Q: Can you play a card or use an action to heal while at full health/sanity? I.e. Playing Soothing Melody to draw a card while at full health/sanity. A: No, you cannot normally heal a card that is at full health/sanity.
Follow-up Q: While you have Soul Sanctification in play, can you play a card or use an action to heal your investigator while your investigator is at full health/sanity? For example, can I play Emergency Aid on my full health investigator to generate two resources on Soul Sanctification? A: Yes—Soul Sanctification makes a specific exception to the rule I stated previously [see above]. With Soul Sanctification, you are able to "heal” your investigator even if you are at full health/sanity, and place any excess points healed onto Soul Sanctification as an offering. Emergency Aid would place 2 offerings on SS.
For every point of damage and/or horror you heal in excess of an investigator's current damage/horror, place 1 resource on Soul Sanctification, as an offering. This still counts as healing.
Spend 1 offering: You get +2 skill value for this test. (Limit twice per test.)
This card is probably going to allow 'heal decks' to become a thing.
Right now, there are cards that ask gently to have a 'heal engine.' Cards like Field Agent, Beat Cop (2), Agency Backup, Guard Dog, and Spirit of Humanity allow you to convert healing into positive tempo.
The problem with these cards is that while the combination is positive tempo (You can trade, for example, a card and action from Soothing Melody into 2 clues or 2 damage with the 'pain for gain' guardian allies) you need to hit very exact numbers to actually get those benefits. If you heal 1 damage from beat cop but he doesn't have any lost sanity (or to be honest even if he does a bit) you are paying a card and action for just 1 damage, which isn't great. It is... fiddly.
Soul Sanctification makes focusing on healing allies a lot less fiddly because you now can utilize healing cards to get a fairly good effect whenever you have excessive 'flex-heal' or when you have a heal and nothing to use it on. +2 to a skill test for every point healed often is going to be just a bit less efficient than these little auto pings of damage and clues. You are paying a lot for the ability to just ignore healing the asset (and you need to not heal the asset for 'single target' heals), but luckily it is also good enough to run as its own self contained strategy, which is what I think really seals this as an 'archetype.'
Good heal cards in Arkham tend to heal at least 2 per-action, meaning that Soul Sanctification allows them to become a more flexible activation of Encyclopedia you can bank. And that is a lower end good heal card, you can do MUCH better.
For example, in survivor and mystic, assuming you can hit at least a 6 test value on Earthly Serenity, your looking at 'spend 2 actions, get +12 spread across important tests. If your Daisy, you can utilize medical texts alongside or instead of Dream Diary in order to constantly generate 2 phantom unexpected courage cards every turn which is an extremely competitive use of her free book activation.
Not every deck wants to run this, but it completely changes the value of healing for a lot of characters. Outside of the obvious of Carolyn and Vincent, some other good candidates for this card include Mark, Leo, Daisy, and Skids (especially || front, X back Skids) of all people.
Edit to clarify how strong the impact of this card is, because I nerded out about the conceptual space it opened and burried the lead.
Its easy to think 'its just a skill test bonus' its critical to look at how strong any sort of spammable skill test bonus is in Arkham. Cards like Well Connected and Dream Diary (which Soul Sanctification compares to extremely well) are super valuable because guaranteeing a pass on anything but autofail once per turn tends to be a game winning effect, and more impactful than being able to do something like guarantee an extra clue once per turn, because the main way you lose in Arkham is getting put behind on tempo by negative effects from the scenario. Clue acceleration helps you catch up, but often the best strategy is to just literally never fall behind.
This may be the best card of that genre now. While Well Connected provides massive over-success numbers, it costs you something to fire it twice per turn. While that fits into the decks it wants to be in very well, it limits its generic applicability in some ways. Dream Diary, if you are dreaming the 'correct' dream, is usually an 'auto-sans-tentacles' once per turn for the mere cost of a hand slot, but you can't bank it, meaning that while it applies to the most critical test of your turn, you can't 'burst' with it in the same way you can as well connected.
What makes soul sanctification absurd is that for every 2 healing you can generate, you get a better version of essence of the dream that will stack until you use it, and even 1 healing will match it depending on context. This is a huge deal because it means you can do things like run your 'essence of the heal' for mythos defense without reducing your ability to use it to land a clutch attack, or to solve an important scenario test, or do whatever. The only cost is how hard it is to generate healing.
The worst case scenario is usually that it becomes a very good upgrade on encyclopedia to do whatever your doing: wasting 1 action to generate +2 on two different actions. That is still a very good use of a card and some XP, encyclopedia isn't bad (even outside of Daisy) and the flexibility of converting dead actions into future value is huge. Imagine if every action you didn't take let you pass a mythos card test automatically. That would be an action worth taking most turns on characters with middling mythos defense, and even really defensively solid characters would take it often.
But it can get SO much better. If you can find a way to either get more than 2 healing off a card, or to get healing without spending actions, suddenly you will start generating a LOT of offerings for soul sanctification that start pushing you to the 'never fail tests' category of play, which can be silly.
Its sorta like taking the time to generate 20 resources for a well connected deck. Even though generating 20+ resources isn't a normal goal for decks, the promise of never failing a mythos test and generally passing any critical test on your turn on top is so potent it is worth not just doing that, but making significant sacrifices to do that.
When you make that comparison, soul sanctification is clearly 'easier' to get test value from: you get a +4 for generating 2 healing on 1 action, which is going to be easier and often more repeatable for a deck than generating 8 resources over even 2 actions, but its also more 'bursty.' Well connected takes a lot of effort to 'take off' and then basically rockets to the moon, while soul sanctification 'coasts' more: You never are going to be without it when you really need it and you have a WAY stronger level 0 and early scenario deck than well connected decks, but your going to probably 'smear' the actions you sacrifice to soul sanctification over a scenario more.
Six exp to lose an action overhealing a card for a +2 to any check later.
Imo this card is DOA. By nature it's wanting you to waste time overhealing, which is the most precious resource in Arkham. And at 6 exp there are so many other, better, cards you can add it becomes very hard to justify this even with the Permanent feature.
Healing in Arkham has historically not really had a good track record, and as a whole I try to avoid putting much of it in my deck as I can. This was a card that I thought maybe might actually finally give healing more value, if not as a universal thing then at least for investigators like Carolyn and Vincent. Unfortunately, while I do think the card can be an effective option, it's mostly due to one specific interaction and not because it's an overall valuable card.
First off, this card costs 6 XP. It is a permanent so it's something that will always be in play, but as a reminder Stick to the Plan as well as taboo'd Higher Education and Streetwise also cost 6 XP. You can also get any 2 card combination of Charisma, Relic Hunter, Another Day, Another Dollar, or Studious for that much XP. Soul Sanctification is a sizable investment of XP, so the rewards of the card are going to have to be on the same level as the cards I've listed as well as other options to be "worth it."
The big problem though is that generally speaking, you should be using your healing on investigators and allies that ACTUALLY NEED the healing, rather than investigators that are already close to full. Healing cards that are already perfectly healthy does nothing by itself, and IMO getting a handful of personal Unexpected Courages is really not a significant enough payoff to spend an action healing people over the alternative of healing damaged cards.
The card IMO really is only great if you have a useful effect that can overheal without having to really invest significantly in making it happen. One example of this is Surgical Kit. If you already have full Sanity and don't need to heal damage on the person you're healing, you can use a supply to draw a card and get a Soul Sanctification offering. It's not exactly the most insane payoff ever, but it's a nice option to have.
The other big card, and the one card that I think makes Soul Sanctification worth considering, is Fickle Fortune when you're playing with 3 or especially 4 players. If you find the card in your mulligan in 4 player, it gives you 24 offerings on Soul Sanctification minus one for each trauma (and it insures that every investigator starts with full health unless they're REALLY banged up) which with moderation will easily last you an entire scenario. Not only that, but you also get to trigger Vincent Lee and Carolyn Fern's investigator abilities on every teammate right off the bat. This can be extremely effective, especially if you pair it with Girish Kadakia and can help insure you're +4 on basically every test you care about. The big downsides are firstly that it costs 12 XP. I think it's still worth it in Vincent and Carolyn, but I think it might be too expensive for everyone else unless you're a Survivor with nothing else to spend XP on. The second one is the doom, but IMO this isn't that big a deal firstly because it lets one player have very effective actions all game, so the tempo loss early will be made up for as the game goes on. And secondly, if you draw the second Fickle Fortune you can use it to remove the doom and use your healing to keep your teammates safe which retroactively undoes the doom you added earlier.
One last effect that I didn't mention is that Soul Sanctification makes it so overhealing still counts as healing, which is important for Vincent and Carolyn as it means you can still get your triggers on fully healthy cards. While this by itself might not be worth 6XP, it's a nice QOL boost that can help a bit. However, it doesn't trigger on allies which can be annoying if you got a Girish in play as you can't use him at full health/sanity to get charges.
Overall, I think this card is good in Carolyn and Vincent at higher player counts in combination with Fickle Fortune, and really not anywhere else. As mentioned before this card costs too much XP and is too inefficient to normally trigger for it to be useful outside of its combo with Fickle Fortune. But that combo is powerful enough and has good enough synergies with the healing investigators that I think it's worth considering at higher player counts.
I reached out to FFG through their form regarding this card and got the following, the latter half being specific to Soul Sanctification.
Q: Can you play a card or use an action to heal while at full health/sanity? I.e. Playing Soothing Melody to draw a card while at full health/sanity.
A: No, you cannot normally heal a card that is at full health/sanity.
Q: While you have Soul Sanctification in play, can you play a card or use an action to heal your investigator while your investigator is at full health/sanity? For example, can I play Emergency Aid on my full health investigator to generate two resources on Soul Sanctification?
A: Yes—Soul Sanctification makes a specific exception to the rule I stated previously. With Soul Sanctification, you are able to "heal” your investigator even if you are at full health/sanity, and place any excess points healed onto Soul Sanctification as an offering. Emergency Aid would place 2 offerings on SS.
This card has a pretty insane combo with Fickle Fortune.
The idea is that you have at least 1 copy of Fickle Fortune in your discard, and 2 copies of Resourceful in hand. Then, wait until the "Witching Hour" (the turn when there's one doom left on the agenda threshold).
Action 1: Pass a skill test, committing both Resourcefuls to it. Have each Resourceful pull Fickle Fortune out of your discard, healing your entire team for 3 damage and 3 horror.
Action 2: Play True Survivor, returning the Resourcefuls again
Action 3: Same as action 1.
You've just healed 12 damage and 12 horror, for a total of 24 Unexpected Courages. And not just for you - for every investigator with a copy of Soul sanctification. So in a 4-player game, this combo would generate 96 Unexpected Courages for your team. Which should be more than enough for your team to pass every skill test for the rest of the scenario.
If you had more than 3 actions, or other ways to recur them even more during this turn, you can probably get the number even higher.
After you pull off the combo, you can just do it again on a later turn, but select the second option, to cash in your Fickle Fortunes for entire extra rounds. Considering your entire team will be fully healed at that point, the direct damage and horror isn't much of a downside.
What gimps this card for me is that it only applies to excess heals for investigators, not allies. There are actually less cards in the game that heal investigators specifically rather than allies. I know another reviewer mentioned a combo with Daisy involving Earthly Serenity. However, I don't think Daisy wants to spend her time building up a stockpile of Unexpected Courages that she can use twice per test. As a Seeker with an investigator ability that synergizes with Tomes, she has a lot more interesting and powerful options than spending time with Earthly Serenity. The build is viable, but it doesn't sound optimal and more of a way to utilize a new and fiddly card.
What makes heal decks more viable now is not this card but Vincent Lee the investigator's deckbuilding options. Because he can use any cards 0-5 that can heal, he has a wide and versatile library of deckbuilding options. Runic Axe becomes monstrous with him, and he can be a very effective fighter even as a primary cluever.
Edited because idk what im doing in this forum and i cant delete a review. 200 characters 200 characters 200 characters 200 characters 200 characters 200 characters 200 characters 200 characters 200 characters 200 characters
There aren't a whole lot of good healing cards, and it doesn't seem worth 6 XP just to take some otherwise bad cards and make them good (you could just play the good cards to begin with). Still, this seems like it will get real value out of the occasional healing card that was already playable. Obviously this should be strong in Carolyn Fern and Vincent Lee. Some other examples for the not-healing-focused investigators:
- Book of Psalms was already a reliable blessing enabler with healing as a side effect. This will provide significant utility to a blessing deck.
- Hallowed Mirror is arguably the best dedicated healing card at 0xp. Soothing Melody doesn't cost any resources or cards; two healing for one action is actually a pretty good rate. This lets you benefit (maybe even more than normal!) when you don't have anything to heal.
- Empty Vessel, like most of these, heals you while also doing something powerful that you wanted anyway.
- Deny Existence, while expensive in terms of XP, was already one of the best dodges in the game. Again, a substantial improvement on something you weren't really playing for the healing.
- Lily Chen's Discipline. The active effect is already quite potent and reusable, and guardians can end up with periodic downtime to use it.
What most excites me about it, though, is that it might kind of bail out Shrewd Analysis. Two of the otherwise stronger Researched cards have healing upgrades which are basically duds (Ancient Stone and Strange Solution). Now, if you get one of those, you can spend some of the XP you saved with Shrewd Analysis to turn them into playable cards. All three Ancient Stone upgrades seem actively good now, and all four Strange Solution upgrades seem at least playable (Strange Solution is still obviously the best). I still don't think Shrewd Analysis is optimal, but I still like to see it get some indirect help since it's a lot of fun.