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The Zen of Putting Your Opponents Six Feet Under

This article is the result of a fellow Duelmasters manager asking me how to 
go about the business of killing. He stated that I was "the resident expert" 
on the Duelmasters Round Table (an e-mail chat group) and was therefore the 
person to come to for tips. Well, this got me thinking, and the mail that I 
sent to him is a subset of this full-fledged article. 

As for being an "expert", all I can say is that I hold the record for most 
kills in Alastari with any one stable. Merlin's Lot in Sibikhas had a record 
of 661-538-72 as of Cycle 283. 

So, for all of you who want to strike constant fear in the hearts of your 
weak opponents, here's my tips: 

1) This is my most important rule, and it is a corollary to Doc LeGrand's 
famous "First Rule of Duelmasters", which was "You can't die if you don't 
lose." My version is "You can't kill if you don't win." This is obvious, 
but many managers design what they believe to be "killers" with all sorts 

of scary damage ratings and the ability to swing two mauls, but the likelihood 
of these warriors winning is rather slim, because they're brain-dead, or 
ponderously slow, or are just as likely to chop their own foot off as to hit 
their opponent. Sure, they might get lucky in one or two of their first 
few fights, but is one kill worth a 2-6-1 record and five skills learned 
followed by a DA? So, first you have to start with a warrior that will 
win at least half of his first 10 fights (or however long you think this 
warrior will last). That is critical. When all else is equal, the more you 
win, the more you'll kill...guaranteed. 

2) You have to be offensive. There's no getting around it. You have to run 
with at least a 7 KD, and, while I can safely say that I got most of my 
kills running 10 KD, I also feel that I could have avoided more than a few 
losses by toning that down a little. There is a big trade-off here; raising 
KD means more kills, but it can also mean less wins. With a 10 KD, when your 
warrior is on the ropes, he'll be way too berserk to even care. I now go 
no higher than 9 KD, but the rate I've been getting kills has noticeably decreased. 

3) Point #2 does NOT mean that your warrior must be one of the offensive 
styles! Defensive warriors can be excellent killers as well, most notably, 
parry-lungers, parry-strikers and wastes. Total parries and parry-ripostes 
just don't seem to have the knack. Still, though, you can't just change 
the KD on your normal defensive strategy and hope to kill. It's just not 
that easy. You'll have to completely modify your warrior's strategy to get 
that killing edge. This means high offensive effort, but not necessarily 
high activity. I've had two parry-strikers that were great killers, but 
I ran them 7-7-7, which is out of the bounds of their potential favorite 
numbers. Parry-lungers are better suited to killing because they can be 
run (relatively successfully) just like lungers. There was a recent 
discussion on the Duelmasters Roundtable concerning parry-strikers that 
said that many managers run rookie PSs 10-10-6. Well, how much different 
is 10-10-9? 

4) Your killer will have to do some damage. This does not NECESSARILY mean 
that he will have to do at least good damage (although, for my killers, 
I prefer at least great). What it DOES mean is that, if your warrior does 
only normal damage, he's going to have to hit A LOT to get that kill 
intent statement! There's nothing more pleasing than having your great 
damage basher send one shot to an opponent's head, get the death intent 
statement, and one more swing and the undertaker's already reserving a slab. 
This just cannot be accomplished with a normal damage warrior. 

5) Obviously, to maximize your killing potential, you have to aim at vitals. 
I prefer the head or the chest, although many of my lungers have gotten 
their kills aiming for the abdomen. Also, a high deftness will greatly help 
in this regard, because it does no good to aim at the head and hit your 
opponent six times in six different locations. Sure, you'll get the win, 
but you'll have a more difficult time getting the kill. 

6) Killing means weeding out the worthless and weak. One of my favorite 
sayings is "If a warrior dies, he wasn't meant to live." Of course, I use 
this to justify going after warriors that I BELIEVE just don't deserve to 
live, like that 2-6 ripper, or that 6-7 aimed blow who has gotten some 
lucky challenges through to defensives, but is finally going to have his 
luck catch up with him. Or any warrior belonging to the Neon Necromancer.... 
You have to be merciless to enjoy killing, and to go after the warriors that 
deserve to die. That's the Dark Circle way. Also, when you have a chance 
to REALLY get a slam dunk on an opponent (and there is no better example 
than having a champion bloodfeud an initiate), then, by all means, crank 
up that KD all the way to 10. You KNOW you're going to win, and your chance 
of killing is maximized. Go for it. 

7) When in doubt, at least challenge warriors you know that you can HIT, 
not necessarily BEAT, just HIT HARD! This tip is really only good for 
warriors that do at least great damage. The more damage you do, the more 
likely that one hit will be all you'll need (especially if you hit 
where you're aiming, as I stated in Point #5). If there's a great lunger 
out there, but he's slow and you've sent him desperate with your faster 
striker before the lunger's dodge strategy kicked in and he pounded you, 
challenge him again and you'll be more than likely to send him desperate 
again! Maybe you got a bad roll last time. Maybe you'll get a really good 
roll this time....

8) And, being on the receiving end of a bloodfeud can be a good way to get 
those slam-dunks as well. If you kill a warrior who comes from a relatively 
new team, or from a team that has no warriors above yours (or, at least, 
no warriors that can beat yours), then you're home free. Stack up the 
opposition like cordwood as they try to revenge their pathetic loser. 

9) As we all know, the younger a warrior is, the more likely he is to die 
when he loses. Therefore, the tips on challenging that I have just stated 
should practically be ignored for any warrior in the Challenger Adepts or 
higher. This does not mean that Champions don't die; far from it! Sibikhas 
just lost its Duelmaster, and arenas like Sunset and Talcama (where 
bloodlust reigns supreme) have at least one 10+ fight warrior dying 
practically every turn. Even warriors with 20 or more fights can be fairly 
regularly found on any arena's dead list. But, it's in the rankings of the 
Initiates where you will find most of the dead. So, if you want to kill, you 
should "make hay while the sun shines", as it were, and try to get in those 
notches on your hilt within your warriors' first ten fights. 

10) If you're just looking to pad your kill total, then you should challenge 
the DA with any of your warriors that graduates to ADM. I would estimate 
that about half of the warriors that do this win the fight, and even if you 
lose it, all you lose are the skills that you may have gotten if you had 
fought a regular opponent. You also don't have to worry about a bloodfeud. 
I must admit, though, that I am pretty proud of the fact that my kill total 
in Sibikhas has NOT been inflated via this manner. Just think how many kills 
I would have had if I had sent all two dozen of my Lord Protectors to the DA 
on their last fight! Maybe over 80! 

11) As you may well know, there are many managers out there (many of whom call 
themselves Andorians) who believe that killing is bad and wrong and all sorts 
of other judgemental stuff that has nothing to do with combat. As for me, 
I couldn't care less whether you want to kill my warriors (or anybody else's) 
or not. Just don't tell me what to do. This is also the Dark Circle way. 
Unfortunately, many of these Andorians have banded together in certain arenas, 
where the idea of "killing without remorse" is heavily frowned upon. It is in 
these arenas where, if you kill and enjoy it (and even SAY so...), your 
entire stable will be hunted down for the true warriors that they are, rather 
than for the "we all share a common goal, so let's play nice" slumber 
party pillow-fighters that all the other warriors in those arenas are. 
Therefore, if you wish to be proficient and successful at killing, I suggest 
you avoid these arenas like the plague that they are. Trust me. You will 
receive more enjoyment from your kills when the manager of your victim vows 
revenge in kind, but does not question your morals. 

12) And, above all, when that manager of your victim DOES threaten to wipe 
out your entire stable, you have to be prepared to die yourself. Some studies 
have shown (to varying degrees) that raising your KD also increases your 
own likelihood of death. I'm not convinced of this, but I'm not denying it 
either. And, of course, when you kill, you invite a bloodfeud upon your 
killer, and the opposing manager will have all of the bloodfeuding advantages 
that I have mentioned above. Accept that death is part of the game, and 
relish the chances to be bloodfeuded, just as much as you relish the kill. 

Well, that's about all I can think of. I hope to see all of the undertakers 
throughout Alastari very busy! Best of Luck in your headhunting! 

Merlin, Warden of the Dark Circle 
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