Secret HQ

art (c) Mike Trap


Two-Fisted Tales

Again we find ourselves in a sub-juncture, much like Boom Chakalaka found us in the 1970s.  With Two-Fisted Tales, the Secret War works it's way to the American pulp era of the 20s, 30s and 40s.  With a very mixed result.  Even the art is a very mixed bag, with a few outstanding pieces, and quite a few that are disappointing, especially considering how strong the art was for Seven Masters.

Overall, I think 2FT falls into the weak range of sets, with very few standout cards that will effect the post Seven Masters metagame (which is mostly a post-Red Wedding metagame anyways).  There doesn't seem to be much of a theme beyond the flavor, and there isn't a lot of synergy in this set.

And for card clarifications, check out the official Two-Fisted Tales of the Secret War FAQ.


Not at lot to say about it -- it's a limited Back For Seconds, that only works during attacks, and gets all characters with the Soldier designator.  Play thugs, go to town, and then unturn and go to town again.

Colonel Wilhelm Reiger
Well, you can pretty much figure out what deck the Colonel is going to go into -- the Battleground Soldier deck.  It's sort of cookie-cutter, but it can be fun to play.  Turning a  Killing Ground for +2 fighting isn't half bad.  It does wear off at the end of the turn, but it's still a little damage.  Remember the Colonel isn't a soldier (unless he visits the ID Chopshop), so he can't pump himself.

  Dr. Klaus Herrbruck
Bad Bad Bad.  Here we have what I consider to be an inferior Salvage, and how often do you play Salvage?  And how many non-character non-site
cards are there worth reloading?  I count 3 -- IKTV Report, Information Warfare and Neutron Bomb.  I have a big deck that actually uses Salvage, and that usually janky card is light years above Klaus, and it gets back your CHARs.
Save me giant robot!  Well, mecha have finally crashed their way into Shadowfist.  I don't think they will make a very big splash, as their first offering is pretty much bottom-of-the-barrel.  I really try to squeeze BK-97s into decks, because I know it's good, and I know it's better than Eisenriese, but often the attack chopper gets left aside after the first card culling.  Note that Eisenriese requires a hefty
, something that your 2FT inspired theme deck is going to have a real hard time pulling off -- Soldiers and just seem to be on two separate paths, and good luck getting chocolate in your peanut butter.
  Elsa Winterhagen
Yeah, she's a nice big thug with reasonably low resources required.  She's not going to be intercepted a lot, as she can clear two opposing characters for only 3 damage.  She's in the category with Homo -- a big site taking machine, but very vulnerable.  Her obvious combo is with Blitzkrieg to take 2 sites for the win, assuming you can get a boat load of power.  Don't be afraid to redirect damage to one of your own characters if there's no other target.
  Guard Tower
I think this is worthy of the ArcanoSeed legacy, and is good enough to throw in a random deck for a little extra defense.  Wouldn't it be nice to keep that annoying Friend of the Dragon (or better yet, Scrappy Kid) from doing a number on your Vivisector or ArcanoTech?  While not outstanding, this is the type of card, if you can keep characters in play, that is going to help keep them around for a little while.
  Probability Manipulator v2
It's been around forever, and it's always been good when you can get one into play, but now it's balanced, and it's gonna kick booty.  There are so many cool things to do with it that I can't name them all.  Time to dig up those Paradox Cubes!  Note that this is official errata, so all your old 4-cost ones can be played for 2 cost.
  Rabenfels Castle
Well, I'll start off by saying it's probably better than Cr�che of the New Flesh.  It's big and tough enough to give you some extra protection through the toughness.  A disappointment is that it's not going to be a good combo with Colonel Reiger -- yes, you can give a Battleground Toughness:2, but you don't really want to be playing a printed 2-cost Feng Shui site in a Battleground deck as it will give you fits and starts with your power generation.
I really hate this card.  It's counter too the designator madness that has been the Z-Man era of Shadowfist.  It's a hoser, and we all know that hosers usually effect one opponent most, making for an unstable game and generally an unfun time (for at least the target).  Like all hosers, at it's heart, Repression is a meta-game card.  Look at your play environment -- are there a couple of players that religiously stick to designators?  If so, time to hose them.  Honestly, this card is good enough to go in most decks, even if it's discarded half of the time.  Getting it out is potentially gonna put a world of hurt on someone (can you say Pledged?).  This is going to be extra fun in the Comrade-in-Arms format.
  Rocket Team
This is another card that I wish cost 1 less resource -- other than Reiger, it's the only 2-cost
providing card in the game that requires more than 1 resource.  That aside, the Team is okay -- they can do some good scouting for you, site softening, and even site removal in a pinch.  Note that they can be stopped by a Whirlpool, so you have to take that into effect in your planning.  They also have the Soldier designator so you can do a few other tricks (and they're one of only 3 providing soldiers).
Here we have a foundation that doesn't do much of anything against some factions (Dragons, Ascended) but has a chance to really work over some of the usual suspects from the 1-cost talent heavy foundations factions (like the Hand, Monarchs and Purists).  I mean, these guys are okay just by themselves, and if you are trying to do tricks with the Soldier designator, they are a real good choice for foundations.  I don't think they are as strong as BuroMil Grunts, but they do make a good replacement for PubOrd Officers in a lot of decks that are trying to fill out foundation spots.
  Supersoldier Serum
This is pretty much right on the curve -- medium resource requirements, a play only on unturned characters, and a good fighting bonus.  I kind of wish it gave the soldier designator, but I guess that's too much to ask.  This makes an okay alternative to Buro Godhammer and Pump-action Shotgun, both of which are top-notch cards.  This gives you a little situational diversity, especially when you're not relying on evasion/ambush to get damage through.  Notice the really low-tech play of attacking, playing Blitzkrieg to unturn your soldiers, then seruming up.
He's big and bad and mostly bad.  Play him and thug it up. To get the most mileage out of the super-man, you are going to want to have some 0-cost events to make sure he gets tough when you want him to, so that will probably require dual-factioning with someone who has lots of soldiers and 0-cost events, like say, the Ascended (or the Monarchs in a pinch).  Note that you really need Soldier tricks to make this guy of use -- think about it this way -- if he always had Toughness:1, how good would he be?   (my conclusion is not very).
Hey hey mama said the way you move.  Gonna make you shake, gonna make you groove.  err, sorry about that.  The mighty Zep is a so-so card at best.  There are better cards for damaging sites, and just better cards in general.  This is also too close to Eisenriese and Tommy Gun for variety in one set.  Probably Supersoldier Serum too.  Yes, oh the humanity, you can crash it into your own damaged site to keep someone from taking it, but that's just too much for me to stomach.

The Owl is one of the better ReAscended to date.  It's nice to see them sticking with theme over several sets (cough Seven Masters cough), although I'd really like to see some non-character
cards.  We've all played Veroon, so we know how good +3 hand size is, especially in a faction with the best 0-cost events.  Then we get to the growth factor -- her minimum fighting is 4, which ain't so hot, but it can grow pretty fast, and I see her as a 4-for-7 enough of the time to make her a threat.
  Femme Fatale
People are always looking for new reasons to hate the Ascended, and this is a pretty fun one.  There's not a lot of strategy to Femme Fatale -- drop her, and then watch all the attacks chill out as your opponents argue about who's going to be the chump to take her out.  This is a deterrent card -- it deters attacks against you, but it wont completely stop opponents from attacking each other, so you don't want to overly destabilize a game.  Another great trick for Is That All You Got?
Here we have a solid foundation, good enough to play in any deck where you're taking a break from the brokeness that is Family Estate.  Notice that we have yet another reason not to play 2-cost foundations in these guys.  I think Gangsters are the foundation of choice when making an Ascended Hood deck, letting you cut down on the sometimes expensive Students of the Shark (unless you are really working Family Estate hard).
Holy Walking Corpses Batman!  It's been a while since the Pledged got some juice, and here it is.  While G-Man isn't quite the turn 2  monster that corpses it, they start dropping out turn 3 with a Family Estate without crippling your ability to play FSS.  And while burning is somewhat passe' since the change to Pocket Demon, getting a 2-for-5 or 6 late game is almost like Dark Traveler.  Now that I think about it, G-Man ain't the bomb, but it's an okay filler for that 2-3 cost niche in a more robust deck, especially if you've run low on Oliver Chens..
  Gun Moll
The Dishy Hood can dish.  Here's what I like to see, a designator card (Hood) that's good enough to play outside of a designator based deck.  You're pretty much going to play her and target a character belonging to the player to your left, and then watch them squirm and try to dump their hand.  You can always attack for 2 in a pinch.  Get out Gun Moll and Femme Fatale, and you have a one-two punch that it going to irk your opponent's to tears. 
  "Hammer" Harrison
First thing first, you never want to be playing 3-cost foundation characters, so don't think of "Hammer" as one.  Think of him more as an unaligned character.  In fact, think of him as an unaligned Hood.  In reality, this is maybe a 1-of in a thematic Hood deck, but that's about it.  Really.  Compare him to Shung Dai -- for 1 more power, you get 2 more fighting, toughness:1 and +1 to the immunity.  Sure, Shung's at the top of the curve, but this guy needs to trade in his hammer for some new duds and join The Suits.
  Hired Killer
"Play on a Hood character" -- that alone is enough to tell you that this card is going to be bad.  Hrm, this gives them non-attack ambush assassinate.  That sort of okay, but so situational, and it it means you have to keep your character unturned -- Hired Killer is just one of those cards that you don't want to be playing. 
  John Fenris
He definitely does fit his Dragon background (don't believe me?  look at his resource provisions).  He's what you expect from a 6-cost thug, he takes sites baring getting zapped by an event or a site.  The copy ability is just plain crazy, and you never know what you can wind up with.  The Ascended are okay at getting to 6 power, but you just know he's going to draw a lot of fire, so you want to look for ways to replay him at a discount like Golden Comeback.  Try to think of John Fenris as an inferior Eastern King (okay, way inferior).
  Master of Disguise
I have mixed feelings on this card, and it's going to take some time to figure out, although I suspect I wont be playing it much.  If you haven't figured it out yet, this card really reads "spent 1 power to smoke a unique character whose controller has no power" -- it's a very powerful effect, but somewhat restrictive and slow since it's a State.  Again, time will tell, but this card can have a really good annoyance factor.
  Murder by Night
This card is overly complex for a 3 Fighting BuroMil Grunt, but that's what it is, with Assassinate to boot.  It's probably best when used as takeout for one of those really annoying specialty characters that it's not worth committing more than 1 power to get rid of.  I don't think you can Rig Dis from Murder, as it's the event causing the Sacrifice.
  "Throw Me the Idol..."
Strictly a fun card, and if you have good opponents, it's not going to do much for you, as they should (rightly) decline in ever giving an Ascended player power.  This sort of belongs in "I'm your pal" kind of deck with Triumvirate Dealmaker and Ulterior Motives where you're just toying with your opponents much like a cat with a mouse.  Don't expect to get 2 power from me very often,  you Ascended rat.
  Tools of the Trade
Yet another bad Hood card that you really shouldn't play.  How often do you really need Assassinate?  And why aren't you playing Sting of the Scorpion then?  Heck, even Nine Cuts?  Double heck, Red Lantern Tavern.  Stealth is faction power for the Ascended, but spending power on such a restrictive form is too much.  Look at the Dragons -- they got a stealth state in 2FT (Bullwhip) that's less restrictive and potentially free with Kar Fai's Crib.  This is a great example of a card that should cost 0 power, in which case it would still be bad, but at least you could play it in a janky hood deck for fits and giggles.
  Vincent "The Jackal" Benilli
His ability is so good he can't give it to himself -- NOT!   This guy is pretty much a loser -- sure you can put him into your Hood decks, and you know, he's gonna win you the odd game, but there are just so many other cards that are going to be consistently better when you draw them it's not funny. 

For all it's fancy wording, this State basically grants Stealth to one of your attacking characters (not necessarily the subject, as you cause someone incepting another attacker to cease).  And when you don't need the Stealth, it's got a nice gravy +1 damage.  And it's a weapon, so you got all the cards that combo with weapons.  And it's a
State, so you can chill out in Kar Fai's Crib.  Not a great card, but it has some serious utility potential, and playing one in a deck (especially if you're cribbin) isn't going to hurt you.  It is Limited, so don't go nuts.
  Captain Jake Molloy
Here we have a pretty hum-drum Dragon thug.  Guts is always nice, but as I've said many times before, Mobility is often a disadvantage as it will often force you to intercept in situations where you would rather have someone else be the chump.  His discard a card to cancel an Event is very touchy, and is more a gravy-ability than a main power.  You'll soon realize he's no Billy Chow, and his cancel ability is limited and costly.  Overall, he's less interesting that both Mad Dog and Big Mack, and how often do you squeeze them into decks?
I like it.  But then again, I love Surprise Surprise and Unexpected Rescue.  Purely for fun, and random fun at that, if you hit the jackpot, you can get a great cheap win on Cliffhanger.  It's obvious, but you want to load up on Unique characters when playing this, but the Dragons have such a nice range of Uniques of all cost, that shouldn't be a problem.
  Damsel in Distress
Possibly the worst faceoff ever?  I don't know about you, but I don't like risking giving my opponent a 3-cost character return when I don's have to.  And if I'm playing the Dragons, I don't have to.  Who wouldn't have rather just seen a reprint of Is That All You Got? over this card?
  David Maxwell
I'd almost like this card if he cost 1 resource less.  Again, he's just another trick for ITAYG? and Can of Whupass.  And not the best trick at that.  I hate to say it, but his best use is probably to foil a Shadowy Mentor on The Nemesis, but that's just all-around bad times for you. 
  Dr. Amanda Snow
Again with the 4-for-6 Guts?  Well, at least this time the we have an interesting ability to build a deck around and have interesting situations come up in play.  First, we have a gravy-ability in being immune to sites.  But, the real gem is the built in Spirit Pole, without the 0-cost tweak. And, being able to steal the occasional State from an opponents' can just be plain fun.  She's a natural in a Gun deck, as well as a Kar Fai's Crib deck. 
  Heroic Agents
This is an interesting card, that you can build a deck around (maybe not a good deck, but at least it's something).  The Agents will have the subtle effect of making your opponent's spend power over keeping it (a good thing for you).  Also, since opponents wont want to intercept them, pumping up the Agents damage (guns, can) again is a good thing.  And there's the ultra-cool play of using Is That All You Got? to return them during an opponent's attack to intercept and steal 2 power.   Anyone else think the center character on the card art looks like Portia DiRossi?
  Lair of the Nemesis
This card winds up fairly low on my interesting scale.  It's a Secret HQ in disguise, with a half-hearted ability that costs its extra power generation.  Sure, the Dragons play lots of unique characters, but they also like to replay them with Events, which this power gain doesn't help you with.  I don't expect that The Nemesis really spends that much time in his lair.
  Mask of the Nemesis
Pretty average in what you expect from a State.  I probably wouldn't play it outside a deck with a couple of Kar Fai's Crib.  And then I don't know how many I'd play (it is unique).  It's got some strong competition from Bullwhip, which isn't as powerful, but at only 1-cost is a lot more versatile.  Also, Running Out of Time might just be useful in more situations.  Also, in your Nemesis theme deck, you don't want to be playing it -- no reason to play States on David Maxwell since he's bouncing to your hand, and The Nemesis himself already has Stealth...
  Running Out of Time
Not great, but not the worst card ever.  It gives the best cost-fighting boost in the game, and you can play it first turn.  Imagine going second in dueling and smacking for 4 -- not great, but a threat.  I'll admit it, I've won games with Training Sequence, and this seems to be a hands down better version because of the tempo.  And it works great with Guts, which the Dragons have good access to.  And it's a must for a Kar Fai's Crib deck.
  Spirit of the Gun
See Purists.
  The Golden Gunman's Gambit
Anyone else notice the Dragons slowly ramping up on
?  Sure, you can play this turn 1, but it's not always going to happen.  I'm thinking this is a really solid card that will make it's way into a fair amount of decks.  It's an aggressive card -- attack away, and if you get intercepted, pull out and smack 'em.  While Independent works will with this gambit, it's not needed all of the time.  You can also play this on other players turns, as long as you have an attacking character, so be ready for some tricks!
  The Nemesis
I guess he's okay -- The Ascended have long shown us that Stealth is a strong ability.  And Ting Ting's loyalty has long been proven a key ability for the Dragons.  I don't think I really like David Maxwell mechanic -- yes, it does let you break the 5 power cost over two turns, but that means keeping a 2 fighting character in play that has a decent enough ability to make your opponents think about taking him out.  And you could have just saved the power over 2 turns.  And it's not very useful with the Dragon return a character to play cards.  I think in most situations, Dr. John is going to be a better choice, and he's got a cooler hat.
  Tom Donovan
Not much to say about the Hard-Boiled Detective -- he's decent, especially in 4 player.  He's a prime candidate for Is That All Ya Got? and okay with Can of Whupass.  He can shrink pretty fast, but still, he rates playable, but not a star.  Note that there's some really janky tech using ways to give your opponents power to insure that he stays at 7 fighting (like Bull Market), but use at your own risk!
  Tough as Nails
Hey, you're always gonna get 1 toughness out of it, and potentially more.  We all know Last Outpost doesn't work too well, and Brick House is slow, but Tough as Nails seems really solid for early game beats, and just maybe, on a lucky flip, a game winning Toughness:3.  No reason not to play this card, especially since it's so dumpable, and can be play to decent effect on your first turn.  It can also save a key character from a Final Brawl in a pinch.

This guy just might take the prize for the most confusing wording in the set.  If you take some time to read it, it is decipherable.  Basically, your opponents don't want to intercept him with small characters.  Generally, Chang's ability is not as useful as Toughness:1, so that gives you an idea of how playable he is at a 5-for-7.  He's got a couple of interactive designators, but dropping and Evil Master on him doesn't make me excited.
Slightly beefed up Helix Chewer, maybe along the lines of Pain Feedback.  Either way, it's a marginal card, and along with Hypnotized! and Poisoned, the Lotus has created it's own axis of evil that we should call up the national guard and stamp them out once and for all.
  Hired Bodyguards
These guys play a lot like Snake Fighter, but a little better (okay, it's not that hard to do).  Yeah, I would have liked them as Hood Martial Artists, but what are you going to do?  To get mileage out of them, you're going to have to be safe in attacking, as they will get intercepted.  Don't plan on them triggering a lot -- they are a chilling effect card -- people won't attack if they know you can get a free kill in.  They're bad dudes on a motorcycle, and might be okay riding a Hell Charger (or with the undervalued Hall of Portals)..
Here we have a very marginal event.  First off, do you have
resources?  If yes, have you considered playing Larcenous Mist?  Secondly, so you have any resources?  Is there a zap that's going to just plain get rid of that guy you don't want intercepting?  Maybe I'm spoiled, but for 1 power, I really need a card to do something good more often than this will.  (for reference, compare this to a very solid but not broken card, Prisoner of the Monarchs)
  Insidious Plan
I like generating power, and I even like drawing cards upon occasion.  This card gives you a chance to do both.  I look at it as sort of a second-rate long-term Drug Lab.  Play it, and wait it out, and hope to get a big payoff later.  One nice thing is that it's near impossible for your opponents to zap it without you being able to pop it off for power after the turn you played it has ended and you've put a counter on it (hint, don't play it if there's a Fist of Shadow in play)..
This is for all of you who already have 5 Infernal Plagues in your deck, and it's just not enough.  Sorry, but this event isn't making me feel the love.  This is basically a waste of a card slot in your deck, as there are so many more useful cards that you can play.  Even Corruption, which isn't great, but can be a situational game winner (let alone a good card like Demonic Plague).
  Red Scorpion Killers
I just did a search at Chimpshack for 4-cost 5 fighting characters, and there were a lot more good ones than I expect.  And some great ones (cough monkey cough).  But, Red Scorpion Killers is not one of them.  They fall somewhere between Leatherback and Marauder Lord, two cards that don't see a lot of play (at least in my portion of the globe).  You can use them in conjunction with the theft cards, but, I'm a huge fan of Ravenous Devourer, who gets you the benefits without the extra power investment.  The do you give a last ditch protection against Mentor and Brawl (sac your foundations to keep the Killers alive).  Pretty much just for Hood decks or administering the beat down in draft.
  Tong Hatchetman
As much as he tries, he's just no Sting of the Scorpion.  Remember, his target has to do less damage than his fighting score, so you're going to have to pump him up, or only stick to whacking foundations, which is mostly a waste of time.  There are just better cards in the 3 cost slot for you to pay the bills with.
Pretty un-inspiring.  These cards are so marginally better than Vassals of the Lotus that it's not funny.  You weren't really planning on winning with Thugs and Tools of the Trade, were you?  You also bust out your Swords of Biting for the
Swords deck (assuming you want to forego playing Swords, which is, almost never in this deck)
  "You Fell into my Trap!"
Anyone who's old school knows the ups and downs of Cave Network.  It's a strong card, but can be greatly negated by an opponent who knows how to play against it.  I rarely play decks based around Cave Network, but I've been known to throw one in a deck here an there just for the extra surprise factor.  YFintoMT is very similar.  If you load up on them (and Cave Networks), they are going to clog your hand as your opponents will build sites and defenses, and wait on attacking until it's to their advantage.  But, one or two can be a nasty trick.  You can always discard YFintoMT -- it's not like you've committed to the strategy as you when playing a Cave Network.
  Yuen Sheng
If you can get past the art, I think he's okay.  I like the increase in low cost uniques that have moderate abilities.  Stealth is nice because it's out of faction, and can be a neat trick with a Hell Charger.  The temporary hand reduction is iffy, and does make Yuen a target, but it's going to give you a lot of information if you're thinking about going for the win.  Note that you can play some politics in describing other players hands.

  Breath of the Dragon
This is a card that I wish only cost
so at least this set felt like it got a Seven Masters card.  This is a potentially strong punch through card like Blood of the Valiant, but pretty much late game (although it lets you get site-taking damage with a 3-cost character).  I'm torn between Breath and Deadly Hands -- both are very similar, but have different pros and cons. You also have to contend with solid cards like Butterfly Swords.  Ultimately, this falls into another one of the hands many weapons, that will probably get passed over because of the high resource requirement in other than very specialized decks.
  Carmen Zhao
This is the type of card design I sort of like to see.  I'm not sure if the card is good enough to rate being unique for other than story reasons, but I like the break from the old model of mostly high cost uniques.  Two things you may have overlooked at first -- Carmen is a Swords characters, and she provides
.  Let me know if you get to pull off some amazing Quai Li tech with Carmen Zhao (and unlike Quai, revealing sites in response to Carmen still gives her a fighting bonus as she's already in play and her rules text is active).
  Charge of the Righteous
This Edge is very much in the flavor of CAT Tactics.  It's maybe a tad more useful, and a little bit easier to play as it requires faction resources instead of talent resources.  It's Limited, so don't go nuts with it, but it makes a fine one-of in a casual deck.
  Deadly Hands
This is a potentially powerful state, and I'm sure if it's good enough to shake up the game or not.  If you think about it, it's 1 power for +5 or more Fighting (I'm thinking this card can be real strong in a deck with a few hand size increasers).  I think toman,times"> The Jade Dragon
If I'm paying 3 power for a State, it had better be good.  Shadowy Mentor good.  I dont think the Jade Dragon makes the cut.  The problem is that you also need to be able to defend the subject site, which is going to be hard to do since you just spend 3 power.  I suspect that the Jade Dragon is going to be hiding in the Temple of Angry Spirits a bunch.  This is sort of the type of card that solidifies you winning -- you only play it when your ahead, and when you don't have a better play, like a site taking character.  Sure, the site can't be burned, but that just means your opponent seized a 3 power generating site and is going to kick your but with it.  Remember that sites can always be smoked, so there's no killer ArcanoTower combo.
  The Red Harvest
One always has to take a close look at power generating events -- they can be the factor that puts you over the top.  Red Harvest is more playable that Dark's Soft Whisper, but doesn't have the comeback potential of Heat of Battle (an underplayed card) and Violet Meditation.  Yes, you have the dream play of running two Golden Candles into a 2-cost opponent's foundation first turn for two power, but that's nothing to base a deck around.  Don't overlook discarding cards, which can improve your next draw, especially if your hand size is increased.  This card may have more of a home in a deck where you are building sites for power, and not as dependent on comeback events (although this is often a losing formula).

  Ape City
Ook ook ook -- I'm not ape over Ape City.  If you haven't figured it out, it's a Drug Lab that basically can't be seized.  And it really restricts you on what designators you can play yourself.  If anything, it's going to be bad because it's going to teach your opponents to smoke non Feng Shui sites, which is going to make them better players overall, and cause you trouble in the future.
  Dr. Ivan Vasilovich
The good doctor isn't half bad, and can be a lot of fun in a casual deck.  He's got two abilities that you can play with -- the healing ability can be extra sneaky when used in conjunction with cards that return characters to play.  Also, just chilling out and gaining two power in only a semi-threatening way is good in my book.  My biggest gripe is requiring
, but that's life.  Yet another to consider not playing Ape City.
  Far Too Much Dynamite pretty much far too much trouble to play with.  If you put this card in your deck, you probably put Genocide Lounge too.  But, there are so many other good Jammer events that you'll want to play with -- this is just going to wind up as situational jank that you're going to wish was something else while it sits in your hand.  Far Too Much Dynamite is far too close to Fire In the Sky -- yes, you can play it for free, but you lose the versatility of being able to do it without having to get your character in combat, and it doesn't off the last-ditch defense against Mentor or Brawl that Fire in the Sky does.
Yet again we find that one of the most playable cards in a set is a new foundation.  Not only do Monkey decks get a
foundation, he's generally good enough to play in any Jammer deck where you need a little boost and have filled up (or run out) of Mad Scientists.  Normally, I'm not a fan of Mobility, but having on a foundation is a nice bonus, because they are the type of character that you can make some lightweight probing attacks with, and then throw away later on defense.  Somewhere in the middle is giving another character (presumably yours) Mobility too, but it shouldn't be overly painful.
I think he should have been subtitled the White Elephant instead of Ape.  They have a word for cards like K'tongo -- bad.  Yes, you can get a pretty big thug late game for only 3 power, but he's got no abilities other than being smoked by any blanking ability.  The trick to making him good would have been selected toasting of cards in your smoked pile over random, but that may have been just a little too good with the random return cards.  Then again, Plains of Ash is already pretty good at thinning your smoked pile, and is a somewhat sought-after rare.
Here's another card that I sort of like, but being Limited really puts a damper on it.  I say that because with this card out, you aren't planning on intercepting a bunch, so multiple reductions won't be a huge dip over the first.  Since this card gives only a small bonus, you are going to need a horde of characters to maximize it (unlike Entropy is Your Friend, which can get huge enough to make even a single foundation a threat).  So, top notch foundations and recursion (Inauspicious Return anyone?) are going to help out Rampage!
  Resistance Fighters
Rebel-theme jank, and not much more.  When they keep printing killer sites like the Blue Moon Club and Booby-trapped Tomb, you have to keep printing cards that are immune to them.  Yawn.
  Stolen Plans
This card is hard to figure out -- in a way it's like Never Surrender in that it's a lost-to-win card.  It can be quite a power boost, but -- only in the right situation.  And that situation is when you are the monkey in the middle -- you need there to be an opponent who's beaten down and relying on power generating events (Pocket Demon et. al.) for their comeback and another opponent who's top dog.  Being in the middle isn't a bad place to be, but it's not always under your control.   Other than the big 3, you will also find that you can gain a little power off a DWG or... wait a minute... what am I saying?  This card is crud -- why aren't you playing IKTV Special Report?  What?  You got no
?  Stick to Scrounging then, trust me, I have a plan, and you are better off stealing it.
  The Ape is Loose!
Sigh, a situational Who's the Monkey Now?  I don't think this card is as good or versatile, but what gripes me is that it's so unoriginal.  The only reason to play this is that you are hoping that the +2 damage is going to get you a site,  You still have to hold this card in reserve, because if you play it for the damage bonus, someone can zap it in response.  This card is also fighting for a spot against WTMN? so in my opinion it's a real why bother.
  Torch the Place
Much in the way that you'd only play The Ape is Loose! if you've run out of a certain better card, the same is true for Torch the Place.  Disco Inferno is such an amazing and versatile card that it puts this one to shame.  Mix in Blow Things Up, and why would you play a second rate site destruction card like this?
  X-Ray Specs
Well, time to dust off your Battle-matics and make them even bigger.  I'm a minor fan of Wall of a Thousand Eyes, and I do throw it in the odd deck, but as a Feng Shui Site, it has a dual purpose.  Looking at an opponent's hand is good, but it's something you want to do before you attack, not after, so I don't consider it to be an ability of tremendous worth.
  Wild Gorillas
Well duh, they sort of have to go into a monkey deck.  There are a lot of decent monkey cards to get back this day, whether you're going for the foundation beatings of Big Macaque Attack, or more control like Monkey Fools the Tiger or WTMN?  Not great, but not terrible -- a big help here is that it's not a reload, and the card comes straight to your hand.  Don't let your Wild Gorillas play with the Ring of Gates.
  Year of the Monkey
This sort of reminds me a little of Necromantic Conspiracy.  It's not really that playable, but you might throw one in a Genocide Lounge deck just to have fun with it, but that's about it.  Note that you don't get to look at the target's initial hand that is being set aside.

  Aztec Mummy
Since the Aztec Mummy doesn't belong to one of the Monarch's sub-factions, it's kind of in a weird space.  It's really unclear if it's got a place outside of the Itzcoliuhqui deck.  But, in that deck, it's okay -- assuming you've got mostly Temples and Tombs and a spare 1 cost foundation, you can drop this medium size toughguy for 3 power.  Remember that the +fighting wears off at the end of turn, but the potential for toughness should keep down the speed bumps.
  Curse of Itzcoliiuhqui
Chewy!  Well, if you don't know by now how to play Helix Chewer, there's no hope for you.  While this version doesn't return to your hand, you can mess with your opponents a little by making them discard -- of course, if their hand was clogged, this is helping them out!  This is just sort of a card to dump and and fun with -- there's not a whole lot of strategy involved.
This guy pretty much lends himself to one deck --
Undead with Aztec Mumies, Walking Corpses and maybe a Cenotaph or two (I'd pass on Legion of the Damned).  The double damage from Fire is just a stupid penalty that's going to cause you to lose the odd-game because someone's playing a Fire deck.  The best card in the deck is of course Temple of Angry Spirits, and the sites pretty much fill themselves out -- don't go crazy on Tombs and Temples, as you'll still need some sites for the general control aspects of the game (i.e. Whirlpools and Waterfalls).
  Khalid Al-Haddad
The Fire Assassin is okay, and more playable than Madam Yen in my opinion.  Play him, whack someone, get a 1 power rebate or draw 2 cards in a pinch -- got nutsy cuckoo, but okay.  Don't over look the secret tech of smoking a site (especially non Feng Shui or Battleground) to gain a power and get rid of an annoyance.
  Lord Wolfgang Thaler
Here we have another thug, who's slightly above average (it's the Toughness:1 that helps).  Not much strategy here -- play him and attack (preferably an opponent with no power).  You don't want to be targeting him yourself with events too often, but that's a duh.
  Obsidian Dagger
Here we have sort of a theme card, that theoretically lets you gain power for performing sacrifices.  Anyone remember Vivisection Agenda?  No?  I didn't think so.  Assasinate and +1 damage doesn't really cut the mustard (how often do you play Really Big Gun, which is +2 damage?).  Honestly, I've a fan of Claws of Darkness, which is all around better, sneaker, and just plain cooler.
  Plots and Intrigues
Well, it'll give ya a little boost of power, but over the course of the game, it wont amount to a huge amount.  Revealing your Feng Shui can be both good and bad -- it really depends on the mix you are playing, and you're going to want to restrict what you play somewhat if you're trying to maximize Plots (i.e. you may want to consider eschewing City Parks).  Overall, you're going to get maybe 1-2 power tops from a Plot, and even less if you're playing 5 in a deck.  I know you're salivating over having playing it turn 2 for two extra power, but that's iffy-city.
  Priestess of Itzocoliuhqui
This is just a filler character that you're hoping to boost up your
resources with.  Reload has mostly been an iffy ability, and it's best used on events, especially 0-cost ones.  Pretty much a card to play only because of theme, and there are other cards that serve the same purpose if you can get away from pure Darkness.
  Ritual of Death
This is some mildly amusing random jank you can throw into a deck and try to get some usage out of.  It's very situational and costly, but it can gum up the works for an opponent.  Sacrificing a character that is about to be smoked is usually the best way to go, but you can also use it as a costly way to create an unsuccessful attack against one of your characters.  Of course, it's just not as good as Snowblind (and what is?)  Maybe you have a few other sacrifice gimmicks, but then again, maybe you don't.
  Rope Bridge
Mostly bad.  It's just okay if you can play it for free on Hidden Tomb.  I guess it's another goofy state for the deadly sites deck.  Maybe.  As a general rule, there are better things to do with 1 power.
  Teutonic Knights
Sigh, yet another missed opportunity for Thunder to provide a little
.  These guys pretty much have a place in one deck -- a Thunder/Armies/Fanaticism deck. Note that these guys can get pretty crazy pretty fast.  Add a Tomb of Itzi to the above mix, and you have a 2 cost, 3 fighting, 6 damage character.  Limited in scope, but beats. 
  The Crystal Skull
This card is pretty janky on its own, but it's built for the Darkness-Sacrifice deck.  There are cards in 2FT that revolve around sacrifices, so you can have a little fun with it.  The Skull is a last-ditch Mentor answer, but as a site-based state, you gotta really work to defend it, as it will generally be perceived as a target and a threat by your opponents.
  Tomb of Itzcoliuhqui
In my eyes, this is one of the few stand out cards in the set.  Edges have always been part of the Four Monarchs, and now they get solid card to assist in that specialty.  There are just too many crazy pairings (basically, everyone by the Dragons, who are edge-hatin' playa's).  The Tomb is a Feng Shui site, so it comes with all the ups and downs of having a printed-cost FSS.  Who knows, maybe it's time to dust off those Counterfeit Hearts...
This is another card that underwhelms me.  Even if her ability was free I'm not sure how good it would be, but at 1 power it's very costly, and it depends on what your opponents are playing -- I like decks that have synergy with my own cards.  Think about it -- would you rather play the Xit, or just a regular old Blade of Darkness?

  Faceless Minions
Well, I always like more foundations, because it lets me build more decks, and maybe get a little weird synergy going.  While far from the top of the curve, I think the minions are about on par with Arcane Scientist, but still below Paradox Garden as a 2-cost foundation (Morphic Spirit is too highly specialized for most decks).  You'll find that the Minions wont be very useful against those players whose style it is concentrate on keeping one big thug in play, but it will do much more against players going for more of a weenie approach with a small horde of characters.  It's a card to test out some.  Of course, you might just find that you're still better off sticking to Purist Acolytes and Mathemagicians if you still have spares.
  Mount Erebus
This is a moderately interesting card.  First off, it's a 1-cost Feng Shui site, so it can cause your opponent's to miscalculate how much of a threat you are going to be on your next turn -- players often base their actions on what an opponent who is at "play and take" for the win.  Paying 1 for Erebus instead of 3 for a face-down Feng Shui site can make a big difference.  Then you have Erebus' very weird alternate victory condition.  Most of the time, you opponents will be trying to exploit this (it's a great way for someone who's behind to win).  You can try to turn this around by making a deck that attempts to re-seize Erebus, but that can be easily thwarted by knowledgeable opponents -- they are just going to burn Erebus.  Also, don't overlook that if an opponent seizes this, all your other opponents are going to view them as the main threat, and it's going to shift some of the heat off of you.
  Priest of the Unnameable
Here we have a lightweight Primus.  The Priest is going to be a lot more useful if you've previously looked at your opponents' hands, of which there are several good cards to do so.  I've always had good luck with Hexagram Spirit, and I think it's under valued.  While this isn't a tourney level card, it's playable in a casual format and you can have some fun doing its trick.
  Ritual of the Unnameable
I think this card is actually okay, in the right deck.  And that right deck is one that is going to reliably get out Paradox Garden.  Not that you need a reason to play Paradox Garden, as it's the best 2-cost
foundation the Purists have.  I don't think Ritual makes Paradox Divination playable, but there are some non-Purist deck fixers (Cassandra, I Ching, Junkyard Crawler, Order out of Chaos) of the second rate, but that you can get a little extra mileage out of with Ritual.
  Sir Arthur Broome
This guy reminds me of Fo Shen -- it's one of those moderately interesting characters with an annoying ability.  Broom's got a low enough resource requirement so that you can use him as an extra
in a pinch, and theoretically his ability can be used to knock some crucial denial out of someone's hand, allowing you to take a site, much like Primus' ability to shut down a hand.  But, unlike the aforementioned Primus, he's not a real threat damage wise.  Without a useful designator, I think this guy is pretty much just a theme card, that you don't even want to play in the theme deck because, unlike David Maxwell, you don't get any price rebate on him.
  Spirit of the Gun
This is pretty unusual card that has a couple of uses.  First, it has to be a
deck, so you are looking as to what you get from each faction.  Actually, it's going to be a Dragon deck with a Purist splash, cause the Purists just don't do that much.  The splash gives you a few magic cards to play with (mainly Pocket Demon), maybe a mid-range Spirit (Cognitive) and some event based take-out (Entropy Sphere).  Now you get to the the good stuff, the Dragons.  The most obvious is just a straight up Gun deck where you are pumping up your foundations with it (just don't play any other Guns on the subject as they don't give any damage bonus).  You also have some funky interaction with Scrappy Kid -- Spirit of the Gun is one of the few cards that will let them inflict more than 1 damage (it overrides their restriction).  A more subtle use is to play only Spirit of the Gun, and use it as a trick to reduce your opponent's characters to 1 fighting (sorry, you can't use Slo-Mo Vengence to replay them).  Lastly, don't forget to pack a Crib or two to get a cost break.
  The Unnameable
I'm not sure what to say about this guy -- at first glance he looks okay, but I just don't think he's going to make the cut.  Not having 8 fighting is a major drawback, especially considering the high
resource requirement -- I guess they don't want us to ever play a non- Purist foundation character.  There is enough site and event based stoppage to keep this guy (mostly) in check.
  "They Came Out of Nowhere!"
I'd bet dollars to doughnuts that by now, you've figured out I'm not a big fan of Mobility.  Cloud Walking just does that better, and is going to be fairly similar in resource requirements.  As for the extra "whirlwind" interceptions -- sure, you can try and pull of your super combo with toughness (again, why aren't you playing Cloud Walking) or invincible characters, but wouldn't just some regular old event based take-out have done a better job, even if you did have to pay power for it?
  Tortured by Madness!
This card is appropriately named -- anyone who plays this is insane.  Yeah, Covert Operation is broken, but this is many steps below Covert.  I guess you are trying to maximize your Priest of the Unnamble, but there are cheaper, better ways.
  Twisted Horror
Another ho-hum spirit -- yeah, it's really good against those bozos hiding behind Shield of Pure Soul and Payback Time.  This is a card you're going to have to meta-game -- are your opponent's like to play edges?  And if so, do you want a toughness:3 Spirit pounding on them, or would the undervalued Paradigm Shift.  For me to be more excited about the Twisted Horror, it would have needed to provide a
resource.  Not one to overlook the obvious, but you can build the Twisted Horror/Material Transcendence deck, but again, at , you wish the Horror gave you that little extra juice.
  Voice of the Unnameable
Zoinkies Scooby, I sure think he's a villain.  And an interesting and potentially powerful one, too.  The history of 2-for-3s has been up and down (kudos if you're like me and still trying to make Drop Troopers work).  Now we have a new chapter is this saga, with the potentially board clearing alter-ego of Sir Arthur Broome.  I think it makes a nice round out for a Purist deck, adding both a threat and a quick source of medium damage.  As for building a deck around the Voice, I think that's going to be a little harder -- you're going to want to minimize foundations, and concentrate on characters with 3 or more fighting.  And you're going to have a steady source of power (without the Quantum Sorcery engine) to keep the board clear of chaff. 

  Sadly, none in this set...

  The Ivory Goddess
Like Mount Erebus, this card can get you from "Play and Take" to just "Take" for only 1 Power.  It's okay, but just in a fun sort of way.  As always, expect the subject to draw a lot of attention from your opponents.  I think the Goddess makes a good choice for a "one-of" in a Spirit Pole deck, where you can just play annoying your opponents with it.
  The Ruby Eye
This is a go-for-the-win card, and is very much a metagame decision.  Are you expecting the Fox Passes and Turtle Beaches to come out when you make a bid?  Someone who always plays 5 Operation Killdeers?  This card might win you the odd-game, but it might just be a way to shake up the environment a little.  Remember to play it before you attack, as, unlike states and events, you can't play edges during an attack.  At 0-cost, it's not a risk to play it, and keeping it around is a nice option, especially if you know it's working.

  Secret Wisdom of the Ancients
This is an hand size increasing card, that goes into the growing arsenal of the Guiding Hand.  This one is so-so, and you need to make a meta-game decision before playing it -- how much Edge removal is there, and will Secret Wisdom draw it?  For the potentially unlimited extra hand size, you have the penalty of revealing the cards, so a crafty player might hold a much needed card in hand over dropping in Secret Wisdom.  Before playing this card, you also need to count up the
events and states in your deck to make sure it's going to do something at all -- you're going to need a goodly amount (more than just 5 Violet Meditations) to really make use of this edge.  Also note the bummer that you can't discard to Billy Chow or Deadly Hand from Secret Wisdom.

  Disguise Kit
This card is pretty much an oddity -- for 0-power you are hoping to make foundation unblockable (some of the time).  Now, being unblockable is good -- remember Scrappy Kid?  But, all those foundations your opponents have in play are often what you're worried about when attacking with foundations, and this does nothing.  I just can't see wasting a spot in a deck for it.  Note the irony that while you can't play it on your Ice Queen, your opponents' Ice Queen doesn't fall victim to the disguise.
Well, it sort of +1 damage for 0 power, which is what you can expect.  The question is, that effect good enough in itself to warrant using up a "card" in your deck. Probably not most of the time, but if you got some tricks (Jack of All Trades or Battle-matic) you can try out the glove vs. some of the other states that just haven't seemed to work out (like Desire Manipulator -- ack!)
The jury is still out on this card -- Safehouse v2?  Or something better?  Remember that the subject is still vulnerable to all sorts of other effects, so Invisi-Ray alone is not going to keep them in play indefinitely.  While not great, sometimes you can get a benefit from the cards reload cost -- it just might deter someone from focusing effort on a
card you control if they know you can sacrifice it for an effect.  Two cards to try out Invisi-Ray on are the old stalwarts ArcanoTechnician and Vivesector -- be warned, YMMV.
  Tesla Lightning Blaster
This is probably the best of the
states in the set, for what ever it's worth.  1 Power to do 4 damage to a character feels about right -- it's not the big damage of some of the late game zaps, but early game it can hold it's own.  I can't really see myself playing this very much -- maybe here and there for a trick, but I like to be more versatile in my damage.
  Tesla Lightning Cannon
Yeah, this can be a great late game boom, but if you're up against good players, you're going to really have to watch out for Whirlpools of Blood.  They just shut you down and make you lose power.  Remember how good Repulsor Beams are?  This is a card to play around with Hidden Tomb, but not much beyond it in a serious environment.


Mon-cherie don't like it, and neither will your opponents.  This is a highly annoying card that's neither great nor horrible.  0-cost events are the bread-and-butter of a lot of decks, and this can really annoy them.  And if they need those 0-cost events, and Casbah is keeping them from playing them, you're still doing okay on the chilling effect factor.  Be prepared to defend the Casbah, as your opponents may just have something to say about it.  Note that the timing rules don't let you steal the power generated by a event, as Casbah gets added to the scene, and resolves before the event generates/gains power.
  Seedy Dive
Drinks anyone?  I've got your coaster right here.  A 2-cost site that does nothing but Back For Seconds up to 3-cost worth of Hoods?  And doesn't generate at least 1 power?  What, you think this must be a misprint?  I can't argue your logic there.  All we can do is keep our tables safe from wet drinking glasses until someone comes to their senses and issues errata for this card.
  Spear of Destiny
This is a pretty crazy card, and it does reuse the X faction resources mechanic which I like.  But, for 2 power, I sure like a state that is going to do something really amazing.  Spear tries to, but, it really just doesn't cut it.  This is a card you can add one-of to your casual Spirit Pole deck and try to do a trick with.  Probably the best place for this is, again as a one-of, in a Johnny Tso/Ice Commando/Rebecca Dupress deck, but, is it going to better than just some straight up beating stick like Elephant Gun?  Probably not.
  Tommy Gun
This is moderately interesting in just one situation -- your opponent's have hordes of characters you want to mow down, and Final Brawl just isn't your style.  But, if you're really crazy, you might have some fun with Brawls crazy cousin, Carnival of Carnage -- for 2 power you may just be able to clear the board (that's a big may).  Still, it's pretty hum-drum, and doesn't have the flexibility to take sites, which is always something I look for in a weapon.

  Aztec Pyramid
This card doesn't need a lot of explanation or suggestions.  Got a deck with a bunch of coin flips?  Well, you can try the pyramid to insure that the odds are always in your favor.  Of course, when an opponent seizes this, you can figure on not winning many coin flips afterwards.  6 Body is low enough to make this hard to defend, too.  I really hate reducing the game to a coin flip, and this card is going to promote that.  If I wanted to gamble on random chance, I'd go to Vegas, not play Shadowfist.
  Booby-Trapped Tomb
Instructions:  Turn face up.  Release giant rolling ball.  Deal 3 damage.  This is actually a fairly balance card, and is only made really troublesome by Temple and Blue Moon, which really compound the issue.  Still, this card has the potential to net you 1-3 power from it's ability, which puts it right in the middle of the curve (it nets you power by removing your opponents power invested in characters).  Not a card for every deck, but it's an okay backup if you run low (or just want a change from) on those everyday sites like Nine Dragon Temple and City Park.
  Hidden Tomb
Play tomb.  Play states on tomb.  Reduce cost.  Lose.  This is strictly a fun card, that's gonna let you dust some old bad cards as well as some new ones and try them out.  For fun, here's the list of cards that this reasonably affects (assuming you don't want to play hoser states like Veiling of the Light on your own Tomb) -- 18 Bronze Men, Chi Syphon, Deathtrap, Elevator to the Netherworld, IKTV Rebroadcast Link, Jury-Rigged Dynamo, Netherworld Passageway, Ornamental Garden, Portal Nexus, Power of the Great, Repulsor Beams, Rope Bridge, Security, Terracotta Warriors, Tesla Lightning Cannon, The Crystal Skull, The Discombobulator, The Jade Dragon, and Thunder on the Mountain.
  The Blue Moon Club
Temple-lite any one?  I suspect that this is hands-down the best card in 2FT (although the general low-power level of the set .  It's just as good as Temple against foundation characters, and it generates an additional power every other turn?  Yeesh.  I'm dreading the Booby-trapped Blue Moon Temple Ironworks deck, with sites that just punish you for attacking.  Just what we need, longer games.



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