With Into the Maelstrom arriving later this month, I wanted to share my thoughts on this card, having used it with Sister Mary as the primary fighter and primary weapon for my 4 player campaign. My feelings on the card were mixed when I first saw it and I think they've shifted around only to end up in a similar sentiment (so forgive me if my review comes across as a touch contradictory). I do want to state that with each new cycle I always play a new investigator from the corresponding deluxe box and I always include as many new cards from the cycle as I can manage. I like the idea of my first experience with a fresh campaign matching somewhat with developer intentions. Given the / mechanic with this cycle, it has been a particularly interesting experience to say the least.
I played the Blessed Blade in conjunction with the Book of Psalms (which is how I perceive the designers intended, at least on some level) so I'm going to be holding it to be a sufficient monster killer rather than an offhand tool. As many others have pointed out, the Blessed Blade is little more than a shiny Knife which is a very bad thing if you're the main fighter in the group. My strategy was to use Olive McBride (until Favor of the Sun released) to help me find and trigger those tokens reliably, and for the most part, I think this worked reasonably well. Going a step further by adding Enchant Weapon to the mix and you're landing 3 damage blows with fairly good consistency. Sure, there were the odd instance when Olive would miss the and grab me a -4 instead, but these felt more in line with pulling an than the cards not performing "as intended" if we may call it that.
Already I think you can see the first of two problems though. You NEED Olive McBride AND Enchant Weapon before this thing can start pulling it's weight (to say nothing of the you also need, but thankfully Mary and the Bible manage this expeditiously, Rite of Sanctification notwithstanding). The XP and resource cost for Enchant Weapon is forgivable since you're more than likely spending the same amount (if not more) on something stronger anyway. You'll want Sacred Covenant as well but that's cheap and permanent. So having a weapon reliant on other cards in your deck to be of any use at all (and that is, unfortunately, not an exaggeration), is a very long winded way to go about the most basic playstyle in the game.
To digress for a moment, I think this is what ultimately bothers me about this card. The "if you pull" condition is inundated with luck and randomness, and those mechanics don't suit how 's approach the chaos bag. 's want results, and they get them through very plain, simple, and therefore unsurprisingly, expensive methods. For example, I was perplexed the card didn't ask you to remove a token to trigger the extra damage, thematically imbuing the blade with holy magic (exactly why Radiant Smite is such a useful card). Or perhaps it gives you a when you engage an enemy instead so at least mechanically you get the potential damage that you need BEFORE you have to chew through your attacks, missing all the way (and you will miss, and you will miss often without ). You could even make a one-time grotesque effect by making it so that you can reveal 2 tokens for an attack instead of 1, but you must resolve the higher number among them or a if it is revealed (hey, as it currently stands, you're already failing on easy modifiers like -2's so you may as well up the odds for a ).
My drive to write this review didn't solidify until I played the Lair of Dagon which spawns Acolytes and Dagon Cultists like they're going out of style. Both of those enemies only have a single hit point, so I don't need the damage from the token. But I DO need to successfully land a hit on my target, which was all but impossible without them. This second problem, put everyone in a bind, forced to fix my blunders until I was able to cast Magic Weapon about 5 rounds into the game. Most 's don't want to feel like dead weight for so long at the onset of a scenario.
Having your primary weapon do absolutely nothing but incrementally add a single token to the bag each round creates an extremely slow burn. This is in part a problem because Sister Mary only has 3, but she is the ideal user for this weapon nevertheless because of her native synergy with . Sure, I could take Beat Cop to help my low , but Olive helps you land those tokens, and if you hit one of those, you're typically getting enough from the +2 skill value the provides. And the is what you need to secure +1 damage so why wouldn't you just go big?
To switch perspectives a little, I must reiterate that once the cards are on the table, you can handle most enemies in a similar manner you would as any other . The difference is as a gun wielder, you're reliant on ammo, and ammo can afford to wait several turns before it arrives, while this set up can not. I think its bigger sin (haw haw...) is how useless it is at lvl 0. Just commit Overpower or Daring, you say? But how many more cards can a single weapon demand before it starts pulling it's weight? Is it so much to ask to want a half decent chance to land a single point of damage as a .
My point isn't to stress how bad this weapon is because it isn't bad. If anything, my playthrough has proved the opposite. This is an incredibly powerful tool in the right hands and with the right deck, such that you WON'T need any other weapon to combat the mythos with until campaign's end. At some point, you are pulling consistently, and therefore, you are getting the and the damage boost you need. My issue is how long it takes to get there and how many other cards it is reliant on before Mary has flexed enough to actually start fighting. If you want to buck the tried and true approach then be prepared to deal anywhere from 0-1 damage for an entire turn's worth of attacking when an enemy spawns engaged with you first draw of the encounter deck. Again, this problem arises in part because Sister Mary's is below the curve for what a needs, putting a hefty amount of pressure on her to be shoring up a weakness until she can peak mid scenario. I don't think it would've broken the card if her sword gave her +2 since she desperately needs it and seeing as how very few other investigator's will be interested in this weapon (Carolyn and Mateo aside).
It is a bit of a shame the Blessed Blade isn't going to see an upgrade this cycle, but it is a very fitting choice for an eventual Return to TIC. I know some people see the Blessed Blade as a good offhand slot for adding , but I personally much prefer the Book of Psalms. I think the combination of the two works well once it gets going, as wobbly as it is. I can't tell whether the designers were intending a clunky approach, hoping to change up the style, or if this design stems more from a lack of inspiration (there are MANY other cards with the "if an X is revealed" mechanic to be fair), but I think the results are... well, mixed as I began with. If they decide to revisit it in the future, I would encourage them to commit to making the Blessed Blade into a more stable weapon. The simple route of reducing the resource cost and improving the are obvious, but I think a rework of how interacts with the blade would be more rewarding to explore.
Being mixed on a card is usually better than outright love or hate because it encourages creativity when deckbuilding. Yet I do have to stand by the fact that a weapon you play on turn 1 that isn't useful until turn 5 with at least 6XP's worth of other cards is antithetical to the card's purpose as well as to the playstyle.