You can use Stray Cat to evade an enemy that you're not engaged with.
Automatic Success/Failure & Automatic Evasion: Some card effects make an investigator automatically succeed or automatically fail a skill test. If this occurs, depending on the timing of such an effect, certain steps of the skill test may be skipped in their entirety.
- If it is known that an investigator automatically succeeds or fails at a skill test before Step 3 (“Reveal Chaos Token”) occurs, that step is skipped, along with Step 4. No chaos token(s) are revealed from the chaos bag, and the investigator immediately moves to Step 5. All other steps of the skill test resolve as normal.
- If a chaos token effect causes an investigator to automatically succeed or fail at a skill test, continue with Steps 3 and 4, as normal.
- If an ability “automatically evades” 1 or more enemies, this is not the same as automatically succeeding at an evasion attempt. As per the entry on “Evade” in the Rules Reference, if an ability automatically evades 1 or more enemies, no skill test is made for the evasion attempt whatsoever. Consequentially, because no skill test is made, it is not considered a “successful” evasion. The investigator simply follows the steps for evading an enemy (exhausting it and breaking its engagement).
- For example: Patrice uses the ability on Hope, which reads: “ If Hope is ready, exhaust or discard him: Evade. Attempt to evade with a base value of 5. (If you discarded Hope, this test is automatically successful.)” If Patrice chooses to discard Hope, the skill test automatically succeeds before chaos tokens are revealed; therefore Steps 3 and 4 of the skill test are skipped. However, the skill test still takes place. Cards may still be committed to the test, and the investigator’s total modified skill value is still determined, as it may have some bearing on other card abilities. However, if Patrice instead uses the ability on Stray Cat, which reads: “ Discard Stray Cat: Automatically evade a non-Elite enemy at your location,” no skill test is made whatsoever. - FAQ, v.1.7, March 2020
At first glance the gloomy Stray Cat seems like a premeditated evade which is not particularly great, but there are some nifty tricks you can do on your turn:
- Exhaust enemies who ready in the Enemy phase. There's a free action player window (between Step 3.2 and 3.3) just before enemies attack, so simply discard the Stray Cat to exhaust them.
- Exhaust enemies who are engaged with other investigators at your location. Handy to bail them out when you don't have the actions to spare to engage and evade that enemy.
- As a bonus, combo Stray Cat's evade with cards that have the same triggering condition: Close Call, Pickpocketing
- Guaranteed evade. This can save you many conventional evasion attempts if the enemy is quicker than you.
- Activated with a free action. You don't lose an action, you only pay for it upfront by playing Stray Cat.
- Decent install cost.
- You should combo Stray Cat with other cards to maximize it's value: Sneak Attack, Close Call, Pickpocketing.
- If William Yorick finds himself engaged with two non-elite enemies, he can kill the weak one, recur Stray Cat with his ability and use Stray Cat's free action to evade the big baddie.
- Does not work on nasty Elite enemies that you really want to exhaust.
- One-time effect only. Hardly worth on it's own, until you know of a certain enemy you want to avoid. In this case it could easily be swapped in with Adaptable.
- Occupies the Ally slot. You know the darling who wants to take her place! Are you willing to pay 3xp (Charisma) for the company of cat and boyfriend?
- All current survivors have an Agility base value of 3, which is sufficient against most threats.
Instantly parley spoiler on the Midnight Masks scenario.
As a cat person I have always wanted to include the Stray Cat in a deck but it never quite made the cut. I think there was once or twice that it made it in with the hopes that I could use Calling in Favors to search for the ally that I wanted but it got bumped out almost immediately by XP upgrades.
The cat has always been an iffy play because of its one time use AND restrictions on use but I was trying to find an investigator to pair up with Ursula for my first play of The Forgotten Age. The only thing that I really knew was that evasion was good and I knew a little of the Vengeance mechanic. Most of the other types have really poor evasion skills but I got the idea to pair Yorick with the Stray Cat.
And it was an amazing combo. Ursula and Yorick were usually able to clear clues off of locations and even stay ahead of previously evaded Hunters.
It's ALL Actionless
The best part is that the Stray Cat with Yorick achieves the ultimate action efficiency. Once it is in the discard pile it can be played/recurred after any kill without using an action and it can evade without using an action. It can even evade ANY enemy at your location.
It isn't that hard for Yorick to kill enemies but it usually takes 2-3 actions to do it and there are always the chance of bad token pull (retaliate) or special tokens that cause something else to happen. Yorick can instead use his Flashlight 1-2x and move to the next location getting closer to completing the scenario instead of needlessly hacking at an enemy.
Does it makes sense to play the Stray Cat with other investigators or in other campaigns
This was obviously the perfect campaign for the cat but I will definitely keep this in my Yorick decks for action efficiency.
Other possible investigators to use it and none of these are definite since they all have other strong allies to include
- Ashcan Pete - I could see this working in solo where he can avoid enemies and sneak through scenarios.
- Patrice - I haven't played her yet so there might be too much competition for allies but it is cheap so it can get played easily and it keeps her safe if she hasn't drawn/played the right cards.
- Tommy Muldoon or Tony Morgan (Survivor) in TFA (and only in TFA) - Not very good matches for them but they will really need to evade with some regularity in the campaign. But would you push out another ally that works so well for them? Unlikely.
- A splash card for Zoey? in TFA - Very unlikely
- Minh Thi Phan - It gives her some mobility but it would probably just be easier for her to play skill cards and evade
The rest of the other survivors have high evade skills so it wouldn't help much.
I have never played nor even thought about how to build decks for Preston, Lola or Calvin. I doubt it makes sense.
Overall it worked great for Yorick in TFA but Ashcan Pete is probably the only other investigator that I would try to include it in. And that is only because I want to setup a deck without Peter Sylvestre for Pete. I think it is safe to keep this in your unused cards section. Unless you are playing Yorick.