Master's Meditation: Kenta
Kenta is an incredibly aggressive master with a fantastic suite of offensive abilities. He undoubtedly can hit the hardest of any of the core set masters, easily setting up massive swings regardless of his kami.
Kenta starts with the least karma of any of the core set masters. His handsize is also low at three cards. He has the standard speed of three. All of that said, he has one of the best abilities on an avatar card. Any of his fury attacks (which includes all adapts) gain plus one damage for each card with a karma of six or higher in his karma pool. This ability is amazing. This means that even with just a couple karma six cards he'll be greatly increasing his damage. Eight of his ten battle cards have fury and the least adapts in a kami deck is five. So you have at least 13 cards in your deck that can benefit, in addition to actually using the fury ability, which lets you move hit masters one space.
The RANCOR status plays right into this plan of massive damage. When your opponent attacks and damages you they gain the RANCOR status until their first action in the next round. If you use one of the, at least 13, fury attacks in your deck on them, you'll get an extra two damage on top of everything else. As you can see, Kenta is just as offensive as Akiko, just in a totally new way.
Kenta Battle Cards
As already noted, Kenta has eight battle cards with fury on them. Of those, four have a second movement ability on them. Kenta likes to determine the position of the battle, and is great for moving people off of important terrain and onto dangerous terrain.
There are three cards with Fate - Focus on them. These also have fury and so have some pretty interesting interactions with Kenta's tome. However, on their own they net you extra karma and this is almost always solid. Master's Strike is of note because it also has the ever important six karma.
The remaining two attacks, Open the Gate and Reaping Strike, do not have fury. However, they both have three excellent traits. First, they're six or higher karma. That is totally key to Kenta's strategy. Secondly, they have empower which ensures you'll be able to easily get them into your karma pool to empower the rest of your fury attacks. Lastly, they are swift, which means no responses. They are exceptionally low damage for Kenta, but are still noteworthy for the previous reasons.
The first page of Kenta's tome is Glove of Avarice, and honestly I've never used it. I see the value, but obviously it is for a multiplayer game. The issue is that once you're far enough into a game that it would be useful, you'll be on a different page further in. All in all it's too specialized to be terribly useful, but that's not a problem as Kenta starts with only one karma card and so you'll want to save that for better pages later.
Turning a page will give you Impatient Demeanor and Boots of the Wind. I love Impatient Demeanor. Turning two pages gets you to page six which is easily one of his best. Keep in mind that equipping the Throwing Axe off of page four removes it from the book and gives you Impatient Demeanor again, except this time you'll flip to Anethetic instead. Boots of the Wind are much like Blinding Speed from Hikaru, except that they take a tome action to activate. This is the major reason I do not equip them. In a large game with many tiles, the plus two movement could be totally clutch, but in general it's not worth exerting over.
Pages four and five give us two solid equipment options. First is the Throwing Axe. For a mere two karma, you can equip the axe, and in the future you can spend your tome action to destroy the axe (sending it back to your tome) and deal five damage to a master on your board. This is fantastic. The only real issue is that it takes your tome action. However, if you hit this page don't be afraid to equip the axe just to have it ready for an opportune moment later. It's also very karma efficient, so with a low karma kami it can be very useful. That also lets you spend your low karma cards, while leaving your six karma or higher in the karma pool to empower your attacks. Page five is the Steel Buckler. When you get attacked it will prevent one damage and then make you focus. This looks great in the beginning, but remember you're not actually saving any damage, you're just turning it into a focus. So if you can't spend that karma, then you can't get it back into your deck. When using the Steel Buckler, page eight is your friend. It will let you get those cards back into your deck.
Page six is Never-ending Rage, and it's easily one of the most important pages to use well in the entire tome. For four karma you can discard a fury card from you hand, and deal five damage to any master on your board. This nets you four damage on your opponent, because you're losing a card. However, tome damage is always solid, and unlike Throwing Axe you can do this each round if you have the cards for it. Though realistically, with three cards in hand it's unlikely that you can continually trigger it. The second ability on this page costs six karma and lets you put a fury card from your discard into your karma. This is a very selective way to heal some damage. You use it to get fury cards into your karma pool and then you can spend those cards to get awesome fury attacks back into your deck. Keep in mind that the Fate - Focus ability will still trigger when you use this card to put it into your karma pool. As you can see this page is much more potent and versatile than it first appears.
Page seven is Sashimono. This is an equipment that allows you to discard cards to focus that many times. You can use this ability once per round as a free action. This is a sort of high risk, high reward play. Used at the right time you could increase an attacks damage by two, or you could get the karma you need to play a great ability, like Never-ending Rage. However, often it doesn't play out that way, also it stops you from being able to use Anethetic, which is truly clutch.
The last page is Anethetic. This is where we separate the men from the boys. This is probably the best page in Kenta's book. Between this and Never-ending Rage, Kenta has two fantastic healing pages. This page helps him sift through the low value karma and leave the high karma cards in his pool to provide extra damage. In addition to that, if you really need to heal a bunch, simply call a value of "X" that's equal to your whole karma pool. You'll heal and you'll get all of those cards back into your deck. By the time you'd want to pull that maneuver it should be really late in the game and you probably don't need the extra damage as your opponent is low as well.
So where is the sweet spot in Kenta's book? Honestly, he doesn't have a traditional sweet spot. Pages four, six, and eight are all awesome and can be used repeatedly over the course of any given game. The key to great Kenta play is knowing which spot is going to be the most beneficial for you. If nothing else it's almost never a bad idea to use Never-ending Rage.
Kenta is a master that I feel shines with whichever kami you give him, though he plays remarkably different with each. Oddly the biggest benefit that Tortoise gives him is low karma. RANCOR status means that Kenta doesn't care nearly as much if he loses initiative. He will often strike back with a brutally large attack. Tortoise's Path is eight damage with RANCOR, even without any six or higher karma in your karma pool. When playing Tortoise I love the Steel Buckler. Because Tortoise has so many cards it gives you the extra focuses you need to find your high karma cards, and it ensures that you have the karma you need to keep playing your abilities. Don't be afraid to use Anethetic to keep putting low cards back into your deck though. Using Steel Buckler and Anethetic together you can last quite a long time, with one fueling the other.
On the downside, the Tortoise only has three cards with karma six or higher. On the bright side two of them are adapt and so you can pull them into your karma pool with Never-ending Rage. Be mindful of your limited attack pasterns and try to decisively strike your opponent.
By now you should know that Tiger is my go to kami. With Kenta it's great because they both employ empower and can easily keep up with his karma needs. It's also great because two of it's empower cards have karma seven, and so can go straight in to increase the damage of your fury attacks. The Tiger has a nice balance of abilities for Kenta to play with. Just keep in mind that you have very solid damage and need to be employing that whenever possible.
The only downside here is that the Tiger is on the low side of karma values. This means that other players can Clash your gigantic attacks pretty easily, and there are only six cards with a karma value of six or higher.
This pairing has some fantastic karma, and solid attacks. It also brings into play the awesome Dash ability. This lets Kenta position himself even on turns where he does not have the movement action. Ambush is not particularly useful to Kenta outside of it's natural combo with Dash.
Canonically Kenta uses the Dragon, and it just makes sense. Dodge lets him move on his opponent's turn, positioning himself for an attack. Dragon's Path is karma six and so you can use Never-ending Rage to keep cycling them without losing any damage. Speaking of karma, the Dragon is chalk full of high karma. This means the normally lackluster three damage from Dragon's Path will be much much higher, especially if you have RANCOR on them. RANCOR requires you to take damage, so it's dangerous with so few hit points, but if you save a Riposte for the right time, you can blunt the damage, deal three to your opponent, and still give them RANCOR. As always this is the high risk, high reward way to play Kenta. However, unlike normal masters, Kenta sacrifices nearly no damage to gain all the benefits of the Dragon.
I honestly think he shines regardless of the kami, and you just need to adapt your tactics to the tools in front of you. He can make any one of them run fantastically. That said, I LOVE him with Dragon. He gives Dragon incredible damage which is never has, all while comboing amazingly with his playstyle. Now keep in mind you have 30 hit points and so no room for error. But if you accept the challenge, I think you'll be impressed with what you can dish out!
Hope you've all had a chance to enjoy some Yashima this weekend, and I'll see you later this week with my last Master's Meditation, Rosamu!
Will there be a meditation for Rosamu too?
Looking forward to it.
What would you say is the use of Fury's relocate hit master ability? Bumping them into deadly terrain seems clear, moving them off rejuvenating or off adjacent relic terrain could come in handy. But should you try to keep the master still adjacent to you, forcing them to exert if they wish to move away or relocate them off of your zone?
Kenta seems to be my achilles heel at the moment, can't seem to get him to work.