Kalas - by Steve Crow

At the end of his Draw Phase, your opponent must discard
a card from his hand for each point of damage you inflict
that turn with Attacks and Events.  You may have up to
five Master cards.

Overview

Although Kalas seems a puzzling and somewhat elusive
Persona for many players to come up with strategies on,
personally, I like the guy.

What's Kalas' secret?  You don't know what to expect with
him.  With every other Persona in the game, they're
predictable.  Are you facing Amanda?  Expect dodges. 
Annie?  Expect Flurry Strikes.  Xavier or Nakano?  Expect
lots of Situations.  Connor?  A Master's Block combo and
Mountain Cave.

Even Luther and Khan, relatively vague Personas, have
certain strategies that you can expect.  For Luther, load
up on anti-Standing Defense cards against
Continuity/Endure Pain.  Against Khan, add Misfortune or
Thief.

But Kalas is the true man of mystery.  When you see an
opponent using Kalas, you have no idea what to expect. 
He may use Plots.  He may make Power Blows.  He may use
Extra Shot.  Who can tell?  Only Duncan comes close to
matching Kalas' versatile, enigmatic and unpredictable
nature.

Game mechanics questions:  Kalas' ability kicks in at the
end of the draw phase, _after_ cards have been drawn or
discarded.  Thus, if you had an Ability of 15 and took
two points of damage from Kalas, you end the turn by
discarding or drawing to 13, _then_ discarding down to
11.

The damage done by Kalas does not count if it is
prevented.  Cards such as Khan's Armor, Dr. Sonny
Jackson, Dr. Anne Lindsey, etc., prevent damage from
occurring.  If it doesn't occur, it has no effect.

Cards that increase Ability, on the other hand (Lost
Love, Watcher/Treatment, Master's Advice) do _not_
prevent damage or otherwise keep it from happening.  If
you take two damage from Kalas, and then play
Watcher/Treatment, you will still have to discard two
cards at the end of the turn.

Even if Bystander/Situation (lose cards instead of taking
damage, CotW #4) is in play, discarding due to Kalas'
successful attack damage still occurs.

Kalas' ability only works on damage he inflicts from
attacks and Events.  Damage from Locations (Battlefield)
and Situations (currently none) have no special effect. 
Ability loss that Kalas causes is similarly ignored.

Persona-Specific Cards

For his unreserved cards, Kalas has the "standard" Back
Away, Flashback (ME version - discard/draw five cards),
Extra Shot, and Combination.  Back Away is mandatory in
almost any Kalas deck, since it's his only dodge card. 
Flashback is useful in Renaissance-style, but otherwise
Elizabeth Vaughn remains a better choice unless you're
paranoid about Sovereign Media or anti-Ally/Event cards
(none of the latter currently exist).  Combination and
Extra Shot both are more powerful for the addition of
Lunge and Flashing Blade in Watcher's Chronicles. 
Personally, I prefer Extra Shot since Alertness/Hidden
and Connor can get around the second attack of the
Combination.

Kalas also has the unreserved Trip and Continuity. 
However, these are different than "standard."  Trip (a
key to his power, as we shall see) lets him make one
attack undodgeable.  Continuity lets him make "free"
Power Blows if his opponent does so.

The last unreserved card Kalas has is actually a set of
three:  the Song of the Executioner plot series.  I'm
somewhat unimpressed by these cards.  They are good for
an end-game, but early in the game their effect can be
minimal.  This card conceivably lets your opponent gain
the benefits of Elizabeth Vaughn (if he plays Patience
after discarding) while still being able to play another
Special!  SotE, enhanced by Locations, isn't much better. 
An opponent can use it as an excuse to discard enough
cards to trigger Factory's removal.

This brings us to Kalas' Reserved cards.  Master's
Advice, no longer restricted, is straightforward.  Given
Kalas' five-Master limit and inability to stack this
card, he probably won't want to use more than two.  Given
the number of powerful Masters now out there, he may not
wish to use any Master's Advices.

Forgery does for Plots what Alex Johnson does for
Objects.  This Event lets you recover a Plot Situation. 
It won't do anything for Plot Events.  However, this
recycling can let you reuse those three-parters possibly
one more time than you typically would.

Intimidate is an absolute shut-down of an opponent's
ability to Exert.  This may not seem like much, since
many people don't _want_ to Exert anyway.  But under the
right circumstances, it can be very powerful.  More on
this below.

The final Kalas Reserved card is Stalk.  This Special
Attack is the ultimate restrictor on an opponent's
willingness to play Holy Ground.  It may not seem like
Kalas has the heavy attack firepower to force an opponent
to _need_ to play Holy Ground.  But it's something that
an opponent must watch for, even if they want to play
Holy Ground just to cycle cards.  Also, don't forget that
Stalk is an unblockable, undodgeable attack even if you
_can't_ make it a Head Shot.  And you may make Stalk a
Head Shot, albeit a normal one, if your opponent didn't
play a Holy Ground last turn.

Generic Cards

As noted above, Kalas is a Persona who tactically and
strategically is difficult to pin down.  He can use any
number of strategies, and thus a number of generic cards
benefit him.

Flashing Blade and Lunge can enhance his Combination and
Extra Shot, just like anyone else's "standard" versions. 
The penalty of Kalas successfully attacking makes the
"bite" of these cards a bit more.

If you're going to use Stalk, Dojo is an invaluable card. 
If your opponent plays Holy Ground/SE, you can discard
any four cards and keep that Stalk and Head Shot. 
However, if they use the ME version, you may lose one or
both in the reshuffle.  Use Dojo to store them.  Use
multiple Dojos to diversify your assets and keep your
opponent from removing the right one.

Twist of Fate and Rachel Ellenstein are useful against
all three incarnations of Alertness, since these three
cards can thwart Kalas' Combination, Trip, and Stalk.

Concerning plot cards, I find that Kalas' Forgery-
enhanced talent actually works better to enhance an
existing Plot like Unholy Alliance or Head Hunter, rather
than his Song of the Executioner.  Ability loss from the
former is nothing to laugh at.  And if the latter keeps
an opponent from attacking or blocking, Trip can keep
them from dodging, and Stalk will deter them from playing
Holy Ground.  Director's Cut (either version), if you can
get it, help Kalas quite a bit.

Master Swordsman, used as a Power Blow for the second
attack of an Extra Shot/Flashing Blade combo, again works
in conjunction with Kalas' Persona ability to give him
extra bite, while Stalk keeps them wary of playing Holy
Ground.  It's also handy when used with Kalas' anti-dodge
Trip.

Darius makes Kalas even more unpredictable.  A Sedarius
combo is perhaps not as powerful as it once was, but
Stalk prevents the inevitable Holy Ground escape route.

Psyche (CotW #29) isn't the most powerful card in the
world.  However, the look on their face when you force
them to play that Holy Ground prematurely, and then go
Stalking after them next turn, is well worth it.

Carl might seem redundant if Kalas uses Stalk.  However,
remember that a card that is countered is _still_
considered to have been played.  As Alan suggests below,
let them play the first Holy Ground and then use Carl
against the second.  Although difficult to accomplish,
using Carl is currently the only way Kalas can use Stalk
in a multi-player game.

We'll address some specific strategies below.  Generally,
however, Kalas can make effective combinations with
practically anything out there.

Location Cards

Dead-End Alley is the only Location Kalas should avoid,
for obvious reasons.  Similarly, Catwalk is probably his
top choice.  However, because of his versatile nature,
almost any other Location can help him under the right
circumstances.

If Kalas goes with a disarm strategy, Parking Garage is
the Location of choice.  If he wants to try exhaustion
(see below), Desert is good.  If he just wants a lot of
cards at any given time, Watcher Regional HQ and
Watcher/Watcher Field Agent Situations will do the trick. 
Factory or Battlefield with Patience plus Intimidation
have some interesting uses as well.

The only Locations that Kalas should _probably_ avoid are
Verona (errata'd version) and Lighthouse.  The former
cancels out his Stalk, while the latter gives him no
strong advantage.

How to Win

The first trick to winning with Kalas is realizing that,
in a sense, his Persona ability is somewhat of a red
herring.  While it is strong in an end-game, its
application early in the game can potentially _benefit_
an opponent, by letting them cycle out unplayable cards.

In the end-game, it is helpful because you can get them
down to two Ability or so.  If they have an Ability of
four and you hit them for two, they will have no cards
and an Ability of two.  This gives you an extra round to
pull off a Head Shot.

Building a strategy around Kalas' Persona ability is
difficult, though.  Immortal Wound is the obvious choice. 
However, since it is a Situation, it is anything _but_
"Immortal."  Your best bet is to go for a strong attack
or damage strategy, and let the Persona ability work as
it may.

Don't underestimate Kalas' ability, though.  If an
opponent has a tightly-cosntructed deck, there may not be
_any_ cards he wants to discard.  Particularly if you're
playing Kalas "cold" with little idea of his strategy.

What does Kalas do _to_ win?  Well, whatever he wants. 
Kalas is the ultimate generic, with tools to do
practically anything well.  The key here is Stalk and
Trip, with Forgery, Continuity, Intimidate, and some
generics giving him a boost in key areas.

The obvious strategy for Kalas is direct damage.  Pound
your opponent with Street Punks (you might even find the
ME version useful), Angry Mob/Careful Planning, and
Darius in Alliance/Xavier and Toadies/Katana. 
Watcher/Watcher Tribunal can help you here.  Police their
Greenfields to their discard pile, then use the Tribunal
to make them take damage based on the number of WFAs in
their discard pile.

Extra Shot, thanks to the boost from Flashing Blade and
Lunge, is a dangerous weapon.  Load Kalas up with extra
attacks, and wait until you get the components (using
Dojo as necessary) you need for this combo.  Have a
Watcher/Watcher Involvement or two out to stop those
Master's Blocks, and launch your assault.  Use Master
Swordsman to make the second attack a Power Blow, and
watch as they scramble to avoid this mess without playing
a Stalk-provoking Holy Ground.

Want to try disarming?  Go with Parking Garage as your
Location, and Forged Steel, Iron Will, and Circular Parry
to help your disarms.  Once you've got them disarmed,
start Trip/Power Blowing, again using Master Swordsman if
possible to avoid Exerting.

Want to use Plots?  Pick a good one.  Personally, I
prefer the following mix of three-parters:  1-1-2-3-3-3. 
With some timing and a little luck, you can complete a
plot three times with only the standard six cards
allowed.  You may want to use Plot Twist to get that Part
2 down early.

What do you choose for a Plot?  Unholy Alliance is always
good.  Head Hunter can be deadly when you use Trip and
Stalk.  Destruction can minimize the need for you to rely
on a Head Shot card for that Stalk.

Oddly, Counterfeit isn't a bad choice here.  Try an
exhaustion strategy.  Use Desert as your Location, and
mix in with Pummel and Improvised Weapon/Object.  Use
Trip with these attacks for greater effect.  You can use
Forgery to recover those Parts 1 and 2 if you go by them.

If nothing else, use Cat and Mouse.  If your opponent is
foolish enough to remove them from play, you can cycle
them right back in with Forgery, nailing him or
benefiting yourself ten times.  You'll never get more
than six in play at a time, but you can potentially play
that sixth one five times if you get them down quick
enough or your opponent is foolish enough to let them go
until too late.  Use Dojo and Flashback/Kalas to dump
your Forgerys if your opponent doesn't fall for that
sucker trap.

If you can limit your opponent's defenses via Battlefield
or Factory (using Patience and Reconnaissance to keep
your hand fully stocked), Intimidate assures that they
can't Exert for a defense, assuring a successful attack. 
When you reach that moment when they've failed to play a
defense, start using Master Swordsman to make "free"
Power Blows.

Power Blowing is another advantageous strategy for Kalas. 
Once they play Ancestral Blade, Misfortune it, then start
playing Lunge and Intimidate with a basic attack, and
Exerting to make it a Power Blow.  They can't Exert for a
dodge _or_ for a Power Block.

If you plan on any kind of Exertion-based Power Blow
strategy, you'll want to use Master/Swordmaster and/or
Collect to minimize your Exertions.  You can rely on
Master Swordsman, but this deprives you of the advantages
of Lunge.

Kalas' Continuity is a way to get "free" Power Blows and
still be able to play Specials that turn.  This requires
that your opponent make Power Blows.  However, with the
introduction of Lunge this is much more likely from
Watcher's Chronicles on.

If nothing else, Kalas can put those Back Aways to good
use.  Play one, then use Trip and a Pistol.

As is obvious, trying to pick just one key strategy for
Kalas is difficult.  A bit of imagination and you can
come up with any number of them.

How to Defeat

Kalas has several weaknesses.  His primary one is that
like the other WC Personas, he has no inherent way to
make Power Blocks.  Unlike Fitzcairn and Annie, he is
dodge-weak.  And unlike Kern, he has no inherent way to
make extra Exertions.  Master Swordsman can help him
here, as can Stamina if carefully managed via Elizabeth
Vaughn, Flashback/Kalas, and Dojo.  Still, even if Kalas
is using his Continuity, he has to be able to attack
after you make those Power Blows.

Direct damage and plots are typical weapons in the Kalas
armory.  Greenfield can eventually backfire due to
Watcher Tribunal (see above), so Police/Counter Damage
and other damage reversal/sharing cards might be better. 
You may need the extra power of Underworld Contacts and
Investigation in your deck.

Extra Shot (due to Lunge or Flashing Blade) is unpleasant
no matter who is wielding it.  Dr. Alan Neyman (CotW #2)
can help to at least assure that when you Exert, you get
what you need.  Kalas won't be the only person you run
into using this combo.

Kalas' Nemesis, Falsetto, is a mixed blessing.  Certainly
it's better than not taking damage _and_ losing cards. 
However, to a certain degree Falsetto is not a Situation
you can take advantage of.  What are you going to do: 
_let_ yourself take damage so that Kalas has to lose
cards?  I don't think so.  Still, in an end-game it can
be useful to you, much as Kalas' power is to him.

Overall, Kalas is a difficult opponent to predict.  The
strategy that may work against him one game may backfire
the next.

Overall

Kalas' main strength is his unpredictable nature.  The
only thing you can count on is that a Head Shot/Stalk is
always near at hand, and limit your play of Holy Grounds
accordingly.  He doesn't have one crushing strategy
(other than perhaps Sedarius, backed up by his Stalk). 
But he can catch you in several different ways.

Overall, Steve gives Kalas a _7_.  He may not be the most
versatile Persona, looking only at his Persona-specific
cards.  To build a good deck with him requires an
advanced understanding of the game and the various
generic cards.  However, this makes him a dangerous
opponent.  And Stalk, his best weapon, assures that an
opponent is going to stand and fight.

What Our Other Raters Say:

Jim - One of the more unusual Immortals.  Due to Forgery,
Kalas can complete plot sequences better than any
Immortal other than Xavier.  Kalas' Song of the
Executioner is very potent if he can impose an anti-draw
strategy on his opponent.  Factory is a good Location for
Kalas, as it will keep his opponent from drawing up at
the start of his turn.  Twist of Fate is a good card to
get rid of his opponent's Edge cards such as
Reconnaissance, Focus, and especially Patience.  Schemer
is a great card for Kalas, and the Director's Cuts are
useful if you can get your hands on them.  Stalk is a
truly excellent anti-Holy Ground card.  I doubt many
folks will play Holy Ground against Kalas unless they
have Alertness/Dodge or Block in hand.

Rick - Abstain

Hank - Kalas has a _great_ set of cards available to him,
which both capture the character well and are fun to
build decks around.  He's not too unbalancing, but he's
definitely unique.  I think he's one of my favorite card-
game villains.

Alan - One of the cheesiest personas to come out of
Watcher's Chronicles.  My favorite strategy with him is
to have Chessex out, hit my opponent with a double-dose
of Careful Planning + Angry Mob (for 6pts of damage), and
then having Kalas' ability kick in, leaving my opponent
with approximately six cards in his hand at the beginning
of his next turn.  Try it - it works.

Jeff - Kalas is a Persona that I don't have a whole lot
of use for.  Plots are, of course, his forte, given
Executioner's Song and Forgery, but we all know how
powerful plot decks (excepting possibly Cat and Mouse)
tend to be.  His Stalk is very neat, but requires an
opponent's action to be really useful.  His Intimidate,
coupled with Lunge and maybe a Slan Q, is interesting. 
His inherent ability, however,  more often than not tends
to help the opponent rather than hurt them (especially if
they are playing Nefertiri or the Nef discard Q); in
fact, he seems more useful playing _with_ his own
Nemesis.  So, while Kalas has some cool cards, I think he
lacks a reliable strategy for winning consistently.

Wayne - I'm not sure that the ability Kalas has of making
his opponent discard cards when taking damage may not
help him more often than hurt him.  He has some
interesting cards such as Stalk and Intimidate.  Just the
chance of an unblockable/undodgeable head shot makes
players think twice before going to Holy Ground. 
Overall, I think that he is one of the weaker personas.

Prodipto - Kalas is a Persona with a lot of potential. 
He seems best suited, unfortunately, for cheese decks. 
He starts to shine the more damage he can inflict on his
opponents, leaving them with fewer cards in hand to deal
with the next round.  His Song of the Executioner plot
lends well to keeping his opponent's hand size down,
since most players would rather discard a few cards than
take Ability Loss.  Fortunately this won't also activate
his special ability.  Factory would be an excellent
location for Kalas to use. Kalas also does a pretty good
job of discouraging Holy Ground, since one never knows
when he's holding a Stalk in his hand.  While Kalas is
not one of the most powerful personas in the game, he can
still prove to be a competitive one.

Allen - The dynamic of Kalas' interesting power is the
one least like anything else in the game.  He gravitates
towards reliable direct damage, but with his versatile
cards you can easily mix cheese with attacks.  Kalas
boasts all the standard combat cards and his Stalk keeps
opponents wary of Holy Ground.  (Let the first HG go
through; use Carl on the second with Headshot!) 
Intimidate is great for making Power Blows or forcing
Fitzcairn to take his damage like a man.  Forgery grants
Kalas a good chance at finishing a plot as he can go get
whichever piece you are picking on with Police.  Forgery
also helps him avoid that other pitfall of plot decks --
exerting past the one piece he needs.  Kalas' main
strength is end-game.  Once you get your opponent to low
Ability, you can keep his hand empty of ways to defend
himself. I usually take a two-pronged approach with
Kalas.  First, use direct damage to wound my opponent. 
Then, use attacks and Intimidate to move in and take
Quickenings.  Mix well and have fun.

Ratings Overall:

Steve         7
Jim           7
Rick        N/A
Hank          9     
Alan          6     
Jeff          4
Wayne         5
Prodipto      5
Allen         7

Average:      6.25

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The card text is copyright 1997 by Thunder Castle Games. 
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