Card of the Week #1-4


Brenda Wyatt/Generic
SITUATION:  While Brenda Wyatt is in play, if you make an Exertion to make or block a Power Blow, draw a card at
the end of the phase.

Is Brenda useful?  She's certainly overlooked.  So let's take a closer look at her...

First of all, Brenda is only useful if you are _exerting_ for Power Blows or Blocks.  Thus, she doesn't do Slan a
lot of good.  She probably isn't particularly useful to Luther, either, unless you use a deck that has him
exerting for Power Blows a lot.  If you use either of their Quickenings, then she's not going to help you
there.

How else does she fail to help you?  Well, if you play Power Blow, Hammer Blow, Head Shot, Ancestral Blade,
Continuity/Power Block, or Stamina, _those_ don't require exertions either.

However . . . the Kurgan gets three-card exertions to make Power Blows.  The TV1 Master reduces exertions if
you wish.  And there's a Quickening that lets you do the same thing as that Master.  And there are Collect cards.
So it's not hard to do low-volume exertions.

But now we come to the other problem with Brenda.  She lets you draw a card, sure.  However, exertions end your
phase.

So you exert to make that attack a Power Blow.  The exertion ends your attack phase and . . . guess what?
It's time to adjust your ability and draw cards anyway!  Essentially, you get to draw one of those cards just a
little bit earlier.  However, there's not going to be anything you can do with it that turn.  At best, you
might have one more card to choose from if you have to discard if your Ability was reduced _and_ you have excess
cards.

So drawing a card after making a Power Blow exertion doesn't help you much.  That leaves Power Block
exertions.

The problem here is that you can't force your opponent to make Power Blows.  Sure, you may run into Kurgan and Slan
decks that make Power Blows.  But you're just as likely to run into Xavier and Katana decks that never do.  And
you can't make Power Blocks if your opponent isn't making Power Blows.

If they _do_ make Power Blows, well, then you get to draw a card.  It could be that attack you needed, or that Trip
you need to supplement the attack in your hand, or that Dr. Sonny Jackson to avoid a point of damage from their
Street Punk.  What it _won't_ be is a card that helps you during your Defense Phase, a card such as Holy Ground,
Alertness, Feint/Edge or Honed Weapon.  Why?  Because the exertion you made for that Power Block ended your defense
phase.  Too late to play any of those cards now.

And of course, the card you draw may not be anything that you needed that turn anyway.

If you like drawing cards during your turn, compare Brenda Wyatt to the Movie Edition Quality Blade.  That
card is an Object and therefore a lot less vulnerable to removal.  It lets you draw at the beginning of your turn
so the card you get can help you any time.

Quality Blade is also not conditional.  You get to draw a card no matter what you do or don't do.

Both cards are mandatory.  At least with Brenda Wyatt, you can choose _not_ to make a Power Block.  However,
that may result in you taking damage.  If you're going to use cards like Poison Gas or Shadows of the Mind, you
probably don't want to use either of these cards.

Also, Brenda Wyatt is an Ally.  There are only three cards so far that deal with allies.  Brenda is a target
for Fitzcairn's Seduce.  However, as we can see, it's pretty unlikely an opponent would waste Seduce to _take_
Brenda.

Watcher/Revealed makes Brenda a Watcher Field Agent.  However, most of the cards that affect WFAs are
detrimental.  She will help you heal damage using the Watcher Regional HQ . . . but so would more useful cards
like Angus, Heather, or Signorina Arianna.  The promotional card Death Before Dishonor will let you keep
Brenda at the cost of one Ability.  It hardly seems worth it . . .

So what are we left with?  A conditional emergency card, one that only helps you under certain circumstances.  Its
benefit, quite frankly, isn't that good.

If your strategy involves making lots of Power Blows, you_might_ want to consider adding this card to your deck.
It certainly doesn't hurt.  However, you may very well be taking a turn to play this Special when you could be
playing another one.  And what the heck, you might convince an opponent to waste a Police on it.  Possibly.

So Steve's rating for Brenda Wyatt. is a big _2_.  It isn't a total waste like John MacLeod, but it's really
scraping the bottom of the barrel.

What Our Other Raters Say:

Ben - Although I wrote the card, I have to admit that Brenda is, to most Highlander players, only of marginal
usefulness.  She would score lower, in fact, except that I have recently given more thought to building an
Exertion deck.  Kurgan and Fitzcairn both are good choices for such a deck, and Brenda Wyatt is an excellent
choice for getting a few more cards into your hand instead of just burning them all away in Exertions.

Jim - Brenda Wyatt is a card with rather limited use.  She's useful when dealing with an opponent that Power
Blows a lot, especially when Factory is in play. The ability to draw a card at the end of Attack phase
typically means wasting a card but can be quite useful if your ability is about to drop, Factory is in play, or you
simply need your deck to cycle.

Jeff - Of limited use outside tower decks -- and most of those should have better uses for the slots she'd take
up.

Rick - Since the exertion will end the phase, the card you draw with Brenda won't help that often.  It does have
more use in a multiplayer game or when Factory is in play though.

Hank - Quality Blade (ME), Master's Stratagem, Patience, and others are much more generally useful cards for
throughput and non-drawing periods.

Alan - Useful for decks whose main strategy is Exerting for Power Blows (notably Duncan or Connor), but otherwise
a card I wouldn't use, since Ancestral Blade allows me to block w/out an Exertion.

Ratings Overall:

Steve         2
Ben           5
Jim           5
Jeff          3
Rick          3
Hank          3
Alan          4

Average:      3.57

---------------------------
Dr. Alan Neyman      Generic

EVENT:  Draw three cards, then take any three cards from your hand and put them back on top of your Endurance in
any order.

Dr. Alan Neyman belongs to that subcategory of cards such as Fortune Teller and Scrye that give you some
foreknowledge of what is coming up in your deck.  Neyman also shares similarities with cards like Elizabeth Vaughn
and the Movie Edition Flashback, cards that allow you to get rid of cards in your hand and draw new ones.

And finally, Neyman is also one of a number of emergency "draw" cards, along with Heroic Deed, Master's Stratagem,
and Quality Blade/ME.  His strength is that he combines aspects of all three of these types of cards.

Primarily, Neyman always gives you a quick boost by adding three cards to your hand.  Even if you never
intend to Exert, all you have to do is take your three new cards and put back three cards that will not help you
this turn.  At worst, you'll draw them back in a turn or two.

Because of this, there is almost never any harm in playing Neyman.  The only time you don't want to use
Neyman is if drawing the three cards would cause you to exhaust your Endurance.  At worst, you can take the three
cards you just drew and put them back.

That's Dr. Alan Neyman's basic usefulness.  If you have a deck that uses any kind of Exertion strategy, then it
becomes even more useful.

Like Fortune Teller, Neyman lets you control the top cards of your Endurance, which is important for Exerting.
You only have control over three cards, rather than Fortune Teller's six.  However, when you play Fortune
Teller it's random what those six cards are.  With Neyman, you get to determine what those three cards are.

Thus, if you have to Exert for a defense, play Neyman, then place a suitable defense from your hand back on top
of your Endurance.  Exert and you have the defense you need.  This makes him ideal for use against cards like
Katana's Taunt and Feint/Edge.  You'll still need to have played Continuity or Ancestral Blade on a previous turn
if the incoming attack is a Power Blow.  Still, playing any defense and taking two damage is better then lacking
a defense and taking four . . . or losing your head because you attempted that Hidden attack on your last
turn.

Note that with the above strategy, you normally Exert for five cards.  The last two will be cards you have no
control over.  You may wish to use the Master/Swordmaster card, or Collect, to reduce the size of your Exertions
down to three.  Normally, you don't want to Exert for only three cards when going for a defense.  Again,
however, Neyman helps by making it very likely that the defense you need is in those three cards.

Dr. Alan Neyman is not quite as useful when Exerting for attacks.  There are a few instances when you want to
Exert for an attack (Fitzcairn's Fast Talk, Katana's Intimidate) where Neyman can help.

Neyman is also a useful card to have when you're forced to Exert by cards like Avery Hoskins or Challenge/ME.
Even if you _want_ to Exert for an attack, you might be able to save yourself a Stalk or Shooting Blade by using
Neyman to draw them from the next three cards, and then replace it with a non-Special Attack.  A Richie deck with
an emphasis on other personas' Special Attacks could definitely use several of this card.

Of the personas that specifically benefit from Dr. Alan Neyman, Kern gains the most.  The contradiction with Kern
is that if he uses lots of attacks, that means he has lots of attacks in his hand.  Since he can't play an
attack from his hand _and_ Exert for attacks, he can often end up with hand-jam.  Neyman lets him place three
of his attacks back on his Endurance, and then Exert for attacks.  This guarantees he has at least three attacks
in his Exertion.  If he waits a turn without drawing or Exerting, he can Exert on the next turn and play a
Special like Rage to enhance his attack Exertion.  This strategy also helps avoid Exerting past important cards
like Hogg and Bowie Knife.

Curiously, Neferteri, the mistress of drawing cards, doesn't seem to benefit much from Neyman:  she is better
off sticking to cards like Heroic Deed and Fortune Teller.

Any other personas that favor Exertions, particularly Duncan MacLeod, would be well-advised to use this card as
well.

So Steve's rating for Dr. Alan Neyman is 7.  This card provides a counter to forced-Exertion strategies such as
those employing Avery Hoskins and Taunt/Katana, can give an emergency boost of cards, and has several specific
strategies that it can be applied to.  Neyman tends to be overlooked, but there are two good reasons he is a rare
card:  wide-spread versatility and a no-penalty emergency draw card.

What Our Other Raters Say:

Ben - [Abstained]

Jim - This card is of limited usefulness.  It is best left for "Search & Destroy" decks where you use cards to
gain information on your opponents hand and then attack based on that info.  Decks that use Berserk can also
benefit from Dr. Alan Neyman (DAN) as you can only use attacks from the Exertion.  DAN may also be used to help
deal with discard decks -- especially ones using cards like Charm.  Nefertiri can do some interesting things
with the card too, but overall it has a very limited niche.

Jeff - Surprisingly useful card, especially for exertion-heavy decks (Kern, Kurgan, etc.) or if you
really worry about Katana's Taunts or Toadies.

Rick - This is an excellant card for cycling cards into your hand _OR_ back to your endurance, whichever place
you need to play them from.

Hank - Useful with power blows and power blocks, to help avoid card loss... otherwise not great.

Alan - Dr. Alan Neyman is a card that should be in every deck that uses Battle Rage.  Combined with Master/LE
(allows 3-card Exertions), it would cut down the number of cards you Exert past during a Battle Rage Exertion to
0.  This can be quite deadly...

Ratings Overall:

Steve         7
Ben  [Abstained]
Jim           4
Jeff          6
Rick          7
Hank          5
Alan          7

Average:      6

---------------------------
Card of the Week #3 - Battlefield

LOCATION:  While on the Battlefield each player must discard a defense card at the beginning of his turn or he
takes 1 damage.

What does Battlefield do for you?

First of all, realize that you typically have a choice when Battlefield is out.  If you don't wish to discard
that Master's Block, you can always choose to take the point of damage.

However, if you have no defenses in your hand, you're going to take the point of damage.  Typically, this is a
critical moment in the game.  If you don't have any defenses, you're going to take one point of damage _and_
be defenseless against your opponent's attacks.  If you're at this point, you've almost certainly lost unless
you can get rid of that Battlefield immediately, or draw some more cards.

The Movie Edition Quality Blade is useful against Battlefield, because as a "must do" you may choose to use
it before being forced to discard by Battlefield.  The card you draw may be the defense you need to discard and
avoid damage.

With Patience, you can discard the defense, then immediately draw two cards (one to replace the defense,
the other to replace Patience).

Other cards such as Master's Stratagem and Holy Ground will be useful the turn after they are put into play.
However, since they are "may dos" they will not help you this turn against Battlefield.

One thing you can _not_ do is Exert for a defense to discard.  You always discard from your hand, never from
an Exertion.

If you are targeted by multiple defense-discard effects, such as Dangerous Ground or Cat & Mouse/Defense, you can
choose the order that you discard since those are also "must do" effects.  Always discard to the Battlefield
first:  you're not penalized if you can't discard to the other effects.  In the case of Kiss Your Butts Goodbye,
if all you have in your hand are dodges, discard them to that card:  better to take one point of damage from
Battlefield than two from KYBG.  Remember, however, that as an Event, the KYBG damage can be countered.

Battlefield is powerful because it is a rarity in Highlander:  a non-Event that causes damage.  Because of
this, the damage loss can not be avoided by cards like Police/Counter Damage or Greenfield Hobby.

And finally, the timing of Battlefield works well in favor of its owner.  Since Battlefield's effect occurs at
the beginning of the turn, you can put it into play and the first person who is affected is your opponent.  Even
if your opponent removes it, they will still be affected by it that turn.  The only exception to this is if they
play Reconnaissance first thing.

Those are general means of coping with Battlefield.  The question is:  how do you incorporate Battlefield into a
deck?

Generally speaking, a defense-heavy deck is the best place to use Battlefield.  If you have a high percentage
of defenses in your deck, Battlefield is the ideal Location for you.

Battlefield is also the Location of choice if you employ a defense-discard deck with cards such as Dangerous
Ground, Cat & Mouse/Defense, and Kiss Your Butts Goodbye.

Also, if your deck uses a high number of attacks, Battlefield is a good choice.  This makes Battlefield a
good choice for Amanda or Yung Dol Kim.  Their opponents normally have to play two or more defenses each turn.  If
they're losing another defense to Battlefield, they will soon be out of defenses.  For the same reason, any
Persona who uses Extra Shot or Combination in conjunction with Flashing Blade will also benefit.

Since Battlefield causes discarding from the hand, another Persona to look at is Nefertiri.  Her ability is
useful twice-over here.  If she does not wish to lose a defense, she simply discards it to the top of her
Endurance and immediately draws it back.  If she has an unnecessary defense, or she is in an emergency situation
when she needs new cards, she discards the defense to her discard and then draws a new card from her Endurance.

The fourth Persona who works well with Battlefield is Kastagir.  His Master's Guards allow him to maintain a
defense longer while still attacking.  And if he is low on defenses, it is more cost-effective for him to Exert
for a defense, since he can stop as soon as he gets it.

Kastagir can also severely weaken his opponent with Battlefield combined with another of his Reserved cards:
Charm.  If there is a Battlefield out and Kastagir plays a Charm or KYBG followed by a Master's Attack, his
opponent could be in serious trouble.

Another reason that Kastagir works well with Battlefield is because of the "Location-enhancer" that works with it.
Battle Priest, despite being Restricted to three, is perhaps the most effective such card.  It is one of very
few cards that cause Ability loss, rather than damage.  And one of those other cards is . . . Boom-Boom, a
Kastagir card.  Using Battle Priest and Boom-Boom, Kastagir can do seven points of ability loss that can
only be healed, not prevented.

Also, unlike some Location-enhancing cards (such as Hidden Shrine, Explosion, and Collapse), Battle Priest
doesn't remove Battlefield from play when it is used.

Reconnaissance can help you avoid the effects of this card.  However, Battlefield is more of a slow eroding
effect when compared to Locations that put you in immediate trouble such as Catwalk or Ruins.  Use of
Reconnaissance in this case is more a matter of delaying the inevitable, rather than an emergency measure.  Better
to build your deck around Personas who can benefit from Battlefield, rather than include it and play short-term
cards to ignore it.  If your opponent is using Battlefield, better to remove it as soon as possible,
rather than simply ignore it for a turn.  However, if you normally use Reconnaissance in your deck, better to play
it and avoid the Battlefield at a critical moment rather then not to play it at all.

So taking all of this into consideration, Steve's rating for Battlefield is a _7_.  It is a powerful Location,
particularly when supplemented by Battle Priest.  The problem is, it is only really suitable to four known
Personas at this time:  Kastagir and Nefertiri, and to a lesser degree, Amanda and probably Yung Dol Kim.  If you
use Battlefield with any other Persona, the results may be somewhat mixed.  And if you meet one of those four
Persona, you are in _big_ trouble.

What Our Other Raters Say:

Ben - [Abstained]

Jim - Battlefield is an excellent card. It's probably the best location for Amanda, and can be used effectively
with a variety of other Personas.  As long as you have decent amount of defenses you are willing to discard and
aren't playing a Lean & Mean deck vs. a much larger deck, BF works well. The main reason for using BF aside from
forcing your opponent to discard defenses, is to hit them with Battle Priest. Any card that does Ability Loss to
your opponent and doesn't hurt you is a good thing. Adding in a few Reconnaissance cards can help reduce the
discards you make to BF.

Jeff - Awesome for Nefertiri, Amanda, or Kastagir; pretty good for any other attack deck (with Cat & Mouse:
Defense, of course).

Rick - The Location of choice for Amanda decks since it also keeps her off the Catwalk.

Hank - _Great_ location for Nefertiri, or good for attack-heavy Bassett or Powerblow decks.

Alan - Can't really give a high rating to a card which can damage you as well :-) However, it *is* a good card
to have out if you wish to whittle your opponent down, in defenses and/or Ability.  Played in conjunction with
Battle Priest, and maybe even Watcher/Discard Dodge, this can make for an unpleasant deck...

Ratings Overall:

Steve         7
Ben   [Abstain]
Jim           8
Jeff          8
Rick          8
Hank          7
Alan          5

Average:      7.17


---------------------------
Bystander            Generic

SITUATION:  While this card is in play, instead of taking damage from attacks, for each point of damage dealt,
players must take 1 card from the top of their Endurance and place it in their discard pile.  This only applies to
damage from attacks.

Bystander is perhaps not an ideal emergency card.  They're are certainly better cards out there to avoid
attack damage, ranging from Dr. Sonny Jackson to Holy Ground to Alertness/Block.  However, Bystander can delay
you from reaching 0 Ability from swordfighting decks almost indefinitely.

Look at it this way:  your Slan opponent just played that Thrust/Power Blow, and topped it with Amanda's Seduce.
He's got a couple of Carls in play, and because of that Twist of Fate he played last turn, you're all out of
those Edge cards you were saving.  Which would you rather do:  lose five cards, or have your ability reduced by
five?

Granted, any or all of those five cards may have been cards that you needed.  But sometimes you have to decide
whether you want to have your Ability reduced by five, or have five less cards this time through your Endurance.
Depending on what you put in your deck, what's in your hand, and what you may already have gone past, you could
decide either way.

That's the general strength of Bystander.  What are its weaknesses?

Well, first of all, if it's down, it's _down_.  If you were planning on pulling that Power Blow/Seduce stunt
next turn, your opponent is going to get the same benefit.  It affects both players equally.  If you want
to start doing actual damage instead of causing card loss, you're going to have to get rid of it.  The current
Focus won't help - you'll take damage instead of card loss on _your_ turn.  So you're going to have to waste a
Situation-remover like Police to get rid of it.

Secondly, Bystander only works on attack damage.  Your opponent can play as many Angry Mobs and Alliances as he
wants, and your Ability is going to drop.  Of course, that suggests a particular strategy with Bystander, one
we'll talk about a little later.

Bystander only prevents _damage_ from attacks.  A Head Shot doesn't do damage - it merely ends the game quickly
and neatly.

And finally, Bystander is vulnerable to those things that affect Pedestrians & Bystanders:  Rooftop, Kurgan's
Scare, and Katana's Run-Away Train.  A Rooftop can keep unplayable Bystanders locked in your hand unless you can
either remove Rooftop or discard the Bystanders.

So what can you do with Bystander?  Well, as an emergency card it is so-so.  It can interfere with your own attack
strategies, and it doesn't work on direct damage.  It is good for voiding multi-attack cards like Bloodlust:
better to lose twelve cards than be hit by the Kurgan six times.  You can survive losing twelve cards:  losing
twelve ability is pretty much game over.

So if you know you're likely to come up against such cards, Bystander is a good choice.  That leaves specific
strategies to use with it.

Amnesia, an often overlooked rare card, works well with Bystander.  Hit them, make them go past a card, then play
Amnesia and remove it from the game.  When they reshuffle, that Alliance or Taunt won't be there the
second time around.

Since Bystander causes cards to be lost, it is a good card to use in conjunction with Dirty Trick:  Pummel or
Improvised Weapon/Attack.  Add Desert for good measure, and your opponent could be going past a lot of cards.
The Counterfeit plot can add even more on to this, although Desert may make it difficult for you to complete
this plot unless you're Xavier or Kalas.

Of course, every time you're hit you will lose cards as well.  Who is the persona who has less to fear from going
through his Endurance than anyone else?  Khan, of course.  So a Khan deck using all of the above can do quite well.
A Xavier or Kalas deck using a Khan Quickening and/or Second Wind can also be successful.  Xavier's Stalk can
cause another two-card loss, and Kalas' Stalk still works perfectly well for doing a near-unstoppable Head Shot.

The other predominant strategy with Bystander is to combine it with a direct damage deck.  As long as you
have one or more Bystanders in play, you will _never_ take damage from those Slan or Kurgan Power Blows, or by
a successful Taunt.  Of course, you do not want to stand there and be hit.  You should still use your Dodges and
Back Aways and Holy Grounds.

However, every round that you toss down a Kirk Matunas or Alliance or Toadies, your opponent is having his Ability
reduced.  The few hits that slip through your defenses may cost you some cards.  However, there's more where
they came from.

This strategy works best with Katana, who can Exert to remove that bothersome Greenfield Hobby, or Xavier, who
can Forethought the Police/Counter Damage and Plan Ahead the Greenfield Hobby cards as quick as they hit the
table.  Both of these Personas also have additional direct damage cards (Toadies for Katana, Alliance for
Xavier).

If that strategy is the antithesis of swordfighting, with a heavy emphasis on Specials and no attack use, then the
next strategy is the exact opposite.  Play a couple of Bystanders.  Then play Honor Bound.  Use Focus to play
another Honor Bound.  Use a pre-game Darius to add a third Honor Bound, and use Focus to play that as well.

How do you remove Honor Bound?  Do damage to your opponent.  How do you do damage?  Either play Specials,
or hit them and do damage with an attack.

Honor Bound won't let them play Specials.  And attacks won't do damage as long as Bystander is in play.  So
unless they can play several Focus cards on one turn _and_ do damage to you, all they can do is try to hit you
and run you out of cards.

The disadvantage is that the same applies to you.  Use additional Focus to play Specials if you need to, or
Focus out your Honor Bounds when it looks like you will take damage.  Build the rest of your deck accordingly.
Have very few other Specials, use Dirty Trick/Pummel & Kick plus Improvised Weapon/Attack.  If you use Slan or
the Kurgan, Power Blow a lot.  Other Personas can adopt their individual cards and powers to this strategy in
different ways.

In conclusion, Bystander is a so-so emergency card:  sometimes useful depending on if you know who your
opponent is.  It's not a widely useful card.  But it lends itself to enough powerful individual strategies
that Steve's rating for it is a _4_.

What Our Other Raters Say:

Ben - This card only rates a 4 in general use, but it rates higher (7 or 8) in a couple of specific
circumstances. First, in an Avery Hoskins-type deck. This type of deck tries to shut down cheese and force such
opponents to Exert and lose cards. Against a well-prepared swordfighting deck, however, this strategy
can break down. Bystander will help.

The second, and more useful situation for this card is in sealed deck. In such an environment, where Police are at
a premium, this card can stay on the table a LONG time. I've seen this card used to great effect if you can get
even a 1-point Ability lead on your opponent, then slap this out and blithely exhaust away until time is called.
Cheesy, yes.  But worth an 8 or 9 rating!

Jeff - Beautiful for tower decks or as the poor man's Safe Haven/Verona, Italy, but only in big decks and/or
cheese decks.

Rick - Its a good card to have when facing 'Massive Damage' decks but you'll need to build a bigger deck to
weather the storm.  It's also a great card to keep the other guy alive at low Ability while you try to get that
successful Head Shot through.

Hank - Useful if you do event damage and you don't want to get hit, or if your deck is built around causing
Endurance burn.

Alan - This card doesn't have much place in a swordfighting deck, since it tends to be contrary to the
idea of making successful attacks:  whittling your opponent's Ability down, then taking his head.  And if
you depend largely upon direct damage to whittle your opponent down, then you don't tend to have many attacks
in your deck; therefore this card would be useless to you there.  However, if your goal is to annoy the heck out of
your opponent, then this is definitely a card to play.

Jim - [Abstain]

Ratings Overall:

Steve         4
Ben           4
Jeff          5
Rick          5
Hank          5
Alan          5
Jim   [Abstain]

Average:      4.66

1