I've been surprised by just how much I enjoy using this weapon. Yes, you heard me correctly, please hear me out! (I promise I'm not completely insane... yet.) While certainly not to be considered action compression, this card will let you get in a "second" attack while avoiding the Chaos bag entirely. This is not that big of a deal when playing on Standard or Easy where you can whiff a few times without much consequence, but as the tokens get nastier and the negative modifiers get larger (and the pile of committed cards grows) I find myself wanting to avoid that bag like the plague. Because sometimes your second attack misses AND a ghoul spawns. And that's just no fun for anyone.
Item. Weapon. Melee.
: Fight. You get +1 for this attack. If you succeed, you may spend 1 additional action to deal +1 damage for this attack.
It certainly looks menacing, but is the Kukri any good? I basically never want to attack without dealing additional damage, but at the cost of an additional action it hardly seems efficient. Compared to the only other Neutral Weapon in the game, Knife only costs 1 resource to play, but it does require an additional skill test to achieve the same effect as Kukri. The real cost of that actual skill test will depend heavily on the difficulty of your scenario. Still, I'd give the edge to Knife for it's one-time ability to throw it at the enemy for extra Combat and Damage.
If Knife is better, Kukri could still be considered to be a third or fourth copy of Knife to make sure your investigator never knocks on a door without a melee weapon in hand. But let's consider who would need extra blades. As we'll see shortly, the combat-oriented classes aren't lacking for other options, and even if the other classes are looking for extra damage, Seekers can use "I've got a plan!" and Mystics can use Shrivelling. Both of these are better options and more thematic.
Looking at the game's list of weapons, the Guardian and Rogue both get firearms, and the Survivor gets a Fire Axe. The Machete and Baseball Bat are also quite good, and depending on the purpose of the deck, these cards could be worth the reach out of faction. Finally, the Switchblade is a very interesting card that I doubt can be adequately compared to any of the other weapons because of how situational it's use is. "Skids" O'Toole and Agnes Baker both have a base combat of 3, so the Switchblade would probably need some help to hit most enemies.
In the end, despite the wicked curve of our Himalayan machete, the Kukri seems outclassed by almost all of our other options.
After 4 years, I finally spent some time figuring out how this card works. The maximum damage you can deal is the same as with basic attacks: 1 damage per action. But attacks only deal damage when they hit, and the Kukri increases the odds of hitting, in some situations more than others.
This would be easier with a chart, but lacking that option, here is the INCREASE in average damage per action that the Kukri gives you over a basic attack, using the standard difficulty Night of the Zealot chaos toke pool with one ghoul at your location:
A. Only 1 action used (attacking once only and not using the extra action effect)
- -2 BASE combat advantage over enemy (e.g. 2 combat investigator against a 4 fight enemy): 0.0625
- -1 advantage: 0.125
- 0: 0.375
- +1: 0.1875
- +2: 0.0625
- +3: 0.0625
- +4: 0
B. 2 actions used (attacking twice and using the extra action ability when possible)
- -2: 0.117
- -1: 0.219
- 0: 0.492
- +1: 0.264
- +2: 0.117
- +3: 0.092
- +4: 0.029
C. 3 attack actions
- -2: 0.131
- -1: 0.234
- 0: 0.482
- +1: 0.248
- +2: 0.104
- +3: 0.083
- +4: 0.021
D. 4 attack actions
- -2 advantage: 0.138
- -1 advantage: 0.245
- 0 advantage: 0.50
- +1 advantage: 0.265
- +2: 0.118
- +3: 0.092
- +4: 0.029
As you can see, with this example the extra damage over basic attack tops out at around 0.5 damage per action. The extra damage is mostly due to the +1 combat bonus, and is maximal when your base combat is equal to the enemies fight. The extra action ability does add a bit more average damage (compare A. to B. above), especially when you are at a bigger skill test disadvantage. These statistics are specific to the Night of the Zealot chaos token pool since there are lots of -1 tokens, so this needs to be modified for each situation, but should give you the general idea.
How do these statistics compare to other weapons? The most reasonable comparison would be against another 1-handed weapon with only non-expendable uses, such as the level 0 switchblade, which deals the following extra damage per action over basic attacks:
- -2 combat skill advantage: 0
- -1: 0
- 0: 0.0625
- +1: 0.125
- +2: 0.25
- +3: 0.625
- +4: 0.8125
In this comparison, the Kukri deals a bit more damage (up to about 0.43 extra damage per action) when your base combat is equal to or lower than the enemy fight value (where you are dealing ~0.2-0.8 damage per action), while the Switchblade deals more damage (up to about 0.8 damage per action more) when your combat is higher than the enemy's fight value (where you are dealing up to 1.75 damage per action). So the switchblade is more useful in the hands of a high combat fighter, while the Kukri helps the low combat investigator more.
Others have often compared the Kukri to the Knife, which is more difficult since the knife has a one-time effect. I will just summarize by saying that the extra action ability on Kukri does increase the average damage slightly over knife, so the choice depends on whether you want to have the single powerful knife effect or slightly more damage over time and a weapon that stays in a hand slot.
Kukri seems cool. It sounds cool. But it falls in a very narrow window of usefulness. The main strikes against it:
- Anyone focused on dealing damage won't enjoy the (lack of) action economy; Primary monster hunters shouldn't take this.
- Gators with access can choose from a swath of blue weapons that consistently out-perform the Kukri.
- Solo characters probably don't have the actions to afford dealing 1 damage at a time.
- Gators with 1-2 likely can't hit something with this; They should be avoiding fights anyway and are probably better off throwing a Knife the few times they have to fight.
So we're left with support/investigating characters in multiplayer campaigns with 3+ and limited-to-no access to weapons. That list (as of Forgotten Age) is:
Although each of these investigators has other options, of course. But maybe you're a clue-and-evade Jenny who has Lockpicks(1) in one hand and doesn't fight enough to spend xp on Switchblade(2). Or your Akachi has Decorated Skull and you want a way to conserve Shrivelling charges. Maybe your Silas doesn't want the Baseball Bat because of a hand slot or Fire Axe because you don't want to be poor.
Overall, you've got to want to fight juuuust a little bit to use the Kukri - otherwise you should use the Knife for its one-time effect or just run the from bad guys until your slayer shows up.