Superior Tactics #47: Be Prepared To Dig Two Graves

Gold should be out within a month, and yet I haven't received any article submissions. This is your chance to get a running start in preparing for the new environment. See the bottom of this article to learn how to submit an article.

This week's card automatically deserves consideration for any fun multiplayer deck simply because its title is fun to shout across the table. But this card is more useful and powerful in competitive decks than, say, He's Mine! Even though it's been around since the game began, surprisingly few people make use of it. I speak, of course, of

Be Prepared To Dig Two Graves - Rare Action (IE, EE, OE, GE) - 0G - 3Fo
Reaction: Target an opposing Personality in a battle when a Personality which is aligned with your clan is killed. Until the end of the game, any Personality aligned with your clan opposing target Personality in a battle or duel gains a 2F/2C bonus.

Aside from its dramatic value, uses for Be Prepared to Dig Two Graves fall into two categories, reactive and proactive. Zen Faulkes's first Card of the Week article described a few reactive uses, which I will recap, but he did not fully explore the proactive possibilities for the card.

The most obvious use for this card is to create a consolation prize for a lost battle. A Mantis player with a few scrubs in play is attacked by a Shadowlands Horde frothing at the mouth. Without enough tricks to defeat the army, the Mantis throws Tsuruchi in the way crying "Not in the face!" The archer takes Moto Tsume out of commission before the attackers grind him into the mud. But just before Oni no Akuma removes Tsuruchi's head, Tsuruchi says with a grim look, "Be Prepared To Dig TWO Graves, Oni scum." The Mantis scrubs now receive a extra force when facing Akuma, including the Personalities that come into play several turns later. A modest five personalities receive a combined 10F bonus the next time the Mantis face off against Akuma.

Such a massive bonus is impressive indeed, but the target's player controls when and where the bonus will apply. If the fated gravedigger stands to provide his opponent a Force bonus greater than his own Force, he will likely just stay home. Of course, losing Toku and playing a free Fate card certainly seems an acceptable cost to keep a Clan Champion out of battle, but there are other cards which do so more effectively, such as bowing him. A player may well assign the personality anyway, trying to lure in a defending army. Once opposed, the gravedigger can then move to another battle with Superior Tactics, leaving a deflated army to face the rest of the attacking forces whilst the Personality in question takes a second province without fearing revenge.

Of course, BPTD2G also gives a 2C bonus in a duel, allowing the offending personality to be killed with a vengeful strike, but Uncertainty produces the same net effect in a more versatile container. So how can this card be used for more than designating a new favor monkey?

Be Prepared To Dig Two Graves can be played any time during a Battle when a Personality dies, not just at resolution. So even if your opponent hasn't a unit with more than 3F, BPTD2G can turn a pitiful defeat into an overwhelming victory. The most straightforward way to do this is to kill your own personality as a Battle Action. To Do What We Must, Hitsu-do, or Iaijutsu Duel and a Karmic Strike will let you trade personalities as well as explode in Force. Personalities like Iuchi Shahai, Hitomi Nakuso, and experienced Toku who can kill themselves almost at will remove the need for Fate-centered combos. The truly desperate can off their own Personalities with Wounded in Battle, or Corrupt Jade Sliver. You can even pay for a Battle Action with Sacrificial Altar. And I'm sure the experienced Kyoso no Oni would love to help. And those of you who need extra-strength Force bonuses, instruct an opponent to dig four or even six graves in response to a single death. Such a bonus not only helps win the battle in resolution but also by dispatching the opposition through duels and other chi-based effects. And if you can't win a battle by giving each of your personalities a 6/6 bonus, did you really have a chance?

Of course, your opponent can still send her Personality home or kill it, negating the bonus, so wait until after the Imperial Favor has been used, play Root the Mountain, or target a bowed personality. This card is also very vulnerable to the popular In Search of the Future; a sudden surprise force bonus can crumble just as quickly as it arose.

BPTD2G deserves special focus in team and multiplayer games, notorious for their high-attendance with lots of pre-resolution deaths. This card doesn't just affect your Personalities, but all personalities of your clan. This can lead to a truly staggering allied army or it can come into play when none of your units are present.

Consider also the following strategy tidbits. BPTD2G usually only lasts for one battle, since the gravedigger usually dies. But if you can spare her with Mercy or raise her from the dead for your opponent (a challenging task indeed), you may be able to have fun a second time.

The dying personality need not be yours. This allows for the abovementioned team potential, but it can also come into play in a head-to-head match. A Toturi's Army player who offs Togashi Mitsu in the midst of battle can hand Hitomi a shovel.

As Zen pointed out, sacrificial cavalry is an easy way to bring this card into play. Also note the power of Accessible Terrain to bring lots of troops to a battle in which they can gain the bonus.

There aren't as many ways to kill your own Personalities in the Gold environment as there are in Open, but several factors make Be Prepared To Dig Two Graves a card worthy of attention in upcoming decks. Although the methods are for the most part limited to To Do What We Must, Hitsu-do, Karmic Strike, and Sacrificial Altar, these are some of the most effective ways to kill your own personalities. Furthermore, Big Personalities promise to make a comeback in the slower environment, improving this card's effectiveness as an attack deterrent. And along with Big Personalities comes Duty to the Clan. Why not kill three birds with one stone?

What clans stand to benefit from Be Prepared To Dig Two Graves? Any clan like Toturi's Army, Lion, and Monk which can field many cheap, expendable troops should consider this card. The poetry of Kakita Shijin has inspired many a Crane to kill himself. In Gold, I think the Scorpion will be the masters of this card, because they have the most killable personality in the game -- Bayushi Kwanchai, soul of Bayushi Tangen.

So as Gold Edition approacheth, take a look at one of the most underused powerful cards in the game. And make sure to let the whole game store know when you play it. Its title deserves to resound.

Card text copyright FRPG/WotC/AEG, 1995-2001.
Article text copyright Trevor Stone, 2001, edited by Trevor Stone.

Superior Tactics accepts submissions. See the submission guidelines for more info.

Back to Superior Tactics
Back to Legend of the Five Rings
Back to my homepage

Last modified by Trevor Stone