by **Frothy_mikhael** » Fri Nov 01, 2013 9:35 pm

Death/Insanity

I agree with what Tiavals said about instant death/insanity. Relatively rare above the basement, relatively common in the basement, although my experience was that you had to screw up an ordinary challenge (one that doesn't have the chance of death/insanity hardcoded into it) pretty badly to get instant death/insanity. Of the challenges that do have inherent chances of death or insanity in the mansion level, I would advise you to avoid playing chess with death unless you're sure you can win, since there's no large payoff. But the iron maiden perk is amazing, since it gives a massive bonus to traps and poison challenges, so it's worth running the risk of dying to get.

Exotic Edges

My preferred edges are those that guarantee you face cards, and second, those that give you points if there are face cards still in hand. The first one has the obvious benefit of guaranteed high-powered cards, which usually means more tricks won. The points-in-hand perk effectively means that even though you can't play the face cards, you will get points for them. This is a very, very effective power in the basement, where small board size often means that you can't play all of your cards. Combined, these two perks are devastating. Guaranteed draws of 2 face cards plus full points even if they remain in your hand means that your minimum trick score is at least 4 (2 pages), possibly as high as 10 (two kings)

Of course, if you rely heavily on items or powers, then it's a great idea to get edges that work with those items/powers. I had a thief who had the extra-use perk for knives, and the extra-target perk for knives, so that each time I used a knife I got two activations each targeting two cards. After those two basic perks, I'll consider getting the ones that allow you to bump number cards into face cards. The ones allowing you to bump facecards are usually less useful. I should also mention the Mentalist perk that lets you add +1 to all psionics die rolls. That one is great if you're in the habit of abusing Destroy Mind.

+Cards vs -Difficulty

I'd disagree with the +1 card argument. Chance of drawing a face card is fairly small to begin with (16/56= 28%). The chance that you'll have a matching suit on the board depends on the size of the board, but call it a generous 80%. So we're at a 22% chance of drawing a playable face card (25% * 80%).

The chance that you'll win the revealed trick also needs to be taken into account. That chance is the sum of the following:

For a page: 25% (chance of drawing the page) * 10/13 (fraction of cards from its suit the page will beat) = 19%

For a knight: 25%*11/13 = 21%

For a queen: 25%**12/13 = 23%

For a king: 25%*13/13 = 25%

(note, there are 14 cards per suit, but I'm using 13 here because you've drawn one of them)

Or in other words 88%. So the chance of drawing a playable face card that will win a trick is .25*.80*.88, or around 18%. In other words, in only 1 in five cases will your extra card lead to taking an extra trick.

I realize if you have multiple cards of the same suit, say a seven and a knight of swords, and you turn over the king of swords, you can play the seven and save the knight for later. However, if you do this, there's a reduced cance that you'll find another sword trick on the board. The math gets super complicated at this point, so I've ignored it. But I also think that chance of (a) having multiple cards of the same suit, and (b) having multiple tricks of the same suit is low enough (especially early game, when edges matter the most) that it can safely be disregarded.

Returning to the main analysis, we're looking at a 1 in 5 chance of winning a trick because you drew an extra face card. Of course, you'll make more than the standard 2 points per trick because you have used a face card. But in order for the +1 card edge to be statistically superior to the -1 difficulty edge, you'd need to earn an average of at least 5 points per trick, since the -1 difficulty perk operates every time and the +1 card edge is only operating every fifth challenge on average.

I'm not going to go through all the permutations (page+number card, knight+number, knight+page, etc) needed to calculate the average points generated by taking a trick using a facecard. But I'd estimate that the average value is well under 5, since the typical pairing will be a face card plus a number card, which for pages and knights is worth well under 5 points, and for a queen is exactly five, while only the King generates above five points. Sure, face-face tricks will generate a windfall of points, but they are rare, and thus won't raise the average points per game.

So if you're multiplying a number less than five (the average points per trick) by 1/5 (the chance a trick will be won in each game) the result will be less than one, which means that on average, the +1 card edge generates less successful challenges than the -1 difficulty edge.