Stamina

EVENT - Play this card instead of making an Exertion when blocking a Power
Blow.

Well, here's perhaps the most disdained card this side of John MacLeod.  Even
in the original Series Edition, Continuity and simple dodging were superior to
this card.  Even if you were worried about Challenge/SE, only Xavier had to
worry about this, and he could always use Forethought or Carl.

(Note:  throughout this article, unless otherwise noted, when referring to
"Continuity" I am referring to the original version, which let you block Power
Blows without an Exertion for three defenses.)

This brings us to the first release of promos, and the definitive nail in the
coffin to Stamina's status for over a year.  With the release of an
unrestricted Ancestral Blade, there was no reason to play with Continuity,
much less Stamina.  If you wanted, a Chessex deck could stand there and play
two Events a turn while not bothering to attack.  Such a deck could easily
dodge or play Holy Ground to avoid any danger.

The next step was the release of the Movie Edition.  This introduced more
anti-dodge, and also gave us more Personas that could play with Continuity.
Only Katana lacked this card.  Still, when you could load up with six
Ancestral Blades, who cared if you had Continuity or not?

The only real hindrance to Ancestral Blade introduced in the Movie Edition was
Thief.  This prevented you from safely playing multiple Ancestral Blades.
However, since you could simply choose to play one at a time, using multiples
only gave you a small risk of hand jam.

Essentially, there was no real reason to make Power Blows.  The only exception
to this was if you were using Sedarius.

This brings us to the second batch of promos.  The Gathering helped break up
the Chessex combo.  However, cards like the original Safe Haven and Verona
assured that a non-attacker could Power Block with impunity.

And then we come to the "November Surprise":  the major release of errata
which restricted Ancestral Blade to one.  The impact of this was fairly major:
if you lost your one Ancestral Blade from play, only Alex Johnson or Archaic
Collection could get it back to you.

And finally we have the release of Watcher's Chronicles.  The impact here is
three-fold.  Cards like Lunge, Flashing Blade, and Flurry Strike help to make
Power Blows more effective.  Dojo is introduced.  And we get a complete batch
of Personas without Continuity.

So where does that leave Stamina now?  At a higher point, rating-wise, than
any time since its initial release.  Why?

First, a quick game mechanics note.  You _must_ play Stamina with a block, and
against an incoming Power Blow.  If your opponent never makes a Power Blow,
you can never play Stamina.  You can play Stamina and then Exert for a block.
However, you can only do this against a Power Blow.

Why is this important?  Because it tends to restrict one's ability to cycle
unusable Staminas.  However, the answer to this is Dojo.  If those six
Staminas aren't useful, store them in a couple of Dojos.  If your non-Power
Blowing opponent wants to use a Police or an Exertion on them instead of your
other Situations, more power to them.  They're taking out the trash for you.

So who should use Stamina?  Well, let's face it - it still isn't superior to
Continuity.  You can play Continuity even if your opponent doesn't Power Blow.
And six of them can potentially stop 18 Power Blows, while six Staminas only
stop six Power Blows.

Master Swordsman is a nice alternative, particularly if you can't dodge in the
current anti-dodge environment.  Still, this can be an expensive use of your
Master slots.  Xavier might not mind.  However, Katana (Master's Block,
Master/Swordmaster) and Annie and Fitzcairn (Master's Block, Master's Attack,
Master/Swordmaster) might not want to use up their Master slots.

So Katana, Annie, and Fitzcairn almost definitely want to use Stamina.  A
single Lunge/Power Blow can seriously mess up their day.

Xavier and Kalas should also consider using Stamina.  It takes up your play of
a Special, but it's better than losing cards to an Exertion Power Block.

Kern can afford to use Alex Johnson or Archaic Collection, since he has other
Objects that he will want to recover as well (Hogg, Bowie Knife).  He can use
Alex to recover an Ancestral Blade at a critical moment.

If any of these Personas use Stamina, they should use Dojo.  This goes without
saying anyway, given Dojo's wide-ranging usefulness (CotW #34).

What about other Personas?  Well, they've got Continuity.  Particularly if
you're using a Situation-heavy Persona, it's difficult for your opponent to
deal with this Standing Defense.  Rush and Kurgan's Hammer Blow can do so, and
they can waste Police.  However, someone using Continuity still has the
advantage that, unless The Gathering is out, they can wait to see if a Power
Blow is coming and then play Continuity during their defense phase.  This
makes Continuity at least as good as Stamina, even if your opponent removes it
next turn.

The only downside is that you can't use it if Ruins is out.  If you have a
Duncan or Nakano deck that wants to make Hidden attacks and keep opponents
from playing six-area blocks by using Ruins, you may wish to use Stamina
instead of Continuity.  Or you can play Reconnaissance on Ruins and then play
Continuity.

So overall, Steve gives Stamina a _3_.  It has become far more useful since
the WC release.  As the number of non-Continuity Personas increase, it will
remain useful and see wider-spread use.

What Our Other Raters Say:

Jeff - Unfortunately, there's really no reason to play with this card.
Continuity lasts for three defenses, even if it is Persona-specific.
Ancestral Blade lasts forever.  Plus, this card doesn't have the same
advantages with Amanda.  Not really any use for it.

Rick - Abstain

Hank - A worthless card, less useful than Continuity or Ancestral Blade,
certainly... and it's an Event, so it's the only Special you'll play.  Maybe
useful for some decks, but I never use it.

Alan - A definite dust collector in regular play.  There are better cards
available that do the same job (Continuity, Ancestral Blade--even in it's
restricted state).  However, in Sealed Deck format, this card is _extremely_
useful.

Jim - Nearly worthless.  A major dust collector.  Even with Ancestral Blade
being limited and more Situation removers being used these days, Stamina is
just too limited in its use and there are far more effective cards needed.

Wayne - Abstain

Prodipto - Here is a card in desperate need of an Edge to enhance it.  Between
Continuity and Ancestral Blade, there is almost no reason whatsoever to put
Stamina in your deck, unless you're playing a sealed deck tournament.  Even
the picture isn't all that impressive, so you couldn't wallpaper your bedroom
with it...

Allen - Stamina may see an increased amount of use with the Watcher Chronicles
influx of Immortals possessing non-standard Continuities.  But I wouldn't
count on it.  It's a card you can only play if your opponent does something
very specific (I dislike including such cards in my decks) and accomplishes a
feat I can almost always accomplish in another manner; even if I do have to
Exert.  Stamina isn't worthless, but I'd look at my deck very carefully before
including it.

Ratings Overall:

Steve                   3
Jeff                    2
Rick                  N/A
Hank                    3
Alan                    4
Jim                     2
Wayne                 N/A
Prodipto                1
Allen                   3

Average:                2.57

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