Desert

LOCATION - At the beginning of each turn in the Desert, each player must take
the top two cards from his Endurance and place them in his discard pile.

Desert is probably the most overlooked Location, except for Holy
Ground/Location.  Very few people use it.  Those that do, though, swear by it.

There are no real game mechanic questions involved.  The loss of cards to
Desert is a "must do."  It can be avoided by Reconnaissance, but otherwise
even if you remove it by playing a card immediately at the beginning of your
turn, you lose the two cards.

With Desert, timing is the key.  We talked about this two issues back with
Parking Garage (CotW #53).  However, it bears repeating here.  Unless they
have Reconnaissance, your opponent will get nailed by Desert at least once for
two cards.

Moreover, an opponent desperate to avoid losing two cards will remove Desert
right away on _his_ next turn.  What this adds up to is this:  on your turn
you play Desert.  You lose no cards.  At the beginning of his turn, he
(probably) loses two cards.  He removes Desert.  Now, it's your turn.  You
lose no cards, and are free to begin the cycle again.

The dynamics here are similar to those for Battlefield and, to a lesser
degree, Parking Garage, Watcher Regional HQ, and any future Locations that
generate an effect which occurs at the beginning of a turn.

The discarding of cards is similar to that which occurs from Dirty
Trick/Pummel, Dirty Trick/Kick, Improvised Weapon/Attack, Counterfeit, and Cat
& Mouse/Endurance discard.  These cards are all good to use in conjunction
with Desert.

Cards that are almost as useful are those that let you recover items from your
discard pile.  These include Alex Johnson, Forgery/Kalas, and Advance Warning.
I've never been radically impressed by Archaic Collection, but against a
Thief-wielding opponent, it can be a better choice than Alex Johnson.

So if Kalas is looking to complete Part 2 of that Counterfeit, and he loses it
to Desert, he can play Forgery, recover it, and put it directly into play.

For Objects, this is even better.  If Kern lost a Hogg to Desert (his or his
opponent's), he can play Alex Johnson, put Hogg into play, and then Exert to
avoid damage.

So who should use Desert?  Khan is the obvious choice here, so much so that
Desert might as well be considered "his" Location in the same manner that
Mountain Cave is Connor's, or Catwalk is the Kurgan's or Slan's.

Not only does Khan have less to worry about from exhaustion, but he can use
Alex Johnson to recover his valuable Objects lost to the sands.

You can take your pick with the size of your Khan deck.  In Lean & Mean
format, you can exhaust an opponent rapidly and cost them valuable cards they
require for their combinations.  Or you can go with a larger deck.  Once
Conjure becomes legal, deck size will mean very little when it comes to Khan
finding his Armor, or using Alex Johnson to recover those lost to the discard
pile.

Who else should use Desert?  Well, anyone using the Khan Quickening, who isn't
_too_ reliant on elaborate card combinations.  In Lean & Mean format, you can
injure someone pretty serious through Exhaustion burn, while fending off their
attacks.  As noted above, using Desert will almost inevitably cost them 12
cards out of 44.  If they respond quick enough, that's all they'll lose...but
you'll lose nothing.

Larger tower decks might also find Desert useful.  In such large decks, it
might be wise to mix Locations - a Catwalk here, a Desert there.  If you're
the Kurgan and worried about being pinned down in a Dead End Alley, playing
either one will allow you to Back Away.  And they'll still be losing two cards
per turn.  That might not hurt your deck much, but it can be painful for them.

Personas who can favor tower decks include Duncan, Connor, the Kurgan, and
Kern.  Any of these may find a use for Desert in their deck.

And finally, we have a look at Desert's companion card, Dust Cloud.  Quite
frankly, so what?  It does force your opponent to make his next attack Hidden
(if he chooses to attack).  However, this is really only useful against Connor
Feint decks, and they're probably already using Mountain Cave if they want
this strategy.  The "standard" Trip is more reliable, removes Standing
Defenses, doesn't give your opponent a Hidden attack, and doesn't track sand
in the house.

Also, the upcoming rules re-release will establish that Hidden attacks are
_always_ optional.  So you can never force your opponent to make an attack
Hidden anyway.

So overall, Steve gives Desert a _6_.  It's a nice card, and vastly
underestimated.   Depletion of cards is a strategy that bypasses Nefertiri and
her Quickening, and against smaller decks can be crippling.

What Our Other Raters Say:

Jeff - Another card that discourages slim decks.  Useful in that your opponent
(much like Battlefield) must fulfill its conditions before being able to play
a Location to replace it.  Good reason to carry a couple of Recons in a Lean &
Mean deck.  Might actually make a L&M Khan deck useful.

Rick - Abstain

Hank - I've used this (along with Avery and other similar cards) in Exhaustion
decks before.  It's a nice Location, not one of the more powerful ones but not
totally useless either.

Alan - A great location for Endurance-burn decks.  It's best use is found when
used in conjunction with Khan/Khan Q/Second Wind plus Avery Hoskins.  Cheesy,
but effective.

Jim - A killer Location if you are using a marathon deck or just want to screw
up your opponents deck timing.  This one even affects Nefertiri.

Wayne - This Location is sometimes used by heal decks to hurt the decks that
rely on combinations of cards for damage and of course exertion decks.  I have
played it before and found it to not be very effective.  It brings too much
luck to the game because you can exert past cards you need while your opponent
may exert past his trash.  It's not one of the better Locations.

Prodipto - An excellent location for tower decks or for Khan decks.  Most
competitive decks aren't built around losing two cards off the top every turn.
One of the truly brutal Locations that, if you can't get rid of it, you better
hope you don't lose anything too valuable to your strategy.

Allen - I hate Deserts.  Of course, that's because they are usually played by
my opponent!  Another good tool in most Marathon decks.  Like all Locations,
however, it does bite both ways.  It is a bit harder than most Locations to
"prepare" your deck for Desert, other than simply making yours big and not
relying upon cards with  small restriction numbers.  (Good advice for any
Marathon deck.)  However, you might want to consider the use of Dr. Alan
Neyman.  The only drawback to Desert is that its associated deck type isn't
especially reliable yet.

Bruce - I use Desert mostly two ways. First, to get past Nef Discard when
headhunting. Second, as Location defense in large decks.  Useful, but not key
strategically like other locations.

Ratings Overall:

Steve                   7
Jeff                    6
Rick                  N/A
Hank                    5
Alan                    5
Jim                     8
Wayne                   4
Prodipto                9
Allen                   6
Bruce                   5

Average:                6.11