Hi there and welcome to another article here on Obscure Studies! Today, I want to take a moment to focus on two of my favorite cards from The Innsmouth Conspiracy cycle. I’ve already taken a look at them from a mathematical perspective in my last Horror by the Numbers article. In this post, I want to focus on their design and the place they occupy in the bless/curse card pool.
Favor of the Sun and Favor of the Moon are two level 1 neutral cards that came in The Lair of Dagon mythos pack. The inclusion of these cards so late in the cycle confused me at first given how pivotal they were to certain bless/curse strategies. Ultimately, I think it gave me a deeper appreciation of the mechanic to play without them. Despite that, today I want to focus on why I think they’re so important for bless/curse archetypes.
Although it might not seem like it at first, these two cards are almost perfect mirrors of each other. First, the costs: while Favor of the Sun costs 2 resources, its curse counterpart starts at 1 resource, but nets you 3 after you’ve revealed all of its sealed tokens. If you’re a lover of symmetry like me, you might even consider this profit as a cost of -2 resources, perfectly opposite from its blessed twin’s cost. An even more satisfying detail is that these mirrored costs also correspond to their respective token’s modifier, adding another layer to the amazing design of these pieces.
The second aspect of symmetry comes from the icons on each card. For context, in Arkham, player stats can generally be split into two categories. First are the aggressive stats, Intellect and Combat, both of which, in their basic form, are used to affect the game state directly. Intellect can get you clues and Combat can deal damage to enemies. Meanwhile, Willpower and Agility are classified as defensive stats as they don’t directly impact the game. Instead, these values are usually tested on treacheries or to avoid enemies without defeating them. In the curse focused Favor, we see icons for the aggressive stats, mirroring the general proactive approach to curse generators. In contrast, Favor of the Sun features the defensive stats, which ties into the bless ideal of preemptively defending against negative tokens.
The design points I’ve talked about so far are neat, but have few implications on gameplay. There are two major elements of these cards that influence when and how they can be played. The first is that they are fast, which usually means you don’t need to seal any tokens from the bag until you want to use them. This can be useful for cards that require the specific type of tokens to be in the bag, like Harmony Restored or The Stygian Eye. It can also be useful for raising the chances of activating Ward of Radiance, for example, in case you don’t want to use the Favor itself on that card.
On the other hand, both Favor of the Sun and Favor of the Moon have a big restriction in being unique. This means that for the entire table, if there is already a copy of one of these assets, no other player can have their own until that copy is gone, as per the rules on Unique assets. This keyword combined with Fast adds a lot of interesting play patterns to these cards, while balancing powerful effects with appropriate drawbacks. It might seem obvious to take these cards in every deck of a 4 four player group, but when the game starts, the story may change. To truly understand the impact of these cards on the bless/curse pool, let’s take a look at how they interact with the rest of the cards in that group.
The main reason I like the Innsmouth Favors is because they fundamentally alter a base premise of the game. In my last Breaking Down the Game article, I took a look at the chaos bag and what it added to the dynamic of Arkham Horror: The Card Game. One of the elements it added was the tension and unpredictability of drawing a random token. Different classes interact with the chaos bag differently (e.g. Dark Prophecy, “Eat lead!”) but the Favors provide an unconditional direct line to a specific chaos token, which is unprecedented in this game. Yet, giving you an exact token isn’t as broken as you might think given that one of those tokens basically equates to a Lucky! and the other is actually a downside. The real power of the Favors are how they interact with the other cards in the pool, but to analyze that, I’ll need to look at each one individually.
Favor of the Sun is the card with a more obvious payoff for revealing tokens. The positive modifier of blesses makes it have good value by itself, but we can see its true power shine when that token comes with other benefits. Revealing a sealed bless token during an attack with Blessed Blade guarantees the extra damage and it can also ready good old Jacob Morrison. One of the most powerful effects it can guarantee is a Blessing of Isis activation, which would normally only happen around 13% of the time with a fully blessed bag. Maybe even more powerful that that is being able to use the Blessed Pact and then activate Ancient Covenant or commit Beloved to pass almost any test. You can even use Favor of the Sun to guarantee a cancellation with Ward of Radiance while still keeping the token in the chaos bag for future use1. One of my personal favorite uses of this Favor is to fish out as many curse tokens as I can, to trigger effects from the cursed spell suite and then reveal a bless token that triggers Paradoxical Covenant. This allows you to both get any bonuses off revealed curses while still retaining the base effect of the spell.
Favor of the Moon has the less straightforward payoff since at face value, gaining 1 resource to hurt your chances of passing a test doesn’t seem worth it. In addition to that, it might be better staying on the board to keep 3 curses out of the bag, like a smaller and much cheaper Dark Ritual. That use of the Cursed Pact can be decent, but when we take a look at some of the cards that actually reward you for revealing curse tokens, you can see a lot of power. First off, there’s the Seeker package of Blasphemous Covenant and Fey which combine to give you a total of +3 or +4 to a test while keeping the cursed skill in hand at the cost of keeping that curse in the chaos bag. Speaking of Seeker cards, you can use Favor of the Moon to get secrets onto your upgraded Cryptic Grimoires or to guarantee an extra damage with Gaze of Ouraxsh.
Rogues can take advantage of on-demand curses as well by ignoring them with False Covenant, turning them into +1s with Skeptic, or even blesses with “Lucky” Penny. Eye of the Djinn grants an extra action with curses which can even be further augmented by blesses from Favor of the Sun readying the relic. Mystics are the only other class to really take advantage of the curse tokens, by triggering bonuses off the cursed spell assets or turning that curse into a Skull token with Curse of Aeons. Overall, drawing curses at random can be a great hindrance, but drawing curses when you have ways to benefit and even profit off of them is very powerful.
That’s all I have for today on these two cards. I hope I got across how amazing and intricate I think these cards are. If you have any thoughts on or fun stories involving these cards, 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 art featured in this article.
1 – This might seem confusing since the Favors tell you to specifically resolve a token sealed on this card, but it’s important to remember that bless tokens have no effects outside of skill tests, so they would just be returned to the chaos bag like any other token.