Katana - by Steve Crow
[Instead of playing a Special card,] anytime during your
turn you may make an Exertion to remove a Situation from
play. You may have up to 5 Master cards. (Errata'd
Known and feared by many, General Katana is one of the
most dangerous Personas. His main strength is his
versatility: more than any other Persona, he has all the
bases covered: attack, defense, direct damage, anti-
direct damage, and Situation removal.
First, game mechanics questions. As in every other case,
Katana's Exertion to remove a Situation can only be used
for one purpose. If he Exerts to remove a Situation, he
cannot also use that Exertion for a Power Block, or for
The new errata limits Katana's ability somewhat, but it
still provides him with the option to remove a Situation
practically any time that he wishes to.
That is how General Katana functions. What resources
does he have available to him?
Among the non-Reserved cards, Katana has most of the
typical ones: Back Away, Combination, Dodge, Extra Shot,
Power Blow, and Trip. All of these are the "traditional"
With Ancestral Blade Restricted to one, and the addition
of cards like Lunge in Watcher's Chronicles, Katana's
lack of Continuity leaves him open to an aggressive Power
Blow strategy. This is a weakness that we will look at a
Going down the list of Katana's Reserved cards, we see
Do It Yourself: This card is a potent one for dealing
with direct damage, since the "mirrored" damage cannot
then be reversed again. Direct damage decks rarely rely
on the most effective anti-damage card: Greenfield
Hobby. So you have a good chance of nailing an opponent
using direct damage. It will only work on Event damage
that originates with your opponent, however. This makes
it immune to Nakano's Persona ability. However, it also
means that you can't use DIY against any damage Events
you play that are bounced back at you.
Intimidate: Often overlooked, this card is useful for
setting up an opponent. If they choose not to attack,
you can set up a Taunt attack to any area. It is almost
as good as Slan's and Luther's version, and if you use
Power Blows it can be just as effective in preventing
Hidden counter-attacks. Useless against Kern. With
Toadies and Taunt it forms a trio of Exertion-forcing
Master's Attack: This card seems an unusual one for
Katana. Still, using this in conjunction with Taunt
means your opponent is even less likely to draw the
necessary defense. Still, given that Katana needs other
Master cards, ignoring this card may be an easy decision.
Master's Block: Another unusual choice for Katana. This
is more useful then Master's Attack, since it gives full
coverage against Hidden attacks, Slashes, etc., while
still allowing a counter-attack (typically with Taunt).
However, as noted above, Katana may wish to save his
Master slots for other things.
Run Away Train: Like Intimidate, another often-
overlooked card. Against the right type of deck it can
be very useful, preventing the play of annoying
Situations without requiring you to Exert or waste a
Police/Remove Sit on them. It also removes the
(errata'd) Angry Mob/SE from their hand.
Taunt: One of the most powerful cards in ME, and one
that should be used in any Katana deck. This card at the
very least forces an opponent to exert past useful cards.
Better still, they may not get the defense they need and
be hit. If Katana has minimized his Exertion or is using
Master Swordsman, he should make the "Taunted" attack a
Power Blow. Kastagir can cope with this card more easily
than others, but he can still be hurt.
Toadies: This is the third Exertion-forcing card that
Katana has available to him. Like Taunt, it forces the
opponent to Exert _and_ they may not get some or all of
what they need. The damage can be bounced back, however,
and Do It Yourself is typically useless against such
As noted above, the choice of Masters is a hard one for
Katana. Master/Swordmaster minimizes the Exertions he
will probably need for Situation removal and Power
Blocks. Master's Stratagem is always useful for card
cycling. Master Swordsman allows Katana to Power Block
without an Exertion, and make exertion-less Power Blows
with Taunt. Since he has only five slots, it is likely
he will give greater consideration to these cards than
his own Masters.
The promotional Collect card is the other option for
Katana players looking to minimize their Exertions.
Three of these will make his Exertions much more viable -
combine with Master/Swordmaster and he can remove
Situations at little cost.
Since Toadies already gives Katana a good Persona-
specific direct-damage Event, other such cards (Street
Punk/SE, Angry Mob w/Careful Planning) are good choices
to enhance that strategy.
If you do use a direct-damage strategy, Bystander, the
Situation variant, is a useful card since it reduces the
chances of you taking damage from attacks, while letting
your direct damage cards do full effect.
Despite Katana's Persona ability, Police/Remove Sit is
still a useful card for when he does _not_ want to Exert,
or needs to use that Exertion on something else while
dealing with Situations.
Simple Mind similarly is a useful card for clearing the
board of a large number of your opponent's Situations.
Depending on the number of Situations you are using
yourself, this could backfire, but it's not a bad last-
A recent promo, The Path, is handy for Katana. This card
removes any Master from the game when it is removed from
play. Although restricted to two (due to errata), this
means that important Master Situations like Master's
Advance and Master's Stratagem are taken out of the game
when Katana Exerts to remove them.
With the current errata, there are not a great many
Locations that benefit Katana.
Dead-End Alley or Catwalk can restrict a Taunted opponent
further. Verona (the errata'd version) can hold off the
nastier attacks of an opponent while allowing Katana to
launch his potent non-Special attacks augmented by Taunt.
If Katana is using Master's Attack or Master Swordsman,
then he shouldn't use Verona.
If Katana is not using Pedestrians himself, Rooftop is a
good "placeholder" card. It will remove an opponent's
Location, and perhaps hurt an opponent's strategy. This
makes it a better bet than Get Away From It All. Of
course, if you are going to employ direct damage with
Angry Mob-SE/Careful Planning, you shouldn't use this
Desert and Battlefield are poor choices, costing Katana
the powerful resources he has.
Lighthouse, if properly timed, can be useful. You are
much more likely to hit due to Taunt, leaving you more
defensive options. Master's Block gives you a good
defensive option against Hidden attacks since Lighthouse
restricts Guards and dodges.
Since Katana's primary strength is in his cards, the more
the merrier. Watcher Regional HQ lets him draw more
cards, while employing useful Watcher and Watcher Field
Agent cards like The Armory, Watcher/Rearm,
Watcher/Counter, and Watcher/Involvement.
Generally, there is no specific Location that helps
Katana. He should use a particular Location, but which
one is up to whatever strategy you decide to use with the
How to Win
As noted above, Katana is one of the best Personas from a
versatility standpoint. He covers just about everything
one way or another.
Because of this, how you choose to win with Katana is
entirely up to you. Want to use direct damage? Use
Toadies and mix well with Street Punk and Angry Mob-
SE/Careful Planning. Katana's Situation removal will let
you keep up with the potential six Greenfield Hobbies
your opponent will have ready to play.
Want to go on the offensive? Taunt and Thrust. Or Taunt
and Power Blow via Master Swordsman. Or Taunt and Power
Blow/Exert. Even if they block every attack, they're
Exerting to do so.
When you're not Taunting, use Intimidate to keep them
from attacking, or make them waste more cards to do so.
Master's Block and both 9-grid dodge cards help you
defensively. You can cover all the grid areas, allowing
you to avoid most Hidden attacks. Master's Block lets
you avoid unpleasant attack cards like Bloodlust,
Berserk, Battle Rage, and Extra Shot/Flashing Blade.
Run Away Train and Do It Yourself let you avoid, reverse,
or prevent your opponent's most powerful non-combat
Katana's Situational-removal ability can let you play
with fewer Police/Remove Sits. However, Exerting is
never a good thing. It is better used as an "emergency"
measure. Thanks to Katana's ability, he almost never has
to worry about Plots, for instance.
How to Defeat
Katana's primary weakness, with the new errata and the
release of Watcher's Chronicles, is his vulnerability to
Power Blows. Without six Ancestral Blades to rely on, a
Power Blow/Lunge can almost certainly force him to Exert
for the Power Block or waste his turn playing Ability-
recovering Specials like Reporter.
Katana is also vulnerable to his direct damage being
bounced back at him. Unexpected Assistance, David Blake,
or a Darius'd Do It Yourself can nail him right back.
Greenfield Hobby is another good counter. He can remove
it more easily than most, but he still has to Exert (and
not play a Special) to do so. Just make sure not to have
multiple Greenfields on the table, in case Katana is
using Simple Mind.
One thing you have to realize against Katana is that
while your Situations probably won't assist your strategy
against him, they are still hurting him. They force him
to burn cards and waste turns' worth of Special play to
deal with them. So you're not going to trap Katana with
a Master's Advance or two. However, you are going to
This brings us to Psychosis, Katana's Nemesis. Although
this has gone through several iterations, it currently
remains as it was originally written. What does it now
do? Every Situation you play acts as a Renee Delaney.
He cannot play a Special, since he is forced to Exert to
remove each Situation you play, one turn at a time.
Psychosis also makes Katana users very leery of using
Situations, since they may be forced to cannibalize them
when your Situations (if any) run out. This impacts
particularly on Exertion-reducers like Master/Swordmaster
The best overall counter to Taunt _and_ Toadies is Dr.
Alan Neyman (CotW #2). This card is useful for a quick
"emergency" burst under most circumstances. Against
Taunt, it lets you dump two useless/unplayable cards, and
get the defense you need. It also works for Toadies,
letting you put those three defenses back on top of your
deck and then Exerting.
Kastagir and Nefertiri w/Battlefield can also deal with
Taunt more effectively.
So Katana can be beaten. He is annoying, although less
so with the errata'd change to his Persona ability.
Playing Situation will slow him down, either letting you
keep them on the table longer, or delaying his play of
powerful Specials of his own.
Steve gives Katana a _9_. His versatility is his
strength, more than any other Persona. He has something
for any circumstance, and I suspect some Personas will
never catch up to him in terms of this versatility.
Against a Katana deck, you simply never know what is
coming if you see him across the table from you at the
beginning of a game.
What Our Other Raters Say:
Jim - General Katana is one of the more powerful
personas. He's a bit weaker now that he must sacrifice
playing a Special in order to use his special ability to
Exert and remove a Situation. Katana has a diverse set
of cards which are among the best available to any
Persona. Taunt is especially good for swordfighting.
Katana also has both damage inflicting and anti-damage
cards. He's also got Master's Attack and Master's Block
to give him an advantage when swordfighting. Katana is
an all around well balanced persona. He can swordfight
or cheese with the best of them.
Rick - Katana, even with his new power is still powerful.
He has a good mix of combat cards as well as cheese/anti-
cheese stuff. His Persona ability does what it is
supposed to do: make those lock decks tougher to pull
Hank - The reigning king of cheese. I hate cheese, I
hated Highlander 2, and I hate Katana's ability: it's
broken way too much of the game. I have to be a fair
judge, however: it's a powerful ability, he's got cool
cards, and when I _have_ played him (usually to
demonstrate how broken he is) I've been very successful.
>From that perspective, he's perfect . . . so I'm forced
to give him a 10.
Alan - The errata to Katana's power has depowered the
General somewhat, but not so much so that he still isn't
a good Persona to play; the ability to remove Situations
at any time is perhaps one of the most powerful and
useful in the game. His Nemesis is quite possibly the
most crippling, too: if several Situations are out, it
becomes a Renee Delaney _and_ Carl built into one! Still
a cheesemaster, but not as powerful.
Jeff - Katana's the man; what more need be said? Even
with the rewriting of his ability (which serves more to
reign in his Quickening than him), Katana still has some
of the best Persona cards in the game, along with a
useful ability. Pity that TCG saw a need to try to lower
his power rather than raise the others to his level.
Katana's a dynamic and useful persona that lends himself
to cheese, lock, denial, _and_ combat.
Wayne - In my opinion, Katana is far and away the most
powerful Immortal. This is not because of his ability to
remove situations (that just makes him play more
consistent) but because he has the best cards. For
example, Toadies is the best persona cheese card in the
game, Do It Yourself is the best anti-direct damage card,
and Taunt is the best attack card. He even has Master's
Block for playing against Bloodlust. His main
vulnerability is his Nemesis card, which kills him in
playing against Slan or anybody who makes
Prodipto - I regard Katana with mixed feelings. He has a
very potent ability, and his support cards lend
themselves to cheese-type decks. There is no denying,
however, that he is a very effective persona. Between
Toadies and generic damage events, he can generate a lot
of direct damage without having to play many attacks.
One thing to note, however, is that if you want to make
an attack deck with Katana, he lends himself well to this
also. He has Master's Block, which is by far and away
the best defense against the three B's of attack decks
(Battle Rage, Bloodlust, and Berserk). Between that,
Intimidate and Taunt, he can make a potent attack
persona. I expect to continue seeing a lot of Katana
decks in tournaments, and will continue to play with few
Situations (except perhaps for Psychosis...) The only
real problem with Katana (aside from the likelihood he'll
see a lot of Psychosis cards), is that he doesn't lend
himself well to a Location. An effective tactic is to
use Collects and Master/SE to bring his exertion size
down, and TSC Troopers to remove opponents' locations
from play. Since reducing exertion-size is very
desirable for Katana anyway, you can quickly eliminate an
opponent's location strategy on the first pass or two
through your deck.
Allen - Great at cheese, the best at anti-cheese, and a
very good swordsman. I find Katana to be one of the best
rounded immortals in the game. His ability to remove
Situations with an Exertion is a great defensive power.
It also relieves the requirement to use Police in your
deck, allowing you to be more specialized. Use Focus and
Exertions to remove Psychosis. Use your exertions to
remove your opponent's ability to shut down your
strategy. It costs you cards and the chance to play a
Special, so ignore situations that don't bug you.
Your ability to be good at your own strategy lies within
your cards. Toadies give an extra bite to Careful Mobs,
and burn your opponent's ability and deck at the same
time. Do It Yourself and Run Away Train are great
cheese-slicers. Master's Block and Master's Attack serve
their usual purpose. Taunt is a powerhouse card for
swordplay, giving you greater odds at scoring sword
damage (especially power blows). Use it on the Catwalk
with Master for exertion control.
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Television, used under license by Thunder Castle Games.
The card text is copyright 1996 by Thunder Castle Games.
All rights reserved.