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
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
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
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.