Q: Regarding Divination and Brand of Cthugha, if the charge on the card is already zero, can I still trigger their abilities? If so, and I succeed, how do I resolve the card effect? Will I discover 0 clues or attack deals deal 0 damage because it has no charge? If I use the or skill type of test, and Deduction or Vicious Blow has been committed to the corresponding skill type of test, and the card does not have a charge, how do I resolve the effect of the skill card? I want to be clear, does the word "additional" mean that you have to discover at least 1 clue to get "discover 1 additional clue (Deduction)"? And, you have to attack deals at least 1 damage to get "deals +1 damage (Vicious Blow)"? A: Yes, as long as spending a charge isn’t part of the cost to activate the indicated action (and it isn’t, for those cards.) You can fight with Brand of Cthugha and end up spending 0 charges to deal 0 damage (but increase the amount with Vicious Blow, for example). Similarly, activating Divination, spending 0 charges, then using Deduction can still allow you to discover 1 clue at your location. (Note, this interaction would not work if you “investigated” with Divination but replaced the discovering of clues with something like Burglary.)
Q: Brand of Cthugha states " ...If you succeed, spend 1 or 2 charges. Instead of its standard damage, this attack deals 1 damage for each charge spent..." If I miss an attack and play Oops!, how much damage does that deal? 0 because I couldn't spend a charge? What happens if I miss against an enemy engaged with another investigator, do I deal 0 or 1 damage to the engaged investigator? Other cards like the Shotgun specify the damage in case of failure, but does that apply to Oops? If I fail by 4 and the enemy is engaged with another investigator and play Oops (2), how much damage is dealt to the enemy? A: You have to be able to spend charges from Brand of Cthugha to deal damage with it. If you fail the Fight test on Brand, you cannot deal any damage—you wouldn’t deal damage to the attacked enemy, or the investigator engaged with that enemy, even if you played an Oops card.
Uses (9 charges).
: Fight. For this attack, you may use instead of , and you get +2 skill value. If you succeed, spend 1, 2, or 3 charges. Instead of its standard damage, this attack deals 1 damage for each charge spent. If you succeed by 0, lose 2 actions.
I love this spell, and I think it outclasses most other high level combat spells for general use.
For Mystics, one less XP than either Shrivelling (5) or Azure Flame (5), gets you three less total damage and one less +skill value. You also get a downside that is both less likely to trigger on its own and is completely mitigateable by spending other actions first.
But the real upside here is choosing how much of that 9 damage to spend on every attack. No more wasting a three damage charge on an enemy with only one or two health. Charges are also only spent when you succeed, so bad luck with the chaos bag doesn't waste charges. You will get the full nine damage out of this every time.
Nearly every other mystic combat spell demands you combine it with some sort of chaos bag manipulation to get the best results, either to find or avoid specific tokens. Brand of Cthugha works at full effectiveness straight out of the box.
The one downside is that Brand of Cthugha does not get as much benefit out of charge reloading cards as its higher level peers. Each charge is only worth one damage, so you wouldn't waste time reloading it with a Recharge or Book of Shadows. This is the ultimate Mystic sidearm, not a god slayer, so plan accordingly.
But let's not forget that this card is dual class, too! Most Guardians aren't doing much with their arcane slots, so Brand of Cthugha slots in nicely as a sidearm that doesn't take up a hand slot. This works well for any Guardian who would rather not dedicate their body slot to a Bandolier to hold a sidearm. Tommy Muldoon and his Leather Coat come to mind, along with anyone running Flamethrower looking to save supplies while picking off runts.
I'm pretty sure this spell has the best "charges-to-price" ratio at 10-2 for Akachi which makes it sort of a Swiss Army Knife for her:
Better than Hot Streak with Spirit-Speaker: For the same 4 xp, Akachi nets 8 resources for 2 cost up front.
Cheapest way to pay off Angered Spirits: Each charge paid is "worth" only 1 damage, compared to 3 damage for Shrivelling (5), plus you still have 6 charges left afterwards.
For the same reason, you don't feel as bad sacrificing charges for Torrent of Power.
Of course you can still attack with it. Finish off whatever health remains after a Shrivelling attack (especially with Sign Magick (3)). Or if you've loaded up with Shrivelling (5), use this to pick off 1-2 health enemies.
Mix-and-match the above. Pay off Angered Spirits, pick off an annoying 2 health enemy, then convert the rest for a 2 resource gain. Or better yet, use up all the charges, then recall to your hand with Spirit Speaker and play it again to reload 10 more charges.
This probably shouldn't be Akachi's main combat spell as the extra charge from her innate is worth less than Shrivelling (not to mention the action loss risk). But it's a great "side arm" to Shrivelling or its equivalents, and is more efficient to use for the other purposes above. In this way, there's a natural upgrade pathway from Obfuscation to Brand of Cthugha (1) to Brand of Cthugha (4) for her "jank spell" slot.
Brand of Cthugha is good fight spell for mystics, and great alternative of Shrivelling. In my opinion, it's fine to get BoC only if your role is flexible, or BoC + Shrivelling if your role is fighter.
Then, what's difference between Shrivelling and Brand of Cthugha?
- Net-damage is similar in most case: Shrivelling(5) has 12 net-damage as maximum, and BoC(4) has 9 net-damage. However, you can control charge for BoC; if you attack 2-health enemies or 4-health enemies, BoC is better. In most case, net-damage is almost same except boss raid case.
- Backfire effect is controllable: BoC has terrible backfire effect, which make you lose 2 action which cannot be prevented by Deny Existence. However, you can control backfire unlike Shrivelling. For standard difficulty, chaos bag contains lots of -1 and -2, and single -3, -4, or -5. To avoid backfire effect, you just boost your skill value as "failure only if " or 4 more which only 1 token generates backfire. If you perform attack as last action, you don't need to consider backfire since you have no action to lose.
- Failure penalty is really small: When you fail a skill test, you have no backfire effect of spell and no charge is spent. Moreover, it's burdenless to attack the enemy engaged with another investigator unlike Shrivelling because they take only 1 damage(or zero? it's arguable) even if you fail the attack test.
- No synergy with charge-based card, so durability is not good: Since BoC(4) spend lots of charges, it's bad to use charge-based combo such as Book of Shadows, Recharge, Twila Katherine Price, or True Magick. Additionally, it's not good to choose BoC as the target of Knowledge is Power, since you should spend charge even if you play KiP. Thus, if you want to use BoC continual, you should find another method like Spirit-Speaker, Prescient or cycling your deck.
This seems like a great combat spell for a lot of characters, mostly of the mystic-guardian typing.
Works well in...
-willpower focused Sister Mary.
-Diana Stanley before she gets her willpower up.
-secondary weapon/dragon pole/willpower focused Lily Chen
-works with Boxing Gloves and Nathaniel Cho.
It's slightly less good for straight mystics since it can't take as much advantage of Arcane Research and Down the Rabbit Hole (but no worse the Armageddon and Eye of Chaos which also only have 1 upgrade step). For this reason Norman Withers might be interested in this he has less Incentive to take arcane research.
Sefina Rousseau, Patrice Hathaway and to a lesser extent Daisy Walker and Carolyn Fern can use the lower level one for a bit of offense (since there is no level 2 attack spell aside from the awful Song of the Dead
Edit: someone pointed out this spell is somewhat similar to the M1918 BAR. This costs way less, does more total damage (by 1), spends no ammo on fail, is safer when attacking enemies engaged to other investigators, and doesn't use your hand slots.
To compensate, Brand doesn't synergize well with ammo stuff, has less potential accuracy (i.e. if you spend 4 ammo at once you can get +4 strength) and less damage per shot (can do 5 damage in a shot vs only 3 on brand).
I think both are good, but brand is slightly better in most combat decks. You have to build around the m1918 bar a bit more.
I don't disagree with the reviewers above that there are very advantageous aspects of this card over the other Big Damage Mystic spells out right now, but my enthusiasm for the level 4 Brand is marred by the same irritation I have with many of the top-level Mystic spells. Namely, the ratio of benefits to consequences gets worse instead of better between level 1 and level 4 of this spell.
In this case: Level 1 Brand: you get +1 skill value and risk losing 1 action. Level 4 Brand: you get +2 skill value and risk losing 2 actions.
It superficially seems like you are getting twice the boost for twice the risk. The problem is that skill boost doesn't happen in a vacuum. It's a percentage of your baseline skill, so going from +1 to +2 doesn't double your chance to hit. And since the bigger modifiers are more rare in the Chaos bag, you have even more diminishing returns in terms of odds for each skill point you add. For example, if you have +1 over the skill test, your chance of success on normal is usually around 30%. If you boost by 1, to be +2 over the skill test, your chance of success is usually around 60%, a big increase. If you boost again, to be +3 over the skill test, your chance of success is typically around 75%--a much smaller increase as that first extra point was (even though you definitely want the increase!). The exact percentage would depend on the test, your stats, and your Chaos bag, but compared to level 1, you are essentially risking 200% as many actions while getting somewhere in the range of a 20-50% increase in your chance of success.
In many of the top-level spells, you accept that you are making a bigger bet in order to get a bigger damage payout all at once. Sometimes it's worth doing 3 damage at once so that monster can't hit you back. In this case, though, you can do equivalent amounts of damage with both cards, because the amount of damage is determined by the charges you spend, not the level. You do get 3 more charges to spend at level 4, but I'm not convinced that's worth 3 more XP versus running another recharge card in your deck.