Card of the Week #45

Joe Dawson

PREGAME:  Play this card before the game begins. This card represents the
Watcher assigned to you.  You may only have one Watcher assigned to you. Your
Watcher is Joe Dawson.

While Joe Dawson is assigned as your Watcher, at the end of your turn you may
make an Exertion to take any Watcher cards in your discard pile and place them
at the bottom of your Endurance.

Another first for the Highlander CCG:  a "Watcher" pre-game card.  While this
card physically looks like a Persona card, it is not.  Joe Dawson, along with
the pre-game James Horton, are hopefully the first in a series of Watchers
that a Persona can adopt as their own.

Game mechanics:  Joe Dawson/pre-game is counted against the total number of
_all_ Joe Dawson cards in your deck.  Thus, if you have one pre-game Joe
Dawson, you can only have five Joe Dawson/Situations in your deck.

There is no restriction number on Joe Dawson.  The limit of one is an overall
rule covering Watcher cards.  Thus, you cannot use a pre-game Darius to
increase the number of Joe Dawson/pre-games you have.

Unlike a Persona or Premium card, Joe Dawson is not an integral part of your
Persona.  Like a Thunder Castle card or a pre-game Darius, he is vulnerable to
Divine Intervention.

Counter-intuitive as it might seem, Joe Dawson (either version) is _not_ a
Watcher by the definition of the Highlander CCG:  a card with the title
"Watcher."  He does _not_ count against the total number of Watcher cards you
can have in your deck.

When you Exert to use Joe Dawson, the simplest way to perform the sequence is
to examine your discard, move cards as necessary, and then make the Exertion.
Regardless, any Watcher cards in the Exertion you make for Joe Dawson can
_not_ be moved to the bottom of your Endurance.

Once again, let's clarify what a "Watcher" card is.  A Watcher card is any
card with the title "Watcher."  Watcher Field Agents are not Watchers.  Cards
with the word "Watcher" as part of a longer title (i.e., Watcher Regional HQ,
Watcher's Oath, Watcher Database) are not Watchers.  The Joe Dawson and James
Horton in-game Situations are not Watchers.

For the purposes of this column, any card that is a Watcher will be written in
the format, "Watcher/XXX" where XXX is either the given or commonly accepted
sub-title (i.e., Watcher/Fair Fight, Watcher/Treatment, Watcher/Watcher

Any Ally that has been made a Watcher via Watcher/Watcher Revealed (CotW #42)
is a Watcher.  However, that is irrelevant for the purposes of Joe Dawson/pre-
game, because they do not _remain_ a Watcher once they enter your discard
pile.  Watcher/Watcher Revealed is a Watcher card, and can be recovered

So that is how Joe Dawson works.  So what can you do with him?

Obviously, you want to use him if you plan on using your six maximum Watcher
cards.  Since using two Watcher/Treatments is a given with practically any
deck, this leaves four more for you to add.

Since Joe Dawson allows you to move any number of Watchers from discard to
bottom of Endurance, you want to wait as long as possible until you have your
six Watchers _in_ your discard pile.  This makes your Exertions more cost-
effective.  Why make six Exertions for six Watchers on six different turns,
when you can make one Exertion on one turn to move all six Watchers?  The
downside of this is that you have to wait until all six are in your discard,
for maximum effectiveness.  Depending on the luck of the draw, this could
bring you very close to the point of Endurance burn.

There are other problems with this strategy.  Without a way to minimize your
Exertions, you can burn past valuable cards.  The use of Master/Swordmaster
and Collect can help here.  However, this can further enlarge your deck size.

The other problem is that Joe Dawson does exactly what he says:  puts the
Watchers on the _bottom_ of your Endurance.  Without a way to get to them,
they're stuck there.  If you are down to those last few cards, and have to
Exert for a defense, you know you're not going to get one.  A careful opponent
can time a Taunt/Katana or Power Blow/Lunge so you have to Exert past the

This brings us to how to get those Watchers off the bottom of your Endurance
and back where you can use them.  There is only one way to do this:  Angus
MacLeod.  For the cost of _another_ Exertion, he'll let you put the bottom
card of your Endurance on top of your Endurance, and then draw it.  This can
be expensive and time-consuming, since you have to make two Exertions,
typically on two separate turns, to pull this off.

Again, you can use Master/Swordmaster and Collect to minimize the Angus
Exertion.  However, now you've got six Watchers in your deck.  And some
Collects.  And some few Master/Swordmasters.  And some few Angus MacLeods.
And your fifteen basic attacks and defenses.  You're beginning to squeeze out
your strategy cards, just so you can do Watcher recovery.

Which Watchers, besides two Watcher/Treatments, should you put into your deck
so that you have valuable cards to play and recycle?  We'll look at some of
these more in our next issue.  Watcher/Watcher Involvement is one of the more
effective ones.  This counters Master cards as they are played, and its
restriction of two makes it a natural for some form of recycling.
Watcher/Watcher Revealed, used in conjunction with Situation Allies, can lead
to you having a large # of Watchers on the table, letting you benefit from the
Watcher Regional HQ.

Of the existing Watchers, Watcher/Hunter (discard 1 dodge or take 1 damage)
can still be useful, although it's been minimized by anti-direct damage and
ME's Rush to some degree.  Watcher/Sniper (opponent takes two damage if has
higher Ability than you) is also nice to recycle, although ideally you
shouldn't be letting your opponent do that kind of damage consistently.

Watcher/Fair Fight is useful against swordfighting decks.  However, you can
supplement it with The Armory, and if you devote all of your four "extra"
Watcher slots to this card, it's unlikely a disarm deck will be able to remove
them thoroughly enough.

Who should use Joe Dawson/pre-game?  We talk about Exertion-reduction above.
Personas that already benefit from this are obvious choices.  Katana and
Fitzcairn already have useful Exertion-related abilities.  Connor and Duncan,
with their ability to Power Blow relatively freely (and Connor's It's a Kind
of Magic), are secondary choices.

Personas without the "standard" Continuity, and subsequent to the restriction
of Ancestral Blade to 1, may wish to reduce their Power Block Exertions down
to zero.  Dodging is nice, but not particularly useful against Lunge/Power
Blows.  These Personas currently include Katana and Fitzcairn (again), Xavier,
Annie Devlin, Kern, and Kalas.

Heavy-duty healing/damage avoidance decks that aren't concerned about
Exertions may wish to bolster their ability to draw extra Watcher/Treatments.
A Joe Dawson/pre-game and a third Watcher/Treatment due to pre-game Darius can
work wonders here.  Again, Fitzcairn and Katana are prime contenders here.
They can avoid damage and Exert to remove dangerous combat-oriented
Situations, respectively.  Due to Kern's Hogg, Kern and Richie (and
potentially anyone using Darius) meet this criteria as well.

So overall, Steve gives Joe Dawson/pre-game a _5_.  It's a nice card, but
(currently) an easy target for Divine Intervention.  I'm not fond of Exertion-
based strategies, unless they're cheap 0-card ones.  And the work required to
get Joe Dawson's Exertions down to zero doesn't seem worth the payoff.  Katana
and Fitzcairn are the obviously beneficiaries here, but you'd better have a
few Collects to make it really work, or be willing to lose a lot of other
useful cards Exerting for those Watchers.

What Our Other Raters Say:

Jeff - Fortunately, this is toned down from its original playtested version
(there was no exertion to activate it) after someone griped long and hard
about it... =)  Might be of greater use if you can pull off a zero-card
exertion, but with a five-carder, you'd better have all your Treatments in
there and need them back.  And if you're in that kind of shape, you've
probably got better uses for your exertions.

Rick - I can keep replaying my Watcher cards so it would seem like a permanent
6-card Endurance, but when you start Exerting for defenses in those last 6
cards, you might regret this ability.  Mixing this with Angus is almost a

Hank - Joe's an interesting card, definitely useful with those
Watcher/Treatments or the various Watcher direct damage cards.  Any time you
can guarantee what cards you'll draw it's a good thing, and there are several
useful Watcher cards.

Alan - Now here's a card I love.  It's best use is with Watcher/Treatment, to
allow an almost-perpetual amount of healing.  Combine with Master/Swordmaster
and/or Collect to minimize the Exertions, and you have a _real_ healing deck!

Jim - Very good for use with Watcher decks, but you can only have six Watchers
in a deck so this is of limited utility.  However, there are many potent
Watcher cards so Joe Dawson is worth using if you use several Watchers in your

Wayne - Abstain

Prodipto - Joe Dawson is a very useful Watcher.  Most decks are going to use
Watcher: Treats in them.  With Joe, you could play both your Watcher/Treats,
Exert, and put them back at the bottom of your Endurance.  He also will make
useful another seldom used ME card:  Angus.  Now you can put the card you want
on the bottom of your deck and the next turn, exert it to the top.  Sure, this
is costly, but if it gets you two more healing cards, it's well worth the cost
of 10 cards!  Recovering other Watcher cards is a fringe benefit of Joe
Dawson, but I think his best use is for the extra healing.

Allen - Especially when coupled with Angus and some exertion control, Joe can
let you regain key Watcher cards quickly.  You can use this for Watcher/Fair
Fight if your opponent is trying to break your sword, but I'm sure Joe will be
used most often to get more use out of Watcher/Treatment.  (Angus isn't
critical here.)  It's not a card I'm personally fond of (we need more
healing?) but it is useful.

Ratings Overall:

Steve                   5
Jeff                    4
Rick                    4
Hank                    8
Alan                    8
Jim                     6
Wayne                 N/A
Prodipto                8
Allen                   6

Average:                6.13

Highlander is a protected trademark of Gaumont Television, used under license
by Thunder Castle Games.  The card text is copyright 1997 by Thunder Castle
Games.  All rights reserved.