Nefertiri - by Jeff Barnes

During your turn, if you have fewer cards in your hand
than your current Ability, you may draw back up to your
Ability.  When discarding cards from your hand, you may
place those cards on top of your Endurance.  You may have
up to 5 Master cards. (errata'd text)

Overview

Perhaps no Persona is more underestimated than Nefertiri. 
While many players look at Katana, Connor, or Slan as the
elite among current Personas, Nefertiri can match any of
these for power and flexibility.

Nefertiri's inherent abilities give her two powerful
advantages in any duel.  First, she has an effective
average hand size two or three points higher than her
actual Ability, because she may draw immediately to
replace any cards she plays or discards.  Of course, in a
well-built deck, this advantage may increase to five or
six cards by mid-game due to use of non-triggered cards
(cards not requiring a target or set of circumstances
before they can be played).

Nef's second major advantage is that she will never
discard any card she does not wish to.  This can be a
major advantage when used with other cards she plays (as
we will see in a moment) or when simply used defensively. 
After all, she can choose which cards to lose and which
to simply place on top of her Endurance for immediate
redrawing, allowing Nefertiri to filter out dead weight
while retaining useful cards and most likely causing her
foe to lose several key cards.

There are other advantages to playing Nefertiri.  If
played correctly, Nefertiri should never lose her head. 
She should hold on to that Upper Center Block or Upper
Guard until reduced to zero if on a downhill slide. 
Then, she should simply place the block on top of her
Endurance, where it will be ready for an Exertion to foil
any Head Shot.

The list could continue, but the main point is this:  no
other Immortal can match Nefertiri's card control
ability.  A well-built Nef deck will have advantages in
Ability control, Endurance control, and card cycling. 
Put it all together and it means big trouble for her
opponent.

Persona-Specific Cards

Nefertiri's strength does not lie with her specific
cards.  In fact, she probably ranks third to last (with
only Slan and Luther lagging behind her) in variety and
power of specific cards in the two basic sets.

She has only three Persona-specific cards in the Series
Edition.  Her Battle Rage is the same as the ones
belonging to other Personas.  Nefertiri's might be
slightly more useful if she sets it up with another
Special allowing her to place her attacks on top of her
Endurance (Jungle or perhaps Linda Plager), but is still
most likely not worthwhile in tournament-level decks. 
Also, Battle Rage is an Uncommon card for her, meaning
more people will tend to use it with her.

Nef's Seduce is a more interesting card, allowing her
next attack to be undodgeable and depriving her opponent
of an attack on the next turn.  There are any number of
uses for this:  Pistol, Dirty Trick, Master's Attack
(brought in with the Methos Quickening), or Hidden
attacks.  However, its main purpose seems to be for
Richie and to use it in conjunction with Slan's Shooting
Blade.

However, Desperation more than makes up for any other
specific card shortcomings.  In Nefertiri's hand, this
card allows her to place the best card of the top three
in her hand and either set her next two cards drawn or
discard any useless cards found there (as per the
errata'd text).  Most importantly, this does not come at
the cost of a Special slot, as Desperation allows her to
still play Specials.  With six of these in a 50 card
deck, Nefertiri can get to the cards she needs in a
minimal amount of time.

Nefertiri receives two new cards in Watcher's Chronicles: 
Vengeance and Cunning.  The full nature of these cards
cannot be revealed at this time.  When used in
conjunction, they have a tendency to penalize an opponent
no matter what:  one card penalizes an opponent for
making attacks (particularly multiple attacks), the other
penalizes them for _not_ making attacks.

Generic Cards

No Persona interacts better with Generic cards than
Nefertiri.  The most important category of cards for her
are ones causing discard effects.

InQuest has long been a staple of most every Nefertiri
deck.  It usually equates to a ripped Thunder Castle Game
card in tournament play.  However, if it is successfully
played, InQuest causes Nef's opponent to lose all his
Specials (provided he isn't playing Nefertiri or using
Selective Memory, of course), while allowing her to pick
and choose which to keep and which to lose.  Used with
Factory, this can be a hideous combination.

Kiss Your Butts Goodbye is another obvious power card for
Nefertiri.  If she plays this, she may discard her Dodges
to her Endurance and re-draw them -- or, if playing
against a non-attack deck, she may simply choose to place
them in her discard pile and refresh her hand. 
Meanwhile, her opponent will find himself without any
Dodges.

The SE Holy Ground, while typically used defensively, can
be a potent offensive force in a Nef deck.  Six Holy
Grounds, each causing your opponent to discard four
cards, amounts to twenty four cards per Endurance pass he
will never play -- or almost half of a typical 50-card
deck.  Meanwhile, Nefertiri decides if she wants to lose
any cards or not.

Other cards are also more effective in Nefertiri's hands. 
If she uses Delusions, she may choose not to lose the
Special to regain the countered card, placing it on her
Endurance instead.  If she plays with The Prize: Attacks,
Nefertiri can become a truly fearsome card-cycling
engine.  Dr. Sonny Jackson, like Desperation, takes up
almost no Ability space in a Nefertiri deck, allowing for
fast card cycling.  Non-triggered cards (i.e., Patience,
Lean and Mean, unprovoked Guards, etc.) also allow her to
ditch them and refresh her hand quickly.

Location Cards

Once again, few Immortals interface with Locations like
Nefertiri.  As was recently ruled (see CotW #23),
Nefertiri can draw up in the Factory, while her non-Nef
opponent cannot.  This often allows her the freedom to
play and draw cards while her opponent's hand locks up. 
Combined with InQuest to set it up and direct damage for
the kill, this becomes a nasty deck.

The other obvious Location for Nefertiri is Battlefield. 
This allows Nef's attacks to get through with much
greater regularity.  Even if the opponent gets rid of the
Battlefield on the next turn, it most likely costs him a
defense.  In addition, if the deck she plays against does
not have a heavy attack aspect, Nefertiri may want to
discard her defenses to refresh her hand.  If she plays
against an attack deck, she may discard to the top of her
Endurance and avoid the Battlefield's ill effects while
still retaining her defenses.

The other Locations seem less useful for Nefertiri. 
Jungle, while not harming her, seems to help her far less
than the two previous Locations.  Rooftop can serve in
its standard anti-cheese role, but affords her no special
benefit, as does Ruins, Catwalk, Dead End Alley, and
Parking Garage.  Desert is mostly benign, but can harm
Nef decks somewhat; "musts" come before "mays", so she
will discard at beginning of turn, lose two cards off the
top of her Endurance, then draw up.

How to Win

There are a wide variety of successful Nefertiri decks,
testifying to Nef's flexibility.  Some are fairly
standard cheese decks, often with Katana Quickenings, and
usually with Factories and InQuest(s).  These also
usually have aspects of lock decks to them.  Toss in
Chessex (using Desperation and Dr. Sonny Jackson when you
want to play a non-Event Special *and* an Event) and this
can be bad news fast.

Others are attack decks with heavy denial (anti-Special)
aspects.  Sure, you can only have six Renee Delaneys, but
add in two InQuests (with a pg Darius) and account for
Nef's quick card cycling, and a full-game Renee lock is
conceivable.  Generally, Battlefields, The Prize: Attack,
Dr. Sonny Jackson, and maybe a Khan Quickening can be
added to give more bite to this deck.

The third (and probably oldest) Nefertiri deck archetype
is the deck-burning deck.  Six SE Holy Grounds, plus Cat
& Mouse: Endurance, Dirty Trick: Kick and/or Pummels can
serve to thrash through the opponents' deck.  Also,
standard and non-standard discard (InQuest, Stunning
Blow, etc.) can be used to directly attack the hand. 
Unfortunately, if this deck runs into another Nef deck,
it tends to die horribly.

How to Defeat

There are several cards that allow a player to combat
Nefertiri's strategies.  Perhaps chief among these is
Reconnaissance, due to Nef's synergy with Battlefield and
Factory.  With Reconnaissance in your deck, you can
successfully deal with both Locations without playing
Locations of your own.  In addition, Recons allow you to
get around the discard effect of the Battlefield for a
turn.

Selective Memory is another useful card against
Nefertiri, since most Nef decks sport some type of
discard Event (if only InQuest).

ME Holy Grounds seem to work well at disrupting Nef's
game, often preventing her from hanging on to cards she
wants, particularly if you have her low on Ability and
are playing for the Head Shot.  Desert helps as well, as
noted above.

Slan is perhaps the single most effective Persona against
Nef, as his free Power Blows can wreak havoc on an attack
deck built around blocks.  Connor, with his Master's
Stance/Master's Block/ Master's Lunge, is also annoying. 
Healing decks tend to be less effective against Nefertiri
decks, due to the draw denial of the Factory and the
Renee lock of attack decks.  However, a good draw against
a Nef deck that cannot lock quickly enough will beat it.

Overall

In short, Nefertiri's bailiwick is card control.  She can
cycle cards at a pace unmatched by any other Persona, she
never loses a card from her hand that she doesn't want
to, and she can set up her deck well.  While somewhat
weak in Persona-specific cards, Nefertiri more than makes
up for this with her synergy with generic cards,
particularly Locations.

Overall, I give Nef a high _8_ for sheer power and
flexibility.  If you think that's overrated, I suggest
you try some of these strategies against the popular deck
types in your area.  If properly built, your Nef deck
will be able to hang in with the toughest and come out on
the good side more often than not.

What Our Other Raters Say:

Ben - [Abstain]

Rick - Nefertiri was an underrated Persona.  As the need
for card cycling becomes more apparent in Highlander, her
Special Abilities start to become required.  Patience has
found its way into all but the leanest of decks and that
card only duplicates half of Nefertiri's ability.  When
facing a Bloodlust, Nefertiri always has her full Ability
from which to choose a defense.  Keeping with this idea,
Nefertiri should use Factory to prevent her opponent from
cycling cards while still having that option herself.

Hank - I've always liked the Nefertiri Persona.  She has
an unusual special ability, she has a few fun cards, and
I've always had a soft spot for ex-Fame cast members. 
I've built a number of Nefertiri decks: my two favorites
are a discard deck (using lots of discard cards and
Factory) and a fun attack deck (using Battlefield and C&M
Defense).  She's not the best (most broken) Persona, but
she's one of my favorites:  balanced and interesting.

Steve - Nefertiri has always been an underestimated
Persona - Series Edition may have limited her powers, but
it also limited the ways in which she could be dealt with
(no Selective Memory, no Alertness/Dodge).  She was one
of only three SE Personas who had all Uncommon Persona-
specific cards (Trip, Dodge, Back Away, Extra Shot,
Combination, Power Blow), and her Persona abilities were
a good emergency measure.  ME gives her some more
offensive potential (Battlefield, Factory, Kiss Your
Butts Goodbye).  Perhaps not quite up there with Connor
and the Kurgan, but anyone who has to Persona abilities
isn't all bad.  She is an excellent base upon which to
build almost any deck you want.

Alan - Nefertiri is one of those oft-overlooked Personas,
but who can be quite deadly under the right
circumstances.  True, prior to the Movie Edition, she was
underpowered, but with the release of ME, and two
particular Locations (Battlefield and Factory), she has
gotten quite a power boost.  The introduction of
multi-player games has made Nef perhaps the most powerful
Persona in that respect.  Watcher's Chronicles will only
continue to add to her power . . .

Jim - Nefertiri is the rising star among the older set of
personas.  The recent rules changes have been kind to
her.  Nefertiri is least likely to be harmed by a Lock
deck since her hand cycles very well and she can use
cards like Desperation to get the cards she needs into
her hand quickly.  Discards don't hurt Nefertiri, and in
fact often help her clear useless cards from her hand. 
Attack decks work well for Nefertiri but add in a
Chessex, and she cheeses with the best of them. 
Nefertiri's Seduce is not as powerful as Amanda's but it
lends itself to some rather interesting strategies.
Naturally, the best location for Nefertiri is Factory. 
However, she can also do well using Battlefield.

Wayne - Neferteri has become much stronger with the Movie
Edition Locations Battlefield and Factory. 
Battlefield/Louis Marcus/Seduce is a great combination to
clear your opponent of defenses.  Neferteri also makes a
good cheese deck with Chessex/Inquest/direct damage
cards.  Desperation is great for cycling cards.  I
recently played Neferteri for the first time in a
tournament and even though I made several mistakes in
constructing the deck, it still played very well.

Ratings Overall:

Jeff          8
Steve         7
Ben         N/A
Rick          9
Hank          7     
Alan          7     
Jim           7
Wayne         8

Average:      7.57

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Television, used under license by Thunder Castle Games. 
The card text is copyright 1996 by Thunder Castle Games. 
All rights reserved.