Gardien
Soutien. Main x2

Objet. Arme. Corps à Corps.

Cost: 3. XP: 5.
Test Icons:

: Combattre. Vous gagnez +2 pour cette attaque. Après cette attaque, vous avez le droit de combattre à nouveau en ajoutant votre à votre valeur de compétence pour cette attaque. En cas de réussite des deux attaques, vous avez le droit d'incliner les Couteaux Papillons pour que la deuxième attaque inflige +1 dégât.

Steve Ellis
Aux Confins de la Terre – Extension Investigateurs #30.
Couteaux Papillons
Reviews

The level 5 Butterfly Swords are far more capable weapons than their lower level sibling. But as one of the most expensive weapons in the game (in terms of Xp), they better be. Let's have a closer look.

The Good

  • The swords can deal three damage on their first attack (if you succeed at both tests and exhausts them).
  • A three action potential of seven damage makes this one of the more dangerous melee weapons in the game.
  • Three resources is cheap for a high-end weapon.
  • Can be upgraded from (2) to (5), so can be paid for in installments.
  • Each activation is split into two attacks, so missing one attack and hitting on the other will still do 1 damage. Having to test twice isn't always good though, but more on that later.

The Bad

  • Two handed, so no Flashlights or the like.
  • No Relic trait. It's a small thing but several of the cards competing with the swords are relics.
  • Too expensive (in terms of Xp) to be a good backup weapon.
  • The second attack is + , so it's better for investigators with a decent agility. Which so far means Lily Chen, alternately Mark Harrigan.

The Ugly

  • What might sound good at first; "one free attack per activation! Woho!" is actually +1 damage with extra steps. But as SSW pointed out, there's a benefit to the extra step: You get two attacks each doing 1 damage, rather than one attack doing 2 damage, so missing the first and hitting on the second attack only subtracts 1 damage. But, in my mind that benefit is eclipsed by the disadvantage that is...
  • ...having to pass two tests PER activation can be harsh. If you're aiming for the full potential of the weapon, that's six tests to deal seven damage. This is especially true on harder difficulties. You'll learn to hate high combat enemies with Retaliate and extra nasty special tokens.
  • The swords are sorely outclassed by the Cyclopean Hammer they were released alongside. The hammer has +total to hit, which for guardians is at least +3, sometimes +4 or more. The hammer also easier to buff one or two attacks with skill cards and/or stat pumps than having to buff 4 to 6 attacks. Plus the situational but neat movement effect.

TL;DR There are two things I like about the Butterfly Swords. 1) You can deal 3 damage with your first activation each round, as long as you pass both tests. 2) you can upgrade them from level 2. Everything else are either mediocre or bad. The swords are hard sells at 5 Xp, and I would advice you to buy Cyclopean Hammers instead.

Maybe someday we'll get a card effect that will add +1 damage to each attack made that round - or something like that . That might make the swords worth your time.

olahren · 1872
These are definitely in the crosshairs for getting on the 'anti-taboo' list. The observation that 'the free attack every turn is just a worse two damage gun' is spot on and it definitely feels like the designers over-valued this quite a lot. — dezzmont · 110
You don't lose the follow-up attack if you miss the first attack. This means without the exhaust it is a consistent 2 damage split over 2 tests. Which, depending on difficulty and stats, can be straight-up better than the Hammer. Plus you can split across multiple targets when necessary, and it's less painful to hit over a teammate. Add that and the cheap costs in, and it looks a lot better than you're making it out to be. — SSW · 167
It looks a lot better against Monster enemies, if you have Lita Chantler. But under normal circumstance I would agree with olahren: the damage output is not enough for a 5 XP weapon, and the fact, that it requires more tests has far more disadvantages than advantages. — Susumu · 206
I'm planning a Zoey, Bless, token manipulation with butterfly swords, could easily see you doing 4 damage an attack every turn with olive and isis — Zerogrim · 236
Olive is once per-turn so getting bonus attacks doesn't really help your attempt at fishing. And retaining the bonus attack even if you miss at first is sorta a 'plan to lose' strategy, even on hard or expert, unless as noted some 'per-attack' synergy gets added to the game. You would much rather just have a high hit rate weapon than the ability to try again with a totally different stat when the bag is higher variance, especially because high hit rate weapons also do more damage per-attack and thus unlucky whiffs from high variance bags matter less. The math on these things just don't add up for the moment, but this sort of effect obviously could turn on a dime if any turnwide rapid attack synergy crops up in Blue. — dezzmont · 110
If you crit fail any other weapon attack, you deal no damage. If you crit fail the first or second butterfly swords attack, you can still deal damage. That isn't planning for failure at all, it's a unique benefit that no other weapon in Guardian offers. — SSW · 167
But that comes at the price to take double the amount of tests. In particular on your first attack, where you fight without the foot bonus, you might need to push your skill committing cards, just so you don't have to place another doom. And that's normally not worth it for 1 damage. It gets really off, if you have to boost even the second test with the added skill to avoid BS tokens. — Susumu · 206
Not all special tokens are that bad, especially if you're playing on lower difficulties. Play Standard, slap 2 reliables on it, and you're set. It's not terrible by any means. I won't take it in Hard or Expert, but not everyone plays at those difficulties. — suika · 8471
Thanks, SSW. I've updated the review and removed the point I was plain wrong about. And you (SSW) does have another fair point. Two attacks with the swords are better than one attack with a +1 damage weapon IF both weapons are going to fail once AND the swords then hit on their second attack. But that's a two edged sword (pun intended). What you describe as an advantage ("more tests means more chances to deal damage!) can often be an disadvantage over time. Especially when you compare the better +Hit on the hammer, potentially nasty special tokens effects and the difficulties involved in buffing many small attacks compared to buffing fewer, bigger attacks. Anyhow, thanks for the feedback and I've updated the review. — olahren · 1872
You will only crit fail maybe 1 in 16 attacks, so butterfly swords lose you tempo far more than they help. Especially because you crit fail more often if you need more than 2 damage on swords. — dezzmont · 110
Between Teamwork and a bunch of cards and characters from the upcoming set, there will be a bunch of ways to equip Amanda Sharpe with Butterfly swords if you really want to. Vicious Blow (2) is practiced, so Amanda can include it in her deck. Run Pathfinder and/or Shortcut to avoid wasting actions on movement, and you can tuck a Vicious Blow under Amanda to unlock a potentially 13-19 damage turn! — OrionJA · 1
Now this is the kinda jank I can get into... — dezzmont · 110
(If testing at 6 isn't reliable enough for Amanda's super turn, use Versatile to include a Trial by Fire) — OrionJA · 1
5 to 10 XP another player has to put into their deck for you seems like a big ask for me. In particular, because Amanda can likely use Acidic Ichor like no other Seeker, thanks to her ability and access to upgraded VB, Overpower and other commitable practice skills, and would deal almost as much if not more damage with it. — Susumu · 206
If you were building an monster-killer Amanda you definitely would also want to include Acidic Ichor. It's great, but it does run out of charges. Also, although you can deal 12-15 damage with the Ichor in a vicious blow turn, the chunking might occasionally be a problem. — OrionJA · 1
It is a huge ask Susumu, but it is a 'positive tempo' combo, which means it technically works. But like a lot of 'other person build around' combos it has a hidden cost in that it actively makes the game less fun for someone else. Unless your character's identity is being setup (ex: Bob) and thus gets to have fun by doing this, you probably don't want to do so, and no blue character currently wants to hand away stuff, so this probably is relegated to either a happy accident in a team that includes Black Market on their rogue, or a multi-hand solo shenanigan. — dezzmont · 110
Another thing that I don't think anyone has mentioned is the fact that you don't have to attack the same enemy twice. You can split up your damage, which is something no other melee weapon does as far as I know. You can use the first +2 combat attack for a weaker 1-health enemy, then use the +agi (which is probably going to be at least +4 with Lily) attack on a high-combat enemy. It might not be something that happens all the time, but being able to split up the damage can be useful sometimes. Even more flexible with Enchant Weapon, so you can do 1+3 damage or 2+2. — neescher · 230
Another small but notable point is more tests means more elder signs (more autofails yes but we're thinking positively :) ) and some of the users of this card have some stellar elder signs, notably--Lily, Nathaniel, and Zoey. — Sycopath · 1

This weapon is bad, and there are a few reviews that say it is, but it is hard to understand just how... amazingly terrible this weapon is. On first blush it is just not that good but it is actually far more insidious than that.

To understand why this is such an amazingly bad weapon, you need to do my favorite thing: Lots of math!

Drawing from the bag a lot of times to achieve an effect is, in Arkham, a bad thing to do. This isn't intuitive, there are many games where "Make 3 tests to do 1 damage 3 times" is actually better than "Make 1 test to do 3 damage." Arkham is not one of those games.

When making attacks with the swords, you test twice. One is probably an auto-success if the other has any chance of success, which means your expecting about a 7% to 4% autofail on one, and 25% fail rate on the other (say... you have 7 total combat strength vs a 5 fight enemy). This means your expected damage comes out to about 5 expected damage when swinging this thing around in a fairly standard situation to be in, which makes it not even a full +1 damage weapon. You are just flatly better off using a weapon with a stronger hitrate boost than a +2 in this scenario, as well as making your attacks hit harder than a mere +1, rather than trying to play into some weird sort of consolation prize for failing while also failing more. After all, you can make up for lost damage on fails way more easily by doing double the damage AND failing less, rather than attacking twice as often.

And your reward for probably being worse than a neutral 1 handed weapon in output is... producing more scenario specific negative tokens. Assuming there are 2 tokens you really don't want to draw for their own sake in a 15 token bag (which is pretty standard for arkham early to mid campaign), you will see one of those really bad tokens 43% of the time. This is probably the best you can expect, but it can get much, much worse.

Just a little example that minimizes spoilers: In Carcosa's first scenario, if you are trying to push past an enemy in a room affected by the scenario, you can expect to take 2 horror every turn you fight with these (not to mention it is a scenario with a -4 symbol). Obviously you can't have the swords at this scenario, but if you hypothetically had the butter knives right now, you probably would completely kill yourself from full health as most guardians after 3 turns of fighting.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg: Spawning enemies, placing doom, losing clues (though obviously that last one is less of a concern for guardians), losing assets, enemies healing, enemies damaging friends, losing actions, all of these things and more can happen on token draws and more! The terrors trying to do kung fu will bring you cannot be understated, and it is why this weapon is so amazingly bad: Not only does it make you worse at fighting than pretty much any other XP weapon that doesn't have a taboo (and probably most 0 XP in guardian) but it makes the game harder for everyone as your turn partially becomes Arkham Horror's turn.

This is why 'purely benign' skill cards like Alchemical Transmutation are considered bad if their upshot isn't strong enough: Merely drawing from the bag for a skill test is a downside even if the listed consequence for failure is 'nothing' often enough. Even rogues don't generally set themselves up for lowball 'nothing' tests.

"But what if the first attack would generally hit?" If the first test would generally pass anyway, you absolutely should be using a different weapon. The only advantage of the swords is to make it virtually guaranteed you will do 1 damage vs enemies you have a harder time hitting. If you are fairly sure you will hit anyway, you hurt yourself any time you are not stabbing a rat because now you fail to do 2 damage 10% of the time (assuming the bag is fairly mild that scenario), compared to the 5% of a normal weapon. Doing more than 1 damage an attack is why you bring weapons in the first place, baring some very specific exceptions, and this just made you WORSE at it than a 2 XP weapon. And, obviously, this gets worse the worse the bag is for you, and it causes worse things to happen to you over the course of a campaign. If even 3 'really bad' tokens are in the bag, you actually will expect to see more than one a turn on average. It gets really terrible for you, really fast.

"What if they release a card that rewards you for spamming attacks?" This is called Custom Ammo, it is fantastic. They will probably never release a version of this card that would work with a machete, and building around 5 XP card using an equivalent event or skill in guardian is obviously a non-starter: Yes you could with a hypothetical full turn +1 event do 13 damage on the turn you play it... or you could just use a lightning gun or flamethrower every turn, and just use the support slot in the deck for ammo. This card will probably never get support because any support it does get would be too dangerous to game balance in the context of other, better weapons. We might see it on something like a character power, but if it was gunna happen it would probably have happened on Lilly Chen. Maybe a scenario specific asset, but obviously that is of very limited general deckbuilding utility and even a damage boost of 1 probably isn't good enough to overcome the 'you are drawing bad tokens every other turn with this and your team is begging you to stop' problem. Either way, if they were gunna print that and intended for it to be used with this weapon, wouldn't it have been in this set?

"What if I am Lilly Chen, or don't want to use ammo synergy cards?" Timeworn Brand exists, which out preforms this card in basically every way as well as freeing a hand slot for a useful tool or backup weapon. As does Cyclopean Hammer, which usually radically out preforms either as long as you build around it even slightly.

The cruelest thing about this weapon is that it came out in the EOTE box, which is probably the worst campaign to use it, because it will probably actively kill you there on your first playthrough if it gets even remotely cold, but there are a few other campaigns this weapon is very bad, such as Carcosa (where in some scenarios skulls are effectively autofails, meaning you will have 4 autofails in a 17 sized bag and thus you will be doing an average of 1.2 damage a swing with these even assuming you are otherwise good on the bag), TFA (Speedrun killing yourself!) and TCU (where pretty much every scenario past early game has really bad token effects).

We could also get into all the anti-synergy with any sort of temporary boosting effect (like 'pay to pump,' exhausting boosts, or committed cards), or the fact these are a nightmare vs any retaliate enemy (again, have fun in Carcosa where you will statistically take more damage than you deal vs some enemies just from the skulls+autofail problem!), and how these are not technically a strict upgrade on knives 2 (they have overall better potential damage, but if you care about having a very 'sure thing' 2 damage they are worse for characters with good speed), but the fact these are low damage weapons with a big downside is already enough to sink them as a concept: You want your low damage weapons to either have the potential to do more than high damage weapons, or come with some big upside that overcomes the fact they don't do the primary job of weapons as well. You don't want them to have a special gimmick that just makes them worse.

This weapon could be named 'Cursed Butterfly Swords' and it would make more thematic sense, the effect of drawing lots of tokens will cause so many bad things to happen it feels like it should be a "I gain radical power in exchange for this benefit." effect. But in reality it promises, at most, just 1 extra damage on top of what a Timeworn Brand (already not exactly the highest damage weapon in the game) does if everything goes perfectly, and has a lower average expected damage output than it in reality. It is deeply in need of some sort of help to make any sort of sense to take in any deck.

dezzmont · 110
And then you sell it to amanda and the universe implodes as she gets roughly eighty billion attacks. the cards that combo with butterfly swords aren't theoretical, if we get a guardian written in the stars or even atlas it will be amazing and we already have a few characters who are close to using written with it anyway. — Zerogrim · 236
The payoff with Amanda totally ignoring that it is effectively a 2 handed solo mode only combo is, at least for damage, 12 in a turn. This is nice, but it is, for a 5 XP weapon, 'par' for guns, and slightly above average for class specific 2 handed melee. It is a bit more interesting with say... Overpower, because it is harder to directly compare drawing 3 cards with drawing 6, but while the Amanda combo is the jank I love, the payoff of 'doubling' attacks won't make sense unless the benefit is so overwhelming it overshadows base weapon damage/effects: Sure I could do a hypothetical 'guardian written' to get ONE turn where I can do 12 butterfly damage... or I could just do that with my 3 damage weapon and attack thrice a turn for 12 damage anyway. Or just use the combo space in the deck to reload guns that do 4 damage an attack natively. If the combo isn't out-preforming 'weapon par' it isn't really a combo. — dezzmont · 110
So, for the kind of support this weapon needs to make sense, we wouldn't be looking for some sort of 'bonus damage on attack' effect unless it was such a ridiculous level it breaks the game anyway. Instead, we would need both the following to be true: 1: It needs to be some sort of bonus that is hard to replicate with just a stronger weapon (say... drawing cards, getting resources, healing, ect.), AND it needs to be consistent enough to build a deck out of (you can't build a deck around a combo you can only use once or twice per scenario, after all). I think the first is more likely than expecting a viable guardian turn long damage boost effect, because it is a natural guardian space, but I have serious doubts of if it will be consistent enough that it is viable as a deck's engine, and thus worth using a two handed 5XP card. — dezzmont · 110
the whole point is that you don't need to wait for the 19 damage butterfly swords move to be possible, its already possible. hard to pull off sure, but possible.(BfS+WitS+VB2) it will only get easier in time, or we will just get a campaign with alot of high fight, low health enemies which the swords are great at dispatching. — Zerogrim · 236
sidenote: why o why isn't it jsut "exhaust on a succesful attack to do +1 damage" — Zerogrim · 236
Not to disagree with your review. But you mentioned, they might design some "scenario specific asset", that boosts this weapon. They actually already did that. You can get her in the very first scenario of this game. — Susumu · 206
* actually after the scenario, not in it. — Susumu · 206
@Zerogrim: Said enemies would be better tackled by flamethrower or grenades. Any 'rapid attack payoff' needs to offset quite a lot of distance because you can attack a lot with any melee, so it needs to hit this weird sweetspot of "useful enough that I want to do it 6 times, but also doing it 3 times isn't enough. And I agree that it is weird that isn't the effect, because it causes the level 5 to be a weird downgrade in very specific scenarios that the level 2 was actually good at (such as being a pseudo-sidegrade to a bow for Skids, who can't use the magic bow to auto-reload) @ Susumu: Well that asset is in it too, as you can take control of it during the scenario. I was grammatically unclear because of the header of that section, there are scenario assets that do this but building around a scenario asset is (usually) not wise. In addition, while Lita does make the knives do 13 damage on 4 hits, you can also just, again, use a good weapon to get to that level with her as well, because it is fairly easy to get a weapon that is more than just 1 damage per-action on knives. Read as "It is unlikely we will see a lot of very powerful turn wide boosts outside of one off effects on story assets, because the designers are pretty aware this is a dangerous design space." — dezzmont · 110
Amanda can just use Acidic Ichor... — MrGoldbee · 1220
Exactly. "6 savage blows in one turn!" sounds amazing but the only reason the universe would implode after setting off that combo is because you just lost in TCU. — dezzmont · 110

As dezzmont said, this weapon could be on the anti-taboo list someday, hopefully.

I think the intent of the Game Designers was to force Lily Chen to invest in multiple stats over the course of the campaign, first with Spectral Razor, Brand of Cthugha and of course take advantage of your Spells used to boost the Dragon Pole. Then transition to that helps for every attack, and end the campaign with for all the upgraded cards.

Butterfly Swords, Defensive Stance, Sweeping Kick, Dodge, Fang of Tyr'thrha, Combat Training are all focussed and this all goes to "Sounds good but I will most likely never use it" area as there is literally no reason to use any of these when the Cyclopean Hammer is better on every aspect and doesn't require you to transition from to .

So I was thinking of leaving a review about how I wish to make this weapon better, while still fair.


The Combat bonus:

When comparing to the Cyclopean Hammer, the Flamethrower, the Lightning Gun, Shotgun, the combat bonus of +2 on a Hand x2 lvl 5 card seems a bit minimal for a basic attack.

The exception is the Holy Spear but it comes in a deck that is suppose to pull a lot of to compensate for the low bonus.

Suggested Fix:

It would make sense to have "Add your " This would make it more balanced maybe in that sense, especially as only Lily Chen, Sister Mary and Mark Harrigan have 3 .


Synergy with Balance of the Body:

I like the idea that lvl 5 weapons are "tailored" for the they are released with, like the Holy Spear and Sister Mary and here, the lacks of synergy with Lily is striking.

Suggested Fix:

So how to make these Butterfly Swords more adapted to Lily Chen? A lead could be the Balance of the Body that allows you to make 3 different attacks, meaning use 3 different ": Fight." triggers.

If the swords would for example have the non-exhaust attack as a different trigger than the exhaust one that deals 1 more damage, that would allow us to use the 2 actions of the Discipline activation only with the Butterfly Swords, leaving us only with the 3rd attack to fill in our deck, with Sweeping Kick for example, that would find a good use here (when I would not add it to my deck otherwise), or Spectral Razor that I probably started with.


Let me know in the comments your suggested fix and I'll try to keep this updated!


Last little comment for anyone wondering: you can exhaust the Butterfly Swords on the 1st attack and keep using the normal attack for the following attacks. The only restriction is that you cannot exhaust them twice (unless you use Galvanize).

Valentin1331 · 8259
I think the core issue with this card is that it is a low damage weapon with the gimmick based around overcoming that. Low damage weapons are better than most people think (the guardian tommygun is amazing in the right deck) but if I want to do high damage with a weapon I would just take a good weapon. A 5 XP weapon that does 5 damage a full turn of attacking better have an even better upshot than 6 damage and 3 resources. Having played with it, it is mystifyingly bad, and spamming attacks is a strict downside (as you want to minimize bagpulls in Arkham). — dezzmont · 110
what 5xp weapon does 5 damage for a full turn of attacks?, butterfly swords does (in theory) seven damage, you get 2 attacks per activation regardless of if its exhausted or not. — Zerogrim · 236
Butterfly Swords is not nearly the level of bad that cards have previously been to justify taboo buffs. 'Slightly disappointing in comparison to the Hammers' is not that level of bad. Making more tests in a turn is generally worse, but if we ever get more cards in that archetype, or that allow skills to be committed across multiple tests in Guardian (a la Written in the Stars), this card will suddenly become incredibly broken. — SSW · 167
@zerogrim, the fact you repeatedly draw tokens heavily pushes the expected damage of this weapon down. Assuming either there is an 'effectively autofail' campaign symbol, or you are rocking a 75% success rate by being 2 above the target on normal (where this weapon would be the best), but the speed boost pushes you into 'expected autohit' range, you expect to lose about 2 damage. @SSW, this card actually strongly resembles two weapons that DID get a buff, the Springfield and the Winchester. Equiping the Springfield, much like the swords, makes you far more likely to lose scenarios compared to just sticking to a regular weapon, while like the Winchester it is a case of 'interpreting a weakness (unreliable damage in the winchester's case, and spam attacks in the swords case) as a plus. While a hypothetical 'boost a turn of attacks' effects would help, it would need to be an asset you get all the time that works on melee to actually justify playing around a card that has such a negative effect on not just you, but your entire team on some scenarios (it is WILD this card was introduced in the campaign with frost tokens, but there are worse things in the bag than autofails), and I suspect they realize they never can print such a card for the same reason they taboo'd machette. — dezzmont · 110