Hidden Knife

"For each action an equal and opposite reaction." While that's not fully true in this expansion, there has to be some cards that can counterbalance those dang minions. One of them is

Hidden Knife - Resource - Short-event
Playable on any face-up agent during your site phase. You may play a hazard creature from your hand keyed to a face-up agent's current site which immediately attacks the agent as if the agent were a character. You do not receive marshalling points if the agent is eliminated.

Well, this card is perhaps the best way to, if not dispatch of, at least temporarily put an agent out of service. On top of that, it can be a nasty surprise for a player thinking he was going to give you a nasty surprise :-) This card has one simple but fairly devastating effect. It sort of turns the tables on an agent, keying a creature to his site rather than him keying one to you. Plus, this card has somewhat more flexibility.

How useful is attacking an agent? You can do it any time during your turn, so you can put an agent out of commission after he moves (counting against the hazard limit), but before he does any damage. You can do it if you're going to have to discard a couple of cards anyway. Or you can do it as a part of a chain of events.

That last can be very useful. An agent pops up at a site where you have a faction and declares he wishes to influence it away. He even plays yesterday's card, Good Sense Revolts to get some help. You then say "Not so fast, Grima, I've got a Slayer with a Hidden Knife." Someone like Wormtongue's chances of not getting wounded by a slayer are about one in twelve, and the chances of failing the body check are about 2/3 per strike (+2/+1 for home site not included). This can save you from losing your faction or having an agent attack you, but it's not going to prevent a creature to be keyed to your site (so you may just be hitting an agent back after he's already done the damage).

That brings me to the point of what creatures are good with this card? Most agent homesites are border- and free-holds, so they tend to stay around those areas (although some have other homes and they can all move virtually anywhere). So most of the effective creatures to wield the Hidden Knife can be keyed there. Plus, it's better to have a creature with one big strike rather than several small ones, as the later will just yield in -1 strikes. Thus, Slayer and Assassin are some of the best choices. Also good choices are Abductor, Cave Drake (R&L are pretty common, and this creature is good anyway), plus any miscellaneous creatures keyable to the relevant site. That selection of creatures works well in decks based around choosing defenders (which can be pretty good, but now need to watch out for More Alert than Most).

There are, of course, the standard set of drawbacks. First, it has to be an untapped agent, so you can't use this card to reveal an agent or anticipate a surprise. Also, you don't get MPs if the agent is killed, but (I think) he doesn't get points for killing your creature either (he doesn't get points for killing your characters...).

So all in all, Hidden Knife can save you from those pesky agents, or at least put one temporarily out of service.

Ratings for Hidden Knife:
Isildur: 7.5
Farmer Maggot: 8.0
Gandalf: 7.5
Frodo: 7.5
Strider: 4.0
Legolas: 8.0
Eonwe: 7.5
Samwise: 7.5
Average: 7.2

And a note from yesterday, I failed to mention that an agent influencing with something associated with his homesite gets and additional +2 and the target number becomes 0, so you are almost sure to make it. Also, due to a lapse of will, I failed to realize that it can be duplicated (the second part twice) on one check.

More back issues

Card names and text copyright 1996 by Iron Crown Enterprises, all rights reserved. This document copyright 1996 by Trevor Stone. Permission given to duplicate so long as no profit is made and the copyright notice is kept in tact, blah, blah, blah.