"The Staunch Warrior 矫然的壮士 (jiǎo rán dè zhuàng shì)"
Who is he:
There were many pairs of arch-nemeses throughout the Three Kingdoms era between Wei and Shu Kingdoms. In the early days, there were the two most famous loggerheads, Cao Cao 曹操 and Liu Bei 刘备. In wit and cunning, there were Zhuge Liang 诸葛亮 and Sima Yi 司马懿. In the later days as the era was coming to an end, there were the final two, Jiang Wei 姜维 and Deng Ai 邓艾.
Deng Ai was not your typical military general. With a background in agriculture and geography, most would have thought him suitable as a master-farmer than a leading general of the time. But Deng Ai proved to the world that he was no broccoli cropper. Matching his arch-enemy Jiang Wei wit for wit, Deng Ai held back the Shu forces who were bent on clawing into Wei territory. As the disagreements behind the Shu frontlines escalated, Deng Ai conducted the equivalent of Guerilla Warfare in Ancient China and went deep behind enemy lines, but the mountain passes that lay in his path were insurmountable! Did Deng Ai ultimately succeed in striking the heart of the Shu Kingdom? Read on the find out!
Character ability 1: "Amassing Terrain 屯田 (tún tián)"
Every instance that you lose card(s) (on-hand or equipped) outside your turn, you can flip a judgement card. If the judgement is not the suit of "hearts", you can put the judgement card (referred to as "Terrain") atop your character card. Every "Terrain" that you amass, your physical distance to other players decreases by -1.
(Trivia: 屯田 is the agricultural policy practiced by Cao Cao, sending soldiers and refugees to distant lands, so as to boost the economy and provide supplies to the military. The actual meaning of 屯田 can be translated as "Growing Wheat", "Agricultural strategies" or simply "Cultivation")
Character ability 2: "Conduit 凿险 (záo xiǎn)" [Awakening Ability]
At the beginning of your turn, if you have more than or equal to 3 "Terrains", you must reduce your maximum health by 1 unit. You will then permanently acquire the ability "Blitz 急袭" (In the action phase, you can use any of your "Terrains" as STEAL 顺手牵羊)
Ability's relation to story:
In his younger days, Deng Ai is an official of agriculture, and he was promoted for his talent of agricultural affairs. With more farmlands be developed, he can reach his enemies more easily, due to the steady supply of food and land clearance. Thus the ability "Amassing Terrain" is quite apt for this character, and the mechanics also seems to provide the related advantage. The only issue, though, is that there is no relation between losing cards (or possessions) to how Deng Ai actually increases his territory in the story. Still, a good match nonetheless!
"Conduit" refers to his achievement of constructing canals for the Huai River (淮河). Near the end of the Three Kingdoms era, Sima Yi planned to cultivate the bank of the Huai river, and he sent Deng Ai for this mission. With a good head for geography, Deng Ai advised that canals should be constructed for irrigation, and the result was sensational! Through this success, Deng Ai leap-frogged his way into important official appointments for the Wei Kingdom. In a way, this does mirror the "awakening" of Deng Ai in the story.
"Blitz" refers to his campaign against the Shu Kingdom. He led his forces over the impassable mountains of Sichuan 四川 and struck deep in the heart of the Shu Kingdom, Cheng Du 成都. Nobody was able too foresee that Deng Ai would strike from the mountains, since those mountains have served as a natural defense for Cheng Du for centuries. The Shu Emperor at the time, Liu Shan 刘禅, was forced to surrender, and that marked the beginning of the end for the Kingdom so laboriously created by Liu Bei and Zhuge Liang. For the mechanics of this ability, there does not seem to be any direct link between being able to "steal" and the sneak attack on Cheng Du. They weren't thieves; they were fighers! It does make sense, though, for STEAL to be the tool card of choice since the physical distance advantage is, by far, most useful for stealing.
Additional info based on story:
Most famous achievement - Eliminating the Shu Kingdom. How's THAT for an accomplishment on a resume? Though Deng Ai does take a lot of credit (and Liu Shan a lot of the flak) for the fall of Shu, there was one other critical person behind the scenes who was giving Liu Shan ill-advice. That person was Huang Hao 黄皓, the corrupt and worthless official that peppered Liu Shan with flattery and ill-wisdom. The story says that Huang Hao was executed by Wei troops as even the enemy did not want such a worm, but historically his death was never written. Legend says that he managed to escape execution by bribing the Wei soldiers.
Cause of death - Killed in a coup d'état planned by Jiang Wei. After the surrender of Liu Shan, Jiang Wei falsely surrendered to Zhong Hui 钟会, the ambitious rival of Deng Ai. They defamed Deng Ai and caused Deng Ai and his son to be imprisoned. Although the coup de’tat was unsuccessful, Deng Ai and his son were killed by the prison keeper, fearing the vengeance of Deng Ai’s troops once Deng Ai is freed.
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