Avery Hoskins

SITUATION - As long as Avery Hoskins stays in play, each player must make an
Exertion every turn.

While not to everyone's taste, I find Avery Hoskins  extremely useful in a
wide variety of circumstances.

Game-mechanics questions first.  Avery Hoskins is an Ally.  He's a remarkably
useless one to use Seduce/Fitzcairn on, since his effect is the same no matter
whose side he's on.

If you play Avery Hoskins, you have to deal with him that turn.  This means
you have to Exert the turn you play him.  Contra-wise, if you remove him, you
don't have to Exert that turn.  For Katana, Exerting and removing Avery may be
one and the same.

Avery Hoskins has two uses.  The first is to force your opponent to Exert and
lose useful cards.  At the same time, you intend to Exert a lot, want each of
your Exertions to be useful, and want to reduce your chances of losing useful
cards.

This first use is why AH is typically found in "tower" decks, typically
Duncan, Connor, the Kurgan, or Kern ones.  The first three can make "useful"
Exertions by keeping up a barrage of Power Blows.  The Kurgan has a built-in
way to reduce his Exertions to three cards as long as he can attack.  Kern,
meanwhile, can keep Exerting for attacks.

The advantage of a large deck is that you don't lose as many useful cards.
Repetition is the key:  instead of using three or four Avery Hoskins, use all
six.  Instead of two or three Master's Advances, use five to seven.  This
doesn't help much with restricted cards such as Watcher/Treatment.  Cards like
Maurice and Dr. Alan Neyman (CotW #2) can help you grab a vital card for later
use.

The second use for Avery Hoskins is similar to the first.  In this case,
however, rather than relying on a large deck you rely on Exertion-reduction so
that while your opponent is losing five cards each turn, you only lose 0-3.
The accompanying cards you use are Master/Swordmaster and Collect.

So who should use Avery Hoskins?  As noted above, anyone who plans on Exerting
a lot should use AH.  If you're going to Exert anyway, let your opponent share
the fun!

The Kurgan and Kern are the obvious choices here.  As long as the Kurgan can
keep attacking, he can reduce his Exertions to three cards.  Of course, he has
to worry about counter-Hidden attacks.  However, if he loads up on Misfortune
and possibly Thief, he can make sure the opponent can't keep that one
Ancestral Blade down.  Add lots of Lunge, Catwalk, and/or Master's Advance to
keep them from dodging.  The Kurgan also has Diguise to partially protect
Avery Hoskins.

A straight-out Kern deck plans on Exerting as well:  either for attacks, Power
Blows, or to use the damage-avoidance capability of Hogg.  PotM #8 has more
details on the strategies available.  If Kern mixes his attack Exertions with
Rage and Flashback for extra Power Blows, he can prove quite formidable.

Kern can also use Collect, mentioned above, to selectively decrease the size
of his Exertions (when he Exerts for a Power Blow or to use Hogg) and increase
his Exertions when going for attacks.

In the case of a Power Blow-type Persona like the Kurgan and Kern, Avery
Hoskins means your opponent will probably have a reason to Exert:  Power
Blocking, once you deal with the inevitable Ancestral Blade.  Still, this
means they can't Exert for something else.  And they're still losing cards.

As noted above, Duncan and Connor, with their partial or complete immunity to
Hidden counter-attacks, have good reason to Exert every turn for Power Blows.
Connor, with his powerful Restricted Master cards (Block and Lunge) may wish
to avoid this strategy - these cards are easy to go past.  However, currently
Duncan has less to lose.

What about other Personas?  The two that come to mind are Katana and
Fitzcairn:  both of them have Exertion-related Persona abilities.  However,
due to recent errata for Katana, both lose their ability to play a Special the
turn they Exert.  They don't have to, or may not be able to, Exert to use
their Abilities.  However, Exerting for Power Blows is still useful if they
employ Taunt (Katana) or Trip/No Dodge (Fitzcairn).  Perhaps coincidentally,
perhaps not, they both have Master's Block to protect against a hidden
counter-attack.

As an aside, Avery Hoskins is vulnerable to Katana's ability.  However, with
recent errata he must forfeit a turn's play of a Special to remove it.  This
makes AH essentially a Renee Delaney that forces Katana to Exert past five
cards.  Either that, or he Exerts for something else, plays a Special, and AH
remains in play . . .

Another, sometimes overlooked Persona, is Khan.  He has Armor, the only unique
card currently going for him, that he'd rather not Exert past.  However, if he
does Exert past his Armor, he can use Alex Johnson to recover them.  Exerting
every turn means that Khan and his opponent will both Exhaust more quickly.
Khan is better suited to handling Exhaustion burn because of his Persona
ability.  Mix well with Desert and Khan has a strategy that can run his
opponent through quite a few cards.  He should load up on Alertness/Hidden if
he chooses to use the Exertions for Power Blows.

Who else should use Avery Hoskins?  The list is rather small.  If you plan on
pursuing a Power Blow strategy based on Exertions (such as suggested for Kalas
- see PotM #9), you may wish to add AH to your deck.

Amanda and Xavier have no real reason to use Avery.  Ditto for Luther and
Slan, who can Power Blow and/or Power Block without Exertions.  There seems no
real reason for Nefertiri, Richie, Kalas, or Nakano to Exert constantly
either.  That's not to say they _can't_ if you come up with a good reason for
them to do so.  Typically, however, they are better off relying on drawing
what they need rather than Exerting past it.

This leaves two Personas.  The first, Annie Devlin, has a way to partially
protect Avery Hoskins:  Escape.  A Power Blow/Exertion tossed in on top of a
Run Through can give her three Hidden attacks, making one a Power Blow.  If
she can prevent damage (thanks to the two Doctors:  Jackson and Lindsey) while
still being "successfully" attacked, playing three Flurry Strikes from her
hand and Exerting to make one a Power Blow can also prove potent.

The last Persona is Kastagir.  His Persona ability is also Exertion-related.
As long as he Exerts for an attack or defense, he can stop after one card
(whether it's playable or not).  This allows him to pursue the strategy
mentioned above:  minimizing his own Exertions while making his opponent lose
cards.  However, Kastagir must _legally_ Exert for a defense or attack.  Be
warned:  it is currently somewhat vague which anti-attack cards and
circumstances prevent you from Exerting for an attack, and which don't.

So overall, Steve gives Avery Hoskins a _7_.  He's the kind of card you build
a deck around.  The resulting deck can be quite formidable, since card loss to
Exertions (and the subsequent Exhaustion burn) is something few decks are
built to cope with.

What Our Other Raters Say:

Jeff - Avery Hoskins is one of the (tragically) few cards that give an
advantage to larger decks.  Duncan and Kastagir seem to gain the most
advantage with Avery, Duncan because he is built to Exert and Kastagir because
he can (hopefully) find a way to exert a card at a time.  Nice card, one I'd
like to see used more often.

Rick - Abstain

Hank - Avery is a great card for several kinds of strategies.  I've used him
in big decks or in decks where I have lots of Collects and/or
Master/Swordmasters.  He helps greatly in a strategy that's not abusive but is
fun to build decks around.

Alan - Abstain

Jim - One of my favorite cards. Avery is a must-have in "marathon deck".  He's
great at making Lean and Mean decks burn through their Endurance.  Avery also
helps screw up the timing on optimized decks.  The only problem is that Avery
is a double-edged sword.  You need to be able to survive Endurance burn if you
use Avery.  He works well with Exertion reducers such as Collect,
Master/Swordmaster, 0-card Exertion cards, and Kurgan's 3-card Power
Blow/Block capability.

Wayne - Avery Hoskins is a somewhat annoying card that tends to work well with
Kastagir's ability.  The major downside of this card is that it takes too long
to have any effect on your opponent.  I consider this more of a gimmick card
than a good card for tournaments.

Prodipto - Avery Hoskins strategies can be extremely useful.  If your opponent
doesn't have a strategy for dealing with Exertions (and a _lot_ of them!),
then their strategy is likely to be blown out of the water as they Exert past
those valuable cards they need.  This is a great card for Lean and Mean
format.  It's particularly good if used with Exertion-decreasing cards like
Collect, Master/SE, or the Kurgan's special ability.  Of course it's a must
for the infamous "Duncan MacLeod Exert Like A Crazed Wolverine" deck.

Allen - Avery can serve a dual purpose:  force your opponent through his deck,
and force him past valuable cards.  The latter is a bit random, but the former
makes him a required tool in any Marathon deck.  Avery is sweet, simple, and
to the point.

Ratings Overall:

Steve                   7
Jeff                    6
Rick                  N/A
Hank                    8
Alan                  N/A
Jim                     6
Wayne                   4
Prodipto                7
Allen                   6

Average:                6.29

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