Character Name: Sean Mallory.
Inspired by: John (Sean) Mallory, the ex-IRA explosives expert on the run from the British in the western film, A Fistful of Dynamite (also known as Duck, You Sucker!).
Life Points: 3.
Ability Type: Neutral.
Ability: "He may hold in his hand up to 10 cards." How many life points he has does not affect this static 10 card limit.
Cards enhanced by Sean Mallory's ability: Stagecoach, Wells Fargo, Pony Express, General Store, Volcanic, Missed!, Dodge (these defensive cards no longer painfully take up room in his hand), BANG! (he has no need to discard excess BANG! that he cannot use), Springfield, Whisky, Tequila, Rag Time, and Brawl (these 2 cards to use cards are easier to manage when you have more cards to choose from).
Cards weakened by Sean Mallory's ability: Beer, Whisky, Canteen, Tequila, Saloon (while these cards replenish life points, they do not augment Sean Mallory's card limit).
Cards more effective when played against Sean Mallory: Jail.
Ideal role: Sheriff.
2-player value: Pretty good. As it is with many characters, it depends how much life he has at this point. If he is too low and has few cards in his hand, things will probably not end well for Sean Mallory. However, if he has at least 2 life points, Sean Mallory might be able to build up some cards over a couple of rounds, and then have a decent chance of winning.
Characters that counter Sean Mallory well: Jesse Jones (when he has a fewer amount of cards in his hand).
Characters that Sean Mallory counters well: Pat Brennan.
General Strategy as Sean Mallory: In my opinion, Sean Mallory is the best Sheriff in the game, although El Gringo and Apache Kid are close seconds. With 4 life points, and players timid to target the Sheriff right at the beginning of the game, Sean Mallory has an excellent opportunity to store up defensive and offensive cards. Then, he can unload on an Outlaw that reveals himself, and if he eliminates him, not have any of the 3 card bonus go to waste. Awesome.
As an Outlaw, Renegade, or Deputy, Sean Mallory is an okay character, but he has to worry a lot more about getting eliminating in the early game. Many characters are afraid of Sean Mallory not being on their team, and him eventually getting his hand on a Volcanic. The outcome is sadly that many players choose to attack Sean Mallory in the first and second rounds. Since Sean Mallory only has 3 life points, and his ability is not immediately defensive (unlike other 3 life point characters such as El Gringo, Paul Regret, Elena Fuente, and potentially Vera Custer), he can get extremely weakened or eliminated within these two rounds. Chances are that Sean Mallory does not have a Missed! or Dodge in his hand, and he may not have a BANG! either, making him very vulnerable to BANG! from adjacent players, Duels, Indians!, and Gatling. Pixie Pete is very much in the same boat. Sean Mallory could try to shoot at a player besides his initial attacker on his turn, but with 3 life points, it seems very dangerous to make another enemy just in the hopes of throwing off the initial attacker. This early game elimination tactic against Sean Mallory can sometimes work, but it is always a risk. How do other players know that Sean Mallory is not their ally? If he is, then they shot themselves extensively in the foot. But despite this consideration, Sean Mallory will still get shot up early on.
Thus, surviving as a non-Sheriff Sean Mallory is a good mix of luck with some skill. Generally speaking, early on Sean Mallory should never play any cards on his turn that will shrink the amount of cards he will have in his hand by the end of his turn. Thus, Sean Mallory could play a General Store, Panic, Wells Fargo, or Stagecoach, as these will add more cards to his hand. The only exception to this suggestion is in the case of defensive cards, such as defensive green cards, a Barrel, and the distance modifiers Mustang and Hideout. These cards will help Sean Mallory survive, and that should be his goal at this point. An important Dodge City rule to remember is that you do not have to wait a full round to use defensive green cards. The moment that your turn is over, defensive green cards can be used to block attacks. Only the green cards that you use on your own turn do you have to wait a full round before using them. Any other cards I would keep in your hand. Even if they are not defensive, your opponents do not know what those cards are, and may intimidate them, keeping or making them do actions that they wouldn't do otherwise.
After a few rounds (and given that Sean Mallory has survived), Sean Mallory can be a little more liberal in playing cards from his hand, but he should still try to draw little attention to himself. There are some good ways to do this. For instance, there is no point in Sean Mallory playing a gun card in front of him until he really wants to use the gun. The gun card only takes 1 space in the 10 cards allowed Sean Mallory, so this shouldn't bother him. By doing so, Sean Mallory gets 2 benefits: (1) Sean Mallory keeps the gun from getting stolen or discarded before he can really use it, which is especially useful when it comes to the Volcanic, and (2) Sean Mallory can keep his fellow players in a false sense of security, making them believe that he is not in range. Besides the gun, there are other cards that Sean Mallory may not wish to play in front of him, such as Scope, Binoculars, and some offensive green cards, for the same reasons (this is a great way of skunking Pat Brennan). Before Sean Mallory play a card in front of him, he should think of what sort of threat level about himself that it will generate.
Sean Mallory can also reduce his threat level through another kind of deception. Sean Mallory can afford to take hits. Losing a life point draws him closer towards death, but does not affect his card limit. So Sean Mallory could try to make players think he is weaker than he is by taking a hit from an attack even if he could easily block it with the cards in his hand. He may choose not to replace the lost life point when he has a Beer (or more) in his hand to again make players believe he is weak. And then he can replace his health and use the defensive cards at more opportune moments.
Besides this, Sean Mallory should try to create a hand that has both some defensive cards (Missed!, Beer) and offensive cards that allow him to attack several times in his turn. It will be easier to do this with brown cards--BANG!, Duel, Gatling, Indians!, Springfield, Punch--and storing up a Volcanic, as these can be kept in his hand ready for use. Having a Panic ready to snatch a nearby Volcanic when it is played is a very good idea. The green attack cards, on the other hand, will add to Sean Mallory's threat level. Nonetheless, when he has enough brown attack cards, Sean Mallory can play some of these green offensive cards just before going after a player. Having this offensive combo ready will help him pick off other players when their health is low. This is especially beneficial when Sean Mallory can pick off an Outlaw and get the 3 card bonus that may replenish the cards used to eliminate the Outlaw. After eliminating a player, take some time to regain your card strength. Then move to the next one. It is very important to replenish your cards, if possible, before you enter into a 2-player duel.
Playing against Sean Mallory: As described above, a very effective means of eliminating Sean Mallory is to target him in the first two rounds with BANG! and Duels, and to play Indians! and Gatling. You will likely hurt Sean Mallory very badly or even eliminate him, but there is one problem with this strategy if you are an Outlaw or Sheriff: Sean Mallory may be your ally and eliminating him may have just ruined your chances to win the game. On the other hand, if you are a Deputy/Renegade and Sean Mallory is not the Sheriff this can be an excellent idea (depending on the amount of players in the game of course). So while effective, you have to gauge the risk according to your role when it comes to this strategy.
If you choose to let Sean Mallory live passed the beginning of the game, this doesn't require you to just let him be. You can keep the amount of cards in his hand low and keep him from building up by firing a BANG! at him from time to time, by panicking/stealing cards from his hand, or playing cards that affect all other players. You might get lucky and knock out a stored up Beer or Volcanic. Hopefully, these actions will quickly move Sean Mallory to reveal his role through his actions to you. Just remember that he might be your ally!
To remove one of his drawing phases, you can play a Jail on Sean Mallory. This also works well when Sean Mallory has a large hand and you need some time to recuperate. Another good card to play when Sean Mallory has a large hand is Duel. While you may take the hit in the Duel, you could knock out several BANG! in his hand that protect you from taking future hits. An intelligent Sean Mallory may choose just to take a hit instead, but it is worth a shot. To make Sean Mallory nervous, you can throw out a Dynamite.