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Paul Carrey's
Mostly Useless Card

Program of Extermination
Event - Cost 3
Duration Effect: Discard all troops vanquished during battle rites.

Summation:  During the interval of the duration effect, all troops who participate in a battle rite (or are somehow targeted by one) and are vanquished are discarded instead of becoming subdued.

First, let's think of the ways that this card could potentially be used.  Either we (as the attacker) want to use it to discard our opponents' defending troops, or we (as the defender) want to use it to discard our opponent's attacking troops.

Looking at the first scenario, if we load ourselves up with lasguns and Valours of the brave (+2 battle enhancement), we are in no danger of our own troops being discarded.  We can damage our opponent if he has stacked up his fiefs with defending troops, or if he has a guard commander out with troops assigned.  But in either case, our advantage is questionable.  If our opponent counters with his Guard Commander, and notices that this event has been deployed, he will probably not include any attached troops in the rite.  Even if he decides to throw some force at the attacker and lose one or more troops in the process, he will likely be able to replace them in plenty of time to stop our next attempt. Plus, it is a big gamble, especially in a 2 player game, to assume that our opponent will have any troops that we will be able to vanquish.   Of course, if our opponent has troops that can help him defend his fief and he sees this card, he might be intimidated into not using the troops and letting the fief become subdued.  But in many circumstances a player would let the rite go through and count on either putting another defender out or taking out the attacker during his own turn.

The other use of the card is on the defense.  Trickier, because you have to go first and deploy this event on your turn.  But the main problem with this has to do with the nature of the game, at least in its competitive state.  First, if you are wasting too much money (and deck space) on cards to defend a particular fief, you are probably going to be doomed anyway, if your opponent is at all competent.  Also, the most common and useful way to "enhance" your fiefs is to assign battle-participating personae to the fief, to contribute defense points and a little bite.  But those personnel are often "troops", which you must exclude because of their vulnerability to your own POE event!  Of course, there are other ways to beef up your fief.  Like, you could dig up and dust off those venerable old cards like Botanical Testing Station or whatever.  Then maybe you'll find a way to create a super defense combo! 

Yea.  And maybe I'm a Fremen Ornithopter Pilot.

Of course, your opponent will probably be able to win without the fief you are defending.  If not, slap him around a little and send him to his room to build a decent deck.  That is, unless you're  like me and your opponent is your cat.  I don't want my rares shredded.

Finally, if we take everything else into account, the 3 token cost if this card is on par with Production Bonus and Choam Restructuring, which are much more useful under a much broader range of circumstances. In fact, it is sad but true that, in 99 percent of decks, you could remove all your funky events and replace them with 4 Production Bonuses, 4 Spice Blows and 4 Choam Restructurings, and instantly make the deck better.  But in any case, there's no way that this event should cost 3 tokens.

A good way to make the card useful?  Why bother?  When there are so many good ways to discard your opponent's counter personas and other threatening resources, who cares about his troops?  With any worthy opponent, you can't depend on their use of any particular resource, so you should never build a deck that defends against any one type of attacker or style of attack.

But one way to make this and other Duration effect events more useful is to rule that all DE events stay deployed and lose tokens like Nexus events do.  In other words, for this card you'd still have to wait for 3 tokens (unlike a nexus event), but then it stays out for a few turns when it finally is deployed.

Paul Carey
Mentat Bashar

Shelter the Lisan Al-Gaib
Program/Cost: X
Assign 1 program token each time a defender you govern Counters and survives the rite.  Venture: Produce 4X solaris in your treasury.  X
equals the number of program tokens assigned.

It is important in a storyline-based expansion to include cards that relate to events in the story.  Obviously, this card represents such an attempt.  Ideally, a card trying to do what this card is trying to do would reward a player who has Paul Atreides deployed and who "saves him" from demise by countering with another character.  After all, we all know Paul Atreides is the Lisa Al-Gaib.  But the designers probably wanted to make the card more universally useful (a worthy goal, indeed) and therefore have limited it only by making its allegiance Fremen. 

The main problem with this card, along with most of the other programs, is that the reward doesn't justify the cost.  Programs that reward with spice (as I think this one should!) might be worth the trouble of paying a buck, losing income or other benefits from your homeworld for a turn, and then later tapping one of your personas to redeem the program.  I say might, because there is also the ever-present vulnerability of the persona to which the program is assigned.  Even without rites, there is still Poison Gas  Tooth.  And if your opponent is novice enough to actually include a program-killer card in his deck, you can lose it that way too. 

Some might say that gaining four solaris or 2 favor per token is roughly the equivalent of gaining 1 spice.  I donít agree.  Programs are likely to be redeemed within the last 2 turns of the game.  It is far more likely, in my experience, that you will be lacking spice at that point rather than favor or money.  Those spice canít be bought with favor, and maybe not with solaris either...the Guild Horde is likely to be running dry, and youíre limited to buying three at a time anyway.  If you get spice from a program, you can still also buy and mine spice in the same turn. 

Another minor point is that any deck that focuses on program requirements (as it must be to make your program pay off) wonít be as focused on  grabbing up spice, and therefore you are even more likely to need spice at the end of the game.

Ok, now lets move on to why this card is particularly useless, even for a program.  Many of you realized this as soon as you read the text.  It is very unlikely for the conditions of this program to come about even ONCE in a game, much less three or four times, which would be necessary to make the program pay off.  Whenever it is obvious that you have this program out and personas who could potentially counter, your opponent will be careful about how he attacks.  So, as far as I can tell, the only way you are going to counter and survive is if these conditions are met:

1) You have an unengaged persona who is not the target of the rite but who has the appropriate talent.

2) You have two different tactics in your that allows the persona to counter and one that either stops the rite at that point or negates the force.

Your opponent can thwart your program easily just by focusing on spice-grabbing, reducing your favor or toothing your personas and avoiding rites altogether, as most competitive decks are designed to do.  Even if your opponent does what you want him to do, you are playing two cards from your hand in order to gain one token that is  otentially worth four solaris toward the end of the game.  That doesnít seem like a deal to me. 

A card with such limitations should pay off better than a card that is more universally useful.  A good first step to fix it for your playgroup  is to make this and other programs more useful.  I think it is a good idea to enact a house rule that allows you to reap solaris from your homeworld when you engage it to deploy a program.  This particular program should then be errata'd to produce spice instead of solaris or alot more solaris...I think at least 2 spice or 8 solaris per token would be necessary.

There could be ways to use the program that I havenít mentioned, and Iíd love to hear from those of you that have creative solutions.  But even if you can avoid the two-card combo I mentioned above, I think you will be hard pressed to put enough tokens on this card during an average game to make the program worth playing.

Paul Carey
Mentat Bashar
October 4, 1999

Fortune of Al-Lat
Venture - Transfer/Cost 0
Reduce your favor by X to transfer X cards from the top of your
imperial discard to your Imperial Deck.  Reshuffle your Imperial
deck afterwards.  X may not exceed 5.

    I first came across Fortune of Al-Lat when it was sent out as a promo card.  At that time, in the early days of the CCG, I was delighted to come across any non-EOTS card I could find, and I immediately began to try to find a way to use it in some kind of funky, imperial-card-based deck concept.  However, it quickly became clear to me that this cardís cost far outweighs its benefits.

    On the surface, FoAL's ability seems to be potentially useful. All of us end up chunking imperial cards from our assembly at some point, and  sometimes our useful imperials get discarded by card effects.  It would be great to be able to get those cards back, wouldnít it? 

   It would be nice indeed, but not at the cost that this card demands. First, you must start at the top of your imperial discard pile.  The problem here is that itís too common an occurrence for a player to discard an imperial charter  because another faction has it deployed or because it is no longer useful to the playerís strategy.  If these ďuselessĒ
imperials were discarded more recently than the useful imperials beneath, you must pay for the useless ones along with the ones you want, at the cost of a favor each.  Then the useless imperials get shuffled into your imperial deck, where they will simply come back to haunt you and take up valuable assembly space, unless youíre lucky enough to get rid of your opponentsí versions of the card or find some new use for the card in the meantime. 

   Second, the cards you retrieve are not sent directly where you can (potentially) access them.  They are simply shuffled into your deck. By the time they reach your assembly, it is likely that either someone else will already have the charter/persona/decree/whatever deployed, or you will no longer have a use for it.  If you truly have the Fortune of
Al Lat and you manage to get a useful imperial back into your assembly at a time where it will be useful, you still have to get it from the assembly into play.  Imagine the snickering from your opponent as he escalates the bid on a card that you have already payed for once! 

  The final blow to this cardís usefulness (as if we needed one after those first two!) is that it is a Venture.  One of your untapped personas is going to have to tap to put this card into effect.  It would be better to put a more useful Venture on your persona.  There are many to choose from.

   A good fix for this card is that it delivers the imperials directly to your assembly.  That way, you can potentially set yourself up a major shopping spree if your opponent is low on solaris and youíre not.  You  can later use the extra income you earn from all those charters to buy back the favor you lost in recycling the imperials.  I wouldnít personally use this card unless it was also a tactic, or better yet, an event. Yes, come to think of it, this card would have been a good event. After all, it is more than a little goofy for one of your personas to go on a quest to seek good fortune.  You expect those well-paid minions of yours to be doing more important things with their time.  But who am I to speak of doing more important things?  Iím writing articles on  useless expansion cards for an out-of-print card game! 

Paul Carey
Mentat Bashar
October 12, 1999

This weekís mostly useless card is a request from Keane R. Peterson.

Lisan Al-Giab - Voice of the Outer Worlds
Decree : Enhancement : Title
Cost = 5, Fremen Allegiance
Assign to a noble heir. 
Declaration tactic: Engage to immediately end a rite in which any native 
persona or Dune fief you govern is declared a participant. The rite 
still counts against the attacker's House interval limit.

Hereís what Keane had to say about it:

>What a serious pain to try and include this card in a Fremen deck! 
>Though it has nice potential the limitations are just frustrating.
>The only target for this card is Paul Atreides (noble heir). But the 
>only way to assign it to him is with a Secret Allegiance (or maybe 
>Disguising Uniform, Tat card that obscures allegiance). Ugh! A card
>that I think should have it's allegiance symbol removed (much like
>Guild Bank). 

   What is it with these Lisan Al-Gaib themed cards?  This is the second one to catch my attention, the first being "Shelter the Lisan Al-Gaib", a very useless card indeed.

   Anyway, I agree that the allegiance is a problem.  Itís OK with me if the designers wanted to restrict the use of this card to the Fremen.  But, as Keane mentioned, you have to find some way to assign Fremen allegiance to Paul first before you can assign this card to him!  Hardly appropriate for a card that was designed to be assigned to Paul 

   Even taking this major setback into consideration, the card still isnít worth its cost.  Any card that has a very narrow use or which  requires other cards to be used in combination with it isnít worth as much as a card with broader uses, and shouldnít cost as much.  Now,  think about the other five-cost imperials, and compare them to this one.

   Five solaris and a space in your imperial deck, after already deploying Paul Atreides and, say, secret allegiance...and what do we get, Ed? 

   "Why, we get the ability to engage Paul Atreides to end a rite that targets a Dune fief or native Persona!" 

   But wait, Ed!  What keeps my opponent from attacking Paul Atreides?  After all, heís not a native.  And what about my non-Fremen aides, and all those non-Dune fief money makers that I desperately need to supplement the Forbidden Zoneís paltry income? And if Paul is engaged and I donít happen to have a Rachag Stimulant in my hand.

   "Hey, quit picking on me.  I didnít design this card!"

   Ok, ok.  But there are better ways of stopping your foes from attacking you, and plenty of personas and charters that pack more punch all by themselves than the Paul Atreides/ Secret Allegiance/Lisan Al-Gaib combo does.  Do yourself a favor; Put a more useful persona in your deck in place of Paul, put another charter in your deck to subsitute for Lisan al-Gaib, and find another way to fend off your opponentsí rites.  I like to use Lost in the Desert and Priority Matter myself.

Paul Carey
Mentat Bashar
October 27, 1999

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