Duncan MacLeod - by James Duncan
You may attack areas you just blocked. If you make a
Power Blow, your opponent's next attack is not Hidden.
You may have up to six Master cards. (errata'd text)
Game mechanics first. Although it is often misunderstood
due to faulty wording, Duncan's opponents _can_ make
Hidden attacks the turn after he makes a power blow.
They simply don't get a "free" Hidden attack due to his
Note the errata'd text. Duncan (and any other Persona)
can attack to areas that they just dodged, assuming that
the text of the particular dodge card does not restrict
Strategically, Duncan is a jack of all trades when it
comes to sword fighting. Unfortunately, despite his six
Master cards, he is master of none. One of the most
acrobatic Immortals, Duncan has more dodges available to
him than any current Persona except Amanda. Once
Watcher's Chronicles is out, he will be the only Persona
with both Jump and Duck. Duncan has a decent set of
Persona-specific Master's Cards: Master's Advice,
Master's Attack, Master's Dodge, and Master's Block
(added in Watcher's Chronicles). He has all the
"standard" Persona-specific cards: Continuity,
Combination, Dodge, Back Away, Extra Shot, and Trip. He
also has better Exertion control than most Personas due
to Inspiration and Flashback.
Duncan has the usual swordfighting-oriented cards --
Combination, Extra Shot, and Trip. His more unique cards
are those that center around Exertions: Inspiration and
Flashback. Duncan rarely is unable to find the proper
defense due to his ability to make extra Exertions and
extend Exertions. I prefer Extra Shot to Combination
since it will cause your opponent to make an Exertion if
they need to play a new defense. Use Jump or Duck in
conjunction with Extra Shot and play a Hidden as the
first attack to make life more difficult for your
opponent. Using Dodge and Extra Shot together you can
still make one attack while defending all attack areas.
Trip is useful for removing your opponent's Standing
Defenses while retaining your own, while gaining a Hidden
Also, Duck and Jump give Duncan a Hidden attack _without_
having to play a Special. Use cards like Power Blow and
Head Shot to make those Hidden attacks power blows. Or
Exert and play another Special like Challenge/SE to give
your Hidden power blows a real kick. Enhance with Lunge
(from Watcher's Chronicles) for greater effect.
Flashback gives Duncan the ability to make an extra three
card Exertion. This can be used to allow Duncan the
ability to make a Power Blow and a Power Block on the
same turn. Power Blow works well for Duncan as he faces
no return Hidden attack. Duncan is one of the few
Immortals who can make good use of Battle Rage, due to
his Flashback and the Scotland the Brave promo card.
Flashback can also be used extend searches for attacks or
defenses. Duncan is rarely caught without the proper
attack or defense when he has Flashbacks in play.
Inspiration is not as powerful as Flashback. However, it
does allow an extra Exertion at the expense of using your
special slot. Use Inspiration as a supplement to
Flashback, not an alternative.
Slash is one of Duncan's better Immortal-specific cards,
since he is attack-oriented and it doesn't use a Master
slot. Master's Attack is a good card but it can't be
played from an Exertion and most Duncan decks tend to
Exert frequently. Master's Block is an excellent card
which should be included in any Duncan deck. Master's
Dodge is a good card but since it uses an Master slot, it
is rather costly. I prefer not using Master's Dodge and
instead loading up on Jump and Duck, even though Master's
Dodge is a more powerful card.
The best generic cards for Duncan are ones which promote
swordfighting and which enhance Exertion control. Master
(3-card Exertions) and Collect are good Exertion-control
cards. Master's Stratagem is excellent for helping to
cycle Duncan's large deck. Master's Advance is useful
for draining his opponent of dodges.
In fact, with six Master slots, Duncan's hardest decision
is often which Masters to take.
Avery Hoskins is a good friend to Duncan decks. Avery
can force your opponent with a slim deck to Exert past
their best cards. Renee Delaney is a useful foil against
Special-heavy decks. Scotland the Brave (StB) and
Berkeley are the best promos for Duncan. StB is great
for Battle Rage decks that are heavy on attacks and
relatively light on Specials. Berkeley works well if you
use a lot of Specials. Dr. Alan Neyman is good for
stacking your attacks up before doing your exertions.
Many of the generic attacks work well with Duncan.
Spinning Attack is a nice card to combine with Jump and
Duck. Riposte is a nice card to use also. Dirty Tricks
should be included in any Duncan deck. I prefer using
either Pummel to promote Endurance burn, or Shove to keep
my opponent from attacking and take down his Standing
Defenses. Kick can be useful, but I would not use it
exclusively. I would use Kick in conjunction with one of
the other two Dirty Tricks.
If you are using Exertion-minimization tactics, Stunning
Blow may even be a good bet. Use it after a Hidden
attack (due to Duck, Jump, or Master's Block) and use
Challenge/SE to keep them from dodging or Ducking. If
they don't' have an Upper Center Block or Upper Guard,
you might actually tag them.
Also, don't forget Head Shot. There's a reason Duncan
takes a lot of heads in the series. Head Shot gives him
six more Exertion-free Power Blows, with no penalty for
Ruins is Duncan's Location of choice. This may seem odd
since Duncan can attack to any area just blocked which
would imply he should use lots of Guards. A Guard-heavy
strategy leaves Duncan vulnerable to Connor and Power
Blows, and doesn't take into account Duncan's superior
agility. Why bother with Power Blocks when you can
simply avoid the attack altogether. Duncan can also
build a deck around Dead End Alley. He can get full use
of Guards and he has plenty of dodges to use other than
the prohibited Back Away. Desert is a good choice for
use in Duncan tower decks as it helps run through your
opponent's deck. Even Nefertiri is vulnerable to the
effects of Desert.
Battlefield can be useful as a way to drain off your
opponents defenses. Another possibility is to build a
disarm deck and use Parking Garage. Rooftop is also a
good location to use as an anti-Pedestrian tool, though I
wouldn't recommend building a deck around this location.
So which Locations should Duncan avoid? Mountain Cave,
Factory, and Catwalk are Locations which cause problems
for Duncan. Never use Mountain Cave if playing against
Connor as that is Connor's personal killing field. Stay
clear of the Catwalk against Slan, Kurgan, and Kalas. It
also strips you of your most powerful defense: your many
Factory is of little use if facing Nefertiri. However,
at least you will probably have built your deck with
Patience and Reconnaissance to ignore Factory, so you
won't be harmed by it. In fact, include Reconnaissance
to allow you to bypass Locations that cause problems for
Duncan until he can get his own beneficial Locations into
For Duncan tower decks I'd go with multiple locations. I
like using a Ruins/Desert or Dead End Alley/Desert mix
for tower decks. A couple of Rooftops can be added to
kill off the Pedestrians and such that are used in lock
How to Win
The key to a winning Duncan deck is the Power Blow. You
want to Power Blow early and often since Duncan doesn't
face a Hidden attack due to making a Power Blow. Duncan
should also make his attacks Hidden when possible - he
certainly has enough ways to do so. This is particularly
true when pulling of a Scotland the Brave/Battle Rage
combo. Five Hidden power blows can cause havoc to any
Persona, even Slan. Master's Block, which is normally
the bane of Battle Rage, offers only partial relief from
the StB/BR combo. And don't forget Head Shot and
Duncan's own Power Blow card if you don't like Exerting.
Use Jump and Duck to avoid attacks and make Hidden
attacks. Use Master's Advance to make dodges costly for
your opponent. Use Greenfield to handle direct damage
and Renee Delaney to deny your opponent her Specials.
Upper Hand and Amnesia can be used to get rid of your
opponent's most powerful cards. Don't overlook TSC
Troopers' ability to remove Locations from the game.
Avery is Duncan's best friend among the Ally cards.
Decks built around Exertions should always include Avery.
Master and Collect can be used to reduce Exertions to
more manageable levels. You need to remember to keep
your attack ratio at at least one third: more if you use
cards like Battle Rage, Extra Shot, and Combination.
Defenses should comprise roughly another third and
Specials and Edges should comprise the final third.
For Duncan, don't be afraid of building the dreaded tower
deck. Just make sure you make your opponent Exert and
run him through his deck to exhaustion as quickly as
possible. Build your deck around a few key Specials and
load up on them. Design the deck around one or two
Locations which promote your strategy. If need be, add
Maurice to get at those critical cards.
How to Defeat
Like most pure swordfighters, Duncan is vulnerable to
cheese. Avoid his attacks and hit him with direct
damage and Ability Loss. Never stand and fight unless
you've no alternative. Use anti-attack cards and avoid
attacking. This will cause Duncan's hand to become
clogged and force him to Exert for defenses. For attack
decks that face Duncan, use unblockable and undodgeable
attacks whenever possible. Play cards which keep Duncan
from dodging. Challenge/SE and Catwalk are two of the
better choices. Make hidden Power Blows. Duncan doesn't
cause a Hidden attack by making a Power Blow. However,
unlike Connor he doesn't get to see all Hidden attacks.
So use cards like Trip or attacks such as Riposte. Keep
Duncan Exerting while avoiding making Exertions and he'll
Duncan is a middle of the road Immortal. He is a strong
swordfighter but he requires Exertions to be successful.
He's very vulnerable to anti-attack decks that do direct
damage. He also loses out to the speed lock decks.
Duncan is good to build an attack decks but many of the
other Immortals offer easier paths to victory. I rate
Duncan a 6.
What Our Other Raters Say:
Ben - Abstain
Rick - Duncan was strong when Series Edition came out.
He was overshadowed by the other Personas from the Movie
Edition and the benefits the other SE personas gained
from the Movie Edition. Right now he is a watered down
Connor. However, with Watcher's Chronicles, he should
move up the ladder a little more. He makes for good
casual play decks.
Hank - Although I like Duncan in the TV series, and I
think they've successfully made him his "own man", in the
card game he's still a cheap imitation of Connor. He
does little that Connor can't do better, and every time
I've tried to build a deck around him I've ended up
turning it into a Connor deck. Although he may
eventually get cards that make him his "own man", for now
he's a shadow.
Steve - With the pending release of Watcher's Chronicles,
Duncan is perhaps the best swordfighter in the game.
Duck and Slash make him truly formidable. It's amazing
what a difference a mere two cards make. Renaissance-
style tends to show Duncan as the power he truly is. I
rate him just a point lower than Connor (PotM #2). It's
a lot easier for Duncan to add Alertness/Hidden to cover
his "weakness" against Hidden attacks, than it is for
other Personas to get Jump _and_ Duck, Slash, and
Alan - Duncan is a much-overlooked persona, perhaps due
to the fact that, ability-wise, he is really a weaker
version of Connor. But Duncan's true strength lies in
his own cards, as well as certain generic cards.
Specifically, those cards that allow him to make
extra/extended Exertions. The best Duncan decks tend to
be so-called "Tower Exert-like-a-crazed-wolverine decks",
with the Exertions made for Power Blows. Mix Scotland
the Brave with Battle Rage, and your opponent can be in
real trouble. A deck I have had limited success with is
a small, tight deck (approximately 60 cards) with Battle
Rage, Scotland the Brave, and lots'o'attacks. Give it a
Jeff - "Why play Duncan if you can play Connor?" is the
question that's been asked since ME came out.
Essentially, you lose a Master slot, the lion's share of
the "see hidden attacks" ability, and the Master's
Block/Lunge combo. In return you get what? A couple of
extra Slashes? A weaker Master's Block?
A Jump? A only-slightly-better Flashback? Inspiration?
Feh. Until/unless TV3 sees the light of day, stick with
Connor unless you _like- to make lots of exertions.
Wayne - What else can be said about Duncan other than he
is WEAK. With the cards that Connor has available, I
would think that most people would play Connor over
Duncan since their abilities are so similar. I've been
looking for his positives but since I really can't find
anything significant I won't continue to ramble.
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.