Hey guys! Welcome back to Choosing Your Persona. This is the second part of a trilogy, which will focus on a random hand for a Council player. If you missed my first article in the series, go ahead and click here to read that one first so you understand the rules.
The Opening Hand
What you see above is a setup that I put together on Tabletopia. I removed the three Prime cards from the Council Authority theme deck and shuffled it up. I finally pulled the five card starting hand to be able to discuss what we found.
Here is a gallery of the Primes:
Here is a gallery of the cards drawn:
Coincidentally, just like Clarity last week, in this opening hand we have a collection of two rares and three commons. We also have two neutrals and three Council cards. When we look at Wren next week, I am curious to find out if we have the same ratio of rarities.
Highcourt Gala is a very strong card in constructed where you can focus your deck in order to maximize your Kickbacks and roll into a 8-10 point Gala. In limited, I don’t think we will see more than 2-3 points gained. Grand Marshal is a very strong card in both limited and constructed, both enabling the taxing effect for your other guards as well as being very tough on defense (we will go into depth on taxing when we get to Joseph Tromburg). Reconnaissance is card drawing, pure and simple. Highcourt Spy, just like the Perilous Spy last week, is going to be very overlooked by new players. Watch out for him! Lastly, we have the Honor Guard, who is your prototypical guard.
Of all of the Primes in this game, Shaun Mason is the most undervalued by new players. I have observed many newer players and it seems that they have a hard time wrapping their mind around the fact that the game is not a battle to kill an opponent, but rather to accumulate enough victory points (Prestige) to win the game. Because of this, they don’t understand the value of preventing an opponent’s attack. Sometimes “turtling up” and playing defense is the best option. Shaun Mason, known as the Keeper of the Peace, exemplifies this by heavily rewarding you for preventing your opponent from attacking in the first place.
This opening hand is extremely strong for Captain Mason. As a matter of fact, I think I would take a look at this hand and feel a little sorry for my opponent. In limited play, it is difficult to deal with a 6 Might defender, let alone do it twice!
To begin the game, we activate Mason’s first ability. It may not be absolutely apparent, but the rules say that since my opponent hasn’t attacked me yet, Mason will provide me with 4 Prestige on the first turn. With this hand, unless my opponent is playing Wren — or more specifically, Roman Jackson — I would lead off with the Highcourt Spy here. I know, you want to get the Grand Marshal in play as soon as possible. However, the chances of the opponent having a Blitz Follower ready to go on their first turn is not high. Playing the Spy here gives you Kickback as well as a chance to look at your top card. If the card is an Action (and Council has the most Action cards of the three theme decks) you get to draw it. I’d then follow up by playing Reconnaissance, drawing two more cards.
My following turn is most likely Grand Marshal. It is important to also note that the Marshal is going to tax two points when he enters play whether you have it or not. If you have zero prestige, I still get two. I like to play him on the second turn because the opponent probably gained prestige on their first turn, so I want to maximize the tax. Be sure to put the Marshal in the front of your party, he gains 2 Might, becoming a 6 Might defender if the opponent attacks. This is the first instance of preventing an attack.
On my next turn, I will check the Might on my opponent’s champion. If it is 3 or less, I will have Mason allow the Marshal to attack and kill it. If not, then gain the 4 Prestige instead and recruit the Honor Guard at the front of your party. The Marshal will then tax for two again since I recruited a guard.
Don’t forget, once someone reaches the 10+ Prestige Threshold, Mason’s guards gain Kickback, which put him over the top. And yes! Praetorian will give you two Kickbacks after the threshold is broken!
Of the three Council Primes, I think Consul Gentry is the most fun to play as. He let’s you manipulate your deck, play free hidden cards and then gain mad prestige late game. How can any of that be bad? Well, with this starting hand, you may see the weakness of the Consul in limited. Since the deck is so big to start, the quantity of hidden cards can feel watered down, which makes the hidden cards that you do find that much more valuable. If you thought that Mason gaining 4 Prestige was good, just wait until you find your third hidden card!
So let’s get to the bad news first… this is not a good hand for Gentry at all as we don’t have any hidden cards. Because of this, we need to start digging for something better. Enter the nifty Gentry-Highcourt Spy combo. By using Gentry’s first ability, you will look at the top two cards of your deck, put one on the bottom and the other back on top of the deck. If you were smart and put an Action (hopefully hidden…) back on top of your deck, you can draw it with the Highcourt Spy. Since the Spy gave you Kickback, you can now play it. Remember, if the card has the Hidden mechanic, you put it face-down into your Hideout. If you didn’t get the card you were looking for, just play Reconnaissance and get two more.
Your turns are going to look like that a lot. Gentry will spend most of his time navigating through his spy network, finding the missing pieces that he needs for his victory. He is really looking for a clever hidden plan, which he can exploit and gain a ton of prestige. You will definitely need to get those guards into play to keep the rabble at bay so Gentry can continue his scheming behind the scenes. Also, be sure to aim for 4-5 hidden cards. You want to be able to use them, not just collect them. So keep searching for and hatching those plans!
I find myself to be a secret fanboy of the President. Similar to Captain Mason, I think many people will vastly underestimate Old Joe until they find themselves tax locked and can’t figure out what happened. Let me explain…
As I mentioned earlier, we have actually come to name the ability that Mr. Tromburg uses as “taxing.” Any ability in which you take from the rich (or poor) and give to the needy (me!) we lovingly call “taxing.” Mr. Tromburg is the king of taxing, leveraging the full might of the government to keep money coming into the coffers in order to fuel the machine. We actually created a cycle of taxing cards to support this kind of aspect of Council and help empower Tromburg.
Tromburg players need to find a very nice, yet very aggressive mentality. There is a fine balance between the need to prosper (first ability) and to tax (second ability). Many times you can go ahead and increase the board prestige with the knowledge that you are going to tax afterward with another card like the Grand Marshal.
In this game, I like that play, so I lead with Tromburg’s first ability, giving everyone 3 Prestige, then recruiting the Marshal to tax for 2 (5-1 is the score at the end of your turn.). Next turn, I can do it again with the Honor Guard, which would make the score approximately 10-3. The big winner for Old Joe is Web of Propaganda. If you have it in the Hideout, you can tax all of the prestige the opponent gained, which is a six point swing.
Finally, to the victor goes the spoils. Being the President has its perks. If you have the lead and reach 20, you can activate his ultimate ability and just win. How cool is that?
I think this hand was a pretty good one for Council. But really, it shows how a single card like Highcourt Spy can be the definitive first choice play, but absolutely functions differently depending on your Persona. This is true for most cards.
Tune into my next article when I will introduce you to the House of Wren and its Primes. This lesson is not over yet! Now it’s your turn to take this opening hand for a spin. Your challenge is to select one of the Clarity primes and play out two to three turns in a vacuum environment where an opponent is not killing off your stuff. Also, if you want to predict the next few turns’ card draw, let’s see how diverse the play styles can be.
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Until next time…