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Superior Tactics #27: Hsi Tsu

What goes around comes around. In his next life, this week's Personality will be some big and beefy fellow. But for now, he just chops wood and carries water. Thus I heard: on one occasion "Oshio" (Connor Alexander) wrote an article...

Well folks, I feel its about time your friendly neighborhood Prophet shared some of his infinite insight and wisdom with the assembled masses. Heh...or maybe I could just write y'all about one damn cool monk: Hsi Tsu.

What does this little guy have to offer? Lets take a look...

Hsi Tsu - Common Personality (F&S) - 0F - 2C - 0HR - 3G - 2PH
Unaligned Monk
Limited: If Tsu has less than four Karma tokens, bow Tsu to place a +1F/+1C Karma token on him.
Limited: Bow Tsu to move a Karma token from him to an unbowed Personality.

Let's first examine his uses for the clan of his origin -- the Monks. To start, this guy is 2 honor off even House of Tao, a great advantage for those honor Monks out there. For the more military variety he can get up to 4/6 if you're willing to wait a few turns. Alternately, he can be used with the new Promo event War in the Heavens to equalize your other Monk personalities Chi so all of them get the huge benefit it grants.

Away from just Monks, Hsi Tsu is very powerful in any clan. Let's examine some powerful combos that are more my type -- those of the corrupt variety. Who is Hsi Tsu most powerful with? Well, Oni no Okura of course. Get three of this guy out and you're pumping her 3/3 every other turn and further lowering the number of people that can defend against her. Another rather corrupt way to put these to use is putting them on [Iuchi] Shahai, she loves getting tokens to counteract the negative effects of her own. Or how about we put Shiryo no Tetsuya on the guy, rendering 2/2 Karma Tokens instead of the lowly 1/1 variety. I think we can even do better then that. Give him to a Ninja player and Oath him (or just put a Kaagi's Journal on him) then give him a Night Medallion. Now our Karma-Monger is pumping out 3/3 Karma Tokens, great on anyone. If you are doing this with a Ninja deck, give them to Adorai and you will soon get a HUGE person that is nigh-untouchable. Then be sure to finish off the deal by giving him a Kuro's Fire... one that keeps on growing.

Although granting your personalities these bonuses once every other turn is great, giving your people +1/+1 tokens every turn is better. How can this be done? Several ways. First of all, if you have some high chi monks out there, Chi Projection is a one-shot way to do it. If you want to go more permanent, use Kouta in combination with your Hsi Tsu's, though be careful, for it can easily backfire on you if your opponent has the gold to spare. Another interesting way to straighten all of your Hsi Tsu's is to Oath them to any clan you would like, then give them all ancestors. Then simply use Kitsu Huiyuan to get a blanket straightening. Egg him and you can do it every turn. [As lovely as it'd be, Hsi Tsu and A Stone Circle don't a combo make, as Hsi Tsu can only work on your turn. And of course, Sympathetic Energies will spread the Karma twice as fast, but at the cost of an additional bowed personality. -- ed.]

Is that all the little guy can do? Of course not. Force bonuses are great, but bear in mind that he produces tokens. What are tokens good for? Well, Shuten Doji sure seems to think they are tasty, and if you run out of opponent's tokens then you can fall back on your Karma tokens to make sure he doesn't starve. There is also no limit to the number of tokens everyone can recieve, unlike Sensei tokens. You can keep cranking them out [for] as long as you have, a nice way to get the edge on long stalemated games.

As great as this guy is, there are a few things to watch out for. First of all, watch out for opposing token eaters. [An opponent's] own Shuten Doji can have a field day with your work. Secondly, watch out for the Kiho that will absolutely ruin your fun: Slap the Wave. If you've got Hantei [Sensei] and you're running to battle with your token laden men, make sure to take it out if you have any fear that they might be packing it.

Well, there you have it folks. One of the greatest darn monks there are out there. Use him wisely.

Dark Prophet
Yogo Junzo's Army

[Additional: Any time I see a card that can give a present to my opponent, I reflect on its devious possibilities. Overconfidence [ST#4] can bow 1C weaklings like Hida Amoro. Hsi Tsu can (slowly) prevent all of your opponent's personalities from attacking your Fields of the Dead [ST#23]. Three Oni no Sanryu provide a net force swing of 2F, as can a triad of Hoshi Eisai. If your opponent's chi is lower than a corrupt geisha's standards, Hsi Tsu can provide a duel target for the express written purpose of playing Ring of Fire.

The problem with Hsi Tsu is that, like lots of monks, his tasks take more time than many people want to give him. To produce a +1/+1 bonus on another Personality, Hsi Tsu spends two turns not casting Kiho. It only takes him four turns to pump himself up to 4/6, but in many games, that's three turns too long to get a battle-worthy personality. For distributing extra force, Farmlands proves more efficient. Fortress of the Dragonfly or Master Smith may produce chi more effectively. Of course, Hitomi Kazaq and Isawa Hochiu blow right past the former while the latter can't boost a single personality's chi as high. Of course, in a Monk deck Hsi Tsu can raise his level of reincarnation (improve his Karma) after gaining two honor and while waiting for a Kiho to cast, but most two player decks can find more efficient ways to get a next-life fix.

This all changes in multiplayer games, where an early 3G investment which provides 10F by the end of the game is well worth it. As an exercise in exploring cards which infrequently see play, encourage your local tournament organizer to run some multiplayer events. -- ed.]

Card text copyright FRPG, 1995-2000.
Article text copyright Connor Alexander, 2000, edited by Trevor Stone.

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