The Sorceror Nakano - by Steve Crow

Instead of playing a Special card during your turn, you
may discard a Special card to duplicate the effects of an
Event played during your opponent's last turn.  Treat the
effects as if you played that Event.  You may have up to
5 Master cards.

Overview

Nakano is, somewhat curiously, an underrated Persona. 
There was some initial enthusiasm when he came upon the
scene in the Movie Edition.  These days, however, he
seems more valued as a Quickening than as a Persona.

In this reviewer's opinion, Nakano is not a powerhouse. 
He is, in fact, somewhat of a one-note character.  Still,
he has some strengths.

Game mechanic-wise, Nakano's power raises several
questions.  Any opponent's card that he "duplicates" is
considered the same as if he has played it himself.  It
can be countered normally with Forethought, TCG, etc.

If an opponent's card is countered, it is still
considered to have been "played" and therefore, you may
duplicate it on your turn.

One interesting observation here:  Nakano's Persona
ability states that he, ". . . may _discard_ a Special. .
." (author's emphasis).  Thus, if Nakano is using
Nefertiri's "discard to top of Endurance" Quickening (or
Nefertiri is using Nakano's Quickening), the Special that
is played goes to the top of the Endurance.

Card reservation and restriction #s are only considered
for deck-building purposes.  Nakano may ignore
restrictions and reservations when duplicating an
opponent's card.  Thus, if he duplicates an opponent's
Alliance/Xavier, he need not play a Darius with it, even
if he is using Darius and/or Alliance in his own deck.

Nakano cannot duplicate more cards than his opponent
played.  Thus, he can't discard three Specials to
duplicate one Kirk Matunas that his opponent played.  He
can, however, discard three Specials to duplicate three
Kirk Matunas that his opponent played.

Also, Nakano may supplement cards he duplicates from his
opponent with his own.  Thus, if an opponent plays one
Kirk Matunas, Nakano may duplicate it, then play three of
his own.  This is also a useful tactic with Dr. Sonny
Jackson.

A card that is countered is still considered to have been
played.  Thus, if Nakano rips a TCG on an opponent's
Event, or Watcher/Counters their Watcher/Treatment, he
may still duplicate it on his turn.

Persona-Specific Cards

Nakano has most of the available non-Reserved Persona-
specific cards:  Back Away, Combination, Continuity,
Dodge, Power Blow, and Trip.  He also has Flashback (the
five-card discard version) and Duck.  He lacks Extra
Shot, however.

Nakano's version of Flashback is the standard one for ME
Personas.  Elizabeth Vaughn remains a superior card to
Flashback at this time, except in in Renaissance format.

Combination, Trip, and Duck all provide Nakano with
Hidden attacks.  As we will see, this is critical to his
primary strategies.

Looking at Nakano's Reserved cards, we first see Master's
Disarm.  This version lets you take an opponent's sword
if you are disarmed.  Errata should be noted on this:  it
may not be used against a ranged attack, and cannot be
used if Nakano has Extra Weapon or Improvised Weapon in
play.

Master's Disarm is not a bad emergency card, but is
somewhat costly since it takes up 1+ of your five Master
slots.  It is somewhat risky to build a strategy around. 
You have to use Discard Weapon, hope that your opponent
attacks you, and they don't have an Extra Weapon or
Recover Weapon card ready themselves.  Unless you use
Chessex, in which case you can play Discard Weapon and
Master's Disarm in the same turn (subsequently Policing
Chessex), this strategy is _very_ obvious.

Master's Maneuver is a nice way to supplement Nakano's
primary strategy of Hidden attacks.  However, the fact
you can only have one in play at a time can be somewhat
restrictive, requiring you to get rid of extras or hold
on to them in future.  Becomes more useful if you or your
opponent use Honor Bound and/or Wargames West.

Mirror Image is Nakano's most powerful Reserved card.  It
can be Focussed, since your opponent makes the die roll
on _their_ turn to see if they hit.  However, otherwise
this card is proof against anything from a Shooting
Blade/Challenge to a Sedarius Power Blow.  Cursed is also
useful in conjunction with this:  appropriately enough,
since Nakano's picture is on that card.  Note that Mirror
Image only protects against attacks:  not Disarms.

Shadow of the Mind is a card that I initially dismissed. 
It does augment Nakano's Hidden-attack strategy, and can
be Focused past for card-drawing purposes (like Poison
Gas and Garfield).  It is still somewhat weak.  However,
Watcher's Chronicles introduces one card, Dojo, that is
_very_ powerful with any "discard if you draw" Situation: 
if properly used, Dojo can let you get more attacks
_without_ drawing cards.  See Card of the Week #34 for
more information.

Nakano's last Reserved card, Swords to Snakes, is just
annoying.  At the very least, it gives him a Hidden
attack the turn he plays it.  It can actually benefit
opposing non-attack decks that want to get rid of their
attacks.  Against most other opponents, it can almost
always buy Nakano a one-turn grace.  Combine with Caught
in the Act/SE to run them out of attacks.

If Swords to Snakes remains on the table . . . your
opponent is in trouble.  You can now initiate Hidden Head
Shots with relative ease.  Even if they get a Hidden
counter-attack due to your Power Blows, they can't take
it because of StS.

In an end-game, Swords to Snakes is even more powerful. 
They may not _have_ two attacks in their reduced hand to
discard.  If this is the case, you can attack and keep
them from counter-attacking for quite some time.

Generic Cards

The single most beneficial card for Nakano is
Pedestrian/Hidden-Only.  This Situation will keep both
sides from attacking unless they can make their attacks
Hidden.

Thanks to Trip, Duck, Swords to Snakes, Master's
Maneuver, and Shadows of the Mind, Nakano can keep making
Hidden attacks for quite some time.  Most players don't
stock up on a lot of attack-Hiding cards, and the ones
they do, like Riposte, are easily predictable.

Alertness/Hidden is a card that Nakano should have for
those occasions when his opponent can make a Hidden
attack.  Alternately, he can rely on the 9-area coverage
of Back Away and Dodge, or use his Ducks if the opponent
makes a Hidden attack due to Riposte.

Cursed seems custom built for Nakano.  It can aid him
both when using Mirror Image, and when preventing a
Master's Disarmed opponent from regaining his weapon via
die rolling.

Your opponent will spend a lot of time dodging your
Hidden attacks.  Use Master's Advance often.  Three of
these, with Nakano's other two Master slots filled by
Master's Maneuver and/or Master's Stratagem, are probably
your best bet.

Carl and The Gathering are useful in Nakano decks, since
your opponent will often want to escape to Holy Ground to
avoid your Hidden attacks if they can't dodge, or miss
the block.  Holy Ground/SE will also remove your Shadow
of the Mind.

Attack-wise, the two generic Slashes are not bad.  They
can be Hidden, are easily playable after a Duck, and
Master's Advance keeps your opponent from readily dodging
them.  Mix with Ruins (see below), and your opponent
can't block the Slashes either.

Psyche (CotW #29) has some potential for Nakano.  The
strategy here is to get a Hidden attack through other
means (Riposte, Swords to Snakes, Shadow of the Mind),
then play Psyche.  If you draw a defense from them, play
a Hidden attack to a non-protected area.  They _have_ to
play the defense, since they have no way of knowing if
it's illegal.  Nail them and force them to Exert for a
defense.

IMHO, Nemesis cards are currently viable only to Nakano. 
If he can't use them, he can always discard them to
duplicate an opponent's Event.  Reporter can be used in a
similar manner:  play it if you're down on Ability, use
it as a duplicator if you're not.

While Nakano can and probably will duplicate many of an
opponent's useful Events (Watcher/Treatment,
Police/Remove Sit), he shouldn't necessarily skimp on
such cards himself.

Location Cards

Nakano's best Location is Ruins.  Guards can stop his
Slashes, and provide a wide spread to cover Hidden
attacks.  By using Ruins, you can trap those Guards in
your opponent's hand, and keep them from playing other
annoyances like Master's Stance+plus Master's Block, or
Higher Ground.  Just remember that you can't use
Continuity when you use Ruins yourself.  With the
restriction on Ancestral Blade, this can be a handicap. 
However, use of Master Swordsman and even Focussed Block
can help you here.  A Ped/Hidden "attack-lock" means your
opponent can't make attacks, normal or Power Blow.

Since Nakano is a fairly versatile dodger, he can drop
Back Away and go with Dead-End Alley.  For Back Away-only
types like Slan and The Kurgan, you can immobilize them
with this Location.

If you're going to use Master's Disarm, Parking Garage is
a good choice.

Mountain Cave is _not_ a good choice:  you have plenty of
ways to make Hidden attacks:  why give your opponent the
chance to do so as well?

Battlefield has pros and cons.  Running your opponent out
of defenses is useful, but can backfire.  Unless you're
using Nefertiri's Quickening(s), it probably isn't a good
choice for you.

If you're using Shadow of the Mind, you're probably not
going to want to draw cards anyway.  So Factory looks
promising.  However, it means you have to play
Reconnaissance, Patience _and_ Focus to draw back up.

And finally, Lighthouse can enhance your Hidden strategy
in several different ways.  First of all, if your
opponent can't make a Hidden attack, you don't have to
worry about dodging it.  You probably won't use Standing
Defenses.  And if your opponent does get off a Hidden
attack and misses, you can nail them due to their
inability to dodge.

How to Win

Nakano's cards lend themselves to one specific strategy: 
Hidden attacks, and lots of them.

Unfortunately, the best strategy to implement this is a
near-lock:  get down Pedestrian/Hidden to keep your
opponent from attacking, and make Hidden attacks
yourself.  This strategy doesn't work quite as well
against Connor since he can see your attacks.  However,
it still "locks" him unless he has a way to make Hidden
attacks.

This strategy is kind of boring, but Nakano's best bet. 
He can play a more general Hidden attack strategy without
the lock.  Nakano's defenses are very good:  he has a
greater number of dodges than average, plus Mirror Image. 
Still, a determined Connor opponent can probably take you
down.  A heavy-hitter like Slan or The Kurgan, relying on
anti-dodge (particularly Lunge!) and Focus, can probably
hurt you as well.

Building an overall strategy around Nakano's Persona
ability is rather difficult:  there's no way to predict
exactly which Events your opponent will use.  Still,
Watcher/Treatment and Police/Remove Sit are givens in all
but the greenest of decks.

These cards are more tactical than strategic, however. 
Unless you know exactly what an opponent will be playing
with, go with your own strengths rather then hoping
they're going to use Darius + Seduce/Amanda times four.

If they do, be ready to take advantage of it.  Rip a TCG
on their Darius'd Seduce, then duplicate it yourself and
be ready to rip on that Holy Ground they'll probably use. 
Use of Watcher/Counter, or Darius'd Forethoughts, can be
a useful strategy to conserve your TCGs.

How to Defeat

More than most, Nakano's Nemesis, Self-Betrayal, can be a
real pain.  He can be locked by his own
Pedestrian/Hiddens, while his opponent Trips and Focuses
at will.  Still, if your opponent tries to Police any of
Nakano's many Situations, it gives him what he needs to
remove Self-Betrayal from play.

Cards like Rooftop and Scare will remove the threat of
Pedestrian/Hidden.  Once you can attack at will, follow
the typical strategy for heavy-hitters:  use Intimidate
or Distraction to prevent Nakano counter-attacking,
Hidden or otherwise, after making a Power Blow.  Use
Lunge to pin Nakano down.  Time carefully for after you
have Focussed Nakano's Mirror Image.

Nakano's main strength is in Situations:  use of Simple
Mind will either take out a lot of his cards, or require
him to rip a TCG before SM hits the table.

For the same reason, Focus will let you bypass Nakano's
Situations.  Sometimes it is better to simply get rid of
a card like Swords to Snakes by discarding, rather than
leave it out there.  In general, however, Focus will see
more use against Nakano than practically any other
Persona except Xavier.  In fact, six Focus probably
aren't enough...

Lots of Police/Remove Sit can help, although Nakano's
power lets him turn them against you.

Cards that Nakano can't duplicate are also a weakness. 
Renee Delaney doesn't give anything for Nakano to
duplicate (unless he counters).  Other such cards are
direct damage (if you can bounce back the damage with Do
It Yourself or Unexpected Assistance/ME), and Kate.

Overall

As the above shows, Nakano can be tough under the right
circumstance.  Nakano should be able to Ped/Hidden lock
an opponent and toss out lots of Hidden attacks. 
Unfortunately, this is his primary strength, and others
may prove more difficult to implement.

Overall, Steve gives Nakano a _6_.  He can lock down with
the best of cheese, and sneak in Hidden attacks.  This
makes him a bit of a one-note Persona, however.  His
Persona ability is a nice defensive measure, but is not a
great combat-enhancer:  rather, it is more useful in
thwarting or dealing out cheese.

What Our Other Raters Say:

Jeff - During playtesting of ME, Nakano was my favorite
persona.  Unfortunately, once I tried to translate him
into a workable deck type, only lock or healing proved
moderately useful.  Nakano's problem is that his cards
are okay, but tend to be destroyed by Katana (Situations)
and/or ignored by Connor (Hidden attacks), giving him a
big vulnerability to at least two very popular deck
types.  He's too defensive in nature to be viable for
tournament play, IMHO.  Now, if he could get some cool
cards to go with that ability...

Rick - Abstain

Hank - I've tried to use Nakano a number of times, and I
think he has some interesting and unique cards... but
he's just never seemed to work all that well for me.  I
think there's something in there, but I've never been
able to build a Nakano deck that wouldn't work better as
someone else.

Alan - One of my favorite Personas, Nakano can be quite
powerful, particularly since he is the king of Hidden
attacks.  He is also one of those too few Personas whose
strength is not only in his Persona ability, but also in
his cards.  A properly-constructed Nakano deck can give
anyone but Connor (and Duncan, to a lesser degree)
trouble... particularly those cheeseheads!

Jim - Nakano is master of the Hidden attack.  He is also
king of the Event.   He is the one persona who can afford
to use Nemesis cards for any Immortal who might give him
problems. If he doesn't face the Immortal, he can always
discard the Nemesis to duplicate an Event his opponent
plays.

Wayne - Nakano tends to lend itself to being very
reactive instead of aggressive.  The Hidden attack
ability is okay but somewhat dangerous with Feint edge
cards out there.  Nakano really needs some better
offensive cards to be more competitive with other
personas.  His ability to duplicate Events is extremely
powerful, especially with being able to duplicate healing
cards.  Many people overlook Nakano as a viable Persona
but I believe that you can win with him.

Prodipto - Nakano has several strategies integrated
directly into his Persona.  He is the best character for
hidden attacks.  Combined with a Ped/Hidden, he makes an
intriguing "Lock" deck type Persona.  He is well-suited
for Dead-End Alley and Parking Garage.  With his ability
to play Hidden attacks, Dead-End Alley will make things
very difficult for Slan and Kurgan players, as well as
Personas who only have Dodge and Back Away as options for
Dodging.  Of course, he is also well-suited to use Lunge,
especially in these situations.  With his "guaranteed"
Master's Disarm (although it must almost always be
prefaced with a Discard Weapon, revealing your strategy)
and the fact that he has Ducks available to him, Nakano
can work quite nicely in a Parking Garage.  Discard,
Duck, Disarm, hidden attack is a potent 2-turn
combination.  Nakano is also the only Persona who can
make effective use out of Nemesis cards.  If he isn't
playing the Persona he has the Nemesis for, he just
discards it to duplicate an Event.  I think the hardest
part about building a Nakano deck is trying to figure out
what _not_ to put in it.

Allen - While not as effective as Connor, Kurgan, or
Katana in a straight-up sword fight, Nakano excels at
defensive warfare.  I find Pedestrian: Hidden to be his
best friend.  Whether he is trying to fight you, lock
you, or cheese you, his mastery of hidden attacks gives
him the edge while Ped: Hidden is on the table.  It's
difficult to Focus past Two or three Ped's, and thus you
can lock your opponent's attacks in his hand and force
him to play with only his dwindling defensive resources. 
Things to look out for here are Rooftops(!) and Simple
Mind.  Should he ever get ahead, or should the game
simply stall, Nakano always has the advantage.  He has
all of his cheese, plus most of _your_ cheese.  He has
all of his healing cards, plus all of _your_ healing
cards.  Efficiency is his key.  He can discard whatever
cards might not prove to be useful against his current
opponent while duplicating the useful events of his
opponent.

Ratings Overall:

Steve         6
Jeff          3
Rick        N/A
Hank          4
Alan          7
Jim           7
Wayne         7
Prodipto      7
Allen         6

Average:      5.88

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.