Snake Bar

EVENT
If your opponent attacked you and you did not play a dodge this turn, your
opponent's first defense played next turn cannot be a dodge.  (Restricted to
4)

Here's a card that looks dangerous.  Like Challenge/SE (see CotW #31), it
inhibits dodging.  Like Challenge/SE, it has the advantage of being an Event:
Locations can be Reconned or removed, Situations can be Focussed or Policed,
but Events' effects can't be bypassed once they are successful played.

Game mechanics first, though.  Despite it's name, Snake Bar is not a Location.
"play a dodge" is pretty specific.  You can discard them, move them a Dojo,
whatever.  But if you play a dodge, from your hand or from your Exertion, your
opponent's first defense can be a dodge.

As far as has been currently ruled, Kane using his ability to take an
opponent's card and "use" it is _not_ playing a dodge.  So he can, for
instance, "borrow" a Jump from Duncan, play Snake Bar, and then make a Hidden
attack that Duncan can't play a dodge from his hand against.  (This ruling is
under reconsideration, however, and may change in the future.)

Note that nothing prevents you from _playing_ Snake Bar regardless of what you
or your opponent played, attack- and dodge-wise.  In fact, there are no
conditions to playing the card at all.  You can play Snake Bar if your
opponent doesn't attack, if you don't attack, if you dodged, whatever.  The
card merely establishes a potential penalty for your opponent, depending on
what you and/or he did or did not do.

Snake Bar also doesn't care _why_ you didn't play a dodge.  If you couldn't
play a dodge because of something your opponent did (played a Snake Bar of his
own, trapped you on Catwalk, whatever), you can still play Snake Bar and keep
them from playing a dodge as their first defense on their turn.

The other important thing to remember about Snake Bar is that it keeps your
opponent from _playing_ a dodge (from his hand, an Exertion, whatever).  Under
the current rulings, this means that Alertness/Dodge will _not_ nullify SB's
effect.  Alertness/Dodge lets you dodge an attack that has been modified to be
undodgeable:  it cannot be played when you are faced with an attack(s) that
you are prevented from playing dodges against.  This ruling may be subject to
change, but currently it stands.

So that's how Snake Bar works.  What do you do with it?

For obvious reasons, Snake Bar will primarily be useful when you are faced
with an opponent who actually attacks you.  You can play it even if your
opponent never attacks, thus meaning SB never "jams" in your hand.  Still, it
wastes your play of a Special for a turn to get rid of it.

There's no real way to currently assure that your opponent attacks.  Louise
Marcus and Maniacal Laugh/Corda and Reno can help, particularly the latter
(which doesn't give your opponent a choice).  Future cards may more severely
penalize an opponent for not attacking.

The attack that you make in conjunction with Snake Bar should be a fairly
potent one, and one that can be made unblockable without the play of a further
Special.  Master's Attack is the obvious choice here, as is the Persona that
should probably use this card (see below).

Power Blows are also a good type of attack to make at this point.  Keep them
from dodging, and if you've dealt with their other ways to Power Block without
an Exertion (Ancestral Blade, Luther Q, any Continuitys in play), they're
going to have to stand and Exert for that Power Block.  Who should do this,
primarily?  More below.

Anti-dodge will also stop the newly-minted unblockable/undodgeable Jump/Leg
Sweep/Master Head Shot.  If Duncan can't Jump, he can't make the Master Head
Shot unblockable.

Unlike Challenge/SE, Snake Bar leaves you with the option to dodge next dodge
_next_ turn.  However, it essentially prevents you from playing a dodge _this_
turn, though.  Also, while it stops you from dodging at all, it only prevents
your opponent from dodging against your _first_ attack.  Still, this keeps an
opponent from taking advantage of your relative immobility next turn.

Since you can't play a dodge and benefit from Snake Bar, a Back
Away/Pistol/Snake Bar combination won't work very well.  For Slan, a
block/Shooting Blade/Snake Bar combo will work.  It's not as good as
Challenge/SE in this regard, however, and he'll probably need to use Parry or
something similar so he can play the Shooting Blade after blocking.

So who should use Snake Bar?  Well, first of all, who shouldn't?  Anybody who
plans on dodging, for starters.  Mark off Amanda right off the bat.  You can
probably disregard Duncan and Fasil as well, and possibly Nakano and Connor as
well.  However, a low-dodge reliant Connor who plans on making lots of Power
Blows may very well wish to use it.

This brings us to those who can benefit from using Snake Bar in conjunction
with Power Blows.  These are the low-dodge types like Slan, the Kurgan, and
Kern for starters.  Other low-dodge types like Kalas, Corda and Reno, and Kane
may wish to do so as well.  Certainly, Snake Bar, when played in conjunction
with Challenge/SE and Trip, can assure that Kalas is going to keep an opponent
from dodging for a very long time.

Yung Dol Kim, like Kalas, has the no-dodge Trip and can therefore pin down a
dodge-heavy opponent.  SB only restricts an opponent defending against his
first attack, though.  However, if he uses Master Swordsman or Master's Attack
on that first attack, then uses his Persona ability and Frenzy to toss off
more attacks, it can prove a formidable barrage.

As noted above, and under the _current_ rulings, Kane can bypass the "if you
play a dodge" restriction by "using" a dodge from his opponent's Endurance,
then playing Snake Bar.  However, this is an iffy proposition:  if he draws a
dodge like Dodge or Back Away, he's probably not going to attack anyway.  And
he's relying on drawing a dodge at the right time.  But at least he can use
his opponent's Back Away, then play Snake Bar and Pistol.  Until the ruling
changes.

We mentioned Snake Bar's use with Master's Attack (the "standard" version)
above.  Who's the guy who can use six Master's Attacks?  Yep, Methos.  As
noted, SB has the advantage that it doesn't impair you on your next turn.
Methos can wait for the right moment to block rather than dodge, than play
Snake Bar and unleash a Master's Attack.  Watch them scurry for those
Alertness/Blocks!

Other Personas:  use it as needed.  Basically, Snake Bar acts either as a
supplement to anti-dodging cards like Challenge/SE and the Kalas/Kim Trip
variant (at least, until a potential Alertness/Dodge ruling is made), or as an
alternative to Challenge/SE if you don't like the dodge-immobilization on your
next turn.

So overall, Steve gives Snake Bar a _5_.  It's a nice anti-dodge supplement,
which can make it useful in Power Blow decks, or when you go up against dodge-
heavy types, or both.

What Our Other Raters Say:

Jeff - The most-changed card in The Gathering, I believe, this card was once a
Location and then a Situation.  Strikes me as being arguably less useful than
a Challenge; the only difference is it takes effect without the opponent being
able to take advantage of it.  I wouldn't play with it unless maybe I wanted
to play Annie with it.  Even then, I dunno.

Hank - Gee, yet another way to stop your opponent from playing Dodges.  Both
worse (ties up your Special for the turn) and better (can work with Special
Attacks) than Lunge.

Alan - What else can be said about this card?  Great card to add more
unblockable/undodgeable attacks to the mix already out there.

Jim - A rather restrictive variant of Challenge/SE.  I'd use Challenge
instead, but if you really want to keep your opponent from dodging you can use
both.

Wayne - Abstain

Prodipto - Abstain

Allen - Snake Bar has the shock value of being played from your hand with no
chance of your opponent being able to avoid its effect.  Still, it takes up
your Special play and compares badly with Challenge/SE.  Your opponent had to
attack you (not a given in the current game), it's limited to four, and you
need a stand-alone attack that has high odds of damaging your opponent.  Snake
Bar can be played after a turn when you didn't have to dodge rather than
keeping you from dodging next turn, but that often seems small in comparison
with its limitations.  I'd probably only include this card if I'd already
included six Challenge/SE and wanted more.

Bruce - If you are under the illusion, after the release of Flashing Blade,
Lunge and Lighthouse, that dodges are still viable cards, Snake Bar should
help put an end to it.  Combined with other dodge inhibitors and unblockable,
Ranged or difficult-to-block attacks, Snake Bar can be the centerpiece of a
potent direct damage deck.  Since you are using attacks to do it, you can even
pretend to yourself that it is combat!  One card that is apparently no longer
just an option in a deck is Alertness:Block.

Ratings Overall:

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

Average:                5.57

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