Verona, Italy - 1637

LOCATION:  No [errata:  Special] attacks may be played.

Note:  this review and rating is currently of the old, unerrata'd version.

If the last two promotional cards reviewed, you do not see Turn of Events and
The Prize/Extra Exertion used much.  Verona definitely is the opposite.
Anyone who has encountered a "cheese" deck that employs either direct damage
or a "lock" strategy has probably seen Verona any number of times.

There is good reason for this.  However, first let's look at the game
mechanics involved, and any timing issues.

Verona's effects seem fairly simple.  No attacks may be played.  Emphasis on
"played."  An attack that is not played (via a card) is still legal.
Fortunately, the only attack that currently meets that criterion is Xavier's 1
pt. Middle Center attack.

Timing-wise, Verona will stop an opponent from attacking as long as it is in
play.  However, the opponent can remove it with a a Special and still attack
that same turn.  The same applies for the Verona user:  they can make an
attack and then play Verona.  This timing sequence is similar to that found
for Catwalk, Dead-End Alley, Ruins, and Rooftop.

Compare this to Locations such as Battlefield and Desert.  These are mandatory
beginning-of-turn effects.  The person playing the Location ignores the
effects on the first turn.  Their opponent is harmed (unless they play
Reconnaissance) even if they remove the Location right away on the next turn.

So Verona is a fairly straightforward card.  What can you do with it?

As comes as no surprise, Verona's best use is in "cheese" decks.  For whatever
reason, Thunder Castle created a card that is the antithesis of a
"Swordmaster" game.  Verona works nicely with non-swordfighting decks.

The first category of cards are Event/Damage cards.  The most popular is
currently the Angry Mob/Careful Planning combination.  Alliance, and Toadies
are also popular cards in such decks.

Verona allows these decks to reduce the number of cards they must devote to
defense.  If your opponent can't attack, you don't need defenses . . . leaving
you more room for damage cards, card-cyclers (Holy Ground/SE, Patience, Lean &
Mean, Elizabeth Vaughn, Flashback), and cards to counter your opponent's non-
attack strategies (Police, Do It Yourself).

Such decks will typically use many dodges for those times when an opponent
bypasses Verona:  by removing Verona with an Event, playing another Location,
or using Reconnaissance.

The other deck where Verona is typically used is a "lock" deck.  By the use of
only three cards (Verona, Jack Donovan, and Honor Bound), a small-sized "lock
deck" can sit without Exerting or playing cards.  Meanwhile, an opponent is
forced to Exert in an infinite cycle.  If your opponent can't deal with these
cards as quickly as you play them, they're doomed.

Verona's use outside these two basic deck concepts is problematic.  A heavy
Power Blow-oriented deck might use Verona.  In this manner it can attack by
using Reconnaissance, and not have to worry about a counterattack, Hidden or
otherwise.

So the question is:  how do you handle Verona decks?

Unfortunately, if their use wasn't mandatory with the Movie Edition's release,
Locations now almost have to be used with Verona out, in _any_ deck you
create.  Locations remain the most effective way to deal with an opponent's
Locations, since they not only remove his Location, but let you start your own
tailor-made deck strategy.

The best alternative strategy is to use the Illusory Terrain promotional card.
This will lock up the Locations in their hand unless they deal with Illusory
Terrain.  Even Katana will Exert to remove, hopefully costing him the cards he
needs to defeat you.

Get Away From It All will remove Locations, but there is no real strategy to
it.  You play it - that is the only Special you play that turn.  This makes it
hard to take advantage of the momentary window of attack opportunity.

The final removal strategy against Verona is TSC Troopers.  We have already
talked about this at some length (see CotW #14).  To reiterate what was said
in the main review:  the two decks that typically use Verona are those that
most likely will not Exhaust.  If your opponent doesn't Exhaust, it doesn't
matter where his Verona Locations are - in his discard pile or out of the
game.  However, several of our reviewers felt TSC Trooper was a solution to
Verona abuse.  Try it and see for yourself.

Those are the four ways to _remove_ a Location.  There is a fifth way to
_deal_ with a Location, however, and that is Reconnaissance.  This Edge card
will let you attack _and_ play a Special to enhance your attack.  This is
superior to three of the four methods mentioned above:  only Illusory Terrain
functions differently, being a preventative rather than a removal card.

The problem is that Reconnaissance doesn't do anything about that Verona still
on the table.  You've ignored it:  you may even have played that Berserk and
unleashed 10 attacks.  However, Verona is still in play, stopping you next
turn.  Also, you can only have six Reconnaissance cards.

So Reconnaissance is not _the_ solution to Verona.  However, use it with six
of a given Location, and you're set.  Use Reconnaissance on the turns when you
have a Special-oriented combination ready - play the Location and attack on
the turns when you do not.

Personas who can make effective normal attack(s) without the use of Specials
are the ones who will benefit most here.  Those are primarily:  Slan, Amanda,
Kern, and the Kurgan.  Any of these Personas, particularly when using the
Lunge Edge card in Watcher's Chronicle, can make it difficult for an opponent
to avoid even their "normal" attacks and/or Power Blows.

Reconnaissance is yet another "toolbox" card.  It is always useful:  you can
play it on your own Locations, if nothing else.  However, by the time you add
six "necessary" Reconnaissance, and six Focii to deal with those pesky
Situations, and a few Extra Weapons to deal with disarm decks, and some anti-
Event damage cards, and so on . . . you begin to have a deck too large to _do_
something.  You may have to use less than six Reconnaissances just to keep
your deck size viable.

Enough of how to deal with Verona.  Who should use it?

The typical Personas that use damage and lock decks are Katana and Xavier.
Katana rules pretty much supreme here:  he can Exert/remove most of the
Situations you can bring to bear against him (including Illusory Terrain, see
above).  He has a good range of cards to deal with what you throw at him (Do
it Yourself) and he even has another, underrated way to keep you from
attacking or make it painful to do so (Intimidate).

Xavier is not quite as powerful.  However, since his strength is in using
Plots, he can use Verona to stop you while using Unholy Alliance, Bassett &
Hotchkiss, and Poison Gas to lower your Ability and ignore your damage-
prevention cards.  Thanks to Forethought and Plan Ahead, he can counter most
of your cards.

Are there other Personas that should use Verona?  Not really.  A deck that
relies on "cheese" should probably do so, but it's rare that another Persona
does so.  Nefertiri perhaps, and Kalas has some potential.

Generally, however, if you have any kind of swordfighting strategy for your
deck, you do not want to use Verona.  There are other Locations that can
enhance your swordfighting strategy and/or deprive your opponent of needed
resources.

So overall, Steve's rating for Verona is a _8_.  It's an extremely powerful
add-on to a few already-powerful decks, and superior to the other existing
attack stoppers (Pedestrian/Hidden-Only, Intimidate, Pedestrian/Delay-2).  It
can be dealt with, however, but it can be hard to work around.  If you have a
deck that should use Verona, then its use is without measure.

What Our Other Raters Say:

Ben - [Abstain]

Jeff - Ranks as the most abusive non-pregame card in the game at present.
Extremely powerful, extremely deadly.  It's Verona; do you really need me to
say anything about it?

Rick - A cheese card that started with the best of intentions.  While Verona
can shut down attack decks, it's only a Location so there are many ways to
remove it.  This card alone makes playing with Locations a necessity.

Hank - A way-too-useful card for cheese decks.  Despite my moral outrage at
the very _existence_ of this card, it's definitely a must-use in those decks.

Alan - Ah, the bane of every sword deck's existence.  One of the most abusive
cards out there, particularly when combined with such other abusive (promo)
cards like Safe Haven/Situation.  A must-have card for every cheese and lock
deck.  As a Highlander card in general, I give it a 1.  However, as part of a
cheese/lock deck, I give it a 9.  (Averaged to 5)

Jim - This is one of the cards I hate most in this game.  It is very powerful
and really helps the cheesemongers.  It is not hard to deal with alone but
when it is combined with Wargames West and/or Honor Bound it is an absolute
attack deck killer.  Verona is particularly abusive when it is combined with
Safe Haven which leads the way in abusive cards that TCG should never have
released.  Verona is a must have for anyone building a Lock deck.  Anyone
frustrated with the use of Verona should consider using the often overlooked
TSC Troopers which lets you remove a Location from the *game* at the expense
of an Exertion.

Since TCG has never stated how this card is acquired, this card is terribly
frustrating for players who aren't plugged in to TCG's special underground
promo card release system.  Of course, you can get one through the promo
subscription plan but I've yet to hear any further details regarding the promo
subs.

Chip - [Abstain]

Ratings Overall:

Steve                   8
Ben                   N/A
Jeff                   10
Rick                    8
Hank                    9
Alan                    5
Jim                     8
Chip                  N/A

Average:                8.00