Kern - by Alan Murrell

When you Exert for an attack, you may play any number of non-Special attacks from that
Exertion.  You may have up to five Master cards.

Overview

Kern is, in my opinion, the most powerful Persona coming out of Watcher's Chronicles, and
will be a force to be reckoned with when he gets regular play.  He is definitely _my_
favorite WC Persona.  His Persona power is quite, well, powerful.

Note that in order for Kern to use his Persona power, he must have an attack slot available.
 So he couldn't, for instance, play an attack from his hand, and then Exert for more
attacks, unless he has another card giving him that slot to Exert with (The Prize/Attacks,
Master Race, etc.)  More on these cards below.

In addition, any cards which modify attacks (Power Blow, Lunge, etc.) and are used on
attacks Kern pulls when using his Persona power must be played _before_ he makes the
Exertion, then applied where appropriate.  This is because after making an Exertion, you can
no longer play any cards from your hand.

Editor's Note:  Under the current rules for Exerting, you cannot use a second Exertion to
"extend" the first Exertion.  Thus, Kern cannot Exert for and play up to five attacks, then
discard Flashback and draw three more cards to play more attacks.  He _can_ make a second
Exertion if he plays no attacks from the first Exertion.  Also, if he has a second attack
slot, however, he _can_ Exert for attacks twice, assuming he has a way to make multiple
Exertions.  Cards that extend an Exertion (Heather, Tessa, Collect) work normally.

Persona-Specific Cards

Back Away is the only dodge that Kern has.  This makes him vulnerable to Dead End Alley, and
limits his options against hidden attacks, Combination, and Extra Shot.

Bowie Knife is a nice card for Kern, one which complements his Persona power quite nicely. 
Being an Object, it is relatively hard to remove, and gives the benefit of extending an
attack Exertion by three additional cards.  All the more cards to find attacks in!  However,
only one is allowed to be in play at a time, which means that you will probably have one or
two taking up space in your hand.  Also note that the 3-card Exertion extension is only good
when Exerting for an attack.

Kern's version of Flashback is the same as Duncan's (and Annie's and Fitzcairn's).  Again,
it goes great with his Persona power, and you can have as many in play as you can get in
play.  Being a discard-to-use card, Flashback has _many_ uses.  Did you just Exert for a
defense and find no appropriate defenses in the Exertion? Well, discard a Flashback (or two)
to extend the Exertion.  Or, did you just Exert for a defense?  Want to Exert for attacks? 
No problem.  As long as you have enough attack slots, just discard a Flashback for each
slot, make the extra Exertion(s), and play any/all attacks from those additional Exertions.

Hogg is perhaps Kern's most powerful card.  Also an Object, it is hard to remove, and
if/when it _is_ removed, he loses 1 Ability.  But its benefits far outweigh its cost.  The
biggest plus Hogg gives is the ability to prevent all damage from one attack.  What's that? 
You don't have the appropriate defense in your hand and have to Exert for one?  As long as
you're Exerting, why not go with more of a "sure thing" and Exert to prevent all damage from
the attack instead?  However, note that you can't avoid a Head Shot by using Hogg.  But Hogg
is definitely a life-saver at times.  Its second benefit isn't too shabby either:  being
able to make a Power Blow without an Exertion.  On a side note, if Hogg is used to prevent
damage from an attack, take note that the attack is still considered successful.  This
distinction becomes quite important with other cards in WC.

Editor's Note:  because of the fact cards like Flashback and Signorina Arianna don't
"extend" Exertions, they may not seem useful in letting Kern get the super-attack Exertions.
 However, they will let him Exert to use Hogg for damage prevention, and then Exert again
for attacks.

Which brings us to Power Blow.  This card is the "standard" Power Blow card given to almost
every Persona.  It's always been one of my favorite sword-fighting cards, and I can _always_
find room for it in my larger sword- fighting decks.  A good backup if Hogg gets removed.

Rage is basically a mini-Scotland the Brave, without the required Exertion.   Once again, a
perfect card for Kern's Persona power.  Note that Rage must be played before Kern makes any
Exertions for attacks.  The downside (loss of 1 Ability) can _really_ be worth it.  It also
has the anti-dodge vs. multiple attacks clause, reducing your reliance on Flashing Blade.

(Ed. note:  note that while Rage only _gives_ you two "free" Power Blows, it lets you _make_
any number of Power Blows.  This lets you gain a third Power Blow from Hogg, and even more
with Flashback.)

Kern's Trip is one of two new versions introduced in WC.  This particular version is quite
useful for Kern, due to his multi-attacking ability.  When Kern's power is properly
utilized, Trip becomes quite a nice enhancement card.  Again, it has to be played before
Kern Exerts for attacks, and it only works on the next _successful_ attack.  But as I
mentioned, with the multiple attacks Kern will be playing, at least one of them is bound to
hit most of the time.

Generic Cards

There is a multitude of generic cards that help Kern.  Perhaps the most useful is Flashing
Blade, since his opponent won't be able to use one dodge to get out of the way of all of
Kern's attacks.  Just imagine the look on your opponent's face when you play Flashing Blade,
then unleash 5+ attacks on him!  Then when you make 2+ Power Blows (with Rage and/or Hogg),
you're talking about real fun!

Carl and/or The Gathering should definitely go into _all_ Kern decks.  Nothing is more
frustrating than playing 3+ attacks, several of them Power Blows, and watching your opponent
play a Holy Ground.  Carl and The Gathering will quickly put an end to that.

Ancestral Blade, even restricted to one,  should go into Kern decks, if for no other reason
than to minimize those Exertions for Power Blocks.

Master/Swordmaster (allows 3-or 5-card Exertions) is also very useful in a Kern deck, to
help minimize card loss when you use Hogg.

Speaking of Master cards, Master's Advance is _definitely_ a must-have card in every Kern
deck, and is particularly effective when combined with Flashing Blade.  Master's Stratagem
is also useful to help Kern through the frequent hand-jam that can occur.

Signorina Arianna is also a card that should be in every Kern deck.  If he has to Exert for
a defense, he can still make a "regular" Exertion for an attack.  Or he can make a larger
attack Exertion (assuming he has the slots).

Since Kern decks will most likely be Exerting a lot, Avery Hoskins and/or Challenge/ME are
good cards to include in your deck:  let your opponent share in the fun too!

Anything which can give additional attack slots is also useful.  With The Prize/Attacks and
Master Race out, Kern would be able to play an attack from his hand, then make an Exertion,
and play all attacks from the Exertion.  This helps get those attacks out of your hand,
where they have a tendency to accumulate.  Or if he has two attack slots, he can make two
Exertions (due to Signorina Arianna, The Prize, or Flashback) and play attacks from both.

Kern is also one of the few Personas who can really make good use out of Scotland the Brave,
as odd as that sounds.  With his Flashbacks and Persona ability, you're talking about some
_real_ fun, especially with Flashing Blade and/or Master's Advance out!

Narrow Escape should always be given serious consideration, since Hogg will always be the
first target for Misfortune (or worse, Thief).  Kern has no other defenses against Shooting
Blade and other Ranged Attacks.  Besides, there's nothing  I love more than watching my
opponent's face after he plays a Shooting Blade/Challenge combo, and I play Narrow Escape. 
Mix with Kern's ability, and unleash a multitude of attacks on him!

There are several other cards that are useful for Kern decks, including Dr. Alan Neyman (see
below).  However, the above are the really major ones that should _always_ be given
consideration, if not included.

Location Cards

The obvious Location of choice for Kern is Catwalk, since Back Away is the only dodge he
has.  It seriously impairs his opponent's ability to dodge out of the way of Kern's multiple
attacks.

You might also want to try Lighthouse, since if your opponent makes an unsuccessful attack
against you, he can't play any dodges.  A perfect time to use Kern's ability.  And it can't
really backfire on Kern all that much, since Kern doesn't really rely all that much on
dodges, due to his lack of them.  (Ed. note:  remember that with Lighthouse, only _one_ of
your attacks has to be unsuccessful for you to be unable to dodge.)

No other Locations really benefit Kern all that much.

How to Win

Looking over Kern's Persona power and cards, one strategy immediately becomes obvious:  a
tower deck heavy on attacks (at least 50%), and plenty of Exertions.  While this strategy
can work, it means possibly Exerting past such key cards as Hogg, Flashback, Bowie Knife,
and Flashing Blade.  Use Alex Johnson to help you recover Hogg and/or Bowie Knife from your
discard pile.  As for the other cards, just include the maximum of six and hope for the
best.  You also might run into hand-jam quite frequently, being unable to play certain
cards.  Use card cyclers such as Master's Stratagem and Elizabeth Vaughn to help you here.

Another strategy involves _controlling_ your Exertions.  How do you do this?  Easy.  Use Dr.
Alan Neyman to "stack" your deck.  Dr. Alan Neyman will allow you to draw three cards from
your Endurance, and then place three attacks on top of your Endurance.  This way, you will
get at least three attacks in your Exertion:  possibly more depending on how many attacks
you have in your deck, and your use of Flashbacks and/or Bowie Knife.  Mix well with
Catwalk, Master's Advance, Flashing Blade, and, of course, Hogg.

Although I've only had limited success with such a deck, you may wish to try a small, tight
deck (about 60 or 70 cards), heavy on attacks, and with frequent Exertions.  I've found that
you intend to run through your Endurance pretty fast.  However, sometimes you can do more
damage to your opponent before you do too much damage to yourself.  Again, I've only had
limited success with such a deck, but you may want to give it a try.

How to Defeat

Misfortune/Thief can really hurt Kern, since you can (and should) use them to remove those
Objects Kern seems to rely on:  Hogg and Ancestral Blade.  If given a choice, _always_
remove Hogg before Ancestral Blade, since it is the more powerful of the two, and also
"pings" Kern for one Ability loss each time it is removed.

Since Kern's strength lays in attacks, and his cards are combat-oriented, one of Kern's
weaknesses is direct damage.  He doesn't have Persona-specific cards available to him that
prevent such damage, and the generics that are available are fairly limited in their
effects.  It tends to be only a matter of time before Kern succumbs to such tactics. 
Healing decks also tend to do well against Kern, since they don't really care how much
damage they take . . . they just simply heal right back up.

Kern's Nemesis card, Overbearing, is fairly crippling since Kern decks tend to be built
around the ability to play multiple attacks from Exertions.  With his Nemesis out, Kern's
hand will fill up pretty quickly with attacks, and he will be Exerting quite a bit for non-
attack reasons (Hogg, defenses, Power Blocks, etc.)  This could spell his doom.

And since many of the cards that are useful to Kern are Situations, Police and/or Simple
Mind might be a good addition to your deck.

Overall

Kern is definitely a Persona to be reckoned with.  He has a _very_ powerful Persona power
that can be deadly when combined with the right cards.  He is also one of the few Personas
whom I feel his strength is most definitely in his Persona power.  He is practically an
attack monster, and should _never_ be underestimated.

I give Kern a _7_.

What Our Other Raters Say:

Steve - A powerful fighter, but the tower deck/"Exert like crazy" deck is not always to my
taste.  I helped Alan develop the Neyman strategy mentioned above:  the precision of the
Exertions is more my preference.  Kern is also the most _boring_ of the WC Personas.  He
rivals Slan in the field of Least Persona-Specific Cards (he has seven - Slan now has six),
but is not as varied.  If you see a Kern Persona, you know pretty much what they're going to
do - there just aren't going to be many surprises.  To borrow a phrase, he's the best he is
at what he does, but that's all that he does.  I'd rate him a little higher if he were more
versatile.

Jim - The newest badass on the fight scene.  Kern is "Mr. Killer Exertions."  He works well
with Avery Hoskins since he'll want to make lots of Exertions anyway.  Ruins is a good
Location for Kern.  Due to his Flashback, Kern can make good use of Scotland the Brave. 
Hogg will help keep Kern from taking damage while giving him some flexibility in making
Power Blows.  Bowie Knife will let Kern make more attacks each turn.  Kern will tend to have
a larger deck than most Personas and he'll be more attack-heavy than the average Immortal. 
As long as he can attack, Kern is king of the road, but he's very vulnerable to anti-attack
strategies.

Rick - Kern definitely brings the game back to swordfighting.  But with the "variability" in
his "ability" ( ;) ), he needs cards to let him control what he's Exerting for.  He can be a
really formidable opponent in the hands of skilled players.  Casual players may find it hard
to build effective decks for him.

Hank - Kern has a reasonably fun inherent ability, and has several cards (Hogg, Bowie Knife,
Rage) which are fairly unique and fairly powerful.  He's also definitely
swordfighting-centric, which I like.  He's not the most powerful out there, but he's
well-designed.

Jeff - Kern may be the first Persona where you gain a real advantage from Exerting (as
opposed to Katana and Fitz, whose abilities are mostly defensive).  Dr. Alan Neyman and
Jungle (with Nef's Discard Quickening) would seem to be two great ways of setting up your
exertion.  Flashing Blade, Lunge, Challenge, and the rest are of course also great. 
Personally, though, I have a strong antipathy toward Exerting and a love of combination
decks, so I doubt Kern will get much use by me.

Wayne - Abstain

Prodipto - Kern has a lot of potential as a Persona.  He is probably the first Persona I
would consider building a tower deck for.  The only real effective defenses against his
multiple attack ability are dodges, Guards, and Master's Blocks.  He can run an opponent out
of those in a hurry.  I think Kiss Your Butts Goodbye is a must for a Kern deck.  But if his
ability wasn't potent enough, his support cards add to that.  He can increase his Exertion
size with Bowie Knife (and more if he uses Collects), and then he can make several Power
Blows through the use of Hogg or Rage.  He is another great Battlefield persona.

Allen - If you liked playing Kurgan full-out, Bull-Rush decks than you'll love playing Kern.
 A bit 1-D, but fun that way.  He's good at making multiple attacks and multiple
power-blows, but can burn through his deck quickly if his opponent can avoid all his attacks
with a single dodge or Holy Ground.  He should try to back his opponent into a corner
(Master's Advance, Dead End Ally, Catwalk, Carl, The Gathering) before pressing the attack. 
Flashing Blade is also a good addition to any Kern deck.  Flashback and The Prize:Extra
Attack can help you dish out monster combos.  Hogg and Bowie Knife (with Flashback) are both
too utilitarian to omit, and Rage gives even more offensive punch (though Scotland the Brave
is often better).  Alex Johnson is almost a must, as you _will_ exert past all those
above-mentioned Objects.  Losing cards is a definite downside to Kern's power, so it's
usually best to get your next couple of turns set up in your hand before you start exerting
madly.  Foam at the mouth and have fun.

Ratings Overall:

Steve         5
Jim           7
Rick          6
Hank          8     
Alan          7     
Jeff          7
Wayne       N/A
Prodipto      7
Allen         7

Average:      6.75

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