Cat & Mouse (all ME versions)

When you play Cat and Mouse, total the number of Cat and Mouse Plots in play
by all players.  After you play this card, your opponent must take 1 card from
the top of his Endurance and place it in his discard pile for each Cat and
Mouse in play.

Alternate two endings:  After you play this card, your opponent must discard a
defense/attack for each Cat and Mouse in play.

As I noted a few weeks ago, I'm a sucker for using Plots.  And quite frankly,
Cat & Mouse is the best Plot sequence currently available.

First of all, the game-mechanic stuff.  Like any effect that causes discarding
or Endurance "grind," the cards are lost at the beginning of the target's next
phase.  Since you're playing Cat & Mouse against your opponent, this means
this card loss is a  "must do" effect taking place at the beginning of her
turn.

When you play a new Cat & Mouse card, you count _all_ Cat & Mouse cards in
play (including the new one) at that moment.  There is no "timing" involved,
so if an opponent immediately gets rid of one or more C&M cards (through the
use of, say, Plan Ahead), he still loses the full number of cards.

Since the discarding of Cat & Mouse is caused by a Situation card, Selective
Memory has no preventative effect.  Nefertiri discards and recovers normally.

Some initial rulings to the contrary, the Director's Cut Situation can _not_
be used as a substitute Cat & Mouse.  C&M has no "requirement" so DC is
useless.

Underworld Contact will negate any single Cat & Mouse effect directed at you,
in the normal manner.  However, since you do not discard Cat & Mouse cards
after use, as you do with other Plots upon completion, this benefit is not as
good.

So that's how Cat & Mouse is handled.  What do you do with it?

Some general notes first.  As mentioned above, Underworld Contact doesn't do
much because, unlike other Plots, the C&M cards aren't removed when
"completed."

Since Cat & Mouse is non-sequential, your opponent can remove them as much as
he wants, and you can still keep playing them, in any order, any way you want. 
And if he does remove them, they'll be back when you go through your
Endurance.  They don't stack in your Ability while you wait for that Part 1.

Even Katana can have trouble with C&M.  He can't really afford to let them
stay out there and add up, so he's going to be Exerting to remove them fairly
regularly.

The only real disadvantage of C&M is that if both players are using it, the
effects escalate rapidly and painfully for both sides.  Since Nefertiri is
immune to the attack and defense variants, this can work out better for her. 
Otherwise, act preemptively and hit them before they hit you.

On to specifics.  C&M/Attack is a good way to deprive your opponent of
attacks.  This can be beneficial under two circumstances.  The first is if you
are a heavy Power Blow type that cannot see Hidden attacks, or are not good at
avoiding them.  Slan and the Kurgan are good examples:  each only has one type
of dodge card.  An opponent that has no attacks can't make a Hidden attack
against you.

The other circumstance is if you simply want to keep your opponent from
attacking overall.  This technique is not as efficient as Verona or
Pedestrian/Delay-2.  However, it's not a bad supplement.  Mix with Caught in
the Act/SE and Intimidate for best effect.

C&M/Defense is the best of the three Cat & Mouse variants.  If you don't have
Persona-based defense-draining cards like Charm/Kastagir, you can use this to
knock defenses out of your opponent's hand, then follow up with a powerful
attack.  You won't be able supplement the attack with a _second_ Special, so
you should have a good inherent ability to do extra damage.  Slan and the
Kurgan are best for this.

As Jeff notes below, C&M/Defense is also painful when used in conjunction with
Factory or Battlefield.  As we noted in last week's CotW, Factory + C&M/Def is
an unpleasant combination.  Battlefield isn't quite as good, since they get to
redraw to more defenses.  Also, since Battlefield is a "must do" effect, you
can choose to discard a defense to it first, then discard the rest of your
defenses due to Cat & Mouse.  Still, that doesn't leave them with many
defenses.

C&M/Endurance is of general usefulness.  If you are playing an Exhaustion-type
deck, with cards like Desert, Dirty Trick/Pummel, Improvised Weapon/Attack,
Avery Hoskins, Challenge/ME, and Counterfeit, this Cat & Mouse variant is an
ideal choice.  Potentially, an opponent can lose 1+2+3+4+5+6 = 21 cards from
his Endurance from C&M alone.  Add in the card loss from these other cards,
and you might see several Endurance burns in a 30-minutes game, instead of the
typical one or two.  And of course, a card they go by is a card that is
useless to them.

Some of these cards (Avery, Desert) cause you to lose your own cards as well. 
With any other Plot, that would be a problem as you lose the very key cards
you need to complete the Plot.  With Cat & Mouse, however, who cares?  You're
not required to play them in sequence.

So who should use Cat & Mouse?  The first, obvious, choice is Xavier.  He can
use 12 of any given Plot.  We noted a potential payoff of 21 above.  Xavier
can add 7+8+9+10+11+12, for a total of 57 + 21 = 88 cards!  He is not limited
to six of any one Plot, so he can use 12 C&M/End if he wishes.  That adds up
to a _lot_ of cards lost.

Xavier has a few other C&M-related tricks.  If his opponent isn't playing
heavily with Situations, he can use Plan Ahead to burn his own C&M Plots,
right before an Endurance burn.  Then he shuffles them all together and gets
to draw and use 1-6 of them again as he continues on.  And since Cat & Mouse
isn't discarded after use, Hidden Explosives becomes that much more powerful .
. .

C&M/Def gives Xavier some serious potential as a swordsman, rather than a
cheesemonger.  Yes, they can use Alertness against that Stalk. . . but not if
they don't have any defenses at all when you played that ninth C&M/Def the
same turn.

Playing a C&M uses up your Special for the turn.  So you want to be a strong
attacker who can inflict pain without playing Specials if you're going to use
the Defense variant.  The Kurgan and Slan are particularly good for this. 
However, Connor and Duncan, since they can Duck or Jump, then Slash or
Spinning Blow, are also good choices.

Anyone using Battlefield or Factory should probably use C&M/Defense.  This
includes Kastagir and Nefertiri in particular.

So overall, Steve gives Cat & Mouse the following ratings:  4 for Attack, 9
for Defense, and 7 for Endurance.

There are more effective anti-attack cards (Verona, Intimidate, Pedestrian),
so attack loss will probably just let your opponent cycle cards.

Endurance card loss can range from an irritation to more serious consequences,
particularly if Xavier goes with all twelve of this version, and can Plan
Ahead out a few before his own Endurance burn.

Defense loss is a heavy hitter, and perhaps the best way to assure you hit
your opponent a couple of good ones.  When combined with other defense-
depriving cards like Battlefield, Factory, Charm, and Kiss Your Butts Goodbye,
you can keep even cheese decks on their toes.

What Our Other Raters Say:

Ben - I like plots that act at the speed of an Event. Cat and Mouse starts
slow but turns nasty fast. Until more people start playing it, this is a great
plot.

Jeff - C&M/Endurance is a very underrated card when used with Xavier in the
Lean & Mean format (and even works against Nef!).  Combine the C&M/Defense
with Factory or Battlefield for a nasty surprise, particularly in a Kurgan
deck.  The C&M/Attack version is less useful, since there are better cards to
prevent attacking.

Rick - Snowballing Plots are good in nearly any deck.  Put C&M/Def in and get
ready to start Power Blowing.  C&M/Attack is good for Cheese decks and C&M/End
is good against Lean & Mean decks.

Hank - I use Cat & Mouse a lot more than some people.  C&M Defense is useful
in a lot of swordfighting decks, C&M Attack is useful in a non-attack (or was,
pre-Verona/Safe Haven), and C&M Endurance (while the least useful) is fun for
End Burn decks (Avery decks or alternatives).

Alan - These are _really_ annoying plots to have played against you,
particularly the Defense and Endurance ones.  They can leave you totally
defenseless, causing you to Exert against incoming Power Blows/Head Shots. 
And if your opponent is using a multiple-attack card (plus Scotland the
Brave), you're in real trouble.  Effects are magnified in the hands of Xavier.

Jim - Cat and Mouse is one of my favorite plots.  Unlike the previous plots
you don't build up to it, but instead build upon it.  The more C&M's in play
the greater the effect of the next one played.  C&M is especially fun when
used in conjunction with Schemer.  For attack decks I prefer using
C&M/defense.  This is particularly useful with Kastigir Battlefield decks. 
Amanda and Fitz can also get a lot of mileage out of that combo.  For cheese
decks and lock decks C&/attacks can be quite useful. For marathon decks
C&M/Endurance is a must.  Use Desert as your location of choice, add in Avery,
put in attacks that cause card loss like Stunning Blow, Dirty Trick/Pummel,
and Improvised Weapon/ranged.  Xavier can really roll with C&M.  You can build
some really nice Xavier head hunting decks using C&M/defense along with
Xavier's Forethought and Plan Aheads.  Kurgan can also greatly benefit from
C&M/defense, especially if he is using Follow Up and Catwalk/Ruins.

Wayne - The only Cat & Mouse card that I personally feel has any value is the
discard defense card.  The endurance burning card was perhaps viable prior to
Princes of the Universe, but with this card available it's too easy to just
heal yourself if you are forced to burn through your deck.  The discard
attacks only works if you are playing against an attack deck:  so many decks
are cheese and lock it may actually help those decks.  But discard defense can
be effective with a Slan or Kurgan deck.  It makes for a very simple deck to
build and can play fairly competitively.

Ratings Overall (Attack/Defense/Endurance):

Steve               4/9/7
Ben                 7/7/7
                         
Jeff                3/5/6
Rick                5/8/5
Hank                6/8/4
Alan                7/7/7
Jim                 6/8/5
Wayne               1/4/1

Average:                4.88/7.00/5.25

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