Character Name: Pat Brennan.
Inspired by: Pat Brennan, the rancher played by Randolph Scott in the western, The Tall T, who loses his horse during a bet and kills off the outlaw trio Billy Jack, Chink, and Frank Usher.
Life Points: 4.
Ability Type: Neutral.
Ability: "He may draw only one card in play in front of any one player." Admittedly, the explanation on the card for his ability is confusing. Fortunately, the rulebook explains, "during phase 1 of his turn, he may choose to draw the usual two cards from the deck, or, instead draw one card (and this one card only) from in play and add it to his hand. The card can be in front of any player, and can be either a blue-bordered card or a green-bordered card."
Activation: At his drawing phase.
Cards enhanced by Pat Brennan's ability: General Store, Panic, Cat Balou, Can Can, Brawl, Rag Time
Cards less powerful when played against Pat Brennan: Duel, Indians!, Volcanic, Jail
Cards more powerful when played against Pat Brennan: Duel, Indians!, Buffalo Rifle, Panic, Cat Balou, Can Can, and Brawl
Ideal role: Deputy
Characters that counter Pat Brennan well: Jesse Jones (Removing the cards from his hand when he uses his ability), Molly Stark (poses a strong defense simply with the cards in her hand), José Delgado (he can use his blue cards to draw cards instead when Pat Brennan is against him), Sean Mallory (he can keep the important blue/green cards in his hand until it is best for him to play them; especially useful with the Volcanic), Pedro Ramirez (if he can jail bang Pat Brennan it is devastating).
Characters that Pat Brennan counters well: Lucky Duke (stealing Lucky Duke's Barrel and being able to take away the Dynamite he plays spells game over for Lucky Duke), Suzy Lafayette (removing her Volcanic can really hurt her), Vulture Sam (Pat Brennan can steal the important cards in front of a dying player before Vulture Sam can get them), Paul Regret (he can easily steal the guns/mustangs/hideout/scope/binoculars necessary to destroy Paul Regret's distance control), Slab the Killer (he can remove the gun that extends Slab the Killer's range), Willy the Kid (he can remove the gun that extends Willy the Kid's range).
2-player value: Excellent; this is the time where Pat Brennan's ability to control distance is at its best. While he might have bad luck by getting targeted by cards without range, the chances are not high.
General Strategy as Pat Brennan: Pat Brennan is an excellent character for his ability to control the cards in play on the table (this is especially true when he has a card in his hand that allows him to discard or steal a card from in play in conjunction with his ability), but it takes a very skilled player to know when and when not to use his ability. It is always a temptation to use it and annoy another player. But this is problematic because Pat Brennan can hurt his own teammates and make many quick enemies. Furthermore, since Pat Brennan does not get to draw cards when he uses his ability, it can make him very vulnerable to attacks.
To counter this vulnerability, Pat Brennan should try to do 2 things: (1) Pat Brennan should strive for appropriate distance control. He should try to steal a Mustang with his ability and guns that make him reachable with BANG! cards and other ranged attack cards (Knife, Derringer, Punch). Getting a Mustang is particularly important as he does not want the card he just stole to be immediately stolen back by a player next to him! Green attack cards are less problematic, because he will always get 1 round to see if they are coming, and he may choose to steal a particularly dangerous or useful 1 when he sees it played (Derringer for instance) However, Pat Brennan will still be vulnerable to cards that hit all players (Indians!, Gatling, Howitzer) and cards lacking a range (Duel, Buffalo Rifle).
This is why Pat Brennan should (2) try to always have a BANG! and a Missed! in his hand (or a green card with a Missed! symbol in front of him: Iron Plate, Ten Gallon Hat, Sombrero, Bible). Unless there is a seriously volatile card in play (Volcanic, Pony Express), or one of his team mates has little life left, Pat Brennan should resist the urge to use his ability and draw cards from the deck instead. This way he is protected when unranged attacks or global attacks occur. Team mates and others can help him to get these cards when they play General Stores. When Duels are played against Pat Brennan, I generally suggest just taking the hit. It is better to lose 1 life point from a Duel, than to lose 2+ before Pat Brennan's turn if an Indians! follows.
Once Pat Brennan has some distance control and a BANG!/Missed combo, he can now use his ability more freely. I suggest as a next move grabbing some defensive cards, such as a green defensive card or a Barrel. This will help him if he loses cards from his combo in his hand. Then, Pat Brennan should grab useful offensive cards, whether from a Volcanic or green attack cards, and then pummel opponents whom he can reach, but they cannot reach him.
Of course, throughout this Pat Brennan needs to be aware of the other cards that players are putting down and their life points. He is an excellent teammate by removing deadly fire power or defenses from his team's opponents, removing pesky Dynamite, or in increasing/decreasing distance between players. But he shouldn't be a total team player too early on. One, Pat Breen needs to discover who his team is, and second he doesn't want to draw too much attention to himself. He should strive to get that defensive base described above, because many players will quickly recognize that they will need to eliminate Pat Brennan before they can move on to their other target. Better for them to see this after he has some defenses built up.
Playing against Pat Brennan: Few opponents are as irritating as Pat Brennan, especially when he is out of range. Pat Brennan can steal cards in play in front of players at any distance, something you can only do with 1 card in the game, Rag Time. Since Pat Brennan has so much power to influence the game, especially mid-late game, it is tempting to try to eliminate him right off of the bat. The difficulty is that Pat Brennan could be your team mate when he is not the Sheriff, and you don't want such a potentially helpful team mate gone from the game. And it is hard to give Pat Brennan just a slight poke to see if he will show whose side he is on. If you attack or steal/discard a card from him he may start thugging cards from just because you are looking like an enemy. And you can't blame him for stealing a really useful card you played when he doesn't know whose team you are on either (unless, of course, you are the Sheriff). You might be able to draw his role out by seeing how he responds to global attack cards and playing weaker blue cards like the Schofield and Remington in front of you. If he is going to steal one of those guns from you so antsily that should reveal something about who he believes/knows his team mates are. Of course, most of the other players are also going to be giving Pat Brennan pressure to reveal himself, so the job will not fall on your shoulders alone.
Hopefully, you will discover Pat Brennan's mission before he gains too strong a defensive base if he is your opponent. If you an Outlaw and he is the Deputy or Renegade, get used to the idea that you are almost definitely going to have to eliminate him before you can eliminate the Sheriff. Killing Pat Brennan should become the #1 priority on your list. Try to remove the defensive cards in play in front of him, and only play offensive blue/green cards when you maximize their utility. Thus, don't play a Volcanic if you have 0 or 1 BANG!, and/or you cannot even reach a desired target. Save it up in your hand until you gather more BANG! so you can use it at an opportune moment. Then it won't be as devastating when Pat Brennan steals it. Also, use cards that remove cards from Pat Brennan's hand, and be careful when playing General Stores as they will add cards to his hand. Since his ability keeps him from drawing cards, you can make Pat Brennan very open to attacks by depleting the cards in his hand. Of course, getting him in range of fire is also crucial, so remove his Mustang/Hideout.
If you are not lucky in being able to remove his distance modifiers, pummel him with Duel, Indians!, and other global/non-ranged attacks. Duel is almost bound to take a life point off of Pat Brennan. Cards such as these should temporarily neutralize Pat Brennan, as he will need a drawing phase or two to replenish the defensive cards that were in his hand. Jail is an especially useful card against Pat Brennan, as he can only use his ability during his drawing phase. The Jail has a 75% chance of neutralizing his ability. Pedro Ramirez may be your best friend in the world if he can jail bang Pat Brennan.