Higher Ground

You move to higher ground than your opponent.  Your opponent may not play
Upper Attacks.  You may not play Lower Attacks.  If both players have Higher
Ground in play, neither has any effect.  Higher Ground is a Standing Defense.

Well, we have another entry into what is currently a rather small category of
cards:  Standing Defense that are not Guards.  This puts Higher Ground in the
same company as Dugal MacLeod, Master's Stance, and the various Continuity
cards.

Like any Standing Defense, Higher Ground can be affected by Battle Priest,
Dangerous Ground, Dirty Trick/Shove, Ruins, Rush, Skylight, Slippery Footing,
Trip/all versions, Hammer Blow/Kurgan, and Surprise Attack/Amanda.

Although the card text strongly suggests otherwise because it states,
"neither," one Higher Ground cancels out _all_ Higher Grounds on the opposing
side.  If it helps, substitute the words "none have" for "neither has."  It
works for me.  :)

Although Higher Ground does not "stack," if your opponent has at least one
unFocussed HG in play, you are subject to HG's effects.

A card that has no effect is the same as a card that has been nullified (i.e.,
Focus).  As per Ben Durbin, there is no difference between these two terms.

Any attack with multiple areas that has at least one area in an Upper square
is considered an upper attack.  Thus, Slash/Vertical and Connor & Duncan's
Persona-specific Slashes cannot be played by _either_ player when Higher
Ground is in play.  The Horizontal Slash can be played by both players, since
it is entirely a Middle attack.  Handle other multi-area attacks the same way.

Ranged Attacks such as Pistol/UC and LC are also affected by Higher Ground,
however lacking in "realism" this might be.

An interesting note:  a multiple-area attack that has at least one area in an
upper square can be a Head Shot, as long as it can be made a Power Blow.  Make
of that what you will.

So what do you with Higher Ground?  Well, its primary use is to prevent your
opponent from making Upper attacks.  An industrious opponent may cut your legs
out from under you while you're perched on that car, but they'll never take
your head since they can't play an Upper attack.

Higher Ground makes it very difficult for Kalas to pull off the dreaded
Stalk/Head Shot.

Besides immunity to Head Shots and certain Pistol attacks, a number of the
non-Special attacks are also Upper attacks.  Stunning Blow, Spinning Attack,
and Riposte are all primarily Upper attacks.  None of them can be used against
you if you have a Higher Ground in play.

There is also a tendency for many players to favor Upper attacks.  Duncan,
Connor, and Kurgan decks, who like to get "free" Power Blows through the use
of not only the Power Blow card, but Head Shot as well, tend to rely on Head
Shot for an extra six freebies.  Higher Ground can use this tendency against
them.

So Higher Ground provides a good defense against Head Shots as well as certain
Power Blows.  However, it can restrict you.

This may not be much of a problem, however.  For one thing, it doesn't impair
_your_ ability to make Head Shots.  As noted above, there are a larger number
of non-Special Upper attacks, all of which you can wield effectively while
your opponent cannot.

You also have the advantage that if you put Higher Ground in your deck, you'll
know it ahead of time and can build your deck accordingly.  Obviously, you
shouldn't put more than one of each of the three Lower attacks in your deck.

As well as attacks, you can build your deck defensively in accordance.  I
wouldn't recommend going with the minimal number of Upper defenses:  opponents
will find some way around your Higher Grounds.

However, you should definitely put a larger number of Lower Guards in your
deck when you use Higher Ground.  You can put a LG up, keep it up, and
continue to make Upper attacks ad infinitum.  If you have an Ancestral Blade
in play, you can go a long time without dropping the Lower Guard.

The exception to this is if your opponent launches an unblockable attack.  You
can't play Alertness/Block on a defense already in play.  Simply play a new
Lower Guard and an Alertness/Block on the same turn if this situation arises.

If you don't have a Lower Guard up, you can always play a Focus or two and
play a Lower attack.  This is particularly useful if you also have a Hidden
attack coming.  In fact, try Focussing your Higher Ground and then play a
Hidden Upper attack - it's a neat double-bluff.

As noted above, Higher Ground is _very_ vulnerable to removal, being both a
Situation and a Standing Defense.  That is its major weakness.  Thanks to Rush
and Surprise Attack, _every_ Persona has a way to remove Standing Defenses,
even Slan and Amanda.

There is no reason to play multiple Higher Grounds, since they can be removed
en masse by a single anti-Standing Defense card.  You gain no benefit since
your HGs don't stack, and a single Higher Ground of your opponent's will
cancel out _all_ of yours.  If you want to use the Focus/double-bluff strategy
mentioned above, you also don't want a lot of Higher Grounds in play.

This leaves you with the choice of keeping Higher Grounds in your hand, taking
up space, or playing them out and having your opponent remove them in a single
turn.  Not a pleasant pair of alternatives.

Your opponent's best defense against your use of Higher Ground is a single
Upper Guard.  Kastagir with a Master's Guard in play is your worst nightmare. 
Keep Trip or Surprise Attack on hand for removal purposes.  Rush, for obvious
reasons, is not a good choice for Guard removal.

So who should use Higher Ground?  As noted above, Connor, Duncan, and the
Kurgan are best at launching a powerful series of Upper attacks that are Head
Shots.  Duncan and Connor need not concern themselves with a Hidden counter-
attack.  However, with HG in play that's not really an issue even for the
Kurgan:  a Lower Guard will cover any area your opponent can respond to.

By the same token, Slan can make use of Higher Ground as well by making Upper
attacks, each one an Exertion-less Power Blow.  However, he has no way except
using Darius or the Generic Quickening (for Trip) to remove an opponent's
Upper Guard.  As noted above, his using Rush would be self-defeating.

If you are using a non-attack deck, Higher Ground can further limit your
opponent's attack options.  If they Focus that Pedestrian, and remove that
Verona with their own Location, they still can't use any of their Upper
attacks.

All other Personas gain no major benefit from Higher Ground.  HG does get in
your way if you intend to use Battle Rage, Berserk, or Bloodlust, or if you
are Kern, Amanda, or Annie.  In all of these cases, you want a wide spread of
attacks.

So overall, Steve gives Higher Ground a _5_.  It's a nice defensive card, and
there are a few effective strategies that can be built around.  However, its
high degree of vulnerability is its major handicap, taking it down a point or
two.

What Our Other Raters Say:

Ben - [Abstain]

Jeff - A very underrated card.  Pair it with Lower Guard in a Slan deck for
oodles of fun.  Good swordplay card.

Rick - The card is a Standing Defense, making it too vulnerable for you to
depend on it saving your head.  I could see this going in a head-taking deck
so you don't have to block Upper Attacks and have the blocks restricting your
own Upper Attacks.  Still, if your opponent doesn't have something to remove
Standing Defenses, this and a Lower Guard could be a great plan.

Hank - I've always liked Higher Ground.  I like cards that alter the
swordfighting aspects of Highlander without breaking them (I despise direct
damage and non-attack cards like Verona).  Higher Ground is a great example of
the type of card I like.

Alan - Higher Ground is one of those cards that finds its best use in
combination with other cards; in this case, Dugal MacLeod + Lower Guard.  You
stop your opponent from being able to do sword damage to you, while still
being able to do sword damage to them.  Higher Ground's only real drawback is
that it is fairly vulnerable, since it is a Standing Defense as well as a
Situation.

Jim - Higher Ground is a good card when combined with other cards.  Lower
Guard and Catwalk are two of the better cards to use with Higher Ground. 
Since HG is a Standing Defense it is fairly easy to remove.  However, if you
use a Special-denial strategy after playing HG, you can keep it in play. 
Higher Ground is a good card to use if you are playing a head hunting deck or
are playing a hand that is heavy with Upper and Middle Attacks.  Higher Ground
is an especially good card for Kastagir due to his Master's Guard.

Wayne - This is a somewhat effective card against non-Katana decks.  Protects
against Head Shots and is good when played with a Lower Guard.  I prefer using
Master's Stance instead of Higher Ground because you can keep a Master's Block
in play with it.  I would rate it higher if it was not so easily removed from
play.

Ratings Overall:

Steve                   5
Ben                   N/A
Jeff                    6
Rick                    5
Hank                    8
Alan                    7
Jim                     6
Wayne                   4

Average:                5.86