Sacrifice

SITUATION:  Sacrifice allows you to return the last card you played to your
hand.  Each time you use Sacrifice this way, you lose 3 Ability.  (Restricted
to 2)

Well, here we have a card that appears abusive.  And understandably so:  any
card that lets you break the Restriction number on cards (in this case, by
recycling) has the potential for abuse.

Let's take a closer look at Sacrifice.  First of all, the wording is very
interesting.  It says that you, ". . . return the last card you _played_ to
your hand."  No time limit is specified.

Although it seems obvious, it should be noted that this card does Ability
loss, not damage.  Even Luther's Disappear won't let you avoid Ability loss.

So how useful _is_ Sacrifice?

Fortunately, the three Ability loss is a pretty good restriction.  Unless
you're far ahead on Ability, there's probably not much worth sacrificing three
Ability for.  Shooting Blade comes to mind, as several of our reviewers note
below.  Let's take a look at that strategy.

Slan prepares to attack his opponent.  Slan plays Challenge.  Then he plays
Shooting Blade.  His turn is over.

Thanks to the timing on Sacrifice, Slan does _not_ have to recover the
Shooting Blade right away.  It is the last card he played, and will remain
that way until his next turn.

His opponent now has to deal with the Shooting Blade.  Whether he does so or
not will be the key to determining if Slan uses Sacrifice.

The opponent can't dodge.  So unless they play a Special, they're in trouble. 
Let's assume they don't.  The opponent is hit for four damage.

_Now_ Slan decides to recover his Shooting Blade, and lose the three Ability. 
He's one up on his opponent and can pull the same stunt next turn.  If the
opponent couldn't deal with Shooting Blade the first time, they probably won't
be able to the second either.

And down the battle spirals.  Every time Slan inflicts four, he takes three. 
And Slan is always one ahead, because he can choose not to use Sacrifice
_after_ he does 4 damage to an opponent.

That's the scenario if the opponent couldn't do anything about the first
Shooting Blade.  What if they could play Holy Ground, or Disappear or Narrow
Escape?

Slan shrugs, plays another card, and lets the Shooting Blade stay in the
discard pile.  Or he takes a gamble, loses the three Ability, and tries the
same stunt again.  He won't come out as far ahead, but if it works and he can
keep up the pressure using Challenge, he'll probably win.

Neat trick.  There are three problems with it, however, and Sacrifice in
general.

First, you're giving your opponent time to Police or otherwise remove your
Sacrifice before you recover Shooting Blade.  Of course, you could play your
second Sacrifice and then use a second Shooting Blade (via a pre-game Darius). 
But if you do, you are delayed for a turn since you can't play the second
Sacrifice _and_ Challenge.

Secondly, there aren't a lot of cards that do heavy damage and balance the
three-Ability loss.  The Kurgan doing Seduce/Amanda + Power Blow comes to
mind, but not much else.  Taunt/Katana or Fast Talk/Fitzcairn, perhaps.  If
you use Sacrifice for cards like Xavier's Stalk or Alliance, it's not worth
it.

The situation with the Kurgan and Seduce brings up the third problem.  A card
like Seduce must be played _before_ an attack.  This throws off the timing. 
You have to recover the Seduce _before_ playing the attack.  So you won't know
if the Seduce succeeded before recovering it.  Your opponent may have
Alertness/Blocks.  He may have Holy Ground.  Either way, it's a iffy gamble.

Recycling a card like Kurgan's Bloodlust can be very powerful, but very
dangerous.  The Kurgan loses 4 Ability, and will have to Exert past 30 cards -
a 5 Ability loss due to Exhaustion can't be far behind.  And he loses 3
Ability from Sacrifice.  Ouch.

So what else is Sacrifice good for?  As Jeff Barnes and Jim Duncan note below,
it might be good for recovering Nexus.  Discard it, redraw, then use Sacrifice
to get it back (at a cost of only three Ability) and use it again later.

Won't work.  Why?  Nexus is removed from the game and is no longer available
for recovery (see FAQ 13.19).

Another card springs to mind:  Kalas' Stalk ("If your opponent played Holy
Ground last turn, then this attack may not be blocked or dodged. This attack
may not be a Power Blow unless played in conjunction with Head Shot."
according to Castle News).  This card, if successful, ends the game.  How do
we make it work?

Kalas waits until an opponent plays Holy Ground.  Then he plays Head Shot and
then Stalk.  The opponent, suspecting Kalas would do that, had a second Holy
Ground ready and now plays that.  It's his only option if he doesn't have
Alertness or Disappear.  He figures Kalas didn't have the second Stalk in his
hand and he was right.

What Kalas does have, however, is Sacrifice.  He takes the three Ability loss,
recovers Stalk and plays it _again_ with a new Head Shot.  Unless the opponent
has a third Holy Ground, or something to prevent the attack from succeeding,
off comes the head.

The tactics above work for Richie as well.  Since you need Specials to make
these tactics work, Darius won't help anyone else by adding Shooting Blade or
Stalk into their decks.  What other Personas benefit?

Connor, perhaps.  If he has Master's Blocks in his hand or Master Stanced (see
CotW #10), recovering Master's Lunge a couple of times can be a good tradeoff.

Who else?  Anyone other than Amanda using Amanda's Seduce and willing to Power
Blow.  But as mentioned above, this is an iffy strategy, since you'll have to
recover the Seduce "blind".

Getting back that Angry Mob or Careful Planning to zap your opponent for
another three might be a good idea.  Ditto for Katana's Toadies.

But otherwise . . . there's very little else in the game that seems to do the
type of damage that makes the three Ability loss a good gamble.  That's not to
say there aren't times when you're on a roll and it _is_ a good idea to
recover that Kiss Your Butts Goodbye or Head Shot.  But the timing just
doesn't seem to work out.

So overall, Steve's rating for Sacrifice is a _3_.  It's extremely powerful in
a few intricate strategies, but only a so-so emergency card.  More often than
not you won't want to use it unless you're up on Ability by a considerable
amount.  And if you are, you probably won't need Sacrifice to take them out.

What Our Other Raters Say:

Ben - A card custom-made for degenerate decks.  If it's not a card you would
use in your deck, it's almost worthless.

Jeff - It seems like there should be some way to break this card short of the
"boomeranging Shooting Blade" (with Kurgan Quickening, Catwalks, and
Challenges, natch), but I haven't found it yet.  I suppose a Richie deck where
you pull back the Amanda Seduce might be useful, too.  One day, I shall break
this card, so TCG will have to be very careful about everything they print
from now on . . .

Rick - This card can really help some decks but the three point Ability loss
is a high price to pay to get back that last card.  Still, if the last card
played was doing heavy damage to your opponent, maybe the loss is a good
tradeoff.  Decks have to be built to use it so it's not a good general purpose
card.

Hank - Losing 3 ability to get a card back is too much for *me* to pay . . .
it could be fun with Shooting Blade, but little else is worth it.

Alan - This card rates as a 4 in general use (mostly due to the ability loss
-- there aren't that many cards I consider *that* powerful), but in a few
specific situations, rates quite high (8 or 9).  So where does it rate higher? 
How about a Slan deck, with an extra Shooting Blade (with pgDarius).  With the
use of Sacrfice, you could do up to 16 points of damage (assuming you have an
extra Shooting Blade), at a cost of only losing 6 Ability; not a bad
trade-off, in my opinion.

Jim - I really can't see using this card in a deck.  The ability loss cost is
simply too high.  There are only a very few cards where using Sacrifice might
pay off.  Nexus, Shooting Blade, and the last part of a plot sequence are
among the candidates.  In some situations where you are playing against a lock
deck, Police, Focus, and Amnesia may be worth getting back.  If Sacrifice
worked for cards that say "remove from game after use" I could see getting
some use out of it, but I'm sure you can not use Sacrifice in that manner.

Chip - This is a cool card.  Any time your opponent plays a Sacrifice either
get rid of it or have Holy Ground ready because they are going to do something
really nasty.  One of my favorite things to do with this is get Honor Bound
out then Catwalk - next is Shooting Blade and Sacrifice.  They take four, you
take three:  not a bad trade in my book.

Ratings Overall:

Steve                   3
Ben                     4
Jeff                    6
Rick                    4
Hank                    3
Alan                    4
Jim                     1
Chip                    7

Average:                4

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