Psyche

Choose a card from your opponent's hand at random and look at it.  Your
opponent must play this card during his next turn.  If he does not, remove
that card from the game.

Here we have a card that is perhaps one of the most overlooked in the game, if
not the most underestimated.  Most people look at this and think, "Why is this
a rare?"

But first, the inevitable game mechanic questions.  It is important to
understand this card if you intend to use it.

When your opponent selects a card with Psyche, you _must_ play that card if
you can.  You cannot choose to play another Special to get out of playing the
Psyched Special.  You can block, putting yourself into a position where you
are unable to (normally) use a Psyched attack.

If a Psyched card is countered, it is still considered to have been played,
and is not removed from the game.

Usually, it is clear when you can and can't play a card.  For instance, you
can't play an attack if you can't attack.

If your opponent does not attack, you can't play a defense (except a Guard).
You can't be forced to play an illegal defense in lieu of a legal one (except
against Hidden attacks - more below).  If you see which card is Psyched and
then choose not to attack, this could cost an opponent a Master's Block or
Dodge.

Assuming you can play Specials at all, Situations and Objects can be played at
almost any time.  However, there are times when you may not want to
prematurely (Louise Marcus, Honor Bound, Simple Mind, etc.).

Some Edge cards can be played at any time, some cannot.  You can only play
Alertness/Block if your opponent plays an unblockable attack.  You can play
Schemer, or Patience, or Lean & Mean, or Flashing Blade, at any time.

If you are forced to play a Special, you can't play another Special as well
(excepting Chessex, Dr. Sonny, and a few other cards).

There are some Specials that you can play that will have no effect, but at
least you can play them.  Seduce (Amanda's and Nefertiri's) and Trip are good
examples.  These modify your next attack _if you make one_, but can be played
whether you intend to attack or not.

There are a number of Specials that are "response-specific."  For instance,
you can only play Police/Counter Damage if your opponent actually played an
Event that does damage to you.

Any card that is response-specific can be played under certain circumstances.
However, there are times when they may not be playable.  If this is the case,
the card is lost from the game.

You can play Darius if you don't have _any_ of another Persona's cards in your
hand, rather than lose it from the game.  To do so, however, you must Exert
for a defense from another Persona.  This tactic is permissible even if you
know you don't have any such card in your deck.

Timing can also hurt you.  Psyche forcing you to play Discard Weapon if you're
not ready is one example.  If you are forced to play a Head Shot and don't
have an Upper attack, you are forced to Exert for one.  Ditto if you are
forced to play Hook, Extra Shot, Follow-Up, or Combination and don't have a
second attack.

Being forced to play Run Through or Master's Disarm/Kurgan the turn after your
opponent plays that Thrust/Power Blow is probably not a good thing.  Another
example is being forced to play Kiss Your Butts Goodbye when you're
temporarily out of dodges.

The best two examples of potent bad timing are Nexus and Second Wind.  Being
forced to play either of these early in the game can be a serious problem.

If you are forced to play a card you don't like . . . you've got trouble.  If
you had a Holy Ground/Forfeit in your deck to protect those Quickenings, being
forced to use it due to Psyche is probably the ultimate humiliation.

However, you are also hurt if you are forced to use Police/Remove Sit when
you're the only one who currently has Situations in play, or to use Simple
Mind even though you have lots of Situations currently in play.

One note:  counter cards, including the TCG rip, do _not_ specify you can only
use them against an opponent's card.  You can rip a TCG to counter your own
card as you play it.  Psyche is probably the only time that you will want to
do this, though.

Prematurely forcing a lock deck to play Jack Donovan or Honor Bound, or Focus
before there are any Situations out, can help you.  Making your opponent play
a card like Watcher/Treatment early in the game, when she is at full Ability,
is also useful.  As is forcing them to play a Dr. Sonny Jackson when you are
not doing any damage to them.

Against an opponent with an Ability of 15, Psyche's impact can be minimal.
However, later in the game when they have a smaller Ability, Psyche can be
crippling as they lose those cards they need, or are forced to play them
before the desired moment.

I have noted in previous reviews of game-remover cards like TSC Troopers (CotW
#14) and Amnesia (#22) that these are not particularly useful since the impact
of removal isn't felt until the next time through the target's Endurance.
Psyche suffers a similar problem.  However, careful play of Psyche under the
right circumstances can mean your opponent doesn't get a chance to play the
card the _first_ time either.  Refusing to attack the turn you Psyched your
opponent's Master's Block is a good example.

So that's what Psyche does, and how you use it.  The question is, who should
use it?

As the above indicates, there is no strong strategy for using Psyche - the
effects are a bit too variable.  Psyche can seriously hurt your opponent.
However, it could just as easily do little or nothing.  If they were going to
use that Seduce/Amanda anyway, your opponent is not going to be bothered if he
was Psyched into using it.

Still, there are a few tactics, and a few Personas, who can make best use of
the benefits of Psyche.

One tactic is using Psyche against an opponent taking a wait-and-see approach
to playing anti-Power Blow cards like Ancestral Blade.  If your opponent
doesn't have an Ancestral Blade on the table, and you Psyche them into playing
a _different_ Special, immediately make a Power Blow.  They can't play the
Ancestral Blade, and will have to deal with your Power Blow in some other
manner.  Also, unless the Special you Psyched _was_ Holy Ground, they can't
play HG either.  And if you did Psyche their Holy Ground, don't attack.  In
this manner, you can make them waste Holy Grounds and score with your attacks
later.

The above also demonstrates that you should play Psyche _before_ making an
attack on any given turn.

This tactic is best suited to Personas who can do lots of damage without
playing a Special, since Psyche is the Special you play.  This includes Slan,
the Kurgan, Kern, and Annie.  Anyone using Master Swordsman from Watcher's
Chronicles can also benefit from this tactic, however.

Here's another tactic:  are you playing Kalas and tired of the fact they
refuse to play those Holy Grounds you know they've got?  Psyche them into
playing one and then go ahead and Stalk/Head Shot them on your next turn.

Do you use Thief?  If so, your opponent may be cautious in playing those
Objects (particularly Ancestral Blade), waiting until you remove the first one
until he plays a second.  Psyche gets them on the table quicker, making your
Thief more cost-effective.

If you use Hidden attacks and can make them without playing a Special
(Riposte, Jump, Duck, Mountain Cave, Master's Block/Richie & Duncan, Swords to
Snakes & Shadows of the Mind/Nakano, Acrobat/Amanda), Psyche is potentially a
card for you.  If you are making a Hidden attack, your opponent _can_ play an
illegal defense.  So if you Psyche him into playing a Lower Right Block, go
ahead and make a Hidden Upper Left Attack.  He must play the LRB, since it's
legal in this case.  Even if they _know_ it's an Upper attack because it's a
Riposte, they still can't play that Upper Guard because you Psyched them to
use the LRB.  This strategy works best for Connor, the primary user of
Mountain Cave.  Duncan, Richie, Amanda, and Nakano can also use it, though.

Tired of your opponent waiting to play that Location to remove your Catwalk,
and then use a dodge the same turn?  He can't do it if you use The Gathering .
. . but without Reconnaissance he also can't do it if you force him to play
another Special instead with Psyche.

Overall, Steve gives Psyche a _6_.  It is a potent two-faceted card.  It is
one of a very few cards that forces an opponent to play something.  It is also
a card that can potentially remove cards from the game.  Psyche gives you some
very subtle control over what your opponent can do.  There are several useful
combinations using Psyche, and its psychological value shouldn't be
underestimated.  It is only the card's random nature that lowers it from a 7
rating.

What Our Other Raters Say:

Ben - Abstain

Jeff - Blech.  Maybe if you got to _choose_, I'd have a use for this card.  As
it is, it's only going to be seen in sealed deck -- and there I'd think hard
before using it.

Rick - Psyche is a good card if you want to annoy your opponent.  About half
the time you should be able to make them get rid of a card from the game.  But
if they can't play when they have to, the probably didn't want to play it
anyway, so you really just helped them cycle cards.  You should already have a
rough idea of what cards are in their hand before using Psyche.

Hank - When I first bought my cards, I ended up with a lot of Psyches . . . so
I really tried to figure out a good use for them.  Unfortunately, I could
never get them to really have a big impact on play... and I have better
Specials to put in a deck that _do_ have a big impact.

Alan - This is a card I haven't found too much use for.  There are other cards
I would rather use to force my opponent to discard/remove cards from the game.
However, if the sole purpose of my deck was to annoy the heck out of my
opponent, then this is a card I just may use (don't laugh, I've actually seen
decks like that).

Jim - Abstain

Wayne - This card is possible a fun card to play with in non-tournament play,
but it is fairly useless in tournaments.  Upper Hand is probably a much better
alternative since you get to see your opponent's hand and discard the card you
choose.  I don't see many uses.

Ratings Overall:

Steve                   6
Ben                   N/A
Jeff                    2
Rick                    5
Hank                    4
Alan                    4
Jim                   N/A
Wayne                   2

Average:                3.83

------------------------------------------------------------------