So in last week’s article, I said I’d do an experiment. I promised to play Kano at a Skirmish event with zero practice. With that being said, I had an inkling that this was going to be extremely hard to pull off.
To all the readers, I was right all along. Kano requires a lot of practice to produce good results in a tournament. I ended up going 3-2 and coming 10th place overall. My three wins were against two Viserais and one Dash control, while the losses were to Ira Control and Claw Brute.
I know what you’re thinking, “Karol, you just got extremely unlucky and your lack of practice had nothing to do with your losses.” I would absolutely agree with this, but I’d also add that Kano is really hard to play. The amount of times I felt out of depth each game was staggering. Here, I’ll outline the three core aspects that I think I could’ve improved on. I hope this segment helps you in your journey of mastering the arcane.
The main difficulty I found with the deck was knowing when to let a chunk of damage through and when to defend my opponent’s attack. Such decisions can win or lose you the game.
In one of my games, I played against Iain from Radio Reflex on Claw Brute. There was a crucial turn, where Iain played a Bloodrush Bellow with one resource up and no cards left. He was on 17 and I was on 11. I had all my equipment in play and Fyendal’s Spring Tunic was on three counters, so I had a choice to make.
With Sonic Boom, Stir the Aetherwinds (Red) and two blues, I could threaten seven or eight damage off the four cards and hope to hit an impactful spell off the top. Good ones would have been a Blazing Aether or a Voltic Bolt (Red) or Aether Spindle (Red).
Ultimately, I decided to let Iain resolve the Bloodrush Bellow, as even in the perfect scenario, I couldn’t get the 17 damage required for a lethal blow. Afterwards, I had a second thought and popped the Lens. I saw a blue and a Blazing Aether. Alas, intimidate already resolved and I was missing a card to pull off the powerful combo.
I ended up going to one and saving the combo for my turn. The problem was, my opponent had drawn his hand, blocking most of the damage on my spells and making them not as effective. Why was popping the lens a good idea there? There’s only two Blazing Aethers in the deck and what are the chances of hitting either one?
It was roughly the forth or fifth turn in the game in the above example. At that point, I haven’t seen a single Blazing Aether. This means I still had two left out of the top 20 cards I haven’t seen. It might seem that hitting that Blazing Aether is highly unlikely, but with the Lens (20 percent chance to hit) and potentially bottoming both with random Kano activation (11 percent chance to hit), the combined chances are around 36 percent. Combined with other good hits, like Tome of Fyendal, Voltic Bolt (Red) or Aether Spindle (Red), the chances of going off on that turn were actually really high.
This is where paying attention to what you’ve been pitching plays a massive part. The more the game goes on, the more information you have about what’s left in your deck. This is what makes and breaks Kano players. A good Kano player knows the odds of hitting those crucial cards.
Some Kano players set up a one turn kill turn by pitching specific cards to the bottom. This is a very rigid way of using the pitch and commits to a very powerful but linear play. Actively paying attention to the important pieces of your deck that you’ve pitched means you know exactly what key cards are left in the deck. The more you draw, the less guesswork there is on what you could Kano off the top.
This is definitely something that would take a significant amount of time to learn. It’s also the thing that made me feel really out of depth when playing the deck – seeing the potential for plays I missed simply because I wasn’t paying enough attention.
Energy Potion is insanely good. I don’t know how to use it, but it gives Kano that reach to push through insane amounts of damage.
Personally, I often found it to be an awkward card in hand. You either block up with your hand and play the Potion and pass or hope to hit it with a lucky Kano activation. Finding the window to get that item out into play makes or breaks Kano players. You’re already a target with 15 life points and little to no defense reactions. Add cards that can’t block to the mix and you have yourself a recipe for getting blown out. Finding time in the game to get those potions out is crucial to winning the game.
To all the Wizard novices out there, learn from my mistakes. Practice your lines of play, your matchups. Keep testing your aggressive turns, the defensive turns and the set up turns. This class is insane and I feel we’ve only scratched the surface of what it’s capable of.