Hearts' Game (Guide)
Hearts' Game is a murder-themed, Knife-and-Candle-adjacent pastime for high-level players. The first component was released on April 13, 2023. Play involves assembling a team of vagabonds and miscreants to murder a chosen target, with a number of restrictions to ensure good sportsmanship and fair hunting.
To be eligible, a player must first become a Tier 2 POSI and reach 200 Dangerous (with equipment). The card to gain entrance to the activity will be drawn immediately, leading you to The Gamekeeper's Cottage, Renovated in Watchmaker's Hill.
Your first Round is a tutorial, with a smaller set of available Accomplices and a lower requirement for victory. With some luck and planning you should be able to win the first round.
First, you assemble a team of three Accomplices. The Accomplices you may choose from are determined by the RNG, using Card mechanics. Note that your hand is discarded after each choice, so your decision should not be influenced by which other cards you have drawn. Lodgings do not affect hand size here, which is limited to three cards at a time.
After you choose your team, you begin a Round. You are locked in a location and cannot change outfit during a Round. A Round will probably take between ten and twenty actions; due to the progress of Elusiveness the longest possible Run is probably around 25 actions.
During a Round, you play Cards that are unlocked by your Accomplices, attempting to reach level 8 of Poisoner's Progress before the same happens for Elusiveness of your Target. When either quality reaches 8, a win or loss respectively trigger, ending the Round.
You may keep the team of Accomplices that you have selected for up to ten consecutive Rounds, which is called a Run. Winning at least 7 Rounds out of 10 in a Run earns a Trophy. Wins are also grouped by Seasons, and winning at least 7 victories within the current Season is required to purchase a unique piece of equipment from the Page of Quills.
While aborting a Round that is still in session is a possibility, it will be counted as a loss and will not allow you to pick a different team. To do so you need to reach the conclusion of a Round by raising either of its progress qualities to 8 and choose to separate from your team. You will also be forced to assemble a team again after the Run ends.
In Hearts' Game, the progression of a round is influenced by two positive and two negative qualities:
- The primary positive quality for a Round is Poisoner's Progress, which is generated by offensive actions of accomplices and tracks how close you are to winning the round. You win when your Progress reaches level 8 (36 CP).
- The secondary positive quality is Poisonous Preparation, which is gained from supportive actions of accomplices and unlocks high-level actions. Such actions gain substantially more Progress on success, but have high-difficulty challenges attached. Some of these options require only 1 level of Preparation; others require as much as 6. Preparation is not used up when taking one of these actions, with exception of one accomplice. Higher-level actions generate substantially more progress in exchange for more set-up.
- The main negative quality for a Round is Elusiveness of your Target. Almost all actions that you can take during a Round have a chance to increase Elusiveness by either 2 or 3 change points (CP) on success or failure. This chance increases as the match progresses, reaching 100% after 7 actions, after which Elusiveness becomes a ticking clock. A handful of actions guarantee increase, or increase it more slowly. The Round ends in a loss when this reaches level 8 (36 CP), except in case of a tie which is resolved in favour of the player.
- The secondary negative quality is Poison Tolerance of Your Target. Similarly to Elusiveness, each action you take has an increasingly higher chance to randomly raise it by 2 CP, although it occurs at an overall slower rate than with the other quality. Most actions that generate Poisoner's Progress have their effectiveness reduced based on the current level of the target's Tolerance.
In case of one accomplice, Poisonous Preparation can be used up to enhance effectiveness of an attack, but other than that all four qualities can only be raised higher, until the end of a round when they're reset to zero.
Each Accomplice unlocks two cards during a Round. Each cards has two actions, one which is freely available, and one which requires Poisonous Preparation and tests against a quality with high difficulty. Both cards for an Accomplice will test against the same Quality, but other specifics will vary. The freely-available action may raise Progress or Preparations, depending on the Accomplice.
All challenges against Main Stats have a Broad difficulty of either 150 or 200, and challenges against Advanced Skills have a Narrow difficulty of 12.
Most actions have a chance of increasing Elusiveness and/or Tolerance - the ones explicitly marked are the ones that are guaranteed to increase those.
Cards marked with a * need to have their effects confirmed
It can be hard to get an understanding of the different roles of accomplices. Here is a general breakdown based on card ranks:
- Pages' options always give progress. Advanced options require 1-3 preparations. Pages of Roots ignores tolerance but always gives it, while Pages of Teeth has strong basic options which are affected double as much by tolerance. Pages of Lures has especially effective moves, but they consume preparations and aren't very good without preparations. This makes Pages of Roots particularly good in the late stage of the game and the Page of Teeth good in the early stage of the game. The Page of Lures remains effective through the whole game, but requires and consumes preparations to be effective.
- Knights' basic options always give preparations, sometimes two, except for one of the Knight of Ribs' options. Advanced options either moderately raise progress, generate 2 preparations or do both of those partially.
- The current queen has no stat requirements and has no advanced options. The queen is the only card that clears your hand and is the most versatile accomplice, but has no efficient progress options.
- Kings are the heavy-hitters of the game, and their advanced options require 5-7 preparation for significant gains of progress. The King of Roses has one option that is further buffed by having more preparations. Except for the King of Roses, they have balanced basic options, with one generating preparations and one giving some progress.
Exploits for the Page of Quills
Every action in the Alleyways, as well as picking out the accomplices, gain one Hearts' Game: Exploits, which can be spent with the Page of Quills. Exploits are worth between 4 and 5. Some options only become available with certain amounts of Gains. Succeeding checks and winning the runs does not raise the echo efficiency of this activity - the only thing that matters in this case is playing in itself.
|Action||Item||Cost ( Exploits)||Value||Value / Action|
|The large wooden box||Soothe & Cooper Long-Box||11||62.5||5.20 EPA|
|A consignment of steel||Bessemer Steel Ingot||14||(50 )||6.67 BSI/A|
|The dusty book|| Salt Steppe Atlas
5 x Puzzling Map
|25 - 32||125||3.78 - 4.8 EPA|
|The imposing metal meathook||Honest Butcher's Tool||60||n/a (also requires Hearts' Game: Wins this Season 7)|
|The curious antique book||Intriguer's Compendium||65||312.5||4.73 EPA|
|The huge fossil ribcage||Leviathan Frame||65||(312.5 )||4.73 EPA|
|The battered journal||Elemental Secret||65||312.5||4.73 EPA|
|The Correspondence-marked stone||Starstone Demark||65||312.5||4.73 EPA|
|An antique scarf||Scrap of Ivory Organza||80||312.5 / 4000||3.85 EPA / 48.7 RPA|
Winning a Run (by winning at least 7 Rounds out of 10) earns a Trophy, a vanity Curiosity item with no uses beyond showing off on your profile mantelpiece.
Claiming the Honest Butcher's Tool requires both Victories and Exploits. The victories are counted within the same season and don't need to be obtained all in one run.
Strategies for winning
Your strategy will be dependent on which accomplices you have. As a general principle, it's recommended to avoid using accomplices that use stats that you have low success rate with. Unless you have very high Kataleptic Toxicology, this means you should try to stick with the other ones, but you might be unfortunate and have to choose one either way. Otherwise it's not a good idea to combine the Kings with the Pages, as the Kings need high preparation in order to be useful, and the Pages can't help with that.
Here are a few different tactics that could be useful:
Pages of Luck (No required skill checks)
- Key roles: Pages ( Page of Roots, Page of Teeth).
- Queen of Loins, King of Roses and Page of Lures can be used as support accomplices.
- The Page of Teeth is efficient until you gain your first points of tolerance and the Page of Roots is still functional with high elusiveness. The Queen of Loins may be a good choice for clearing your hand of unwanted cards.
- If you gain a lot of Poison Resistance in the beginning, this strategy may be inefficient.
Pages of Skill ( Dangerous, Kataleptic Toxicology and/or Watchful skill checks)
- Variant of the above strategy.
- Key roles: Pages and Knight of Skin.
- For this strategy you will want to build preparations up to 2, preferably using the Knight of Skin, alternatively Queen of Loins, before resorting to the tactic above. Play the advanced options on the Pages' cards. If you're using the Page of Lures, you may have to replenish your preparations, making the Knight of Skin a more important accomplice.
- Once you reach high tolerance it's preferable to use Roots' cards, but by now you should almost be finished.
King's Castle (Skill checks depending on your king)
- Key roles: A king, such as King of Spines, King of Roses or King of Tallow. Knights, such as the Knight of Skin and/or the Knight of Livers. The Queen of Loins will also be efficient.
- For this strategy you will want the King for gaining progress, and the knights for building preparations. The King of Spines has a good synergy with the Knight of Livers, but the Knight of Skin will probably be the superior choice. Use an outfit depending on your king.
- Note that this strategy is dependent on getting the right type of accomplices and the right cards. If you're unable to get either good knights or kings, the game will be hard to win.
- This strategy doesn't combine well with Pages, especially not Page of Lures.
Toxic Preparations ( Kataleptic Toxicology skill checks)
- Key roles: Page of Roots and Knight of Talons. King of Tallow can also be a decent choice together with a knight or two, but that moves this into a King's Castle stategy.
- Use Knight of Skin, Queen of Loins or Knight of Livers as support accomplices.
- For this strategy you will mainly use the Knight(s) and Queen for preparations/hand refreshes and use the advanced options for the Page of Roots/Knight of Talons/Tallow for progress.
- This strategy requires high KT, but is very reliable.