Horror by the numbers: Bless/Curse cards (part 4)

Hi 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. We’re nearing the end of The Innsmouth Conspiracy cycle, which also means the end of bless and curse cards, at least for now. This week, we’ll be taking a look at some of the cards released in The Lair of Dagon mythos pack.

This article will be a little different in nature due to the specific cards we’ll be examining. There won’t be many new calculations this time around, but any articles I reference will have the methods used specified at the top. The focus of this post will be to analyze the top end of the mechanic and how the new cards what we’ve seen so far. If you’d like to see more in-depth numbers on any card in this, or previous packs, please let me know. Now, let’s dive in!

The End is Not the End

When bless and curse was initially revealed, there was a lot of discussion on the impact of the mechanic on the chaos bag. The first few cards we saw in the deluxe box were mostly bless generators like Book of Psalms and Keep Faith with a few low level payoffs like Blessed Blade and Ward of Radiance. Those payoffs were a bit unreliable since they usually required drawing the tokens in a test or otherwise revealing the token. Fortunately for me and this blog, this made for a lot of possible analysis that could be done on how reliable these cards were and in what situations you could raise their consistency. Unfortunately for me, but fortunately for the mechanic, the design of higher level cards has shifted away from this and into less luck-based effects.

The Innsmouth Conspiracy cycle has a very interesting structure of player cards: it featured the first deluxe box to contain only level 0 cards while the mythos packs have steadily progressed towards higher level cards. While some of those more expensive cards still rely on pulling tokens, like the level 4 cursed spells, we start seeing a departure from that logic in other cards, especially ones from The Lair of Dagon. For example, Flute of the Outer Gods and A Watchful Peace remove tokens from the chaos bag to receive a benefit. In a similar vein, The Stygian Eye benefits from filling the bag with curses despite not removing any of them. Nephthys is the only card in this pack that activates when tokens are revealed, but since her first ability has no limit, there’s not much probability involved since you’ll eventually reveal three bless tokens. How many tests on average would it take to reveal those tokens? That’s a question we can answer with math! Here’s a graph on the cumulative chance of revealing three total bless tokens when simply pulling from a 16 token bag starting with 10 blesses. Notably, this chance rises if you use Olive McBride to draw more tokens or Sacred Covenant to keep the drawn blesses in the bag, but I’ll leave those numbers for a future deep dive.

Even though we managed to squeeze one graph out of these first few cards, they are mostly not reliant on luck to function. This design decision is important because you want cards that cost more precious XP to be more consistent. If you already have access to the Into the Maelstrom mythos pack, you’ll probably see that the trend continues into the top end of each class. I won’t spoil any of those cards, but despite the disappointing lack of graphs involved, I am very excited to play with and talk about them in future articles.

In addition to these unique bless and curse cards, this pack is also the one with the highest number of cards not focused around the mechanic. As a big fan of the new tokens, I do wish we saw a few more cards related to them, but I’m also satisfied at Hyperawareness, Hard Knocks and Dig Deep finishing out that cycle. It’s also exciting to see what was previously only available as beta promo cards in Ikiaq and Purifying Corruption. Despite that, I hope we see a return to this mechanic before the distant Return to Innsmouth. I’m hoping these cards return in a supplemental product or even in another future cycle. It’s been very fun playing with and breaking down the numbers on the cards we’ve seen so far and now I’m very happy to talk about a pair of cards that completely mess with all the numbers I’ve presented so far.

Two Really Big Favors

The reason we won’t have many new calculations here is not only because of the different nature of the bless/curse top end, but also because of these two cards: Favor of the Sun and Favor of the Moon. The nature of these cards is very unique in that they can control exactly what token you reveal, not only during a test, but at any point in which a token would be revealed. We’ve seen this effect at high level in Seal of the Elder Sign or circumstantially in Eucatastrophe but these new favors give us 3 reveals of a bless or curse whenever we want. The catch here is that those tokens by themselves don’t equate to more than a Unexpected Courage or in the case of Favor of the Moon, a detriment. The secret to unlocking these cards’ potential is to what they can enable alongside other cards.

There’s a lot of cards that we didn’t take a look at that depend on drawing a single bless token. The chance of drawing a single one from a skill test is easy to calculate for a 16 token bag, like the one in Night of the Zealot. It ranges from 5.9% with a single bless to around 38.4% with a fully blessed bag. With Favor of the Sun, that chance becomes 100%. Cards like Blessed Blade and Beloved become more reliable with at least 3 guaranteed uses. One of the most powerful interactions is with Ancient Covenant, all but guaranteeing you three once-per-turn auto-successes while being good cards on their own right. In fact, this strategy is the central piece of the Sun Warrior Yorick deck over on Rite of Seeking. I recommend checking it out for a cool deck and thorough write-up. In the same vein, you can use Favor of the Moon to guarantee a bonus with Blasphemous Covenant or Skeptic or returning Fey to your hand. The combination of the Seeker covenant and cursed skill makes Luke Robinson a very favorable candidate for the cursed spell suite as he can mitigate a lot of the effects of curses to ensure he actually passes the willpower test.

Looking at cards that require drawing even more tokens, we can see a huge impact the favors have on that strategy. The first card we took a look at in this series back in part 1 was Ward of Radiance which revealed 5 tokens, but only required one bless to successfully cancel a treachery. With Favor of the Sun, it goes from between 30% and 95%, as shown in the article, to 100% with one use of Favor of the Sun1. The second card we looked at was Gaze of Ouraxsh where the more tokens you revealed, the more damage you’ll deal. Favor of the Moon allows you to guarantee at least one damage but at the same time, it has the potential to lower the amount of curse tokens in the bag. Below is a comparison of the expected damage value in three situations: in blue, without Favor of the Moon, in orange, with only 1 curse token on it, and in grey, with as many tokens as possible on the Pact. As with the original analysis of this card, I’m considering a chaos bag with 16 tokens, none of which reveal additional tokens.

We can see that with all the rest of the curse tokens in the bag, Favor of the Moon drastically improves your chance of getting more damage with the Seeker spell. The more common case where you are deciding whether to play Gaze or Favor first is more complex. For 1 or 2 curses in the bag, it’s an improvement because you weren’t likely to draw those tokens anyway and it works exactly like there were 3 of them in the bag. For 3 to 5 tokens, the impact of removing more of them than needed lowers your chance of doing more damage. When the bag is more full, removing those tokens has less of an impact and guaranteeing 1 damage could be worth a use of the Favor.

The Favors can also work reactively to trigger a number or cards we’ve already analyzed on Horror by the Numbers. For example, if you pull a curse during a test, you can use Favor of the Sun to reveal a bless token and automatically succeed with Paradoxical Covenant, or vice versa with Favor of the Moon. Similarly, if you reveal just one bless token and want to trigger Blessing of Isis, Favor of the Sun will provide you with the second token. For investigators like Father Mateo with very impactful Elder Signs or Zoey Samaras with very circumstantial ones, this bonus is very welcome. For others, like Jim Culver, triggering Curse of Aeons with Favor of the Moon could be just as beneficial. As seen in part 2 of this mini-series, it can be very hard to trigger either of these cards manually, so adding one guaranteed token pull is extremely impactful. Lastly, adding that extra curse token to guarantee a bonus effect on the Mystic cursed spells can be vital to keep those spells charged or to guarantee a damage when you’re worried about succeeding on the test.

Overall, the Favors are great for adding more consistency to a lot of the cards we’ve already seen. There’s also a lot to talk about in terms of the designs of these cards, which I think is fantastic. From the wonderful symmetry in multiple aspects to the balance between making them fast, neutral and unique, there’s a lot to talk about. I’ll save that for a future article, but do let me know if that’s something you’d like to see. Overall, I think Favor of the Moon and Favor of the Sun are two spectacular cards for bless and curse decks alike and they’re the final piece for a lot of decks looking to capitalize on the new tokens.

That’s all I have for the bless and curse cards from The Lair of Dagon. We have one pack to go in The Innsmouth Conspiracy, but that doesn’t mean the end of Horror by the Numbers. I’ll be shifting my focus to other cards a well as deeper dives into some of the ones we already looked at. If there’s any new or old cards you’d like to see on here, please 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 @Antimarkovnikov on Discord for directing me to the cover art.

1 – An important note for this ability is that to use Favor of the Sun with Ward of Radiance, you must declare your intention to replace one of the revealed tokens with a bless token before drawing any tokens, as per the ruling on Olive McBride. In other words, you cannot wait to see the first four tokens before deciding to use Favor of the Sun on the fifth token.

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