Card of the Week #71 - 73


While Zealot is in play, if you make an Exertion on your turn, you may take
one card from that Exertion and place it on the bottom of your Endurance,
instead of discarding it. If you do not make an Exertion on your turn, discard
the top card of your Endurance.

This Situation, tied promotionally to the novel of the same name, is another
that doesn't seem to see a lot of use.

From a game-mechanic point of view, Zealot is fairly straightforward.  Exert
five cards (base), look at them, put one card on the bottom of your Endurance. 
If you didn't Exert, after your Attack Phase, discard the top card from your
Endurance to your discard pile.

Obviously, Zealot is of use to you if you plan on Exerting.  If you don't, it
is not only useless to you but actively harmful.  Thus, its use as an
"emergency" card, in case that you run into a forced-Exertion strategy, is

The most common Exertion strategy since the revision to Kastagir's Persona
ability is forced/shared Exerting.  This involves around the use of Avery
Hoskins (CotW #47) and Challenge/ME (#48).  You force your opponent to Exert
by playing cards that force both of you to Exert.  You, of course, are better
prepared by using cards that minimize your Exertion (Collect,
Master/Swordmaster).  Ideally you also choose a Persona so that you can do
something _with_ the Exertions.  Thus, you typically choose the Kurgan, Connor
or Duncan and keep Power Blowing every turn.  Or Kern, and keep playing
multiple attacks.

This strategy also used to work well for Kastagir.  However, now that he has
to actually play a card from the Exertion, or at least keeping Exerting until
he finds one to play, it is not particularly effective.  The recent changes to
the Guard rules have also impacted Kastagir's ability to pull this off, by
robbing him of the ability to play unprovoked Guards.

If you choose this strategy, Zealot further minimizes your card loss to
Exertions.  You make a three-card Exertion, and then put one of the cards on
the bottom of your Endurance.

Angus MacLeod begs out for use with Zealot.  Not only can you Exert and get
back the card you got last turn . . .but since you made an Exertion to use
Angus, you can put one of your card on the bottom of your Endurance and then
Exert/Angus again _next_ turn to get that card back.  And so on, and so on.

This use of Angus plus Zealot also conveniently provides you with a reason for
Exerting every turn, which is necessary for effective use of Zealot.  If you
stop Exerting, you start losing cards that you can _not_ recover.  You need to
remember that you can't Exert for a Power Block unless you are the target of a
Power Blow.  You can't Exert for an attack unless you have an attack slot. 
And you can't Exert for a defense unless attacked (with the new Guard rules).

You can Exert to make an attack a Power Blow, but this requires that you risk
making a Power Blow, dealing with the Hidden counter-attack, etc.

So Angus gives you a useful way to make Exertions every turn.  Joe Dawson/pre-
game is also useful here: there doesn't _have_ to be any Watchers in your
discard pile for you to make the Exertion.  General Katana (or someone using
his Quickening) can usually find Situations to remove via Exertion as well. 
However, since this now requires foregoing the play of a Special, this may not
be a good idea.

So who should use Zealot?  As mentioned above, Zealot is most valuable in
Avery Hoskins-type forced Exertion decks.  The three Persona who can best use
this strategy are Connor, Duncan, and Kern, with the Kurgan a distant fourth.

Other Personas?  Typically, your best bet is using Zealot in tower decks. 
Anybody can build a tower deck.  However, the required Exertion or card loss
can be a pain for them.  Slan and Luther, for instance, really have no reason
for Exerting at all under most circumstances, and shouldn't bother.

Other Personas can use cards like Master/Swordmaster and Collect to reduce
their Exertions (or Zocchi to increase their opponent's).  However, multiple
Situations usage took a blow with the addition of Bedsoe and Precinct in The
Gathering.  And even if they get the Exertion down to zero, they still have to
Exert for something.

So overall, Steve gives Zealot a _3_.  It's only real function is as an
enhancer to Angus or Avery Hoskins, or both in conjunction.    As an
"emergency" card against forced Exertion, its price is too high to be
particularly useful.

What Our Other Raters Say:

Jeff - Zealot: Interesting card that I used to think was more useful than it
ever will be.  It doesn't stack (though it does work okay with Exertion-
reducers like Master/Swordmaster and Collect), it doesn't do much of anything
for you  (putting the card on the bottom of your Endurance; I suppose Angus
actually becomes useful... nah), and it costs you a Special.  Not a bad card
for fun play, but  not really tournament-worthy... unless you're one Collect

Hank - The penalty for Zealot means you're going to be Exerting every turn. 
With a tower Avery deck, this is definitely a useful Situation to put down...
but I haven't seen those decks in much play lately.  Still, it's a card that I
could see putting to use.

Alan - Excellent when combined with cards such as Avery Hoskins, which force
you to Exert anyway.  Also good for use against decks which force Exertions
(i.e., use of Avery Hoskins, Challenge/ME, etc.)

Jim - Useful for a few special circumstances but often as damaging as it is

Wayne - Good card for saving the important cards from Exertions.  The only
problem is that this requires a turn in which you are not doing any damage to
your opponent.

Prodipto - This is a great card for exertion heavy decks.  Combined with
Master/Swordmaster and Collects, and you can keep a steady supply of good
cards cycling back into your deck instead of to your discard.  Of course you
have to Exert a lot to make it worthwhile, so I'd recommend it primarily for
Duncan or Kern for their tendency to Exert, and the Kurgan, since his
Exertions tend to be smaller, so the sacrifice is lessened.

Allen - Abstain

Bruce - This is only a useful card if you are planning on Exerting a lot.  It
allows you to protect cards that you want another chance at.  It saw some use
in Kastagir Lock decks, but that does not seem to be very viable anymore.

Stealth Dave - This used to be the card of choice for Kastagir L&M decks. 
Exert one card and place it on the bottom of your deck.  This can still be
accomplished with Master (or the Master Q) and a couple of Collects, but by
that point you may as well make 0-card exertions.  If you're planning on
making a lot of Exertions, this may be the card for you.

Ratings Overall:

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

Average:                4.33

The Gathering

While this card is in play, neither player may play Special cards during his
Defense Phase.

The Gathering, compared to some of our last few cards, has seen fairly
widespread distribution.  The question is, is it as useful as it seems to be.

Game-mechanics questions first.  The Gathering is pretty straightforward.  The
question is less about how does it work, than what does it affect.

Focus and A Master's Focus will let you bypass The Gathering.

Although several of our reviewers mention avoidance cards like Disappear, Live
Forever, and It's a Kind of Magic below, it should be kept in mind that more
often than not, The Gathering will _not_ affect these cards.  Disappear, for
instance, prevents all damage no matter when it occurred during the turn. 
Thus, even if you are successfully damaged by an attack during your Defense
Phase, you can still play Disappear during your Attack Phase, preventing the

The Gathering _will_ keep Disappear or Live Forever from avoiding a Head Shot,
since that resolves at the end of the Defense Phase.  It also shuts down Holy
Ground entirely.  There are several other defense phase-only cards, such as
Run Through, that TG also shuts down entirely.

The Gathering also inhibits some cards that can be played at any time, if the
timing is right.  Thus, it doesn't make much difference to your opponent if
they want to play Ancestral Blade...unless they don't have it out in play, and
want to play and use it on the same turn.  Ditto for Continuity/Power Block.

So what is The Gathering good for?  Its lesser function is to shut down
Chessex.  The former prevents the play of a Special on the defense phase: the
latter prevents the play of any card on the attack phase.  If both of these
are down, the Chessex owner cannot play any Specials unless he uses Focus or A
Master's Focus, or Exerts to remove one or both cards (using Katana's

The Gathering's primary function, though, is to enhance attacks.  TG has no
effect on Events that enhance combat (Combination, Trip, Extra Shot, Head
Shot).  It only impacts defensive Specials.

_Any_ aggressive strategy can potentially benefit from using The Gathering. 
However, Head Shot-oriented strategies becomes even more powerful, since even
avoidance cards like those mentioned above (Mishap/reprint, Disappear, Live
Forever) are useless if they can't be played until the attack phase. And since
you lose your head at the end of your defense phase, that's too late.

The primary problem with The Gathering is that it affects both players,
meaning that you can be caught in the backlash.  Focus will let you avoid the
affects of a single Gathering...but your opponent can do the same.

Multiple The Gatherings mean that your opponent has to deal with all of them
before he can play a Special during his defense phase.  Of course, that means
you need multiple Foci as well.  Which brings us to the question of who should
use TG.

Since for best effect, you want multiple The Gatherings in play, an Immortal
that can bypass multiple Situations with a single card is best off.  That
points us to Duncan and Methos, who have A Master's Focus and enough Master
slots to use it effectively.  Other Personas can "borrow" that card using the
Methos/Master Quickening.  However, for someone like Khan or Corda and Reno,
or even the more common five-slotters, that can take up valuable resources. 
Connor and the Kurgan can be good choices, however, to pursue this strategy.

We talked about Head Shot strategies above, and how The Gathering benefits it. 
Currently, Duncan, the Kurgan, and Methos are at the top of the heap.  Why? 
Because Duncan and the Kurgan have the new, non-Special oriented Master Head
Shots, and Methos can "borrow" the Kurgan's.  Other Immortals can use the
Methos/Master Quickening to borrow the Kurgan's as well.

Amanda and Kalas also have their own Head Shot combos, due to
Destruction/Seduce and Stalk, respectively.  For Kalas, it can be a little
tricky since his opponent has to bypass The Gathering(s) in the first place to
play a Holy Ground so that the Stalk's special qualities are triggered.

In general, any Persona who has a heavy-hitting strategy, either from massive
multiple attacks (Bloodlust, Berserk, Annie, Kim), or large numbers of single-
card, heavy-damage attacks (Shooting Blade, Seduce/Thrust/Power Blow) can
potentially benefit from the use of The Gathering.

So overall, Steve gives The Gathering a _6_.  It's a potent head-taking card
and a nice augmentation to practically any heavy-hitting attack deck.  Carl is
probably a better alternative if you are favoring damage-type attacks. 
However, if you plan on going for Head Shots, TG provides the extra prevention
against Live Forever, Disappear, and similar such cards.

What Our Other Raters Say:

Jeff - Not a bad card, but this card doesn't see much tournament play...for
good reason.  It perhaps slows your opponent's card-cycling down a bit (if
they don't have a defense and have to use Elizabeth Vaughn or a similar Event
to cycle) and stops Holy Ground/Disappear/Live Forever if your opponent
doesn't have a Focus, but that's about it.  Average, perhaps occasionally
useful card.

Hank - Definitely a powerful Situation.  If I'm not playing with Holy Grounds,
Disappears, Kind of Magics and the like myself, Gathering often makes it into
my deck.  I like The Gathering a lot, I think it's a strong swordfighting

Alan - Superb against those Chessex-lovers.  Superior to Carl, in that it
prevents _any_ Special from being played in the Defense Phase, and is not
vulnerable to Ally-removal.

Jim - A useful card for Head Hunting decks.  Very good at limiting your
opponent's play of Holy Ground and other escape cards during the defense

Wayne - Good card for a Bloodlust deck or any deck that would be affected by
Holy Ground, Disappear, etc.  The negative is that it hurts you also.  This
card might be more popular to help shut down Methos and his great cards.

Prodipto - This is an amazingly useful card if you're using an attack-heavy
deck.  Get a couple Gatherings out, and then launch into your attack
sequences.  Without Foci, your opponent can't use Holy Grounds, Disappears
(editor's note:  yes, he can, by playing in the attack phase - it will avoid
all attack damage, but not Head Shots), Continuities, Ancestral Blades, or any
other card that helps him defend.  Combined with judicious use of Power Blows
and Head Shots, you can put your opponent in bad shape quickly.  Additionally,
all those nasty defensive cards will start to clutter up your opponent's hand
after a while, leaving less and less room to defend against your attacks.

Allen - I don't use it as much as I used to, but I still think it is a good
addition for many attack decks.  One great benefit to defensive cards like
Continuity and Ancestral Blade is that you don't need to waste your Special
slot playing them until your opponent makes a Power Blow.  With The Gathering
out, your opponent will need to play these cards early, and thus you can deal
with them before you attack.  Of course, its most useful effect is the
prevention of Holy Ground, and anything that keeps your opponent from going to
Holy Ground is good.

Bruce - Classically this card has been used to prevent Holy Ground.  It is
fairly effective at this, and none of the alternatives (except TCG rips) are
any better unless you want to play your own Special cards during your defense

Stealth Dave - An excellent card for dealing with all of those pesky Holy
Grounds, Disappears, Live Forevers, etc.  Just make sure it doesn't backfire
when you need to pull off your Holy Ground.  More versatile than Carl, it
deals with a larger variety of attack avoidance.  And it absolutely kills
Chessex decks.

Ratings Overall:

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

Average:                6.50

Scotland the Brave

Discard Scotland the Brave and make an Exertion. All basic attacks you play
this turn may be considered Power Blows. This will allow you to make more than
one Power Blow this turn.  (Restricted to 2)

Well, this one also seems pretty straight-forward.  still, let's take a look
at the rule stuff.  Yes, Scotland the Brave is _intended_ to let you break the
rule that prevents you from making more than one Power Blow a turn.  As
anybody playing against a Slan/Berserk can tell you, there's a very good
reason for that rule.

An Exertion never "pays" for more than one thing.  So you can't Exert for
something else, and consider that Exertion to "pay" for Scotland the Brave as
well.  Sorry.

Although it seems self-evident, StB does two things.  Not only does it bypass
the "one Power Blow per turn" rule, but it makes all of your attacks Power
Blows.  So it serves the purpose of exerting for a Power Blow as well.  All
you need is a way to play multiple basic attacks.

So how do you do that?  when Scotland the Brave first came out, most of the
ways to make multiple attacks involved Exerting (Battle Rage, Berserk - not
Bloodlust since those attacks can't be made Power Blows).  This tended to get
in the way of using Scotland the Brave, since you then needed to make
_another_ Exertion to use that.

Initially, the only way to get around that was for Duncan to use
Flashback/Situation to make an extra 3-card Exertion.

Of course, you could settle for two-attack cards like Combination, Extra Shot,
Hook/Xavier and Follow-Up/Kurgan and then Exert to make the second attack a
Power Blow.  Most folks at that time didn't consider that particularly cost-
effective, though.

Since those early days, things have changed.  The Prize/Extra Exertion (CotW
#19) assures that anyone who really wants to can make two Exertions.  More
Personas have the Flashback/Situation/Extra Exert card (Fitzcairn, Annie,
Kern).  And there are more ways to make multiple attacks without Exerting (Kim
and Annie in general, Berkeley, The Prize/Extra Attack, Fury/Kane, Master of
the Hunt/Kurgan, Weapon's Training/Nakano).

So the ability to effectively use Scotland the Brave is no longer absent.  The
question is, what can you do with it and who can use it best?

The main problem with Scotland the Brave is the problem that plagues Special-
assisted Power Blowing in general:  Ancestral Blade and "free" Power Blocking
in general (Luther, his Q, even Continuity).  If you've got one of these, all
you need to do is block normally, and you're set.  Alex Johnson and Conjure,
and the neutering of Thief, make it very hard to deal with Ancestral Blade. 
Short of a card like the Gathering, your opponent can always play Ancestral
Blade (or Alex to grab an Ancestral Blade) and then block at his leisure.

Escaping multiple attacks is also fairly easy.  Carl or a willingness to rip
TCGs is a must, and even the former won't help against Disappear or Live
Forever.  Ripping on a TCG or Alex Johnson can be critical.

So who can or should use Scotland the Brave?  The aforementioned Berserk and
"standard" Battle Rage users, for one (Duncan, Khan, Richie, Connor,
Nefertiri, Slan).  Use The Prize/Extra Exertion (or Flashback for Duncan or
"borrowed" by Richie), and go for it.

Kern can "put together" a Battle Rage by using Flashing Blade in conjunction
with his Persona ability.  He also has Flashback/Extra Exert, so can pull this
off.  He can further supplement Rage in this manner, which also permits him
multiple Power Blows.

Annie also has Flashback/Extra Exert, but since she has Run Through (which
lets her make multiple Power Blows), Scotland the Brave seems a bit redundant.

Amanda can make multiple attacks easily, but with her Persona ability, why
bother?  Kim will 2-3 Frenzies on the board, and an Extra Weapon, can at the
cost of both losing two cards for his Persona ability and (typically) five
cards to the Exertion, can pull this off a bit more readily.

Even more dangerous is Kane.  Use of Dojo will let him collect up to 10 Basic
Attacks fairly readily, then make an Exertion, play his 10 attacks, and cut
loose with Power Blows.  Of course, he'll lose cards to the Exertion...

Which brings us a good time to mention using Collect to minimize your
Exertions.  Get enough of these down, and you're set.  Det. Bedsoe can be a
problem, but he doesn't deprive you of the ability to use Scotland the Brave:
he just makes it less cost-effective.  Also beware of Zocchi Distributors.

Other Personas?  The Kurgan's extra damage and "cheap" Power Blowing can let
him, in conjunction with The Prize/Extra Attack, turn an Extra Shot or Follow-
Up in to a deadly one-two.

In all cases, the key to remember is to not only put in what you need to make
Scotland the Brave effective, but deal with any "escape" cards your opponent
might have.  This can mean your deck may be slow to develop.  But once you've
cut off most avenues of escape, a single Scotland the Brave used in a multi-
attack combo can be the turning moment in a game.

So overall, Steve gives Scotland the Brave a 5.  It's slow to prepare if you
want it to work effectively, but powerful if you can pull it off and cover all
the bases.

What Our Other Raters Say:

Jeff - Another fun and not overly powerful promo card, this one makes the
multi-attack decks a bit stronger.  Not much stronger, but a bit tougher. 
Annie, Kern (with some way to make 2 exertions), maybe the MacLeod boys (with
Bagpipes and The Prize: Attacks) could possibly benefit from this, but it's
still not quite tournament level.

Hank - A useful card in multiple-attack decks, doubly useful in a deck which
restricts Exertions and removes Ancestral Blades.  I've used it before, and I
like the card.

Alan - At one point, this card's best use was in Duncan's hands, due to his
fairly easy ability to make extra Exertions _and_ play multiple attacks during
his turn.  However, now that just about _anyone_ can make multiple Exertions
and attacks during their turn, this card's usefulness has skyrocketed,
especially with those Personas who have an inherent ability to make multiple

Jim - This card is not very useful for most Immortals, but those who can use
it to advantage, benefit from it considerably.  This is an essential card for
any Duncan deck built around multiple attacks such as a Duncan Battle Rage
deck.  Annie can also benefit from Scotland the Brave.  The key is getting
some way to make an additional Exertion.  The Prize/Exertion is the card to go
with for non-Duncan personas.

Wayne - One of the better one-turn kill cards for multiple attack decks. 
Drawbacks are Ancestral Blade or Event cards that escape damage.  You can't
really base a strategy around this card but it's not a bad complimentary card.

Prodipto - This is a good card for multiple attack type decks.  Kern and Annie
can benefit from it, although Kern needs a way to make two Exertions (read
Signorina Arianna...).  Similarly, Battle Rage and Berserk decks can benefit
whether through the use of Flashbacks (Duncan), or Signorina Arianna (Richie,
Nefertiri, Slan).  It's a good card, but it requires you to design a strategy
around it.

Allen - This is a promo which was easy to get, and works well if you build
your deck around it.  It won't do you much good if you just toss it into an
already existing deck.  Multiple Power Blows can be a pain for your opponent
to deal with, especially if he can't run to church or dodge freely.  Take
relevant precautions such as Flashing Blade, Battle Rage, Carl, etc.  You
should also watch out for Ancestral Blade.  A Duncan Battle Rage using five
Flurry Strikes can be most effective when you use his Flashback to get the
exertion for StB.

Bruce - Well, other than the requirements of waiting a turn to use it and
having some means of making multiple attacks, this is a very effective card. 
There are now other means of making multiple Power Blows in a turn and I have
seen people have significant difficulty in pulling this one off.

Stealth Dave - A previously unattractive card, StB is now quite viable with
Kane's Fury and YDK's Frenzys.  It takes a lot of planning to set it up
correctly, but it can be worth the effort.  I would suggest using The
Gathering with this card so that your efforts are not wasted.

Ratings Overall:

Steve                   5
Jeff                    4
Hank                    7
Alan                    8
Jim                     7
Wayne                   6
Prodipto                5
Allen                   7
Bruce                   5
Sdave                   6

Average:                6.00