Michael Moore / Quentin Barnes - by Dave Syas


You are a madman who randomly switches personalities. You are both Michael Moore AND Quentin Barnes. You may place cards from both Personas in your deck. You start the game as the Michael Moore Persona. At the beginning of each turn, there is a 3 in 6 chance of switching to the other Persona. The roll is made during your 'Must Do phase' before any other actions. This roll may not be modified by any means.

When you are Michael Moore you may ignore the effects of any one card that prevents you from playing a defense as normal. When you are Quentin Barnes you may ignore the effects of any one card that prevents you from playing an attack as normal. You may have up to 5 Master cards.

Note: To save my cramped hands, Michael Moore / Quentin Barnes will be referred to as 'MMQB' for the remainder of the article.


Overview

Ah, Michael Moore, a mild-mannered, calm, collected gentleman with slight psychotic tendencies. Michael Moore makes his appearance in the episode "Turnabout" from Season 2, his past tells us that his wife Jeanette was killed by an Immortal (presumably after Michael's Head) named Quentin Barnes. We later find out that Michael Moore is Schizophrenic, and that he is, in fact, Quentin Barnes.

Michael Moore / Quentin Barnes is a tough Immortal to play, and even tougher to predict. With the uncertainty of which ability he will have on his next turn, he is an uncontrollably deceptive persona. Speaking of deception, let's start by running down his Persona Ability. Trust me; there is a lot of clarification needed. I will handle this as Q&A format; since it seems that will be the easiest to understand.

The following statement is from the Player's Handbook (available at Stealth Dave's Page: www.stilldesigning.com/highlander).

"Prevention - If a card or effect forbids you from playing a card or performing an action that you would normally be allowed to do, such as saying that you cannot do something or you may only play some cards and excluding others, you are being prevented from doing that action. An exception to this rule is that a Defense that you play does not prevent you from playing an Attack. Also, if you lose Attacks or have no Attack Phase, you are not prevented from attacking; you simply do not have the opportunity to attack."

Let's start with Michael Moore, "...you may ignore the effects of any one card that prevents you from playing a defense as normal". The key to understanding Michael's (and Quentin's) ability is how "Prevention" is defined in Highlander.

Q: Can Michael play a Defense from his hand if his opponent just played Fast Talk (Fitzcairn)?
A: No. Fast Talk prevents you from playing any card, not just a defense. So based on Prevention rules, Michael could not play a defense from his hand.

Q: Can Michael play a defense against a Thrust played with Seduce (Amanda)?
A: Yes. Seduce states that the next attack is Unblockable / Undodgable, which is considered prevention.

Q: How does Michael's ability work with cards like Debra or Master's Advance?
A: Since these cards prevent you from playing a defense unless you 'pay' for it, they are considered prevention, so Michael may ignore one of them on his turn.

Q: I am Michael, and my opponent plays Lunge with Upper Center Attack. Can I play a Dodge from my hand?
A: Yes, Lunge is preventing you from play a dodge from your hand, so you are able to play a Dodge normally.

Q: If I am Michael Moore and I am Prone, can I play a defense without discarding one first?
A: No. There is no card in play that prevents you from defending; it is the Prone status that is doing the prevention. You could likewise not use your Persona Ability to block normally while Disarmed.

Lots of clarification so far... and we are only half done. Hold on, because Quentin Barnes requires even more explanation. Again, I will set it up as Q&A format.

Quentin's power reads, "...you may ignore the effects of any one card that prevents you from playing an attack as normal". Now would be a good time to re-read "Prevention" up above, with that info in mind, our next goal is to define the difference between Prevention and Self-Limitation.

Q: Can Quentin Barnes play a non-ranged attack after a Back Away?
A: No. Although Quentin is limited to Ranged Attacks, but since it is a Defense that he played, it is not considered Prevention.

Q: Can Quentin Barnes attack after a Dodge if he only gets 1 Attack per turn?
A: No. By definition, you must be capable of an action to be prevented from doing it. Since Dodge means you no longer have a first attack, you are not prevented from attacking, you are incapable of it. Also, this falls under the Defense clause of Prevention.

Q: Can Quentin Barnes attack if he has Chessex in play?
A: No. Chessex eliminates Quentin's attack phase, so again, Quentin is not prevented from attacking, and he is incapable of it. It should be noted that if Quentin only played 1 Event, he could Focus / Police Chessex and still play an attack.

Q: Can Quentin Barnes play an attack if his opponent played Fast Talk (Fitzcairn)?
A: No. Fast Talk prevents you from playing any card, not just an attack. So based on Prevention rules, Quentin could not play an attack from his hand.

Q: Can Quentin Barnes attack to areas he just blocked?
A: No. This is not considered Prevention because it is his Defense that limits his attack options.

Q: Can Quentin Barnes play an attack if his opponent's last attack was successful and had The Cat (Slan Quince) in play?
A: Yes. The Cat would prevent Quentin from attacking here, so he may attack normally.

Q: How does it work if I am Quentin Barnes and my opponent has Skull Helmet (Kurgan) in play?
A: Since Skull Helmet prevents you from attacking unless you 'pay' for it by discarding an attack, it is considered Prevention. This means Quentin could attack normally.

Q: If I am Quentin and have the Dueling Grounds in play, and my opponent is Kronos, can I only make as many attacks as Kronos did on his turn?
A: No. You may play as many attacks as you wish, Kronos' ability is considered to be Prevention, and so by ignoring his Persona Card, you can nullify his ability.

Q: If I am Quentin Barnes and I am Prone, can I play an attack without discarding one first?
A: No. There is no card in play that prevents you from attacking; it is the Prone status that is doing the prevention. You could likewise not use your Persona Ability to attack normally while Disarmed.


Persona-Specific Cards

MMQB gets 2 "standard" cards, Back Away and Dodge. He also receives Extra Shot, which give him an addition attack, while stating that Blocks will not defend against consecutive attack. Trip rounds out his non-reserved cards, a special version for MMQB with effects depending on which personality he is in at the time of play.

The first reserved card to discuss for MMQB is Lurking Evil. A neat little card allowing you to make one of your attacks hidden on any turn that you switch from Michael Moore to Quentin Barnes. Although useful, it is a bit of a gamble based on the fact that you only have a 50% chance to switch each turn.

The final of the two reserved cards for MMQB is Master's Guard. This Guard covers the same squares as Lower Guard, and if you are Michael Moore, you may attack to any area covered by the guard while it is in play. Although restricted to 2, and a bit annoying when you are Quentin Barnes, it is probably worth at least 1 of your 5 Master Card slots.

Time for Signature Cards, first up is Ambush. Ambush, in my opinion is actually better than Master's Slash (covered below). Ambush allows you a 2pt Damage attack spanning 3 squares that will most of the time be undodgeable.

Asylum is a Signature Location for MMQB, and while appealing at first, could really throw a good game out the window. Although the idea of having both Michael and Quentin's abilities at one time seems good, it also gives your opponent the ability of the personality you are not currently in. So if you want to take full advantage of Master's Slash, you cannot afford to have this Location in play.

Father Morton is quite a powerful card, though, like most of MMQB's cards, it cannot be depended on. Michael can use this as a Super-Holy Ground, allowing him to avoid all attacks, and have both himself and his opponent draw 5 cards. As for Quentin, this card works exactly like Carl.

I Didn't Know is exactly like Luther's Disappear, except for the fact that it is a Signature Card. I would definitely throw 2 of these in any MMQB deck, since it is a dependable card, it does not have varying effects based on personality.

Jeanette, like Father Morton, provides a very nice ability for either personality. Michael is allowed to reveal one Hidden Attack, while Quentin is allowed to make one Hidden Attack. As we will soon find out, Jeanette, Father Morton, and Judge Singer (below) will prove more useful than they appear.

Judge Marvin Singer keeps up the bar of Situation: Ally cards that are useful to both personalities. Allowing Michael to re-use a Police card from his Discard Pile, or Quentin to counter a Police Card.

Master's Slash is a neat little toy, though probably a bit deceptive at first. To get the most use out of Master's Slash, you need to be Quentin Barnes, your opponent needs to have exerted for a defense on their previous turn, AND you must be able to play the attack. It covers UC, MC, and LC squares, so unless the block you played allows you to attack to areas you just defended, you will find that you cannot play this attack. If you will refer up to Ambush, you will see why I feel it is a better card. Superior Tactics (Edge) will help you out here, at the cost of a Special Card for the turn.

MMQB's Prime Block is a nice card, and well worth inclusion in your deck, it will defend against any non-ranged Upper Attack, even unblockable ones. This would be an invaluable tool if you find yourself against Duncan MacLeod.

Psychotic Killer ranks up there with deceptive cards. It reads, "Remove this card from the game to make a Hidden Attack for every Ally you remove from play this turn". Two points to go over with this card, first, this card does not remove the Allies for you, you must do so yourself. Secondly, this card allows you to make a set number of attacks equal to the number of allies you remove, NOT an additional attack for every ally you remove. If you remove one ally when you play Psychotic Killer, you only get one attack that turn, but it will be Hidden. Point is, wait until you have a few Allies to remove.

Psychotic Rage is probably the worst Signature Card out of the set. It works like Battle Rage, has a restriction of 2 (as opposed to Battle Rage's 4), and can only be played if you switched to Quentin Barnes this turn, and includes the Ability Loss of Battle Rage. While somewhat worthwhile, I wouldn't suggest relying on this as a means of extra attacks.

MMQB's Stalk is a slight variant on the "If your opponent did XXX, this attack is YYY". It starts out unblockable, and undodgeable if your opponent played an Ally last turn. It can only be a Power Blow if made a Headshot.

Vow of Vengeance is the final card from Michael / Quentin's trunk. It is an Event that allows you to ignore a Situation or Event played by your opponent on their last turn. A great toolbox card, well worth inclusion.


Generic Cards

Looking at both abilities for the MMQB Persona, we see that he is most suited to the Sword Fighting aspect of the game. We definitely want the majority of our deck to be attacks/defenses to take advantage of the Persona. With only two cards to allow him extra attacks, we probably only want to have about 10-20% more attacks then defenses.

Spinning Attacks (MLC Versions) may be worth inclusion, as 50% of the time they won't hurt you in anyway (because Michael will be able to play blocks normally).

Challenge is another risk card that might be useful in your deck, if you can get a bit of luck on your side and be Michael Moore on your next turn, you will be able to dodge normally.

I would also throw a couple "Discard to use" Allies in your deck (Dr. Anne Lindsey, Hideo Koto, etc.) This will make Psychotic Killer come through a bit better. Throw a Flashing Blade on top of that and you will have a combo that beats the pants of Psychotic Rage.

Alertness: Block/Dodge, and Discipline: Attack can give you a bit of security in case of an unexpected personality shift.

I would also include about 3 Superior Tactics (Edge) to cover your bases when you dodge as either character, while making that Master's Slash combo come through easier.

Two Words... Higher Ground. If you have this and Master's Guard in play, you now have a standing defense that covers all areas your opponent can attack to, and if you are Michael, you can attack unrestricted while keeping the Guard up.


Location Cards

Asylum is NOT a good choice, if you are Michael, it gives you and your opponent Quentin's ability, and vice-versa. I cannot stress this enough, in a swordplay deck, the last thing you need is an opponent who can defend normally against your unblockable/undodgeable Stalk Headshot.

I like Lighthouse for MMQB, firstly because MMQB only gets 2 dodges, and 50% of the time (when you are Michael) you may ignore the effects of Lighthouse. In the same respect, Catwalk or Dead End Alley may work just as well for you.

Double Eagle will allow you to re-roll your Personality Check at the beginning of your turn, since re-rolling is not modifying. Keep in mind it allows your opponent to re-roll one roll as well.


How to Win

I am not going to sugar-coat this; the key to winning consistently with MMQB is to be the right Personality at the right time. Do not rely on any card that has varying effects, base your deck, and your strategy on something that will work for either Personality.

Like with any straight fighting deck, Wargames West may do you well here, as well as Greenfield Hobby. The Gathering (Pr), or Honor Bound.

Additionally, with MMQB not relying on Edge cards very much, you may find some use from the Forced Back Unexpected Situation.

Using attacks like Spinning Attack (MLC Version) and Dual Attack (A&T Version) will restrict your defenses, however if you get lucky enough to switch to Michael, you may find these attacks well worth it.

Pedestrian: Hidden can mean doom for your opponent, since Quentin can attack normally while it is in play, you can severely cripple your opponent.


How to Defeat

MMQB's Strength is his Weakness. As unreliable as he is, you may find yourself getting obliterated by a MMQB deck, and then next game, wasting the very same deck without taking a single scratch. I am going to assume it is Michael defending while I write this section, that way we already have taken into account his ability.

You essentially have three options to reliably defeat MMQB, the first being Cheese. MMQB is not designed to handle any type of "Direct Damage" well. While Michael can discard 'Judge Marvin Singer' to use a 'Police: Counter Damage' from his discard pile, that is far from constituting a strong Anti-Cheese strategy.

Your second major option is to fight without cards that will provide limitations. Lots of hidden attacks may be worth your while, and if the attacks do not have any defensive restrictions, Michael's ability is worthless. It is completely possible (and relatively easy) to simply outclass MMQB.

Your final option, is a bit tougher to setup. Michael can only ignore one card in play that prevents him from defending normally. Let's do an example using Connor. If you have Master's Advance in play, play Master's Block, then Master's Lunge, Michael must select one of those card's texts to ignore. He could have the Master's Lunge be dodgeable, but would have to discard a dodge first for Master's Advance. Optionally, he could ignore Master's Block to make Master's Lunge blockable.


Deck

A new section, I just wanted to take a second to explain the demo deck I have included with this article. The basic strategy here is to get your Master's Guard / Upper Ground combo out ASAP. I included both Pregame Darius cards, one of them to raise the restriction number on Master's Guard, and one to give you an extra Master Card slot to use with Master's Guard.

Once you have those two out, it is a good time to put out Ped: Hidden. You should save your Ripostes for Michael only. Once we are ready, throw out Lurking Evil or Jeanette, this will let Quentin make Hidden Attacks normally.

That in a nutshell, is the strategy, if you can get Wargames West out, all the better. Now, unless you make a power blow, your opponent should be hurting.

Crystals have eliminated you 6 basic lower and middle attacks. Methuselah Stone eliminates your basic lower blocks.


Overall

Overall, Dave gives Michael Moore / Quentin Barnes a 6. While being a fun, and interesting Persona to play, I feel his ability is a bit powerful. The unreliability of his power each turn can make him a bit frustrating to play. It was incredibly tough coming up with a deck I felt comfortable playing for him; I also feel that Michael, while having the better of the two abilities, gets the shaft for cards. I think the character was interesting and unique enough to merit his own Persona, however I would have liked to see a bit more of a balanced focus for the two personalities.


What Our Other Raters Say:

Glenn - I'm not a fan of MMQB. He's just too random for my tastes. The persona power is strong, allowing you to neutralise many cards – but only if you're using the right personality. For fun, use Gladius - Use Jeanette when Quentin Barnes, then exert to get an unblockable attack, hidden, or Stab as an undodgeable hidden attack.

Good cards for MMQB are Ambush, as it's a multi-grid attack, and doesn't rely on a Master slot; Father Morton & I Didn't Know to avoid attacks; Jeanette for the Hidden attacks; Master Slash, which can be an unblockable, undodgeable power blow; Master's Guard; and Stalk, which if played right can give an unblockable, undodgeable headshot.

There are a few average cards too. Judge Marvin Singer is ok for protecting your Situations, or removing your opponent's; Lurking Evil works well with Jeanette; Prime Block, simply as it gives MMQB the complete range; Psychotic Rage, only half a Battle Rage to me; Trip, and Vow Of Vengeance to focus Situations, or prevent Event damage.

The two that remain just don't work for me whatsoever. Asylum balances out the uncertainty of the MMQB persona, but gives your opponent too great a benefit in return, and Psychotic Killer simply asks too much; and you've still got to find a way to remove the Ally from play.

Strategy for MMQB? Tricky, as he doesn't really have one of his own, not one I've found reliable at any rate. Higher Ground + Dugal MacLeod + Master Guard, with Bought Cop or Judge Marvin Singer to defend Dugal. You can hold on to Vow Of Vengeance to counter Trip. Open up then with cheese, or multi-grid attacks.

Final comment: MMQB is a Jack of all trades, master of none.


TMO - Abstain


Adam - MM/QB was a Persona that they play testers at TCG wanted to do for the longest time. They just could never get a game mechanic that worked right for them. (They really wanted a double sided Persona). To be fair, it took the MLE Team quite a while to get a mechanic that we were happy with as well. To fit with MM/QB mental state, we decided that his switching from one personality to another had to be totally random.
We also decided that the roll had to have no way of being adjusted.

This makes for a very dangerous deck to play, as well as play against. From turn to turn you don't know if you will be on the offense or defense. Same for your opponent. Add in that some cards have benefits for one or the other and MM/QB can take a lot of forethought and a little bit of luck.

Once piece of business on most of MM/QB cards. They are Signature. That means you won't find your own cards coming back to haunt you. A number of the ones that aren't still refer specifically to either MM or QB, meaning if you do borrow it you don't get the best use of the card. As far as his cards, 3 stand out to me. Ambush is awesome. He is not restricted by what Location he is, just as long as he is somewhere. This allows him to even take advantage of his opponent's Persona Specific spots. Culbraith and Constantine better be careful.

Father Morton also gives you help in that it is a Holy Ground you keep in play until you need it. Vow of Vengeance is a super Event in that allows you to ignore any one Event or Situation played last turn by your opponent. A perfect get out of jail card at the right moment.

MM/QB may be risking to play as you not sure who you are each turn, but his ability and support cards make too good to not want to try.


jdtimi - While looking thru the MMQB set, a couple things come to mind. If you’re looking to build a deck to burn your opponent’s endurance, you could use six Holy Ground:Discard 4's. The cards "I Don't Know" and "Father Morton" effectively gives you four more Holy Grounds. With ten HG cards, you can effectively evade your opponent's attack onslaught for quite some time. Come up with a way of recycling your cards (Nef Down Q, Nexus Q, Nexus (sit.), Second Wind, etc.) and your opponent will feel the burn.

MMQB should be able to make effective use of his "hidden attack" capabilities. With several cards that allow him to make hidden attacks that wind up being undodgeable or unblockable (Lurking Evil, Stalk, Master Slash, Jeanette, Ambush). Using the Rapier/Parrying blade as his weapons of choice, He could load up on Rapier Slices and Parrying Blade Surprise Attacks. Throw in some Flurry Strikes for more chaos. Use "The Circle" as your location to further hinder your opponent's defense. You're only penalty will be losing your Back Aways as Quentin Barnes since Michael Moore can ignore The Circle if needed.

MMQB does have some weaknesses. He doesn't have a wide array of dodges. And if you're dependent on abilities specific to either MM or QB, you've always got a chance of not being able to use them on any one turn.

Personally, I'm contemplating a couple different decks using the ideas from above. They may not hold up to some of the more ferocious personas, but they will be interesting if not annoying.


Erick - Abstain.


Nigel - I really like MMQB. The MLE designers really pulled off a good one here with a truly innovative persona power, that is not too powerful and that is really fun to play. As with all collections MMQB have slightly more persona specifics than "ordinary releases" and all add to the flavour. MMQB is the ultimate strategy buster. Many decks rely on playing attacks which are unblockable or undodgeable (or both) - if they do MM is the man. Others try and stop you from attacking - if so QB is your man. Also MMQB can ignore text on cards you have played - not only on cards your opponent has played. This can be very useful. Cards like challenge, overextended attacks ped hidden etc. become more playable.

The biggest strength of MMQB, that of changing personas, is also its biggest weakness. It is vital that you stay as either MM or QB when you want to. Unfortunately you cannot modify your die rolls when you roll to see which persona you are playing so iron will is not an option. Also you are not failing any die rolls so practice, practice won't help - so how can you increase your chance. The best way is the double eagle location - a must for MMQB. You can re-roll any die roll. It does not modify the die roll so is legal. Your chances of being the persona you want rises from 50% to 75%.

In terms of immortal specific cards MMQB has some good cards but again in terms of flavour the best cards can only be used well by either MM or QB. MM's best cards are prime block upper which can block a head shot with no exertion and master guard. However - this is where I slightly disagree with Dave - the best card in the whole set is master slash - which is truely an awesome card for QB and so much better than Ambush. The key to this card is the fact that when played by QB it is a power blow. Special attacks normally cannot be power blows. So why is this important? ... Well if it can be a power blow then it can be a head shot. So you have got a head shot that covers the middle column - remember that all areas of the grid have to be avoided for the attack to be unsuccessful, AND it is unblockable and undodgeable if your opponent made an exertion for a defense last turn - An unblockable, undodgeable head shot that covers 3 grid squares which are in a column rather than a row......HELLS TEETH!!!!!!


Ratings Overall:

Dave 6
Glenn 5
TMO -
Adam 6
Jdtimi 7
Erick -
Nigel 7

Average: 6.2


Persona of the Month was originally written by a group of people including Steve Crow, Hank Driskill, James Duncan, Alan Murrell, and Jeff Barnes. This Persona of the Month article is merely a continuation of a wonderful idea by these gentlemen. The author encourages you to read previous PoTM articles at Denis Parslow's site:
http://world.std.com/~dgp/PotM.html

The author would like to thank the readers of this article for keeping this game alive and Steve Crow for permission to use the PoTM title/format.

Highlander is a protected trademark of Gaumont Television, used under license by Thunder Castle Games. Thunder Castle Games card text is copyright 1997 by Thunder Castle Games. Images used for MLE Cards (c) Rysher. Card design and intellectual property (c) Missing Link Edition team. All rights reserved.