Donna Ondrejka

EVENT:  A past lover offers a chance at a new life. Shuffle your hand into
your discard pile and randomly redraw the same number of cards from your
discard pile. You lose 2 Ability.  [Restricted to 2]

Successful use of Donna Ondrejka requires a clear understanding of how the
card works, as well as the new "Sweep Phase" concept.  Several people I know
have looked at the card and failed to understand exactly what it does.

Game mechanic questions first.  "A past lover..." is flavor text.  The loss of
two Ability occurs on the Ability Adjustment phase when you play Donna.  Donna
is not removed from the game when you use it.  She is shuffled in and then
possibly drawn back as part of your hand.

So exactly how does Donna function?  Let's go through what the card text says,
step by step, in a typical circumstance.

You're playing a traditional 44-card Lean and Mean Sedarius deck, using the
Kurgan.  You go second.  On turn one you play Carl, one Lean and Mean, and a
block.  At the end of Turn One you have 15 in your Ability/Hand, one on
display, two cards waiting to be "swept," 26 cards in your Endurance, and
nothing in your discard pile.

You do the same thing on your second turn:  play a Carl, one Lean and Mean,
and a block.  At the end of Turn Two you have 15 in your Ability/hand, two on
display, two cards waiting to be "swept," 23 cards in your Endurance, and two
in your trash.

On Turn Three, you play a Lean and Mean, and get exactly what you need.  You
then play a Darius, a Seduce/Amanda, a Thrust, and Exert three cards for a
Power Blow.  To simplify things, your opponent plays a Holy Ground next turn,
and you discard Carl to stop it.  We'll figure in that discard now, however.
Overall, you have 15 in your Ability/hand, one on display, four cards waiting
to be "swept," 16 in your Endurance, and eight in your trash.  Your opponent
takes six damage (Thrust + Power Blow + the Kurgan's +1 damage).

Turn Four is the critical moment.  The Lean and Mean, Seduce, Thrust, and
Darius from your last turn enter your discard pile.  You have 15 cards in your
hand, and 12 in your Trash.  Your opponent makes an attack.  You look at your
discard pile.  There's a Darius, a Seduce, a Carl, three Lean and Mean Edges,
two blocks, a Thrust, and the three cards you Exerted past to make that Power
Blow.

What you'll have to look at is what is in your hand and what is in your
discard, and whether mixing the two together and drawing 13 at random will
benefit you.  If your current hand of cards is garbage, redrawing some or all
of your cards from your discard can't hurt, and you've got nothing to lose by
doing so.  You have a Watcher/Treatment and a Thrust in your hand, but other
then that your hand is not so good, so you go for it.

You play a block, then Donna Ondrejka.  Those two cards wait to be swept, and
are neither in your Ability/hand or your discard pile.

You take the 13 cards in your hand, and shuffle them together with the 12
cards in your discard pile.  From these 24 cards you then deal yourself 13 and
the remaining 12 form your new discard pile.  You lose two Ability, and now
have a number of cards in your Ability/hand equal to your Ability score.  You
end Turn Four with 13 cards in your Ability/hand, one on display, three cards
waiting to be "swept," 15 in your Endurance, and 12 in your discard pile.

Quickly checking your hand, you see you drew back the Watcher/Treatment and
the Thrust.  You also managed to grab the Seduce, Carl, a Lean and Mean, and
Darius back.

On Turn Five you "sweep" Donna and the block from last turn into your discard
pile.  You then play Lean and Mean, a block, Darius, Seduce, Thrust, and exert
three cards for another Power Blow.  You end up tossing Carl, which we'll
account for now.  You do six more damage (see above).  You then draw four
cards.  You end with an Ability/hand of 15, nothing displayed, five cards to
be "swept," nine in your Endurance, and 17 in your discard pile.  Your
opponent is down 12 Ability.

On Turn Six you sweep your five cards from last turn, play a block and a
Watcher/Treatment.  You draw 4, leaving you with an Ability/hand of 15,
nothing displayed, two cards to be "swept," five in your Endurance, and 22 in
your discard pile.

On Turn Seven, you sweep the two cards from last turn, and have your second
Donna Ondrejka in your hand.  Should you play it?  Now you'll be shuffling the
15 cards in your hand with the 24 cards in your trash.  You should consider
carefully whether you want to save Donna for after the Endurance burn, or take
the risk now based on the good stuff in your Ability and/or discard.

As becomes clear from the example above, Donna Ondrejka is most useful in Lean
and Mean format.  Consider this:  potentially, you can have a deck of
effectively 32 cards.  Using six LM reduces the deck size down to 44 cards.
However, of that 44, six are LMs which essentially "pass" through your hand
without taking up space.

So you really only have 38 cards in your hand?  How do you get down to 32?
Use six Patience cards.  Like Lean and Mean, they take up no space in your
hand if you play them to draw.

Out of those 32 cards, 15 must be the mandatory nine attacks and six blocks.
That leaves you with 17 cards, and two Donna Ondrejkas reduce that further
down to 15 remaining cards for your overall strategy.

What do you do with those 15 cards?  Well, that's the whole reason behind LM
format, of course - figuring that out.  What you can do with those 15 cards
also points us towards who should use Donna.

What you want are cards or combos that are prevalent enough that you have a
good chance of drawing and redrawing what you need.  A Kurgan/Bloodlust deck,
for instance, probably isn't a good bet because out of those 44 cards, the
chances of drawing even one, much less both Bloodlusts, before exhausting
isn't that good.  Also, factoring in the 15-card Exertion which may further
force you past Donna or your other Bloodlust, and it doesn't seem good.

What you want is redundancy.  That brings us to the Sedarius example mentioned
above.  Even with TCGs limited to two, this is a good bet.  The Kurgan and
Slan can do cheap Power Blows, while Richie can snag an extra Seduce without
using a Darius to do so.  Master Swordsman (CotW #35), a new "free" Power Blow
card, gives extra versatility in attack placement and means the Kurgan and
Richie don't need to make an Exertion.  It also provides a good emergency
defense against Power Blows.

The "traditional" Katana direct-damage deck also works well.  Three Careful
Plannings, three Angry Mobs, and two Toadies can take up eight of those 15
"free" cards in your LM deck, and still leave room for seven more cards to add
a few Master's Blocks or Swordsman, a Nexus, and two Watcher/Treatments.

Another heavy-hitter, curiously, is Kastagir.  Boom Boom is an unpleasant
card, and in this format well worth adding a fifth via a pre-game Darius.
Play 2-3, then use Donna, play a couple again, then play the remaining 2-3
that were in your Endurance when you used Donna.  Play a second Donna, and
play 1-2 again.  Instead of inflicting 4-5 Ability loss with Boom Booms, do
8-9.  Boom Boom only takes up five of your fifteen "free" cards, so put in
Nexus and two Watcher/Treatment, and the remaining seven cards can be used for
five Master Swordsman and two other cards (Second Wind, perhaps?) of your
choice.

As for others, the author will leave it to the reader's imagination.  Donna
Ondrejka effectively makes any Lean and Mean deck much more powerful.  If your
LM deck relies on just 1-3 key cards, you may wish to give it a pass.  But if
you've already got an effective LM deck, Donna will probably make it stronger.

What about non-LM decks?  The problem is, the larger your deck, the better the
odds that the important stuff is in your Endurance waiting to be drawn on a
later turn.  That's exactly where it should _not_ be if you want to use Donna.
To use an extreme example, if Kastagir is using a 100-card deck, and those
four Boom Booms are in the last 10 cards, Donna is just taking up space in his
hand.  Not only that, but since the discard is larger when Kastagir _does_
play Donna, the odds of him drawing back one or more Boom Booms is that much
worse.

Playing Donna Ondrejka "late" when going through your Endurance is also a bad
idea because it can cost you cards that you may be hording.  Watcher/Treatment
is the obvious example:  a card that people will hold until after a pass
through their Endurance and the subsequent 5-Ability "burn."

So overall, Steve gives Donna Ondrejka a _5_.  It is a powerful card, but only
in a particular configuration.  For anything beyond a 50-card deck, it's a
calculated risk.  For decks above 60-70, it's rarely worth the space in your
deck, and can actually hurt you.

What Our Other Raters Say:

Jeff - Awesome for Lean and Mean speed decks.  Why use Sacrifice to get back
your cards when you might get them back with Donna?  Sedarius gets another new
weapon, but one that (to be fair) isn't unbalanced in the least.  Might be
interesting in a perpetual Renee Delaney deck as well, if you don't mind
losing the lock for a turn.

Rick - It lets you get back those nasty combos that you've been pelting your
opponent with.  This one almost does away with card Restrictions.  Okay, I
think it's open to abuse even restricted to 2 but what about in using it?  The
combos I might recover had better be worth the two point Ability loss.

Hank - Donna is a weaker version of the NEXUS card.  NEXUS is discard-to-use,
and limited to one, but doesn't have any ability loss.  I use NEXUS and not
Donna - I have better things to play.  Still, it's probably fairly well-
balanced, I don't know how I would've changed it.

Alan - Admittedly, this isn't a card I have considered much.  My decks tend to
be such that I tend not to have a hand that I want to get rid of, and the two
Ability loss is a little steep for me.

Jim - This one is great for hard hitting Lean and Mean decks.  A single
Watcher/Treatment can offset the two Ability Loss.  Make sure you have either
lots of damage cards or attacks that are unblockable or undodgable.  You need
to have a target-rich discard and the best way achieve this is with a well-
constructed Lean and Mean.

Wayne - [Abstain]

Prodipto - This card, at face value, has a lot of potential.  For the cost of
2 ability, you can refresh a stale hand or give you a shot at putting that
really cool card back in your hand.  But when you examine her more closely, it
is obvious that if you craft your deck well, you shouldn't need her at all.
For the most part I'd use Donna in experimental decks until I had refined them
to the point where she was unnecessary.

Allen - Donna is an imprecise tool for regaining cards from your discard.
Best used when you have a shallow discard, or a very target rich discard (Lean
and Mean decks).  What you get should be important, for the very act of
reaching for it will cost you two points of ability.  While Donna can have a
big impact upon the game, she's not reliable enough for me to consider using
her very often.

Ratings Overall:

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

Average:                4.63