HIGHLANDER Card of The Week #17
                             Week of 10 March 1996
              Copyright 1996, Jeff Barnes (barnejd@wkuvx1.wku.edu)

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AVERY HOSKINS

Situation

"As long as Avery Hoskins stays in play, each player must make an Exertion
 every turn."
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Chicago, February 1996

	It is a moment of pure ecstasy.

	I speak not of the Quickening, but of those instants before any head
is taken.  I speak of the fierce battle rage that springs up in an immortal
as the fight continues, binding him to his foe, making him unable to run,
unable to turn away from the battle, filled with an unholy joy.

	And so it is that many an immortal has died with a smile on his face.

	It is an odd feeling, one that perhaps no mortal can understand.
It can transform even the most peaceful of us into a bloodlusting killer.
And it does not come in every battle; many times, the Quickening never builds
to the fever pitch needed to sustain the rage in both opponents.  At times
it can even dissipate, often because of a great shock to one of the 
combatants.  That it exists, however, cannot be disputed.

	I, myself, have only experienced it thrice.  Twice, when I fought 
Taylor, once when I faced... another.  But that encounter is a tale for 
another time.

	How shall I describe the feeling to you?  The blood rushes through 
your veins, adrenaline flows, you feel consumed by it, as though you were a
force of nature and not an individual at all.  It is pure and unbridled joy, 
as I have said, not the agony/ecstasy of a foe's Quickening.  There is no
pain, no sensation save that of the fire and the void.

	Both of the immortals are engulfed by the primal sensation, 
consumed by it, swallowed whole.  Senses become incredibly keen.  Strength 
doubles or even triples.  The immortal so affected gives no thought to 
exhausting himself, only to the destruction of his foe at any cost.  There 
is little finesse or subtlety to anyone in the throes of such a rage.

	In that instant, we know what we truly are... and can become...

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	Avery Hoskins is one of the more overlooked rares from the Limited
Edition, in large part because it seems to be as much of a hindrance to you
as to your foe.  Having to exert means that you will burn at least four 
cards per turn.  Surely there could be no advantage in that?

	And that is where creativity comes into play.  The majority of 
tournament-caliber decks being built today are only 50-60 cards.  
Successfully getting out and keeping out an Avery Hoskins when you have a 
larger deck can do a great amount of damage to just such a deck, causing
them not only to lose cards that would be valuable to them (such as Darius
or the other card in a such a combination), but also draws them that much 
closer to exhausting their endurance and suffering a five point loss in 
ability.

	The obvious card to play in combination with an Avery Hoskins is the
generic Master.  It slows the advancement through your deck even further,
while your opponent continues losing 4-5 cards per turn.  In addition, other
card that affect the size of an exertion (such as Tessa from the Limited 
Edition, Heather from the Movie Edition, or the Collect promo card) can 
prove useful if using the forced exertion to draw an attack or a defense.  
Finally, also using Wargames West helps to lock down the foe's deck in
just such a situation.

	Obviously, not all immortals would profit from using such a 
strategy.  Slan and Amanda in particular would suffer while gaining little
or nothing.  A slim Richie or Xavier deck would find no benefit in an Avery
Hoskins, either, though larger variants of those decks might find some use
of it (though the larger deck size would definitely decrease the usefulness
of their special abilities).  Nefertiri, while perhaps not harmed as much
as the others, would lose the ability to play a Holy Ground (Holy Ground must
be played during the defense phase; however, it would end the defense phase
as well as the turn, and thus cannot be played before the exertion -- which
ends the attack phase).

	This leaves Connor, Duncan, and the much-maligned Luther as potential
users of Avery Hoskins.  Due to the large deck sizes usually associated with
these three immortals, Avery Hoskins would be ideal for their use -- 
particularly if six Avery Hoskins are put in a deck, thus maximizing the 
chance of drawing one initially.  Duncan and Connor can profit from using 
the exertion to make power blows while not suffering from having hidden 
attacks being made in return, or they can use the exertion to make power 
blocks when neccessary, in addition to exerting for an attack or defense.  
Luther may use his exertion to make a power blow, but he will suffer from 
the opponent having a hidden attack the next turn; however, he does have the
advantage of exerting for a block and still taking no damage from a power
blow.

	In short, using multiple Avery Hoskins can go a long way toward 
balancing the inequity between small, special-based decks and larger 
swordplay-based ones.

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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.
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