Fasil - by Steve Crow

If you successfully block an attack, your next attack
that turn may be Hidden.  You may have up to 5 Master
cards.

[Text based on pre-release material forwarded by TCG.]

Overview

Here are the first of our reviews of The Gathering
Personas.  As such, the question is, how do they stack up
to the pre-existing Personas?

Fasil is beyond a doubt the most formidable swordfighter
of this expansion.  Pound for pound, he can probably
match all but the most formidable of swordfighters
(Connor, Slan, "new" Duncan).

His Persona ability is fairly straightforward.  He cannot
attack to an area he just blocked, unless using cards
that specifically permit this (Parry, the Duncan "attack
to any area" Quickening).

Unlike Riposte, which specifies if the last defense you
played a block (whether successful or not), Fasil must
have simply played at least one block.  It needn't be the
last defense he played, but it must have been successful. 
Even if Fasil can make multiple attacks, only the first
one can be made Hidden because of his Persona ability. 
Of course, he can make later attacks that turn hidden by
using Riposte as appropriate.

Persona-Specific Cards

Fasil has the standard Back Away, Continuity, and Power
Blow.  His version of Left and Right Side Step is the
same as Amanda's.  His Duck is dissimilar from both the
Connor/Duncan/Nakano version (can't go to an upper area)
and Annie's (the attack is Hidden).

Fasil has one Signature card:  Fleche.  This Edge allows
him to attack normally after playing Back Away, Side
Step, or Duck.  Unlike Superior Tactics/Methos or Duncan,
it does not allow him to ignore the text on the card. 
Thus, he can attack normally after playing Back Away. 
However, Back Away will fail to work against Ranged
Attacks and thus be illegal to play against them.

Fasil has four Reserved cards.  The simplest is Stalk. 
It is Restricted to 2, unlike Xavier's.  Otherwise, it is
very similar.  It requires a Location in play to be
unblockable.  However, typically this isn't much of a
problem.

Master's Lunge is identical to Connor's version.

Backflip, Restricted to 4, is a dodge version of Connor's
Master's Block.  It can be used with Master's Lunge as
appropriate, or mixed with Lunge.  The downside is that
as a dodge, it is a bit more vulnerable to cards like
Challenge/SE and Kiss Your Butts Goodbye, can't be used
against a Lunged attack, etc.

Fasil's last Reserved card is Master's Disarm.  We'll
talk a bit more about this under How to Win.  The thing
to be careful about here is that Master's Disarm is _not_
Disarm - the card.  Cards such as Circular Block, which
specifically enhance _a Disarm_, are referring to the
card of that title, not the action of disarming.  Cards
that refer to the act of Disarming, such as Forged Steel
(which states, "...if you successfully Disarm your
opponent...") _will_ enhance Master's Disarm.

The die roll allowed by Master's Disarm may also be
enhanced in the normal fashion (Iron Will, Practice
Practice).

Generic Cards

The limitation on Fasil's ability is that if he uses it,
you've got a good idea where the attack is coming.  If he
plays a LRB, you know those four areas are _not_ where
the Hidden attack is coming from.

The solution:  use Parry.  Play this, and you deprive
your opponent of what can often be a vital clue in
defending against your Hidden attack.

Fasil's ability in no way makes him immune to Hidden
attacks:  use Alertness/Hidden as necessary.  Fasil may
also wish to use both of the other Alertness cards, since
he gains benefits from both blocking and dodging.

Like Amanda, Spinning Attack is useful after a Backflip
or a Side Step.  Unlike Amanda, Fasil four damage with it
(two against a normal block).

Lunge is always good when used in conjunction with
Fasil's Hidden counter-attack, or Backflip.

Oddly, I found Courage/Attack (CotW #5) sometimes useful
with Fasil.  An opponent reluctant to attack (see How to
Win below) means that Fasil may expend his attacks fairly
quickly.  If he has to Exert for attacks, at least he can
use this Courage to hold on to one for his next turn.

As noted above, Iron Will and Practice Practice are good
when used with Master's Disarm.

Fasil is meant for swordfighting.  Use cards like
Discipline/Attack and Trenchcoat to make sure your
opponent doesn't stop you from swinging your blade.

Snake Bar, like Lighthouse (see Locations below) can
inhibit an opponent's defensive response, particularly if
you blocked and made a Hidden attack.  Still, it is
dependent on that opponent attacking.

Master's Advance can burn them through dodges.  This is
useful both if Fasil is making lots of Hidden attacks, or
if he has disarmed his opponent.

Advance Warning recovers those Backflips.  'nuff said.

If Fasil goes with a disarm strategy, Watcher/Counter
will deal with Watcher/Fair Fight.  Misfortune will deal
with Extra Weapon.

As we will see, Fasil can do well without a heavy
reliance on Specials.  Renee Delaney, Wargames West, and
Honor Bound are all good choices if you pursue this
strategy (see How to Win).

You have a somewhat better chance of hitting with a basic
attack (Parry/Hidden, Backflip/Lunge).  Hideo Koto can
help you here, adding to your damage.  Due to an attack-
reluctant opponent, Louise Marcus might prove of some use
to you.

Ripostes are pretty much useless to Fasil, unless he can
find a non-Persona related way to make multiple attacks
(The Prize/Extra Attack, Master Race).  So are Flurry
Strikes.  Slashes can be tricky to play, particularly the
vertical one.  The left/right column Slashes from The
Gathering may prove useful in conjunction with your Side
Steps.  Still, Fasil is better off using regular, two-
point attacks.  Since you'll need Fleche to play your
Slashes with complete freedom, the three-card combo
necessary typically isn't worth the one point of damage
you might achieve.

Spinning Attacks can actually prove useful, particularly
if Fasil uses the Upper ones after a Side Step.

Fasil's weakness is that he has no Persona-specific means
to deal with anything _other_ than attacking.  Typical
generic cards like Police (both types), Simple Mind,
Greenfield Hobby, and Holy Ground/Retreat are still going
to be needed to deal with things like direct damage and
Situations.

Location Cards

Rooftop has been rendered somewhat redundant with the
introduction of Trenchcoat:  an Object that does
essentially the same thing but better (it targets
Reporters as well).  Multiple objects are now also less
prone to removal with the errata'd Thief.  Until The
Gathering release, though, Rooftop was probably Fasil's
best way to make sure he could attack.

As a dodge-heavy opponent, Dead End Alley (CotW #51) can
be useful.  Fasil can lock down an opponent, particularly
a low-dodge Immortal like Kane, Corda and Reno, the
Kurgan, Slan, Kern, and Kalas.  This is useful whether he
makes Hidden attacks or disarms.

By the same token, Catwalk is not a good choice for
Fasil.  Lighthouse may also not be because of its anti-
dodge effect.  Still, since Fasil typically only makes
one attack a turn, and it has a higher chance of being
successful, it might be worth the risk.

Laundry Room, used in conjunction with Lunge, can assure
an opponent can't do much against Fasil's Hidden attacks. 
Still, both Lighthouse and Laundry Room rely on an
opponent attacking:  something they may not particularly
want to do.

Since Guards give your opponent a better chance of
defending against your Hidden attacks, Ruins can prove
useful.  It means Fasil will have to give up using
Continuity himself, but Conjure, Alex Johnson, and
Ancestral Blade usually assure that he can handle Power
Blows as necessary.

Spiritual Center can make sure that Fasil can handle
Event damage and use his Specials for something else, if
at all.

Watcher Regional HQ, Mental Ward, and Desert can be of
use under the right circumstances, but typically aren't
strong choices for Fasil.  Neither is Mountain Cave,
since he can make Hidden attacks easily enough without
it.

What is _the_ strongest choice, Location-wise, for Fasil? 
Appropriately enough, Parking Garage.  If Fasil can
disarm an opponent, they're stuck.  If they play a new
Location, they still don't get a rearm roll that turn. 
Reconnaissance will give them a one-turn chance to rearm.

How to Win

As noted above, Fasil's strength is in swordfighting. 
All of his Persona-specific cards are aimed that way.  He
has nothing Persona-specific that removes Situations, or
avoids Event damage, or heals.  He attacks.  A lot.

Cards that stop Fasil from attacking are going to be a
problem for him.  Trenchcoat and Discipline are vital
here.

After that determination, it's just a question of which
attack strategy you want to use.

Fasil is the Disarm King, and his title is unlikely to be
taken from him.  Master's Disarm, Iron Will, and regular
Disarms are used with this strategy.  Use Forged Steel to
break their weapon, and Parking Garage as the Location of
choice.  Keep Misfortune and Watcher/Counter on hand,
then Lunge/Head Shot and Master's Lunge away.

If you're really confident, use Conjure to grab Forged
Steel faster, and use Dead End Alley or even Catwalk to
prevent them from dodging.  Who cares if Fasil can only
Back Away on the Catwalk, if his opponent can't attack? 
Using Catwalk, he'll limited high-dodge types like Amanda
and Duncan, and can use Lunge to pin down anyone using
Back Away.

Another strength of Fasil is the fact that he does so
much without Specials.  He can make Hidden attacks and
Power Blows (due to his Persona ability and Duck, and
Spinning Attack, respectively) without using Specials. 
He can make a two-point unblockable/undodgeable Stalk
attack without playing a Special:  all he needs is to get
down one Location, or have his opponent do so.  He can
Backflip and make an unblockable attack, making it
nearly-undodgeable as well thanks to Lunge.

All Fasil need do is slap down a Honor Bound and/or
Wargames West, and play the game out sans Specials.  If
he uses Focus, he can play the Specials such as
Watcher/Treatment and Holy Ground at those key moments as
necessary.

Another thing to remember is that an opponent probably
won't _want_ to attack you.  You can't Backflip, or get a
Hidden attack via your Persona ability, or play Spinning
Attack if they don't attack.  Fasil can probably afford
to go a little light on defenses.  Beware of hand jam,
however, as those non-attacks pile up in your hand.  Use
card cycling as necessary.

Or just rely on your horde of unblockable/undodgeable
attacks.  Backflip and Master's Lunge.  Stalk.  Backflip
and regular Lunge.  Twist of Fate can be used to deprive
them of those Alertness cards if they're not Nefertiri or
using her Quickening(s).

A likely way you can lose is if you come up against
direct damage Event decks.  Greenfield Hobby and
Police/Counter Damage will help here.

Essentially, Fasil is a good basic Persona for building
practically any swordfighting deck you want.

How to Defeat

Alertness.  Maybe that's not it entirely, but it's a good
start.  Alertness/Block against Backflip attacks. 
Alertness/Hidden against Fasil's Hidden attacks.

The problem is, until you have these cards in your hand,
you may be reluctant to attack.  See above for the fact
that no matter how you attack Fasil, he can probably deal
with it and throw something even worse back.  This means
you may give up initiative to Fasil, who will attack with
impunity.  If he can make a Power Blow/Spinning Attack
secure in the knowledge he can deal with your Hidden
counter-attack, and use it to trigger something of his
that's even worse, he's got the edge he needs.

So if you do attack, make every attack count.  Power
Blows, with the usual measures for dealing with Power
Blocking measures, can let you maintain the initiative. 
Multiple attacks are also useful.  Typical anti-dodge
measures will keep Fasil from bringing Backflip into
play.

Intimidate (the Slan/Luther version, or Katana's) and
Maniacal Laugh/Corda and Reno can prove helpful here. 
Fasil's use of Trenchcoat will tend to hurt Pedestrian-
type attack-prevention measures, though.

If it wasn't necessary before the release of The
Gathering, it is now.  Put re-arm cards (Watcher/Fair
Fight, Extra Weapon) in every deck you use!  I can't
emphasize this enough.  Even then, Fasil may be able to
deal with them via Misfortune and/or Watcher/Counter.

Typically, a strong attack deck, with rearming methods
and a way to deal with unblockable/undodgeable attacks
while attacking back, can hold its own with Fasil.  The
problem is, it may be useless against other decks that
don't rely on attacking.

Which brings us to the other way to beat Fasil:  cheese. 
He's got nothing except the pool of generic cards to draw
on for defense here.  Pile it on, and hope you can take
him down.

Lock/stall/healing decks will have trouble stopping Fasil
from attacking.  A Fitzcairn deck can probably pull it
off.  Fasil may use Simple Mind to remove the large
number of Situations (Collect, Master/+1, Safe Haven)
such decks rely upon, however, so be careful.  Fasil
doesn't necessarily need a lot of Situations.

And finally, there's Fit of Depression, Fasil's Nemesis. 
It does require that you attack to keep Fasil from
attacking.  It's also not all that crippling, given that
Fasil can still dodge and attack.  Still, a Lunge-based
or other anti-dodge strategy, used in conjunction with
his Nemesis, means that you can pin him down and keep him
from attacking.  At the very least, it will keep Fasil
from using his Persona ability.

Overall

Overall, Steve gives Fasil a _8_.  I'm a sucker for
swordfighting (that's why I started playing the
"Swordmaster" game), and Fasil swings a blade nearly as
well as the pre-Gathering heavy-hitters like Connor,
Slan, and "new" Duncan.  His collection of "sneaky stuff"
attacks aren't as good as Connor's Master's Block/Head
Shot/Lunge combo, but cumulatively, it adds up and seems
a bit "fairer" than a single unblockable/undodgeable Head
Shot.  With the introduction of stuff like Trenchcoat and
Discipline/Attack in The Gathering, and better ways to
deal with Situation-removal (Bedsoe, Precinct),
swordfighting will be coming back into vogue, and Fasil
will be there to ride the wave.

What Our Other Raters Say:

Jim - Abstain

Hank - Fasil is my favorite of the ME2 Personas.  He
makes a great Persona for Disarm strategies, works well
with most of Amanda's strategies (given his scads of
Dodges), and pretty fun to play without being unbalanced. 
Not a powerhouse, but fun to play.

Alan - Fasil is, perhaps, the best swordfighting Persona,
next to Connor.  While at first his Persona Ability and
plethora of dodges still allowing him to attack may seem
contradictory, they are really complementary, in that he
has a wider range of options open to him.  If Fasil's
opponent is able to counter his Ability (Connor, Connor
Q, Alertness/Hidden, etc.), then he can fall back on his
dodges, which generally give him added benefits.  Another
reason I like him is due to his Master's Disarm; it is
the best one available (it doesn't require that you take
damage, nor does it require that you be Disarmed
yourself), and makes him the best Persona to use if you
wish to run a Disarm deck.

Jeff - Fasil is the one reason why any deck with decent
cycling should have multiple Alertness.  With the
equivalent of four Connor Master's Blocks (except they're
dodges, not blocks), two Connor Master's Lunges, and two
Xavier Stalks... plus oodles of dodges _and_ a Persona
ability that works well with blocks . . . well, Fasil is
a combat master.  On the downside, Lunge hurts him pretty
badly, but that's where his cool inherent ability comes
in handy.  All in all, my choice for favorite persona
from The Gathering.

Wayne - Abstain

Prodipto - Fasil is a tremendously potent Persona.  He
has a variety of Dodges (nearly as many as Amanda), and
he has a power which is activated by blocking.  While his
inherent ability is useless against Connor (or Connor's
Q), he is still very versatile.  He can be used for an
attack strategy, lock, cheese or disarm.  Any of which
are seeing reasonable success in tournaments.  He has
some useful Master cards, and his Stalk may promote the
use of Get Away From It All in place of Locations.  I
think we'll see some strategies change as Fasil makes
himself known in the tournament arena.

Allen - Abstain

Bruce - A power based on blocking...lots of dodges, great
hidden attack potential... good Special Attacks.  Fasil
is a combat monster without any real focus.  There is a
lot that he can do, some of it well, but he has almost
nothing that he does better than anyone else.  His powers
and cards are almost entirely defense-triggered, leaving
him hurt against non-attack decks.  With the large number
of very effective anti-dodge cards he is hurt against
other combat decks as well.  It is certainly possible to
make good solid decks with Fasil, but why waste your time
with all the other superior choices available.

Ratings Overall:

Steve         8
Jim         N/A
Hank          8     
Alan          8
Jeff          7
Wayne       N/A
Prodipto      7
Allen       N/A
Bruce         4

Average:      7.00

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