Richie Ryan - by Steve Crow

You may use one Immortal Specific card, even if Reserved,
from each Persona.  You may have up to five Master cards.

Overview

Well, it's Cheese Boy.  As has been noted many times and
in many ways, Richie just gets stronger and stronger with
each edition and expansion.  Every new Persona gives him
a pool of cards to select from.  In addition, it looks
like he will continue to receive new Immortal-specific
cards of his own.

On to game-mechanics questions.  Yes, Richie can take
Reserved cards.  Or he can choose to take another
Persona's non-Reserved Immortal Specific card (Evade,
Duck, Jump, Flashback, whatever).

Richie may use Darius to further "borrow" other Personas'
cards.  He cannot ignore title or specific card
restrictions.  He can only have four Seduce/Amandas. 
However, he does not require a Darius to play one of
them.  For the exact rules on how you determine when you
do and do not need Darius to play another Personas'
cards, see FAQ Entry 23.5.

Richie gains no benefit from the "Generic" Quickening
(i.e., you may use one non-Reserved card from each other
Persona).  He cannot use the pre-game Darius to increase
the restriction number on other Personas' cards (i.e., he
can't add a fifth Seduce/Amanda).  This is because those
are not cards he can use "normally."  He can use pre-game
Darius for his own Restricted cards (Luck, Master's
Block) as appropriate.

Gold Foils and white-bordered Premiums are not considered
Immortal Specific  - Richie can't "borrow" them.  Nor can
he borrow "Signature" cards (as introduced in The
Gathering).

Persona-Specific Cards

Even without his Persona ability, Richie would be a
relatively formidable opponent.  He has the full
complement of "basic" Persona-Specific cards:  Back Away,
Dodge, Combination, Continuity, Extra Shot, Power Blow,
and Trip.  These are all the "standard" versions.

With the errata on Ancestral Blade and the increased
incidence of Lunge, Continuity remains a useful tool
versus Power Blows.

Combination and Extra Shot, with the introduction of
Lunge and Flashing Blade, are still useful cards, Extra
Shot in particular.  Trip and Power Blow can also be
useful in conjunction with Lunge and basic attacks.

What about Richie's Reserved cards?  Luck is useful for
pulling the extra cards for that combo.  Master's Block
remains a useful and versatile card, superior to Katana's
and Fitzcairn's.

Richie also has Battle Rage, which remains relatively
unreliable.  The 1 Ability loss is rarely worth it.

Richie's new card, Quick Learner, is useful both for
grabbing a "borrowed" card from the Persona you're
playing against (if they use Shooting Blade, you grab
yours), but for grabbing generic cards as well.  If they
play Holy Ground, use QL to get one of your own.

Master's Advice, still restricted to 1, is so-so, and
Richie can probably find better Master cards to "borrow." 
Which brings us to...

Other Personas' Cards

This is a new category, although we'll probably use it
again next month when we talk about Methos.  The question
here is, what cards should Richie "borrow"?

Keep in mind these are the "ideal"cards for Richie.  If
you're just starting out, and the only Duncan card you
have is Inspiration, then you should probably use
Inspiration.

Also, one other thing.  With the introduction of
"Signature" cards in The Gathering, some cards will
become unavailable to Richie.  The cards below are all
currently non-Signature, but future errata _may_ change
that.

Duncan:  Master's Dodge gives Richie additional 9-grid
coverage.  Jump and Duck can provide good dodge
capability and another way to make Hidden attacks.

Amanda:  Seduce is the traditional choice for Richie
decks.  Distract can prove useful as well, however.

Slan:  Shooting Blade is another traditional choice - mix
well with Seduce/Nefertiri or Follow-Up/Kurgan.  However,
if you have a deck planned where you will be hitting
often and hard, The Cat isn't bad either, since it stops
them from counter-attacking.

Nefertiri:  Temptress looks better, particularly if you
mix with The Cat.  Otherwise, Nef's Seduce + Shooting
Blade let's you hit nearly anyone.  However, as more
Personas are created with only Back Away to cover the
Middle Center area, you'll need it less and less.  If
you're prone to using Battle Rage, then Vengeance can
help you as well.

Luther:  Disappear.  'nuff said?

Xavier:  Stalk and Forethought are both good choices.  If
you go the Cheese route, Hidden Explosives may be a good
choice.  But unlike Xave,  you may not have enough
Situations to make it worth your while.  Hook can
actually be useful as part of a combo:  mix with Master's
Lunge/Connor.

Connor:  Master's Block won't work for you, since you
can't attack through it.  Master's Lunge lends itself to
several combos (Hook/Xavier, Charm/Kastagir, Extra
Shot/Annie), does three damage, and thanks to Richie's
Master's Block is eminently playable.  Flashback (the
discard/draw five variety) can be useful in Ren-style
play.  Master's Disarm can give you needed protection if
disarmed.  It's a Kind of Magic, if you can get it, is
also helpful for damage prevention.

Kastagir:  Boom Boom is the obvious choice.  However, I'm
kind of fond of Charm plus Connor's Master's Lunge for a
strong 3-point attack.  Master's Guard is also useful.

Katana:  Taunt almost certainly, or Toadies if you take
the cheese road.

The Kurgan:  Disguise can protect your Situations and
keep your opponent from stopping cheese/damage.  However,
Follow-Up lends itself nicely to a Shooting Blade combo
and is probably your best choice.  If you're really into
multiple attacks, try Bloodlust.

Nakano:  Mirror Image is a useful defensive card, while
Master's Disarm can provide you with protection against
disarming.

Khan:  Not much until The Gathering comes out.  Until
then, Flashback might be your best choice.  Or protect
yourself with a Helmet or Breastplate.  Once ME2 comes
out, Plunder might be a good choice once you load up with
the appropriate cards.

Kalas:  If you're hitting hard, your opponent will feel
the need to play Holy Ground.  Take his head with Stalk +
Head Shot just like Kalas does.  Not much else there
unless you want to try something with Intimidate or need
an extra Master's Advice.

Kern:  Hogg.  No reasonable errata in the world is going
to make this less useful than any of his other current
cards.

Fitzcairn:  Fast Talk.  See Hogg for why.  If Fast Talk
become Signature, Combination and Master's Block are
useful alternatives.

Annie:  Several good cards here.  Escape can protect your
Situations, while her Master's Attack can be played after
your Master's Block.  Her Extra Shot can be combined with
Master's Lunge.

Corda & Reno:  Flying Machine/Wings is the only real
choice here - it can prove very annoying.  However, an
opponent removing both this and Hogg (particularly with
Thief, in one fell swoop) can be painful.

Fasil:  Stalk is probably his most useful card.  However,
Backflip can be handy also, as it lends itself to a
number of combos (see Master's Lunge above).  If you want
to try a disarm strategy, Master's Disarm is also useful.

Kane:  This Immortal has a number of "spot" cards: 
useful as annoyance tactics, but difficult to build a
strategy around.  Ephemeral Wound, Shapeshift, and Open
Mind all fit here.

Yung Dol Kim:  Run Away, Master's Attack, and Frenzy are
all useful, depending on your strategy.

Generic Cards

Upper Hand is more useful than normal, as it can strip
away the critical card an opponent might need to escape
Richie's inescapable attacks.  By the same token, Carl
and The Gathering can keep them from fleeing to Holy
Ground.  And Misfortune will pre-empt their Hogg escapes.

Other then that, most typically useful cards are just as
useful for Richie.  Darius becomes even more powerful: 
he can be used to give Richie more of a card that he has
already "borrowed" one of.  This can make Richie a bit
more efficient:  he only needs three Darii to play four
Seduce/Amandas, while everyone else (except Amanda
herself, of course) needs four.

Location Cards

If you wish to pursue block or dodge denial, Lighthouse,
Laundry Room, and Catwalk can all prove useful.  They can
backfire on you, however, so keep Reconnaissance on hand.

Factory and Battlefield, if you properly prepare for them
(six Reconnaissance, use of the Nef Qs) can deplete an
opponent of defenses, making it even harder for him to
defend against your combo attacks.

Rooftop can prove useful in keeping an opponent from
either keeping you from attacking (Ped/Hidden) or
eliminating the damage you do to him (Bystander).

Dead End Alley isn't really a good choice unless you plan
on borrowing lots of non-Back Away dodges from other
Personas.  Desert will cost you cards you'd rather have
for your combinations.  Parking Garage is only good if
you plan on pursuing a disarm strategy.  The various
Master's Disarms you can borrow might help you here.

Mountain Cave and Ruins give you no real advantage. 
Watcher Regional HQ can prove useful if you build your
deck accordingly.

How to Win

Even without his Persona ability, Richie is versatile
enough to adopt any number of strategies.  However, his
real strength is in taking varied Personas' individual
cards and combining them into powerful combos.

I'm particularly fond of those cards that combine with
Master's Lunge:  Hook/Xavier, Charm/Kastagir, Extra
Shot/Annie, Backflip/Fasil, and a disarm strategy
augmented by Master's Disarm/Kurgan or Fasil.

Shooting Blade works well when combined with
Seduce/Nefertiri or Follow-Up/Kurgan.

If Richie pursues the path of cheese, he can use
Alliance/Xavier and Toadies/Katana.

With any kind of combat strategy, Richie should use anti-
Holy Ground cards like Carl, and the silent threat of a
Stalk/Kalas Head Shot.

How to Defeat

Richie's Nemesis, Brash Youth (if you can get it) can
seriously hurt him, since it impairs both use of his
Persona ability and Darius alike.  However, that's no big
news since most Nemesis cards will take out the Persona
they're aimed at.

Most Richie decks can't resist getting greedy and using
Darius.  Keep a stock of James Horton/Situations on hand.

One Locatin that was undercut by recent errata was
Verona.  However, if you run into a Richie deck that
relies heavily on Special Attacks, Verona can be very
useful.  Richie can still use Reconnaissance to get
around it, but otherwise it can slow done his Special
Attack/Special card combos considerably.

The other thing you'll need to do is be ready for cheese
and unblockable/undodgeable Special Attacks.  Greenfield
Hobby, Police/Counter Damage, Alertness/Block and/or
Dodge, and Holy Ground - suitably augmented by Focus and
Dojo - are what you'll need.  Be ready for anything.

Overall

Steve gives Richie a _9_.  He's just too versatile to
rate any lower.  He's powerful, and will continue to
remain so.  The limitation of his Nemesis to a relatively
hard-to-get collector's item strengths him even more.  If
you like playing around with innovative mix-and-match
combos, Richie's the guy for you.

What Our Other Raters Say:

Jim - Richie is perhaps the most flexible Persona since
he can have one card from each other Persona.  Since
Richie is not limited in any way, except the limit on his
Masters and the normal card restrictions, he can make
some very creative decks.  Richie also has many good
Persona-specific cards.  The most powerful and unique
among these is Luck.  Using Luck, Richie can advance
nearly any strategy much faster than most Personas.  When
adding Darius, Richie can get rather abusive in his use
of other Personas' cards.  He can out Shooting Blade,
Slan and out Seduce Amanda.  He can Taunt, Fast Talk, and
ride a mean Hogg.  With each new release, Richie grows
stronger. You never quite know what to expect from the
wonder kid, just don't expect an easy victory.  Richie is
not the most powerful Immortal, but he should never be
underestimated.

Hank - When Series Edition first debuted, Richie was far-
and-away the "most broken" Immortal, and he won a lot of
tournaments.  When Movie Edition debuted, Katana replaced
Richie as the "most broken", but he's since been fixed. 
As more Immortals come along, Richie's ability to pull
cards from each of them grows.  I've never liked the
Persona (although I like the character) and it just keeps
getting worse.  Richie is a badly thought-out Persona,
and he and Darius/In-game make the game harder and harder
to design around.  I'll give him the rating below on
principle.

Alan - Richie is one of the strongest and most versatile
Personas around, due to the fact that he can use one card
from each Persona.  This means that with each expansion,
Richie automatically gets stronger, due to the new
numbers of cards available to him.  While he can't do any
one "trick" better than the Persona he borrowed it from,
he can do more tricks than any other Persona available. 
My favorite has to be the "Master Swordsman" deck I have
used with great success.  Definitely one of my three
favorite Personas.

Jeff - Richie is an infinitely talented lad, with a
strong penchant for cheese.  With that inherent ability
(probably fourth behind only Katana, Nefertiri, and Fitz)
plus awesome cards of his own like Luck and Master's
Block, he's got a much better chance in the game than he
ever did in the series.

Wayne - Richie is quickly becoming one of the top
Immortals to play.  He is good for cheese decks, heal
decks, and he has the ability to combine cards from
different Personas in such a way that makes for a great
attack deck.  The only downfall for Richie is that if he
depends on combinations of cards, he may not get the
needed cards in his hand at the same time.  Overall,
Richie will continue to get stronger and more versatile
as new sets come out.

Prodipto - Richie is the only Persona guaranteed to get
more power and versatility with each and every expansion
of Highlander.  His ability to utilize cards from other
Personas, as well as his strong complement of cards in
his own right, makes him an extremely potent foe.  One of
his greatest strengths is being able to create card
combinations using cards from disparate Personas (such as
Nefertiri's Seduce+Slan's Shooting Blade).  He's the only
Persona who can have five Master's Blocks in his deck (if
he so chooses) (Editor's Note:  ignoring presumably the
upcoming Methos release).  The introduction of the
Signature cards is a prime example of exactly how potent
Richie is.  The most devastating effect of all in Richie
decks is his versatility.  When you sit down to face a
Richie deck, you have very little idea as to what the
deck will do.  Typically, each Persona will play a deck
that complements his or her power, but the strength of a
Richie deck is in the cards he plays, rather than how his
power affects them.  Overall, he is, and always will be,
a dangerous opponent.

Allen - Richie is perhaps the most versatile Persona in
the game.  No matter what strategy you are trying to
play, his ability to borrow other Personas' cards allows
him to focus more on it.  Want to play lots of Master
Blocks?  Richie can use three of his, one of Katana's and
one of Hugh's.  Want to play Cheese?  Use the standard
Careful Mob, then add Toadies and Hidden Explosives. 
Want to make lots of undefendable attacks?  Grab one of
everyone's Master's Attack and play with Challenge/SE. 
Add an Amanda's Seduce.  (You use it far better than she
anyway.)  It's hard to recommend a strategy for Richie,
since he can use them all so well.  (Except for
relentless power blowing; he can't beat Slan or Kurgan
there.)  Richie also has great cards of his own.  Aside
from the above mentioned Master's Block, he has Luck. 
Whatever card you need for your strategy, go get it. 
There is almost no such thing as a bad opening draw for
Richie.  Quick Learner is a great new Richie card from
Watcher Chronicles.  Don't overlook its ability to let
you go and get needed generic blocks and attacks.

Bruce - Despite new personas and one new card, Richie
continues to fall behind other Immortals.  But he is
still a good choice, along with Slan, for a beginning
player with limited card resources.  A combo deck with
unblockable/undodgeable attacks can be competitive, but
is unlikely to win tournaments.

Ratings Overall:

Steve         9
Jim           8
Hank          3     
Alan          9     
Jeff          8
Wayne         9
Prodipto      8
Allen         8
Bruce         4

Average:      7.33

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The card text is copyright 1996 by Thunder Castle Games. 
All rights reserved.