- NB: ArkhamDB now incorporates errata from the Arkham Horror FAQ in its card text, so the ArkhamDB text and the card image above differ, as the ArkhamDB text has been edited to contain this erratum (updated January 2022): Erratum: This card’s ability should read: “ Spend 1 ammo: Fight…” - FAQ, v.1.7, March 2020
Item. Weapon. Firearm.
Uses (5 ammo).
Spend 1 ammo: Fight. You get +2 for this attack. If a +1, 0, or chaos token is revealed during this attack, this attack deals +2 damage.
This card’s ability now reads: “ Spend 1 ammo: Fight. You get +2 for this attack. If a chaos token with a non-negative modifier is revealed during this attack, this attack deals +2 damage.”
This card is better than it looks, competing with some of the better weapons available at level 0. As pointed out in another review, in easier fight tests the damage the Winchester deals per action is close to other weapons such as the .45 Thompson and .45 Automatic, though slightly inferior for easier tests. However, it actually deals more damage than any other level 0 weapon when you are facing tough fight tests, such as when your final skill value is equal to the test, when it deals about 3 times more average damage than the .45 automatic (try out the math to see it's true). This happens more often when you are using an investigator with relatively lower fight (such as 3 combat with Skids), so the Winchester has more value for these investigators if you need to have a way to deal damage. Conversely, investigators with 5 base combat benefit less from the Winchester.
The other things to consider when deciding to use the Winchester are that it takes up 2 hands slots, and that the damage it deals comes in packages of 1 and 3. The 2 hand slots might be less of a problem compared to the Thompson, for example, since the Winchester is cheaper to play, so you can potentially use it quickly and replace it with other hand assets more easily than playing the more expensive thompson. The damage dealt is definitely something to consider. I think doing 1 or 3 damage might not cause overkill more often than 2 damage attacks, since 1 and 3 health enemies are pretty common. But you could in theory deal 1 damage twice, miss, then deal 3 damage to a 3 health enemy, which would be far from ideal. So it's definitely best to use the Winchester when the 3 damage is needed. In the same way, being able to adapt your plan depending on how much damage you deal after each attack can be very effective. This works best if you have alternate ways of dealing with enemies that don't take hand slots, like evading or allies that damage such as Alice Luxley or Beat Cop.
Not to mention, it is really fun using the Winchester! You look forward to seeing whether the revealed token will give you a critical hit, unlike other weapons where the token can only have a negative effect.
Let's do the maths again.
In all my calculations, I make the following hypothesis :
- Chaos bag of Night of the zealot, on standard difficulty
- gives -1
- gives -2
- gives -3
- gives +2
Comparison with .45 Thomson
On Standard difficulty level, if you aim at +2 (you organize your play so your skill value is 2 above the difficulty), the average damage done by the Winchester is 1.25, against 1.5 for the Thomson. If you aim at +4, it's 1.44 versus 1.88. So Winchester makes roughly -20% damage par attempt for a -33% resource cost. Not that bad
(on Easy difficulty level, Thomson makes roughly the same damage. Still for a -33% cost.)
Comparison with .45 Automatic
The comparison with .45 Automatic has to be different because .45 Automatic has a fewer bonus. Let's make raw comparisons, with no strategy in mind.
On standard difficulty level, if the difficulty of the test if 2 above the base skill value of the investigator, Winchester delivers 0.75 damage per attempt on average, while .45 Automatic delivers 0.25. That's +200% for Winchester.
Ok, difficult tests like this one are uncommon. But Winchester is still +113% when the difficulty is 1 above, +11% when equal, -8% when 1 lower and -18% when 2 lower.
(on easy difficulty level, the numbers becomes : +200%, +92%, +18%, -4% and -10%)
Thomson takes two hands but has 1 ammo more.
The first question is : can you afford two hands to fight ? If the answer is yes, Winchester is interesting versus Thomson if you struggle for resources. It is also interesting versus Automatic if you are a good fighter and have a team mate who can take care of the critters, or if you are a mediocre fighter who wants to shine on the battleflied from time to time (Skid ? Jim ? Diana ?)
If the answer is no. Well, you can't take Winchester.
Well, in my opinion, this card has not only one error. When comparing this one to other level 0 -cards, i have absolutely no plan at all, why on earth I should take this card in my deck. This card is just like a Song of the Dead, now that it just does not cost XP and requires 2 hands, but other than Song of the Dead, this card relies on , 0 and +1 Chaos Tokens where you will not have +1 tokens in most chaos bags at higher difficulty. Now, compared to a .45 Automatic, it has the same cost, additional ammo worth one more shot but than it requires 2 hands and it also does not do reliably more than 1 point of damage. Let's assume, you are playing TCU on standard, you will be starting out with 15 tokens (during the champaign, this might increase quite a bit) 4 of which trigger the +2 damage - chance is roughly 25% to trigger that. Chance of getting 2 damage on a .45 Automatic is 100% if you hit. Looking at the .45 Thompson, this card also requires 2 hands and hast the same amount of ammo, just it always hits for 2 damage, it costs 2 more resources though. Having said all of that, why on earth would I include this weapon over another level 0 -weapon that is already released. If you do not have any ability to trigger 0s or s on command, than you will draw your 0 when your opponent is at just 1 health remaining (at least Murphy would suggest that) - so anyway, this card is really bad.
EDIT: A lot of time passed since the review I did and with bless tokens, this card actually now becomes extremely viable, if you play with the current taboo list. Bless tokens are "none negative modifier" tokens as far as I understand that so this has the potential to go absolutely crazy in terms of possible damage especially with Mary of course, but anyway, you still have to decide, if you want this additional element of randomness in your game. It is correct, neither gun always hits so the average damage is not that bad, but it is not predictable, you cannot count on it. You can modify your chances of success with skill cards, modifying the actual chances for specific tokens is more difficult.
I was thinking about a deck that could make Winchester work (Jim Culver), and here are my thoughts about it:
- Additional damage is unreliable if you don't have a way to fish for tokens. Even then, you are wasting too much resources and cards to make it work (Dark Prophecy for example).
- The card requires 2 hands, so it requires 100% commitment. Overall, the card would be great if it said "if a token with +1 or 0 MODIFIER is revealed". This way, Jim's skulls counted as 0s would proc the effect and additional modifiers from the scenarios would work as well (e.g. X, where X is the number of doom in play with 0 doom in play).
So, this card has an error on it. As written, the fight action does not cost ammo. However, Matt has already confirmed in the Mythos Busters discord server that this ability should function like every other firearm, so , spend 1 ammo: Fight.
Previously, the consensus on this card has been that while the +2 Combat boost and the 5 ammo are nice, the damage boost just isn't reliable enough to make it an effective weapon -- unless you have access to cards that let you pull multiple tokens, which basically means Olive McBride (Grotesque Statue occupies a hand-slot, unfortunately). With the new taboo list that was just released, this consensus needs to be reassessed. To give the conclusion up front, thesis-statement style: you still need Olive McBride to make the Winchester sing, but there are now ways to make its note even more... piercing.
For those who haven't checked the list, here's the change. In order to get the +2 damage from Winnie's attack, ANY token with a non-negative modifier will do. It doesn't have to be a zero, +1, or elder sign.
What other tokens have non-negative modifiers? Depending on the scenario, sometimes the special tokens will fit the bill. For instance, the skulls in The Gathering will often be zeros (assuming your location is ghoul-free). Same thing in The Untamed Wilds, until you have vengeance in the victory display.
But that's a minor, scenario-specific situation. The real change here is that bless tokens, with their +2 modifier, now score you the head-shot, too. Let's see how pumping the chaos bag with bless tokens changes the calculus.
For most campaigns, you start with around 16 tokens in the chaos bag. Usually four of those would trigger the original Winchester. That means that, pre-upgrade, you had a 25% chance to do 3 damage, and a 75% chance to do one damage or miss. (We're assumining that you're going to hit if you pull a zero or better.) Not great for a four-cost, two-hand weapon. Now, by adding bless tokens, you can improve those odds, though only to a point. If you fully load the bag with 10 bless tokens, you have about a 54% chance to do 3 damage, and a 46% to do 1 or no damage (this isn't exactly true -- there's a chance you pull a bless token and then follow it up with an auto-fail or a -5 for example; just not sure how to calculate that).
Those odds are respectable, but it's hard to earn them. Sniper Mary, I mean Sister Mary, would seem to be the only character capable of maxing out the bag reliably. Others would need either Sister Mary in the party, or a pretty massive commitment to bag-pumping via cards like Blessed Blade, Hand of Fate, and Book of Psalms, The first and last of those cards take up a hand slot, which can create timing problems unless you're sporting a Bandolier. (There are a handful of survivor cards that can pump the bag, too, but if you have access to them, you probably don't have access to the all-important Olive McBride. Those cards can still be helpful, though, if another player is running them).
And this brings us back to the original Winchester strategy -- drawing multiple tokens. If you can pump the bag AND draw multiple tokens, the story changes. Let's say you have Olive McBride as your ally and a certain number of bless tokens in the bag. Now you're turning into a true deadeye!
Odds of a critical hit with Olive and X Bless tokens, assuming a standard 16-token bag:
0: 61%. 1: 68%. 2: 73%. 3: 77%. 4: 81%. 5: 83%. 6: 86%. 7: 88%. 8: 89%. 9: 90%. 10: 92%.
Of course, with Olive, there is now a slightly higher chance that you find a token you want but still fail the test. In most cases, if you draw a zero or a bless token, you're passing, but if you have to pair that zero with a -4 because of Olive, you may fail. Still, the math is now firmly in your favor, even if you're only lightly padding the bag.
What's the upshot? The new and improved Winchester is now a legitimately good card for a particular kind of character -- namely, one who is blessing the bag (or has a partner who is) and who has access to Olive McBride. It still has drawbacks of course -- until you get Olive out, Winnie will be hit-or-miss, and mainly miss. But once you do, the advantages are substantial -- huge damage for a level 0 weapon, plentiful ammunition, and a very handsome boost to combat. And there are upgrade paths that make it even better: Custom Ammunition brings you up to seven, highly impactful shots; and Telescopic Sight could create an interesting playstyle as well, as long as you are not the tank. So, who can make it all come together? From best to ok, I'd say:
1) Sister Scary, I mean Sister Mary. She checks all boxes. The Winchester also converts her mediocre 3 combat into a very respectable 5, without the need for a Beat Cop or skill card.
2) Jim Culver is a sneaky candidate, since he treats skulls as zeroes always. Even without bless tokens, as long as he's rolling with Olive McBride, he has a massive 79% chance to trigger Winnie's effect -- though if you want him to be able to bugle while he blasts, you'll need a Bandolier.
3) Diana Stanley is another character who might benefit from the strategy, since it usually takes a few turns to get her to a spell-worthy Will value. The new Hand of Fate, which cancels an attack and adds bless tokens, is doubly effective for her if she goes this route. It fattens the bag, making Winnie more accurate, and it can be placed under her investigator card for a draw, a resource, and a Will boost. Like Jim, though, Diana will likely run into hand-slot issues: her signature asset occupies one, too.
4) Zoey Samaras. I don't know that she has any special synergy with the Winchester, but she has access to all the cards you need to run this strategy. She doesn't need the +2 Combat as badly as the characters above, but it's still nice to play one asset and suddenly be at a 6. Also, Zoey's Cross is an accessory, so no difficulties with hand slots there.
This is my favorite level 0 weapon in the game. But it's a combo card. With the right investigator and team, this is enough damage to last for some time, and you can spend your XP on other nonsense (more likely on other cards to make sure this one works). Since you're looking for positive or 0 tokens, you don't need to worry too much about increasing your number either. Is this build as good as set-it-and-go weapons like the .45 Thompson or the Cyclopean Hammer? Probably not. But it sure is FUN.
As other reviews have pointed out, this is really only viable on taboo with tokens, or maybe Jim who is all in on fishing for skulls. With enough tokens in the bag, you don't HAVE to guarantee drawing those tokens, it's okay to pull and try to get lucky every now and then, but you really need to play some other cards to help you draw that non-negative token, ideally more than once a turn on 3-4 player:
- Olive McBride is essential. You'll need to resolve two tokens, but if one is non-negative you'll likely pass. And if you fail, not a huge loss.
- Nkosi Mabati is very helpful, too, if you've named or for Jim. Even better, someone ELSE on your team can run him, and trigger his ability, saving you from taking Charisma for Olive's spot
- "Eat lead!" -- I don't recommend this card. You need the ammo.
- Grotesque Statue, good, but take up a handslot.
- "Hit me!" -- this is excellent because you can play it AFTER you've revealed a token. So it'll sit in your hand until necessary.
- Favor of the Sun -- congratulations, you found a non-negative token!
I really like Zoey Samaras for this build since she can take all of the above cards, and also Contraband to get a ridiculous number of ammo on the gun. With the -token build, she should also take Sacred Covenant and Blessing of Isis to keep the in the bag and turn some of them into her , to deal 4 damage with one shot. It's a chunk of deck space to try to make this work, so hopefully you can leave the generation to someone else on the team, but this is absolutely effective on higher player counts.