Kanwulf - by Steve Crow

You may discard up to 3 defenses at the beginning of your
turn. For each defense you discard, you must either; play
an additional non-Special attack this turn, make a non-
Special attack you played this turn do an additional
point of damage if successful, or retrieve a Basic Attack
from your discard pile. You may use the War Axe as a one-
handed (1 Hand Icon) weapon. You may include up to 5
Master cards.

Overview

As the first of our Arms & Tactics Personas to be
reviewed, Kanwulf seems by many to be the most
underestimated.  In some senses he is, and in some senses
he isn't.  For instance, he retains his Persona ability
after First Blood begins, which is more than can be said
for Kanus.

Game mechanic questions first.  Despite some dispute,
Kanwulf's ability does not seem to permit him to "stack"
any one of the three functions permitted.  So each turn
he can increase the damage of one non-Special attack,
_and_ retrieve one Basic Attack, _and_ play an additional
non-Special attack.

However, Kanwulf cannot do any one of these multiple
times in the same turn.  So he cannot discard three
defenses, first to gain one additional non-Special
attack, then increase the damage of one of those attacks
by two.

Kanwulf must specify which attack he is increasing the
damage by when he discards the defense.

Kanwulf is forced to play an additional non-Special
attack if he discards a defense and states that he is
doing so.  However, this will not let him override cards
that prevent him from attacking.

Kanwulf's ability to use a War Axe one-handed means he
may make Ranged Attacks while using it, as well as
wielding a Parrying Blade or a Shield.

Persona-Specific Cards

Among the non-Reserved, non-Signature cards, Kanwulf has
the standard Back Away, Continuity, Evade, and Extra
Shot.  His Combination is of the Fitzcairn "Combine
multiple Basic Attacks" variety, while his Trip is of the
Kalas non-dodge variety.

While Reserved, Flashback and Master's Advice are both
standard.  Flashback is the Situation version that you
can discard to make an extra 3-card Exertion.

This leaves only two unique cards for Kanwulf:  Battle
Rage and Sacrifice.  Sacrifice is probably the most
potent, It does target _all_ players, however, including
Kanwulf himself.  Typically, it won't be very hard for
him to include four Allies in his deck;  Alex Johnson and
Elizabeth Vaughn will usually suffice.

Like other Battle Rages, Kanwulf's conveys a Flashing
Blade quality and costs him one Ability.  However, it
does not require him to make an Exertion.  And in a sense
it augments his Persona ability, since he can discard
defenses to make multiple attacks, and still discard up
to three defenses to make another non-Special attack,
retrieve a Basic Attack to play, or boost the damage of
one non-Special attack.

Sacrifice is a so-so Event damage card.  It requires that
Kanwulf himself play with Allies, or take steps (i.e.,
Careful Planning, Chessex plus Unexpected Assistance) to
avoid damage from it.  The fact that the damage can be
avoided by Ally-discard as well as anti-Event damage
cards such as Greenfield make it far less effective than,
say, Angry Mob/SE plus Careful Planning.

Generic Cards

Kanwulf, like Kalas (PotM #9) and to some degree Luther
(#6), has the advantage that he is not necessarily tied
to one or two specific strategies.  We'll touch on this a
bit more below.

Kanwulf's power is purely combat-oriented, unlike Kalas
(which can be used with Event damage) or Luther's (which
is primarily preventative).  So the cards that will help
him most are combat-oriented.  That's not to say that a
Angry Mob/Careful Planning or three isn't as useful in
his hands as in anyone else's.

Perhaps more than any other Persona, Kanwulf makes best
use of generic attacks and blocks.  He can discard
blocks, particularly Guards.  Thus it is very difficult
for them to tie up his hand.  His Combination lets him
cycle multiple Basic Attacks quite rapidly if need be.

Kanwulf can both gain an additional non-Special attack
and boost its damage, via the use of his Persona ability. 
This makes most non-Special attacks of greater use to him
as well.  Since he has Evade, Spinning Attacks are viable
for him.  Ripostes are rarely a poor choice for inclusion
in any deck.

Pistols, although Special Attacks, give Kanwulf something
to do on those turns when he has to play Back Away.  His
Trip can be used to make them undodgeable, an advantage
that few other Personas possess.

Cards that enhance Basic Attacks are useful, particularly
Edge cards like Lunge and Appel, since Kanwulf can almost
always discard a defense to recover a Basic Attack if he
is short one, and can increase its damage as well.

Since Kanwulf's abilities are strongly attack-oriented,
adding Trenchcoat will assure that his opponent won't be
able to thwart his drive.

As for Generic Specials...since Kanwulf is
combat-oriented, cards that keep the opponent from
escaping once the Viking has successfully landed a hit
are useful.  These include The Gathering and Carl. 
Alternately, let them escape and set them up for an Appel
on your next turn.

If you intend to use Sacrifice, a few Allies are
worthwhile.  You can use Alex Johnson (CotW #49) in
practically any deck when you want to have and hold an
Ancestral Blade:  Kanwulf is no exception.  Bedsoe is
also useful, but if he proves unnecessary can be
Sacrificed if required.

Defensively, Kanwulf is vulnerable to Ranged Attacks. 
Narrow Escape (either version), with Run For Your Life,
can prove useful.  Rules of the Game/Ranged Attack can
also thwart your opponent's strategy in this regard.

Kanwulf is good on defense, but they are merely normal
defenses.  Use Alertness as necessary against
unblockable/undodgeable attacks, or to know where to
correctly play the defense.

Location Cards

Ring of Fire prevents the use of most escape-type cards,
which Kanwulf lacks Persona-specific versions of anyway. 
This can hinder an opponent or tie up his Special play as
you attack.

Since a Kanwulf deck can afford to go a bit higher with
defense, Laundry Room may be a good choice.  Your odds
are better of having the proper defense in that Exertion. 
Keep Reconnaissance or Master's Sanctuary on hand for
additional safety.

As an Evade and Back Away type, The Circle and Catwalk
respectively can help him.  He can mix some of both, or
use Recon or Master's Sanctuary to ignore as necessary. 
The Circle will also provide him with some protection
against Pistols.

Since Kanwulf's Persona ability tends towards Basic and
non-Special attacks, Verona can prove useful,
particularly in thwarting not only those Master's Head
Shots of the Kurgan's, but the various Stalks as well.

If you don't use Sacrifice, Spiritual Center remains a
good overall defense card since Kanwulf lacks
Persona-specific protection.

Otherwise, as noted above, Kanwulf is generic enough in
his tactics and strategies that almost any Location could
suit him with the right deck.  If he pursues a Disarm
strategy (using his Persona ability to bolster the Lunged
attacks, and discarding unnecessary defenses at the same
time!), Parking Garage and Slaughter House are useful.

If Kanwulf wants to match Martin Hyde in hand-size, add
Watcher Regional HQ and as many Watcher-type Situations
as you can.  Want to knock your opponent Prone?  Railway
Yard and Trip.

Weapons of Choice

Obviously, War Axe is the first choice to look at. 
Kanwulf can use a Shield or Parrying Blade with it, or
play Pistols and Improvised Weapon/Attacks with his free
hand.  Quality Blade can expand Kanwulf's defensive
options even further, and give him enhanced protection
against all Slashes.  Attack Weapon (with Lunge) can
enhance a Disarm strategy (see Winning) below, and Throw
Weapon can supplement those Pistols.

An unpleasant combination that Kanwulf is in a unique
position to exploit is War Axe + Parrying Blade.  Block,
then expand the defense by a grid square.  Your opponent
can't attack to any of those areas, due to Parrying
Blade's special ability.  You can play to an area you
didn't defend against, or potentially discard a defense
to retrieve a Basic Attack that will play if you lack one
in your hand.

War Axe + Shield is not quite as good, but Kanwulf can
use Quality Blade/WA, gain some considerable coverage,
and leave the block up as a standing Guard.  And it does
give him protection against Ranged Attacks.

If Kanwulf sticks to Back Away and Catwalk, the
Broad-Bladed Spear can make an interesting choice. 
Impale plus the extra point of damage from his Persona
ability adds up to a considerable +3 damage if he can
successfully hit.

Rapier is not bad, although it doesn't work well with
Kanwulf's Basic Attack-recycling ability.  Still, he can
make a second non-Special attack using that, and a third
with his Persona ability, _and_ boost the damage on one
of those non-Special attacks.  This can't be taken away
by Divine Intervention or First Blood, and can be
enhanced by Flashing Blade.

The Saber is not a bad choice, since it means that
essentially Kanwulf is discarding a defense rather than a
Basic Attack to play a non-Special attack.  Assuming, of
course, there is at least one Basic Attack in his discard
pile to recover.  Still, his War Axe (with Quality Blade)
can give him better protection than the Saber's Guards. 
Unless he pursues a Power Blow- or Mountain Cave-related
strategy, the Saber doesn't yield him huge benefits.

Gladius really gives him no significant advantage, since
he has Trip to make _any_ attack undodgeable.  Still,
Twist, when used in conjunction with his Persona ability,
can do a significant amount of damage if he can hit.  And
Deflect, like Rapier, does give him another attack.

Since Kanwulf can augment the damage on a Slash, Katana
plus Lightning Strike can prove dangerous.  And he can
use Lightning Reflexes: play a block, recover, then
discard it for his Persona ability.

How to Win

Kanwulf is by no stretch of the imagination a
"power-type."  However, he's sneaky, persistent, and his
power shouldn't be underestimated.

His ability permits him to cycle defenses, meaning he can
afford to put some extras in his deck.  If he is using
his favored War Axe, uses Quality Blade/Axe, and puts in
lots of basic blocks, he has excellent coverage: 
probably the best of any Persona lacking Master's Block.

Another Kanwulf strength is that once he finds a weak
spot, he can keep hammering it.  Ever played a ULA and
watched your opponent squirm for a defense?  And then
wish you had another ULA in your hand for next turn? 
Thanks to his Persona's ability, Kanwulf can dump a
defense, recover the successful attack, and play it
again.  If you can find such a weak spot and keep
hammering it, your opponent may quickly wind down to 0
Ability.

The ability to almost always be able to have a Basic
Attack when necessary can be useful under other
circumstances as well.  If Kanwulf is playing a
head-hunting deck (particularly with a disarm strategy),
he has several advantages.  Once his opponent is
disarmed, they can't attack so Kanwulf can dump defenses
he doesn't need to gain extra non-Special attacks and
increase the damage of any one Basic Attack he plays.  He
can also recycle an Upper Attack if necessary to keep
trying for those Head Shots.

As an aside, Kanwulf's Persona ability makes him nearly
immune to Fitzcairn's Charm.

Although Kanwulf has no great strength with Plots, he can
readily assure that he has as many Upper Attacks as he
needs once he has completed a Destruction/ME1 sequence.

Overall, Kanwulf's strengths are as a fighter, both on
offense and defense.  There are other options to explore,
particularly with Darius (Seduce/Amanda comes to mind). 
Weapons of Choice open up a whole new field of strategies
and tactics where gimmicky "cheese"-type attacks aren't
necessary.

How to Defeat

Kanwulf is almost entirely attack-oriented, except for
Sacrifice.  Event damage, Ability loss,
unblockable/undodgeable attacks...all the usual "cheese"
will either take him down, or force him to employ a
larger deck.

Other than that, he has no real weaknesses.  If he goes
heavy on defense, he'll have more blocks to deal with
multi-attack types.  War Axe/Quality Blade gives him good
defense against slashes.  He's fairly versatile, good
with all the WoCs, and thus hard to predict.  

Kanwulf's Nemesis, Legend is pretty much typical: it not
only negates his Persona ability on an ongoing basis. 
Good if you're expecting to go up against him (what
Nemesis isn't?).  However, the fact that Kanwulf appears
to be underestimated will probably mean that if you're
using him in any competitive environment, you're not
going to see it much.

Overall

Overall, Steve gives Kanwulf a _6_.  I think he's
somewhat underestimated, perhaps because of the kneejerk
reaction to finding out his Persona ability doesn't
stack.  He's no Methos or Duncan (who is?), but his
Persona ability permits him to go heavily defensive,
while avoiding hand-lock.  In this post-Arms & Tactics
age of multi-attacking, that's not a particular bad
thing.  I'd give him a 5, but have to rate him a point
higher for general sneakiness.  There's more to him than
first appears.  I'm also a sucker for Disarm-oriented
Persona, and Kanwulf comes in close behind Fasil. 

What Our Other Raters Say:

Hank - Definitely not the most powerful of the Series 3
Personas.  Ceirdwyn (thanks to the pre-game Ally ruling)
starts at 3-4 attacks/round, Kanwulf can go to 2
attacks/round at the expense of ditching defenses.  The
extra damage power is okay, but not too exciting, it's
hard to ever guarantee an attack will be successful.  His
cards aren't interesting at all... his best power is the
ability to use the War Axe one-handed. The War Axe (with
Attack Weapon) makes for fun Disarm strategies,
especially with the broken Slaughter House Location...
and War Axe/Parrying Blade are fun together.  Still,
Kanwulf is my least favorite of the new immortals,

Alan - Abstain

Jeff - Kanwulf is the Slan of A&T: great inherent
ability, few cards of his own to speak of.  Works nice
with War Axe, but he gets screwed over by Master's
Advantage.  The weakest of the A&T personas, though he's
still slightly above average.

Prodipto - In the aftermath of Arms and Tactics, I think
Kanwulf has been overlooked for his capabilities.  People
see the innate threat of the powerful Kanis, or Hyde, and
the potential of Ceirdwyn and Kinman, However, Kanwulf
hasn't been given the credit he deserves.  To date, he is
the only Persona with a Weapon of Choice power (and the
most Persona Text yet seen).  Using War Axe one-handed
suddenly adds to his potential.  What does this mean for
him?  He can use War Axe and Shield, or War Axe and
Parrying Blade to good effect.  Alternatively, he can use
just the War Axe, and add Ranged Attacks to his arsenal. 
Using War Axe's Quality Blade with Prime Block will allow
him to block virtually any attack.  Add to that an innate
card cycling ability nearly equivalent to Methos.  He can
discard up to three defenses each round, regardless of
whether his opponent attacked.  He can then throw off and
retrieve an attack, throw off an extra attack or make an
attack do more damage (or all three).  As long as he has
a defense in his hand, he'll be able to play a card by
retrieving attacks.  With the War Axe's innate ability,
Kanwulf's power blows do as much damage as the Kurgan's. 
Now add a Kurgan Quickening, and you have the most
devastating power blows in the game.  While his support
cards are fairly standard, Sacrifice is a good way to get
rid of pesky Allies, or kick in a little extra damage. 
Better yet, it doesn't kick off Ceirdwyn's Retribution
(editor's note: it does if Ceirdwyn chooses not to
discard an Ally, but she only comes out ahead by one).  I
think Kanwulf has the potential to be a serious threat,
though he shines the most with his Weapon of Choice.

Allen - Kanwulf is an Immortal I find to be deceptively
powerful.  His ability to freely cycle three or more
defenses from his hand per turn allows you the freedom to
make your deck well over 50% defenses.  This many
defenses makes Kanwulf very hard to hit, especially with
the War Axe QB that makes any Basic corner Block able to
cover any square.  What to leave out of your deck in
order to make room for all of those defenses?  Attacks! 
Kanwulf only needs one attack in his opening hand. On
turn one, play a Lower Center Attack and make it do extra
damage. On turn two, retrieve and do it again.  Tell your
opponent to get used to it.  He's going to see that same
attack _every_ turn. If your opponent attacks you at your
favorite spot, then block, gain an extra attack, forego
an attack, and keep up the pressure on the same spot. 
Not many decks can defend themselves at the same square
in perpetuity. Those that can are usually of the
dodge/cheese variety, so prepare your deck with Specials
and Edges to deal with these strategies.  After that,
pick a spot and make it hurt.

Bruce - Using a War Axe one-handed and being able to
discard defenses at will to conform to an opponent's
combat strategy create a versatility that cannot be
ignored. Unfortunately, this is curtailed somewhat by
being forced to take actions that, while generally
advantageous, may not advance your strategy when making
large adjustments. Add in Kanwulf's weak selection of
Persona-Specific cards (he has no Dodge capable of
avoiding Ranged Center attacks and the only Specials
affording him any real individuality are Battle Rage,
Combination, and Sacrifice) and you end up with a Persona
that will probably only marginally impact the tournament
environment.

Stealth Dave - Kanwulf's ability is rather unique.  The
uses for an additional point of damage and extra attack
are obvious, but when you realize that he can do a
7-point Thrust Power Blow with the War Axe (WITHOUT the
Kurgan Q), his ability to retrieve a Basic Attack becomes
rather useful.  However, his lackluster assortment of
cards and the fact that it is difficult to build a
balanced deck for him (you have to add Defenses to
discard, which makes it harder to get other cards you
need for your game) almost overbalance his pros.  Oddly
enough, his best card is Trip, which is the undodgeable
variety.  But if you include War Axe and its cards into
his Persona, Kanwulf can be a force to be reckoned with. 
Just have some way to deal with the eventual hand jam
that may occur.

Jonathan - Kanwulf the Viking isn't much of a legend to
me. In fact, he appears to be the weakest of the A&T
Personas by far.  His Persona ability is decent, as he
has some options for you to build a deck around. Want to
use his damage increasing ability? Go for a Sedarius
deck, using the War Axe for that extra bit of power
blowing damage. Others might wish to stick to a
straightforward multi-attack strategy. This is fine, but
other Personas can do it better. Perhaps using the War
Axe one-handed is his best ability, as its Weapon-
specific cards far exceed his own Persona-specific cards
in usability. Kanwulf would've received a much higher
rating if his Persona ability functioned as it read, but
I guess that it, and Valhalla, are lost to him. Kanwulf
has some intriguing possibilities (using Evade in the
Circle, using his Trip with Appel) but most of his best
strategies require Qs to work effectively. He can make
excellent use of the Nefertiri Discard Q as well as the
Slan Q. Hopefully Kanwulf will receive some card support,
as his current enhancement cards do quite little. He does
have some potential for the future, as he has a versatile
ability, and a nice WoC. Once we see some cards that meld
thematically with his ability, we ll see a better Viking.

Charles - Kanwulf is fun as a multi-attack Persona since
he is able to cycle quickly and play multiple attacks
every round.  His Persona ability does leave a danger to
any player that isn't careful; it is easy to become over
enthusiastic and overcycle defenses only to end up having
to exert against incoming attacks.

Ratings Overall:

Steve                   6
Hank                    4
Alan                  N/A
Jeff                    5
Prodipto                6
Allen                   8
Bruce                   4
Sdave                   6
Jonathan                4
Charles                 4

Average:                5.22

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Television, used under license by Thunder Castle Games. 
The card text is copyright 1998 by Thunder Castle Games. 
All rights reserved.