take full advantage of Yin's 0 action... her terrifying check is much more dangerous when the model you are tying up is on negative to WP duels. It's also a great middle finger to casters who may try to do shenanigans with your three tanks. Monk Of Low River is designed to be sitting behind Shen, just in range of healing him, so Shen can ideally use High River style with a certain level of impunity. Lust is a strong consideration here instead of Yin, as she can bounce models into Shen and Izamu as long as they have an enemy already engaged with them.

Schemes and Strats that this list likes: Strangely this list works ok with scheming lists, as you can drop scheme markers with Monk of Low River to aid the Terracottas and Chiaki. Claim Jump is solid here. Also the free minion walk from Kamaitachi should not be ignored, especially because terracotta warriors are unimpeded. Your ability to bring decent damage and totally render models completely inert can be good for both minorly killy schemes as well as frame for murder. You don't need to kill them, just lock them down. Accuse is good here and you would be surprised how easy it is to spring setup/hidden trap thanks to Monk of Low River healing models engaged. Dig their Graves is also pretty solid here. Covert Breakthrough and leave their mark is easier when none of their models can get to you, but remember, that even on :+fate to disengaging from Izamu, Wicked and Gnawing Fear from Yin, and High River from Shen... models can still just keep trying until they can get away. Tail 'em is pretty simply dependin on the master, in that regards.

Schemes and Strats that this list doesn't like: Last Stand is a no no, lol. Headhunter is not ideal as you really aren't moving around to pick up heads and you want everything engaged as much as possible. As such any scheme that requires you to NOT be engaged isn't really a good idea, unless you can push the enemy so far back or keep them so locked down that you can scheme. I wouldn't take this to Stake your Claim, though honestly, that's probably a weak scheme unless you are in common core. Collect the bounty is probably not ideal here either. Extraction/Guard the Stash aren't good ones because you tend to keep enemies around you.

Style Focus: High River Style is the go-to here with support from Fermented Style and Wandering River when needed. Low River can make appearances for clutch heals, but you have terracotta protection, and monk/chiaki for that ideally. Not to mention Izamu can just turtle and heal himself every turn. Don't forget that with the Terracotta you can swap upgrades mid turn, so if you have need to swap to Low or High River post Shen's turn, so take advantage (of the heal and push especially from Wonder Weasel).

DPS Shenlong aka LEEEEROOOOOOY JENKINS!

WTF? List

Shenlong - 4ss
-Wandering River Style
-On Wings of Wind
Peasant
Sensei Yu
-Promising Disciple
Yasunori
Mr. Graves
Bloodwretch
Yokai

Ok... I know. What in the ever loving god is this thing? On Wings of Wind? No emissary or LRM? GRAVES AND A BLOODWRETCH?

But hear me out.  There's some silly synergy here. Here it goes (yes this is a sample activation thing, sorry)

Initiative 0 - swap to Fermented River Style (!!!!!)
Mr. Graves activates, shows you the door to the Sensei Yu and walks into position
Peasant walks up and bops focus on Yu.
Yu activates and Pushes and fasts Yasunori. Then focuses for 0, then pushes and fasts shenlong.
Bloodwretch and Yokai move up into position.
Now here is where the fun begins... You have a move 6, charge 10" model with flight that has fast. And you have a 4AP master with move 6 and a 6" charge... both of which are already up the board like 11" from deployment. Can we say dive anyone? Oh I think we can.

The wings on wind is for end of turn movement on Shen and for pushes from sensei yu when he doesn't need to focus. Now here's the silly thing... you don't have to commit turn 1.  This can easily be the setup for turn two.  You could always summon a peasant, activate Shen to push and fast some peeps, move yasunori into position, drop scheme markers, go defensive, whatever. And setup your crew for being fast the following turn.

Ok so that all makes sense now... and a fasted Graves can show you the door 3 separate times if you do your distancing right (caveat: he can only do it to a friendly once per turn, but can use it with impunity on enemies). So let's address the really weird stuff... Yokai and Bloodwretch?

Bear with me here... Yokai hit WELL above their weight. I have taken out silurids on the charge with little trouble before. And they are mobile scheme marker placers on top of that. Who wouldn't want that? The important thing here is they hit HARD. And I have absolutely gotten that additional attack trigger off a couple of times and nuked a 8-9ss model with my piddly little yokai. And the wretch? It has a 1AP action to cycle cards on attack and give it +1 damage making it min 3! I will ABSOLUTELY push and fast that bad boy with Yu for a second wave out of nowhere beater that gets me cards. The wretch, graves, and yasu are all min 3. Shenlong with fermented is on positives at "weak" damage. The yokai is on positives to charge attacks... yummy! I have wrecked 3 teddies in 3 turns with Shenlong... think on that for a second. I one rounded a full nekima with a fast Shen (who stoned for the no soulstone trigger). Fermented Style does WORK. Just watch out for armor. Armor is the bane of this list (and most 10T). If I knew I was heading into a potential armor bonanaza (say arcanists), I might swap out graves for Kang. Just to guarantee I knock out that one Armor 2 bastard that makes me weep. Be wary of conditions... only Shen and Yu (potentially) can remove them.

Schemes and Strats that this list likes: KILL. Yes, this is the list that likes to kill things. Eliminate the leadership? Sure. Collect the bounty? No problem. A Quick Murder? Yes please. Frame for murder... ummm, play 3 pts down. I would say that you can still do some scheming here, but it's very select. Holding points is awesome, and I would consider this list for an interference game if I knew it wasn't a summoner... just because I expect to out kill you. Guard the Stash, Extraction, Stake your Claim, etc. Sure. I fully expect to never be staying engaged for long. And the Yokai and bloodwretch can scheme if need be, as can Sensei Yu.  Don't forget those peasants that are just walking up and bopping Yu for focus! Kill one so you can resummon it the following turn and get that scheme marker you need!

Schemes and Strats that this list doesn't like: Any really intensive interact or scheme heavy pool. Accuse, Search the Ruins, Setup, etc are all bye bye bye. Inspection is a nope as is Last Stand. Hunting Party is ok... but remember Shen doesn't count for that and neither does your yokai or wretch... so Yasu and Graves have to carry the weight there. Show of Force is a nuh uh... you get the idea. Kill good, schemes bad. Simple!

Style Focus: Go-go gadget Fermented River Style! I pretty much don't ever leave this style. I 0 action to get poison and defensive and just dive in. Wandering River will never touch Shen again once it leaves him. Low River when needed... High River if I am getting squirrely. Remember if you win initiative, you can 0 action to switch back to fermented, activate shen, drop the damage, then shift back to high if you need that defensive layer.

Conclusion

With so many varied styles to do, you really need to understand all their tricks and tactics and be able to shift into whatever role you need at that point in time. The more versatile your list, the easier this is... and it's why the common core is so common. You fill in a scheme runner and a beater to the common core list and you can tackle most of the available stuff out there. So try them all out, have fun, try new things. You'd be surprised what works really well. I will end this post with two "cute" tricks that I haven't covered above:

Sensei Yu with Undercover Entourage - Yu tends to not be in the thick, and as such tends to be mid table at best and unless you leave him out there, pretty topped up on wounds. Give that bad boy fast when the last turn is ticking down and you have 21" of movement. Tack on that all our means of fasting is from a push... and you have 25-31" of total movement with Yu. As long as you don't telegraph this... it can be a sneaky way to tack down 3 pts.

Ranged Shen - this is a gimmicky list and I tend to not run it except to be obnoxious, but two snipers, two archers, yu and blot the sky... Blot the sky can be discarded off shen turn 1 to push up the archers, and then Yu attaches it. This list lives and dies on it's pushes, as the snipers and archers are your primary source of damage. So this is the time to double up on wandering river. They all focus, are all hyper accurate, and you can focus the archers at the end of their activation as a joke for their 2AP action... because it ignores LoS and Blasts and happens for free when near Blot the Sky... oh and it gets +1 to the duel for being near sensei yu and using the focus, which helps in case they are in cover... have fun!

Edited by InvokeChaos
rules clarification
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47 minutes ago, InvokeChaos said:

Ok so that all makes sense now... and a fasted Graves can show you the door 3 separate times if you do your distancing right.

Nope. 

Show Ya the Door says "This model may only target a friendly model with this Action once per Turn."

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4 hours ago, Definitechoice said:

Nope. 

Show Ya the Door says "This model may only target a friendly model with this Action once per Turn."

You know I've always read that as you can only target the friendly model with it once per turn... not only use it on a friendly model once per turn. Thanks for that, I'll adjust above :D 

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On 24-4-2017 at 5:27 AM, InvokeChaos said:

Summoned Peasant - Sacrifice to give Shen a 0 to gain burning and poison (or defensive if needed)

I really liked your post, but I do have to critique this one point in it. Your summoned peasant starts with Slow and therefore can't use his (2) action to sacrifice for Shenlong. I'm guessing you made a slight mistake between this one and the hired one?

 

Second question: on your anti-neverborn list, how do you get around the Neverborn Emissary's Hazardous Terrain? Try and get lucky with blast markers or is there something I'm missing? I've played Extraction vs that Emissary and it was just pure hell on getting any points from it. My opponent placed it 2" deep in my territory, so I was forced out of a lot of zone for that Strategy. Also didn't help he was playing Titania and he could just bunch up everything around it.

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1 hour ago, whodares said:

I really liked your post, but I do have to critique this one point in it. Your summoned peasant starts with Slow and therefore can't use his (2) action to sacrifice for Shenlong. I'm guessing you made a slight mistake between this one and the hired one?

I thought so too at first, but Sensei Yu gave it Fast earlier in the turn. 

@InvokeChaos. Really love the last WTF Killy list! Will have to give it a go! Shenlong might also really benefit from Misdirection in that crew as you've got Defensive for mask fishing and he wants to be in the thick of it. 

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10 hours ago, Definitechoice said:

Nope. 

Show Ya the Door says "This model may only target a friendly model with this Action once per Turn."

Just need different targets. Only once per friendly target.

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29 minutes ago, Da Git said:

I thought so too at first, but Sensei Yu gave it Fast earlier in the turn. 

It was even right above it. I should have read it again instead of asking a silly question like that; Thanks for the answer.

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5 hours ago, whodares said:

It was even right above it. I should have read it again instead of asking a silly question like that; Thanks for the answer.

No worries! 

&remember, there's no such thing as silly questions... Silly people on the other hand... :P

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13 minutes ago, Da Git said:

No worries! 

&remember, there's no such thing as silly questions... Silly people on the other hand... :P

I mean, aren't we all just a little silly? We play with toy figures on a table with our own personal headcannon... my ex-gf one time referred to it as grown men playing with more complex Barbie dolls. :huh:

7 hours ago, whodares said:

Second question: on your anti-neverborn list, how do you get around the Neverborn Emissary's Hazardous Terrain? Try and get lucky with blast markers or is there something I'm missing? I've played Extraction vs that Emissary and it was just pure hell on getting any points from it. My opponent placed it 2" deep in my territory, so I was forced out of a lot of zone for that Strategy. Also didn't help he was playing Titania and he could just bunch up everything around it.

Clarification - I call it screw neverborn more because of the condition removal, it's not a tailor-made list for anti-neverborn, I will put a clarification about that.

Now having said that, Hazardous Terrain is a non-issue for me typically in that list. I have too much healing. HOWEVER, that doesn't mean it's not a good idea to deal with it if you can. And that's where High River Style comes into play. I often do stupid shenanigans like this, but in the above list I would just walk up Izamu (or push him) near the marker. Remember that 50mm are just under 2", and Shen can double blast on his severe.  So the goal here is to get Izamu just out of the 3" aura of the land marker, and just walk up to him with Shen (or push). Focus so you can cheat. And use that 9card hand to guarantee severe. That's only 2 damage on Izamu thanks to armor, but drops double blast markers and removes the hungry land marker.

Also don't let the hungry land marker scare you off.  Remember the name of the game is points. And if by taking a few points of damage, with the uncommon spike (that realistically you should be able to heal) gets you a VP... then it's worth the consideration. Also, keep in mind if you get more models in then he does, it moves the extraction marker so you can then retreat. If need be you can pull people out with Wandering River Style to mitigate damage as well.

Side note: Titania is one of those masters where she looks unkillable. And rightly so: lots of built in healing, 12wds, impossible to wound... rough stuff. But this is the miracle of Shenlong. She may be the Autumn Queen... but she has grown weak in her centuries of imprisonment. The Dragon has grown stronger still...

Shenlong, with tyrant might, can potentially one round Titania... *dramatic music*

Ok, enough silly foreshadowing, this is where keeping in mind all the playstyles available to you with Shenlong is critical. Yes you can one-round her, but the cards have to align properly. Consider this: you can't cheat damage thanks to Impossible to Wound. So no reason to hold severes in hand for damage; you can use them to hit. She's Df5, you're Ml6. With a stone or the right card in hand, she can't spend soulstones. Another trigger prevents 0 actions (which Titania makes great use of). But more importantly... you have a 9card hand, and fermented river style. So chances are you are GOING to hit. They can't beat you unless they red joker. And if it's played from hand, you can still cheat a 13 and tie. Which is FINE. If you get weak damage... that's :-fate:-fate ... Fermented River makes that :+fate:+fate. A tie puts it to :+fate:+fate:+fate .

So that 13 in your hand? Stone (if needed) to deny her soulstone use and punch away. Yes, Shen's damage track is only 2/3/5... but you are flipping 3 cards on damage. Maybe 4. You can almost guarantee moderate for that. If you hit 3 moderates, that's 9 damage she can't stone away. And she gets one activation to heal enough that an Angry Izamu doesn't destroy her afterwards. If you flip severe twice, not nearly an impossible task when rolling 3-4 cards per damage flip, she's dead on the third hit.

It's not quite a hail mary, but the card gods do need to be with you. Can you imagine winning initiative, using your 0 action to swap to fermented river, one rounding Titania (or dropping her to critical health with no 0 actions and no soulstone use) and then swapping right back to low river to keep your dudes healed up? Maybe you only flip minimum damage both times... damn. Even on 6-8 cards rolled... only 4 damage, you've still set her up for an izamu kill and rolled 6-8 weaks off your deck! Even a couple of lucky shots from the emissary can do the pain.

Regardless, it forces your opponent to change their game plan, answer a suddenly very new and brutal question. All because you can switch from full on support to "HOLY JEEBUS DAMAGE!" at the drop of a hat.

I will say that Titania is one of our harder crews to deal with though, because her knights are all armor 1 (hissss), HtW and 7wds. In a faction of min dam 2 all the things (grumbles)...

Honestly if I thought my opponent was likely to drop Titania, I'd be bringing Kang along instead of Ohagura. It's 1pt more with the ignore armor upgrade, but he's a monster against them. Just be wary of using fermented river style near him as it puts you on negatives due to his aura vs undead and constructs!

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