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art (c) Mike Trap


Beat the Ascended

Everybody hates the Ascended.  Heck, they even hate themselves.  As a faction, the Ascended seem to have everything going for them -- they have fast resources, they have good fast hitters, they have strong inexpensive Events, they cycle to their cards very quickly, they steal your power and they steal your characters.  With the huge amount of thugs who are vulnerable to Shadowy Mentor in Shaolin Showdown, including cards to foil the Ascended has become of prime importance.

Eventually, you are going to have someone in your group becomes over dependent on the Ascended power cards to win and you might find yourself getting frustrated when you play them.  Don't get mad, get even.  Here are some cards that you should consider to throw a wrench into their master plan for world domination.

All Factions:
Casbah:  The Ascended have the most 0-cost events, and often the most power -- this will chill them out for a short time.  Plan well to defend it.
Curio Shop:  Since the Ascended love to pump out the Pledged with their Family Estates, this Site can slow down their assault, giving you time to build a defense.  It's also great against those Gruff Lieutenants with Explosives.
Diamond Beach: 
You might try this one if you are being overwhelmed by a horde of Pledged -- it may not make the final cut, but it's worth a try.
Disco:  See Gambling House.
Field of Tentacles:  Family Estate is a huge threat, and you need to take it out ASAP after it hits the table.  The Estate lets them crank out free (or reduced cost) characters, as well as letting them cycle to their good Events.  The Field's Body of 8 makes it a great choice for a front row site in any deck.
Gambling House:  While this doesn't do anything specifically to the Ascended, you should be able to use it on most turns because of the Ascended's lack of diversity in designators.  Ever power counts when you are fighting to keep even.
Lusignan's Tower:  The Ascended love to play 0-cost Events, and very often on your turn.  It's always nice to knock a good card or two out of their hands.
No Man's Land:  This battleground site can turn any character into CHAR, which foils Operation Killdeer.  While not the best, it can be a go for the win surprise card.
Queen of the Ice Pagoda:  The Queen is the Ascended's worst nightmare.  She's big, she takes sites, she can be Shadowy Mentored and none of your other characters can be Mentored either!   Since this card has no resource requirements, it can nicely fit as a hitter in any deck.
Shung Dai:
  While this guy is all-around good, he's going to be able to blow through a lot of the Ascended's horde when attack, and, they won't be able to effectively attack him directly because of his toughness.
Stone Dolmens:  Smokes Shadowy Mentors all day every day.  And you can drop it after the fact, unlike Waterfall Sanctuary.  And if you time it right, you can get around your opponent's Whirlpool of Blood.
Stone Spirals:  This will effectively negate the Ascended players Family Estates -- a good thing.
The Faceless:  This card can be tricky to use, but if you get lucky not only will it cancel a Shadowy Mentor on your hitter, you will be able to use it to take control of one of their hitters.  Don't be afraid to sacrifice The Faceless to accomplish this.
The Hanging Coffins:  Your hitter fallen victim to Operation Killdeer (yet again?) and being intercepted by some thug that is going to put the hurt on them?  Time to make use of Tactics.
The Losers: 
Not the best of choices, but it can stop the Ascended  from playing a Shadowy Mentor or Operation Killdeer until they can clear the Losers off the Board.
Wall of a Thousand Eyes:  Stealth is a stock ability of the Ascended, and throwing a Wall in a deck can let you efficiently take out their Gruff Lieutenants or Phillipe Benoit.
Waterfall Sanctuary:  Without the backup of Shadow Mentor, the Ascended have a hard time getting the huge power swing they are accustomed too.  They really want to Bull Market and Mentor your Gunman -- the Amazingly powerful Waterfall Sanctuary gives you a good layer of protection (if you can win the Whirlpool battle).  This card should go in every deck (and in multiples if you really need to shut down Mentor) because of it's amazing hose-power.
Ze Botelho:  Especially good for the factions that don't have a lot of cards that deal well with the Ascended, this guy puts them in the hurt.  Ze is practically invincible to all of their resource characters, and slows them down significantly.  Ze is never a bad choice for any deck, just take care in protecting him, and make the Ascended player waste valuable time and resources taking out Ze when they could be attacking your sites.  Don't forget to do 2 damage to their Family Estates when Ze is Smoked -- he is a Lodge character, even though and Outcast one. 

Captain Jake Malloy:  Conditional immunity.  Better in a deck with a few States so that you can hold one back to stop a Mentor (I'm assuming you are already Event heavy with the Dragons)
for 3 power might get you back into a game.  Also, she's going to put two damage on their Family Estates when she leaves play since she's a Lodge Traiter.
Bei Tairong:  While the tiger-lady doesn't do much specifically against the Asc, 5 superleaping damage Big Bruiser(RW): He's big, he's mean, and he shrinks when he's mentored.  While the Bruiser isn't as good as a lot of the unique 4-5 cost Dragon characters, he's still decent, especially for new players who don't have lots of the usual suspects.
CB Radio:  Tactics makes an okay defense to Op Killdeer.
Good Old Boys:  In a mono-Dragon deck, these guys can get decent sized mid to late game, and shrink significantly when Mentored.
Gus Andropolous:  This card will pretty much ensure that a Covert wont be heading your way in any game.
especially in conjunction with Is That All You Got?!?
Hacker:  You gotta hate those power stealing Events, Mole Network and Bite of the Jellyfish.  They both just plain suck.  Hacker has put and end to their invincible reign of terror.  Hacker is so useful at this (and canceling Events that Toast), you will often see a couple of them in non-Dragon tournament decks.
Iala Mane:  The Ascended love to end your turn early by using Operation Killdeer to cause an unsuccessful attack.  With Iala, all your Dragons gain Independent, so you can keep the pressure up.  Also his ability is not going to help the Ascended when he gets Mentored, unlike Zheng Yi Quan and Sifu, who both can effect Ascended foundation characters.
Li Mao:  The Ascended do play a lot of events, giving you a decent chance to trigger Li Mao's abilities. Of course there is a good chance he's going to listen to his Shadowy Mentor once his kung fu is powerful enough and switch sides against you...
Lin:  She's got a built-in Stone Dolmens (among other abilities), and makes a high-utility anti-Mentor card, Serena Ku:  Choosing the designator Pledged, Serena can chop up an Ascended player's resource characters, both on offense (Ambush) and defense (Toughness).  This will often slow them just enough to let you build up your power base.
Suong Xa:  A nice solid Independent hitter, this card has a little bit of Mentor protection built by being able to Smoke it sometimes by inflicting 3 damage in response to Mentor being played.  Since Independent, Guts and a reduced cost are all great abilities, this card is is just ready to teach the Ascended a lesson.
Ting Ting:  Since the Ascended often rely on stealing your characters, having one that can't be taken control of by opponents will give them fits.  Get the Tingray out fast, and keep the pressure up with Golden Comeback.
The Golden Gunman:  While 9 times out of 10, he's going to get Mentored, he still can be used effectively against the Ascended.  He is a great backup hitter to T2 when you are going for the win since he gets by Operation Killdeer.  
Steven Wu:  While he's a little hard to find (being only in the 10KB Dragon Starter), the Wu-meister has his own little can of whupass to open up against the Ascended, combining some features of T2 and G2 to shut down the twin Ascended weapons of Shadowy Mentor and Operation Killdeer.
The Golden Gunman's Gambit:
  Think of this as an improved Tactics -- you get to pull out of Operation Killdeer and leave a little parting shot.
The Nemesis:  He's got Mentor protection, so he's okay a big thug.  Stealth also gives him a little Killdeer projection as he's going to avoid combat with the largest interceptor on the board when attacking.
Wu Bin of Turtle Island:
  3-for-4 Independent is good on it's own, and while he doesn't have any specific anti-faction ability, he can fetch you a card that does, and is always a good inclusion in any deck.

Abysmal Deceiver:  While Dapper Zhan is on the table (this is the name of this Unique character from the Feng Shui RPG), you will have Mentor shut down.  Dropping him after the fact can net you a quick boost in power and even up the board.
Chains of Bone:  Once you get the Chains down, it will be very hard for an Ascended player to mount an offense until he draws a Realpolitik to deal with this edge.  Or course, he can still build defensively, and any character he Shadowy Mentors will be attacking with a vengeance.
Desolation:  The can't steal him, and it's gonna cost an extra power to Killdeer him -- while he's awful expensive, he is hard for the Ascended to deal with once he hits the table.
Inauspicious Reburial: While you are not going to shut down all their resources, you can really chop down the size of those Might of the Elephants if that is what your opponent is relying on late game.
Kan Li:  Kan Li is a great hitter in his own right, but when he hunt's down Shadowy Mentors, he kicks butt.  Even though your attack will be unsuccessful (you smoke the Mentor before combat, control of the character reverts to you, and if you are ever attacking a target you control, your characters cease attacking), you will be in a great position for defense.
Li Yu:  Immune to Operation Killdeer, which makes the Fire Demon a good card to go for an undefended site with.
Malachi:  He's cheap, should go in most decks, and he can slow down the Family Estate assault.
Necromantic Conspiracy:  While this card is risky to play against the Dragons, against the Ascended you can pillage their deck of the card that will give you the most fits.  More often than not, this will be Shadowy Mentor, but Operation Killdeer can also be an option.
Ogre:  How blatantly anti-Ascended can a card get?  Too bad it blows if you have to actually pay 3 power for it.  Note:  Ogre doesn't cancel, so all you are getting is 3 free fighting.
Ravenous Devourer:  Stops Mentor Cold -- they try to take control of your character -- yum yum eat 'em up!  Yes, it turns Mentor into a Nerve Gas, but that prevents the huge power swing that the Ascended player is counting on to win.
Red Scorpion Killers:  These guys give you some last-ditch Mentor protection.
Seven Evils:  He's got last ditch Mentor protection and potentially Independent, which is one of the best ways to recover from a Killdeer.
Shifting Loyalties:
  This card can result in a huge swing -- not only will you take his foundation characters and probably his main hitters as well, but you will also gain control of all characters that are subject of Shadowy Mentor (it gives its target the designator Pledged).  For icing on the cake, Shifting Loyalties also takes the third most common designator among the Ascended characters, Mercenary.
Shui Yu:  Since the Ascended are likely to have a horde of resource characters out, the Water Demon can actually blow through for some damage.
The White Leopard Club:  While it only goes in a Hood deck, it does stop Ops and Bites.
Thing with 1000 Tongues:
  Same as Ravenous Devourer, but also takes sites.
Tommy Hsu:  Like the Thing, this guy can eat himself, so at least he is never going to be Mentored.
Wu Ta-Hsi:  The Ascended just hate this guy.  Not only can he Smoke Edges and States (i.e. Paper Trail and Shadowy Mentor), he can also turn to cancel Events.  Use judgment when turning Wu, as a wily opponent will try to lure you into turning him before they play the one item you have to stop.
Xiu Xie Jiang:  Since he can redirect damage dealt to characters to a Pledged character, he can just wreck the Ascended, who more often than not, will be relying on their Pledged goons to get the job done.

Aerial Bombardment:  The Ascended tend to pile on the resources (espeically when playing Might of the Elephant), so this is going to be hitting for max damage on all their characters a goodly amount of the time.
BK97 Attack Chopper:  +Fighting and the ability to ignore Killdeer -- a site taker.
CHAR:  Being unaffected by Operation Killdeer, CHAR can take sites and Smoke their characters with impunity.  Either get some damage on CHAR so he's not a good Mentor target, or be prepared to Imprisoned if the Ascended player takes control of CHAR.
Desdemona Deathangel vNew:  Last-ditch Mentor protection (for all your characters).
Dunwa Saleem:  While Dunwa doesn't do a lot, he is a threat to an Ascended player.  Even taking The Pledged is a two point power swing (only 1 if you haven't nuked their Family Estate yet), and every penny counts.  You get the added bonus of dealing two points of damage to their Family Estates when Dunwa is Smoked because of his Lodge designator.
Fire in the Sky:  This card gives you a bail out for Mentor, being that you can sacrifice the character being stolen.
Helix Mine:  While I prefer Helix Chewer, this might be worth meta-gaming against an opponent who just can't resist playing Covert Operations.
Johann Bonengel:  Mentor protection for all your dudes.  And 2 power  a turn if you time it right.
Loyalty Officer: 
This card is pretty straight forward -- play it to cancel Shadowy Mentor.  It's also a Soldier, so you can return it to your hand with Training Camp in a pinch.
Nerve Gas:  Since none of the Ascended characters have Tech or Magic in their resource conditions, you can Gas away at will, making this a solid card against them.  But, if Gas is your only character defense, you may want to reconsider playing heavy amounts of immune characters.
Repression:  -1 Fighting to all Pledged?  Rock and roll!

Billy Chow:  This guys is generally good at shutting down all events, but a lot of the time, you will want to be stopping Ascended events.  Remember he can stop any event (not just stuff targeting him).  
Confucian Stability:  The classic counter to Events and States can put a damper on the Ascended players day.  But beware, he has so many things you will wish to cancel, that you will have to carefully choose what to use your Confucians on.
Bear vs. Fox:  The best of the Faceoffs does fairly well against the Ascended.  Just remember that you can't play it during an attack, so you need to set yourself up.  Luckily, you can play the Event any time during the turn, so you can follow up the Faceoff with an attack and react appropriately.  While Operation Killdeer in the card you are most likely to be playing, you might be able to dig up a Lodge Politics or at least a Covert Operation.
Blue Monk:  While not great, you can use this card to take advantage of the Ascended's lack of designators to get through some damage to a site.
Hung Hei Kwon:  He is a lot like the Golden Gunman -- a good card to go for the win with if you have power to use his ability to stop Events (like Operation Killdeer).  His pump ability is gravy, and lets him scoff at all the Pledged that are in the way.
Kwan Lung-Wei:  Mentor and Killdeer protection?  What were they thinking!  His cost-to-fighting ratio isn't the best, and his abilities are all defensive (i.e. no Superleap), but he's still a hard card for the Ascended to deal with using their usual tricks.
Lui Yu Min:
  CHAR like immunity to Killdeer.
Peasant Leader:  Since the Ascended are going to have a horde of Pledged, this card can slow down the rush a bit -- steal their Pledged and run them into each other.  If you can keep Peasant Leader alive, you can negate the Family Estate advantage.
Righteous Fist:  Hey, any foundation that can zap a Shadowy Mentor (even after the fact!) is okay in my book.
Secrets of Shaolin: 
The Ascended have a lot of good 0-cost events worth stopping.  Note that this doesn't replace Confucian Stability, but augments it.
Shaolin Surprise:  For one power you get to take control of their Shadowy Mentor, which means you get to take control that that character for the turn.  Even better, you can move Shadowy Mentor to one of their characters, take control of it, and the original Mentor target will revert to it's previous controller.  For extra mileage, intercept with the new subject of Shadowy Mentor, Smoking it so that State won't be in play to return at the end of the turn.
Shih Ho Kuai:  What makes this guy so valuable against the Ascended is the fact that he is a 6+ Fighting (and very often 10+) hitter for you, but only a 1 Fighting character after he has been Mentored.
Sword Saint:  Can't be Mentored, but, he can net an Ascended player a boat-load of power should he decide to throw some Pledged in the way -- best used if you have some other tricks in conjuction with Sword Saint.
Wong Fei-yi:  He's got a really solid ratio, and he can deal with a Shadowy Mentor after the fact.  Remember that using Wong to smoke a Mentor is going to result in an unsuccessful attack, so play accordingly.

200 Guys with Hatchets and Ladders:  Well, you do have a lot of 1-cost guys.
Adrienne Hart:  There are three hitters in the game that laugh at Shadowy Mentor, and the Ascended got one of them.  'Nuff said.
Cutting Loose Ends:  This card can be surprisingly powerful in the right situation.  It's absolutely terrific at smoking a turn 2 Family Estate (or any other non-FSS).
Hammer Harrison:  He does beat up on Pledged, and is *almost not good* enough to Mentor.
Lodge Politics:  Not only do you get to take most of the characters (especially Shinobu and Adrienne), you can also grab up Family Estate.  The reprinting of this card in Shaolin Showdown should make it easy to stock up on.
Realpolitik:  While is not as good as Lodge Politics against the Ascended, it is useable against other factions, so it is worth considering.
Reverend Redglare:  He lets you take advantage of the Ascended's limit choice of designators.
We Know Where You Live: Another card to take advantage of the high probability of matching designators within the Ascdended.

Buffalo Soldier:  Protects your weenies from Ops.
Frag the G!:  It might slow down their Family Estates, but is more of a deck design component.
Funky Monkey:  Built in Mole and Jellyfish protection, with a decent ability to boot.
Homemade Grenade:  You are almost always going to get at least 1 heads, which is enough to take out that horde of 1-Fighting Pledged from their Family Estate.  With some luck, you might even take down a Shark Student or two.
Resistance Squad:  They don't do a lot, but they can stop an Ascended player from pillaging your hand with Covert Operations.  Since you will probably need Tech in your deck, there is no reason not to play this card.
Stolen Plans:  While this card can clog your hand for turns, it's most useful against the Ascended, who have the most common effects that trigger it.

Four Monarchs
Avenging Fire:  Another all-around good card that can turn the tide quickly.  Since the Ascended tend to pump out lots of (small) characters, this card has a great multiplier against them.
Brain Fire:  Good all around Event defense, this doesn't only turn the tides on Operation Killdeer, you can send a Covert Operation or Mole Network to another player at the table.
Ice Courtier:  While this card is on the board, you need not fear Shadowy Mentor, and it's even useful after the fact to cancel the State.  You usually want to kill off the Mentored character as soon as possible, to avoid control reverting if the Ascended player can pick off your Ice Courtier.
Ice Shards:  It's not much, but they can Smoke that pesky Shadowy Mentor if your lucky.  Remember, they don't have to attack the character with the Mentor, they can Smoke any State after damaging any character.
Jaguar Warriors:  While far from the best character, it does negate all their 1-cost weenies as interceptors (against all attackers, not just the Jaguar).
Lord Wolfgang Thaler:  While making Killdeer cost one just isn't quite enough to make Wolfgang an anti-Ascended card, when you add in Toughness:1, he starts to look a lot better.
Mark of Fire:
  Not great, but does kill of those pesky Pledged.  Also good if they are using Gruffs and Explosives.
Ring of Ice:  0-Cost Shadowy Mentor protection -- turns every character into the original Ice Queen!
Sibling Rivalry:  There are always unusual situations that come up where nuking one of your own cards can prove an advantage, with Shadowy Mentor being one of them.  Remember to think about the timing -- if they Mentor your Baron, you may want to wait for their attack to see if you can slow them down by making it unsuccessful if the only card they are attacking with is the one they stole.
The Inner Fire:  Forget about the Chi provision -- this card makes all your Fire characters immune to Shadowy Mentor (and Tortured Memories too!).
Transmogrification:  Anti-Mentor, and just about every other Character State there is out there!
The Queen's Wrath:  Zot a Pledged!

Echo Cancellation:  Some Ascended decks often revolve around a few cards.  While Echo Cancellation can't zap their foundations, Family Estates or Op Killdeers, but it will cancel their 2nd+ Shadowy Mentor.  And it will also get rid of their second Oliver Chen and Adrienne Hart.
Faceless Minions:  Not great, but they might zap an extra Pledged or two if they are swarming.
Glimpse of Brief Eternity:  One weakness of the Ascended is their matching designators, so like Discerning Fire, this has a high zap probability against them.
Paradigm Recording:  Gaining control of their Paper Trail is okay, but it's not nearly as good as the Fox Outfoxed on one (which allows you to gain power from your own discards).
Voice of the Unnamable:  Spend 1 power, take out the trash.

Seven Masters
Ghost Wind:  An Ascended player is likely to have a horde of Pledged, so Ghost Wind's play-for-free ability has a decent chance to trigger.  Also, those Pledged make nice speed bumps for the power gaining ability.
Li Mao:  Event immunity to a chosen faction -- choosing Ascended isn't too bad, as you get to avoid Killdeer and a few others.
One Thousand Swords:  It can mow down a lot of Pledged in a pinch.
Red Bat:  Ascended to love events, so they are one of the best factions to face if you are counting on playing Red Bat for free.

Chi Detachment:  More expensive version of Larcenous Mist.
Discerning Fire:  One of the big drawbacks to playing Ascended is that there are very few cards that don't share the designators Pledged or Lodge.  You can take advantage of this by playing Discerning Fire, often reaping a huge reward.
Larcenous Mist:  Goodbye Might of the Elephant and Undercover Cop.
The Ruby Eye:  Turns all your characters into CHARs, which can sneak a win -- best if your meta-game is heavy on redirection effects (as well as Killdeer)

Path of the Storm Turtle:  It's cheap, and it mows through all the 1-Fighting Pledged that the Ascended player is going to be pumping out with their Family Estate.
Return to the Center: 
Smokes a Shadowy Mentor after the fact.  Handy if your a turn late on drawing a Confucian (or need more defense than the 5 Confucian Stability limit).
The Fox Outfoxed:  The best card against Paper Trail.  Now you can discard at will, and gain power for it!  It can also be played on a Family Estate, which does slow them down a bit and you will even up in power after two turns.

Currently, there aren't many Tech cards that are of particular pain to the Ascended.  In fact, many of them (the States) will hurt you by making them even better targets for Shadowy Mentor.
Big Red Button:  Good for blowing stuff up after they Mentor it.  Not the best, but its good for a few tricks -- one Test Subject can take out a horde of Pledged.
IKTV Special Report:  You can trigger it off an opponent playing a Shadowy Mentor -- it's still a bad deal, but it's better than nothing.  Note that it doesn't have to be your character that is being taken control of.
Smart Gun:
  Make them pay for having characters with only Pledged or Lodge Designators.  Not the best, but for 1 power you can kill all their weenies.

Article by Battlechimp, with assist from Jason X and Glen Murie.

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