Fitzcairn - by Steve Crow

Instead of playing a Special Card, you may make an
Exertion on your turn to prevent up to 2 points of
damage. You may have up to 5 Master cards.

Overview

Apparently a popular character on the show, judging from
the number of post-death appearances Roger Daltrey has
made in the series, the release of Fitzcairn has long
been looked forward to.  The question is, how effective
he is?

First, game-mechanics questions.  The wording on
Fitzcairn's Persona is somewhat misleading.  Any time you
do not play a Special, you may use Fitzcairn's power. 
Even if you are prevented from playing a Special, you may
still Exert to prevent damage.  Fitz's Persona ability
doesn't distinguish _why_ you don't play a Special.

Fitz's ability _prevents_ damage, it does not restore
Ability.  Thus, it is not considered to occur when you
look at effects like Kalas's Persona ability.  His
ability does not prevent an attack from being successful,
nor does it have any effect on aspects of an attack other
than damage.  If Fitzcairn Exerts to prevent two damage
from Amanda performing a Head Shot (which would normally
do two damage as a Power Blow for her), he still loses
his head.

Conversely, if Fitz prevents all damage from an attack,
the attack is still successful and conveys any benefits
or avoids any penalties therein (i.e., Lighthouse,
Immortal Wound).

Fitz may Exert to prevent damage from any source: 
Events, attacks, and even Locations (in the case of
Battlefield).

Fitzcairn may Exert to prevent less than two points of
damage if he so wishes.  Thus, he can Exert to prevent
one point of damage from Street Punk/SE.

Persona-Specific Cards

Very little about Fitzcairn is "standard."  The only two
cards he has that bear any resemblance to what has gone
before are Back Away and Flashback.  The latter is the
"extra 3-card Exertion" Situation that Duncan has in the
Series Edition, and that Kern and Annie get as well in
Watcher's Chronicles.  Both of these are non-Reserved.

Fitzcairn also gets the left and right Evades.  While not
as effective as Amanda's Side Step, they have the
advantage that you can attack to any area after using
them.

Fitz's other non-Reserved cards are Combination,
Continuity, and Trip.  Each of these is different than
the "standard" version found in previous editions.

Combination allows Fitzcairn to combine multiple basic
attacks into a single Special Attack (which is subject to
all Special Attack rules).  Due to Evade and Master's
Block, Fitzcairn has a good chance of hitting exactly the
areas he wants to regardless of the defense he plays.  Of
course, playing a cross-corner mix (UL-LR, or UR-LL) is
best.  However, if you are free to attack anywhere, you
can use this to dump other, less useful attacks as well. 
A UL-MR-LL combo is just as effective.  Even a UR-Thrust-
LL will let you get rid of that Thrust.

Keep in mind that Combination will _not_ work on non-
basic attacks, whether they are Special Attacks or non-
basic red-grid attacks like Riposte and Flurry Strike. 
According to TCG rulings, the resulting Special attack
only does the Persona's basic damage (1 for Amanda, 3 for
the Kurgan, 2 for Fitzcairn and everyone else).  Thrust
has no effect here.  You also cannot modify the basic
attacks as you "combine" them (i.e., you can play a Lunge
on one of the attacks).

Continuity is similar to Kastagir's Persona ability. 
However, unlike Kastagir's ability, Fitzcairn _must_ keep
Exerting until he gets a playable defense, or his
Exertion ends.  Given his Persona Ability, Fitz may be
better off simply using that.  Just because he can stop
Exerting for a defense at any time doesn't assure that he
will _get_ the defense he needs.  Possibly it's better to
simply Exert to avoid the two damage.

Trip acts as a Standing Defense remover.  It also makes
Fitz's next attack that turn undodgeable.  The attack
need not be a basic attack:  Fitz can use this on a
Pistol, Dirty Trick, or Improvised Weapon/Attack if he
wishes.

This brings us to Fitzcairn's Reserved cards.  There are
only four, but at least three are quite powerful.

Fast Talk has already made a reputation for itself.  Mix
with Renee Delaney and Fitz can keep an opponent from
playing Specials for eight rounds, and _any_ cards for
two rounds.  Not only must Fitz's opponent Exert, but she
should have to rely on that Exertion for a defense.

Charm is sometimes overlooked, but it can buy Fitzcairn a
round of relative safety from attack.  In addition, if
his opponent can't attack next turn, this gives Fitz
another opportunity to set up a multi-area Combination. 
Of course, this is useless against Nefertiri and her
Quickenings.  Charm does target _all_ attacks, Special or
otherwise.  A Kurgan deck hit with this will lose those
Pistols they've been holding on to.

Master's Block is the "weaker" version that Katana has. 
It gives Fitz no special advantage, but he can attack to
any area(s) after using it.  This is useful for avoiding
Hidden and multi-area attacks, particularly Annie's
Master's Attack.  It also is another way to set up a
multi-area Combination.

Seduce is not one of this author's favorite cards. 
Basically, at this time there are not enough
Ally/Situations worth taking for you to gamble on
including this card in your deck.  Seduce _can_ work for
you, but only under the right, fairly limited
circumstances.  It may also become useful in the future
as more Ally/Situations are added.

Generic Cards

Since Hugh's Persona ability is Exertion-oriented, the
first thing to look at is cards that reduce Exertions: 
Master/Swordmaster and the Collect promotional card

Master Swordsman (CotW #35) is a good choice for
Fitzcairn.  However, since he is limited to five, and
he'll probably want to use Master's Block, he may not use
more than three.  That's enough.  Play Fast Talk and a
Master Swordsman/Power Blow.  You need not worry about a
Hidden counter-attack.  If your opponent doesn't draw the
right defense he could take as much as four points of
damage _and_ lose five cards on the Exertion.

Another good choice for a Master card is Master's
Advance.  This can significantly hobble an opponent's
ability to play dodges, particularly those 9-area ones
like Master's Dodge, Distract, Back Away, and Dodge.

The fact that Fitz can Exert to ignore damage with
relative impunity doesn't mean he should ignore such
damaging Events as Angry Mob or Street Punk.  Cards like
Police and Greenfield are still good choices.

Just as with any other Persona who has Master's Block,
Fitz should use Advance Warning if he wants to squeeze a
couple of extra uses out of that 9-grid defense.

Successful use of Combination requires Fitz play his
attacks exactly where he needs to.  An aggressive
opponent can hinder this.  Charm, Fast Talk, and Master's
Block are good tools here.  However, you can augment with
Weapon Bind, Distraction/Bystander, and Pedestrian/Delay-
2 as necessary.  If your opponent can't attack, you're
free to place your cross-corner attacks where you wish.

We'll talk about restricting your opponent's ability to
play 9-grid dodges against your Combination attacks
below.  Watcher/Watcher Involvement can be used to
counter a Master's Block as it is played.

You may be making Power Blows (particularly with Fast
Talk), so having a Misfortune or three in your deck is a
good idea.

When using Fitzcairn, considering what attacks and blocks
you use is important.  Riposte is typically a no-brainer
to include.  However, with Fitzcairn it can be a bad
choice since he can't play it in conjunction with
Combination.  On the other hand, Parry makes it easier to
make those cross-corner Combination attacks.

Location Cards

Since Fitzcairn can make cross-corner attacks fairly
readily, cards that impede his opponent's ability to play
9-area defenses are useful.  These include Catwalk and
Dead End Alley.  Each one restricts Fitzcairn equally. 
Catwalk is probably his best choice since it doesn't
affect his one-and-only 9-area dodge:  Back Away.  He
also can't dodge Pistols anyway, so an opponent using
them gains no additional benefit.

Lighthouse is a good Location choice.  Why?  Because
Fitz's Persona ability gives him a back-up if he can't
dodge to avoid that attack.  His cross-corner attacks
also tend to have a higher chance of hitting.

Mountain Cave _may_ be a good choice for the same reason: 
Fitzcairn can easily avoid damage from an attack. 
However, an opponent capable of making multiple attacks
may well overwhelm Fitzcairn's ability, so use this
carefully.

The other Locations can impact specific strategies that
you might mix in with Fitzcairn.  However, none of them
radically augment him.  Desert isn't a particularly good
idea since it can deprive him of his "power" cards. 
Watcher Regional HQ is always good if you intend to load
up on Watcher/Situations.  Other choices can vary.

How to Win

The key to winning with Fitzcairn lays with two cards: 
Combination and Fast Talk.

Combination is nearly as good as Annie's Master's Attack. 
It requires two more cards to pull off, but it doesn't
count against the number of Masters you can use.  All you
have to do is hold on to the attacks you need to go
cross-corner (Dojo helps here).  Then use a Parry or
Evade and attack full out.  Alternately, stop your
opponent from attacking for a turn, then place them where
you want.

Use Catwalk and/or Master's Advance to stop them from
playing 9-area dodges, and Watcher/Watcher Involvement to
keep them from playing Master's Block, and you're set.

Fast Talk, Fitz's other best card, is downright nasty. 
Unless they have Jack Donovan and you don't attack, they
will be Exerting, which can cost them five cards right
there.  Since you'll almost certainly attack anyway, Jack
is useless to them.

Make the attack you play in conjunction with Fast Talk a
Power Blow.  The easiest and cheapest way to do this is
to use Master Swordsman.  If you don't want to take up
Master slots in this manner (although Master Swordsman is
always useful), grab a Slan Quickening.  If all else
fails, Exert - it's well worth it.

It's easy to be aggressive with Fitzcairn.  However, his
Persona ability lends itself to long, drawn-out healing
decks.  Whatever damage slips by the Dr. Sonnys and
Greenfields, Fitz can Exert to prevent.  I'm not big on
these types of decks, but they're popular so keep
Fitzcairn in mind when you consider them.

A lean & mean denial strategy can also work, using Renee
Delaney to augment Fast Talk and render your opponent
unable to play Specials for a potential eight consecutive
turns.

How to Defeat

The Zocchi Distributing card, if you can get it, is a
painful way to extend Fitz's Exertions when he attempts
to use his Persona ability.

If you can keep up a steady stream of Power Blows against
Fitzcairn (Slan and the Kurgan - Connor, Kern, and Duncan
to a lesser degree), and keep that Ancestral Blade out of
play, you'll tend to nullify Fitz's advantage.

If you combine direct damage with a Power Blow strategy,
you can keep enough pressure on him to force him to Exert
just to keep up.  Forcing him to Exert is the best way to
keep him from drawing and playing those dangerous cards
like Fast Talk.  Don't forget - every time you force him
to Exert to avoid damage, Fitz can't play a Special.

An overwhelming number of attacks in a single round is
another good way to handle Fitz's advantage.  Kurgan's
Bloodlust, Slan's Berserk, and Annie's and Kern's
abilities are best for this.

If you're worried about Seduce, use Allies that affect
both players.  Fitz gains no advantage if he uses Seduce
on Avery Hoskins.

Advance Warning plus a Master's Block, for those Personas
with this option, will let you handle Fitz's Combination. 
This combination is good even if Fitz doesn't use
Combination.  For those without Master's Block, be
prepared to Focus or Recon past anti-dodge Situations and
Locations, respectively.

Fitzcairn's Nemesis is, of course, the best way to defeat
him, and there will probably be enough Fitzcairn decks in
a tournament that adding one or two Fooled Agains is a
viable option.  This not only negates his Persona
ability, but if you can force him to Exert through other
means, he's toast.  Avery Hoskins (CotW #47) and
Challenge/ME (CotW #48) are helpful here.  If you're
already using these cards in your strategy, they plus
Fooled Again spell almost certain doom for Fitz.

Generally, when coping with Fitzcairn you just have to
hit him hard and hit him constantly.  Short of using his
Nemesis, there's no way to get around the fact that he
can Exert to avoid two damage.

Overall

Overall, Steve gives Fitzcairn a _8_.  He's a subtle but
heavy-hitting Persona if he chooses to be, or he can
remain aloof and play a healing-delay game.  Even his
weaker cards, like Seduce, look to become more useful as
the game evolves and expands.  He's a good base Persona
to build a number of strategies on.

What Our Other Raters Say:

Jim - Abstain from comment - rating provided below.

Rick - Abstain

Hank - Fitz's special ability works great with cards like
Collect and Master/Swordmaster, he has a few notable
cards (Charm is nice, Fast Talk moreso), and plus I like
the character a lot.  As a Persona, I've built some decks
with him, and had moderate success, but he's not a
huge winner.

Alan - Fitzcairn brings more of a tired element to
Highlander, since he is now clearly the Persona-of-Choice
for healing decks.  In that respect, he is actually a
great Persona, as he is quite hard to kill.  His
Combination and Fast Talk make him a formidable fighter
to face, as well.  A Persona I enjoy playing as, but not
against.

Jeff - Fitz is obviously the Persona of choice for
healing decks.  He's also tough with denial decks, give
his use of six Renees and three Fast Talk.  The cream of
the WC crop, he's a force to be reckoned with in Master's
or Renaissance format.

Wayne - Fitzcairn is one of the top 5 immortals to play. 
His ability to stop damage through exertions is excellent
when playing Fitz as a healing deck.  The six Renee/three
Fast Talk deck can cycle cards fast enough to stop your
opponent from playing a Special for a long time if they
don't go first or have the Nakano Quickening.  I really
like his versatility and his ability.

Prodipto - Fitzcairn is the chronic deckbuilder's
delight.  He is wonderfully versatile in the variety of
strategies one can use with him.  For example, with Renee
Delaney's and Fast Talk's, he becomes as potent, if not
more potent, a lock Persona than Nefertiri.  With Charms,
Cat and Mouse and other anti-attack situations, he can be
built around preventing your opponent from being able to
attack by forcing him to discard any attacks he has. 
Using Exertion-control cards like Master/Swordmaster and
Collects, as well as healing type cards, he can become a
virtually untouchable Persona as far as healing ability. 
Additionally, he has a Master's Block and a fair number
of offensive cards for a pure swordfighting deck.  Since
he uses Evades, many of his Dodges still allow him to
attack.  His biggest vulnerability is Center attacks,
particularly if they are made undodgeable.  Even so, he
can Exert to prevent damage from these.  Fitzcairn is
(quietly) one of the most potent Personas in the game.

Allen - Hugh Fitzcairn is a very versatile immortal, and
perhaps the most well-rounded of the WC Personae.  He can
finesse his way into a lot of effect in a sword fight. 
Cross corner Combinations and Trip/Slash are very
difficult for an opponent to defend.  Fast Talk works
well with Power Blows, and has even bought me time after
being disarmed.  Charm can shut down a multi-attack
opponent while you slice him to ribbons.  Can't decide
between the attack strategies above?  Mix two or three
and use your increased deck size to prevent any cheese
damage.  The arrival of WC has done a lot to increase the
popularity of UC and LC Power Blows, and most Left and
Right attacks will be Lunged.  Your Evades may wind up
jamming your hand.  Because of this and his unusual
Continuity, Fitz' main problem seems to be in defending
Power Blows.  It might be best to invest most of your
Master Slots into Master Swordsman.

Ratings Overall:

Steve         8
Jim           8
Rick        N/A
Hank          7     
Alan          7     
Jeff          8
Wayne         8
Prodipto      9
Allen         7

Average:      7.75

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Television, used under license by Thunder Castle Games. 
The card text is copyright 1997 by Thunder Castle Games. 
All rights reserved.