Over the course of it’s life, L5R has had some significant changes to the rules that dictate how the game is played. As a result, several format variations are available for players to choose from. It seems that these can be divided into three general areas:
Ivory/20 Festivals – This is the most recent rules set which is generally a good starting point for all L5R formats.
Legacy - This is the most open format which allows for most cards in the game's history to be played. It seems that the most common legacy versions are the orinal AEG legacy format, the Obsidian Hand legacy format and the Eternal L5R legacy format.
Alternative - These are formats with some significant variations like Modern, Big Deck and Strategic L5R.
At GenCon this year, we will be hosting three tournaments using three different rulesets: 20F/Ivory Limited, Modern, and Obsidian Hand Legacy. Below you will find rules "highlights" for each format as well as a link to a comprehensive rules PDF:
20F/Ivory format (Comprehensive Rules PDF)
- Uses the Twenty Festivals ruleset which now serves as the starting point for most L5R CCG formats.
- Deck construction is 40/40 minimum (at least 40 cards in the fate and dynasty decks).
- Gold splitting is used, but you pay what you see on personalities so no in-clan discounts.
- For you old school players, cavalry and naval are handled differently (some might say powered down), so you might want to read up on it :)
- Dueling is also different now. You can focus up to 4 times from your hand or off the top of your deck, and duelists win ties.
- There are no starting holdings like Border Keep or Bamboo Harvesters, but the legacy holding rule is used and there is a first turn player action that is essentially the same as Border Keep.
- The cardpool is limited to the Ivory and Twenty Festivals arcs.
Modern format (Comprehensive Rules PDF)
- Use the Twenty Festival ruleset as a default (with the following exceptions)
- This is a 50/50 format (exactly 50 cards in the fate and dynasty decks)
- This is a "highlander" format (only one of any card can be included)
- The card pool is limited to Samurai Arc through Twenty Festivals (this includes the Celestial, Emperor, and Ivory arcs as well)
Obsidian Hand Legacy format (Comprehensive Rules PDF)
- Most cards from the history of the game can be played, but there is a banned list (check the rules PDF)
- Starting holdings are used (Border Keep and Bamboo Harvesters)
- Gold splitting is not used, but the in-clan discount rule is used.
- Naval and cavalry are more inline with original L5R, but players can opt to use the new cavalry rules at the beginning of the game.