The Kurgan

Any of your successful attacks do an additional point of
damage.  If you wish to make or block a Power Blow, you
may make a 3-card Exertion to do so.  You may have up to
6 Master cards.

Overview

The Kurgan seems a rather underrated Persona.  You
currently don't see him used in many tournaments, and he
doesn't seem to win in those where he does appear.

The Kurgan is, in this reviewer's opinion, one of the
most powerful current Personas.  He has two useful
Persona powers - an amount only equalled by Slan and
Connor (and ignoring Xavier).

Game mechanic-wise, the Kurgan's Exertion ability is
straightforward.  For any non-Power Blow attack that
requires an Exertion (i.e., Stunning Blow), he must still
make a 5-card Exertion.

The Kurgan's damage-enhancement only works on attacks
that do at least one damage.  He does not do one damage
with attacks such as Dirty Trick and Stunning Blow.  He
does add damage to Special Attacks, particularly Pistol. 
He gains no benefit from using his own Quickening. 
However, his Persona damage modifier is cumulative with
Thrust and Hideo Koto.

Persona-Specific Cards

The Kurgan is the only ME Persona without Dodge.  This
makes him vulnerable to Dead-End Alley, and limits his
response to Hidden attacks, Extra Shot, and Combination. 
He has the "standard" Back Away, Combination, Continuity,
Extra Shot, Power Blow, and Trip.

His version of Flashback is the standard one for Movie
Edition Personas, and some future Series Edition ones as
well.  Elizabeth Vaughn remains a superior card to
Flashback at this time.

Going down the list of Reserved cards, we come to
Bloodlust.  This is perhaps his most formidable card.  In
a "friendly" game without TCG cards, a Bloodlust played
on the second or third turn (those first two turns spent
playing Carl) can spell a quick end to the game.  Nobody
has that many blocks.  Assuming an opponent has 5-6
defenses in their 15 Ability, Bloodlust can do a
potential 18 damage!

Bloodlust is useless to most other Personas due to the "1
damage per attack" clause.  And don't forget the errata: 
none of these attacks can be Power Blows, even if you get
creative and use Slan's Quickening or Scotland the Brave.

Disguise gives a huge benefit to the Kurgan.  With it, he
can play his Situations with a greater chance they won't
by eliminated by Police/Remove Situation.  If the Kurgan
chooses to utilize Plots, even Simple Mind will do little
to stop him.

Follow-Up is an awesome card:  the scourge of those who
use a single dodge card to avoid two attacks from Amanda,
or Specials like Combination, Extra Shot, and Hook.  If
the Kurgan makes a three-card Exertion to make the second
attack a Power Blow, his opponent has little choice but
to stand and block.

Hammer Blow is a little less effective since Ancestral
Blade has supplanted Continuity.  If an opponent does use
Continuity, Hammer Blow will remove it after a single
use.  HB is also effective since in conjunction with
Power Blow and Head Shot, it gives the Kurgan a potential
18 "free" Power Blows!  Who needs to Exert?

Master's Disarm is an all-or-nothing card.  If you're
playing an attack-heavy deck (in conjunction with
Bloodlust), this is a good gamble.  A normal Disarm is
probably more effective otherwise.  MD is a good card to
use against Amanda, whether she is Seducing you or simply
hitting you for one damage.

Speaking of Run Through . . . this version is the same as
Slan's.  Combine it with Lunge from Watcher's Chronicle,
and you have a very effective counter-attack.  Use when
you can't avoid that Seduce damage anyway.

Scare is a fairly versatile card:  it can avoid Angry
Mobs, but it also lets you keep attacking if your
opponent uses Distraction.  If played in conjunction with
Disguise, it still gives you some Situation-removal
capability.

Taunt is not quite as effective as Katana's.  It's
probably not a good card to use when you Exert for a
Power Blow - they may have Exerted for a Power Block
anyway.  Use it on those turns when you're not attacking
heavily.

Generic Cards

The single most beneficial set of generic cards for the
Kurgan are the three Pistols.  His Persona ability raises
these from an annoying one damage up to a seriously
painful two.  This is a good reason why many opponents
won't choose to attack you unless they have some kind of
anti-dodge card handy.  A Dariused Shooting Blade is too
tempting to resist:  add it in if you use Pistols.  If
you use Pistol, conserve your Back Aways.

Those same anti-dodge cards are the Kurgan's best weapon. 
Master's Advance, Challenge/SE, Watcher: Hunter, Lunge,
and Stumble will all make sure your opponent sticks
around and has to defend against you.  Lunge can be
particularly crippling against a heavy dodge-user like
Amanda.

Carl and The Gathering are useful in Kurgan decks, since
your opponent will want to escape to Holy Ground often
against you.

If you plan on Exerting often for Power Blows, Avery
Hoskins and Challenge/ME are good additions.

Ancestral Blade is the bane of the Kurgan's existence. 
If you choose to play without Objects, use Thief.  If you
prefer to use Ancestral Blade yourself, use Misfortune. 
Yes, you can Power Block with a smaller Exertion . . .
but it's better to not make any Power Block Exertion at
all via Ancestral Blade, and use your Exertion for more
Power Blows.

The Alertness/Hidden and Feint Edge cards can be critical
to your strategy (see below).

All of the ME Plots (and Schemer) are good for you.  Use
Cat & Mouse/Defense to lower their resistance.  Or Head
Hunter to limit their defense and counter-attack
abilities, and anti-dodge stuff to finish them up. 
Destruction gives you more free Power Blows.  And Joy
Ride, although sorely underestimated, can be a game-
winner if you've seriously hurt them with a heavy attack
strategy.

If you're going to go Plot-heavy, you might wish to
consider Simple Mind.  You lose the advantage of a few
very nice cards like Master's Stratagem and Advance,
however.

Narrow Escape is recommended, since the Kurgan has no way
to dodge Ranged Attacks.  A Shooting Blade can prove
fatal to him.

Attack-wise, the two generic Slashes are not bad.  The
Kurgan does an extra point of damage with them, and they
are hard to avoid.  How to use them, however?  See "How
to Win" below.

Many other generic cards may help the Kurgan, depending
on specific strategies.  The above, however, are almost
always useful to him regardless of strategy.

Location Cards

Since Locations are so critical, let's take a look at
them separately.

Catwalk is the obvious choice for the Kurgan.  He has no
Dodges, and his Pistol attacks can't be dodged while this
Location is out.  Once again, his opponent will have to
stand and fight.  In fact, Catwalk can be so important to
this strategy you might wish to consider using a Master's
Domain or two to speed up your draw of it.

Another, less obvious choice is Ruins.  This prevents the
play of Guards against your Slashes (if you use them). 
It also prevents your opponent from using Continuity, if
they choose to.  

The other Locations are a mixed lot.  Factory +
Reconnaissance and Patience is always a good choice. 
Rooftop makes use of Scare pretty much redundant.  You
should experiment with these or others.

How to Win

Looking at the Persona-specific and generic cards
mentioned above, several strategies suggest themselves.

In an end-game, the Kurgan is very deadly.  Even without
Specials, he can still Exert for Power Blows at a low
cost and get +1 damage when he succeeds.  As long as he
attacks, he can be dangerous even with a five or less
Ability.

As noted, Slashes are hard to avoid, particularly if the
Kurgan uses anti-dodge cards and Ruins.  How can he
unleash these attacks, since practically anywhere he
blocks is going to limit his ability to use them?  Either
use a lot of Upper/Lower Center Blocks and Parries.  Or .
. . block an attack and then use Weapon Bind.  Next
round, you don't have to worry about any attacks and you
can Slash at will.

Power Blowing leaves you vulnerable to Hidden attacks. 
How to remedy this?  Use Alertness/Hidden, and have a few
Feint/Edge cards on hand.  Once you sucker them into
making a Hidden attack, use Feint and launch another
Power Blow.  You do this once and they won't take that
"free" Hidden attack again.

What if they don't make Hidden attacks against you?  Add
Master's Stratagem to your deck, and use it to discard
those cards once they're useless to you.

As noted above, the combat-oriented ME plots can help you
a lot.  Build a deck around a lot of attacks, some
defenses, and . . . a six-card set of two of the four ME
plots.  If you complete a Head Hunter plot while you have
a couple of Master's Advances out, your opponent is
pretty much defeated.

Since the Kurgan can do five points of damage with a
successful Power Blow, two strategies suggest themselves. 
The first is to build a large deck and not be concerned
about Exerting.  Add cards like Avery Hoskins and
Challenge/ME so they share the fun.  This is not a good
strategy if you use Plots, however.

The second is to take advantage of the Kurgan's vast
ability to make "free" Power Blows.  Use Hammer Blow,
Power Blow, and Head Shot, and toss in the Destruction
plot for good measure.  Keep an Alertness and Feint on
hand.  You're almost as good as Slan . . . and your extra
point of damage makes you his equal.

Bloodlust and Master's Disarm seem to work best in a
small, Lean & Mean-type deck.  Use two of each of these
cards, 6 Lean & Mean, the six basic blocks, perhaps four
Carls and two Back Aways, and . . . 22 attacks.  Tailor
to your personal preference.  This is obviously an "all
or nothing" deck - if you don't win with it, you'll lose
quickly.  But at least you'll have the satisfaction of
watching them rip several TCG cards to stop you.

How to Defeat

Since the Kurgan is a combat monster, his weakness lies
in non-attack damage.  He has Scare to ward off the most
powerful tactics such as Angry Mob + Careful Planning,
however, so beware.

If the Kurgan uses his ability to the fullest, he has a
weakness for Hidden attacks.  Use Twist of Fate (CotW
#15) to strip him of Alertness and/or Feint.

Against the Kurgan's potential incessant stream of Power
Blows, Ancestral Blade is a vital addition.  Due to
Hammer Blow, the "standard" Continuity is even less
useful by comparison.  Have several, though:  be prepared
to lose them regularly.

Nemesis/Fade Away is perhaps the most crippling Nemesis
card.  If the Kurgan ever becomes a more popular choice
in Personas, you may wish to add this to your decks on
general principles.

Also, if Kurgan/Disguise ever catches on, you may wish to
begin using Investigation regularly.

One of the Kurgan's main strengths is Situations - both
standard and Plot-specific.  Have plenty of Police and
Focus, and perhaps Investigation as well.  Simple Mind
may or may not help you, depending on the Kurgan's
specific strategy.  The Kurgan might use it himself!

Overall

As the above shows, the Kurgan is not a Persona to be
underestimated.  A carefully built Kurgan deck should be
able to match a Connor deck blow-for-blow.  Disguise
makes him a peer of Xavier and Kalas, while his Persona
ability lets him obtain maximum advantage from combat-
related Plots.

Overall, Steve gives the Kurgan a _7_.  In straight
swing-and-parry swordfighting, both basic and Special-
enhanced, he is indeed the "Warrior Eternal." 
Unfortunately, the current tournament environment tends
to detract from that.  Still, properly equipped, the
Kurgan should give almost anyone a run for their money.

What Our Other Raters Say:

Ben - Abstain

Jeff - The Kurgan is stronger than he's usually thought
to be, but weaker than he should be.  His inherent
abilities are okay, but still rank beneath others
(Katana, Nefertiri, Richie, etc.).  His cards are okay,
but are nothing really spectacular (Disguise is nice,
Bloodlust is usually equal to a ripped TCG, Follow-Up is
cool).  The main problem as I see it is that the Kurgan
tends to lend himself only to one narrow successful deck
type, which doesn't tend to promote playing him much.  If
you don't mind taking almost as much damage as your
opponent and exerting like crazy, the Kurgan is for you. 
If you prefer a bit more finesse, you'll probably want to
look elsewhere.

Rick - The Kurgan is excellant for building attack decks. 
Just by looking at his Special Abilities this becomes
evident.  The downside is that by playing the Kurgan
Persona, you are giving away a major portion of the style
of deck you are playing.  Shut down attacks and you shut
down the Kurgan.  Try to use this to your advantage.  I
can't recall ever seeing a Kurgan Chessex deck.  Use a
Pregame Darius to increase Bloodlust to 3 and then put
only 1 Bloodlust in your deck.  They will be so paranoid
waiting for the onslaught, that they will be hoarding
defenses and Holy Grounds.  That's when you bury them
with the cheese.

Hank - I loved the Kurgan in the movies, and the Kurgan
in the game is a respectable Persona:  he has a few good
cards, he's got a nice Persona ability, and he's fairly
balanced.  His biggest fault, I suppose, is that both his
cards and his Persona ability tend towards attack-heavy
decks (at least, most of the decks I've built for him
have been attack decks).  Since I'm a fan of
swordfighting decks, though, I don't consider that much
of a disadvantage.

Alan - I have just recently begun playing the Kurgan
Persona, and find him to be a monster in the attack
category.  The L&M deck mentioned in the main review is
an awesome deck, though it either wins very quickly or
loses very quickly.  A very powerful Persona.

Chip - Abstain

Jim - Kurgan is THE combat monster.  Since the addition
of Ancestral Blade to the card set, free Power Blows just
don't cut it anymore.  Having an additional point of
damage is an excellent special ability.  It works with or
without Power Blows and even works with ranged attacks
that do damage like Pistol.  Obviously Kurgan comes from
the Clint Eastwood school of firepower and carries a
"BFG".  Kurgan rocks on the Catwalk and as long as he can
attack he remains lethal.  He is very suceptible to decks
that shut down attacks, though, and a Verona/Safe Haven
combo is far worse than his Nemesis being in play. 
Kurgan has some very good cards.  His Disguise can keep
Police out of action, and Follow-Up is always good for
getting in that second deadly attack.  Bloodlust is
pretty requires using TCG to pull it off consistently. 
Building a Bloodlust deck requires discipline and the
willingness to risk everything to pull of that combo. 
Bloodlust decks are excessively attack heavy and tend to
be prone to Head Shot.  As long as Kurgan has a TCG card
in reserve this doesn't matter, and as long as he can
attack he usually can keep his opponent on the defensive. 
Kurgan's real weakness is to mega-cheese decks and lock
decks.  If you like swordfighting decks, Kurgan is a
great persona to play.

Ratings Overall:

Steve         7
Ben         N/A
Jeff          6
Rick          8
Hank          8
Alan          8
Chip        N/A
Jim           8

Average:      7.5

Highlander is a protected trademark of Gaumont
Television, used under license by Thunder Castle Games. 
The card text is copyright 1996 by Thunder Castle Games. 
All rights reserved.