Card of the Week #59-61


Play this card before you make an Exertion. You may pull one Special/Edge card
from that Exertion and put it into your hand. You may play only one Memories
per turn.

Here's a card that is a variation on several others:  Courage from the Movie
Edition, and Kane's Divination from the same set.

Game mechanics questions first.  There's not much, really.  Play it before you
Exert.  It doesn't matter what kind of Exertion you're making.  You can't use
it in your Defense Phase and play the recovered that same phase:  you can't
play cards during a phase, after you Exert.  However, you can keep a card from
a Defense Phase Exertion and then use it during your Attack Phase.  In the
case of Specials, you can't play a recovered Special during your Attack Phase
if you already played one during your Defense Phase.

So that's it, really.  So what does Memories do for you?

Basically, they're a great way to keep from losing cards that you might
otherwise want to keep.  Specifically, they keep you from losing.  Memories
can also keep you from losing Edges, but typically they are nowhere as
restricted as Specials.  Nor are you likely to have as many except in smaller
decks, where you probably won't care if you lose them to an Exertion anyway.

Using Memories/Special, Xavier can Exert for that Power Block, and keep that
Forethought or Unholy Alliance pt. 2 that he is going past.  He can even
potentially go on to play that card during his Attack Phase if necessary.

Memories is far superior to Courage.  Courage only lets you keep an attack
during an attack Exertion, or a defense during a defense Exertion.  Courage is
useless during Exertions for Power Blows/Blocks, making Memories superior on
that basis alone.  Typically, you're going to want a Special more than an
attack or defense anyway.

Kane's Divination is a superior card to Memories, since it lets you keep any
card without designating a type or requiring a particular Memories before
making the Exertion.  However, Divination is Persona-specific, an Event, and
Restricted.  Since Kane is probably going to use it to keep a Special, he
might as well use Memories/Special.  Of course, this means Kane can further
supplement his Exertion control by using Memories on top of Divination.

So who should use Memories?  Well, anyone who plans on Exerting.  Even those
who plan on making 3-card Exertions (the Kurgan, anyone using
Master/Swordmaster) can use it to save themselves a card they might otherwise
lose.  Just because you can make a smaller Exertion doesn't mean that you
still won't find valuable Specials and Edges you want to keep.

Fitzcairn and Katana often Exert, and Memories can help them here as well.
They won't be able to play that Special they regain using Memories/Special
(since they can't Exert to us their ability and play a Special), but they'll
have it next turn.

There seems to currently be some question on how exactly Kastagir's power
works.  Still, he should be able to go back and pull any one Special or Edge
(as appropriate) from the Exertion using one Memories or the other.

Amanda doesn't want to Exert, particularly to Power Block, and should probably
stick to using Ancestral Blade and Alex Johnson to effectively Power Block.

However, Amanda, and pretty much everyone else, can always be the target of
Taunt (Katana's or the Kurgan's), Avery Hoskins, or Challenge/ME.  Memories
can help you here.  Heck, if Amanda wants to make that Thrust a Power blow,
and can't otherwise make a "free" Power Blow (like with Slan's Q), she can
always use Memories/Special to keep that other Seduce she'd probably lose
through bad luck.

If you just can't find a use for Memories, tuck them into your Dojos (Card of
the Week #34) for future use, or to keep them out of your way.

So overall, Steve gives Memories/Special a _7_, and Memories/Edge a _4_.  They
are useful  each dodge that they had and ran circles around you.

What Our Other Raters Say:

Jeff - [Special] Not a card I'd use a lot (I'd probably prefer Zealot if I'm
planning on exerting), but not completely useless, either.  However, since I
avoid exertions like the plague, I can't see when I'd use it.  Maybe if I
played Katana or his Q... or maybe Fitz...  [Edge] Woo-hoo.  Talk about power.
Use the Flashback: Edge card if losing an Edge to an exertion bothers you

Hank - Memories is a nice, balanced card.  Not terribly abusive, useful in
decks which force Exertions or just use them for fun.

Alan - Abstain

Jim - [Special] This is a great card for anyone who exerts alot and uses lots
of Specials.  Duncan, Fitzcairn, and Katana will get good use from this card.
Battle Rage and Bloodlust decks will also find this card useful.  [Edge] A
good card for decks that make lots of Exertions and use a good number of EDGE

Wayne - Abstain

Prodipto - Abstain

Allen - Both Memories serve to save you from some of the bite of having to
Exert.  If your deck has a rather relaxed attitude about Exerting then both of
these cards are well worth including.  Which one you want to use will depend
upon your deck and what types of combos/key cards you don't want to miss.

Bruce - Does Courage find a lot of use in your decks? If so then these are the
cards for you. They are marginally better than Courage because if the Exertion
is during your Defense Phase, you might actually get to play the cards during
your turn. I have found them mildly beneficial for some Exertion-heavy decks.
But if you are Exerting for attacks or defenses, they tend to just get in the

Ratings Overall (Special/Edge version):

Steve                 7/4
Jeff                  5/3
Hank                  7/7
Alan                  N/A
Jim                   7/6
Wayne                 N/A
Prodipto              N/A
Allen                 6/6
Bruce                 1/1

Average:                5.50/4.50

Master's Sanctuary

Ignore the effects of any Locations you have in play.  Any Locations your
opponent has in play still affects you.  (Restricted to 2)

Here is the first and only generic Master card in The Gathering set.  In it's
own way, it is nearly as powerful as Master Swordsman, the only Watcher's
Chronicle generic Master.

Game mechanics first.  Master's Sanctuary is a fairly straight-forward card.
You ignore the effects of a Location.  Your opponent doesn't.  So if you have
Lighthouse in play and one of their attacks fails, they can't dodge on their
next turn, and must discard all standing defenses.  If your attack fails,
Lighthouse has no effect.

The wording is such that you _must_ ignore the effects of a Location you have
in play.  Using Master's Sanctuary with Watcher Regional HQ or Mountain Cave
is therefore a rather poor idea, unless you want to require you use Focus
every time you benefit from one of these Locations.

Master's Sanctuary lets you ignore a Location that you have _in_ play.  It
won't let you ignore the effects of a Location that occur _as_ it is being
played.  Thus, if you have Master's Sanctuary out and play Rooftop, you will
still have all your Pedestrians and Bystanders removed.  Ditto for Ruins and

Just as you can play Reconnaissance and still play a Location-related card
(i.e., Recon Parking Garage and play Slippery Footing), you may still play
Location-related cards even if the Location is your own, and you have Master's
Sanctuary out.

So that's how Master's Sanctuary works.  How do you use it to best effect?

Essentially, Master's Sanctuary unleashes a whole horde of new uses for
existing Locations.  Typically, if a Location is already powerful in your
deck, MS makes it even more so.

We covered Lighthouse above.  Another good example is Battlefield, one of the
more popular current Locations.  While you have Master's Sanctuary and
Battlefield in play, your opponent must discard a defense or take a point of
damage each turn.  You do nothing.  Essentially, you're playing Nefertiri at
this point, as far as Battlefield is concerned.

Factory can be equally restrictive.  While you continue to draw and re-draw
normally, your opponent cannot draw during their draw/discard phase.

Don't put too much emphasis on any strategy which involves ignoring your own
Locations due to Master's Sanctuary.  Your opponent can still use
Reconnaissance to bypass your Locations, or simply remove them by playing his
own Location or other Location-removing Events like Get Away From It All.

Other Locations?  Let's run down the list.  As noted above, Ruins and
Rooftop's immediate "removal" effect aren't thwarted by Master's Sanctuary.
Still, if you want to play Guards and Pedestrians, respectively, once you put
them in play, your opponent can have trouble.

Mountain Cave and Watcher Regional HQ are Locations you shouldn't use Master's
Sanctuary with:  you never want to ignore them.

Catwalk and Dead End Alley, with their dodge restrictions, can be handy to
ignore.  With the prevalence of Back Away/Evade-only types, a Catwalk can
seriously inhibit an opponent's ability to play nine-grid dodges.  An agile
Persona like Duncan or Amanda can use Catwalk and then ignore it.  This can
make their use of Pistols more useful.  It also keeps some opponents from
playing not only Dodge, but Master's Dodge as well.

As Jeff notes below, Jungle is a card that you _must_ ignore while Master's
Sanctuary is out.  This can be good or bad:  bad if you're using it for card
cycling (i.e., Nefertiri and her Quickening users); good if you're trying to
drain off an opponent's hand.

Using Master's Sanctuary in conjunction with Pyramid means that you know
everything that goes into their hand, while they are denied a look at your

Desert, like Pyramid, can be a major drain on your opponent while having no
effect on you.  Master's Sanctuary in conjunction with Parking Garage will let
you rearm while your opponent does not.  However, if he is Disarmed he
probably isn't able to Disarm you.

The "new" Verona isn't nearly as powerful.  However, certain Personas using it
(particularly Richie and Methos with their ability to "borrow" other Personas'
Special Attacks, often-times Masters) can reduce the chance of their opponent
playing Special Attacks they have to cope with, while being free to play their

We talked about Lighthouse above.  Laundry Room from The Gathering works in a
similar fashion, and in some ways is even more powerful.  Mix with Flashing
Blade or Challenge/SE, use a multiple-attack sequence, and your opponent will
be in serious trouble.  Using Master's Sanctuary, as always, lets you avoid an
unpleasant backlash.

Master's Sanctuary and Spiritual Center are best used in cheese decks, since
it will keep your opponent from playing cheese event-damage while leaving you
free to do so.  MS plus Mental Ward can help considerably against Object-
reliant Personas like Khan, Kern, and Corda and Reno.  Supplement with
Misfortune and it will be difficult for them to get multiple Objects down.

And finally, here's an amusing if risky trick.  Use Holy
Ground/Location/Forfeit from the Movie Edition, and Master's Sanctuary.
Ignore the effects of Holy Ground, then Focus or Police Master's Sanctuary
when you're ready to escape.  This can be risky since your opponent can do the
same.  However, put both in play (or three if you use a pre-game Darius), and
it may prove a difficult tactic for your opponent to stop.  If you use
multiple MSs in this case, use Simple Mind to remove them all in one fell

So overall, Steve gives Master's Sanctuary a _7_.  It's a powerful card,
giving you freedom to ignore your Locations.  However, its limits as a Master,
a restricted card, and a Situation balance out its strengths.

What Our Other Raters Say:

Jeff - Makes non-Nef Factory or Battlefield decks more feasible.  Note that
there's no "may" in that text; you don't have the option of having the
Location affect you (so, no Jungle cycling with it).

Hank - Master's Sanctuary opens up a lot of ideas: playing Locations like
Battlefield, Verona or Light House without consequence can be a lot of fun.
Still, it ties up a Master's Slot, always a painful thing.

Alan - Not a bad Location-control card, but inferior to Reconnaissance, in the
sense that it not only takes up a precious Master slot, but only affects your
own Locations.  Add to that its relatively high vulnerability as a Situation,
and you have a card that wouldn't see it's way in many of my decks.  Give me

Jim - This is almost a must have for any deck that uses Locations.  This card
can be played at any time and is not removed when your Location leaves play.
As long as you control the site of the battle this card will give you an
advantage.  Mix in some Reconnaissance cards and you can use any Location
you'd like.  I expect to see more decks built around Ruins.

Wayne - Abstain

Prodipto - Abstain

Allen - A very useful card, though not as magic as it might first seem.
Usually tightly constructed decks are built with their location in mind.
Given this, Master Sanctuary is often not worth the Master slot, deck space,
and Police/Focus opportunity that you are costing yourself or granting your
opponent.  However, I still find this to be a very valuable tool in
Battlefield and Desert decks, and worth looking at in the new Mental Ward and
Laundry Room.

Bruce - Better than Reconnaissance because it takes up less space in your deck
and can work indefinitely.  Not quite as good because it uses a Master slot,
is subject to removal, and only affects your own Locations.  This will
dramatically increase the effectiveness of many Locations.  Despite its
limitations, it will be augmented by Reconnaissance in most decks that use it.
Controlling the terrain was the key to victory in many games before:  taking
Sanctuary in hostile terrain can only make that more true.

Ratings Overall:

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

Average:                6.57

Mental Ward

While in the Mental Ward, no Objects may be put into play.

This was seems fairly straightforward.  Still, a few game questions to

Mental Ward does nothing about Objects in play.  You may, of course, play
Recon and then an Object while MW is in play.

Mental Ward doesn't stop you from playing Events that later _become_ Objects.
Thus, a Sheathe Weapon/Discard Weapon combo is legal to play when you're in
the Mental Ward.

And...that's it.  Pretty straight-forward, eh?  So now that we know how it
works, what do you do with it?

Well, duh.  Keep people from playing Objects is pretty much it.  When is that
useful?  Basically when one of two things occur:  you're making Power Blows,
or you're disarming an opponent.

What do Objects have to do with Power Blows?  Ancestral Blade, of course.
Even Restricted to one, Alex Johnson assures that if you remove it from play
an opponent can bring it back for an encore performance.  Some Personas don't
even _have_ another way to deal with Power Blows because of their lack of the
"basic" Continuity.  Master Swordsman is nice, but requires that you give up
Master slots to use it.

As far as disarming, Extra Weapon remains one of the more useful ways to rearm
yourself.  The other typical way to rearm is to use Watcher/Fair Fight.  Use
Watcher/Counter to stop this, and Mental Ward to stop the use of Extra Weapon,
and a disarmed opponent is going to remain this way unless they take
extraordinary measures.

Mental Ward also seriously interferes with Immortals who rely on Persona-
specific Objects.  Currently this includes Kern, Corda and Reno, Khan, and
(borrowing from these three Personas) Richie.

One thing to keep in mind is that you shouldn't rely on just Mental Ward to
keep Objects out of play.  A wise opponent will have Reconnaissance in his
deck, and use it to put into play their one critical Object.  MW _will_ keep
them from playing lots of Objects, so you can use Misfortune rather than Thief
to keep up with a potential shower of Objects.

So who should use Mental Ward?  Better to ask who shouldn't, and that includes
the Personas just mentioned:  Kern, Corda and Reno, Khan, and Richie.  Yes,
you can Reconnaissance around MW to play your Objects, but it's a waste of
resources.  Alternately, they can use Master's Sanctuary (CotW #60) to bypass
Mental Ward.  However, perhaps by coincidence, two of these Personas can only
play with four Masters.  Two Master's Sanctuary can represent a considerable
drain on their Master slots . . . and MS is still easily bypassed, since it is
Restricted to two.

Amanda almost falls into the same category.  She can use Continuity to Power
Block, but typically she relies on Ancestral Blade to avoid running afoul of
her Persona ability vis a vis Power Blows/Blocks.  Mental Ward can restrict
her from playing AB at a critical moment.

Mental Ward works well with the new Sheathe Weapon/Discard Weapon combo.
Connor or Nakano can now divest themselves of their sword (sort of) and still
have the sheathed weapon available to rearm, all while with a Mental Ward in
play.  They can either use Master's Disarm (with Nakano using You've Already
Lost as a follow-up), or if their opponent proves reluctant to attack, then
can unsheathe their weapon and go back to combat.

Immortals who rely on Power Blows should probably consider Mental Ward,
particularly Slan.  He has little need for Objects, particularly Ancestral
Blade.  If he uses Watcher/Fair Fight, he can rearm himself as necessary.

The Kurgan, Duncan, and Connor can all Power Blow heavily under the right
circumstances, and might wish to consider Mental Ward.

Since Luther is not dependent on Ancestral Blade, and can rearm using
Watcher/Fair Fight, he can probably afford to use Mental Ward.  He gains no
huge advantage, unless he possibly uses an Intimidate/Master Swordsman
strategy (see PotM #6).

As far as disarming, as noted above, Connor and Nakano do well when using
Mental Ward in conjunction with Master's Disarm.  Fasil is even more the
ultimate Disarm Master, however.  Granted, MW probably isn't as good a choice
as Parking Garage for Iman to fight in.  Still, if he breaks their weapon
(using Forged Steel in conjunction with his standard disarm technique), Mental
Ward is superior since it keeps his opponent from playing Extra Weapon.  As
noted above, Fasil should have Watcher/Counter on hand to keep a Watcher from
deciding to lend out a spare sword.  A similar strategy applies to Methos
using Fasil's disarm strategy (see PotM #13 in May).

Other Personas?  Whether they should use Mental Ward will vary depending on
the particular strategy you choose.  typically, they gain no huge benefit from
doing so, but a particular strategy may lead them to using it.

Before concluding, let's take a look at Mental Ward's "associated" card,
Breakout.  This Event removes MW from play, and lets both sides recover an
Object from the discard pile.  This is of remarkably little use, since MW
neither removes Objects when played, nor is it likely that an opponent lost
Objects to his discard pile in another manner.  It might be useful if you're
following a shared card-loss strategy:  Khan using Desert, Duncan using Avery
Hoskins, etc.  However, since it gives your opponent a chance to recover that
critical Ancestral Blade or Extra Weapon as well, it's probably not a good
chance.  Duncan, perhaps, might need it if he gets in over his head against an
Object-low Power Blow type like Slan or the Kurgan.

So overall, Steve gives Mental Ward a _5_.  It's a so-so Location, tending to
impair some Personas and helping others.  It really comes out average compared
to other Locations.  Some are better, a few are worse.  It's too easy to
bypass currently.  As more Objects enter the game, it might be worth a second
look down the road.

What Our Other Raters Say:

Jeff - Yawn.  Suppose it'll be more useful as Objects become increasingly
powerful, but if it doesn't remove them from play, it's just Reconnaissance
bait.  Aside from messing with Khan, I can't see a lot of use for it.  Notable
in that its "catastrophic" associated card will never be played in a deck
containing it and that it's not powerful enough to play with in the hopes
someone else will play a Mental Ward.

Hank - Works great with Slan decks (no annoying Ancestral Blade to get in your
way).  I like Mental Ward a lot, I use it whenever I'm not putting Objects of
my own into the deck.

Alan - Good card if you're either not playing with Objects yourself, or are
playing a Power Blow or Disarm strategy (prevent the play of those annoying
Ancestral Blades and Extra Weapons).  However, there are other cards that do
the same job, but better, and other, more useful, Locations.

Jim - This is a good card against Object-heavy opponents such as Kern and
Khan.  As more Objects are introduced, this Location will become more
important.  A few more anti-Object cards like this and I'd be willing to see
the limit on Ancestral Blade removed.

Wayne - Abstain

Prodipto - Abstain

Allen - Best used (obviously) in decks that feel Objects can hurt them.  Power
Blow decks that don't want to see Ancestral Blades, and swordbreaking decks
that don't want to see their opponents play Extra Weapon.  It's not as easy to
use as you might think, as it is an easily replaced Location and it does not
remove Objects in play.  Mental Ward doesn't allow you to forget about
Objects, just slow them down.  You will most likely still need to include
Misfortune or Thief in order to gain its full benefit.

Bruce - Mental Ward is fairly weak compared to other Locations.  If it does
not hurt your deck it can be used as adequate Location defense that could
provide you with a some occasional benefits.  The fact that it does not remove
Objects from play makes it a somewhat useful preemptive alternative to Thief
if you play with your own Objects and Master's Sanctuary or Reconnaissance.

Ratings Overall:

Steve                   5
Jeff                    3
Hank                    7
Alan                    4
Jim                     6
Wayne                 N/A
Prodipto              N/A
Allen                   7
Bruce                   5

Average:                5.29