In Gold, for the first time, Scorpion start on the same footing as everyone else. Frequent contributor Scott Hebert, aka Bayushi Tasogare, lets us in on some of their plans.
With the Yogo Towers, the Scorpion were blessed with one of the most potent anti-Force abilities in the game, that of being able to bow opposing personalities or followers with their own personalities. Since Honor Bound, Scorpion Military decks have been focusing on playing swarm decks with lots of small personalities to overwhelm opposing armies. However, a lot of these personalities suffer from low or no Force of their own and so they are ineffective at threatening your opponent, and it's a fact that if you cannot take your opponent's provinces as a Military deck, you will lose. Luckily, in the Gold environment, the Scorpion have a couple of cards to threaten the opponent's cards, and one such is
With just his stats, Kamnan is overcosted. For the same cost and HR, the Crab receive Kuon, who has +1F, +1PH, and an innate +1/+2 under specific conditions. The Phoenix receive Tsukune nonexp, who has the same Force and Chi, a higher HR and Personal Honor, and costs 2g less. Among his own Clan, for the same cost you could have Bayushi Churai (the Soul of Bayushi Dozan) with 2 higher Chi and 1 higher Personal Honor. So, if anyone is going to use him over other, more cost-effective cards, it must be for his ability.
So, what does it do? Well, let's take it one clause at a time.
Well, this doesn't make much difference, except that, as an action, Kamnan must be unbowed to use it (meaning he cannot use both the Yogo Towers ability and this one), and as a Reaction played during Battle, it is susceptible to Fall On Your Knees.
'When the Resolution Segment of a battle in which Kamnan is attacking ends,'
Okay, first, Kamnan must be in an attacking army, and the battle must resolve. Cards such as Flattery or Entrapping Terrain that 'end the battle without resolution' will prevent Kamnan's Reaction, since the trigger condition never happens.
'... if neither Kamnan nor the Province is destroyed ...'
So, Kamnan not only must be in an attacking army, he must be in a victorious attacking army (for the most part; there is at least one card that gets around this in Gold, detailed below), and he must be in an army not strong enough to destroy the Province, or is prevented somehow from destroying the Province (Mystic Ground, for instance).
'discard any cards in the Province'
So, IF he's winning a battle, Kamnan ensures that part of the benefit of attacking, the disruption of an opponent's resources, occurs. Also, 'in the Province' normally refers to unplayed Dynasty cards, which means cards attached to the Province (Regions, Fortifications, etc.) are unaffected by his ability. Finally, since it affects 'any cards', Kamnan will discard all the cards from the Plains of Otosan Uchi.
Now that we understand his ability, where does he shine, and why use him over 'better' personalities? Well, to put it simply, he can force your opponent into a situation where he does not want to find himself in. Take the following example.
Let's say that a Lion and a Scorpion are facing off. The Lion player has Nimuro (Soul of Matsu Tsuko) face-up in his Province with the money and honor to buy him next turn, and an Akodo Ijiasu in play. The Scorpion has Kamnan and Kwanchai (Soul of Bayushi Tangen) in play, and the Scorpion's turn is beginning. The Scorpion declares an attack, and sends Kamnan after Nimuro. What does the Lion do? Assuming no means of sending him home, or that the Scorpion player has the means to prevent these, the Lion is forced to choose between blocking, or let Nimuro be discarded by Kamnan. If he blocks, Kamnan will bow him (again, assuming that Fate Hands are equivalent), be replaced by Kwanchai, and Ijiasu and Kwanchai will die. Also, the Lion has lost a turn where cards (especially followers) could be placed on Ijiasu that would help the situation. This is the power that Kamnan gives his controller, that of pushing his opponent off-balance.
In the general sense, Kamnan puts a price on allowing attacks to take place unmolested. As a more extreme case, consider the point when Kamnan and 3 Kwanchais attack a Province. If any followerless army blocks it, they are very likely to be bowed out and destroyed. However, if they are not blocked (and hence far fewer ways to remove Kamnan), the Dynasty card is eliminated. This is of particular importance when the blocking army is stronger than the attacking army. If your 4F Personality blocks my Kamnan + Kwanchai, I win, all things being equal. However, if you don't block and try to win, you lose the Dynasty card. Note also, that if you do not block, I may have cards in my hand (Contentious Terrain, Force boosters, and the like) that allow me to destroy the Province.
There are other situations to consider, too. How about the time that Kamnan attacks with Bayushi Paneki carrying Medium Infantry? If attacking a non-Military player, they have a bum deal... who do they send home? Well, obviously, to save their Province Paneki needs to be sent home, but Kamnan still wreaks his havok. This points out a curse-turned-blessing about Kamnan. His 0PH means that few if any followers will attach to him. However, as the above illustrates, you don't really want Kamnan to be holding followers. You want to give your opponent incentive not to send Kamnan home. (This is roughly analogous to Lion players giving their opponents every incentive to target Ikoma Ryozo with the Favor.) Or how about I have Bayushi Sunetra (Soul of Bayushi Marumo) with the Imperial Honor Guard and Kamnan attacking one of your Provinces? Do you block? If you don't, I can move Marumo to another Province, destroying it, while still taking out the Dynasty card in the Province originally attacked.
Now, what happens if I have multiple Kamnans present? Well, you get rid of multiple Dynasty cards. This follows from the rules where, after a Reaction is completed, the game returns to the point where the Reaction was triggered, meaning that another Reaction (such as one on another Kamnan) may then be triggered.
This is all well-and-good, but most of the above arguments take as a given you can see what you're going after. What happens if your opponent doesn't give you the opportunity? Say he has 4 face-down Dynasty cards? What then? Well, you either go blind (hey, a Dynasty card is a Dynasty card), or you find cards that help you see them. In Gold, there are two main ones, the Ninja Spy and the Emperor's Underhand. This can even turn Kamnan into a tool of psychological warfare. You see the cards (that your opponent doesn't even know about), and then declare an attack against one of them at your earliest opportunity (IOW, you make sure they have no Open actions to play). Assign your army (including Kamnan) to the Province. Does he block, hoping to save what he thinks is a good card, or does he hold back against the chance you are bluffing?
All of this aggressive attacking with Kamnan & Co. means that you can't rely on Rallying Cry to keep your people straightened. This is emphasized by the fact that Rallying Cry will not help you if you bowed your personalities to bow others. This means Call to Arms might be a better choice for a deck made to use Kamnan.
One last card to consider to use with Kamnan is Surrender. Note that Kamnan's Reaction doesn't explicitly state that his side has to win the battle, just that he has to survive to the end of Battle resolution. Since Surrender is played 'during the Resolution phase' (i.e., before Kamnan's Reaction can trigger), the opponent is given another bad choice. Lose honor by destroying Kamnan, or gaining honor yet allowing Kamnan to discard the card he was after. Causing an opponent such dilemmas is a good way to portray the Scorpion in the CCG, and I hope it continues.
Now, I've covered Kamnan's uses in Military decks; does he belong anywhere else? Well, dueling/dishonor seems a good Scorpion deck archetype in Gold. Does he work well in that? Surprisingly, he can. While not wanting to go into the whole Iaijutsu Art/Poisoned Weapon combo thread on L5Rinfo right now, Kamnan is one of the few low-Chi Scorpions available for the Art. 1Chi personalities do not work as well, because they have a harder time winning the Art, even with Poisoned Weapon. Kamnan, OTOH, is at the Magical '2 Chi' threshold. In the Gold environment, most non-Art duels will be coming from 4C personalities, in the main. In the Gold dueling Factions (Crane, Dragon, Scorpion, Lion), multiple 4C personalities exist and therefore you can expect to see most duels offered by such personalities. Now why do I call 2C the 'Magic Threshold'? Basically, if a 4C personality Challenges Kamnan to a duel, I can call Strike/Poisoned Weapon, and the personality survives the PW, but dies to the duel. Most of the Scorpion high-Chi personalities in Gold also have high Force, with bruisers such as the Soul of Dozan and Paneki around. Kamnan is another high-Force personality that also has a place in such a deck, as well as giving them the option of going military.
Kamnan may not be the bargain that other personalities are, but he has a solid place in Gold Scorpion decks, and lends himself well to a myriad of combos existing in the environment. Until next time...
[Additional: In open, if just one seldom-used card isn't enough, combine Kamnan with Mirror Image. Unless your opponent kills him twice or sends him home, he gets rid of their Dynasty card. A similar result can be obtained from Mighty Protection.
Unfortunately, Kamnan has a tough time fitting into classical "Dynasty mill" decks. Such decks rely on the likes of Bayushi Aramoro, Soshi Jomyako, and the Ninja Shapeshifter to deny the opponent the opportunity to draw new Dynasty cards. They typically devote resources to keeping their opponent at bay until they have removed most of her weapons, and then pick off provinces. If a mill deck is working particularly well, Kamnan would be able to work his mojo fairly unhindered, but players can't count on such situations, and outside of ideal situations, Kamnan would be reduced to fetching coffee. In Gold, however, such a strategy cannot stand on its own, but Kamnan and Winds of Change may give it a position as a helpful side strategy. A similar, but more effective hybrid, could be developed in Open, starring experienced 2 Bayushi Hisa on a Flying Carpet. -- ed.]