Connor MacLeod (by Hank Driskill)

You may attack areas you just blocked.  You may look at
Hidden attacks.  You may have up to 7 Master cards.

Overview

I started using Connor when Series Edition first debuted,
for several reasons.  He was my favorite character from
the initial batch of eight, and he had fairly simple and
"generic" Persona-specific cards.

Most importantly, though, Connor was a Persona which
broke the rules.  He has two distinct Persona abilities,
both of which allow him to ignore fairly important
aspects of swordplay.  This made it easier to learn the
game, not having to pay attention to where I just blocked
or whether making a Power Blow would make me worry next
turn.

With the introduction of the Movie Edition, Connor has
become one of the most powerful Personas in the game.  He
has a combination of powerful Persona-specific cards,
clear strategies utilizing generic cards and "his"
Location (Mountain Cave), and he has remained my favorite
Persona to build decks around.

Persona-Specific Cards

Connor in SE was given all but one (Trip) of the
"generic" Persona cards:  Back Away, Combination,
Continuity, Disarm, Dodge, Extra Shot, and Power Blow. 
This gave him a good foundation for pretty much any sort
of deck, but nothing in his cards that made him unique.

With Movie Edition, new cards were given to Connor, cards
which made him suddenly a much more useful Persona than
his younger cousin Duncan.  Many of these were Master
cards, which suddenly made Connor's seven Master card
slots seem too small, somehow.  Let's look at each of the
added Movie Edition cards in turn.

Battle Rage - just like Duncan's, Nefertiri's, and
Richie's from Series Edition.  I've never had much use
for it in Connor decks but some people enjoy the mad
rush.

Duck - a very useful third dodge, to accompany Dodge and
Back Away.  Functions just like Duncan's Jump, except for
the locations it covers.

Flashback - a card shared by almost all the ME Personas. 
A fairly useful card for throughput, but one I've never
used:  I prefer Holy Ground from the Series Edition for
this function.

Master's Advice - extra Ability is always good.  Master's
Advice is a useful card for many decks, but with the
wealth of Master's cards available to Connor, it's a card
I hardly ever use.

Master's Attack - exactly like the errata'ed Duncan card
of the same name.  It would be a perfectly useful card
for some decks, but Master's Lunge (see below) has a more
useful function with Connor.

Master's Block - Master's Block is a _must_ in most
Connor decks.  It not only covers all nine squares, but
it turns your next attack that turn into the equivalent
of a Master's Attack (unblockable).  It's also fairly
useless to most other Personas, because the ability to
attack after playing it is something only Connor and
Duncan have (it's not on the text of the card).  For some
perverse reason, I really like that.  More on Master's
Block and its use later.

Master's Disarm - A nice Disarm card, but you have to be
Disarmed yourself to use it.  I've seen decks which use
the Generic card Discard Weapon with this card, but it's
not a strategy I've seen used well.

Master's Dodge - a Dodge which covers all nine slots and
still lets you attack is always a good thing . . . how
many Amanda decks go without Distract?  Still, it uses up
a Master slot, something in short supply in most Connor
decks, so add them last after your strategy is settled.

Master's Lunge - This does _3_ damage (one more than
Master's Attack), and can't be dodged.  In combination
with Master's Block, it's a 3-point, undodgeable,
unblockable attack . . . a very useful thing.  More on
this combination below.

Slash - Slash is a great attack, and I use the Generic
Slashes in many of my decks.  Connor's Slashes are much
more useful.  They almost always force an opponent to use
Dodges or Back Aways, which is a good thing.  Any time
you can help run an opponent out of a particular defense,
you're furthering a strategy.  Also, blocking doesn't
prevent Connor from playing a Slash, unlike most
Personas, so they're useful in that respect as well.

Trip - The standard Trip, and useful against Standing
Defenses or for making attacks Hidden.  However, there
are better cards for either of these functions.  I've
never used it in a Connor deck.

Generic Cards

I will focus somewhat on cards which further Connor's
swordfighting talents.  Like the Kurgan (PotM #1), Connor
is a Persona which flourishes in swordfighting skills,
but in a very different way.  Connor decks focus on style
rather than force, and focus on the rules his Persona
breaks, so the cards which accentuate this are what I'll
look at the most.

It's important to remember, however, that Connor is also
a well-rounded Persona.  Connor can be used to build a
wide variety of decks, from direct damage to Plot-based
decks . . . but his strengths lie in his ability to break
the rules of swordplay.

Connor makes the best use out of Master's Stance, so
let's mention that first.  Master's Stance allows one to
turn a Block into a Guard.  In Connor's 
case, it turns his nine-area Master's Block into a
nine-point Master's Guard.  If an opponent attacks it
(which is worthless, unless they can make their attack
unblockable), Connor gets the added benefit that his
response is unblockable.  Master's Stance, Master's
Block, and Master's Lunge therefore make a _great_ team. 
If someone attacks, your nine-area Guard stops it and you
respond with a 3-point unblockable, undodgeable attack.

The weakness of this is that Master's Stance can be
removed from play fairly easily: it's a Standing Defense
and a Situation, making it very vulnerable to removal.

Another kind of card which Connor uses well are Guards. 
Connor can play Guards as six-area Block cards, drop them
in his attack phase and attack to a place he just
blocked.  Only Connor and Duncan share this talent, and
it's terribly useful.  Unless you're planning on hanging
around the Ruins, Connor should play with Guards over
Blocks most of the time.

My Connor decks tend to use a LOT of Situations (this has
led me to hate the General with a passion, but that's
beside the point).  Some of my favorites have included:

Collect - zero-card Exertions are a wonderful thing. 
Zero-card Power Blows are great when you're Connor and
can see the Hidden response.  Zero-card Exertions are
great when you play with It's a Kind of Magic, the promo
card which allows Connor to Exert to avoid damage. 
Collects are fun with Avery as well.  If you can spare a
Master slot you should use Master: Sword Master as well
to help the Exertions shrink more quickly.  Collect is
also fun with Turn of Events

Pedestrian/Hidden is fun with Mountain Cave, Connor's
Location of choice (see below).  Connor can make Hidden
attacks, and if his opponent wants to attack they have to
make a Hidden attack.  Connor plays the Feint/Edge card,
looks at their attack, then blocks and plays Head Shot or
something equally annoying.  Simply unfun.

Honor Bound is very useful with the Master's Stance/Block
combination.  Shutting down an opponent's ability to play
Specials is often devastating.  Again, it's little worry
for the General, but a deck designed around  Honor Bound
and Master's Stance/Block can work quite well against
anyone else.

Master's Advance is a fun Situation for any swordfighting
deck.  If I have spare Master's slots, it's always an
argument between which is more useful:  MAdvance and
MDodge.

Master's Stratagem is a _very_ useful card for
throughput, it goes in even my most Master-stuffed Connor
decks.

Other non-Situations of use to Connor include:

Alertness/Block - being able to see a Hidden attack isn't
enough, you have to be able to stop it.  Connor decks
often use Guards or Master's Block, but aren't often
Dodge-heavy, so Alertness:Block is usually more useful.

Ancestral Blade is a _must_ for Connor decks.  For Connor
to go toe-to-toe with Slan or the Kurgan, he needs
Ancestral Blade to help slow them down while he gets his
swordfighting strategy (Stance/Block, Collects, whatever)
into motion.

Feint/Edge card is such a threat with the Connor/Mountain
Cave combo that most opponents won't dare make Hidden
attacks against Connor.   While this leads to potential
strategies (see Ped/Hidden, above), a good Connor deck
should always have at least one Feint just for effect. 
An opponent sees one go by, and that's usually enough to
dissuade them from ever making a Hidden attack.

Focus and Patience are cards I put in pretty much every
deck, but Focus is especially important with the
Connor/Honor Bound deck.  I'll go into more detail on
this deck later.

Feint/Event is also useful, for attacking particular
locations.  More on that below as well.

Many of the swordfighting cards are useful to Connor, too
many to list here.  Exertion cards (like Challenge/ME)
are also useful, if Connor's using Collects or Master:
Sword Master.

Location Cards

Connor's Location of choice is almost always Mountain
Cave.  In the Cave, Connor can make Hidden attacks every
round, and his opponents (thanks to his ability to see
Hidden attacks, and the threat of a Feint) won't respond
in kind.  It's a Location that strongly caters to his
particular Persona ability, much like Battlefield or
Factory with Nefertiri.

Most of the other swordfighting Locations (Dead-End
Alley, Catwalk, et al) can be used in Connor decks. 
However, Mountain Cave is definitely the most useful,
because it penalizes his opponent without restricting him
at all.

As mentioned above, Mountain Cave can be used with two
other cards as part of a strategy.  Ped/Hidden is useful,
because it forces your opponent to make Hidden attacks
(if they're going to attack at all).  This works well
with the threat of a Feint Edge card, to keep them from
attacking.  Any turn in which you get to make a Hidden
attack and your opponent isn't going to attack back is a
turn you've succeeded.

How to Win

Master's Stance and Master's Block are a powerful combo
in a Connor deck.  Combined with Master's Lunge, it makes
for a powerful attack-oriented deck, and using Mountain
Cave makes it even nastier.  A Stance/Block deck I've had
success with follows:

Connor Toolbox:  52 cards, Connor Persona, 1 PgDarius
(HBnd), 4 TCGs. 
---------------------
12 Attacks:  one of each basic, +1 Thrust, 2 Master's
Lunge.
11 Defenses:  one of each basic, Upper Guard, 2 Duck, 2
Master's Block. 
3 Events:  Head Shot, Misfortune, Police/Remove.
14 Edges:  Feint, Alertness/Block, 6 Focus, 6 Patience. 
2 Objects:  Ancestral Blade, Improvised Weapon.
2 Locations:  2 Mountain Cave.
8 Situations:  Master's Stance, 2 Master's Stratagem, 3
Honor Bound, Ped/Hidden, Nexus.

Uses Mountain Cave, the threat of a Feint, Ped/Hidden,
Honor Bound to stop Specials, and Master's Stance, Block,
and Lunge.  Works fairly well, except against Katana.

Another common Connor deck is the Exertion deck.  There
are a number of variations on this, but here's the gist: 

Use Master: Sword Master and/or Collects to minimize the
number of cards lost in an Exertion.  

Use Avery Hoskins and/or Challenge/ME to force Exertions
on your opponent.

Use Power Blow and Head Shot along with zero-card
Exertions to do Power Blows every turn.  There is no
reason for Connor not to be Power Blowing whenever he
can.

Use Feint/Event to retrieve attacks for reuse.  This
gives you 24 Upper Attacks (ed. note:  30 if you use
Ripostes).  Plenty to wear down an opponent's upper
Defenses.

It's important to remember that Connor is an extremely
well-rounded swordfighting Persona.  Strategies can be
built around some of the Plots, around other card
combinations, or even around direct damage (though I've
never done a Connor direct damage deck).

How to Defeat

Connor decks often share the Kurgan's weakness (PotM #1)
for non-attack damage.  He has to rely on the same cards
as other Personas (Greenfield, Police) to stop direct
damage.  The only card of his own that he has is It's a
Kind of Magic, a promo Event which allows him to Exert to
prevent damage.

Connor has two Nemesis cards (or will, if the Tin Set is
ever released).  The first prevents him from playing any
Master cards:  while this does sting, it doesn't prevent
him from using Power Blows or Mountain Cave.  Nor does it
negate Master Situations already on the table.  The other
Nemesis removes his talent for spotting Hidden attacks,
_and_ makes all attacks against him Hidden.  This could
cause him a lot of trouble.

Connor decks often use Situations.  Both of the
strategies I laid out above use a _lot_ of Situations,
meaning both decks can be hurt by Police or by the
General.

Overall

I've always considered Connor to be my favorite immortal. 
His ability to disregard two of the common stumbling
blocks in attack decks makes him potent.  With Movie
Edition, Connor became one of the most, if not the most,
powerful immortal.

Direct damage decks seem to be the norm in tournament
play, however, and of those decks the General seems to be
the clear favorite.  When I played in the recent e-mail
tournament with the "Connor Toolbox" deck listed above,
there were five Katana decks out of fourteen decks.  When
I went out, there were five decks left . . . the other
four were all Katana.  Since Connor is at his best when
he's using any of a variety of swordfighting deck , I
don't see him winning a lot of tournaments any time soon.

In all, I give Connor a _8_.  I think he's a more
flexible swordsman than his competitors, and his inherent
abilities combine nicely with some very powerful
Persona-specific cards.  I would rate him higher, a 9 or
10, if not for the current situation in the game:  Katana
rules over the cheese decks, and with cards like Safe
Haven and Verona Italy, the cheese still rules the day.

What Our Other Raters Say:

Ben - Abstain

Jeff - Definitely more than just Duncan's older cousin,
Connor lends himself well to a denial-heavy (Renee
Delaney, Wargames West, Honor Bound) deck.  His gridded
cards are far and away the best of any persona (as it
should be), allowing him easy defense against all 9 grids
(Master's Dodges and Blocks), hidden attack-making dodges
(Ducks), Master's Attacks, and even a Special-less
Sedarius (Master's Block + Master's Lunge).  A fun, fun
guy with neat cards.

Rick - Abstain

Steve - As Hank notes, the best thing about Connor is he
ignores the rules, easing a player into the game.  If you
want to give a newbie a feel for the swordfighting aspect
of the game, give them a Connor deck.  Between learning
swordfighting and using _the_ Persona of the movies, this
should get them hooked.  It's a much better recruiting
technique then, say, giving them a Khan deck.  And it
will teach them more about the Swordmaster game then a
Xavier deck.

Alan - Connor is, of course, my favorite Persona to play
with (about 90% of my decks are Connor-based).  He has
probably the coolest swordfighting abilities, and some of
the best swordfighting cards available.  There's probably
no Persona that can stand toe-to-toe with him in a
swordfight and expect to come out with an easy victory
(if at all!)

Chip - Abstain

Jim - Connor is one of the best swordfighting personas. 
He is able to use the greatest number of Master cards and
he can always see Hidden attacks.  He rules the Mountain
Cave, and Feint/Edge is absolutely deadly in Connor's
hands.  He has a wide selection of attack cards at his
disposal and many will keep his opponent dodging or using
Alertness/Block.  Master (3 card exertions) and Master's
Advance are two of the better cards to use with Connor. 
Since Connor can attack to the same place he just
blocked, Guards are extremely useful in a Connor deck.

Ratings Overall:

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

Average:      8.00

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.