Card of the Week #47 - 49


Avery Hoskins

SITUATION - As long as Avery Hoskins stays in play, each player must make an
Exertion every turn.

While not to everyone's taste, I find Avery Hoskins  extremely useful in a
wide variety of circumstances.

Game-mechanics questions first.  Avery Hoskins is an Ally.  He's a remarkably
useless one to use Seduce/Fitzcairn on, since his effect is the same no matter
whose side he's on.

If you play Avery Hoskins, you have to deal with him that turn.  This means
you have to Exert the turn you play him.  Contra-wise, if you remove him, you
don't have to Exert that turn.  For Katana, Exerting and removing Avery may be
one and the same.

Avery Hoskins has two uses.  The first is to force your opponent to Exert and
lose useful cards.  At the same time, you intend to Exert a lot, want each of
your Exertions to be useful, and want to reduce your chances of losing useful
cards.

This first use is why AH is typically found in "tower" decks, typically
Duncan, Connor, the Kurgan, or Kern ones.  The first three can make "useful"
Exertions by keeping up a barrage of Power Blows.  The Kurgan has a built-in
way to reduce his Exertions to three cards as long as he can attack.  Kern,
meanwhile, can keep Exerting for attacks.

The advantage of a large deck is that you don't lose as many useful cards.
Repetition is the key:  instead of using three or four Avery Hoskins, use all
six.  Instead of two or three Master's Advances, use five to seven.  This
doesn't help much with restricted cards such as Watcher/Treatment.  Cards like
Maurice and Dr. Alan Neyman (CotW #2) can help you grab a vital card for later
use.

The second use for Avery Hoskins is similar to the first.  In this case,
however, rather than relying on a large deck you rely on Exertion-reduction so
that while your opponent is losing five cards each turn, you only lose 0-3.
The accompanying cards you use are Master/Swordmaster and Collect.

So who should use Avery Hoskins?  As noted above, anyone who plans on Exerting
a lot should use AH.  If you're going to Exert anyway, let your opponent share
the fun!

The Kurgan and Kern are the obvious choices here.  As long as the Kurgan can
keep attacking, he can reduce his Exertions to three cards.  Of course, he has
to worry about counter-Hidden attacks.  However, if he loads up on Misfortune
and possibly Thief, he can make sure the opponent can't keep that one
Ancestral Blade down.  Add lots of Lunge, Catwalk, and/or Master's Advance to
keep them from dodging.  The Kurgan also has Diguise to partially protect
Avery Hoskins.

A straight-out Kern deck plans on Exerting as well:  either for attacks, Power
Blows, or to use the damage-avoidance capability of Hogg.  PotM #8 has more
details on the strategies available.  If Kern mixes his attack Exertions with
Rage and Flashback for extra Power Blows, he can prove quite formidable.

Kern can also use Collect, mentioned above, to selectively decrease the size
of his Exertions (when he Exerts for a Power Blow or to use Hogg) and increase
his Exertions when going for attacks.

In the case of a Power Blow-type Persona like the Kurgan and Kern, Avery
Hoskins means your opponent will probably have a reason to Exert:  Power
Blocking, once you deal with the inevitable Ancestral Blade.  Still, this
means they can't Exert for something else.  And they're still losing cards.

As noted above, Duncan and Connor, with their partial or complete immunity to
Hidden counter-attacks, have good reason to Exert every turn for Power Blows.
Connor, with his powerful Restricted Master cards (Block and Lunge) may wish
to avoid this strategy - these cards are easy to go past.  However, currently
Duncan has less to lose.

What about other Personas?  The two that come to mind are Katana and
Fitzcairn:  both of them have Exertion-related Persona abilities.  However,
due to recent errata for Katana, both lose their ability to play a Special the
turn they Exert.  They don't have to, or may not be able to, Exert to use
their Abilities.  However, Exerting for Power Blows is still useful if they
employ Taunt (Katana) or Trip/No Dodge (Fitzcairn).  Perhaps coincidentally,
perhaps not, they both have Master's Block to protect against a hidden
counter-attack.

As an aside, Avery Hoskins is vulnerable to Katana's ability.  However, with
recent errata he must forfeit a turn's play of a Special to remove it.  This
makes AH essentially a Renee Delaney that forces Katana to Exert past five
cards.  Either that, or he Exerts for something else, plays a Special, and AH
remains in play . . .

Another, sometimes overlooked Persona, is Khan.  He has Armor, the only unique
card currently going for him, that he'd rather not Exert past.  However, if he
does Exert past his Armor, he can use Alex Johnson to recover them.  Exerting
every turn means that Khan and his opponent will both Exhaust more quickly.
Khan is better suited to handling Exhaustion burn because of his Persona
ability.  Mix well with Desert and Khan has a strategy that can run his
opponent through quite a few cards.  He should load up on Alertness/Hidden if
he chooses to use the Exertions for Power Blows.

Who else should use Avery Hoskins?  The list is rather small.  If you plan on
pursuing a Power Blow strategy based on Exertions (such as suggested for Kalas
- see PotM #9), you may wish to add AH to your deck.

Amanda and Xavier have no real reason to use Avery.  Ditto for Luther and
Slan, who can Power Blow and/or Power Block without Exertions.  There seems no
real reason for Nefertiri, Richie, Kalas, or Nakano to Exert constantly
either.  That's not to say they _can't_ if you come up with a good reason for
them to do so.  Typically, however, they are better off relying on drawing
what they need rather than Exerting past it.

This leaves two Personas.  The first, Annie Devlin, has a way to partially
protect Avery Hoskins:  Escape.  A Power Blow/Exertion tossed in on top of a
Run Through can give her three Hidden attacks, making one a Power Blow.  If
she can prevent damage (thanks to the two Doctors:  Jackson and Lindsey) while
still being "successfully" attacked, playing three Flurry Strikes from her
hand and Exerting to make one a Power Blow can also prove potent.

The last Persona is Kastagir.  His Persona ability is also Exertion-related.
As long as he Exerts for an attack or defense, he can stop after one card
(whether it's playable or not).  This allows him to pursue the strategy
mentioned above:  minimizing his own Exertions while making his opponent lose
cards.  However, Kastagir must _legally_ Exert for a defense or attack.  Be
warned:  it is currently somewhat vague which anti-attack cards and
circumstances prevent you from Exerting for an attack, and which don't.

So overall, Steve gives Avery Hoskins a _7_.  He's the kind of card you build
a deck around.  The resulting deck can be quite formidable, since card loss to
Exertions (and the subsequent Exhaustion burn) is something few decks are
built to cope with.

What Our Other Raters Say:

Jeff - Avery Hoskins is one of the (tragically) few cards that give an
advantage to larger decks.  Duncan and Kastagir seem to gain the most
advantage with Avery, Duncan because he is built to Exert and Kastagir because
he can (hopefully) find a way to exert a card at a time.  Nice card, one I'd
like to see used more often.

Rick - Abstain

Hank - Avery is a great card for several kinds of strategies.  I've used him
in big decks or in decks where I have lots of Collects and/or
Master/Swordmasters.  He helps greatly in a strategy that's not abusive but is
fun to build decks around.

Alan - Abstain

Jim - One of my favorite cards. Avery is a must-have in "marathon deck".  He's
great at making Lean and Mean decks burn through their Endurance.  Avery also
helps screw up the timing on optimized decks.  The only problem is that Avery
is a double-edged sword.  You need to be able to survive Endurance burn if you
use Avery.  He works well with Exertion reducers such as Collect,
Master/Swordmaster, 0-card Exertion cards, and Kurgan's 3-card Power
Blow/Block capability.

Wayne - Avery Hoskins is a somewhat annoying card that tends to work well with
Kastagir's ability.  The major downside of this card is that it takes too long
to have any effect on your opponent.  I consider this more of a gimmick card
than a good card for tournaments.

Prodipto - Avery Hoskins strategies can be extremely useful.  If your opponent
doesn't have a strategy for dealing with Exertions (and a _lot_ of them!),
then their strategy is likely to be blown out of the water as they Exert past
those valuable cards they need.  This is a great card for Lean and Mean
format.  It's particularly good if used with Exertion-decreasing cards like
Collect, Master/SE, or the Kurgan's special ability.  Of course it's a must
for the infamous "Duncan MacLeod Exert Like A Crazed Wolverine" deck.

Allen - Avery can serve a dual purpose:  force your opponent through his deck,
and force him past valuable cards.  The latter is a bit random, but the former
makes him a required tool in any Marathon deck.  Avery is sweet, simple, and
to the point.

Ratings Overall:

Steve                   7
Jeff                    6
Rick                  N/A
Hank                    8
Alan                  N/A
Jim                     6
Wayne                   4
Prodipto                7
Allen                   6

Average:                6.29

------------------------------------------------------------------
Challenge (Movie Edition)

EVENT - If you make an Exertion this turn, your opponent must make an Exertion
on his next turn.

If last issue's Avery Hoskins is a Situation that forces both players to
Exert, Challenge/ME is an Event that does the same thing on a one-turn basis.

Game-mechanic questions first.  As per the most recent rules, you can Exert
for nothing.  Thus you are never forced to Exert for an attack or defense even
if doing one or the other might limit your attack or defense options
accordingly.

Challenge/ME can be played any time during your turn:  it need not immediately
precede or follow your Exertion.  Thus, you can Exert on the defense phase and
play Challenge/ME in the attack phase, or vice versa.  Once you have Exerted
in your attack phase, you cannot, of course, play Challenge/ME.

According to the last and latest FAQ I have (November 1997), Q13.22, you _can_
play Holy Ground and then Exert if you are forced to by Challenge/ME or Avery
Hoskins (or Kurgan's Taunt).

If for some reason Kalas were to have Chessex out and play this card, play
Kalas/Intimidate, and then Exert, currently the ruling is that the last card
played has precedence.  Thus you would not be able to Exert, even though
Challenge/ME required you to.  If the order of play of these two Event is
reversed, you would have to Exert due to Challenge/ME despite the effects of
Intimidate/Kalas  Why Kalas would _want_ to do this is unclear...

Many of the advantages which apply to Avery Hoskins (CotW #47) also apply to
Challenge.  We'll repeat those for specific Personas below.  Typically,
Challenge/ME lends itself to two strategies:  "tower"-type decks with a large
number of redundant cards, or decks that use Exertion-control cards like
Collect and Master/Swordmaster.

The primary goal of either of these decks is to force your opponent to lose
more valuable cards than you do.  The benefits of Exerting (Power Blows,
Situation removal) are secondary, although still important.

Each card, Challenge/ME and Avery Hoskins, has certain benefits.  Challenge/ME
is superior because it cannot be avoided.  While Focus will let an opponent
avoid the effects of Avery Hoskins for a turn, Challenge/ME is an Event and
therefore cannot be bypassed.

Challenge/ME is inferior for two reasons:  A) it requires that you play a
Special _every_ time you want your opponent to force-Exert next turn; and B)
you can only do so up to six times each pass through your Endurance.

B is particular important because you may be Exerting past a large number of
cards, you may be losing those very Challenge/MEs that you want to play!

As is obvious, this card is really only useful to those Personas who plan on
Exerting.  Thus, Slan and Luther decks have no desire to use it.

As mentioned in CotW #47, Duncan, Connor, the Kurgan, and Kern are primary
candidates, since they all have strong attack-oriented reasons for Exerting.
With the downplay of Continuity/Power Block in newer Personas and the
restriction of Ancestral Blade to 1, a constant barrage of Power Blows can be
painful.  Although Challenge/ME requires the play of a Special, this can be
minimized to some degree thanks to Lunge:  an anti-dodge card that is not a
Special.  Of course, you have to limit yourself to basic attacks while using
it (CotW #36).

Kern is more reliant on multi-attacking than Power Blowing (although a
discarded Flashback can let him do both).  Again, Lunge is useful here.  He
can Exert for and play five attacks, and use Lunge on one of the center basic
attacks.  This means an opponent will have to play at least two dodges and a
block, rather than a single dodge.  Flashing Blade works in a similar manner.
Still, there are other Events to play (Challenge/SE, Rage) that Kern would
probably prefer.

As Jeff Barnes notes below, the Kurgan has Taunt, which forces his opponent to
Exert while he does not.  In and of itself, Taunt _is_ superior.  However,
Challenge/ME then lets the Kurgan forces his opponent to Exert _twelve_ times.
Play Taunt on the turns when the Kurgan can't attack or gains no benefit from
Power Blow/Exerting (like after a Back Away/Pistol).  Play Challenge/ME when
the Kurgan does Exert for a Power Blow.

Unlike Avery Hoskins, Challenge/ME is not very useful to Katana and Fitzcairn.
Why?  Because they can only Exert for their special benefits if they _don't_
play a Special.  They're also not in a very good position to take advantage of
cards like Taunt and Fast Talk, respectively, by making Exertion/Power Blows
since they can't play Challenge/ME and these attack-enhancing Events.

We talked about Annie Devlin last issue.  One of the strategies we suggested
for her in conjunction with Avery Hoskins (using Run Through and Exerting for
a Power Blow) rely on playing a Special the same turn.  However, she can still
pull a "take an attack, prevent the damage, make three Flurry Strikes and
Exert/Power Blow" combo.  If she uses Challenge/ME on top of this, her
opponent must Exert.

If Khan can find something useful to do with his Exertion, Challenge/ME isn't
a bad card for him, either.  If he's willing to Exert for Power Blows, and mix
in a few Feint/Edges to make them wary of taking a Hidden counter-attack, this
can work to his advantage.  As noted last issue, Endurance burning isn't
nearly as big a threat to Khan as it is anyone else.

That leaves Kastagir.  The advantage Challenge/ME gives him over Avery Hoskins
is that of control.  On the turns when he _does_ want to play attacks and
defenses from his hand rather than Exert for one or the other, he can play a
different Special.  On the turns when he does do so, he plays Challenge/ME and
then Exerts and stops after a single card.  His opponent, of course, must
Exert for five.

So overall, Steve gives Challenge/ME a _4_.  Challenge/ME's main weakness is
that it requires you to use up your turn's Special play to use it, leaving you
unable to follow up your Exertion-enhanced attack with the play of another
Special.  Still, it can't be bypassed with Focus or Police.

What Our Other Raters Say:

Jeff - Challenge/ME is not that terribly useful of a card, especially given
that it already (essentially) exists as a Situation called Avery Hoskins.  Who
would you use it with?  Duncan?  You're better off with Avery.  Kurgan?  Try
his Taunt instead.  Katana?  Yeah, right; he's got much better stuff to cause
Exertions.  Even in sealed deck, it's a card with little use that I can see.

Rick - Abstain

Hank - A _much_ weaker card than Avery, because it ties up your Special slot
every turn you use it.  I've never built a deck with this card.

Alan - This is a card that is most useful in decks whose strategy is built
mostly around Exerting, notably Kern, Duncan, and some Connor decks.
Unfortunately, recent errata to Katana makes this card less useful for him
with his power.  As long as you're Exerting anyway, why not let your opponent
share in the fun too?

Jim - Another fine Endurance-burn enhancer.  Less general than Avery Hoskins,
but directed only at your opponent. Great with Katana decks that make heavy
use of Taunt.  Still there are many better cards to play.

Wayne - Challenge/ME is not a card that I have ever played with in a deck.  I
probably wouldn't use this card since it doesn't actually cause any damage and
you may be facing an attack with a power blow as a result of playing this
card.

Prodipto - This is another great card to use with Exertion-reducing cards.
Katana and the Kurgan have the most obvious benefits from it, but a Duncan or
Connor deck that focuses on exerting for Power Blows a lot can benefit from
this version of Challenge as well.  It's especially nasty to play as your
opponent gets low on cards in their Endurance.

Allen - While it requires more effort than Avery Hoskins, Challenge can't be
ignored once played (c.f. Focus) and can't backfire if your own exertion
control suddenly leaves play.  Challenge is a good tool in a Marathon deck.  I
often include it and Avery in Kurgan Power Blow decks, whose three card
exertions give him a distinct advantage over his opponents.

Ratings Overall:

Steve                   4
Jeff                    3
Rick                  N/A
Hank                    4
Alan                    5
Jim                     5
Wayne                   2
Prodipto                6
Allen                   6

Average:                4.38

------------------------------------------------------------------
Alex Johnson

EVENT - Play Alex Johnson to retrieve an Object from your discard pile and put
it back into play.

Alex Johnson is one of a number of cards that is going to get stronger as
Highlander continues to expand.  Why?  Because as we get more cards, we'll get
more Objects, both generic and Persona-specific.

The game originally started with only two Objects:  Quality Blade and Extra
Weapon.  The Movie Edition added a new version of Quality Blade, as well as
Ancient Blade, Parrying Blade, Improvised Weapon, and Khan's Armor.  Watcher's
Chronicles adds Watcher's Chronicle, Watcher Database, and Kern's Bowie Knife
and Hogg.  Also added along the way are various versions of The Prize, and
Forged Steel.

Game mechanic questions first.  Although the wording suggests otherwise
("...put _back_ into play."), an Object need _not_ have already been _in_ play
for you to use Alex Johnson on it.

Alex Johnson is an Ally.

You cannot play Darius with Alex Johnson to recover a Persona-specific Object
that doesn't belong to your Persona.

Any Object that you "recover" via Alex Johnson is treated exactly as if you
just played it.  It must be legally playable:  you can't use Alex Johnson to
recover an Ancient Blade unless you have a Quality Blade in play.  If the
Object is not a discard-to-use card (such as Extra Weapon), you may take
advantage of it immediately.  Thus, you can play Alex Johnson, recover an
Ancestral Blade, then block a Power Blow without an Exertion.

My current understanding is that you can play Alex Johnson even if you do
_not_ have any Objects in your discard pile.  Such an occurrence could happen
accidentally, and therefore it seems to be allowed deliberately.

So that's how Alex Johnson works.  What do you do with it?  Alex's use is
pretty straightforward.  It belongs with the (currently illegal) Conjure and
Archaic Collection, as cards that let you "recycle" Objects and/or put them
into play more quickly.

While Conjure lets you grab something from your Endurance, Alex Johnson lets
you go through your discard pile.  If you mix AJ with Conjure, you can grab
Objects from practically anywhere you want.

Personally, I consider Alex a superior card to Archaic Collection.  Her
strength is that she lets you put the Object immediately into play.  Archaic
Collection affects more Objects (as many as you want), but they go into your
Endurance.  This means you have to draw them, and spend another turn's play a
Special to get them into play.

The advantage of Alex Johnson over Conjure is that you will probably tend to
get more cards in your discard pile.  This is particularly true if you and/or
your opponent are using forced Exertion or Endurance-burning strategies.

This, plus a look at who has Persona-specific Objects, gives us an idea of
which Personas should use Alex Johnson.

Khan is the big winner with Alex Johnson.  Not only does he have three
important Objects to keep in play, but several of his strategies favor forced
Exerting and/or Endurance burn.  If he uses Desert or Avery Hoskins, more
cards go into his discard pile.  This can actually _increase_ his chances of
getting his Armor into play, if he has loaded up with six Alex Johnsons.  If
you've got an Alex Johnson or two in your hand, Khan can Exert past five cards
a turn while only drawing two to four.

Kern has Hogg - a powerful item.  Like Khan, he may very easily Exert past it
while going for multiple attacks.  Hogg is also a likely target for Misfortune
or Thief.  AJ lets him get a lost Hogg back, effectively raising the
Restriction number on this item.  Of course, this also means an opponent can
remove it from play again and inflict another one Ability loss...

To a slightly lesser degree, Richie gains the same benefits.  Hogg is almost
always his Kern-specific card of choice.

As for the other Personas...there is not a strong need for them to have many
of the remaining Objects.  Anyone can benefit from a Quality Blade, Ancient
Blade, or Extra Weapon.

Since you can only have one of The Prize in play, you may be better off using
one of your particular The Prize and multiple Alex Johnsons.  You can always
play AJ, but you can't always play those second and third The Prizes.

A Parrying Blade (CotW #11) is Restricted to two, so Alex Johnson allows you
to raise that number as well.  While a Parrying Blade can be useful to almost
anyone under the right circumstances, the Personas who will want to use it the
most are those who make multiple attacks.  After all, the more attacks you
use, the more you'll have in your hand to block.

Personas here include practically anyone who uses Extra Shot or Combination.
However, Kern and Annie Devlin typically have the most consistent need for
Parrying Blade.  Amanda also tends to have a lot of attacks, but particularly
with the addition of Acrobat in Watcher's Chronicles, she'll want to dodge
more than block.

That leaves us with Ancestral Blade, which has taken a beating with the recent
Restriction to one.  The advent of Master Swordsman (CotW #35) has also
provided an easy emergency means for anyone to make a Power Block against,
say, a Lunge/Power Blow.  Still, those Personas who lack Continuity/Power
Block (currently Kalas, Kern, Annie, Xavier, Katana, and Fitzcairn) may wish
to use Alex to recycle that Ancestral Blade back into play.  Anybody else who
wants to have the reliability of Ancestral Blade for Power Blocks is well-
advised to add Alex Johnson as well.

And of course, if you plan on using many different Objects, Alex Johnson is a
good addition regardless.  Even the Kurgan or Kalas can be a Objectmaster
under the right circumstances.

So overall, Steve gives Alex Johnson a _6_.  It's a nice card, and as more
Objects are added to the game, more and more powerful.

What Our Other Raters Say:

Jeff - Alex Johnson is a card that doesn't see much play currently, but should
see an increase as more and more powerful objects (and object-using Personas)
get into the game.  They got rid of your Hogg?  Your Ancestral Blade?  Poof:
Alex gets them back for you.  Personally, I prefer Archaic Collection,
however.  (NOTE: Am I the only one who saw THE GAME and thought of this card?
=)

Rick - Abstain

Hank - More useful now with the limit of 1 on Ancestral Blade, I've used this
card in Object-heavy decks before (Khan decks, mainly).  Kern fans will like
it.

Alan - A must-have card for _any_ deck that relies heavily on Objects.  Khan,
Richie, and Kern tend to get the best use out of this card.

Jim - A wonderful card for anyone who uses Objects heavily.  Kern and Khan are
the primary benefactors of Alex Johnson, but anyone using lots of Objects will
benefit from using Alex Johnson.

Wayne - This card is very useful in healing decks, Richie decks (Hogg), and
Kern decks (same reason).  If your strategy is built around an Object, this
card is the equivalent of having an extra card of that Object in your deck.  I
like the versatility since you get to pick the Object you want.

Prodipto - This is a particularly good card for Kern and Khan, but really
great for anyone with an Object-heavy deck.  With Ancestral Blade restricted
to 1, it's also a terrific way to get that Ancestral Blade in play if it was
removed, or you exerted past it.

Allen - A must-have for any Object-heavy deck.  It lets you get exactly the
card you want, and doesn't even force you to let those Objects waste time in
your hand.  With the new restriction of Ancestal Blade, and the upcoming Kern
and Corda and Reno, you should begin to see a lot more of Alex.  I think she
proves very nasty with Watcher Database.  To maximize her benefit, play her on
turns _after_ your opponent has done something that you need an Object for
(i.e. made a Power Blow.).

Ratings Overall:

Steve                   6
Jeff                    5
Rick                  N/A
Hank                    7
Alan                    7
Jim                     7
Wayne                   7
Prodipto                7
Allen                   9

Average:                6.88

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