Improvised Weapon/Attack

SPECIAL ATTACK/RANGED:  This attack may not be blocked, but it may be dodged.
If the attack is successful, your opponent takes no damage, but must take the
top 3 cards from his Endurance and place them in his discard pile.  This
attack may not be a Power Blow.  (Restricted to 3, Middle Center area)

Well, last week we dealt with Improvised Weapon's Dirty Trick counterpart -
Pummel.  Comparing the two, which have the same effect, is a good place to
start.

Unlike Pummel, Improvised Weapon is a Special Attack.  This means you can't
play it from an Exertion, and you can't make it Hidden.  Also, Improvised
Weapon is restricted to 3.

And finally, since the card itself says that this card cannot be blocked,
Alertness/Block can be used to block this attack.

These are Improvised Weapon's disadvantages.  What are its advantages?  The
primary ones are that it's a Ranged Attack and it's generic.  It shares these
qualities with Pistol:  however, Improvised Weapon is only of Uncommon rarity,
making it easier to get hold of.

One favorable advantage of Improvised Weapon over Pummel is that an opponent
can't evade an Improvised Weapon with a Back Away or an Evade.  Only a Dodge,
Jump, or Duck will do it.

Also, an Improvised Weapon lets you do attack under a circumstances when you
normally couldn't.  If Louise Marcus is out, rather then discarding a defense
after playing a Back Away, you can play Improvised Weapon instead.

While a Pistol does one point of damage (two, in the hands of the Kurgan),
Improvised Weapon does not do any damage.  However, the effect that does have
- causing the loss of three cards from top of Endurance, can sometimes be just
as effective, if not more so.  Also, you don't _have_ to play a Back Away to
use an Improvised Weapon.

It is rare that someone can afford to lose nine cards (three, from three
Improvised Weapon attacks).  When the target has control over what is
discarded (due to Holy Ground/TV, Interference, etc.) this is bad enough.
When the cards are essentially lost at random, it is far worse.  With a very
few exceptions, there's not much you can do to control which cards are lost.

As I noted in Card of the Week #6, very few players want to take the chance of
losing three cards, when one of those three cards may be the Seduce or
Bloodlust they were counting on.  Most folks would rather play a Dodge then
lose the cards.  Large decks may choose to take the hit, but currently these
seem to be the exception rather than the rule.

The main reason to use Improvised Weapon in practically any deck is that there
is no real downside to it.

Yes, three of them take up a little more space in your deck.  However, did you
ever have a turn when you used Back Away and then could only play one more
card, a Special?  Toss out an Improvised Weapon and draw the card you would
have got if you hadn't added Improvised Weapon to your deck in the first
place.

That's why Improvised Weapon really takes up no space in your deck.  Your
choices are having three more cards in your deck and using them to gain some
benefit, or having three less cards but having no attack to play the turn you
play a Back Away.

When you attack with an Improvised Weapon, your opponent is going to do one of
three things.

First of all, he may simply take the hit.  It's rare that someone is going to
be happy about losing random cards.  They might even do something absurd like
use a Holy Ground to avoid the card loss.

Secondly, they'll play a dodge:  either Dodge, Jump, or Duck.  If they play
Dodge, then they lose an attack.  Which gives you a turn to set up an attack
of your own.

If they play a Jump or Duck . . . well, they probably would have anyway in a
turn or two.  It's not too hard to find occasions to play those two particular
cards.

Third, they'll play Alertness/Block and block the Improvised Weapon.  This
suggests one potential use for Improvised Weapon right there:  as an
Alertness-waster.

Which Personas benefit from doing these things to an opponent?  Well, anyone
who can otherwise make unblockable attacks can benefit because their opponent
may waste Alertness/Block to avoid that Improvised Weapon.  And that's one
less Alertness/Block they'll have for that Hook or Stalk or Seduce/Amanda.  If
you dodge a lot and/or make other unblockable attacks, Improvised Weapon is a
good choice.  So try it in your Amanda and Xavier decks.

Three of the four Personas that only have Back Away (the Kurgan, Slan, Kalas)
should find a use for Improvised Weapon.  Particularly with a Slan or Kurgan
deck, you want to keep them off-balance and trying to avoid you, rather than
trying to get off an attack.  Improvised Weapon is a way to keep the pressure
on under a circumstance when normally, you wouldn't be able to attack.  Add
three Pistols, and you'll have an attack to use all six times you play Back
Away.

Kern is the fourth Persona that only has Back Away.  However, since he plays
attacks primarily from Exertions, he can't really use Improvised Weapon.  This
limits its effectiveness a bit for him.  Still, Improvised Weapon remains a
good card to play from his hand after he's used a Back Away.  He's a bit more
likely to draw it in an attack Exertion, however, and have to waste it.

Since these four Personas are best-suited to using Catwalk, this also means
that an opponent can't dodge the attack at all unless they spend a turn
playing something to get rid of or ignore the Catwalk.

In fact, _any_ deck that uses Catwalk should use Improvised Weapon.  You don't
have to be those three Personas to use Catwalk - many future Personas will
have Evade rather than Dodge.  You might choose to play, say, Annie with no
Evades and use Catwalk.  Improvised Weapon will help her out.

Ironically, the opposite also holds true.  These four Personas are hurt by
Improvised Weapon as much as helped.  Why?  Since the only dodge they have is
Back Away, they can't avoid it without wasting an Alertness/Block or a Narrow
Escape.

And finally, Improvised Weapon causes card loss.  If you're using a "marathon"
deck that uses cards like Pummel, Counterfeit, and Desert, Improvised Weapon
is an excellent addition.  You can play it more freely than any of these other
cards.  Heck, use a pre-game Darius and add a fourth!

In sealed deck-style tournaments, Improvised Weapon is also helpful.  Dodge,
the only dodge-type card likely to avoid it, is even less common.  If they
want to waste a Dodge, or an Alertness/Block, to stop your attack . . . that's
one less resource they'll have against your Power Blow or Master's Attack.

So overall, Steve gives Improvised Weapon a rating of _6_.  There's no real
disadvantage to having it in your deck, since you can play it under a
circumstance where you normally couldn't play an attack.  It's lack of power
drags down the rating a bit.  However, properly used, it can be a real
resource-waster for your opponent.

What Our Other Raters Say:

Jeff - Take me out to the ball game . . . useless unless you just want to burn
your opponent through their deck -- or you're just a baseball nut.  Since it
can be Alertness: Block'ed, it's essentially just a restricted Dirty Trick:
Pummel.

Rick - It duplicates the Dirty Trick/Pummel.  But Dirty Trick/Shove, now
that's a card that needs to be in everybody's deck.  That one rates a 10.

Hank - IW/A is limited to 3, and there are better ways to make people burn
through their Endurance.

Alan - Upon first reading it, this card appears to be exactly like Dirty
Trick/Pummel.  Indeed it is, except that Improvised Weapon/Attack is a Ranged
Attack, which means that it can be played after you Back Away.  However, it
has a big drawback in that it can't be played as part of a Battle Rage.  All
of my previous comments regarding Dirty Trick/Pummel apply to Improvised
Weapon/Attack (see CotW: Dirty Trick/Pummel)

Jim - Improvised Weapon is a good card for marathon decks.  It is especially
nice because it is a Ranged attack and therefore can not normally be blocked.
Unlike Shooting Blade and Pistol, IW can be blocked if Alertness/Block is
used.  Since IW only causes a three card Endurance burn it is mainly useful
for marathon decks but it can prove useful against decks of any size because
it makes you bypass cards.  I like using IW in decks where the only dodge is
Back Away and I'm using Catwalk as the Location of choice.

Chip:  Improvised Weapon/Attack could be a good card if you are playing some
kind of discard deck.  This is the only use that I can see for this card and
as hard as it is to make simple attacks hit I don't know how effective this
would be.  This is not a card that I would put in one of my decks.

Ratings Overall:

Steve                   6
Ben             [Abstain]
Jeff                    2
Rick                    5
Hank                    3

Alan                    7
Jim                     5
Chip                    3

Average:                4.43

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