Every new cycle, Arkham Horror likes to change the game up by adding new mechanics. For example, in The Dunwich Legacy, exile cards made their debut, while in The Forgotten Age, the game introduced seal cards for Mystics. For The Innsmouth Legacy, the major new mechanic for player cards being added is bless and curse tokens.
With the unusually long gap (due to the pandemic) between this cycle releasing and the previous cycle ending, I expect that more players than usual are going to be experiencing the Innsmouth Legacy as their first cycle. Innsmouth is going to be a bit of an unusual cycle to come in on because, as I will explain, it is very unique. My main goal is to explain bless and curse in as much detail as possible to newer players, because the implications of this new mechanic are not necessarily as cut and dry as they may look at first glance. However, if you are a veteran and want to brush up on some information on Bless and Curse before Innsmouth launches in early October, then welcome! Either way, I hope that this article will provide you all the information you need to understand the enigmatic bless and curse tokens.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: Keep in mind that this article is written Aug. 31st, so we have not seen all the possible information for Bless and Curse. This is simply working off of what we do know so far.
AUTHOR’S NOTE 2: Last updated Sept. 1. I added some additional detail to the FAQ based on feedback. I also previously said the designers confirmed bless and curse will never return, and this was false. The answer is updated appropriately.
What are bless and curse tokens?
The Innsmouth Legacy comes with a punchboard of new tokens. There are 10 bless tokens and 10 curse tokens. These tokens can be added to or removed from the chaos bag itself, affecting the contents of the chaos bag in a new way. The below image shows what they look like. Note that when player cards interact with a bless and curse token, they use the symbol represented on the token, so it is best to get familiar with what the symbol looks like. Bless is on the left and curse is on the right.
See Tides of Fate as an example of a player card that uses the bless and curse symbols. Interpreting the symbols in just the second paragraph of the card, it reads “Replace all curse tokens in the chaos bag with an equal number of bless tokens. At the end of the round, replace all bless tokens in the chaos bag with an equal number of curse tokens.”
What do bless and curse tokens do?
Once an effect in the game causes a bless or curse token to be added to the bag, that token can be drawn from the chaos bag like any other token. During a skill test, if a bless token is drawn, you immediately get +2 skill value on your test and must then draw and resolve an additional token. On the other hand, if a curse token is drawn, you immediately get -2 skill value on your test and, just like with bless, must then draw and resolve an additional token. In either case, any bless and curse tokens that were resolved are then removed from the chaos bag after being resolved during a skill test.
What if I reveal a bless token or a curse token outside of a skill test?
Resolve any effects as you normally would, and the bless or curse token is not removed. For example, Astral Travel requires you to reveal a token after playing it, and if it is a Skull, Cultist, Tablet, Elder Thing, or Autofail symbol, something bad happens to you. If you draw a curse token on this reveal, you avoid that effect, because a curse token does not meet the card’s stated requirement to trigger. The curse token is then returned to the bag, as it was not resolved during a skill test.
The same holds true if you were to reveal a bless or curse token during a skill test, but then ignore the token by some effect (like Jacqueline Fine’s investigator ability). If you are not resolving the token during the skill test, it does not get removed from the bag.
Wait, what happens if during one test I draw a bless token and then a curse token and then a bless token and then a curse token…?
Because they prompt you to draw again, these tokens can potentially chain into each other when drawn in succession. Simply continue resolving as normal, following the rules for bless and curse tokens, until you draw a token that does not require you to reveal any more tokens. Then, remove all bless and curse tokens that were revealed, as normal.
I have to add another bless or curse token but I am all out. What do I do?
There are a finite number of bless and curse tokens, ten of each. This is simply a feature of how bless and curse functions. So for example, if you have 10 bless tokens in the chaos bag, and an effect would cause you to add an eleventh bless token, this effect will fail.
Will this mechanic appear again after this cycle is over?
Possibly, but the future of bless and curse beyond Innsmouth is unknown. The designers have expressed that due to the requirement to have these special tokens to make the mechanic work, bless and curse appearing again is a bit of a logistical challenge. Any cycle featuring these cards would need to have the bless and curse token punchboard included again in order to allow the bless and curse cards from that cycle to work. It’s not impossible, but for now, it’s best to go ahead and assume the Innsmouth cycle is bless and curse’s singular moment to show up in the card pool.
So, then does this mean every card in Innsmouth will use bless and curse?
No. However, the majority of cards likely will.
Are there any investigators that specifically use this mechanic as their main feature?
Based on the reveals, so far we only know Sister Mary interacts with bless and curse tokens. As we do not yet have full reveals of all the Innsmouth investigators, it’s unknown if another investigator will also do this in any way.
What factions are associated with bless or curse?
Generally speaking, the bless factions are Guardian and Survivor, the curse factions are Seeker and Rogue, and Mystic are in between the two.
Based on the FFG Innsmouth livestream, all the factions will interact with bless and curse differently. Here is what we know about each faction’s relationship with bless and curse so far.
Guardian: Adds bless tokens to the bag, and likes to keep the tokens in the bag. Tries to make use of them in ways beyond pulling them for the +2 bonus.
Survivor: Adds bless tokens to the bag, but likes to pull the tokens during skill tests and trigger additional effects upon pulling a bless token.
Mystic: Interact with both bless and curse tokens. Can convert tokens to the other type. May have bonuses for maintaining both types of tokens in the bag.
Seeker: Adds curse tokens to the bag, but likes to keep the tokens in the bag and not see them removed. Effects may be passively powered up by having a chaos bag with a lot of curse tokens in it.
Rogue: Adds curse tokens to the bag, but works to avoid the repercussions of drawing the curse tokens during skill tests.
So how good is this anyway for token pulls?
It goes without saying that bless helps you pass tests, while curse hurts your chances. That much is obvious. However, the question of exactly how much gets into some detailed mathematics. Without getting too deep into the math, I will summarize by saying the following:
-The helpfulness of a bless pull is magnified on low-probability passes. Think tests where you are up by 0 or 1 only.
-If you were testing very high up anyway, the helpfulness of a bless pull is minimal.
-Curse hurts a lot. In general, the degree to which curse hurts your chances is significantly more than the degree to which bless helps your chances.
So basically, as far as the math goes, bless is good and curse is worse than bless is good.
It sounds like overall this mechanic skews towards making things worse for me. Why do I want to play with bless and curse then?
Because there are other player cards effects that interact with the tokens outside of simple +2 or -2 pulls. We don’t know all of the effects to make a complete analysis, but these other effects are very important to making bless and curse much more powerful for you.
For example, Ward of Radiance is a powerful Mystic cancel that has you pull 5 tokens when a treachery is drawn. If any of them are a bless token or an Elder Sign, you cancel the treachery’s revelation effect. If you compare this to Ward of Protection, it has numerous benefits. It costs 0, while Ward of Protection costs 1; it doesn’t deal a horror to you; and critically, it can be used on another investigator’s treachery draw. These are all really great upsides versus the classic mainstay cancel that is Ward of Protection. However, Ward of Radiance only has a good probability of passing if you have been faithfully adding bless tokens to the bag. Without bless tokens, the odds of this passing are low, meaning this card will often do nothing outside of a bless strategy.
On the other hand, for curse decks, you have a Rogue card like Faustian Bargain that has you divide 5 resources among investigators at your location and add 2 curse tokens to the bag. Five resources is a lot of resources. In terms of resources gained, this is like a level 2 Hot Streak, but you can play it with 0 resources to start and it can be divided up among your team members. If you have a plan to not be stressed about 2 curse tokens, then maybe you want to strike a deal and play a card like Faustian Bargain.
In addition, Covenants have been revealed as being added with the In Too Deep pack. Currently, it appears that Covenants are level 2 permanents that will change the way bless and curse tokens function on a skill test draw, and each faction has one Covenant in their card pool. An investigator may purchase only one Covenant.
Are there enough tools to make this an exciting space to build a deck?
First, we have not seen all the tools yet. Based on what has been revealed so far, opinions have been mixed. Some say there is enough support from what we have seen, some say we should wait to get more reveals, and some say it is unlikely we will ever get enough support to make it interesting for them to play based on the reveals. Regardless, you are certainly not forced into building a bless or curse deck just because you pick up Innsmouth. Remember, we have been playing decks without bless or curse since 2016 and we’ve been just fine. Whether or not something is exciting for you is really going to come down to your personal opinion.
What other strategies do bless and curse work with?
There are many things in the game already that complement bless and curse tokens. Here are a few examples.
- Bless and curse itself. This one is pretty obvious; however, bless and curse synergizes heavily with more bless and curse effects, so it deserves to be said.
- Succeed by X, for bless. You are much more likely to oversucceed on a bless pull.
- Failure effects, for curse. You are more likely to fail with curses in the bag, meaning if you have a “when you fail” card on your Survivor your chances of being able to use it are higher
- Effects that don’t test anything, for curse. If you are simply not testing, then the curse tokens don’t matter.
- Token revealing cards, for either. With additional tokens in the bag, you are less likely to draw a bad symbol for the purposes of something like Astral Travel or Recharge.
Any recommendations for bless and curse decks?
Yes. Based on what I have seen already, I have some suggestions. Of course, this is not an exhaustive list!
- Bless Mary. This one is no surprise, but of course, she has to be on the list. This deck focuses on passive support for the whole team by providing bless tokens that improve skill tests and other supports like Rite of Sanctification and Ward of Radiance. Beyond that, Mary’s card access is flexible enough that she can try to find clues or handle enemies as you need her to.
- Curse Preston. Faustian Bargain is a huge influx of money and Preston avoids testing anyway. When he does test, he often wants to have a “when you fail” Survivor event handy, so the curses don’t punish him too, too much. In addition, Survivor is a bless faction, meaning if he wanted to, Preston can use a tool like Predestined or Token of Faith to help rotate the contents of the bag back towards being more blessed following his Faustian Bargain plays.
- Curse Dexter. Note that this requires cards from In Too Deep, namely Armageddon and Eye of Chaos (think of them as Innsmouth Shrivelling/Rite of Seeking clones that cost more but have a significant bonus to you on curse draw). This build is similar to Curse Preston in that it relies on Faustian Bargain; however, these resources go towards paying for Armageddon and Eye of Chaos. These cards will give you a bonus effect on a curse reveal, helping to minimize the downside of adding the curses. In addition, Dexter can set up well to perform Will tests high enough that he can still pass even on a curse draw.
- Bless Rex. This one is a little bit wacky, because Rex has a hard time supplying his own bless tokens given that Seeker is a curse faction. If anything you are probably needing a Mary to toss the bless tokens into the bag for Rex. But, the concept of Bless Rex is on a bless draw for an investigate, Rex is very likely to pass by 2, netting the extra clue.
- Bless Mateo. This is some speculation, but it is highly anticipated to work. With Mateo’s Blessed access, he has access to 3 of the 5 Covenants from In Too Deep. This will give him a lot of flexibility to approach builds. He can also use cards like Rite of Sanctification to great effect. We still need to see more cards, but this space is looking very promising.
With that, this concludes my prerelease edition of my Bless and Curse FAQ. As more cards are revealed, I hope to update this. Thank you for reading my article and I hope that this helped you learn more about bless and curse!