Card of the Week #46 - Xmas Special!


Watcher Christmas 1997 Special - Steve Crow

In this special issue, we'll be covering not one, but six (count'em - six!)
different Watcher's Chronicles cards.

Overall Impressions:

Appropriately enough, given its name, the Watcher's Chronicles expansion
includes a number of cards that deal with Watchers and (in part) Watcher Field
Agents.  We get four new cards titled, "Watcher."  Watcher Revealed (CotW
#42), Watcher Involvement, Agents Threatened, and Watcher Tribunal.  There are
three new cards that affect Watchers:  the Joe Dawson (#45) and James Horton
pre-game cards, and the Joe Dawson in-game Situation.

There are several card that to one degree or another interact with Watchers,
but are not Watcher cards themselves.  These include Code Red, Watcher
Regional HQ, and Watcher's Oath.

And finally, there are two card with the word "Watcher" in their title, but
have nothing to do with Watcher cards:  Watcher's Chronicle and Watcher
Database.

Of these cards, some hurt a player for using Watchers and Watcher Field
Agents, while some help.  The problem with the ones that hurt is that they
tend to hurt you as well.  Cards like Watcher/Treatment and Greenfield Hobby
are useful enough that it is almost assured that everyone will have some
Watcher-type cards in their deck.

The Watchers that aid you are useful, and give you a chance to build some
strong strategies around them.  It's debatable whether they are more powerful
than the existing SE ones, but they can be put to some use.

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Code Red

EVENT
Code Red is the signal for all Watchers to abandon their current posts and
focus their energies on a single assignment.  All Watchers and Watcher Field
Agents in play return to their owners' hands.

This card is fairly straightforward in its effects.  Everything applicable
immediately gets picked up by its respective owner.  In a multi-player game,
when played during an Encounter turn it affects all players.

This is not a card that is particularly beneficial to you if you are employing
Watcher Situations or Watcher Field Agents.  Code Red has the advantage that
it does not count against the total number of Watchers that you can have in
your deck.

So what can you do with Code Red?  It helps against an opponent who is
building up Watcher or WFA Situations for a particular strategy.  Essentially,
they will have to reduplicate their efforts to get the Watchers and/or WFAs
back into play.

You can also use Code Red in conjunction with Watcher/Watcher Revealed.  Use
this card to return newly-created Watcher/Ally/Situations to your opponent's
hand.  Unlike Watcher Threatened, this won't remove them to the discard.
However, again, Code Red doesn't count against the total number of Watchers
you are allowed.

Returning cards back to your opponent's hand does make them vulnerable to
attacks that force your opponent to discard her hand.  However, currently only
Stunning Blow performs that function.  And you have to hit them as you play
Code Red, or they'll discard their extra cards at the end of their turn.

An oddball use for Code Red is to temporarily "clog up" Nefertiri.  If she has
more cards in her hand than her Ability score, she can't draw new cards until
she reduces the number of cards she has (or uses Desperation).

Overall, Steve gives Code Red a _3_.  Typically, I find Watcher/Agents
Threatened a more useful card.  I prefer out-and-out removal rather then
temporary delay.

Jim - An interesting card.  A great card for Stunning Blow combos.

Rick - As the number of Watcher and Watcher Field Agent Situations increases,
this may become more useful.

Hank - Only fun against Watcher-heavy decks, and not too fun then.

Alan - A good card if you have several Watchers our (either Watchers
themselves, or via Watcher/Revealed), and you don't want to lose them.  More
useful since the introduction of the Sweep Phase.

Allen - A conditional card that is always playable, but useful only if your
opponent uses Watcher or WFA cards.  Has the side benefit of slowing your
opponent, forcing him to discard his Watchers or spend time replaying them.

Prodipto - Code Red has very little benefit.  Even in the case of Watcher:
Rearm, a player can just play it back on their next turn and rearm.  Code Red
is not particularly useful to most strategies.

Ratings Overall:

Steve                   3
Rick                    5
Hank                    4

Alan                    6
Jim                     3
Prodipto                4
Allen                   3

Average:                4.00

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Watcher/Watcher Involvement
SITUATION:  A Watcher aids you in this duel with knowledge of your opponent's
tricks.  Discard to counter any Master card as it is played.  (Restricted to
2)

An excellent card.  There are very few cards that aid you against Master
cards, and yet an opponent with one or two critical ones can seriously cramp
your style.

First, game-mechanic questions.  _Any_ card that is countered is considered to
have been played.  This originally only applied to Specials, because those
were the only cards that could be countered.  Watcher Involvement introduces a
way to counter attacks (Master's Attack, Master's Lunge) and defenses
(Master's Dodge, Master's Block, Master's Guard).

You can only play a single defense against each attack.  If you play that
defense and it is countered, you cannot play another.  You cannot Exert for a
defense, because you can only do that _instead_ of playing a defense, or if
you failed to defend against a Hidden attack.

If you Exert to play a defense and try to use a Master, Watcher Involvement
can counter that as well.

If you have a single attack "slot" and it is countered, you cannot play
another attack.

Watcher Involvement is the perfect solution for those Bloodlust, Berserk,
Battle Rage, and Kern types who are frustrated by a single Master's Block
thwarting all their attacks.  If you can't or don't want to use
Alertness/Dodge, it is also handy for stopping Master's Attacks if you are
typically low on dodges (i.e., Back Away-only types like Kern, Kalas, Slan,
and the Kurgan).

An opponent is more likely to play multiples of the generic Masters.  Since
Watcher Involvement is limited to two, it's unlikely you can completely stop
them (particularly if they're Connor, the Kurgan, or Duncan!).  However, that
could be enough if you are, say, a dodge-reliant Persona like Amanda or Duncan
facing a Slan deck using five Master's Advances.

Watcher Involvement's restriction of two makes the decision of how to use it
fairly easy.  Two of these, two of Watcher/Treatment, and two more Watchers
and you've hit your limit of six.  Watcher/Sniper/Equalizer (opponent takes
two damage if higher Ability than yours) or Watcher/Counter are probably best,
since you don't need a lot of these to implement a particular strategy.

Overall, Steve gives Watcher/Watcher Involvement a _7_.  Its main disadvantage
is the two restriction, but a pre-game Darius can raise this by one.  If
you're using a multiple-attack strategy, its presence is practically
mandatory.

Jim - An excellent general purpose card.  Excellent against opponents with
high numbers of Master cards like Connor, Kurgan and Duncan.

Rick - One of the best cards to stop those Master's Blocks and Attacks.  Its
use is too conditional to make it rate higher.

Hank - A discard-to-use against any Master card, really nice against a wide
variety of decks... and with the newly fixed Katana, Situations are useful
again!

Alan - A great counter card, since almost _everyone_ uses Master cards
(especially those nasty Blocks), plus you are able to play it any time to get
it out of your hand.

Allen - Can be a lifesaver against a few, select cards, but often other more
general cards would be just as useful.  Multi-Attack decks should probably use
it to stop Master Block.

Prodipto - Against Master-heavy decks, Watcher Involvement can be a nice
failsafe.  It's particularly useful if you are preparing to throw one of the
"3 B's" (Berserk, Bloodlust, Battle Rage).  One of the worst foils for the 3
B's is a Master's Block, which can be countered with Watcher/Involvement (and
therefore probably not played by your opponent).

Ratings Overall:

Steve                   7
Rick                    6
Hank                    8
Alan                    8
Jim                     9
Prodipto                8
Allen                   7

Average:                7.57

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Watcher/Agents Threatened
EVENT
All players must discard any Watchers they have in play.

This card is similar to Code Red.  However, it functions more as a clean-up
card, since it actually removes the cards from play.  However, it doesn't
affect Watcher Field Agents, so its ability to remove powerful WFAs like The
Armory and Greenfield Hobby is limited.

Like Code Red, Agents Threatened will, when played during a Gathering turn in
a multi-player game, affect all players.  Such a move is unlikely to gain you
any friends.

This card is best used when you are only using Watcher/Events.  Two
Treatments, two Agents Threatened, and two Sniper/Equalizer Watcher Events are
a nice six-card mixture.  You'll probably need a way to deal with Greenfield
Hobby.  Code Red can be useful here.

If you are intending to use Watcher/Situations, Agents Threatened is not a
good choice.  However, you can use Focus to temporarily put one of your
Watcher/Situations out of harm's way.  However, given you'll almost certainly
use Watcher/Treatment, this doesn't leave you much room to place many
Watcher/Situations in your deck if you intend to use Watcher/Agents Threatened
as well.

Overall, Steve gives Watcher/Agents Threatened a _3_.  There is no assurance
your opponent will even use Watcher/Situations (although using
Watcher/Revealed on his Ally/Situations can help), and using this card not
only limits your ability to use them yourself, but reduces the total number of
you can use.

Jim - A good anti-Watcher card.

Rick - Watcher Situations are few and far between (editor's note:  there are
three).  Watcher Field Agent Situations are still promo cards and some are
restricted beyond use.

Hank - Much more useful than Code Red, but with the new promo limits not as
much so.

Alan - A great anti-Watcher card... under the right circumstances.
Unfortunately, it's a reactive card, which usually don't find much use from
me.

Allen - Again, always playable, but useful only if your opponent uses
Watchers.  A safe bet if you know a Watcher is going to trouble you, but
doesn't affect WFA's and not one I'd often include.

Prodipto - Agents Threatened is of limited use.  In a Disarm deck, it could be
useful to get rid of the pesky Watcher: Rearm, but still not overly useful.

Ratings Overall:

Steve                   3
Rick                    5
Hank                    6
Alan                    4
Jim                     6
Prodipto                5
Allen                   3

Average:                4.57

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Watcher/Watcher Tribunal
EVENT
All players take 1 damage for every Watcher or Watcher Field Agent he has in
his discard pile.

First of all, a game mechanics question.  This card specifies the target(s)
takes damage from either each "Watcher _or_ Watcher Field Agent" (author's
emphasis).  The person playing Watcher Tribunal chooses which is chosen to
inflict damage.  This is an overall choice:  all players take damage based on
the category chosen.

This card, an Event, can be countered, negated, or bounced in the usual manner
by cards like Police/Counter Damage, Greenfield Hobby, Do It Yourself, either
Unexpected Assistance, and David Blake.  It is not particularly discerning,
potentially harming yourself as well.  And in a multi-player game, used during
an Encounter turn, it is very likely to gain you a few enemies.

The other problem is if you have two of these in your deck, the first one you
play will do at least one damage to you when you play a second one later.

However, thanks to Careful Planning, you can bypass the effects of this card,
avoiding damage to yourself.  This can potentially do more damage than an
Angry Mob/SE!

It takes a bit of work, and a lot of Police or (if you're Katana) Exertions.
However, if you keep the pressure on with direct damage, and your opponent
relies on Greenfield Hobby for defense, you can keep removing them.  Then,
when he has six in his discard pile, play Watcher/Tribunal.  Cards that will
help you here are Kirk Matunas/James Horton pre-game/Watcher/Revealed, Street
Punk, Toadies/Katana, and Careful Planning/Angry Mob.

Using this card with Watcher/Agents Threatened (see above), the Watcher Field
Agents promo card, and Simple Mind can also help.  These cards give you multi-
Situation removal capability, getting those damaging cards into your
opponent's discard pile so he can take damage from the Tribunal.
Watcher/Agent Threatened will count against your total number of Watchers, of
course.

The downside is that your opponent may not _use_ Watcher/Situations or Watcher
Field Agents.  Still, they're likely to have at least two Watcher/Events so
the Tribunal will catch them even if Agents Threatened doesn't help you.  And
if they're using Watcher Regional HQ they'll be in serious trouble.

Overall, Steve gives Watcher/Watcher Tribunal a _5_.  If it has a few
interesting combinations, and gives another, potentially powerful use to
Careful Planning.

Jim - Probably the best anti-Watcher card.  A must-have if you use no Watchers
in your own deck.

Rick - This card is a 7 since most every deck contains Watcher: Treatment.
This card can negate one Watcher: Treatment and possibly more.

Hank - Nice direct damage card, but hurts you as well.

Alan - One of the better anti-Watcher card available, especially when combined
with Pre-Game James Horton, and as long as you don't have any Watchers in your
own discard pile yourself.

Allen - An excellent card, and several of these can make two
Watcher/Treatments more of a liability than a resource.  Interestingly, the
more your opponent tries to avoid direct damage (via Greenfield) the more he
could take!

Prodipto - There is hardly a deck that doesn't have Watcher cards in it (at
least Watcher/Treatment), so Watcher/Tribunal can often be used to inflict at
least two if not more damage to your opponent.

Ratings Overall:

Steve                   5
Rick                    7
Hank                    7
Alan                    7
Jim                     8
Prodipto                8
Allen                   8

Average:                7.14

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Watcher Regional HQ
LOCATION
While this card is in play, at the beginning of their turn each player may
draw a card for every Watcher or Watcher Field Agent they have in play.

Game mechanics questions.  The person whose turn it is determines which they
use:  the higher number of their Watchers in play, _or_ their Watcher Field
Agents in play.  You must choose one or another:  you can't add the two
together.  The number of cards you choose to draw is at your option, assuming
you have both WFAs and Watcher/Situations in play.  You may draw the cards one
at a time, stopping when you wish.

Watcher Regional HQ is a good card to build a deck around.  Certain Watcher
Field Agents are excellent choices for use with the HQ.  Greenfield Hobby and
The Armory come to mind.  Both of these are good defensive cards.

Using Watcher/Situations is a bit more problematic.  You are limited to six,
and you will almost inevitably use two Watcher/Treatments.  So you won't be
drawing more than four cards, maximum.  Also, of the three Watcher/Situations,
two are discard-to-use:  Watcher/Counter and Watcher/Watcher Involvement.
Watcher/Fair Fight may be your best choice here.  Like The Armory, it is a
good defensive card (unless you're following a disarm strategy yourself, of
course).

This card could partially backfire, giving your opponent card-drawing
capability as well.  However, unless she is also using a Watcher HQ, she is
unlikely to be able to draw as many cards as you.

Watcher Regional HQ makes an older card, Master's Endurance, more useful.
Using these two cards in combination, you can build your hand size up
considerably.  Mix with Cat and Mouse/Draw (CotW #43) and Measure of a Man,
and you have the potential for a _very_ large number of cards available to you
at any time.

Watcher Regional HQ is also a nice "null" Location.  At worse, it doesn't hurt
you (unless your opponent is Watcher/WFA-heavy himself).  It doesn't restrict
you, and its play will remove an opponent's Location.

A deck using Watcher HQ is somewhat vulnerable to anti-Watcher tactics.
However, most of those are double-edged, hurting your opponent as well.  If
you stick to using Watcher Field Agents, and if your opponent doesn't use the
Watcher Field Agent promo card (which doesn't seem to see much use currently),
you should be okay.

Overall, Steve gives Watcher Regional HQ a _8_.  This card lets you cycle
cards through your hand at the very least, and rarely backfires.  Mix with
Master's Endurance, and you can amass a huge pool of cards to play from.

Jim - An excellent pro-Watcher card.  This is great for getting around lock
decks if you build a Watcher-centric deck.  Very vulnerable to anti-Watcher
tactics.

Rick - A good way to cycle cards.  Its value increases as
more Watcher Situations come into the game.

Hank - Good card for throughput, better than Stratagem if you're a Watcher-
heavy deck.

Alan - Great fun when combined with Watcher cards that are Situations (notably
Watcher/Fair Fight), plus Master's Endurance.

Allen - A great card cycling location for larger decks, or those facing
inactive, lock-down decks.  Worth considering.

Prodipto - The Watcher Regional HQ, like Code Red and Agents Threatened, is
dependent on Watcher Situations.  Unless your deck is heavy on Watcher
Situations (of which you can't have _too_ many), then it would be easy to find
another location to use.

Ratings Overall:

Steve                   8
Rick                    6
Hank                    8
Alan                    7
Jim                     6
Prodipto                4
Allen                   6

Average:                6.43

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Watcher's Oath
SITUATION:  While Watcher's Oath is in play, the next Watcher or Watcher Field
Agent card played is countered and remove from the game.  Discard Watcher's
Oath.
"a secret society of men and women who observe and record, but never
interfere."

The last line is flavor text.  If you don't intend on using many Watchers,
this card is an excellent one to include in your deck.  You can Focus past it
to play your Watcher/Treatments.

Watcher's Oath is also a nice card to use with Joe Dawson/Situation.  Counter
their next Watcher, and it is still considered to have been played.  You can
then discard Joe Dawson on your next turn to duplicate it, and still play a
Special.

The danger of Watcher's Oath is that it can backfire, leaving you vulnerable
to a variety of strategies.  Watcher's Oath neatly stops both Watcher/Fair
Fight and The Armory, making it useful in Disarm decks (or hurting you if you
run into one).

Watcher's Oath is also useful in direct damage decks.  Lay down a few of
these, play an Angry Mob/Careful Planning, and counter that Greenfield Hobby
they play next turn.

Overall, Steve gives Watcher's Oath a _7_.  It gives added power to disarm
decks (which needed it), but also to direct damage decks (which didn't).  It
has a potential to backfire, but if you play your cards right (so to speak)
you can minimize that chance.

Jim - Another good anti-Watcher card.

Rick - The best card in this grouping.  It could work against you so be sure
to build your deck with it in mind.

Hank - Shuts down your ability to play Watchers as well, double-edged sword.

Alan - The best anti-Watcher card available, as long as you don't play with
many Watchers yourself.

Allen - Probably always potentially useful as you will always be facing two
Watcher/Treatments.  However, you need to make sure your opponent has other
Situations to worry about or this will just give your opponent a use for Focus
and Police.  He may only need to get two cards past this one.

Prodipto - Watcher's Oath is an excellent counter to Watcher and Watcher Field
Agents.  It's perfect for preventing some extra healing from Watcher: Treat,
or for protecting yourself from the plethora of Hunters out there.  Other
Watcher cards are usually not very useful, but the ones that are used, are
surely important to your opponent's strategy and worth countering.

Ratings Overall:

Steve                   7
Rick                    8
Hank                    5
Alan                    8
Jim                     7
Prodipto                6
Allen                   6

Average:                6.71

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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.

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