Ma Su
Ma Su 马谡
Conceited Talent who Failed 怀才自负

Winning Hearts 心战
Once per turn, if has more cards in his hand than maximum health, Ma Su can look at the top three cards of the deck. He can display any hearts, put them in his hand, and rearrange the rest.

Bottomless Tears 挥泪
The player that kills Ma Su must discard all of their cards.
Clarification:
  • If Ma Su is a rebel and another character kills him, "Bottomless Tears" goes into effect before the other character gets the bounty. In effect, they lose all cards then draw three. 
  • If Cao Pi kills Ma Su, his "Unnatural Death" goes into effect before Ma Su's "Bottomless Tears." In effect, Cao Pi would take all of Ma Su's cards, then discard all of his cards (then draw three if Ma Su is a rebel). 
 Strengths Weaknesses
  • There are many useful cards that are of the heart suit. Most Peaches and Draw 2s are hearts. He might be able to draw these cards from "Winning Hearts."
  • "Bottomless Tears" can be a good deterrent against other characters killing him if they have a lot of cards and several healthy enemies.
  • Ma Su may be able to use "Winning Hearts" to influence the outcome of pending judgement cards for the people to his immediate right.
  • Compared to other characters' powers, "Winning Hearts" can be thought of as a cheap parlor trick. The occasional extra card(s) can be useful, but it usually has to be something that he can use immediately because he has to discard the excess cards at the end of his turn. While it can be used to influence judgement cards and the cards that the next player will draw, there are other characters who can do the same things and do them much more effectively. For example, Zhang Jiao and Sima Yi can influence judgement cards for any character (including themselves), not just the judgement cards of the two people immediately to their right. Older Zhuge Liang's Astrology has a similar functionality to that of "Winning Hearts," but it can be used to help Zhuge Liang control his judgement cards and the cards that go into his hand and the judgement cards/drawn cards for the people to his immediate right, as Zhuge Liang gets to view the top X cards, X being the number of characters alive (or five if this number exceeds five). Additionally, Ma Su may be able to see these cards, but he might not be able to do anything about what the opponent will draw since he cannot put these cards on the bottom of the deck (like Zhuge Liang can for "Astrology").
  • In addition to being weaker than other abilities that have a similar functionality, "Winning Hearts" requires Ma Su to have more than three hand cards before he can activate it. Many characters have abilities that work just as well, if not better, when they have few hand cards or few units of health. "Winning Hearts" requires Ma Su to keep careful track of the cards in his hand. He has to ensure that he starts his next turn with at least two cards (as he draws two cards in his drawing phase) to do this ability. This means that he has to sit back and do less than the other characters to ensure that this power works. If he only has one unit of health, and can thus only hold one hand card, he will not be able to use this ability without help from a teammate or getting lucky and drawing a Draw 2.
  • "Bottomless Tears" is not as utterly devastating as it first seems. As stated earlier, if Ma Su is a rebel, the person who kills him loses their cards then draws three. If they had fewer than three cards to begin with, this is not a very bad trade. If Ma Su is a loyalist/spy, this power is a little better, but it still is not outstanding. If a character decides to kill Ma Su late in the game when they do not have many cards, they will not lose very much. It is sometimes possible to use all of your cards then kill Ma Su, completely mitigating the effects of this power.

Notable Combinations:
  • Liu Bei/Guo Jia/Xun Yu/Lu Su - These characters can give Ma Su cards and help him with activating "Winning Hearts."
  • Gan Ning/Zhang Liao/Zhang He/Xu Huang - These characters specialize card destruction, which will make it difficult for Ma Su to activate "Winning Hearts."
  • Yuan Shu - Yuan Shu is not afraid of killing Ma Su and discarding all of his cards because he often has to discard all of this remaining cards at the end of his turn as per "Trite Rule."
  • Zhuge Liang - Zhuge Liang would not mind killing Ma Su as it would activate his "Empty City."
  • Lu Xun/Sun Shang Xiang - These characters have powers that will activate after losing all of their cards. Lu Xun's "Linked Camps" is easily activated after killing Ma Su and Sun Shang Xiang draws two cards for each piece of equipment that she discards after killing Ma Su.
  • Zhang Chun Hua - Zhang Chun Hua's "Unfeeling" allows her to kill Ma Su without activating his "Bottomless Tears," as her damage is always treated as negligence damage.
  • Diao Chan/Xun Yu - These characters can make other characters kill Ma Su so "Bottomless Tears" is activated on one of his own teammates. 
 KingMa Su is quite possibly the worst king choice. "Bottomless Tears" is meaningless if Ma Su is the king because the game ends when he dies. Also, if there are more than five characters, Ma Su's health limit increases to four, making it even more difficult to activate "Winning Hearts."
 LoyalistMa Su is mediocre loyalist. There is not much he can do for the king, but at least his "Bottomless Tears" may keep him alive for a while. However, the rebels can do enough damage to him to prevent the use of "Bottomless Tears" and leave him alive and useless.
 RebelMa Su is a bad rebel choice. The three card bounty almost completely negates the benefit of having "Bottomless Tears."
 SpyThis role seems to be Ma Su's best role, although that is not saying much. If he can somehow keep both sides evenly matched (and this will be quite a trick since "Winning Hearts" is a weak power and the only thing that he can rely upon to help him do this), neither side will be too interested in killing him. If he stays strong long enough to make it to a one-on-one with a weak king, he may be able to snag a victory with "Winning Hearts." However, if the loyalists die too quickly, he will not be able to help the king that much against the rebels. Likewise, if the rebels die too quickly, the loyalists and the king will have no worries about killing him, as the game will end before anyone has to discard cards.

Final Remarks:
     When we write these pages, we do our best to give each character the most credit possible and show them in the best possible light, regardless of how much we like/dislike them. For Ma Su, we tried very hard to do this, but we were unsuccessful. We believe that he is quite possibly one of the weakest characters in the game, along with Gong Sun Zang, Xu Chu, and Cao Ren. Perhaps the creator of this card was trying to pay homage to how incompetent Ma Su was as a general of one of Shu's armies. In fact, Ma Su's character description is less than flattering (Conceited Talent who Failed). In any event, it should be noted that many other players have a more favorable opinion of Ma Su than we do, so feel free to give him a try.
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