Card of the Week #56-58

Master's Advance

SITUATION - While this card is in play, your opponent must discard a dodge for
each dodge he wishes to play.

Master's Advance is perhaps the most powerful card in the original Movie
Edition.  It is debatably the most powerful of the generic Master cards,
although Master's Stratagem can give it a run for its money.

Game mechanics questions.  Multiple Master's Advances do not stack.  Whether
your opponent has one Master's Advance out or six, you discard one dodge to
"pay" for one dodge.

Master's Advance is perhaps the ultimate anti-dodge card.  Challenge/SE is
more reliable, but it affects both players.  Lunge from Watcher's Chronicle is
more potent, but can only be used with basic attacks.  With Master's Advance,
unless an opponent wishes to use Focus, they must lose a dodge to play a
dodge:  it's that simple.  Which means one less dodge the next time they need
one.  Focus will let them keep a dodge as they ignore the Master's Advance.
But that's small comfort against a constantly attacking opponent.

Against multiple Master's Advances it is easy to run out of Focuses, or simply
determine that it is useless to try to "Focus out" of the effects of your
opponent's Master's Advances.

Master's Advance works with practically any type of attack deck.  It is
particularly effective when used with any of the following cards:  Dirty
Tricks, Slash, Master's Attack, Ranged attacks, power blows, Kiss Your Butts
Goodbye, Mountain Cave, Dust Storm, Flurry Strike, and Trip/Standard.  These
are all occasions when an opponent is going to want to play dodge cards.

One thing I have observed is that when using Master's Advance, you probably do
_not_ want to use other cards that limit your opponent's ability to play

For instance, if you use Catwalk, Master's Advance actually gives opponents a
chance to discard unusable non-Back Away dodges.  This is a _bad_ thing:  if
they can't play those Evades, Ducks, Dodges, and Master's Dodges, then those
cards take up space in their hand.  Which means they can't draw new, more
useful cards.

You _should_, however, use cards that force your opponent to discard dodges.
These cards include Kiss Your Butts Goodbye, Watcher/Hunter, Stumble, and
Caught in the Act/ME.  If they have fewer dodges, they can't pay the price
demanded by Master's Advance.  And if they can't pay, they can't play.

Master's Advance works well with decks that rely on disarming an opponent.  If
an opponent loses her weapon, she can only play dodges for defense.  Master's
Advance quickly makes them run out of dodges.  Combine with Lunge when you
make your basic attacks and they'll quickly exhaust their supply of dodges.

You can also combine Master's Advance with Ruins, particularly if you plan on
making lots of Hidden attacks.  This limits their ability to play 6-9 grid
defenses, and 6-area Guards as well.  You might actually hit someone with a
Hidden attack or two.  At the very least, you're more likely to folks like
Amanda, Duncan, Nakano, or Connor from Duck/Jumping and getting their own
Hidden attack.

And finally, Master's Advance is the perfect card for an end-game.  The way
that the Highlander CCG is structured, you want to reduce your opponent to
zero Ability.  This gives you one last chance to attempt a Head Shot, when
they have no cards in their hand.  In this case, they must Exert for a
defense.  If they draw a dodge in this case, they can't play it.  Why?
Because they have no dodge in their hand to discard!  A disarmed opponent, who
can only play dodges, simply loses her head at this point:  no escape is

So who should use Master's Advance?  Practically anybody who plans on
attacking.  Personas who use Power Blows (Slan, the Kurgan, potentially Kern,
Kalas, Duncan, and Connor) should consider it, combining it with Lunge.

Annie and Amanda, who can count on keeping an opponent hopping with dodges,
should probably also use Master's Advance.

Any other Immortal who is counting on making Hidden attacks and/or Power Blows
should consider using Master's Advance as well.

So overall, Steve gives Master's Advance a _9_.  It's a very powerful card,
boosted by the errata'd version of Katana.  Combined with Lunge, it can spell
the end for many dodge-types who casually just tossed in six of each dodge
that they had and ran circles around you.

What Our Other Raters Say:

Jeff - One of the first universally-acclaimed "cool cards" from ME.  However,
it has seen a bit of a lessening in the meantime, due in part to the general
cooling off toward Situations during the ME era and now Lunge in the WC era.
Still one of the better generic Master cards.

Hank - Very useful card for swordfighting decks.  There are some Master's
cards which see more use in my decks, but this one's used a lot.

Alan - One of my favorite Master cards.  Useful for those multi-attack decks,
and against Amanda.  It's a rare deck of mine that can't find room for one or
two of these cards.

Jim - A great anti-dodge card.  It is well worth using even though it takes up
a Master slot.  Great anti-Amanda and any dodge intensive persona.

Wayne - One of the better Situations for attack decks.  It is now more
powerful with Katana's ability being re-errata'd.

Prodipto - This is almost a no-brainer for a Master slot, particularly if
you're using Slan or the Kurgan.  Dodges are too valuable a commodity to allow
people to play willy-nilly.  A Master's Advance will force your opponent to
either spend a Special (or an Exertion) getting rid of it, or resign
themselves to losing a lot of dodges.  Unless my strategy requires my Master
Slots to be filled with something else, one of these will usually go into any
deck I build.

Allen - Don't have room for Master's Advance in your attack deck?  Check your
Master's slots to see what you can get rid of.  This is a great anti-dodge
card.  Once you pull all the dodges out of your opponent's hand then they
can't dodge at all.  It's also an almost required tool for slowing down those
nimble types.

Bruce - Formerly very high I my list of cards, with the advent of Lunge, it
just seems to be a way to let my opponent cycle. It can be useful if you want
to take your opponent's head after knocking them to zero.

Ratings Overall:

Steve                   9
Jeff                    6
Hank                    7
Alan                    8
Jim                     8
Wayne                   7
Prodipto               10
Allen                   9
Bruce                   5

Average:                7.67

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.

This seems to be one of the most misunderstood cards from Watcher's
Chronicles.  It's also often overlooked.  What this seems to mean is that
everyone I talk to either has no idea it even existed, or thinks it does
something different than how it actually works.

So game mechanic questions first.  Here's the sequence of play.  The person
using Immortal Wound plays it on their turn.  They don't have to play an
attack as well.  However, as we'll see below, it's pointless not to.

Being the only Special you can play and still attack, you do not play any
other Specials that turn.  You may play Edges such as Flashing Blade and Lunge
as normal.

Now we go to your opponent's next turn, and his Defense Phase.  He defends
against your attack(s) normally.  If none of your attacks succeed, the
Immortal Wound you just played is _immediately_ discarded.  Other Immortal
Wounds you or your opponent already _have_ in play are not affected.

If even one attack you made succeeds, the Immortal Wound you just played
remains in play.  Its effect occurs starting with your opponent's current
turn.  At the end of his Draw Phase, after he has drawn or discarded normally,
your opponent checks the number of IWs you have in play, and must discard that
many cards (of his choice).  His turn then ends.

Immortal Wound doesn't care what kind of attack(s) you played the turn you
play it.  Dirty Tricks, Pistols, Flurry Strikes, etc., all count as a
successful attack for the purposes of whether IW stays in play or not.

An attack doesn't have to do damage to be "successful."  Thus, healing and
damage-prevention cards used against the damage of your attacks will not
prevent the attack from being successful, and Immortal Wound will remain in

Immortal Wound specifies "each" Immortal Wound, and thus "stacks," having a
cumulative effect.

Despite the implications of its name, Immortal Wound is a Situation and can be
removed via normal methods.  Yep, the Police are more than glad to fix that
nasty scar on Kalas' neck.

So that's what Immortal Wound does.  How do you use it effectively?

The main obstacle to playing Immortal Wound is that, as the only Special you
play during your turn, you have no other Special-based way to augment the
attacks you make.  No Seduce-Amanda/Immortal Wound attacks for you.  So what
you need are other ways to augment your attacks.

These can include Lunge and (if you are somehow making multiple attacks)
Flashing Blade, and inherently limited-defense attacks such as Riposte, Flurry
Strike, and Pistol.  Situations and Locations that you already have in play
that limit or restrict defense play (Master's Advance, Catwalk, Dead End
Alley, Factory, Battlefield) are also useful.

The other downside of Immortal Wound is that, like Kalas' Persona ability
(Persona of the Month #9), your opponent can actually _benefit_ from its
effects.  Your opponent can choose to discard useless cards at the end of his
Draw Phase.

However, if you're using Immortal Wound, you're probably using unblockable or
undodgeable attacks, so he won't want to discard those Alertness cards.
Certainly, forced discarding can help some type of decks (non-attack decks
discarding attacks, for instance).  But it can also hurt other, tighter decks.
It is pretty much useless against anyone using Nefertiri or her Quickenings,
of course - another downside.

So who should use Immortal Wound?  Those Immortals who can make multiple
attacks (only one attack needs to succeed, remember), and those who can best
hit with a single attack unaugmented by Specials.

Slan and, to a lesser degree, the Kurgan are good at making Power Blows and
then using Lunge to make them virtually undodgeable.  If you've deprived an
opponent of Ancestral Blade and Continuity, you can gain some additional
benefit if your opponent cannot or does not wish to Exert for a Power Block.
Or you can extra reason to Exert for that Power Block.  If he takes two damage
and uses Dr. Sonny to prevent, the attack is still successful, and Immortal
Wound remains in play.

Personas who can make multiple attacks without playing a Special (Amanda,
Kern, and Annie Devlin, and Yung Dol Kim and Nakano after The Gathering
release) have a better chance of getting a single attack through, using
Flashing Blade as necessary.  If two or more of those attacks are Flurry
Strikes, the chances of success with at least one attack are greatly improved.

Connor, Nakano, Amanda, Duncan, and Fasil are fairly versatile at tossing off
Hidden attacks without playing a Special (due to Duck, Jump, or Persona
ability).  A Hidden Lunge attack made in conjunction with Immortal Wound,
backed up by anti-dodge Situations and Watcher/Involvement, has a good chance
of hitting.

Xavier, Fasil, and Connor are good at making unblockable, undodgeable attacks
without playing a Special.

Although Immortal Wound to some degree mirrors Kalas' Persona ability, it is
probably not a good choice for him.  He can use Dirty Tricks with the best of
them, but otherwise lacks a good way to successfully make an attack without
playing another Special.

The main factor to consider when using Immortal Wound is whether it is worth
your time to use your one Special per turn playing Immortal Wound.  The
penalty early in the game is not particularly severe, unless you can
successfully keep in play several Immortal Wounds.  Xavier is useful here
(thanks to Forethought protection).

Later in the game, against an opponent with a lowered Ability, the cumulative
effects of Immortal Wound can be painful.  If you have five Immortal Wounds
down, and they have an Ability of six, they'll start to feel the pain.

However, typically this author is of the opinion that you are better off
putting in cards that are useful throughout the game, rather than cards that
are _only_ good in the end-game.  If you're wasting space in your deck using
end-game only cards, you'll be less likely to get to the end-game with an
Ability advantage in the first place.

So overall, Steve gives Immortal Wound a _2_.  It's a so-so card, really only
useful in the end-game when your opponent is low in ability and low on cards
that can effectively deal with multiple Immortal Wounds.  If you are using a
Situation-heavy deck _and_ have the ability to successfully make attacks, it
might be worth a look.  Still, there are probably better cards to choose from.

What Our Other Raters Say:

Jeff - Immortal Wound is a card that had such promise... but wound up being
very lame.  It _should_ be a Kalas-specific card limited to three that doesn't
require a successful attack.  What will it work in?  A multi-attack deck,
maybe -- except that they're going to be busy playing better cards.  An
unblockable/undodgeable deck (Fasil springs to mind), which likewise will have
better things to do.  And even if you manage to keep the Wound in play, it's
useless against Nefertiri and her discard Q.  My recommendation: let your kids
put them in their bicycle spokes.

Hank - Immortal Wound is a mostly useless card.  It can only be played with an
attack, but it relies on the attack being successful to even stay in play, let
alone have any effect on the game.  I'd much rather be spending my time
playing cards to _help_ my attacks be successful, or other cards to further a
particular strategy.  Immortal Wound is too easily vanquished to further

Alan - A good card back-up card to have in case you make unsuccessful attacks.
Particularly complements Kalas' Persona power, as he will be able to cause his
"power" to kick in whether he makes successful attacks or not.  Not a card I
would generally include, however.

Jim - A fairly useful card for aggressive attack decks.  Vulnerable to anti-
attack strategies and not overly powerful.  A good card for Kalas and also
anyone capable of routinely making multiple attacks.

Wayne - I feel that any card which lets your opponent choose which cards to
discard from his hand is pretty much worthless.

Prodipto - Immortal Wound is a chancy card.  If you play it and can't get an
attack through, then it will have no effect whatsoever.  However, if you can
get it out and keep it out, you have an ongoing drain on your opponent's
resources.  This card should definitely _not_ be used for lock decks, since it
gives your opponent a chance to cycle cards out.  Kalas can make excellent use
of this card since it complements his ability well.  Others who can benefit
really include anyone who can make multiple attacks in a turn without having
to play a Special, since the more attacks you play, the more likely you are to
get things through.  The uncertain nature of Immortal Wound would lead me to a
certain amount of trepidation in playing with it, but if my strategy is to
keep my opponent's hand size down, I'd use it in a pinch.

Allen - This is a neat card, but very difficult to use.  It takes up your
Special slot for the turn, and then goes away if none of your attacks is
successful.  Unfortunately, most of the best ways to make a successful attack
is to play them in conjunction with a some sort of Special.  You can't do that
and use Immortal Wound.  You must keep this in mind and build your deck around
Immortal Wound.  If you can keep a Lighthouse in play and make two Slashes
with a Flashing Blade after you block an opponent's attack then you are in a
good position to use an Immortal Wound.  Similar concepts can be utilized.
Once you get it into play, Immortal Wound can be nasty to your opponent.

Bruce - Immortal Wound is difficult to play successfully. Once you have, your
opponent gets free card cycling.  It seems only useful as part of the endgame,
particularly when hunting heads. There are generally better Specials

Ratings Overall:

Steve                   2
Jeff                    2
Hank                    3
Alan                    6
Jim                     4
Wayne                   2
Prodipto                4
Allen                   4
Bruce                   3

Average:                3.33

Security Guard

Play on any Situation/Object in play.  If your opponent attempts to
remove a Situation/Object from play, discard one Security Guard assigned to that
Situation/Object instead.  If the Situation/Object leaves play, so do all Security
Guards assigned to it.  (Restricted to 3 per version)

Well, here's our first in a series of The Gathering card reviews.  As with
many cards, Security Guard helps to protect certain cards you may wish to keep
in play longer than is typically possible.

Game mechanics questions first.  A Security Guard that is the target of Focus is turned face down and has no
effect on play, as is normal.

In the case of a Guarded Situation targeted by Focus, it is _not_ considered to
have been removed from play.  So if the Situation is Focussed, the
Security Guards remain on it.

By the same token, Security Guard/Sit will not protect a Situation from
being Focussed, since Focussing does not remove the Situation from play.

Security Guard/Object is much more straightforward.  It protects the Object.
In the case of both Security Guards, if any and all Security Guards attached
to a particular Ally or Object or Focused, that item can be removed with

So that's how they work:  what can you do with them?

In general, don't use Security Guards unless you are using other Situations as
well.  As Allen notes below, three Security Guards and no other Situations
means an opponent can easily remove them with the typical Police/Remove Sits
which might otherwise clog his hand.  Ditto for Focus.

As of the release of the Gathering, there are 17 Ally/Situations.  Of these,
(Carl, Garfield, Jack Donovan, Rachel Ellenstein, Dr. Anne Lindsey, Hideo
Koto, Joe Dawson, James Horton, Lt. John Stenn) are discard-to-use, or
otherwise easily removable, and may not be worth protecting.

On the other hand, some are more powerful and thus you may want to assure they
stay in play long enough for you to use them.  This can be particularly
important for Dr. Lindsey, Hideo Koto, Dawson, and Horton, who may not become
useful until later in the game.  You may very well want to try to keep them
out until you need them.

Of the other Allies, some are just not that impressive (Tessa, Louise Marcus,
Brenda Wyatt).  Avery Hoskins can be useful in a forced-Exertion deck.  The
rest may prove useful to specific strategies you may design.  If you think
keeping that Ally/Situation out is important, put in some Security Guard/Ally

Situation/Allies are rarely Persona-specific, so which Personas should use
them is dependent more on the particular strategy you devise using them.  If
Duncan is using a forced-Exertion strategy, then he should consider using
Security Guards to protect Avery.  And so on.

Security Guard/Object's importance is clearer.  The recent addition of Hogg
gives an Object that you seriously want to keep in play as long as possible.
Ancestral Blade, now Restricted to 1, is also an Object that you will want to
keep out.

New The Gathering cards like MacLeod Bagpipes, Skull Helmet, Trenchcoat, Corda
and Reno's Flying Machines (particularly Wings), and Forged Armor further
demonstrate that Objects will continue to increase in quantity and quality.

So who should use Security Guard/Object?  Any of the Personas who can use the
Objects just mentioned:  either MacLeod, the Kurgan, Corda and Reno, Khan,
Amanda (who needs Ancestral Blade worse than practically anyone), and Kern.

Kern and Corda and Reno in particular should use Security Guard, since Hogg
and Flying Machine/Wings cause ability loss if they are removed from play.
Hogg has forced more people to use Misfortune, and Flying Machine/Wings will
further enhance that trend.  Security Guard lets them both avoid the ability
loss, and keep the Object in play.

If you use a deck that has generic Objects, you'll have to decide whether some
or all of them are worth protecting.  Having a Security Guard hold your
Trenchcoat can assure that you're able to continue attacking your opponent
while avoiding some lock strategies.  Even Watcher's Chronicle and Watcher
Database can prove useful if you want to target an opponent using a
Quickening, and you want to put a particular Nemesis in play.  Assuming you
were lucky enough to have that particular Nemesis in your deck, of course.

So overall, Steve gives Security Guard/Ally a _6_, and Security Guard/Object a
_9_.  They are both useful cards, but as Objects become more prevalent, and if
some remain as powerful as Ancestral Blade, Hogg, Flying Machine/Wings, Skull
Helmet, and Forged Armor, it will be important to keep them in play using
Security Guards.  Allies will hopefully also become more powerful as more
expansions are released, and thus be worthy of protection.

What Our Other Raters Say:

Jeff - [Ally]  Eh.  This card means that you get to keep your generic
Forethoughts from ME2 (editor's note:  Lt. John Stenn) or your Avery Hoskins
in play even with Police.  Does little good against Simple Mind, given that
the Security Guards are Situations, too.  Less powerful than its cousin.
[Object]  Icky.  As if Hogg wasn't bad enough, now we have a garage for it to
stay out of the elements. =(  Also helps with Ancestral Blades, etc.  No
longer will you be able to play just one Misfortune or Thief in a deck.  Mark
my words: this is the card that will drive Hogg into errata.

Hank - Powerful cards, especially in tournament play, with certain cards being
limited to one per deck (Ancestral Blade, for example), Security Guard is very
useful for supporting your cards.

Alan - (Ally) Great card to protect those precious Carls, Dr. Anne Lindsay's,
etc.  Should see more and more use as more and more Ally/Situations become
available.  (Object) Must-have for any and all decks that use and/or rely
heavily on Objects (especially Kern, Khan, Richie).  As more and more Objects
become available, this card should see more use in more and more decks of
different Personae.

Jim - A great pro-Ally card.  This card will become more useful as the number
of Situation Allies grows.  As for Security Guard/Object, an essential card in
any Object-heavy deck.  Khan should definitely use this card.

Wayne - (Ally) This cards simply serves as an extra layer of protection for
Situations.  Not very useful in today's environment of Renee Delaney lock
decks being played everywhere, but may be a somewhat better card in the
future.  (Object) Great protection for Hogg, Ancestral Blade, etc.  This card
could possibly be used effectively in some decks.

Prodipto - Abstain

Allen - (Ally) ME2 will provide us with a influx of cards allowing Police to
remove more than one Situation, and all Situations with the same name.  Given
this new wrinkle, Security Guard/Ally will become very valuable to Ally-using
decks.  Its use is fairly straightforward, and with the release of ME2 will
often be more useful than simply playing another of the same Ally you wish to
keep in play.  [Object] A good boost for Object-using decks.  Given the
presence of Thief, simply playing a second of any Object is never a good way
to ensure that you keep one in play.  Besides, with many Objects you can only
have one in play at a time anyway.  The use of SG/Object is obvious.  However,
the standard Situation warning applies.  If you use this card you must also
use other Situations, and hopefully use ones that your opponent will want to
remove.  Otherwise all you are
doing is giving your opponent an easy way to unclog his hand of Police and

Bruce - With the availability of Precinct and Detective Walter Bedsoe in ME2,
I find using a Situation to protect another Situation an odd concept.  The use
of a Situation to protect an Object, however, is another matter entirely.  If
your opponent does not remove your Object immediately, they need a more
versatile deck to accomplish their goal.

Ratings Overall (for SG/Ally and SG/Object, respectively):

Steve                 6/9
Jeff                  4/8
Hank                  8/8
Alan                  7/8
Jim                   7/6
Wayne                 5/5
Prodipto              N/A
Allen                 5/7
Bruce                 4/7

Average:                5.75/7.25