Edges effects - What do they mean, probability wise?

General Discussion about Cryptic Comet's adventure strategy game

Edges effects - What do they mean, probability wise?

Postby Davzz » Wed Oct 23, 2013 1:10 pm

I've purchased this game and am playing it now.

The whole "poker" aspect and terminology confuses me, but I think I've kind of gotten them down by now.

I want to make a commentary on choosing your starting edge - it's really daunting and confusing to see all of them in one huge list like that for a newcomer.

It might be a bit less scary if they are divided into categories, especially since the effects of the edge are repeated anyway, just applying to different situation (e.g horror vs lore)

What I want to know is: given a certain set of circumstances, which are the best edge type to choose for maximum mathematical effect?

As an example, let's say I am having trouble with horror checks (btw, those are really annoying since they show up all the time)

Is it better to reduce the difficulty of the checks? Or is it better to increase no. of tricks/increase cards in hand? Is bumping the tricks number better than raising numbers in your hand...?

Like, I think I've figured out that the edge that automatically turns X cards in hand into face cards is a huge swingy boost - it gives you a better chance to win challenges that you might not be able to, but if you wanted a more consistent help you might want to go for something else...

Because I am not a Poker player, I'm not familiar with the probability of a deck of cards, so I would like the insight of people stronger at math than myself.
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Re: Edges effects - What do they mean, probability wise?

Postby Tiavals » Sat Oct 26, 2013 8:57 pm

It has less to do with card probabilities than optimizing the amount of cards on your hand and on the table, weighed against the challenge amount you face. But most importantly, the active abilities you can use(spells, items, PSI).
In short: You want the amount of cards you draw and the amount of cards on the table to be roughly equal. The more cards you get on the table and your hand, the more important the difficulty reducing edges become. If you'd have 5 in hand and 5 on table, you'd probably want the difficulty reducing one, any less and the others.
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Re: Edges effects - What do they mean, probability wise?

Postby Frothy_mikhael » Mon Oct 28, 2013 11:08 pm

In my experience, the -1 difficulty is far better, on average, than +1 card (either on the table or on the hand). Since a non-face card trick is worth 2 points, the -1 difficulty is like "winning" "half" a trick. +1 card will not, on average, score you 1 point per challenge. So best to use the -1 difficulty edge. I would pick the horror one (Mental Fortress I think), since it will be the most common challenge you face throughout the game, and since it protects you against virtually the only source of sanity loss, whereas health loss can come from multiple sources (combat, traps, etc).
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Re: Edges effects - What do they mean, probability wise?

Postby Davzz » Tue Oct 29, 2013 7:11 am

Thanks for the help, seems like... consensus is pretty split here?

Are there any real use for the really exotic edges? (Like the one which gives you points if there is only 1 face card left in your hand at the end)

I've played around 5 games now. The first three of my characters died because I built them really badly and they just couldn't get going at all. The last two was kind of intensely frustrating for me, because I was doing pretty good until they died from drawing Insanity/Death from the results list, strangely enough almost as soon as I stepped onto the 2nd floor and met the first challenge.

I get that it's a Roguelike and dying is a thing in these, and I understand dying to attrition, but I was at full health/sanity and there goes all my progress down the drain because of a bad draw. Though I wonder if I'm just extremely unlucky or something and this is supposed to be a "rare" occurance that I manage to hit twice.
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Re: Edges effects - What do they mean, probability wise?

Postby Tiavals » Tue Oct 29, 2013 11:31 am

I've never found a use for the more exotic edges, but my playstyle is sadly quite static, I rarely deviate from what I have found to work, which often leads to me not finding the point of some things. :)

Death/Insanity cards are only drawn in very rare cases, and you usually know in advance when you may get one(playing chess with Death, climbing inside an iron maiden, that sort of thing ;)), so it's weighing risk vs return. Of course, in the beginning of the game it's much more difficult to assess whether you might get a card like that. Might want to play with the save option on for a while, loading only if you get an insta-death card to save unnecessary frustrations when learning the game, it's hard enough as it is if you play a "normal" character without knowing the inner workings of the game. :)

Once you get to the basement, though, there the instadeath cards fly much more freely.

The reason why I favor extra cards over the -1 difficulty is that the face cards are common, flexible and valuable. You can easily get 4 points for a single card, and if the difficulty if, say, 8, you'd rather have the chance to get 4 more points than just 7 to difficulty. It really depends too much on your possible character to say which is better, but I suppose in a "doesn't matter what sort of character or playstyle", the difficulty negation is better. Although with more cards, you can get more points over the limit, which means more rewards. A complicated matter, but at least you always get a benefit from the -1, whereas with cards it's up to chance. Perhaps I'd say that the more reasonable your character is, the better idea the -1 is, but if you make an extreme character with, say, very low mental stats, the extra cards become better. Anyway, try Frothy_mikhael's way and see if you like it more with your playstyle. I'm guessing it makes for a generally smoother ride, especially in the beginning since it's one less thing to worry and think about, when assessing the card situation.
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Re: Edges effects - What do they mean, probability wise?

Postby 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.
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Re: Edges effects - What do they mean, probability wise?

Postby Davzz » Sat Nov 02, 2013 7:21 am

What's the difference between the different kind of magics you can get?

I'm having a frustrating time in my current character's end-game because apparently choosing Mentalist + Hyperborean makes me extremely one-dimensional and for some reason I can't seem to use my spells/abilities most of the time.
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Re: Edges effects - What do they mean, probability wise?

Postby Tiavals » Sat Nov 02, 2013 4:43 pm

Certain edges work only for certain types of magic. I'm not sure there's a real "theme" to the magic types, though, each of them seems to have all kinds of spells. If you're looking for a specific spell(common after you know the game better) it's worthwhile to take the specific-magic edges, otherwise I'd take the general ones.

Mentalist allows you to by psychic edges and powers, right? I'd say it's very multidimensional if so, you may have just been unlucky with what you got. Many powers have specific needs to be fulfilled to use them, or restrictions.(some psychic powers can't be used against the Undead, some spells can only be used in Lore encounters, etc)
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Re: Edges effects - What do they mean, probability wise?

Postby Frothy_mikhael » Mon Nov 04, 2013 1:49 am

Magic in general is weaker than psionics, since your edges typically only apply to one school, which really cripples their effectiveness relative to psionic edges. By far the best magic edge is the one that removes 1 from the charge cost of your spells. I think it's the last one on the list.

And I would agree that a lot of magic spells work in only highly unusual situations. There are some spells that only work in lore challenges, for example, which are relatively rare challenges. A lot of the magic combat spells are also restricted to certain kinds of combat, which can often be quite annoying.

Starting from mentalist, I usually added non-psychic/non-magic careers. Normally I'd use a ranged or melee combat specialty if I had a weapon by the time I could choose another career. Failing that I would use the cups/wands profession (investigator I think) and then talisman expert. I usually focused mostly on stats rather than getting new abilities, since as a mentalist you have more than enough powers.
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Re: Edges effects - What do they mean, probability wise?

Postby Davzz » Mon Nov 04, 2013 2:56 am

I made a bad build which couldn't raise Swords, took a Swords wound and now I dropped that character because dealing with imps takes forever.

Eh, I hate to say this since I liked Solium Infernum, but I'm not really feeling this game.

Normally I would write some kind of long analysis or something but I'm feeling particularly lazy today so I'm going to try to keep it short.

I think the game takes too long to get going (when you get a couple of items/spells and can actually make interesting choices) and takes too long to complete overall, which tends to lead to a lot of "repeated" events over the course of multiple games. I think the length of one game could use some shortening.

The game is too brutal and yet boring at the start because you have few choices to make, but a bad injury is almost unrecoverable at that time. I think there's also a weird exponential effect of luck at the start of the game: if you get lucky early skill tokens, you can slingshot yourself because your increased power level means you can success at tasks with greater results, leading to being able to flip more reward cards and thus powering yourself even more. If you're unlucky then you're probably going to end up dead, but it'll take some time to get there.

And then there are also unlucky situations like say, if you get an item but it uses your weaker stat and you can't even carry the object. I don't think I've ever seen an RPG-like game where encumbrance rules was this strict.

I think there needs to be a lot more randomness in char building. As it is, it seems like the optimal choices, if you know what they are, can be picked in most every game which leaves the sub-par choices as... pretty pointless, really. If you were given random choices, that might make players get creative (this would probably screw up balance though... but still.)

a tl;dr version: Vastly increase the power level of a starting character, giving them more starting spells/items and choices so the game is interesting from the get-go. Shorten the game overall. Randomize more portions of character building, because it isn't really that interesting at the moment and there's a lot of "trap options."
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