Card of the Week #12-14


SITUATION:  Sacrifice allows you to return the last card you played to your
hand.  Each time you use Sacrifice this way, you lose 3 Ability.  (Restricted
to 2)

Well, here we have a card that appears abusive.  And understandably so:  any
card that lets you break the Restriction number on cards (in this case, by
recycling) has the potential for abuse.

Let's take a closer look at Sacrifice.  First of all, the wording is very
interesting.  It says that you, ". . . return the last card you _played_ to
your hand."  No time limit is specified.

Although it seems obvious, it should be noted that this card does Ability
loss, not damage.  Even Luther's Disappear won't let you avoid Ability loss.

So how useful _is_ Sacrifice?

Fortunately, the three Ability loss is a pretty good restriction.  Unless
you're far ahead on Ability, there's probably not much worth sacrificing three
Ability for.  Shooting Blade comes to mind, as several of our reviewers note
below.  Let's take a look at that strategy.

Slan prepares to attack his opponent.  Slan plays Challenge.  Then he plays
Shooting Blade.  His turn is over.

Thanks to the timing on Sacrifice, Slan does _not_ have to recover the
Shooting Blade right away.  It is the last card he played, and will remain
that way until his next turn.

His opponent now has to deal with the Shooting Blade.  Whether he does so or
not will be the key to determining if Slan uses Sacrifice.

The opponent can't dodge.  So unless they play a Special, they're in trouble. 
Let's assume they don't.  The opponent is hit for four damage.

_Now_ Slan decides to recover his Shooting Blade, and lose the three Ability. 
He's one up on his opponent and can pull the same stunt next turn.  If the
opponent couldn't deal with Shooting Blade the first time, they probably won't
be able to the second either.

And down the battle spirals.  Every time Slan inflicts four, he takes three. 
And Slan is always one ahead, because he can choose not to use Sacrifice
_after_ he does 4 damage to an opponent.

That's the scenario if the opponent couldn't do anything about the first
Shooting Blade.  What if they could play Holy Ground, or Disappear or Narrow

Slan shrugs, plays another card, and lets the Shooting Blade stay in the
discard pile.  Or he takes a gamble, loses the three Ability, and tries the
same stunt again.  He won't come out as far ahead, but if it works and he can
keep up the pressure using Challenge, he'll probably win.

Neat trick.  There are three problems with it, however, and Sacrifice in

First, you're giving your opponent time to Police or otherwise remove your
Sacrifice before you recover Shooting Blade.  Of course, you could play your
second Sacrifice and then use a second Shooting Blade (via a pre-game Darius). 
But if you do, you are delayed for a turn since you can't play the second
Sacrifice _and_ Challenge.

Secondly, there aren't a lot of cards that do heavy damage and balance the
three-Ability loss.  The Kurgan doing Seduce/Amanda + Power Blow comes to
mind, but not much else.  Taunt/Katana or Fast Talk/Fitzcairn, perhaps.  If
you use Sacrifice for cards like Xavier's Stalk or Alliance, it's not worth

The situation with the Kurgan and Seduce brings up the third problem.  A card
like Seduce must be played _before_ an attack.  This throws off the timing. 
You have to recover the Seduce _before_ playing the attack.  So you won't know
if the Seduce succeeded before recovering it.  Your opponent may have
Alertness/Blocks.  He may have Holy Ground.  Either way, it's a iffy gamble.

Recycling a card like Kurgan's Bloodlust can be very powerful, but very
dangerous.  The Kurgan loses 4 Ability, and will have to Exert past 30 cards -
a 5 Ability loss due to Exhaustion can't be far behind.  And he loses 3
Ability from Sacrifice.  Ouch.

So what else is Sacrifice good for?  As Jeff Barnes and Jim Duncan note below,
it might be good for recovering Nexus.  Discard it, redraw, then use Sacrifice
to get it back (at a cost of only three Ability) and use it again later.

Won't work.  Why?  Nexus is removed from the game and is no longer available
for recovery (see FAQ 13.19).

Another card springs to mind:  Kalas' Stalk ("If your opponent played Holy
Ground last turn, then this attack may not be blocked or dodged. This attack
may not be a Power Blow unless played in conjunction with Head Shot."
according to Castle News).  This card, if successful, ends the game.  How do
we make it work?

Kalas waits until an opponent plays Holy Ground.  Then he plays Head Shot and
then Stalk.  The opponent, suspecting Kalas would do that, had a second Holy
Ground ready and now plays that.  It's his only option if he doesn't have
Alertness or Disappear.  He figures Kalas didn't have the second Stalk in his
hand and he was right.

What Kalas does have, however, is Sacrifice.  He takes the three Ability loss,
recovers Stalk and plays it _again_ with a new Head Shot.  Unless the opponent
has a third Holy Ground, or something to prevent the attack from succeeding,
off comes the head.

The tactics above work for Richie as well.  Since you need Specials to make
these tactics work, Darius won't help anyone else by adding Shooting Blade or
Stalk into their decks.  What other Personas benefit?

Connor, perhaps.  If he has Master's Blocks in his hand or Master Stanced (see
CotW #10), recovering Master's Lunge a couple of times can be a good tradeoff.

Who else?  Anyone other than Amanda using Amanda's Seduce and willing to Power
Blow.  But as mentioned above, this is an iffy strategy, since you'll have to
recover the Seduce "blind".

Getting back that Angry Mob or Careful Planning to zap your opponent for
another three might be a good idea.  Ditto for Katana's Toadies.

But otherwise . . . there's very little else in the game that seems to do the
type of damage that makes the three Ability loss a good gamble.  That's not to
say there aren't times when you're on a roll and it _is_ a good idea to
recover that Kiss Your Butts Goodbye or Head Shot.  But the timing just
doesn't seem to work out.

So overall, Steve's rating for Sacrifice is a _3_.  It's extremely powerful in
a few intricate strategies, but only a so-so emergency card.  More often than
not you won't want to use it unless you're up on Ability by a considerable
amount.  And if you are, you probably won't need Sacrifice to take them out.

What Our Other Raters Say:

Ben - A card custom-made for degenerate decks.  If it's not a card you would
use in your deck, it's almost worthless.

Jeff - It seems like there should be some way to break this card short of the
"boomeranging Shooting Blade" (with Kurgan Quickening, Catwalks, and
Challenges, natch), but I haven't found it yet.  I suppose a Richie deck where
you pull back the Amanda Seduce might be useful, too.  One day, I shall break
this card, so TCG will have to be very careful about everything they print
from now on . . .

Rick - This card can really help some decks but the three point Ability loss
is a high price to pay to get back that last card.  Still, if the last card
played was doing heavy damage to your opponent, maybe the loss is a good
tradeoff.  Decks have to be built to use it so it's not a good general purpose

Hank - Losing 3 ability to get a card back is too much for *me* to pay . . .
it could be fun with Shooting Blade, but little else is worth it.

Alan - This card rates as a 4 in general use (mostly due to the ability loss
-- there aren't that many cards I consider *that* powerful), but in a few
specific situations, rates quite high (8 or 9).  So where does it rate higher? 
How about a Slan deck, with an extra Shooting Blade (with pgDarius).  With the
use of Sacrfice, you could do up to 16 points of damage (assuming you have an
extra Shooting Blade), at a cost of only losing 6 Ability; not a bad
trade-off, in my opinion.

Jim - I really can't see using this card in a deck.  The ability loss cost is
simply too high.  There are only a very few cards where using Sacrifice might
pay off.  Nexus, Shooting Blade, and the last part of a plot sequence are
among the candidates.  In some situations where you are playing against a lock
deck, Police, Focus, and Amnesia may be worth getting back.  If Sacrifice
worked for cards that say "remove from game after use" I could see getting
some use out of it, but I'm sure you can not use Sacrifice in that manner.

Chip - This is a cool card.  Any time your opponent plays a Sacrifice either
get rid of it or have Holy Ground ready because they are going to do something
really nasty.  One of my favorite things to do with this is get Honor Bound
out then Catwalk - next is Shooting Blade and Sacrifice.  They take four, you
take three:  not a bad trade in my book.

Ratings Overall:

Steve                   3
Ben                     4
Jeff                    6
Rick                    4
Hank                    3
Alan                    4
Jim                     1
Chip                    7

Average:                4

Simple Mind

SITUATION:  While in play neither player may have more than one Situation in
play at a time.  Your opponent must discard all but 1 Situation he has in
play.  You must discard all Situations but Simple Mind.  This card does not
affect Situation:  Plots.  (Restricted to 2)

Here's an interesting one:  a Situation that removes Situations, yet different
from Plan Ahead.  And really, Simple Mind's power as a Situation-remover is
the primary power of this card.

When you play Simple Mind, the first thing you do is remove all of your non-
Plot Situations.  At the same time, your opponent removes all of his non-Plot
Situations except one.

This removal occurs _immediately_, for both players.  Ben Durbin refers to the
"timing rules" below.  However, to the best of my knowledge this is all
resolved.  Anything that removes a card(s) does so _immediately_.  This
applies to Simple Mind, Police, Plan Ahead, whatever.

This is Simple Mind's greatest virtue.  It can remove literally dozens of
Situations in one swoop.  Suddenly Xavier has to choose _one_ single Situation
to keep out of all of his Situations.  And the removal is immediate:  Focus
won't help.  In the short term, Simple Mind is essentially an Event that
removes all non-Plot Situations.  No wonder it's restricted to 2.

Simple Mind also lets you use Focus more effectively.  Rather than having to
try to Focus past four Carls or The Gatherings to play that Holy Ground, you
can play Simple Mind, and only have to bypass one.

This board-sweeping function is also Simple Mind's one disadvantage.  If your
opponent loses all of his non-Plot Situations except one, you are hit even
worse:  you lose _all_ of your non-Plot Situations except Simple Mind itself.

There's no way to get around this.  What's worse is that Simple Mind can tie
up Situations in your hand.  You cannot play _any_ Situations while you have a
Simple Mind on your side.  The only way to even get Situations out of your
hand is to play Focus on Simple Mind, play the Situation you want to get rid
of, and watch it get removed when Simple Mind flips back over.

Your opponent has a little more choice here.  He can leave a "Discard to Use"
card out, discard it, then play another.  Or he can Focus past Simple Mind,
play a second Situation, and then decide at the end of his turn which one he
wants to keep.  You can't even play two Simple Minds to make this harder for
him to do so!

So you should use Simple Mind in two types of decks:  decks that don't use any
Situations at all, and decks that primarily use Plots.

Let's take a look at Xavier St. Cloud, the Situation King.  Simple Mind costs
him the use of arguably his most potent cards:  Forethought, Plan Ahead, and
Poison Gas.  It also cripples Hidden Explosives.  His 12-Plot ability lets him
use lots of Plot/Situations.  However, his loss of Forethought means he has
nothing to protect them with except for Thunder Castle Game pre-game cards. 
Overall, it seems Xavier should avoid Simple Mind.

What about Kalas, a secondary master of plotting?  If he's willing to play
without non-Plot Situations he could do quite well by Simple Mind.

The third Persona to consider is the Kurgan.  His Disguise card is a Plot, so
it is unaffected by Simple Mind.  This makes it much more difficult for an
opponent to remove either Disguise or Simple Mind, since Disguise prevents the
use of Police/Remove Situation.

Take the Kurgan, and add some Head Hunter Plots.  That, plus Catwalk or Dead-
End Alley, can spell a quick end to the game.  Or use Destruction to get the
free Head Shot/Power Blows.  Or do both and really hurt them.  Add Cat & Mouse
for even more fun.

With any Plot-type decks, remember that the rare-yet-vital Director's Cut
Situation card is also eliminated from consideration due to Simple Mind.  It
is _not_ a Plot.

Who else should or shouldn't use Simple Mind?  Well, anyone who uses the
"standard" Continuity should avoid it.  Granted, this card has fallen into
soem disuse with the rise of the superior Ancestral Blade.  Still, if all you
have to stop Power Blows is Continuity, Simple Mind is a bad idea.

The only Persona besides Xavier that is heavily Situation-oriented is Nakano. 
The Sorcerer has four Reserved Situations (Master's Maneuver, Mirror Image,
Shadows of the Mind, Swords to Snakes), and tends to use Pedestrian/Hidden-
Only.  He probably has no desire to lose any of these.

Direct damage decks probably don't want to use Simple Mind either.  Most use
Chessex to get that extra Event each turn, or Bystander to avoid attack
damage.  Lock decks?  Can't use Jack Donovan, Honor Bound, and Safe Haven, so
scratch those as well.  Tower decks?  Typically, they rely on
Master/Swordmaster and Avery Hoskins.  Cross them off the list.

Beyond those considerations, practically anyone _can_ use Simple Mind.  All
you have to do is be willing to make a non-Situation deck.

This reviewer has found that Kastagir is a good choice for building a Simple
Mind deck around.  If armed with Ancestral Blade, he has no real use for
Situations.  His primary strategy is eliminating an opponent's defensive
resources, typically using Battlefield or Factory.  There aren't a lot of
Situations that currently help that strategy, and most of them (such as Louise
Marcus) aren't worth using.

When we talk about eliminating resources, that brings us to discarding . . .
which brings us to Nefertiri.  Her typical discard strategy, based around the
previously mentioned Locations and various Event cards, gets no help from
Situations.  Arm her with Ancestral Blade, give her Simple Mind, and watch her
ignore or remove all those harmful Situations.

Some Katana decks don't use a lot of Situations, perhaps due to concern about
Psychosis.  Simple Mind can be a good board-clearer, letting Katana Exert to
remove his opponent's last bothersome Situation.

Other Personas' use of Simple Mind can vary.  Heavy-hitter decks that use Carl
as back-up for their Berserks and Battle Rages won't like it.  Neither will
decks that hide behind Pedestrian and Bystander Situations, or that use the
various Master Situation cards.  Or decks that use Master/Swordmaster and the
Collect promo card to reduce their Exertions down to zero.  Or attack decks
that use Wargames West and Honor Bound to restrict the play of Specials.

Simple Mind strikes at both ends of the spectrum.  We mentioned earlier that
it isn't good for "direct damage"-type decks.  It's also not good for straight
swordfighting decks that want to use The Gathering.

Primarily, Simple Mind is a card that you have to tailor to your individual
style, and the Persona you plan to use.  By choosing to use it, you can mess
up a lot of strategies you may prefer.  However, since you're going into the
game knowing that their Simple Mind will be in play, you have a huge advantage
over an unwitting opponent who relies on Situations.

So overall, Steve gives Simple Mind a _7_.  This card can be a limiter and
board-cleaner, but the penalty of not using Situations yourself may be too
great.  There are a _lot_ of useful Situations out there, some that help
swordfighting decks (The Gathering, Honor Bound, Avery Hoskins, Master,
Master's Advance), some that hurt (Chessex, Jack Donovan, Safe Haven).  Simple
Mind may keep your opponent from getting those Situations out . . but it will
also prevent you from playing the cards to take advantage of their loss.

What Our Other Raters Say:

Ben - If the "timing" rules ever get ironed out for this card, it stands to be
the single most powerful Situation remover in the game.

Jeff - Awesome card.  Custom made for Kurgan decks with Disguise (and possibly
Cat & Mouse or other plots).  A mass Katana Quickening without the pain of
exerting, it can only be stopped by a TCG . . .

Rick - This is a great card to help against lock decks.  It also has great
value in a Katana attack deck.  If they play Psychosis, you play Simple Mind. 
All the non-plot Situations go away except for two, then you Exert to remove
the Simple Mind.

Hank - Really fun for anti-cheese decks.  It's main problem is it keeps other
anti-cheese cards from coming out . . . still, it's unique and has a good use.

Alan - An extremely useful card for anyone who doesn't play with Situations
themselves.  In the hands of Katana, however, this card's usefulness
magnifies, since it cuts down on the number of Exertions he has to make to
remove Situations from play.  Not a card I tend to use myself, however:  I'm a
bit of a "Situation Junkie", and I never have, nor will I ever play as Katana,
based on principle.

Jim - Simple Mind is a good anti-lock deck card.  It is particularly useful
for attack decks that are also using plots like Destruction.  This keeps your
opponent from playing Honor Bound and Wargames West, or keeping out multiple
Pedestrian Situations.

Chip - This is a good card to have in your deck if you don't plan on playing
Situations.  Not only does it not hurt you but it hinders your opponent from
playing all those Situations that can give you grief.

Ratings Overall:

Steve                   7
Ben                     9
Jeff                    8
Rick                    9
Hank                    7
Alan                    7
Jim                     6
Chip                    8

Average:                7.62

TSC Troopers

EVENT:  If there is a Location in play, you may play TSC Troopers.  Make an
Exertion to remove that Location from the game.

Well, this card is simple enough.  No elaborate strategies.  Play TSC
Troopers, Exert, remove the Location from the game.

There's not a lot of game mechanic issues here.  It's not clear if you have to
Exert as soon as you play TSC Troopers.  However, the Location won't go out of
play until you do, so this fact doesn't seem to offer any advantage even if
you can delay the Exertion.

There has to be a Location in play for you to use TSC Troopers.  If your
opponent doesn't use Locations, you can't play this card except possibly on
yourself.  Not a good idea.

A card that is removed from the game can't be recovered with anything that
lets you go into your discard pile.  This includes items such as Sacrifice.

TSC Troopers is one of four existing ways to remove Locations.  Let's look
briefly at the other three methods:

Playing a Location:  This both removes a Location and puts your own into
effect.  This serves two functions, both to your benefit.

Illusory Terrain:  This card removes a Location from play and prevents
subsequent Location play unless dealt with.  You can play multiple Illusory
Terrain cards, making it very difficult for an opponent to play Locations from
their hand.

Get Away From It All:  Basically TSC Trooper's lesser cousin.  It doesn't
require an Exertion, but it only removes the Location from play, not the game. 
Less powerful, but not as severe a penalty.

The last bit raises an interesting question:  _is_ TSC Trooper more powerful?

It does remove a Location from the game.  But in the short term, so what?  The
target Location is out of play - just the same as if you had played Get Away
From It All.  The other cards mentioned above do the same thing.  And each
either provides other immediate benefits (your own Location, Illusory
Terrain), or at the least doesn't require you to pay a price (Get Away From It

So the target Location is out of the game due to TSC Troopers.  What does this
mean?  When the opponent Exhausts, that Location won't be in their Endurance.

Well, if your opponent does Exhaust, that's important.  The question is, are
they going to?

Several of our reviewers below comment that TSC Trooper is the ideal weapon
against the dreaded Verona Location.  But Verona decks are typically designed
to _avoid_ going through their Endurance.  Why?  Because they are one of two
things:  1) Lock decks that don't go through any cards, or 2) Events that do
lots of direct damage.

If you've forced a type 1 deck through their Endurance, they've probably
already lost.  They count on you not doing anything.  If you've done enough to
make them go through their 44-50 cards, they're probably already dead.

Ditto for a type 2 deck that has gone through its Endurance.  By that time
either you're dead or they're dead.

There are ways to force your opponent through his Endurance.  The best is
Avery Hoskins:  make him (and you) Exert every turn.  Heck, since you're
Exerting any way, you can Exert for TSC Troopers.

The problem with this strategy is that unless you're reducing your Exertion
size (Master, Collect), _you_ are going through your Endurance at a pretty
substantial rate.

That may not bother you much if you're Khan.  The problem is, you're going
past a number of cards you'd rather keep.  Including . . . TSC Troopers.

In a large deck this might not be a problem.  However, Exerting to use TSC
Troopers is still going to cost you cards.  It also means it's going to take
longer both to draw the TSC Troopers card itself, and any cards that minimize
your Exertions.

So Problem #1:  TSC Troopers is only of added benefit if your opponent goes
through their Endurance.

Problem #2:  Unlike the other methods of removing Locations mentioned above,
use of TSC Troopers ends your phase.

Now, that may not sound like a problem against Rooftop or Desert.  However, if
your opponent, the Kurgan, has Ruins out and you need to get rid of it so you
can play that Left Guard against his Vertical Slash, you've got problems.

If you play TSC Troopers, and then Exert to remove Ruins . . . well, that's
the end of your defense phase.  You no longer have a chance to play that
Guard.  Bang - two points of damage (thanks to the Kurgan's ability).

A similar problem applies with Dead-End Alley and Catwalk.  Of course, you can
use Reconnaissance to avoid this problem.  But that means you're devoting 12
cards to deal with a potential six Locations that your opponent might use. 
It's also rather wasteful:  you're essentially using two cards to remove a
Location in the timeframe necessary.

One comment:  if your opponent is using less than six of a particular
Location, TSC Troopers becomes a bit more useful.  Except in the most lean and
mean of decks, however, I must admit I don't see that much.  "Lock" type decks
certainly use six of Verona.  And Locations are always playable.  Heck, you
can waste a turn if you have nothing better to do, simply by playing a
Mountain Cave to remove your own Mountain Cave.  There's no real downside to
playing with the full six of a Location allowed.

Is there any Persona that really benefits from TSC Troopers?  The Kurgan,
Kern, Katana, Kastagir, Connor, and Duncan are probably going to want to Exert
for other things.  None of them want to tie up their Exertions at a critical
moment by using TSC Troopers.

Anyone who relies on key cards is probably not going to want to Exert either. 
This includes Personas with particularly powerful cards like Amanda, Richie,
Xavier, and Fitzcairn.

That leaves a few other Personas.  None seem to really _want_ to Exert much. 
Luther? Nakano? Nefertiri?  And at least the latter two have Locations they'd
probably rather play (Ruins and Factory, respectively).

So what are we left with?  Overall, TSC Troopers is an inferior Location-
remover.  If I'm that worried about Locations like Verona, I'll remove it from
play using any of the other methods, then use the more versatile Amnesia to
remove it later at my leisure.  Amnesia is restricted to two, but I'll settle
for removing two of my opponent's Locations each time I go through my

Overall, Steve gives it a _2_.  If I'm worried about stuff like Verona, I'll
load up on Reconnaissance and/or Illusory Terrain, or use my own Locations. 
For the cost of Exerting, TSC Troopers' additional benefit is just too delayed
for me to make the effort.  I'm wasting a turn's Special and an Exertion when
I could be slapping down a Catwalk or a Mountain Cave and hurting them big

What Our Other Raters Say:

Ben - Quit bitching about Verona and play this card. You will absolutely break
the back of any Location-based deck.  I'm planning a Kurgan "worthless
Exertion" deck around this baby.

Jeff - I originally felt TSC Troopers is more useless than John Macleod --
and, in the current game setting, it's true.  However, after playtesting a few
cards from future expansions, I do have to admit it's going to be more useful,
though unfortunately still not a good card.

Rick - I'd use it if I really had a problem with a particular Location
(Verona, anyone?).

Hank - Removes Locations from the game instead of just from play, but I still
prefer Illusory Terrain or my own Locations for shutting out an opponent's
annoying Locations.

Alan - A card I never have, nor will I ever consider using, for several
reasons:  I avoid Exertions as much as possible; people tend to play with more
than one card of a particular Location -- what good is removing only one of
those cards from the game?; and finally, I would rather just remove my
opponent's Location from *play* by playing my own Location.

Jim - I've only recently begun using this card.  There is only one reason --
Verona.  Verona is simply an abusive Location which is getting great use in
lock decks.  I use a combination of location removers and Amnesia to remove
Verona from the game.  I now have added TSC Troopers to the arsenal.  I
typically only use TSC Troopers in decks where I have Exertion reduction cards
like Master and Collect.  My Katana deck, for instance, can usually make
Exertions which are 3 cards or less.  If I get things just right I can make
0-card Exertions.  In this case TSC is fairly useful.  I get to use my
Locations to full advantage and escape the dreaded Verona.  Most non-lock
decks don't use 6 of the same location in addition to anti-special cards like
Honor Bound so usually using your own Locations or Illusory Terrain are better
then TSC Troopers.

Chip - If you are playing a deck that you know will have troubles if you are
nailed to a certain Location this card will help.  But you have to be willing
to make the Exertion and burn some cards to get the benefit.  In many cases
the burning of five cards could mean the difference between losing and

Ratings Overall:

Steve                   2
Ben                     7
Jeff                    4
Rick                    5
Hank                    4
Alan                    0
Jim                     5
Chip                    5

Average:                4