Harry Houdini was a stunt performer, escape artist, and perhaps the most famous magician to have ever lived. Born Erik Weisz, he took the name Houdini as a reference to his master, French magician Robert-Houdin. Houdini often billed himself as the “King of Cards,” but he didn’t see much success until 1899 when his new manager Martin Beck encouraged him to concentrate on escape acts. With this new focus, it didn’t take long before Houdini and his wife Bess toured countries around the world. He even challenged local police to restrain him and lock him away in their jails, all of which he miraculously escaped. Over the years, his escapes became more dangerous to continue thrilling his audiences. This led to his most famous escape act, where he was suspended upside-down in a locked glass and steel cabinet filled with water. In Unmatched, Houdini uses his mastery of escapes, illusions, and even card tricks to finesse his way through battle, surprising his opponents every step of the way until he secures victory.
Health: 14 / Attack: Melee / Movement: 2
Special Ability: ESCAPE ARTIST
When you take the maneuver action and BOOST, you may place Houdini in any space instead of moving.
(Bess moves as normal.)
Health: 5 / Attack: Melee / x1
Strategies and Tips
Houdini is a unique hero in that many of his card boost values also feature effects. When the card is used to boost, the card effect immediately plays out as written. This unique mechanic presents the player with many choices to make throughout each game, and with his special ability to appear anywhere on the map when boosting his maneuver, he is one of the most engaging and exciting heroes to use in Unmatched.
Strong boost effects
Strong escape options
Low defense options
Heroes who force discards (e.g. Medusa)
The following are three tips to harness this magician’s mastery of cards and escapes:
Tip #1: The Beautiful Bess
Bess is a deceptively useful sidekick, despite having the lowest health of any single sidekick in the game. Her true value lies in her card effects and boost effects, which can often help even when she is defeated.
AND THE BEAUTIFUL BESS is a versatile card with a value of 3 that doesn’t have a traditional combat effect. Instead, the effect of this card states that if it is discarded as a result of your opponent’s effect, draw 1 card. This can be useful against opponents like Medusa who have many card effects forcing her opponents to discard a card. Additionally, the boost effect states that if it is your turn, gain 1 action. This can be great for setting up attack chains.
SET THE STAGE is easily her most useful card. This scheme allows you to draw 3 cards, then put a card in your hand on the top of your deck. I can think of very few instances where using the scheme in this way is preferred. What you want to do is prioritize the boost effect, which lets you look at your opponent’s hand and choose a card for them to discard. With this effect, you can use your first turn to boost your maneuver with this card, move Houdini next to your opponent, then look at their hand and remove their best defensive option before attacking on your next action.
Bess may not be needed alive for her boost effects to work, but there is one card that is worth trying to keep her alive for:
SMOKE AND MIRRORS is a versatile card with a value of 3 that Houdini or Bess can use. It is best to use as Houdini since the card’s effect allows Houdini and Bess to immediately swap spaces. If they do, the other fighter is now in the combat. This is a great defensive tool for Houdini, and the best value you can get out of a living Bess.
Tip #2: Tricks of the Magician
Houdini’s deck is full of tricky card effects and ways to escape danger. His special ability makes it hard for any opponent to pin him down, but his defensive options also give him plenty of ways to escape his opponents:
- VANISHING ACT is a versatile card that allows you to move one of the fighters in combat up to three spaces, even through opposing fighters.
- SMOKE AND MIRRORS, as mentioned previously, allows Houdini to swap places with Bess.
- GRAND ESCAPE is a defense card that allows you to boost during combat and place your fighter in any space after combat.
Houdini’s most important defensive card is MISDIRECTION. This versatile card has the ability to cancel all effects on your opponent’s card. Additionally, its boost effect lets you deal 2 damage to any fighter. With three of these cards in your deck, you have the potential to deal 6 auto damage to an opponent with the tradeoff of not being able to use your feints. You must determine which effect to use wisely based on each matchup.
ALL PART OF THE SHOW may be Houdini’s trickiest card. This is a defense card whose effects cannot be canceled. After combat, if your fighter was defeated, set their health to 4 instead and place them in any space. This effect happens even if Houdini was defeated. The boost effect, however, allows Houdini to recover 2 health. We believe it is best to heal with this card, as planning to use it to revive can be risky.
Houdini’s most interesting card is the scheme A MAGICIAN NEVER REVEALS HIS SECRETS. The card effect lets you draw 2 cards and gain an action. Additionally, if an effect would let an opponent look at your hand, you may reveal this card and cancel that effect. With only 1 of these cards in your deck, it is in your best interest to hold on to it and not play it. Against opponents that don’t have abilities to look at your hand, it is better to use this card to boost than use the ability. There is no boost effect, but with a boost value of 4 you can add devastating damage to one of your attack cards that allow you to boost. The only time I can think of where you would want to use this scheme’s effect is when you and your opponent are low on cards in your hand, and you want to give yourself better options to attack with.
Tip #3: The Big Reveal
Houdini has a variety of attack cards that can help turn the tide of a battle in your favor. One particularly useful card is THE BIG REVEAL. This card has a value of 2 and allows you to boost it twice during combat. After combat, you can return one of the cards you used to boost with back to your hand. There are many interesting and powerful combinations you can use with this card.
One combination you should try is boosting this attack card with A MAGICIAN NEVER REVEALS HIS SECRETS and MISDIRECTION. This combination gives you a total attack value of 7, plus an extra 2 damage to the opponent thanks to MISDIRECTION. It’s best to save this combination for opponents who don’t have many ways to see what’s in your hand, so as not to waste A MAGICIAN NEVER REVEALS HIS SECRETS. After the battle, you can return MISDIRECTION to your hand and use it later for more direct damage or for its card effect.
Another combination to consider is boosting with AND THE BEAUTIFUL BESS! and ALL PART OF THE SHOW. This combination has a total attack value of 5, but the card effects allow you to gain 2 health and another action. In this case, you’ll want to return ALL PART OF THE SHOW to your hand after the battle.
When planning your attack, it is a good idea to use only one valuable boost effect with a second card that you don’t mind discarding. That way, you can get more use out of your valuable boosts when returning them to your hand.
Houdini’s card effects combined with his unique boost effects grant him a near infinite number of possibilities in combat that can be adapted to any fighter he comes across. He is easily one of the most versatile heroes in Unmatched, but that versatility comes with the need to think through many different possibilities each round of every game. If you are someone who prefers a more straightforward approach to Unmatched, Houdini may not be the best choice for you, but if you are someone who enjoys nuance with their fighters, then Houdini may be the perfect choice.
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