Horror by the numbers: Bless/Curse cards (part 3)

Hi there and welcome to another installment of Horror by the numbers, a series where I take a look at the numbers and probabilities behind some cards from Arkham Horror: The Living Card Game. This week, we’re continuing with our deep dive into the bless and curse cards from The Innsmouth Conspiracy by looking at the recently released A Light in the Fog pack.

As in my last two articles, we’ll use a hypergeometric calculator for general scenarios and more complicated ones will be simulated using code (found here). All scenarios will be simulated using the Night of the Zealot chaos bag on Standard difficulty, which contains 16 total tokens. I’ll also define the three main methods of pulling tokens to be used here, which we’ve already seen in past articles:

Simple Pull: Just pulling from the bag. Nothing special.

Olive Pull: Using Olive McBride on the first pull, we choose two tokens prioritizing getting the tokens we need to trigger the card ability. If the tokens we need aren’t present, prioritize ones that reveal more tokens. If we already have the ones we need, prioritize getting the tokens with the lowest modifier.

Statue Pull: The same strategy as the Olive pull, but using Grotesque Statue instead.

A midsummer night’s skill

I have a lot of thoughts about this card. First of all, it’s pretty much strictly better than Unexpected Courage at only one experience cost. Being repeatable also makes it very strong, especially if we consider some cards coming in the next Innsmouth pack (don’t worry, we’ll definitely discuss those when they are released). Let’s cast those thoughts aside for now and focus on questions concerning the numbers surrounding the card.

First, how often can we return this card to hand? We’ve already covered more complex scenarios, so here is a graph showing the chances of drawing one or more curse tokens using our three presented methods.

The result is expected with simple pulls topping out at around 38% and Olive pulls going up over 78%.

The more interesting question we can ask now is how does Fey affect our chances at succeeding on each test? This is especially important if we’re fishing for the curse token, putting ourselves already two down on the test. Let’s take a look at the chances of passing the test using each method to find at least 1 curse token. For the Olive pulling strategy, any curse token after the first is ignored in favor of other, non-Autofail, tokens. I’ll also be comparing a standard, uncursed bag, corresponding to the Base data set, to a fully cursed bag using Fey and our three standard pulling methods. This will give us an idea of how much the card does to counter the curses in the bag.

Overall, we can see that attempting to draw curses lowers your chances of passing the test, especially at higher skill values where a string of curse into a low token can cause failures. At lower skill values, we see that the bonus from Fey outweighs the curse tokens, especially if paired with Grotesque Statue avoiding lower modifiers. Olive consistently gives up the lowest chances to pass, which is a result of having to resolve multiple tokens, usually with lower values.

By itself, the card is not worth including unless you’re looking for good skill cards, like in a Minh Thi Phan deck. It gets more attractive if you’re adding a lot of curses throughout the game, which seekers are prone to do. Still, at less than 40% chance of getting it back with a full bag, it’s not at it’s best. If you’re an investigator with access to the cursed spell suite though, Fey becomes very attractive. Since you actively want to draw curses, you’re more likely to get the card back for future uses and it also has an extra willpower icon, which decently raises your chance of passing, basically shifting the above graph 1 unit to the left. Lastly, I want to point out how powerful this card can be with Blasphemous Covenant, basically providing you with +5 or +6 bonus to this test if a curse token is drawn.

Drawing ALL the curse tokens

Next up, we’ll take a look at the upgraded spell suite for Mystics. These differ from their counterparts in that they both not only provide you a bonus to willpower, but also an escalating bonus for each curse revealed. In my last Horror by the Numbers article, I mentioned how Curse of Aeons could be an effective way of stopping a curse train at only while still triggering the level 0 spells. For the upgraded versions, you might not want to stop it and instead, draw as many curse tokens as possible to maximize the bonuses, which are not contingent on succeeding the test. This can be especially interesting for the first two spells, since drawing 2 curse tokens on Armageddon (4) or Eye of Chaos (4) nets you the same benefits as passing the test, with the caveat of the clues having to come from connecting locations. In this case, maybe we only care about passing the test if we get two curses or less.

Given all that, my analysis of these cards will be based on how well the strategy of drawing as many curses as possible works. We’ll use the three methods I listed with an fully cursed, Night of the Zealot standard difficulty bag. We’ll note the chance of drawing each possible number of curse tokens and the average modifier for that case. This will give us a good idea of how likely it is to get multiple bonuses but also a rough estimate at how much we’ll need to pass the test. The scale on the left corresponds to the blue bars and shows how negative the average modifier is for that amount of reveled curse tokens. The scale on the right corresponds to the orange line and shows how likely it is to draw exactly that many curses. For the purposes of calculating the average modifiers, I’ve ignored the Elder Sign and Auto Fail tokens.

In terms of the chances of drawing each number of curse tokens, it makes some intuitive sense. The Olive strategy sees more tokens and is able to resolve multiple curses, leading to a higher change of getting one or two of them in a single pull. The statue strategy works similarly, but it can only really guarantee one curse token pulled every time and can even make it harder to find more if you pull two of them and have to ignore one. As expected, you’ll mostly draw zero or one tokens if simply pulling, meaning in those cases, these are mostly just a willpower boost over their lower level versions.

If we look at the average modifier, we see a big jump up with the Olive pulling strategy since it requires resolving multiple, mostly negative modifiers. This means that while that strategy is the best at making use of the escalating bonus, it also forsakes actually passing the test. With Olive, we have an almost 36% chance of pulling exactly 2 curses, but with an average modifier around -6. Notably, the spells do give us 2 points to help with that, but you’ll still need on average 4 points over the difficulty, which is not an easy ask. The statue strategy is a good middle ground: it gives a 73% chance of drawing at least one curse, but with average modifiers in line with the simple pulling.

Overall, we looked at a very simplistic strategy for these cards, but there are a lot of more nuanced ones that can be applied, especially when they’re combined with other powerful curse synergies, such as cards we already looked at in Fey and Blasphemous Covenant. Another very interesting synergy is with Paradoxical Covenant since it can trigger after any “Reveal tokens” step and it will make sure you pass the test no matter how many curses you’ve drawn. This combination will also become much stronger with some future Innsmouth cards, so stay tuned for my next Horror by the Numbers article!

The rest

For only looking at 4 cards that was definitely a lot! There are a few more cards in this pack that we could look at, but I didn’t think any of them yielded any real playing or deck building decisions, so I’ll quickly go over them now.

Guided by the Unseen, the other Seeker card in this pack, actually does have some interesting analysis in terms of the probability of finding a skill card vs how many are in the deck. Since these articles have been focused on bless and curse cards, I’ll leave this one for a future article. There’s definitely some interesting synergies here and potential errata aside, I think this card can be pretty powerful. Let me know if you’d like to see it sooner rather than later!

I also considered running the numbers on both the Rogue cards in this pack. The effects are both very interesting to me and Eye of the Djinn seems especially powerful if you can get either bonus. Ultimately, the analysis on that card doesn’t deviate too much from what we’ve already seen with Paradoxical Covenant or just the chance of drawing a bless or curse token – which we just did with Fey. While I do think the effect is very powerful, there’s not too much to break down on the probability side. The other rogue card, “Lucky” Penny has a very interesting effect since it is Forced and turns your tokens into the other. I think the real analysis here is if you want to run this in either a bless heavy deck to draw cards or in a curse heavy deck to alleviate. Ultimately, there isn’t too much actual numerical analysis here since it’s always just a 50/50 to convert a token to the other type.

Lastly, the remaining cards in this pack still interact with bless and curse but the extent of their interaction is to add tokens (Spirit of Humanity and Holy Rosary) or to remove tokens (Shield of Faith and Harmony Restored). That type of effect does have an impact on the probability of passing a test, but that type of analysis can be done pretty easily with a tool like the Arkham Bag Calculator. If there’s any outstanding questions you have on any of these cards, please let me know and I’ll consider them for future articles!

That’s all I have for the bless and curse cards from A Light in The Fog. We’re two packs away from the end of The Innsmouth Conspiracy but both of those have some great cards to look at, so stay tuned to this series for analysis on those. If there are any other cards you’d like me to analyze, let me know. Otherwise, feel free to send any comments, thoughts or concerns my way through Facebook, Discord, or Nightgaunt Mail. See you next time!

Special thanks to Ryan B. for reviewing and to @Antimarkovnikov on Discord for directing me to the cover art.

2 thoughts on “Horror by the numbers: Bless/Curse cards (part 3)

  1. Excellent stuff! I love this content. Thank you for a great blog.

    Like

    1. Thanks Andy, that’s very great to hear coming from someone whose content I enjoy very much!

      Like

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