Drain Essence

The biggest upside to this card is ability to hit aloof enemies or enemies engaged with other investigators. The biggest downside to this card is the need to carry around some damage in order to be able to play it.

One good option could be use of Azure Flame (and of course then Azure Flame) as your primary attack spell. Azure Flame can be pretty risky for low health Mystics, but that risk can be mostly offset with this provided you have multiple enemies to take care of. Another option, to visit an old card, would be to take the Smoking Pipe and move some of the Mystic's horror (you know you've got some!) as a fast over to damage so that you can then offload it onto the enemy.

Time4Tiddy · 240
Or take "In the thick of it", if you can afford it (investigator you play doesn't have low health). — bugiel_marek · 17

Getting to say "Let me go first, I'll evade them." is such a heroic feel-good moment for evaders. Even if in bad case where you must spend an engage to get one enemy to evade and spread the exhaust, that still can solve a lot turn ordering problems for the team.

You can use low enemy to exhaust high enemy out of any investigator, Elite included, bypassing Alert and other nasty effects. When the fighter is dealing with the boss often you get some other enemies piling up, now you can turn the table against the boss lightfoot-ing the goons you just got.

It also removes clunkiness from cards like Sneak Attack in multiplayer. e.g. You are evader, but someone else got an enemy draw. Suddenly it takes all your actions to perform the feat.

If using evade bonus cards like Pickpocketing, Dirty Fighting, etc. I guess you might be able to team up with an another decent player and commit it to their evasion tests, so you get your bonus on the automatic evade.

5argon · 8389
Empirical Hypothesis

I thought I'd write up a quick review of this card, since I think it's by far the best card in the TSK expansion and one of the best in the whole game, period, and none of the other reviews quite capture that.

What makes Empirical Hypothesis so good? Well, at level 0, if you just choose the "succeed by 3" mode every turn (as most users of this card will want to do 99% of the time), you have basically a slotless Lucky Cigarette Case that requires success by 3 instead of 2. (There are also other more subtle differences, like this can't trigger the turn you play it, and the draw is banked for when you want it--I'll discuss that later.) That's a heck of a card! Lucky Cigarette Case is a great, and still great when you have to succeed by 3. Doing so once a round is a natural occurrence for Seekers, who have great Intellect stats and want to investigate a lot, often multiple times a turn. In fact, even investigators who can't go beyond Seeker 0, like Finn Edwards and Norman Withers, should be interested in this card despite not being able to buy any of the customizations.

Okay, so what about the upgrades? In my view, the ones that spend evidence for alternative benefits (Research Grant and Irrefutable Proof) are not that good--the rate you get is not better than 1 evidence for 1 card, and you don't really need more than one payoff for your evidence. Plus, the power of card draw is that the cards you draw will do things--i.e., they'll find clues and generate money for you. If you draw a ton of cards, that's kind of all you need.

A key upgrade is Peer Review, which a) lets any investigator meet the criterion, and b) allows anyone to spend evidence to draw cards. Both are excellent and go well together. When your teammates can meet the criteria, it becomes trivial for this to trigger once a round (and with further upgrades multiple times a round), and at that point this spits out so many free cards for the team that you won't need them all, at which point it's very powerful that your teammates can tap into the cards.

Then you want Alternative Hypothesis and a couple more of the criteria: in the dark, I'd recommend Field Research and Independent Variable as the most generically applicable, though some investigators will prefer different ones. With these in tow, an average of two evidence per turn is easily achievable. That means 2+ extra cards per turn flexibly distributed throughout the group, which is grossly overpowered.

The fact that Empirical Hypothesis lets you bank the cards as evidence, which you can draw whenever you want, is super powerful for a number of reasons:

  • Because the cards are essentially stored as evidence, you get around hand size limits.
  • If it wouldn't be an opportune time to draw your weakness, you can hold off until you're in a spot where you can deal with it.
  • It lets you save your draw until an enemy arrives and machine-gun it down with Ancient Stone: Knowledge of the Elders.
  • If you have Peer Review, you can hold off on allocating the draw until it becomes clear which team member can make the best use of it.
  • You get to trivialize a notorious Forgotten Age Scenario.

There are plenty of investigator-specific synergies to be mentioned, for example:

  • Darrell Simmons has further uses for the evidence.
  • If Carolyn Fern is using Field Agent every turn, she can easily trigger Trial and Error that way.
  • The delayed draw helps optimize Harvey Walters' investigator ability, ensuring you never miss a turn of bonus draw.
  • It also helps Norman Withers optimize his own ability by better controlling the top of his deck.

Two more notes. First, if you're looking to optimize, don't get greedy and run only one copy of Empirical Hypothesis. Yes, you can only have one in play at a time, but if a card virtually wins the game for you, far better to draw a redundant copy than not find it in the early part of the scenario. Second, this card can massively slow the game down, and it's also easy to forget choosing a criteria at the start of the round. I recommend making a quasi-house rule whereby if you forget to declare the criteria, assume that you defaulted to "succeed by 3." This helps smooth over some of the play experiences with this card.

CaiusDrewart · 3046
I actually play the thesis with Luke and it's great. Can't wait to improve it with more xp from rabbit hole. — Tharzax · 1
Very thoughtful review. Card is a staple in our group, too. We also kind of agree, that Grant and Proof looked to be not worth it. Which is a shame, as it makes it kind of not a real customisable card. (You probably want to save some XP on something like Outlook, if you don't need it, but on a high level it is usually always the same card.) I wish, they had added instead an option like "Spend 2 evidence: Searches the top 3 cards of your deck for a card, draw it, and shuffles your deck." That way you could replace quantity draw by quality draw, which would be imho worth it. — Susumu · 351
I like research grant. Finally a replacement for Milan as my economy card. — Django · 4973
As I said I'm not a huge fan, but I do like Research Grant more than Irrefutable Proof for sure. I'd say that after you buy Peer Review, Alternative Hypothesis, and two more criteria, it's fine to spend the last two points on Research Grant rather than the last two criteria. — CaiusDrewart · 3046
Hi Susumu, I agree with you that this is one of the most poorly designed customizable cards; the upgrade paths aren't very balanced, the play pattern gums up the game a bit, and the card as a whole is too strong. I think a good Taboo for this card would be to just make the "evidence for a card" a customization (maybe costing 3? Not sure) rather than an innate ability on the card. A disadvantage is that the card would then be non-functional at level 0 for anyone except Darrell, but the card as a whole would be more balanced and interesting, imo. — CaiusDrewart · 3046
About the only good I can say for this design as far as gameplay is that, at least in comparison to the other OP Seeker cards they've printed, at least this one spreads the power around the whole team rather than having the Seeker alone pop off. — CaiusDrewart · 3046
Now add Fine Tuning and double its uses per round. — MrGoldbee · 1416

Vamp makes you perform multiple skill tests in one single action, which can be used in some fun combos.

Fun combo 1 : Preston Fairmont can play vamp and easily fail all 4 tests (in hard or expert, there is no +1). After you end your turn, play Lifeline to get 4 more actions. You can double double the vamp to get 8 actions (Im not sure if you can double lifeline or not).

Fun combo 2 : Since you can decide the skill test order, you can fail first to play Grit Your Teeth, and get +1 in other 3 skill tests.

Fun combo 3 :Dirty Fighting and British Bull Dog--- ①Play Vamp, test to fail and show your bulldog. ②Test to autoevade the enemy, and triggers dirty fighting to shot with bulldog, deals 2 dmg. You got +2 in attack since the enemy is exhausted. ③Test other 2 skills. You still got +2 since the enemy is exhausted.

OnThinIce · 17
ok you cant double lifeline, max 1 per turn — OnThinIce · 17

While it has been mention in the 0 XP version that Eldritch Inspiration can be used in conjunction with Diana Stanley for cancelling the symbol effect, the upgrade offers an immense boost if used with Eldritch Inspiration, essentially making the card deal 1 more "damage".

Another synergy to emphasize (which has been mentioned briefly in another review) is token control: With Jacqueline Fine, Olive McBride, Premonition, Unrelenting, Third Time's a Charm, and surely other cards I missed, the additional "damage" output of this card becomes much more probable, which is great for an asset without uses.

One thing that might get missed rather easily though: If the enemy does not have at least 1 damage assigned to it you cannot kill it via the symbol effect (health reduction) alone.

AlderSign · 225
Also the effect only lasts until your turn is finished. So you probably want to kill it in your turn. — Tharzax · 1
4xp to turn a card into a situational vicious blow? — MrGoldbee · 1416
Phew, this is way more than a Vicious Blow, as pointed out by reviews all over this page. — AlderSign · 225
But it's also a lot less. Especially now when you can't combo two wither(4) with the upgraded sign magick — Tharzax · 1