Card of the Week #37-39


Flashing Blade - Alan Murrell

EDGE:  Dodges will not avoid multiple attacks you play this turn.

Here is probably my favorite card from Watcher's Chronicles.  First, let's
deal with the game mechanics.

Although it is not obvious from the wording, you can play Flashing Blade
without having to make any attacks whatsoever (i.e., if you need to get cards
out of your hand).  However, no benefit comes from it unless you play two or
more attacks during your turn.  Simple enough, eh?

So, just who benefits from Flashing Blade?

Well, let's take a look...

Amanda:  She lacks Combination/Extra Shot (editor's note:  unless she uses the
"generic" Quickening).  However, her special ability allows her to make two
attacks per turn.  Flashing Blade will make her opponent play two separate
defenses against them (assuming they're going to two different separated
areas, of course!).  This card will definitely help Amanda out.

Extra Shot/Combination:  Any Persona with the "standard" Extra Shot and/or
Combination that allows a second attack will benefit, since these are the
cards Flashing Blade was primarily designed to help.  So, instead of your
opponent using one dodge to get out of both attacks, he will have to use _two_
separate defense (again, assuming they're going to two separated areas).
Flashing Blade is particularly nasty with Extra Shot, since a worst-case
scenario is that your opponent Exerts past five cards, and finds a defense,
and the best-case scenarios is that he Exerts past five cards and finds _no_
defense, thus taking damage.

The Prize (Attacks):  Anyone who uses The Prize/Attacks can get use out of
Flashing Blade.  Of course, there's no added "benefit" (e.g., Hidden attack,
defense from Exertion, etc.), unless a Special is used (e.g., Trip), but at
least your opponent will have to play two separate defenses!  Or three if
you're Amanda.

Master Race:  Same as The Prize/Attacks.

Kern:  Kern is probably the best Persona to be able to utilize FB.  With his
ability to play multiple attacks from an Exertion, and to "extend" those
Exertions through the use of various cards (Bowie Knife, Heather, Collect), he
can become quite nasty.  Imagine fifteen or so attacks coming at you, each
able to do two damage, _and_ you can't dodge multiple attacks . . .

Although it is probably obvious, it should be noted that Flashing Blade is
useless when used in conjunction with cards or a Persona ability that already
have the "dodges will not avoid multiple attacks" clause.

Now that we've covered the usefulness of FB, now is the time to get into some
strategy with it.

Well, first off, I think standard strategy dictates that when making multiple
attacks, you should make them to two different areas (unless one of the
attacks is Hidden, in which case you may want to bluff your opponent, but I
digress).  One thing to keep in mind when using Flashing Blade is this:

If I play, say, an Upper Right Attack and a Middle Right Attack against you,
you can stop them with _one_ Upper Right Block (or one Right/Upper Guard).
However, if all you have available are dodges, then you will have to play
_two_ dodges to avoid both attacks (one per attack).  This is key to using
Flashing Blade.

Now, with this in mind, really, the only strategy I have found is that you
_should_ include at least two, preferably three Master's Advances in your
deck.  With the Master's Advances out, and making multiple attacks whenever
you can, you eat through your opponent's defenses pretty quickly, particularly
those dodges.  And if you have a Location, such as Catwalk out, then your
opponent's options are suddenly quite limited.  Although your opponent _can_
use those non-Back Away dodges to "pay" for the Back Aways...

Now, what can you do against Flashing Blade?   Well, admittedly, not a heck of
a lot.  Being an Edge, it can't be countered by Forethought, or removed by
Xavier.  However, it _can_ be countered by ripping a TCG, or even better,
Rachel Ellenstein.

So, with all of this in mind, Alan gives Flashing Blade an _8_.  It is one of
the most useful cards in the game which should go into _every_ swordfighting
deck.

What Our Other Raters Say:

Jeff - Another great Edge card, this one making any multiple attacks mini-
Battle Rages.  Great with Amanda (especially) and other multi-attack types.
Play it with Berkeley Games for real fun.

Rick - Abstain

Hank - Flashing Blade is going to prove more and more useful as time goes on,
and more Immortals have cards or abilities that involve multiple attacks.
It's a great example of what "Edge" cards should do, adding a new degree of
complexity to swordplay.

Steve - I'm not quite as impressed with this card as other reviewers.  It's a
good card, make no mistake.  However, Lunge is more versatile.  Most of the
things you can do with Flashing Blade, you can do with a well-placed Lunge.
Rather than play a Flashing Blade before having Kern Exert to make five
attacks, just play a Lunge and modify the third attack.  Instead of playing
Flashing Blade + Extra Shot, play a Lunge on the first attack of Extra Shot.
And so on.  However, as a supplement to Lunge, FB combines to totally crush
the "single Dodge/Back Away/Master's Dodge/Distract avoids all attacks"
syndrome.  Also, FB works on non-Basic attacks, while Lunge doesn't.

Jim - Flashing Blade is an excellent card for use with multi-attacks which are
not already endowed with the anti-dodge enhancement FB provides.  Flashing
Blade is a good card to use with the standard Combination and Extra Shot, but
also works wonders with cards such as Berkeley Games, Master Race, and The
Prize/Attack.  It also works well with Amanda, Kern, and other Immortals who
have the ability to inherently make more than one attack.  Flashing Blade can
be combined with Master's Advance to make dodging very costly.

Wayne - Flashing Blade makes multiple attacking viable.  This is another good
card to help bring the sword back to this swordfighting game.  I like this
particular card.

Prodipto - Flashing Blade is going to be an incredible boost for attack
oriented decks that don't rely on the 3-B's (Battle Rage, Berserk, Bloodlust).
Cards that are going to benefit a lot from this will be Berkeley Games,
Combination, Extra Shot, Master's Advance, Master Race, and The Prize:
Attacks.  Flashing Blade will also give a boost to Amanda decks, as well as
adding a nasty twist to Kern decks.  This is an Edge that should be in almost
any attack deck.

Allen - Flashing Blade is another of the WC cards which attempt to give you
better odds of scoring sword damage on your first pass through your deck.  The
use of FB is obvious; play it when you intend to attack more than once.  Used
with Extra Shot you almost guarantee that your opponent must exert to defend.
Make the second attack a power blow!  Use in conjunction with Lunge and
Master's Advance and you can really convince your opponent that he should plan
to stand and fight.  Amanda, Combination, and Berkeley Games all get boosts
with Flashing Blade.

Ratings Overall:

Steve                   7
Jeff                    7
Rick                  N/A
Hank                    8
Alan                    8
Jim                     9
Wayne                   8
Prodipto                8
Allen                   9


Average:                8.00

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Flurry Strike

ATTACK:  If this attack is successful, it does an additional point of damage
for every other Flurry Strike played this turn.  If the previous attack you
played this turn was Flurry Strike, this attack may not be blocked.  [There
are three different Flurry Strikes:  one is Middle Left, one is Middle Right,
and one is Middle Center]

If our last two WC-related cards were combat-enhancing Edge cards (Lunge and
Flashing Blade), and the WC-related card before that was a combat-enhancing
Special Attack (Master Swordsman), here we have a combat-enhancing non-Special
attack.  Flurry Strike is the only generic non-Special attack found in
Watcher's Chronicles.

Game mechanic questions first.  Flurry Strike is limited by title, so you
can't have more than six, no matter which location(s) on the grid those six
attacks cover.

Flurry Strike meets the criteria for being an unblockable attack.  Thus,
Alertness/Block can be used against it.  However, keep in mind that
Alertness/Block modifies an attack, not a block you might play against that
attack.  So make sure to modify the second or subsequent Flurry Strike
_before_ you play a block against the earlier attack(s).  Also, you can't use
Alertness to allow a Guard already on the table to protect you.

A Flurry Strike does normal damage:  two points (four for a Power Blow), or
for Amanda, one point (two for a Power Blow).  The Kurgan adds his extra 1
damage normally.  On top of this you add one additional point for each other
FS played that turn.  The MC Flurry Strike receives no additional bonus to
damage, unlike a Thrust.

Only one Flurry Strike needs to hit.  The extra damage added to it is from
each other Flurry Strike _played_, not each other Flurry Strike that
successfully hit.  However, if two or more hit, each adds damage to the
other(s).

A Flurry Strike can be Hidden, played from an Exertion, and made a Power Blow.
Although it is not a "basic" attack, it is not limited like a Special Attack.
It cannot be modified by cards like Hideo Koto or Lunge that affect basic
attacks only.

A block played against a second or greater Hidden Flurry Strike has no effect.
And you must play Alertness/Block on the FS _before_ you play the appropriate
block.  If you miss the first block against the Hidden FS, you may still Exert
and play that block:  the FS still remains modified by Alertness and can still
be blocked.

So, Flurry Strike looks like a tricky card.  However, these are tricks that
make it harder to defend against, not harder to play.  In fact, a properly
augmented FS is a good way to sneak in an unblockable attack that does a fair
amount of damage.

Obviously, Flurry Strike is only useful to Personas that can make multiple
attacks.  Thanks to The Prize/Extra Attack, anyone can do that.  However, the
most common way is to make two attacks using Combination, Extra Shot, or
Follow-Up/Kurgan.  This may not seem that effective, since a Lower or Upper
Guard, Duck, Jump, Master's Block, and Master's Dodge will avoid both attacks.

In and by itself, correct.  Keep in mind that, ideally, you want to play at
least two Flurry Strikes.  Flashing Blade (CotW #37) can lower the
effectiveness of those dodge-based strategies, requiring them to at least play
two dodge cards against your two Flurry Strikes.

As always, the second attack of an Extra Shot, enhanced by Flashing Blade,
means your opponent has to work for a defense.  An opponent in this case must
Exert for a defense, any blocks will be unusable, and if he fails to draw the
right defense he takes at least three points of damage (normal 2 damage for a
Flurry Strike, plus 1 more for the first one).  If you made it a Power Blow
they take 5 damage, if you're the Kurgan they take 4 damage, and if you're the
Kurgan making a Power Blow, they take 6 damage!

Speaking of the Kurgan . . . let's look at Follow-Up.  The second attack of a
Follow-Up is undodgeable.  And if you played a Flurry Strike as your first
attack, the second Flurry Strike is unblockable.  Congratulations!  You just
created a Stalk that can be Power Blowed, does a potential 6 damage if the
Kurgan wants to try a Power Blow (4 if he doesn't), and he can use three times
rather than once (a two-Flurry Strike combo x 3).

The standard Combination, used in conjunction with Flashing Blade or other
anti-dodge cards like Master's Advance, provides some nice bluff potential.
Play a ML Flurry Strike, then a Hidden attack.  Watch them scurry to block
that Flurry Strike/right . . . and get nailed by your Lower Left Attack.  Once
they catch on to that, switch back to using a Flurry Strike for your second
attack.  Useless against Connor, unfortunately.

Heck, don't even bother playing an opposite-side Flurry Strike.  Just play a
ML Flurry Strike and then a Hidden ML Flurry Strike.  You get an extra point
of damage this way.

That's what you can do with just two attacks in a turn.  Let's take a look at
folks who can play 3+ attacks per turn.

Annie Devlin, if she is successfully attacked, can make three attacks.  If she
uses Run Through, she can make all three attacks Hidden, and she has an
inherent ability which duplicates Flashing Blade.  Take the strategies
mentioned for Combination above and apply generously.

Alternately, Annie can let herself be hit, and then use Fitzcairn's Fast Talk
(with Darius), making it impossible for her opponent to play any cards.  She
may then play three Flurry Strikes and make one a Power Blow.  Thanks to her
inherent ability, an opponent Exerting for a defense and getting a dodge can
only use it against one attack (guess which one?).  Still, this means she will
do eight points of damage - fourteen if they fail to draw a dodge!  Only a
Master's Block will save them here.

Battle Rage provides five attacks.  If you can make these Hidden (via Mountain
Cave), better still.  A Connor/Mountain Cave deck employing Flurry Strikes
should do serious damage.  Play just half of your six allotted Flurry Strikes,
and if just one hits you'll do four points of damage.

Kern tends to get about five attacks in an enhanced Exertion.  He needs
Flashing Blade (unless he uses Rage, which also gives him extra Power Blows).
Employ the same strategy for him.

Slan get ten attacks with Berserk, but he has to count on randomly drawing his
Flurry Strikes.  Unless he uses Dr. Alan Neyman or a well-timed Fortune
Teller, that's probably not going to happen.

The Kurgan gets 15 attacks with Bloodlust, and several Flurry Strikes
scattered throughout can be just as painful.

Which cards supplement the use of Flurry Strike?  Ruins, Dead-End Alley, and
Catwalk, since they prevent the play of defenses that simultaneously cover the
ML and MR areas.  Watcher/Involvement will stop Master's Blocks.  Granted,
second and subsequent Flurry Strikes can't be blocked anyway, but using Ruins
and Watcher/Involvement will guard against Alertness/Block as well.

Anti-Holy Ground cards like Carl are good for when your opponent tries to
escape.  Since Kalas has the "standard" Extra Shot, he can use the two-Flurry
strategy outlined above, and keep a nervous opponent from playing Holy Ground
because of his Stalk/Head Shot combo.

Dojo (CotW #34) lets you tuck away a Flurry Strike until you have other Flurry
Strike(s) to play with it.  This means you can still attack your opponent,
keeping the pressure on, without having to do the worst thing possible:  waste
a single Flurry Strike attacking.  It also lets Kalas store a Stalk & Head
Shot in case his opponent plays Holy Ground/ME.

Flurry Strike is a way for Amanda to do two points of damage with a Seduce,
without having to wait for a Thrust.  Simply play two Flurry Strikes, and use
Seduce on either one.

So overall, Steve gives Flurry Strike a _8_.  It's an okay card when simply
used as part of a multi-attack sequence.  However, there are some _very_
sneaky combinations tucked away in the game which represent the swordfighting
aspect of Highlander at its best.

What Our Other Raters Say:

Jeff - Oodles and oodles of fun, these attacks were just made to be played
with the Kurgan.  Bloodlust with Ruins and a Master's Advance out, play a few
of these, and rip (or use Carl) on their Holy Ground.  Or, if you feel like
having more fun, try it with any multi-attack Persona using Flashing Blade.
Lots and lots of possibilities.

Rick - An amazing card.  Put several of these in a row and you have something
very deadly.  Even Master's Block won't stop them all.

Hank - Another card that's designed to be useful in decks that play multiple
attacks in a turn.  In the decks I've used them in, or seen them used in, they
haven't had the impact one would want, though.  There are better attacks to
put in a deck.

Alan - Flurry Strike's dual "ability" makes it one of the best attack cards
available.  It enhances Combination, Extra Shot, Battle Rage, and my
particular favorite,  Bloodlust.  Flurry Strike should be in _every_
swordfighting deck that relies on making multiple attacks in a turn.

Jim - Flurry Strike is best played within a multi-attack sequence like Battle
Rage, Bloodlust, or Berserk.  Flashing Blade is also a good Edge card to use
with these.  Kern can make very good use of these as can Kurgan, Duncan and
any Immortal with multi-attack capabilities or cards that grant multiple
attacks.

Wayne - Great card for attack decks using multiple attacks.  Cards like this
and the new edge cards may make Bloodlust one of the most powerful cards in
the game. I would rate it higher but it really doesn't help anyone not playing
multiple attack decks.

Prodipto - Flurry Strike is a very useful attack to put into multiple attack
decks.  These would include the 3-B's (Battle Rage, Berserk, Bloodlust), or
Amanda or Kern decks.  When used with Flashing Blade, or anti-dodge cards
(like Master's Advance, Challenge/SE, Kiss Your Butts Goodbye, Nefertiri's
Seduce, etc), playing more than one Flurry Strike is very effective.

Allen - Another card that boosts multiple attack sequences, Flurry Strike
grants them extra teeth.  The more of them you play at once, the more teeth
each attack carries.  Battle Rage can conceptually grant you five attacks each
doing six damage.  Given BR's dodge-restricting ability, this can prove
effective for a Lean and Mean deck (especially in Renaissance style).  In any
multiple attack sequence, forcing your opponent to defend several non-
consecutive Flurry Strikes can force them to let many other attacks through.

Ratings Overall:

Steve                   8
Jeff                    7
Rick                    9
Hank                    5
Alan                    9
Jim                     7
Wayne                   7
Prodipto                6
Allen                   5

Average:                7.00

------------------------------------------------------------------
Immortal Wound

SITUATION:  Play in your Attack Phase.  If none of your attacks this turn are
successful, discard Immortal Wound immediately.  For each Immortal Wound you
have in play, your opponent must discard a card at the end of his Draw Phase.

Well, after several weeks of reviewing WC attack cards, we're back to
Specials.  Like the last few cards we've looked at, this card modifies an
attack in a new and different way.

First, the game mechanic questions.  The sequence described on Immortal Wound
seems to be unclear to some people, so let's review it here.

The attacker plays Immortal Wound during his Attack Phase.  It is not required
that he play multiple attacks, or even any attacks.  Immortal Wound counts as
his one Special for the turn, as per normal.  Currently, there is no way for
anyone to play a second Special while still attacking.

The attack(s) are dealt with normally on the defender's Defense Phase.  At the
end of the Defense Phase, if none of the attacks were successful, Immortal
Wound is immediately discarded.

If at least one attack was success, Immortal Wound remains in play.  Beginning
with that turn, the defender must discard one card at the end of his
draw/discard phase, after he has drawn or discarded normally.  This is similar
to how Kalas' power works.

Immortal Wound, despite its name, is anything but.  As a Situation, it is as
vulnerable to removal as any other Situation.  Thus, the Police can "heal"
your wound, and the attacker may remove it from play due to Simple Mind.  An
Immortal Wound can be the target of Focus, and thus does not cause discarding
the turn it is Focussed.

As specifically described on the card, the effects of multiple Immortal Wounds
_are_ cumulative.  Like Collect, Immortal Wound is an exception to the normal
Situation "stacking" rules due to card wording (i.e., Ability-modifying
Situations stack, no others do).

So that's how Immortal Wound works.  What can you do with it?

The main limitation on Immortal Wound is that it is the only Special you can
play in a turn.  Thus, you are deprived of the ability to pay an attack-
enhancing Special.  You can still play an attack-enhancing Edge(s) such as
Lunge or Flashing Blade.

So what we have to look at is which attacks have a good chance of hitting
without the play of other Specials.

The obvious one is Stalk/Xavier.  With a few Forethoughts backing it, only
Alertness will stop this attack.

Not quite as obvious a choice is Kalas' Stalk.  One thing that is occasionally
overlooked is that this card is unblockable and undodgeable after your
opponent plays a Holy Ground, even if you do _not_ make it a Head Shot.  It s
still a 2-point upper center attack that cannot be blocked or dodged.  If you
don't have or draw a Head Shot due to Holy Ground/SE, or don't get a Head Shot
when you take a new hand due to Holy Ground/ME, you can still play Kalas'
Stalk.

While you cannot play another Special the turn you play Immortal Wound plus an
attack, you can rely on Specials already in play.  Master's Advance is useful
here.  If you've forced your opponent to use a number of dodges, a Master's
Attack at the right time might force them to take a 2-point hit and suffer the
effects of an IW.

Against heavy dodge-reliant opponents like Amanda or Duncan, a normal
attack/Lunge (CotW #36) plus an Immortal Wound might actually hit if they
don't have the right block at the right moment.  At the least you might force
them to Exert for a dodge.

The use of Battlefield (CotW #3) and Factory (CotW #23) can help to deprive
your opponent of defenses by depriving them of the ability to redraw, or force
them to lose more then average.  This gives you a better chance of playing
Immortal Wound plus an attack and hitting successfully.

Situations and Persona abilities that let you make multiple attacks (Berkeley
Distributors, The Prize/Extra Attack, Amanda, Kern, and Annie) have a better
chance of giving you at least one successful hit.  Use of Flashing Blade is a
must in this case.

Connor and Duncan's cross-corner diagonal Slashes have a better-than-average
chance of hitting, particularly in conjunction with anti-dodge
Situation/Locations or against the WC Immortals who lack the extra 9-grid
coverage of Dodge.

One thing you should consider when using Immortal Wound is that, in the first
half of the game, one or two IWs may actually _help_ your opponent.  Like
Kalas' power, IW lets your opponent discard whatever cards he wishes.  This
means that they can get rid of "useless" and/or unplayable cards .  This can
cause more rapid deck-cycling, but that's typically a good tradeoff for the
ability to dump trash.

Three or more Immortal Wounds, or Immortal Wounds used in conjunction with
Kalas, can cause card loss/redraw to such a degree that it becomes a major
problem.  Typically, however, IW's full effects don't become painful until
later in the game when an opponent has a small Ability.  At that point, they
actually have an ability greater than 0 and still have no cards in their hand.
This is a good time for those Head Shots.

So who should use Immortal Wound?  As indicated above, Xavier and Kalas
probably have the best chance of hitting, thanks to their ability to play
inherent unblockable/undodgeable attacks.

Xavier further benefits because he relies heavily on Situations anyway.  An
opponent might be too busy dealing with his Plots and Forethoughts to remove
an Immortal Wound.  Early in the game this may not be a bother.  However,
later this could prove a fatal mistake.

Kalas benefits because Immortal Wound augments his own power.  The cumulative
affects of several Immortal Wounds in play, plus a successful attack of his
own, can force an opponent to lose 4+ cards at the end of a turn.  This will
hurt even a defender who wants to get rid of cards, and force them to cycle
through their deck more quickly.

Kern, Amanda, and Annie all have the ability to make multiple attacks without
the additional play of a Special the same turn.  Although Kern and Amanda
require Flashing Blade, this is a small price to play.  With Kern's potential
to make 5+ attacks in a single turn, one of them is bound to hit if skillfully
managed.  Amanda's 1-pt. attacks might seem trivial, but the Immortal Wound
that it can inflict is just as potent as one accompanying a 4-pt. Slan/Power
Blow.

Slash users have a better chance of scoring an Immortal Wound.  This suggests
Connor and Duncan.  However, under the right circumstances, even Personas like
the Kurgan and Nakano have reason to use the regular Slash.  Nakano, like
Xavier, relies heavily on Situations, and can use camouflage Immortal Wound
among his other Situations.

So overall, Steve gives Immortal Wound a _3_.  There are a few Personas and
strategies that IW helps.  However, it has three major drawbacks.  The first
is that it is relatively easy to remove:  Katana will never be seriously
bothered by it.  The second is that in the early-to-mid stages of a game, it
can help the target.  And third, it is difficult to use because it is somewhat
hard to successfully make an otherwise unaugmented attack.  It can be done,
but you might better devote space in your deck to cards that make sure you do
hit, rather than cards that enhance your attack once it does hit.

What Our Other Raters Say:

Jeff - Abstain

Rick - This is a good card if you can be assured to do some damage.  An
excellent "finisher" card since they will have fewer and fewer cards in their
hands to defend with.  Too bad they get the choice of which cards to discard.

Hank - Immortal Wound is interesting, but I must confess that I haven't used
it in a deck yet.  I could see a Master's Block/Master's Lunge Connor deck
using it, or any other deck that has a non-Event way to make an attack
unstoppable... and once a few Immortal Wounds are in play, it's going to
severely frustrate an opponent to toss cards at the end of a turn.

Alan - Abstain

Jim - Immortal Wound will give a boost to most attack decks. It works well
when used in  conjunction with Factory.  This is definitely not a card to use
if you are using a denial deck and are trying to force your opponent into a
hand jam situation.  Since many occasions result in no attacks succeeding
early in a game, Immortal Wound is best used early and often.

Wayne - Abstain

Prodipto - Useless against Nefertiri, this card is well suited for unstoppable
attack type decks (a good example is Catwalk-Ranged Attacks).  Once Immortal
Wounds start falling (particularly in the early game), then burn type
strategies work particularly well (Nefertiri-Battlefield or Khan-Desert decks
will have a lot of success with Immortal Wound).  This is not a card that
should be in a lock deck, as it allows your opponent to start cycling cards.

Allen - Abstain

Ratings Overall:

Steve                   3
Jeff                  N/A
Rick                    5
Hank                    7
Alan                  N/A
Jim                     7
Wayne                 N/A
Prodipto                6
Allen                 N/A

Average:                5.60

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