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Superior Tactics #3: Olyah

Superior Tactics is a publication which depends on reader submissions. The first of these, courtesy Tim Maruyama, presents a Personality that embodies the single Mind of the Naga Akasha. If you'd like to submit an article, please see the bottom of this article.

Olyah - Uncommon Personality - AmD - 0F - 3C - 0HR - 6G - 2PH Naga Lore-Keeper. Shugenja. Open: Once per turn, Olyah copies an ability on a Naga Personality in play.

Recently some "Top Five Foo Clan Personalities" lists have been popping up on l5rinfo. Being a bit of a dabbler with the Naga, I was somewhat surprised that Olyah didn't make the cut. Seeing that this article puts the spotlight on the Lore-Keeper, let me tell you why I felt he should have at least been in the running.

The first thing most Naga players said when they saw Olyah (at least those in my neck of the Shinomen) was, "Oh great, another low-force shugenja... like the Naga needed that." Then they read the card. The next thing they said was, "Cool! Five Shahadets!"

There's a lot more to Olyah than that, but let's start with the obvious. He's a Naga. He's a shugenja. He's not a Naga Shugenja, although he costs the same. [Well, he's not _the_ Naga Shugenja, but as far as Qaqar and other folks are concerned, Olyah is definitely a Naga Shugenja. -- ed.] This, of course, means that he can cast spells and kihos. Using The Power of Incompleteness after bowing Shahadet or a few Naga Shugenja can make your Naga into duelling monsters or let you take out Ninja provinces more easily. Casting Fist of the Earth will bow an opposing unit without significantly affecting your army's Force. Within Your Soul would give him a good Force boost, while making his Chi... uh, never mind.

His three Chi makes him less vulnerable to Fires of Retribution, The First Scroll is Opened, The Wasting Disease, and other Chi-draining cards. Other than that, he's not much by himself. He needs other Naga personalities in order to bring out his full potential, which unfortunately limits his use in other decks. But then again, togetherness in the collective consciousness is what the Akasha's all about, isn't it?

If you give Olyah another Naga to play with, he becomes really interesting. He is Naga flexibility personified. Okay, most Naga are already flexible, or their tails are anyway, but you know what I mean. Having four copies of Olyah in your deck is like getting up to four more copies of any other Naga -- and he's way cheaper than a Ninja Shapeshifter. He's most effective when copying abilities on any unique personalities, but even extra copies of non-unique Nagas are helpful. So whose abilitites are out there to choose from? Here's a few:

Now, if one thinks outside the box a little, you'll see the big reason why I like Olyah: he now makes Naga enlightment decks a viable possibility. How's _that_ for flexibility? Now all it takes is Olyah, another shugenja (or better yet, Cultists), and almost any another Naga personality to play the Ring of Air. Better still, get three copies of him out and playing the ring is guaranteed no matter what your Fate hand has in it (of course you need the Ring in your hand too - duh!). [Actually, a pair of Olyahs can copy each other all day, since each copy they get can be used again. Easy Ring of Air and a better version of a Philosopher. A single Olyah may not copy himself, though. -- ed.]

But wait, it gets better. Imagine if you have, say, Ashlim and four copies of Olyah in play. Blessings of Isawa hits and Ashlim successfully casts Banish All Shadows. All four Olyahs copy Ashlim's new ability next turn, and you can now Banish All Shadows five times each turn. If you have three Ninja Shapeshifters out and two more Banish All Shadows in your hand, that jumps to ten times in one turn and eight times each turn after that. Keep that up and there won't be any shadows from here to Otosan Uchi. If you can't find what you're looking for in your Fate deck after a turn or two of that, you've either discarded it already or you seriously need to trim your deck down. I won't even go into what would happen if you try the same trick with Finding the Harmony; all that ring swapping gets me dizzy.

Speaking of ring swapping, those of you who want to keep switching the Ring of Air should note that that little trick counts as nine spell effects and uses of innate abilities. With good use of Finding the Harmony you could reliably get three rings out in one turn with no trouble at all, even after a Rise From the Ashes has been cast.

So there you have it. The next time you're putting a Naga deck together, try slipping a few copies of the Lore Keeper in your deck - maybe soon you'll be saying "Ol YAH!"

[Additional: While Olyah is of limited use outside of a Naga deck, condiser the uses of a Ronin Dojo. Ninja Shapeshifter is a more reliable way to duplicate actions, but who couldn't use 9 copies of Bayushi Aramoro?

While it's a fun party trick to determine how much force a Naga deck can produce, people with a decent amount of Naga experience claim that, in order for Naga decks to do well, players must drop their reliance upon The Naga Shugenja. Their low chi makes them vulnerable to a whole host of cards and they take at least a few turns to do much of anything useful. Olyah's place in a Naga deck then becomes one of versatility. If you need to turtle defensively, have him copy someone's Ranged Attack. If you need force, copy Shahadet or Yakamo. If you need to Walk the Way, well, hand it to Olyah. Don't think of Olyah as a second copy of the Naga Shugenja. Think of him as an amplifier for whatever Naga abilities you happen to have lying around. -- ed.]

Card text copyright FRPG, 1995-2000.
Article text copyright Tim Maruyama, 2000.

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