I apologize for failing to post an article last week. I thought I was going to post a lengthy treatise, but didn't finish it in time. The following article will be followed by another normal article in a day or so. Look for a big special issue soon.
When oni, goblins, and skeletons come calling, people flee for fear of their lives being endangered. When Mujina come calling, they don't flee, but they are still fearful: Mujina mean trouble!
There are two abilities to consider about this card. One is fairly obvious and unsubtle, and the other can be very useful and fun! The first ability is very similar to half a dozen different follower token generating regions, with five interesting features.
First, these are Mujina creature followers. This means they all receive a +1 force bonus when attached to the Mujina Chieftain. One of these can be bowed to use Mujina Tricks, an effective card rarely seen due to its requirement. ("What do you mean, your mujina stops my Confusion at Court?") Kuroshin's Prayer or Sympathetic Energies can bounce them around if you need to redistribute your followers. On the downside, Matsu Imura can steal the followers away, and Shiryo no Ide gains a one force bonus per follower when facing these tokens. However, if you are busy giving these little guys to other players, having your own Shiryo no Ide [or Oni no Sanru or experienced Radakast -- ed.] in play takes care of balancing their force very neatly. [And, of course, Return of Myth can provide a big bonus. Female moths like their trickster cousins. -- ed.]
Second, they have the cavalry trait, with all that implies. Otaku Kamoko and the other battle maidens have no problems attaching them. They will not slow down your own cavalry units. Nice, eh?
Third, they are free. Once you have the holding in play, there is absolutely no cost to bringing in the followers. You don't even need to bow the Den, so you can still use the other ability.
Fourth, they come from a holding. Why does this matter? This means your provinces are free to take on regions, such as more follower generators. There is only space for so many regions in play at the same time, but more holdings can always be brought in.
Finally, other people's personalities can get these adorable little Mujina. Why would anyone ever want to do that? In case the Den of Mujina's other ability isn't enough, there are some cute tricks you can pull. Remember Ropp'tch'tch, the Ratling who gains the Tactician trait if all personalities and followers in her army are Ratlings? Just by giving her a measly 1 force follower, she is prevented from gaining more force from her Tactician trait. Similarly, giving one to Hitomi Tashima takes away his built in Sneak Attack, which relies on all personalities and followers being tattooed. True, either of these may give the follower to someone else, but to do that both they and the recipient are bowed for a turn. During that time, another Mujina can join them! [Not while they're bowed, though. You can't attach a follower to a bowed Personality, even if the punk isn't your responsibility. -- ed.] Some personalities, like Mack'uk and Yoritomo Kamoto, have a restriction on the number of followers they may attach. Sticking a little 1 force Mujina on them, instead of a hefty Ratling or Mantis House Guard, is a good way of keeping their units' force down.
For the more direct approach, there is the second ability of the Den of Mujina. Once you have given some deserving soul a follower with the first ability, the second either sucks cards or bows defenders. As a limited action this will not keep you safe from attack, unless judicious use of Plans within Plans is made. I mention defenders, as that is the most common use, but a little Mujina madness on the Ki-Rin can open the way for many who otherwise could not attack, and Kakita Shijin is much less poetic about his clanmates' deaths when bowed. A particularly excellent target is a personality with the 12th Black Scroll. Does it bow, or do cards come flying from the hand? Remember, to activate the Scroll the player must discard three cards from the hand!
The discarding of cards is worth a bit more attention. Every card taken from the hand is one less that can be used later. For those who can deal with an honour loss, the Dark Lord's Favour can pull cards at inopportune moments. Once in battle, the Emerald Magistrates are more effective at this trick. Kuni Yori can take a card each turn, if you have one of your own to give up. Since he is not unique, that's three more down the drain. Ah, so their nasty event just got your province? At least Winds and Fortunes took their entire hand. Finally, who could forget the Void Dragon?
In case losing the ability to play these cards is not bad enough, there are ways to make it hurt more. Once he has a little experience under his belt, Bayushi Aramasu loves all this! While the Tax Collector is not very good on its own, in combination with these other hand emptying techniques it can mean an army is undermanned at a critical moment. Shosuro Chian puts the pain on bringing in personalities. If they choose to lose cards instead of bowing, follow up with Facing Your Devils. Impassable Terrain gives a choice of bowing force or discarding from the hand -- an easier choice with no cards in hand. The Kolat Apprentice will slow down any shugenja. Oni no Ianwa will not lose any of his eight force if other people have nothing to discard. Cards in hand are seeming more and more valuable, no?
Aren't Mujina joyous bundles of trouble? ;}
Mercenary & Mujina Wrangler
[Additional: Games with more than two players provide more reasons to give other people "presents." In a multiplayer game, the Mujina might want to lend their help to an ally's army to avoid Stand Against the Waves or the ever annoying Yogo Towers. Some people build team decks with the plan that one deck will fill a primarily assistive role, appropriating Mujina for the partner's personalities. You can even get rid of that last card so your teammate can play the Ring of the Void.
Brent didn't mention one benefit of giving your opponent a "gift" -- honor. If you feel assured of winning your battle, why not make the army bigger to produce a larger honor gain? "Kolat giving," if you will. -- ed.]
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