I have been playing Legend of the Five Rings off and on since I discovered the first edition of the game back in 1999. I have always been a fan of Japanese history, culture and folklore (no expert by any means, just a fan). Prior to finding this game I had become hooked on Rurouni Kenshin and I was looking for a game that captured the mythical and epic nature of medieval Japan. Legend of the Five Rings was the game that filled that need for me.
Prior editions of the game were tied intricately to the ongoing storyline which was being driven by the Legend of the Five Rings collectible card game. While in a lot of ways this was a good thing it often left players of the RPG just a bit behind the curve when it came to developments in the setting, slaves to a game in which they had no say. The Fourth Edition of L5R has finally freed players from this burden and empowered players to enjoy the time frame in the setting they want to explore.
The second edition of the game was tied very closely to Dungeons & Dragons and overall it felt like an underdeveloped product although it did bring several interesting mechanics to the table. Third edition marked a separation from D&D but as time went on the game became more and more complicated to play. While no one can deny the quality of the game it was hard to play the game without feeling a bit overwhelmed. One of the major focuses of the fourth edition was returning the game to a simpler core set of rules which maintained the flavored development by previous editions without crippling players with an overpowering game system.
For the most part I feel the game succeeds at fulfilling that goal. I finally had a chance to play L5R 4E at GenCon 2012 and I walked away a very happy gamer. The system was easy to use but versatile enough to handle everything our group threw at the game master. Combat was fast, fun and deadly without being tedious to track. Each character was infused with the L5R flavor that we have come to know and love.
L5R 4E is a game that has finally come back into its own. AEG got everything right with this edition and once again I find myself 100% engaged with the product line.
[5 of 5 Stars!]