Luther - by Steve Crow

You may block Power Blows without an Exertion.  You may
have up to five Master cards.

Overview

Well, it's putz boy.  Few people seem to consider Luther
a worthy Persona.  And upon first glance, he's not.  His
Persona ability seems a mere shadow of Slan's, and he
originally only had three Persona-specific card.  One,
Intimidate, is a duplicate of Luther's "older brother,"
Slan.

But with the coming release of Watcher's Chronicles, and
the potential card errata and new restriction numbers,
let's take a new look at him.

While Luther's Persona ability is only half that of
Slan's . . . it's at least the equal of the Kurgan's. 
Not having to worry about Exerting for Power Blocks, or
relying on Power Block-related Specials (Ancestral Blade,
Stamina, Master Swordsman, the Luther Quickening) can
free up space in your deck for other things.  It saves
you several turns worth of Special play that can better
be used elsewhere.

Simply put, a Persona ability can _not_ be lost.  Yes,
Slan can do both Power Blows and Blocks.  However, his
lack of Persona-specific cards is downright depressing.

Persona-Specific Cards

Among the non-Reserved cards, Luther has most of the
typical ones:  Back Away, Combination, Continuity (more
on _that_ in a moment), Disarm, Dodge, Power Blow, and
Trip.  Oddly, he lacks the "standard" Extra Shot.

Luther has three Persona-specific Reserved cards.  They
include:

Disappear:  known and feared, but most commonly in a
Richie deck, or Darius'd in elsewhere.  This card remains
_the_ way to get out of any number of tricky situations. 
It avoids Head Shots, unlike damage "preventers" like Dr.
Sonny Jackson, Dr. Anne Lindsey, and Khan's Helmet.  Holy
Ground will avoid Head Shots, but does nothing against
damage.  Disappear combines the best aspects of Holy
Ground and multiple Police/Counter Damage cards.  It's
immune to the various cards that prevent those cards'
usage (Carl, Disguise).  And it even prevents damage from
non-Events, like Battlefield.

Intimidate:  the same as Slan's.  With the release of
Watcher's Chronicles, Luther actually has a way to make
Exertion-less Power Blows and still play a Special (due
to Master Swordsman).  Since he probably won't need
Master Swordsman for defense, a combination of Master
Swordsman and Intimidate gives him precision placement of
Power Blows and relative immunity to Hidden attacks as a
result thanks to Disappear and Endure Pain.

Taunt:  a "slow-down" card, which keeps Luther's opponent
from playing as many attacks as they might wish to.  This
can actually be as effective as attack-depletion
strategies using Cat and Mouse/Attack or Caught in the
Act/SE.  Unlike those cards, which let non-attackers
cycle out their attacks, Taunt requires that they make an
attack to get rid of an attack.  It can also slow down
multi-attack decks.  It's not an absolute preventative,
but it shouldn't be overlooked, either.

With Watcher's Chronicles comes Endure Pain, an Edge
card.  This card can be played if Luther has a Continuity
in play, and prevents all damage from one attack.  As an
Edge card, any number can be played per turn, and it does
not use up the Continuity.  Endure Pain looks to be the
first of several cards that work in conjunction with
Luther's "useless" Continuity.

Endure Pain is also not dissimilar to a Master's Block. 
If Luther's opponent makes an attack, Luther can simply
use Endure Pain, then attack to any area(s).  This gives
him more freedom to attack that any SE or ME Persona
lacking Master's Block.  Endure Pain has the benefits of
not counting against Master slots, and not being
Restricted.

And finally, Luther can either play Endure Pain the same
turn he plays Continuity, or on any subsequent turn
before it is removed.  He can ignore any damaging attack
by playing this Edge card, attack to any area, and if
Continuity is still in play he can play a Special that
turn!

Generic Cards

Luther, like Khan, is in many ways one step up from a
Generic.  As such, this gives him a wide range of
strategies to pursue.  Potentially, he can follow
practically any strategy he wishes.  Also like Khan, he
has high defensive capabilities, and a good element of
surprise because of their very unpredictability.

Lunge and Flashing Blade are good cards to supplement
Trip and Combination, respectively.  A successful Luther
deck can apply aggressive pressure by using Trip/Lunge
and Intimidate/Master Swordsman.

Holy Ground is a good safety net, but Luther is the only
Persona who can afford to go without it.  Two Disappears
and six Endure Pains let him ignore Carl and any future
anti-Holy Ground cards, as well as avoiding Kalas' game-
ending Stalk/Head Shot combo.

These same factors let Luther survive without a
Watcher/Treatment.  He should still play with the two
allowed, but if he loses them to Amnesia or
Watcher/Counter, he s better able to survive without
them.  Why?  Because he is less likely to take damage,
meaning he need only worry about the five Ability loss
from an Endurance burn.

As noted above, Luther can do without Ancestral Blade, or
Stamina, or even his own Continuity if a player lacks
Endure Pains.  This is important if Ancestral Blade is
officially restricted to one, as has been proposed. 
While other players must rely on the more vulnerable
Continuity, Luther may continue on his merry way.  And
compared to Personas who have a different, non-Power
Block version of Continuity such as Fitzcairn, Kalas, or
Annie Devlin, Luther looks even better.

Essentially, any Generic card can potentially help
Luther, and he can ignore several that are important to
other Personas.

Location Cards

As a near-Generic, Luther has no Location that
specifically aids him.  This well-rounded nature gives
him the freedom to use almost any Locations.

While the Kurgan might be foolish to use Dead-End Alley,
or Duncan to use the Catwalk, Luther can use either (or
both) with equal aplomb.  His anti-attack cards let him
fight well in the Mountain Cave, unleashing Hidden
attacks of his own while ignoring his opponent's
successful ones.  Lighthouse, which defensively restricts
an attacker if he misses even one attack, can also be
partially ignored by Luther's attack-avoidance cards. 
Since he needs a few less defenses, Battlefield also
helps Luther since he can afford to lose them.  Disappear
is also one of two cards (the other being Dr. Sonny
Jackson) that prevents damage from a Battlefield.

Luther has no great dependence on Pedestrians, so a
Rooftop might be to his liking.  Or he could add a few
Watcher Situations and benefit from the Watcher Regional
HQ.

Probably the only Locations that Luther should avoid are
Desert and Ruins.  The former makes him go past cards
that he'd be better off keeping.  Ruins costs him the use
of Continuity (and subsequently, Endure Pain).

How to Win

Luther's Persona ability lets him make tighter decks then
nearly any other Persona.  This is a key to building
winning Luther decks.  Put in two Disappear, six
Continuity, six Endure Pain, and the fifteen basic
attacks (for a total of 29 cards), and you have the
freedom to devote space in your deck to your strategy
rather then filling up more slots with defensive items
like Holy Ground, Police/Counter Damage, and Ancestral
Blade.

For lean and mean decks, you need heavy firepower.  This
is a weakness of Luther's, although the introduction of
Lunge and Master Swordsman in WC helps.  One tactic is to
deprive your opponent of his sword.  Use Disarm, Parking
Garage as your Location, and toss in Forged Steel.  Add
Guards (since they don't restrict Disarm), and a few
Misfortune, Iron Will and Practice Practice.  Once your
opponent loses his weapon, he'll be at your mercy for a
well-placed Head Shot or two.

A barrage of Hidden attacks, thanks to Lunge, Trip,
Flashing Blade, and Combination, also works well.  This
won't bother Connor much, but you can skewer most other
Personas.  Power Blow plus Lunge is also handy,
particularly if backed up by Master's Advance and an
Intimidate/Master Swordsman combo.

Even Event damage is a good strategy for Luther, since he
can Disappear away from damage reversal cards like
Unexpected Assistance and Do It Yourself.

How to Defeat

Luther has no inherent heavy-hitting strategy.  No Dr.
Sonny/Run Through/Lunge, or Darius/Seduce/Power Blow, or
Master's Block/Master's Lunge.  He can, of course, use
Darius to grab some useful cards from other Personas. 
James Horton is a good card to counter this, and is
useful against almost any other opponent.

Luther's dependency on Continuity for extra attack-
prevention leaves him with a vulnerability to Standing
Defense removers like Dirty Trick/Shove, Trip, Ruins,
Rush, and lesser-seen cards like Battle Priest, Dangerous
Ground, Collapse, and Slippery Footing.  Hammer Blow may
not help the Kurgan remove Luther's Continuity, but it
can force him to use an Endure Pain to avoid the attack.

Direct damage can overwhelm Luther's Disappear.  Cards
like Amnesia (CotW #22) and Psyche (#29) can also be used
to neutralize.  Psyche Luther into playing Disappear,
then refuse to attack.  Watch him play it and gain
nothing.

If all else fails, watch Luther's play of cards and time
your heavy-hitting attacks accordingly.  If it's the
fifteenth turn of the game and Luther hasn't played
Disappear, it's a probably a bad time to use Bloodlust.

Overall

Luther is a nice, well-rounded character, nothing
outstanding.  He can build almost any strategy while
avoiding heavy-hitting opponents.  He has some weakness
to direct damage, but most Personas have far more.  His
Persona ability, although seemingly inconsequential, can
actually spare him having to play certain Specials,
allowing him to use more attack-oriented Specials.

Overall, Steve gives Luther a _6_.  You'd be surprised
what you can do from him, particularly if Ancestral Blade
is phased out and Power Blows become a far more potent
strategy with Watcher's Chronicles.

What Our Other Raters Say:

Jim - In the past, Luther has been one of the weaker
Immortals.  However, he has gotten stronger with
Watcher's Chronicles.  Endure Pain finally lets him use
his Continuity, and he does so with a vengeance.  Luther
is one of the better Personas to use to play a Disarm
deck since he has no need of Ancestral Blade, and he
rarely needs to play Back Away.  Disappear is an
excellent card and it is one that is good enough to
pregame Darius in an extra.

Rick - Abstain

Hank - What a waste of card space.  Luther has one useful
card, Disappear, and it's much more useful in Richie's
hands than Luther's.  His ability is a joke, Ancestral
Blades are common for Power Blocks, and the only time
I've played him is when I wanted a challenge.

Alan -Luther is one of the weakest personas in the game,
even with the addition of Endure Pain from Watcher's
Chronicles.  His Taunt is next to useless, and his
Intimidate about the same.  His only good card is
Disappear, which I consider to be one of the 5 most
powerful cards in the game.  I have found only 2 viable
strategies with Luther:  Disarm (probably one of the best
for a Disarm strategy), and as an anti-attack persona
(i.e., prevent your opponent from attacking by locking
his attacks in his hand).

Jeff - Abstain

Wayne - Luther probably lacks in Persona cards as much as
anybody except Kahn.  His ability to block Power Blows is
nice, but with that you might as well play Slan and make
free Power Blows as well.  Luther has very little
offensive ability, but can be a very strong defensive
persona.  Jared Strait placed second at Gencon with a
Luther deck that basically was very difficult to do
damage to and ended with a higher ability than his
opponent.  Overall, though, Luther is one of the weakest
personas.

Prodipto - Luther has always been the outcast of
Highlander.  His special power was half of what Slan's
was, and his only potent card was Disappear, which Xavier
could merrily Forethought away, or in a tournament, would
often be the recipient of a TCG rip.  With the release of
Watcher's Chronicles, he received a much needed boost. 
While his ability to block Power Blows eliminates the
need for Ancestral Blade, the addition of Endure Pain
will make him a powerful attack-deck character.  His
ability to Dodge as well as Back Away puts him a step up
on Slan with the increased use of Ranged Attacks as well.

Allen - Luther's intrinsic strength is defense.  The good
news is that this almost allows your defense to take care
of itself, and thus leaves you with more room in your
deck for an offensive strategy.  Luther can afford to
utilize patient strategies, such as Disarming or
weapon-breaking.  Intrinsic Power Blocking, Endure Pain,
and Disappear all help him avoid damage until the time is
right for him to strike.  Endure Pain is Luther's new
playtoy from Watcher's Chronicles.  A potent card, but
one which requires you to use Continuity which does you
no good in isolation.  I also find Luther able to get
good mileage out of Dugal, which provides him with a
makeshift Master's Guard.  (Mix with lots of
Alertness/Block).  Should your opponent manage to drop
your Dugal Guard and attack you, Disappear will let you
get away clean.  Still, Luther's lack of offense can
prove annoying and tends to limit your options.

Ratings Overall:

Steve         6
Jim           7
Rick        N/A
Hank          2     
Alan          5     
Jeff        N/A
Wayne         4
Prodipto      6
Allen         6

Average:      5.14

Highlander is a protected trademark of Gaumont
Television, used under license by Thunder Castle Games. 
The card text is copyright 1996 by Thunder Castle Games. 
All rights reserved.