- Q: Survival Knife's ability allows you to perform a Fight action against enemies after an enemy deals damage to you during the enemy phase. Can you perform this ability against enemies who are not at your current location such as Eztli Guardian and Hastur? While the Rules Reference does not specifically prohibit this, it also seems to only contemplate performing Fight actions against enemies at your location. In other words, is the Survival Knife in fact a cosmic boomerang? A: Survival Knife’s attack does in fact work against enemies not at your location. Typically an attack can only be initiated against an enemy at your location. This attack is different because it does not allow you the choice of who the target is, instead stating “This attack targets the attacking enemy.” This overrides the typical rules for who an attack can target (similar to how Stray Cat and Cunning Distraction override the typical rules for who an evasion attempt can target).
Item. Weapon. Melee.
: Fight. You get +1 for this attack.
After an enemy attack deals damage to you during the enemy phase, exhaust Survival Knife: Fight. This attack targets the attacking enemy. You get +2 and deal +1 damage for this attack.
A very exciting card. This fills a long-time void in the Guardian class. Ever since the game was released, the best Guardian builds have revolved around Machete (excepting certain late-campaign, XP-intensive, two-handed weapon builds). But if Guardians have a Machete in one hand, what are they supposed to do with their other hand? They could hold another weapon like the .45 Automatic, but that's (mostly) redundant with Machete. They could hold some investigatory asset like Flashlight or (for Roland) Magnifying Glass, but for a multiplayer Guardian who just wants to blow stuff up, that's not a satisfying answer.
Dunwich and Carcosa provided our first two "off-hand" Guardian weapons with Blackjack and Trench Knife, respectively. Unfortunately, both of these cards are terrible. So for three whole campaigns, Guardians had no good options in the secondary weapon department.
But now, Survival Knife is here. And it's a wonderful complement to Machete. It provides a very powerful new ability and lets you do something Machete can't. A free +1 damage attack with a generous to-hit bonus is not to be underestimated. I'd say you only need to trigger the Knife a couple of times a game for it to justify its cost.
Survival Knife is also a good complement to the .32 Colt, if that's more your style. With this setup, the Knife will even be helpful in the player phase, because it's better than the Colt at dealing the last point of damage to odd-health enemies.
Whether Survival Knife can cut it as a primary weapon is another question. I kind of doubt it, as I think you will just struggle too much against enemies with 4+ health.
Survival Knife synergizes with other Guardian cards that encourage you to take attacks, e.g. Guard Dog. But I don't think such cards are needed for Survival Knife to be good. One problem with any Guardian build that plans on swallowing a bunch of attacks is that most enemies deal horror, and Guardians have no in-faction, cost-effective horror soak right now. Hopefully, the Guardians will get some help in that department sooner or later. That will make all these Guardian cards that revolve around taking attacks, Survival Knife included, that much better.
I think I really like this knife, surprisingly. It's certainly no Machete, but it does allow one more attack in a round than the Machete, and that attack has unconditional +2 and +1 damage, which is slightly better. I suppose your best case is to dual-wield, chopper in one hand and knife in the other, only using the Knife for its ability when available. Might actually make the Bandolier more attractive, since you can activate two Knives and hold a machete, or even get an extra free attack even with a Lightning Gun equipped. Knife + Bandolier + Zapper gets you 11 damage in a single round with 3 actions and no other cards; kinda crazy (and assuming everything hits).
As for the obvious drawback, soaking an attack, it turns out that an enemy attack always deals you damage, even if you assign that damage to your assets. Put another way, an effect that deals your investigator damage is always considered to have dealt you damage, even if you assign that damage to something other than your investigator. At least, if I'm understanding "Dealing Damage/Horror" on p. 7 of the Rules Reference correctly. What this means is, if you have your trusty Pooch out and, during the enemy phase, a Swift Byakhee attacks you, you can assign the damage to your excellent dog, triggering his effect, and trigger your Knife, taking no damage yourself and killing a 3-Health baddie without using an action. Furthermore, damage mitigation for Guardians is already pretty massive, so even without damage-soaking assets out the ability is pretty worthwhile. Weirdly, it doesn't work against enemies that only apply Horror, which isn't great, but those enemies are pretty rare anyway.
The more I look at it, the more I like it; I'll have to try it next time I make a Guardian. Probably best with Mark, as it synergizes with his love of taking damage, or with any asset-heavy fighter, like Leo Anderson.