Card of the Week #5-6


Courage   Generic

EDGE:  Play Courage before you make an Exertion to search for an attack/defense.  You may keep an additional
attack/defense from this Exertion.  The remaining cards from the Exertion are discarded.

What are the strengths and weaknesses of Courage?  As with most Edge cards, Courage is pretty straightforward.
There are a few things to remember with it, however.

Courage _only_ applies to the specific Exertion you're making.  You can't Exert for a Power Blow, then use
Courage to keep a defense from that Exertion.  Courage only works to let you keep an attack when you're Exerting
for an attack, and at no other time.

Also, Courage says, "You may keep an _additional_ attack/defense from this Exertion."  This means that you
have to have kept at least one previous attack/defense:  the one you actually use.  This probably won't be a
problem with Courage/Defense - even if your opponent is attacking, you can always Exert for a Guard and then keep
a Master's Dodge.  However, if you're Exerting for an attack, this means you have to play one attack, and then
keep one.  If you Exerted for an attack and only drew one, then you can't keep that one:  Courage is useless to
you in this case.

Courage says if you are Exerting to search "...for _an_ attack/defense..."  If you are Exerting to search
for more than one attack (Battle Rage, Bloodlust, Berserk, Kern's ability), it does you no good.

So what good is Courage?

Well, things don't always go as planned.  First of all, you might Exert and get that Master's Block...but there
might be a Master's Dodge, or a second Master's Block in that Exertion.  Rather then see that card go to waste,
Courage/Defense will let you keep it.

Also, you may be the target of a Master's Lunge . . . and draw a Back Away during your Exertion.  You may not be
able to play that Back Away, but you'll probably want to hold on to it for future use.  By the same token, against
an opponent who has just played Kiss Your Butts Goodbye and then threw a Master's Attack at you, that Master's
Block may be useless now, but you'll want it later.

So if you're considering using Courage/Defense, an important thing to think about is how many special
Defenses you have in your deck.  Connor and Duncan, for instance, can potentially have two Master Blocks and
three Master Dodges, plus one more of each if they use the pre-game Darius.

With only two Master's Blocks, Katana, Fitzcairn and Richie have a lesser risk of Exerting and getting one of
these, and losing the other in the same Exertion.

Amanda can _never_ have too many dodges, particularly Distract.  Since she is allowed six, the odds are good
(particularly if she is playing with a small deck) that she may draw two in any particular defense Exertion.

Kastagir is allowed three Master's Guards.  One might think that his power means that he doesn't need
Courage/Defense.  However, if an opponent has just played a fifth Cat & Mouse/Defense, and then launched a lower
attack, he'll want to hold on to that Master's Guard if he comes upon it while Exerting.

For Personas who don't have special defenses, Courage/Defense is probably a lesser consideration.  In
that regard, it does very little good for Luther or Kalas.

Keep in mind that Courage/Defense will let you keep one more defense if you're forced to Exert against the ever-
frustrating Taunt/Katana.

What about Courage/Attack?  It's very rare that you want to Exert for an attack.  If you are running a non-
swordfighting deck, you're not going to want to Exert.  And if you are using a swordfighting strategy, you'll put
plenty of attacks in your deck.  So when will you use this Edge card?

It comes down to one thing:  Special Attacks.  These can not be played from an Exertion.  However, anything that
affects an attack also affects a Special Attack.  Thus, you can use Courage/Attack to keep a Shooting Blade, or a
Stalk, or a Master's Attack, when you are Exerting for an attack.

Why would you want to Exert for an attack?  Well, first of all, if forced to Exert by a card such as Avery
Hoskins or Challenge/ME, you have to use that Exertion _for_ something.  Under current rulings, you can't Exert
for a Power Block if your opponent didn't make a Power Blow (or if you didn't play a block).  You may not wish
to Exert for a Power Blow.  And if your opponent attacked, it's unlikely you want to rely on an Exertion
for your defense.

So unless you can Exert for something else (removing a Situation, Angus, Toadies, TSC Troopers), you're going to
have to Exert for an attack.  Don't want to lose that Stalk?  Play Courage.  Want to use that Master's Lunge
next turn?  Play Courage.

One final generic use for Courage/Defense.  It can get you by in an emergency if your opponent is using Master's
Advance.  Normally if you have no dodges in your hand, it's pointless to Exert for a dodge against that Master's
Attack - you don't have a dodge in your hand to discard to "pay" for the dodge you play.  With Courage/Defense,
if there are two dodges in the exertion, you can add one to your hand, and use it to pay for the one you use.

So which specific Personas benefit from Courage?  A better question might be to ask which ones don't.  As was
noted above, Kern gains no benefit from Courage/Attack.  If he's short a defense, then he can Exert for a defense,
play one and use Courage/Defense to hold on to another for later.  Then he can still Exert for and play all
attacks.

Any Persona that has Special Attacks or powerful defenses may very well want to use the appropriate Courage.  The
ones who don't are Luther, Nefertiri, Khan, and the Kurgan.

A "tower deck" for a Persona like Duncan should probably use Courage.  If such a deck is attack-heavy, and it
makes Power Blows and/or Hidden attacks, you may find yourself forced to Exert for attacks.  Why?  Because if
you're playing an attack every turn, and your opponent is busy dodging many of your attacks, you won't be able to
get rid of defenses.  You find yourself playing attacks faster than you can re-draw them.  If you intend to keep
pushing your assault, you may find yourself Exerting for attacks.  With Courage/Attack you can Exert for an attack
and then keep an attack so that next turn you can use that Exertion for something else (like making a Power
Blow).

So, what's the final word?  Courage probably isn't the most useful card in the current tournament environment.
However, with certain decks (attack-heavy decks, tower decks, forced Exertion) that are not widely seen in
tournaments, either or both Courage can be handy.  Having one or two for an emergency, if you have ways to get rid
of useless cards, wouldn't hurt either.

So Steve's rating for both cards is _3_.  They work with a few specific Personas, in a few specific decks, and
have a limited emergency application.

What Our Other Raters Say:

Ben - I can't rate this card very highly right now, as I am myself still struggling to find its niche.  However,
with the abundance of multi-attack Personas coming up in Watcher's Chronicles, as well as support cards (like
Flashing Blade) to enhance multi-attack strategies, I think you will see this card used quite often in the
future.  Maybe we can bring it up for a vote again in 6 months

Jeff - If you use Courage: Attack, why not just play Kern?  Courage: Defense is moderately better, but not
much.

Rick - These are two of the better Edge cards that don't see as much play as they should.  If you don't like
wasting the extra cards from an Exertion, this card can help cut your losses.  In Kastagir's hands, you can get a
really good pay-back.

Hank - I've never found either at all useful in the decks I've built.

Alan - Courage (either version) is not really a card I tend to look at when making a deck, nor does it seem to
be one that many people use (I have yet to play against someone who actually does).  My own bias against it stems
from the fact that I tend to avoid Exertions like the plague; when creating a deck, I usually want to Exert as
little as possible.  However, if you prepare your deck with Exertions in mind (e.g., you use Avery Hoskins),
then this could be a card to consider using.  Not an overly useful card; there are other cards I would rather
(and do) use.

Jim - Courage tends to be more of a card to use when you get in trouble.  If you are making lots of Exertions for
attacks and defenses, you're definitely in trouble.  The attack version of Courage would be much better if it
could be used *anytime* you exert to play attacks (defenses).  This would make it usable for Berserk,
Bloodlust, and most importantly Battle Rage.

Chip - Courage is a card that, in my opinion, is way too reactive.  I don't like to play with cards that my
opponent must do something that allows me to play those cards.  I have never built a deck that used Courage.

Ratings Overall:

Steve       3/3
Ben         4/4
Jeff        2/3
Rick        6/6
Hank        2/2
Alan        3/3
Jim         6/2
Chip        1/1

Average:      3.38/3

---------------------------
Dirty Trick/Pummel   Generic

This attack can not be blocked, but can be dodged.  If this attack succeeds, it does no damage, but your
opponent must place the top 3 cards of his Endurance in his discard pile.  This attack may not be a Power Blow.

In this author's opinion, Dirty Tricks in general, and Pummel specifically, have one advantage that is often
overlooked.

They are _not_ Special attacks.

What does this mean?  They can be Hidden.  And they can be played from an Exertion.

Making a Dirty Trick Hidden is not a huge advantage.  After all, the general tendency is to dodge Hidden
attacks anyway.  Still, you can sometimes get an opponent to waste a block that has no chance of success.  More
importantly, if they want to block that Dirty Trick, they have to play Alertness _with_ the block.  If the Dirty
Trick is Hidden, they can't do that.  When they play the block, they don't know that the Dirty Trick is
unblockable, and thus can't play Alertness with it.  Once the Dirty Trick is revealed, it's too late to use
Alertness.

The fact that a Dirty Trick can be played from an Exertion makes it an excellent card to use in a multi-
attack sequence.  Practically every way to make multiple attacks (Berserk, Bloodlust, Battle Rage, Annie's
ability) has an inherent "dodges do not work against multiple attacks" clause.  This means if they use one
dodge against the Dirty Trick, that's one less dodge they can use against something else.  Either that, or they
suffer the effects of the Dirty Trick.

Someone like Kern, with his multiple attack ability, can use Flashing Blade to gain the same effect.  Since he
relies on Exertions for attacking, Dirty Tricks are something he can use when doing so.  To a lesser degree,
this can work with Extra Shot or Combination as well. Unless you're playing a Xavier attack deck, it's probably
not worth bothering trying to do this with Hook.  In conjunction with the Kurgan and Follow-up, it can be
fairly potent, with or without the Flashing Blade.

Even a Dirty Trick played as a single attack means one of three things:  your opponent has to dodge, waste an
Alertness/Block, or suffer the effects of the Dirty Trick.

Also, Dirty Tricks are Center attacks.  This means Evade cards are no protection against them.

Those are the benefits of Dirty Tricks in general.  But what about Pummel specifically?

Of the three Dirty Tricks, Shove is so-so.  It's a middle center attack - the most difficult attack area to respond
with unless you're Connor, Duncan, or Kastagir.  If you want to remove a Standing Defense, something like Trip is
far more useful.  And if you want to keep them from making _any_ attack, use Kick.  Why use Shove and let
them still play Ranged Attacks?  Shove's only real advantage are that it prevents multi-attack strategies,
and can remove Standing Defenses without playing a Special.

Kick?  Some of our reviewers favor this over Pummel.  It does make the victim lose one card.  And it makes them
lose an attack.  If they Dodge or Back Away that will typically happen anyway, so no problem there.  If you use
Kick as part of a multi-attack sequence and somehow make one of the other attacks a Power Blow (using Scotland the
Brave, or certain Kern and Annie cards), it will keep them from getting that Hidden attack against you.

Still, for sheer Endurance draining power, Pummel can't be beat.  Your opponent can still attack you, but they
lose three cards.  Depending on your preferences, you may prefer Kick or Shove over Pummel.

So what can you use Pummel for?

Any deck that relies on Endurance drain using cards such as Desert, Improvised Weapon/Object, or Counterfeit,
benefits greatly from Pummel.  In fact, Pummel is probably the _best_ card to use in such a deck, since you
can have up to six, it doesn't require the use of Special cards, you can play them from Exertions, and you can make
them Hidden.

If you use multiple-attack sequences with Kern or Annie, or Battle Rage, Berserk or Bloodlust, successfully
hitting your opponent with a couple of Pummels can be a major blow to them, even if you do no other damage.

While a Master's Block will stop all the typical attacks in a multiple-attack sequence, it won't stop Dirty
Tricks.  They'll either have to use an Alertness/Block or take the card loss.

Since Kern, Slan and Annie all have ways of making one or more of their multiple attacks a Power Blow, you might
wish to consider Shove or Kick instead.  As noted previously, this prevents the Hidden counter-attack.

Another good trick is to play the Pummel _last_ when you play your multiple attacks.  They'll have to either lose
the three cards, or play a Dodge or Back Away as their last defense...which means they'll probably lose an
attack anyway.

However, there's nothing to say you can't use three Pummels and three Shoves or Kicks, for a total of six
Dirty Tricks in your deck.  Hitting them with more than one Shove is redundant, so instead of using two Shoves in
that 15-card Bloodlust attack sequence, use a Shove and a Pummel.

Just played by itself, Pummel isn't bad - it will certainly require them to waste a dodge or lose cards.
As Jim Duncan notes, when played with Katana's Taunt you have a truly formidable combination.  They have to choose
between Exerting, losing some cards, and perhaps losing some more cards if they fail to draw a dodge.  Or they
can lose three cards automatically.  Either way, it's unpleasant.

The key to Pummel is to remember that almost no one _wants_ to lose cards randomly.  A Lean & Mean deck, for
instance, is much more vulnerable to Endurance cycling.  It also typically needs to draw certain cards to survive.
Tower deck users may not care much about card loss, but almost everyone else does.

As Ben Durbin observes below, Pummel is a great card in sealed deck play.  Dodges are limited, and in a deck
where an opponent may only have one of a critical card, rather than two to six, they could lose that one card to
the three tossed from the Pummel.  It's even better than Shove or Kick under these circumstances - Shove may stop
multi-attack sequences, but those are few and far between in sealed deck.

So overall, I give Pummel a _6_.  It has no real weaknesses, and it generates an almost Pavlovian reaction
to respond with a dodge.  Some opponents won't care if they lose a Standing Defense, or an attack, or a single
card.  But threaten them with a three-card loss, and they'll respond the way you want them to.

Pummel, judiciously mixed with Shove, also makes a great multiple-attack sequence attack.  Since Watcher's
Chronicle introduces two Personas who use this tactic, it becomes a much stronger card once this expansion comes
out.

What Our Other Raters Say:

Ben - This card is great in sealed deck.  It is very hard to avoid, and will end up costing the opponent some of
his cards.  In sealed deck, where very often you pull only one of some vital cards, this can be a game winner.
Although not commonly used in "Masters" tournaments, because of its usefulness in sealed deck, I give this one
a 6.

Jeff - Pummel is generally inferior to Dirty Trick: Kick, unless you just want to burn your opponent through their
deck.  Even so, give me a Kick any day.  (Ouch! =)

Rick - It duplicates the Improvised Weapon Attack.  But Dirty Trick/Shove, now that's a card that needs to be in
everybody's deck.  The best of the lot since most decks use Guards in some way to keep their heads.  Since this
one attack card can remove Standing Defenses, it serves to supplement Police by getting rid of nuisance
Situations like Higher Ground, Continuity, or Dugal and saves the Police for more important activities.  That one
rates a 10.

Hank - An okay attack for discard strategies, to wear someone through their Endurance.  Kick's much better
though.

Alan - This is, I think, a fairly useful but overlooked card in many cases, even for myself.  I believe it to be
the more useful of the three Dirty Tricks.  It finds its best when used in conjunction with Challenge/LE, Katana's
Taunt, and Kurgan's Follow-Up.  If you use six Pummels, then you force your opponent to discard potentially 18
cards, which can be death to a so-called "Cheese Deck", since they tend to be as small as possible.  Against
larger decks (~100 cards or so), this card becomes an inconvenience rather than real trouble, but probably
still worth using.

Jim - Dirty Trick/Pummel is an excellent card when used in "marathon" decks where the object is outlast your
opponent then run through their Endurance quickly.  Pummel works best when used in discard decks and when it
is played with multi-attack Specials like Extra Shot, Combination and Follow Up.  Katana's Taunt is also a good
card to play with Pummel since they will need to make an Exertion in order to defend against Pummel and then
they can only play dodges.  Pummel works particularly well on the Catwalk and Kurgan can use it to his
advantage on CW when played in conjunction with multi-attack Events.  I use Pummel for my marathon decks
and Shove for most other decks that use multi-attacks or which are looking to deny attacks to my opponent.  If I
use more than one type of Dirty Trick in a deck it is a mix of Shove and Kick.

Ratings Overall:

Steve         6
Ben           6
Jeff          3
Rick          5
Hank          3
Alan          7
Jim           7
Chip  [Abstain]

Average:      5.29

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