Head Hunter

SITUATION-PLOT/Part 1 - Clues

SITUATION-PLOT/Part 2 - Research

EVENT-PLOT/Part 3 - Arrest
(Movie Edition Version):  To play this card you must have Clues and Research in play.  Discard all 3 cards.  Your
opponent may not attack or block for the next three turns.

(The Gathering Version):  To play this card you must have Clues and Research in play. Discard all 3 cards. Your
opponent is now considered Disarmed and may not roll to regain their Weapon for the next 5 turns.

At long last Card of the Week takes a look at the regular plots, the kind you can pick up in an expansion.

I still retain a fondness for Plots, which have had their ups and downs throughout the history of the Highlander
CCG.  They were initially not particularly viable except for Xavier, who could play with twice the restriction #.
There were not that many Situations, so Police could easily be spared to remove parts 1 and 2.

Then Katana was introduced in ME, and it became practically impossible to complete a plot, even with
Schemer introduced in the same expansion.

Recent errata to Katana has made three-parter Plots a little easier to complete.  At the very least, they
require that Katana devote a bit more effort to removing them.

Meanwhile, the two promotional Director's Cut cards are floating around out there somewhere, making Plots more
viable...if you can get them.

So now seems like a good time to look over the plots.  For Head Hunter, there is also the question of game
mechanics.  For the ME version, you cannot play blocks or attacks.  Discipline/Attack should let you bypass this
effect.  Alertness/Block, however, will not.  Alertness/Block only works against attacks that have been
modified as to be unblockable.  This is not what Head Hunter/ME does.  Rather, it prevents you from playing
blocks from your hand (just as Challenge/SE does against dodges).

For the ME2 version, your opponent is disarmed.  Since Forged Steel refers to Disarming as an action, not as a
card, anything that disarms an opponent will break their weapon while FS is in play.  So this Plot will
effectively break their weapon if completed.

After five turns expire, your opponent is _still_ disarmed, but she may now begin rolling to recover his
weapon (assuming it wasn't broken, Parking Garage is in play, etc.).

For both plots, when the card says for the next 3/5 turns, it is referring to your opponent's turns, and only
her turns.  Yours don't count.

So that's what Head Hunter does.  But it's a Plot.  How do you complete the darn thing?

Start with the realization if you're up against Katana or his Quickening, you're not going to finish the plot.
However, you can still keep them busy.  With the Katana errata, you're keeping them from playing a Special _and_
they have to Exert to stop you.  Not a bad trade-off.  If you can't succeed with a Plot, at least you can make them
pay heavily to stop you.

Once past that, we have Police.  Bedsoe does not affect multiple Plots, but Precinct does.  Simple Mind has no
effect on Plots either.  Police prevention _is_ available, in the form of Disguise/Kurgan and
Escape/Annie.

The effects of Head Hunter/ME1, in the current anti-dodge environment, are crippling.  If your opponent can't block
or attack, play Lunge.  Or Challenge/SE.  Or Trip/Kalas.  Or have a few Master's Advances in play.  If they
attacked you the turn before you complete Head Hunter/ME1 and you have Lighthouse down, complete the plot, defend,
then make a Power Blow.

You don't also have to worry about counter-attacks, so Power Blowing is a bit more risk-free.  Since the
opponent isn't technically "disarmed," they can't play Dirty Tricks and Pistols.

Head Hunter/ME2 disarms an opponent, which does basically the same thing.  However, its effects last two turns
longer.  Your opponent can't "recover" his weapon by die rolling.  Since he's probably not playing with Recover
Weapon, that means you've essentially broken his weapon.

Is this better than Forged Steel?  Yes and no.  You're not dependent on Forged Steel when you use Head Hunter.
This means if you're good at Plots, your odds are better that you'll succeed.  And Head Hunter/ME2, used in
conjunction with Forged Steel, _will_ break their weapon for good.  Once they're disarmed, well...see previous
columns such as Sheathe Weapon (CotW #64) for what to do then.

So who should use Head Hunter?  Well, folks who are good Plotters, for starters.  That's basically Xavier and
Kalas due to their Persona ability and Forgery, respectively.

Both have anti-dodge abilities.  Once Kalas has completed either Head Hunter, his version of Trip keeps them from
dodging.  Meanwhile, if Xavier has stacked a few Cat and Mouse cards, he can play Cat and Mouse/Defense and take
out their dodges.  The target will discard his blocks first, of course.  However, if Xavier has seven CMs down,
the eighth one will probably get their dodges as well.

Since these two Personas are good Plot types, Head Hunter/ME2 could be a more reliable way to break a
weapon.  Thanks to the use of Schemer and Dr. Sonny Jackson, Xavier can slap down all three parts of Head
Hunter in record time.

For non-plotters, the ME2 probably isn't a whole lot faster than a simple disarm strategy.  It suffers from
the same vulnerabilities of rearming (particularly Watcher/Fair Fight).

The Kurgan and Annie have anti-Police cards (Disguise and Escape, respectively).  This can let them keep those
Plots down a little longer, making them a little better Plotters.  Once they've Head Hunted an opponent, a
Bloodlust/Kurgan or Combination/Annie will do considerable amounts of damage.  The Kurgan can even use
Simple Mind, since it won't impact either Disguise or the Head Hunter plot itself.

Since Slan gets "free" Power Blows, a successful Head Hunter can give him a serious advantage.  Ditto for other
Power Blow types (Connor and Duncan).

So overall, Steve gives Head Hunter/ME a _5_ and Head Hunter/Gathering a _4_.  The real issue here is how much faith you want to put in three-part Plots, and how many
Director's Cuts you have.  If you decide to go with Plots, Head Hunter is, along with Destruction and Unholy
Alliance, one of your better choices.  The extra two-turn duration of the ME2 version tends to balance out against
the more powerful ME1 version.

What Our Other Raters Say:

Jeff - (ME) Eh.  This never really inspired much awe from me, and (like Duncan Macleod) I'm not alone.  Perhaps it
could be made more useful with Lunge, but I'd much rather just use a well-built Disarm deck, myself.  [Gathering]
Marginally more useful than the original version, this plot is still inferior to most other ways of disarming
the opponent (particularly Fasil's Master's Disarm).  Not really worth the hassle, though, since it's still not
much of a heart for a "head hunter" deck.

Hank - The first ending was okay when it came out, and made better with Lunge.  The second is easier to squelch
(_everyone_ has anti-Disarm cards in their decks) but lasts longer, so it's a wash.  I like Head Hunter as a
Plot.

Alan - Although the two different plot endings have the same effect, more or less (i.e., being unable to block or
attack), the new ending is inferior in that your opponent can still play any of the various "re-arming" cards
during those five turns.  Given a choice, I would always use the original plot ending, myself.  There are much
easier and better ways to Disarm my opponent.

Jim - [ME] A good plot for beheading decks, especially vs. attack decks.  I prefer Destruction (ME1 version) to
Head Hunter for building Head Hunting decks.  Head Hunter is better for mixed decks that strike a balance between
attacking and using direct damage. Head Hunter takes away your opponent's ability to attack (for the most part) and
his ability to block.  This is a good Plot sequence to use for disarming decks to give them extended time where
the opponent can't attack or block.  [Gathering] This plot sequence is useful, but you'd probably do better
just to use a mix of Disarm, Iron Will, Parking Garage and Forged Steel.   You can probably be more effective
with the same number of cards (you needn't use all the suggested cards).

Prodipto - As with most plots, Head Hunter needs to really serve your strategy to make it worthwhile to
include.  A very nice strategy with the alternate endings is to use Director's Cuts to serve as Parts 1 and 2, and
include 2 or 3 of each ending, giving you a lot of versatility in your deck.  Generally I recommend avoiding
Plots, however, so I rate this card somewhat lower.

Allen - In either form, you're basically disarming your opponent. (Though the older form is more restrictive now
that there are attacks you can play even while disarmed. And Dragon might get used someday...)  However, generally
speaking there are simpler ways to disarm your opponent than trying to complete a three part plot.  If you want
to try either of these, be sure to include Director's Cuts, Schemers, etc. in your deck as well.  I have used
the older version on occasion.  However, look carefully at what you are trying to accomplish and see if
Disarm/Forged Steel might not work better.

Bruce - Plots are hard to pull off and disarm is not a particularly effective strategy.  The tradeoff between
quality and quantity in the different endings creates a toss up on which one to use. It just depends on what you
want to accomplish and the other cards in your deck.

Stealth Dave - While the ME2 version lasts an astounding five turns, it is still vulnerable to all sorts of easy-
access disarm defense, including Master's Disarm (Connor and Nakano) and Watcher/Fair Fight, whose existence makes
Disarm decks in general difficult to compete with.  You're better off with Disarm/Iron Wills or PP... and
Parking Garage; it's a quicker combo that can be repeated even quicker if necessary.  In contrast, the original ME
version is much more potent for the three turns it affects your opponent by not being prone to Disarm
defense.  Combine liberally with Challenge/SE, Lunge/Head Shot, Master's Lunge, etc. and you can do some serious
damage in those three turns, even taking some heads.  If Plots were more viable, I'd give it a higher rating.

Ratings Overall:

Steve                 5/4
Jeff                  3/4
Hank                  7/7
Alan                  7/4
Jim                   6/5
Prodipto              4/5
Allen                 4/4
Bruce                 3/3
SDave                 7/4

Average:                5.11/4.44


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