Challenge (Movie Edition)

EVENT - If you make an Exertion this turn, your opponent must make an Exertion
on his next turn.

If last issue's Avery Hoskins is a Situation that forces both players to
Exert, Challenge/ME is an Event that does the same thing on a one-turn basis.

Game-mechanic questions first.  As per the most recent rules, you can Exert
for nothing.  Thus you are never forced to Exert for an attack or defense even
if doing one or the other might limit your attack or defense options

Challenge/ME can be played any time during your turn:  it need not immediately
precede or follow your Exertion.  Thus, you can Exert on the defense phase and
play Challenge/ME in the attack phase, or vice versa.  Once you have Exerted
in your attack phase, you cannot, of course, play Challenge/ME.

According to the last and latest FAQ I have (November 1997), Q13.22, you _can_
play Holy Ground and then Exert if you are forced to by Challenge/ME or Avery
Hoskins (or Kurgan's Taunt).

If for some reason Kalas were to have Chessex out and play this card, play
Kalas/Intimidate, and then Exert, currently the ruling is that the last card
played has precedence.  Thus you would not be able to Exert, even though
Challenge/ME required you to.  If the order of play of these two Event is
reversed, you would have to Exert due to Challenge/ME despite the effects of
Intimidate/Kalas  Why Kalas would _want_ to do this is unclear...

Many of the advantages which apply to Avery Hoskins (CotW #47) also apply to
Challenge.  We'll repeat those for specific Personas below.  Typically,
Challenge/ME lends itself to two strategies:  "tower"-type decks with a large
number of redundant cards, or decks that use Exertion-control cards like
Collect and Master/Swordmaster.

The primary goal of either of these decks is to force your opponent to lose
more valuable cards than you do.  The benefits of Exerting (Power Blows,
Situation removal) are secondary, although still important.

Each card, Challenge/ME and Avery Hoskins, has certain benefits.  Challenge/ME
is superior because it cannot be avoided.  While Focus will let an opponent
avoid the effects of Avery Hoskins for a turn, Challenge/ME is an Event and
therefore cannot be bypassed.

Challenge/ME is inferior for two reasons:  A) it requires that you play a
Special _every_ time you want your opponent to force-Exert next turn; and B)
you can only do so up to six times each pass through your Endurance.

B is particular important because you may be Exerting past a large number of
cards, you may be losing those very Challenge/MEs that you want to play!

As is obvious, this card is really only useful to those Personas who plan on
Exerting.  Thus, Slan and Luther decks have no desire to use it.

As mentioned in CotW #47, Duncan, Connor, the Kurgan, and Kern are primary
candidates, since they all have strong attack-oriented reasons for Exerting.
With the downplay of Continuity/Power Block in newer Personas and the
restriction of Ancestral Blade to 1, a constant barrage of Power Blows can be
painful.  Although Challenge/ME requires the play of a Special, this can be
minimized to some degree thanks to Lunge:  an anti-dodge card that is not a
Special.  Of course, you have to limit yourself to basic attacks while using
it (CotW #36).

Kern is more reliant on multi-attacking than Power Blowing (although a
discarded Flashback can let him do both).  Again, Lunge is useful here.  He
can Exert for and play five attacks, and use Lunge on one of the center basic
attacks.  This means an opponent will have to play at least two dodges and a
block, rather than a single dodge.  Flashing Blade works in a similar manner.
Still, there are other Events to play (Challenge/SE, Rage) that Kern would
probably prefer.

As Jeff Barnes notes below, the Kurgan has Taunt, which forces his opponent to
Exert while he does not.  In and of itself, Taunt _is_ superior.  However,
Challenge/ME then lets the Kurgan forces his opponent to Exert _twelve_ times.
Play Taunt on the turns when the Kurgan can't attack or gains no benefit from
Power Blow/Exerting (like after a Back Away/Pistol).  Play Challenge/ME when
the Kurgan does Exert for a Power Blow.

Unlike Avery Hoskins, Challenge/ME is not very useful to Katana and Fitzcairn.
Why?  Because they can only Exert for their special benefits if they _don't_
play a Special.  They're also not in a very good position to take advantage of
cards like Taunt and Fast Talk, respectively, by making Exertion/Power Blows
since they can't play Challenge/ME and these attack-enhancing Events.

We talked about Annie Devlin last issue.  One of the strategies we suggested
for her in conjunction with Avery Hoskins (using Run Through and Exerting for
a Power Blow) rely on playing a Special the same turn.  However, she can still
pull a "take an attack, prevent the damage, make three Flurry Strikes and
Exert/Power Blow" combo.  If she uses Challenge/ME on top of this, her
opponent must Exert.

If Khan can find something useful to do with his Exertion, Challenge/ME isn't
a bad card for him, either.  If he's willing to Exert for Power Blows, and mix
in a few Feint/Edges to make them wary of taking a Hidden counter-attack, this
can work to his advantage.  As noted last issue, Endurance burning isn't
nearly as big a threat to Khan as it is anyone else.

That leaves Kastagir.  The advantage Challenge/ME gives him over Avery Hoskins
is that of control.  On the turns when he _does_ want to play attacks and
defenses from his hand rather than Exert for one or the other, he can play a
different Special.  On the turns when he does do so, he plays Challenge/ME and
then Exerts and stops after a single card.  His opponent, of course, must
Exert for five.

So overall, Steve gives Challenge/ME a _4_.  Challenge/ME's main weakness is
that it requires you to use up your turn's Special play to use it, leaving you
unable to follow up your Exertion-enhanced attack with the play of another
Special.  Still, it can't be bypassed with Focus or Police.

What Our Other Raters Say:

Jeff - Challenge/ME is not that terribly useful of a card, especially given
that it already (essentially) exists as a Situation called Avery Hoskins.  Who
would you use it with?  Duncan?  You're better off with Avery.  Kurgan?  Try
his Taunt instead.  Katana?  Yeah, right; he's got much better stuff to cause
Exertions.  Even in sealed deck, it's a card with little use that I can see.

Rick - Abstain

Hank - A _much_ weaker card than Avery, because it ties up your Special slot
every turn you use it.  I've never built a deck with this card.

Alan - This is a card that is most useful in decks whose strategy is built
mostly around Exerting, notably Kern, Duncan, and some Connor decks.
Unfortunately, recent errata to Katana makes this card less useful for him
with his power.  As long as you're Exerting anyway, why not let your opponent
share in the fun too?

Jim - Another fine Endurance-burn enhancer.  Less general than Avery Hoskins,
but directed only at your opponent. Great with Katana decks that make heavy
use of Taunt.  Still there are many better cards to play.

Wayne - Challenge/ME is not a card that I have ever played with in a deck.  I
probably wouldn't use this card since it doesn't actually cause any damage and
you may be facing an attack with a power blow as a result of playing this

Prodipto - This is another great card to use with Exertion-reducing cards.
Katana and the Kurgan have the most obvious benefits from it, but a Duncan or
Connor deck that focuses on exerting for Power Blows a lot can benefit from
this version of Challenge as well.  It's especially nasty to play as your
opponent gets low on cards in their Endurance.

Allen - While it requires more effort than Avery Hoskins, Challenge can't be
ignored once played (c.f. Focus) and can't backfire if your own exertion
control suddenly leaves play.  Challenge is a good tool in a Marathon deck.  I
often include it and Avery in Kurgan Power Blow decks, whose three card
exertions give him a distinct advantage over his opponents.

Ratings Overall:

Steve                   4
Jeff                    3
Rick                  N/A
Hank                    4
Alan                    5
Jim                     5
Wayne                   2
Prodipto                6
Allen                   6

Average:                4.38