SITUATION: While this card is in play, instead of taking damage from attacks, for each point of damage dealt,
players must take 1 card from the top of their Endurance and place it in their discard pile. This only applies to
damage from attacks.
Bystander is perhaps not an ideal emergency card. They're are certainly better cards out there to avoid
attack damage, ranging from Dr. Sonny Jackson to Holy Ground to Alertness/Block. However, Bystander can delay
you from reaching 0 Ability from swordfighting decks almost indefinitely.
Look at it this way: your Slan opponent just played that Thrust/Power Blow, and topped it with Amanda's Seduce.
He's got a couple of Carls in play, and because of that Twist of Fate he played last turn, you're all out of
those Edge cards you were saving. Which would you rather do: lose five cards, or have your ability reduced by
Granted, any or all of those five cards may have been cards that you needed. But sometimes you have to decide
whether you want to have your Ability reduced by five, or have five less cards this time through your Endurance.
Depending on what you put in your deck, what's in your hand, and what you may already have gone past, you could
decide either way.
That's the general strength of Bystander. What are its weaknesses?
Well, first of all, if it's down, it's _down_. If you were planning on pulling that Power Blow/Seduce stunt
next turn, your opponent is going to get the same benefit. It affects both players equally. If you want
to start doing actual damage instead of causing card loss, you're going to have to get rid of it. The current
Focus won't help - you'll take damage instead of card loss on _your_ turn. So you're going to have to waste a
Situation-remover like Police to get rid of it.
Secondly, Bystander only works on attack damage. Your opponent can play as many Angry Mobs and Alliances as he
wants, and your Ability is going to drop. Of course, that suggests a particular strategy with Bystander, one
we'll talk about a little later.
Bystander only prevents _damage_ from attacks. A Head Shot doesn't do damage - it merely ends the game quickly
And finally, Bystander is vulnerable to those things that affect Pedestrians & Bystanders: Rooftop, Kurgan's
Scare, and Katana's Run-Away Train. A Rooftop can keep unplayable Bystanders locked in your hand unless you can
either remove Rooftop or discard the Bystanders.
So what can you do with Bystander? Well, as an emergency card it is so-so. It can interfere with your own attack
strategies, and it doesn't work on direct damage. It is good for voiding multi-attack cards like Bloodlust:
better to lose twelve cards than be hit by the Kurgan six times. You can survive losing twelve cards: losing
twelve ability is pretty much game over.
So if you know you're likely to come up against such cards, Bystander is a good choice. That leaves specific
strategies to use with it.
Amnesia, an often overlooked rare card, works well with Bystander. Hit them, make them go past a card, then play
Amnesia and remove it from the game. When they reshuffle, that Alliance or Taunt won't be there the
second time around.
Since Bystander causes cards to be lost, it is a good card to use in conjunction with Dirty Trick: Pummel or
Improvised Weapon/Attack. Add Desert for good measure, and your opponent could be going past a lot of cards.
The Counterfeit plot can add even more on to this, although Desert may make it difficult for you to complete
this plot unless you're Xavier or Kalas.
Of course, every time you're hit you will lose cards as well. Who is the persona who has less to fear from going
through his Endurance than anyone else? Khan, of course. So a Khan deck using all of the above can do quite well.
A Xavier or Kalas deck using a Khan Quickening and/or Second Wind can also be successful. Xavier's Stalk can
cause another two-card loss, and Kalas' Stalk still works perfectly well for doing a near-unstoppable Head Shot.
The other predominant strategy with Bystander is to combine it with a direct damage deck. As long as you
have one or more Bystanders in play, you will _never_ take damage from those Slan or Kurgan Power Blows, or by
a successful Taunt. Of course, you do not want to stand there and be hit. You should still use your Dodges and
Back Aways and Holy Grounds.
However, every round that you toss down a Kirk Matunas or Alliance or Toadies, your opponent is having his Ability
reduced. The few hits that slip through your defenses may cost you some cards. However, there's more where
they came from.
This strategy works best with Katana, who can Exert to remove that bothersome Greenfield Hobby, or Xavier, who
can Forethought the Police/Counter Damage and Plan Ahead the Greenfield Hobby cards as quick as they hit the
table. Both of these Personas also have additional direct damage cards (Toadies for Katana, Alliance for
If that strategy is the antithesis of swordfighting, with a heavy emphasis on Specials and no attack use, then the
next strategy is the exact opposite. Play a couple of Bystanders. Then play Honor Bound. Use Focus to play
another Honor Bound. Use a pre-game Darius to add a third Honor Bound, and use Focus to play that as well.
How do you remove Honor Bound? Do damage to your opponent. How do you do damage? Either play Specials,
or hit them and do damage with an attack.
Honor Bound won't let them play Specials. And attacks won't do damage as long as Bystander is in play. So
unless they can play several Focus cards on one turn _and_ do damage to you, all they can do is try to hit you
and run you out of cards.
The disadvantage is that the same applies to you. Use additional Focus to play Specials if you need to, or
Focus out your Honor Bounds when it looks like you will take damage. Build the rest of your deck accordingly.
Have very few other Specials, use Dirty Trick/Pummel & Kick plus Improvised Weapon/Attack. If you use Slan or
the Kurgan, Power Blow a lot. Other Personas can adopt their individual cards and powers to this strategy in
In conclusion, Bystander is a so-so emergency card: sometimes useful depending on if you know who your
opponent is. It's not a widely useful card. But it lends itself to enough powerful individual strategies
that Steve's rating for it is a _4_.
What Our Other Raters Say:
Ben - This card only rates a 4 in general use, but it rates higher (7 or 8) in a couple of specific
circumstances. First, in an Avery Hoskins-type deck. This type of deck tries to shut down cheese and force such
opponents to Exert and lose cards. Against a well-prepared swordfighting deck, however, this strategy
can break down. Bystander will help.
The second, and more useful situation for this card is in sealed deck. In such an environment, where Police are at
a premium, this card can stay on the table a LONG time. I've seen this card used to great effect if you can get
even a 1-point Ability lead on your opponent, then slap this out and blithely exhaust away until time is called.
Cheesy, yes. But worth an 8 or 9 rating!
Jeff - Beautiful for tower decks or as the poor man's Safe Haven/Verona, Italy, but only in big decks and/or
Rick - Its a good card to have when facing 'Massive Damage' decks but you'll need to build a bigger deck to
weather the storm. It's also a great card to keep the other guy alive at low Ability while you try to get that
successful Head Shot through.
Hank - Useful if you do event damage and you don't want to get hit, or if your deck is built around causing
Alan - This card doesn't have much place in a swordfighting deck, since it tends to be contrary to the
idea of making successful attacks: whittling your opponent's Ability down, then taking his head. And if
you depend largely upon direct damage to whittle your opponent down, then you don't tend to have many attacks
in your deck; therefore this card would be useless to you there. However, if your goal is to annoy the heck out of
your opponent, then this is definitely a card to play.
Jim - [Abstain]