Asset. Arcane

Spell. Song.

Cost: 2. XP: 2.
Test Icons:

Uses (5 charges).

Spend 1 charge: Fight. This attack uses instead of . You get +1 for this attack. If a symbol is revealed during this attack, this attack deals +2 damage.

Maggie Ivy
The Miskatonic Museum #112.
Song of the Dead

I decided to write my own review on Song of the Dead to expand on my response to AndyB's previous review. A couple of weeks ago, I most likely would have agreed completly with that evaluation of the card, but after having played quite some Agnes and Daisy solo decks, I came to really like Song of the Dead.

Sure, the +2 damage is far too unreliable, so let's just forget about that part of the card text and we end up with a rather cheap, very reliable damage spell that deals one damage to an enemy ... that IMO fills a very important slot for solo spellcasting investigators. You won't use this to deal damage to a boss enemy or a Conglomeration of Spheres, that's what Shrivelling is for, but if you have to deal with all enemies yourself you will encounter several weaker enemies that you don't want to waste your precious Shrivelling charges on. That means either packing a weapon ... or Song of the Dead.

The three investigators that can take that card (after core + Dunwich) are Daisy, Agnes and Jim, so let's look if and how they can profit from Song of the Dead in solo play:

Daisy Walker: if you play a caster Daisy with Higher Education, Song of the Dead should almost be an auto-include. You don't have access to good weapons and all alternate damage dealers like Mind over Matter are far too expensive to waste them on Swarm of Rats or Whippoorwills.

Agnes Baker: Propably not as important as for Daisy, because any Agnes deck should have a way to use her ability to deal with weenies, but that also means that you might be able to kill 2 hp enemies with a single Song charge. In addition, with the Fire Axe you have a good weapon alternative, but that might mean some investment in additional resources to fuel the Axe, so Song of the Dead might be the more reliable solution.

Jim Culver: Song of the Dead seems to be tailor-made for Jim , but ironically I think he needs it the least; with a higher -stat and access to the Machete he can handle lesser enemies quite well without it.

Scheckel · 50
Yep, that's a fair point; I tend to play 2 handed, not solo. In that case, yes, it might be a welcome weapon. That was my initial feeling about it - but playing 2-decks, it feels like there's usually a fast alternative. — AndyB · 321

Trap card!

Even with Jim Culver, who has an extra symbol, because he can turn the , into a , the chance of hitting a symbol is about 30% (more or less, depending a little bit on how your token bag looks like after setup/events). This 30% includes the use of the Grotesque Statue.

Thats a very low chance of hitting with +2 damage . So in my opinion its worse than Shrivelling in allmost every respect. Even for Jim Culver its better to use the Grotesque Statue on the Shrivelling effect to dodge the possible horror dmg (or a guaranteed hit) then to turn this one into a +3 dmg live-the-dream-monsterkiller-machine.

The only use for it like Sheckel wrote is as a weapon with a solo Daisy Walker or for a solo Agnes Baker that for some reason wants to deal with extremely weak enemies.

aramhorror · 67
Actually I enjoy this card while playing as Jim. You can use SotD as opener or finisher, especially for odd health monsters. IMO it is most usefull when paired with Shrivelling in other slot. BTW, in my last session with Jim I scored the 'critical' hit in every fight - it was really memorable chain of luck! :) — XehutL · 27
I agree, it's clever to use it as an opener versus 3 hp monsters. And I would even agree that Mystics dont have a lot of pure damage dealing cards at the moment. Still this card is the equivalent of a knife, on a battery with 5 charges for 2xp. Mystics already have already very xp expensive cards (especially Jim who has to spend 8xp to get both the Grotesque statue's in his deck, that his card just seems too expensive. If this card came at a 0xp cost, my opinion could be swayed, but as it stands its just not good. — aramhorror · 67
Let up hope for better, 4or5xp version of it somewhere in the future. +1 to base damage and to 'critical' or one or more chaos symbols (aka 'culist' and/or 'tablet') would be really nice. — XehutL · 27
It's not only good to use on extremely week enemies, but also when your deck lacks of staying power, especially in damages. Better than nothing, yet, not so good. ('xcept as an opener, perhaps). — Palefang · 32

This card is an interesting one because how good it is depends heavily on so many factors it can be hard to evaluate. That said, I ran some initial statistics based on cards such as Olive McBride and Dark Prophecy.

I think aramhorror gave a solid analysis of the capabilities of Song of the Dead if you're not able to get those . It's not worth it. However, the is a part of the card and the ability to control the chaos bag has evolved. I wanted to flesh out the analysis of the probability of getting that in different scenarios.

Each campaign has slight variations in how many skulls are included, and these have a great effect on the default chance you'll draw a without any chaos manipulation. You'll usually find ~18% chance. If you're Jim Culver, you're looking at an extra 6% chance. Basically, 1 out of 5 times, you'll just do 1 damage.

But you are no bystander! You are a mystic will the power and skills to change probability to suit your whims!

The greatest ally to this card is obviously Olive McBride. She modifies your chances of a skull from ~20% to ~50%. This means, on average, you're dealing an extra 1 damage when you attack. This puts it on par with Shrivelling.

But that's not all. For those moments where you absolutely HAVE to get that token, you can use Dark Prophecy in conjunction with Olive McBride. You end up drawing 7 tokens and you have anywhere between 64%-85% chance of getting a skull result. By sealing some non-skull results, you can boost your probability for success slightly higher.

Then there's sealing with cards like The Chthonian Stone, Protective Incantation, and Seal of the Seventh Sign. Sealing provides a slight boost to success rates depending on what tokens are in your bag. By and large, sealing any non-skull token gets you about 1% improvement to base probability, but it compounds up to about a 5% improvement with both token drawing options active. Note that the The Chthonian Stone will have no effect for the first couple scenarios of Carcosa.

You can further affect the chaos bag by purchasing a Grotesque Statue which can further improve your odds.

The very best chances you'll ever get is up to a ~95% success rate with Jim Culver if you seal 3 non-skull tokens and the .

But at the end of the day, we have to look at the cost. Each of these cards costs resources, card space, and actions to play. To full support this card, it'd take 14 resources, 6 cards, and 6 actions to play those cards. That doesn't include the cost of Song of the Dead or the upkeep for Protective Incantation.

Ultimately, your greatest gains are going to be from cards that let you draw more than one token. Sealing tokens helps, but it's often too costly to be worth it in the long run.

The point is, this card isn't bad, but it's not exceptional either. With Olive McBride, it's on par with Shrivelling. It averages to the same damage with slightly less but no downside for drawing a bad token. With Dark Prophecy, it surpasses Shrivelling, but only for the two tests you use with it.

TLDR: In a deck that's built for it, this is slightly better than Shrivelling. Otherwise, go for Shrivelling and it's successors because they upgrade into each other and are more reliable.

jblade · 5

Song of the Dead - how I've tried to like you! When you came along I thought "Yes, another combat spell like Shrivelling, but with a more useful number of charges". But, here's the thing - you just don't do enough damage.

Just like Blackjack, this card has a major weakness in being very action-expensive to kill off most enemies. 1 damage just doesn't cut it next to Shrivelling (at any of it's various levels), and while there is a bonus for symbols, this is pretty unreliable.

The best investigator for this card is Jim Culver; with his abilities, he can get (slightly) more skulls, and he can make use of skulls that would be fails for other investigators. It does feel like it might fit with him.

However, for other spell users so far (Daisy Walker and Agnes Baker), it offers little. It does too little damage per action for Daisy, and Agnes already has other ways of dealing single points of damage.

It's only other use, as far as I can see, is that it does offer a way of doing an odd number of points of damage - thus potentially saving Shrivelling for the coup-de-grace.

So yes, I'm afraid I've more or less fallen out of love with Song of the Dead.

AndyB · 321
Funny enough, I lately more or less fell in love with Song of the Dead after initially dismissing it as a poor shrivelling substitute. You can get rid of annoying 1hp enemies (Whipporwills!) without wasting a shrivelling charge and you can deliver that odd damage to a 3 hp enemy. I found it very usefull in both Agnes decks (you offen can kill 2hp enemies with a single Song charge) and Daisy decks (can't really use weapons). — Scheckel · 50
I like it to fill the weapons-hole in Mystics for Akachi — Chobabot · 1
With Jim and a Grotesque Statue you'd have a 17% chance and then an 18% chance to pull a Skull. I'm not sure how practical this setup is, but at the moment its the best I can think of. I am quite interested in testing it. — miggydoh · 43
Yeah, Jim is the only investigator that I think this would maybe work with. Grotesque statue might be useful if it's out (it usually is), but it seems an expensive way to go to just make this work. — AndyB · 321
It's a huge work around to get small value, to be sure. It's almost Rogue-ish in the sense that you hope for the crit. — miggydoh · 43
Wouldn't this be good with Olive McBride and Song of the Dead on just about any Mystic? I'm no math scientist, so... serious question there. — crymoricus · 162

Up until Forgotten Age, this had been relegated to the back of my stack of Mystic player cards. With the Player Card options included with Forgotten Age, though, I think this may see play. Between Dark Prophecy, the new "Seal" mechanic, and the upcoming Olive McBride, I'm thinking that Jim may see Song of the Dead as carrying a lot of potential.

mckayba · 2
Even without Jim, the cards you mention increase the chance of getting bonus damage by a lot, depending on the skulls penaly. — Django · 1718
If there are 2 skull tokens out of 16 total, Dark Prophecy increases the chance of drawing a skull from 12.5% to 49%. Olive McBride increases the chance to 33%. Even with these, I don't think I'll use Song of the Dead in the Diana Stanley deck I'm working on. Even if you could use a Dark Prophecy every attack, it would do 2 damage average, just like Shrivelling and Shards of the Void. — jmmeye3 · 89