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Imagine a scenario where player A is the Witch and is in the lead (has the most gold). Player B knows that player A is the witch. On player B's turn, she declares that she is the witch. If no-one challenges, then the ability is activated and player B will swap her gold pile with player A. If player A challenges, then she will win the challenge. When the ability is activated, player A will have to swap her gold pile with another player, but because she is in the lead she will end up with less gold than before.

In this situation, can player A choose not to use the ability?

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No, you have to use the ability. According to the rules (English Rules, p. 7):

If one of the players is indeed the announced character, that player immediately uses the character’s power (which can happen outside of their turn).

Since they don't state "may use", it's mandatory. In your case, Player A correctly challenged Player B, as he denied the latter getting the lead, which could be disastrous if Player B has a coin-generating character (King, Bishop, etc). At least, like that, Player A can choose to swap with a player who can't win, even with the lead, i.e., he has the Spy.

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  • Thanks for the answer. I've noticed that the ability is worded slightly differently on the card itself and on the cheat sheet. The rule book states that the witch "can swap" her fortune with another player, whereas the cheat sheet says the witch "swaps their entire fortune" with another player. It seems like this might be an important distinction...
    – toryan
    Apr 23, 2015 at 13:58

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