Mental Ward

LOCATION
While in the Mental Ward, no Objects may be put into play.

This was seems fairly straightforward.  Still, a few game questions to
address.

Mental Ward does nothing about Objects in play.  You may, of course, play
Recon and then an Object while MW is in play.

Mental Ward doesn't stop you from playing Events that later _become_ Objects.
Thus, a Sheathe Weapon/Discard Weapon combo is legal to play when you're in
the Mental Ward.

And...that's it.  Pretty straight-forward, eh?  So now that we know how it
works, what do you do with it?

Well, duh.  Keep people from playing Objects is pretty much it.  When is that
useful?  Basically when one of two things occur:  you're making Power Blows,
or you're disarming an opponent.

What do Objects have to do with Power Blows?  Ancestral Blade, of course.
Even Restricted to one, Alex Johnson assures that if you remove it from play
an opponent can bring it back for an encore performance.  Some Personas don't
even _have_ another way to deal with Power Blows because of their lack of the
"basic" Continuity.  Master Swordsman is nice, but requires that you give up
Master slots to use it.

As far as disarming, Extra Weapon remains one of the more useful ways to rearm
yourself.  The other typical way to rearm is to use Watcher/Fair Fight.  Use
Watcher/Counter to stop this, and Mental Ward to stop the use of Extra Weapon,
and a disarmed opponent is going to remain this way unless they take
extraordinary measures.

Mental Ward also seriously interferes with Immortals who rely on Persona-
specific Objects.  Currently this includes Kern, Corda and Reno, Khan, and
(borrowing from these three Personas) Richie.

One thing to keep in mind is that you shouldn't rely on just Mental Ward to
keep Objects out of play.  A wise opponent will have Reconnaissance in his
deck, and use it to put into play their one critical Object.  MW _will_ keep
them from playing lots of Objects, so you can use Misfortune rather than Thief
to keep up with a potential shower of Objects.

So who should use Mental Ward?  Better to ask who shouldn't, and that includes
the Personas just mentioned:  Kern, Corda and Reno, Khan, and Richie.  Yes,
you can Reconnaissance around MW to play your Objects, but it's a waste of
resources.  Alternately, they can use Master's Sanctuary (CotW #60) to bypass
Mental Ward.  However, perhaps by coincidence, two of these Personas can only
play with four Masters.  Two Master's Sanctuary can represent a considerable
drain on their Master slots . . . and MS is still easily bypassed, since it is
Restricted to two.

Amanda almost falls into the same category.  She can use Continuity to Power
Block, but typically she relies on Ancestral Blade to avoid running afoul of
her Persona ability vis a vis Power Blows/Blocks.  Mental Ward can restrict
her from playing AB at a critical moment.

Mental Ward works well with the new Sheathe Weapon/Discard Weapon combo.
Connor or Nakano can now divest themselves of their sword (sort of) and still
have the sheathed weapon available to rearm, all while with a Mental Ward in
play.  They can either use Master's Disarm (with Nakano using You've Already
Lost as a follow-up), or if their opponent proves reluctant to attack, then
can unsheathe their weapon and go back to combat.

Immortals who rely on Power Blows should probably consider Mental Ward,
particularly Slan.  He has little need for Objects, particularly Ancestral
Blade.  If he uses Watcher/Fair Fight, he can rearm himself as necessary.

The Kurgan, Duncan, and Connor can all Power Blow heavily under the right
circumstances, and might wish to consider Mental Ward.

Since Luther is not dependent on Ancestral Blade, and can rearm using
Watcher/Fair Fight, he can probably afford to use Mental Ward.  He gains no
huge advantage, unless he possibly uses an Intimidate/Master Swordsman
strategy (see PotM #6).

As far as disarming, as noted above, Connor and Nakano do well when using
Mental Ward in conjunction with Master's Disarm.  Fasil is even more the
ultimate Disarm Master, however.  Granted, MW probably isn't as good a choice
as Parking Garage for Iman to fight in.  Still, if he breaks their weapon
(using Forged Steel in conjunction with his standard disarm technique), Mental
Ward is superior since it keeps his opponent from playing Extra Weapon.  As
noted above, Fasil should have Watcher/Counter on hand to keep a Watcher from
deciding to lend out a spare sword.  A similar strategy applies to Methos
using Fasil's disarm strategy (see PotM #13 in May).

Other Personas?  Whether they should use Mental Ward will vary depending on
the particular strategy you choose.  typically, they gain no huge benefit from
doing so, but a particular strategy may lead them to using it.

Before concluding, let's take a look at Mental Ward's "associated" card,
Breakout.  This Event removes MW from play, and lets both sides recover an
Object from the discard pile.  This is of remarkably little use, since MW
neither removes Objects when played, nor is it likely that an opponent lost
Objects to his discard pile in another manner.  It might be useful if you're
following a shared card-loss strategy:  Khan using Desert, Duncan using Avery
Hoskins, etc.  However, since it gives your opponent a chance to recover that
critical Ancestral Blade or Extra Weapon as well, it's probably not a good
chance.  Duncan, perhaps, might need it if he gets in over his head against an
Object-low Power Blow type like Slan or the Kurgan.

So overall, Steve gives Mental Ward a _5_.  It's a so-so Location, tending to
impair some Personas and helping others.  It really comes out average compared
to other Locations.  Some are better, a few are worse.  It's too easy to
bypass currently.  As more Objects enter the game, it might be worth a second
look down the road.

What Our Other Raters Say:

Jeff - Yawn.  Suppose it'll be more useful as Objects become increasingly
powerful, but if it doesn't remove them from play, it's just Reconnaissance
bait.  Aside from messing with Khan, I can't see a lot of use for it.  Notable
in that its "catastrophic" associated card will never be played in a deck
containing it and that it's not powerful enough to play with in the hopes
someone else will play a Mental Ward.

Hank - Works great with Slan decks (no annoying Ancestral Blade to get in your
way).  I like Mental Ward a lot, I use it whenever I'm not putting Objects of
my own into the deck.

Alan - Good card if you're either not playing with Objects yourself, or are
playing a Power Blow or Disarm strategy (prevent the play of those annoying
Ancestral Blades and Extra Weapons).  However, there are other cards that do
the same job, but better, and other, more useful, Locations.

Jim - This is a good card against Object-heavy opponents such as Kern and
Khan.  As more Objects are introduced, this Location will become more
important.  A few more anti-Object cards like this and I'd be willing to see
the limit on Ancestral Blade removed.

Wayne - Abstain

Prodipto - Abstain

Allen - Best used (obviously) in decks that feel Objects can hurt them.  Power
Blow decks that don't want to see Ancestral Blades, and swordbreaking decks
that don't want to see their opponents play Extra Weapon.  It's not as easy to
use as you might think, as it is an easily replaced Location and it does not
remove Objects in play.  Mental Ward doesn't allow you to forget about
Objects, just slow them down.  You will most likely still need to include
Misfortune or Thief in order to gain its full benefit.

Bruce - Mental Ward is fairly weak compared to other Locations.  If it does
not hurt your deck it can be used as adequate Location defense that could
provide you with a some occasional benefits.  The fact that it does not remove
Objects from play makes it a somewhat useful preemptive alternative to Thief
if you play with your own Objects and Master's Sanctuary or Reconnaissance.

Ratings Overall:

Steve                   5
Jeff                    3
Hank                    7
Alan                    4
Jim                     6
Wayne                 N/A
Prodipto              N/A
Allen                   7
Bruce                   5

Average:                5.29