Ancient Secrets Preview

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Hey everyone, it’s Cards Wednesday and today we are going to show you the first 9 cards of our upcoming set Ancient Secrets. To do so, we asked Siri (one of our game designers) to explain the cards a little. Enjoy!

The Seven Clans touched landfall. The voyage is over, the time to explore this new land has come. Where will they venture, who will they become, what legends will be written… when they unveil these Ancient Secrets?

Ancient Secrets is an expansion set containing 72 new cards. In it, we take our first steps into Sanctuary, where we will face new challenges, meet mysterious creatures, and try to build a future on a continent with a long past. So let’s see a few examples of what is coming.

Those Who Come For Glory

Who else but the Lion would jump into the unknown in search of glory? Conquering death, through bravery, in the certitude of making your ancestors proud. That is the way of the Lion, and Relentless Gloryseeker embodies that.

With a solid statline, the Gloryseeker can lead the charge into victory. In Hisu Mori Toride, it can pay the price of victory and still come back for more. Glory awaits!

And if the fortunes decide to put the Lion against the wall, again the Gloryseeker is ready to Embrace Death and continue in his duty of protecting the Lion lands. Not even an Assassination can keep them off the fields for long—a coward’s blade is dull against those shielded by courage!

Those Who Return For Carnage

Not all who die in battle go on to embrace their ancestors in the spiritual realm of Yomi. Some warriors perish, consumed by desires of revenge or possessed by bloodlust. Those souls are sent to Toshigoku instead, and there they stay, locked into senseless deranged fury for all of eternity… unless they escape to another realm. Sometimes, back to the realm of the living.

The Bloodthirsty Onryō is one such spirit. A fearsome creature that rises from the sacrifice of a Crab warrior. It comes corrupted, which gives it unholy powers in the form of Military and Political skill bonuses.

This card also has the trait Obstacle. In Ancient Secrets, each clan receives one Obstacle card, reflecting some challenges that they might face as a result of where they chose to settle. The Crab chose the Ashen Flames. That’s one of the things they will find there. Let’s hope the Kuni have someone who can handle that.

And Those Who Refuse To Leave

Sometimes the haunted spirits wander, lost in their pain and confusion. But other times, they find a vehicle to bring their anguish into the realm of mortals. Attaching themselves to one of their descendents, their sinful nature becomes one extra weight to carry for those afflicted.

The Jealous Ancestor can be played as a simple conflict character, bringing enough threat to start conflicts and possibly cause destruction. But where they cause more pain is when they’re attached to an opponent’s character.

Attached to a character, that army or delegation of diplomats is forbidden from drawing, searching, or even returning cards to their hands. No Tactical Ingenuity, no Shrewd Yasuki, no Spoils of War, no Adept of Shadows, not even Ancestral recoveries. Their hands are locked to new cards. And no, you cannot Let Go of your grandfather’s ghost. They can be calmed by claiming the correct ring, or maybe they can be coerced by sanctity in some other way…

But Not All Spirits Are Evil…Some Are Wild!

It is not advised to try and settle in an area with heavy presence of spirits from Sakkaku, the Realm of Mischief. Alas, that’s where the Crane decided to go. The Forest of Rustling Whispers is already a complicated area, but sometimes the spirits coalesce into a storm and advance, wreaking havoc in their path.

The Storm from Sakkaku can move from province to province, bringing destruction to the Crane holdings. But that chaos also brings protection from low-commitment attacks. Opponents facing the Storm from Sakkaku must either go hard, intending to break whatever they are attacking, or they give up any ring effects that they could get.

What this brings to Crane is some tempo advantage, as they can continue pressing on the offensive with reduced damage from ring effects. And in case the opponent attacks hard, Crane’s defense can be more efficient, focused strictly on not losing too hard instead of having to win. That might fit the guerilla tactics of the Daidoji, hidden in those woods.

Enough With Spirits! Let’s Talk About The Sights

In Ancient Secrets we get a look at the landing spots for each clan, in a cycle of 7 provinces. The provinces were designed after the landing sites were chosen, already taking into account which clan would land where. The Unicorn never really settle, do they? But in Sanctuary, they took the Obsidian Caves for home base.

The Obsidian Caves extend deep into the depths of the earth, hiding untold mysteries. It is a dark and dangerous place to explore, the heavy atmosphere, the sinister noises, maybe even some rogue creatures. It is a place for the determined. Attackers who find themselves in the area might get desperate, abandon their virtues and run away, scared out of their minds.

It is a province that allows Unicorn to ignore minor challenges from their opponents. A single attacker stands no chance against it, and the Unicorn doesn’t even need to send a defender into the conflict. Their enemies will run home, in what might be a sad and long journey home.

Beautiful Sights Doesn’t Mean Peaceful Days

They may be far from home, but the Phoenix still keep many traditions in their search for harmony. There are times when the obsession for peace reaches an impasse, and the Phoenix must dig for alternatives in unexpected places. Being versatile is one of their strengths. In this set that is a key trait of the Phoenix, but it can also be found in many other cards.

When it comes to the Firebrand, is he a revolutionary or a conservative? It depends on who you ask. The same goes for his ability. With the same capacity to spread renown or infamy, the Firebrand can fit multiple strategies. And of course, when combined with Twin Soul Temple, the potential lines of play become unpredictable.

With all this shady activity, we can only hope that some responsible Shiba will be around to honor their oaths and keep an eye on their charges, steering them away from dark paths.

Conflicts Might Also Bloom, As The Clans Adjust To A New Reality

Even the humblest monk of the Dragon clan carries immense power inside them. Not only the mystical abilities from their tattoos, but also the accumulated learnings and strength of many lifetimes. Their martial training enables them to channel them to defeat stronger enemies than they are. In Ancient Secrets we aim to bring that to the game, reducing Dragon’s dependence on finding Mitsu as their only road to success.

Palm Strike is a key component for that. It allows smaller monk characters to force larger opponents into submission. Increasing the stats of the character becomes secondary, there are other tools. This frees Dragon monks from tall strategies.

This power has some restrictions on the Dragon side, as they have to avoid weapons. It can also be avoided by the opponent having a weapon, one of the most common traits in attachments. But any unarmed nameless monk walking down the road can be a formidable opponent—respect them.

But Not All Conflicts Are Fought In Daylight

The Scorpion excel at being more prepared than their opponent and hitting them where it hurts the most. In Ancient Secrets we explore those aspects of Scorpion: they know more about you than you know about them, they are unpredictable, and they’re lightning fast at neutralizing their opponents. We also make a point of shoring up the weaknesses of Scorpion’s secondary Strongholds.

Sneak Attack lets Scorpion steal the initiative during an attack, hopefully neutralizing the enemy before they can even do their first move. And to give an edge in learning what is the right tool for that hit, Sneak Attack also provides a hint of information about how your opponent can try to stop you.

This extra speed adds an extra threat to Seven Stings Keep when combined with characters like Bayushi Aramoro, Silent Enforcer, or Bayushi’s Saboteurs. It also empowers Shiro Yogo, by letting it blank a defender before they act. On close inspection, no one is safe against the Scorpion.

Before We Forget, Sanctuary Has Rivers, Too! And Where There Are Rivers…

Moving to a new land takes much more than a bunch of noble samurai. The Empire is supported by a host of minor characters that often go unnoticed: peasants and merchants are the lifeblood that sustains both the bushi and courtiers in their squabbles, and the shugenja and monks in their quests for wisdom. And creatures too, of course. Ningen-do is a rich pattern composed of all that. In Ancient Secrets we honor the unsung heroes that keep it all alive.

The Otter Fisherman is a nod to all that, and they come to profit from their command of the waters. But make no mistake, this humble fisherman can become a key piece enabling many different tactics.

Of the 72 cards of Ancient Secrets, 15 are Neutral cards. There are Seven Great Clans (plus the Otter, the Mantis, the Rōnin, etc), but beyond all the loyalty and duty we owe to them, we all share more similarities than disagreements. By expanding on many clan themes, we invite all to explore Sanctuary with us. A new adventure awaits!

We hope you like this preview, as this will have to suffice for a while. We’re testing the cards until we are happy with the results, then we will release our set. We will introduce Ancient Secrets with four articles (one per week), with each article giving context for the cards of two clans (or one clan and neutrals, respectively). The last article will also be accompanied by the cards’ official release.


  1. StrangeTamer86

    The dragon card seems strong ┌( ಠ_ಠ)┘