The venerable high school outcast is a tried and true trope, as popular and relatable as the characters that embody it aren’t. But while everyone can relate to alienation, loneliness, embarrassment, and vulnerability, a special breed have the confidence, or veneer of it anyway, to react like Jade, namely to lash out and kick butt. I’ve seen a lot of disconnect from people with Jade’s theme, seeing more of a goth or emo moper….but with a skateboard. Yet this game is ostensively set in the 80’s, Jade is clearly a punk, as evidenced by many of her abilities highlighting her rebel nature and affinity for fellow outcasts. Indeed, the one misstep in building a loner, new kid outsider character is that Jade plays as pretty gregarious, thriving in groups of weirdos. She’s definitely not the shrinking wall flower or completely asocial. When zombies are shambling in, Jade brings the anarchy, unleashing all her bottled up rage. Indeed, having the reason she’s new in town being that she’s an army brat subtly underscores her predilection for violence, which is funny because Jade otherwise doesn’t do subtle. The trends she embodies might be outdated, confusing, or pretentious, but don’t be jaded. Break some rules(and zombie heads) and hang out with the bad girl.
Mechanics and Strategy:
Jade is a student with Youth. We’ve covered this pretty extensively in previous entries.
Jade also has Rebellious, and fittingly, it breaks the mold in being a twofer ability. First, she won’t take a wound if she rolls doubles in any of her fight dice. Second, she gets another fight dice if paired in the same space with another Strange hero. These are nice and have synergy with each other. Avoiding wounds is always good, especially with only two of them. Rolling doubles always feels special, so getting something for it, even if whiffing with snake eyes, is nice game design. It also can mitigate the despair of rolling 2 sixes only to be beaten on a tie. What’s more, this can be used from the very beginning with the two dice heroes are alotted, it doesn’t require specific cards or locations. It obviously won’t come up all the time, being inherently luck dependent, but, like Rachelle’s intuition, it’s a nice potential, passive defense.
Adding more dice, as say, from the second part of this ability, increases the odds of getting doubles and the protection that entails, while also increasing the likelihood of a zombie death, but at that point, it’s win-win. Pairing with heroes has pros and cons, but is more often that not a valid strategy, as you can share the burden of distributing fights on a zombie turn. Jade is a good candidate for this, as has that ever present chance of not taking a wound. Being able to exchange items is also very nice, and their are some Strange heroes like Jake or Stacy that will often have things to share with their abundant card draw. Victor and Kenny, meanwhile, often won’t mind being the recipient of excess cards you may have. The normal drawbacks of pairing up, like “Bickering” or “Last Night on Earth” are present, as are cards targeting Strange heroes, some of which prevent trading. Be on the lookout for card canceling but otherwise don’t worry enough about them to question pairing up, it’s usually worth it.
Jade’s Advanced Ability, if using it, is Outsider, allowing Jade to roll another fight dice, as long as no other heroes(excepting Strange ones) are on her board section. This is thematic for sure, highlighting her loner nature, and I love that it is the opposite of Amanda’s ability Drama, but I have reservations about strategizing or optimizing sending heroes off on their own. This helps if you are forced to go it alone, but don’t plan for it….unless you happen to have some Strange friends, then this can potentially lead to Jade rolling quite a few extra dice. Overall, like all advanced abilities, this is neat, potentially awesome, but risky and circumstantial.
When using more current uses of experience points, like in Timber Peak or the upcoming Tenth Anniversary edition, and deciding on upgrade decks, look to Melee, as Jade has both the potential to hit hard and avoid being hit herself. Her abilities synergies well, and adding more melee capability lead her to become a stalwart fighter, a good candidate for drawing zombies off other, more vulnerable allies. As always, consider ranged if you have a nice gun, and Special upgrades tend to be useful for anyone.
Jade is supposed to be a surly misfit, but in that regard, they may have dropped the ball, as I find her a useful and compelling addition to most games. She has potential to mitigate damage, can bring the pain herself, and has neat interactions with Strange heroes, making for some fun and unusual pairings, and plenty of memorable experiences. Don’t be a punk, pick Jade and watch the zombies turn green with envy.