Hearts' Game (Guide)/Distinctions

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Under certain circumstances, winning a Run in Hearts's Game will award you with a Distinction. What good are Distinctions? Well, not only are the capstone rewards of A nod from Mr Hearts, Heart-Caught Sapling, and The Black Book of Hearts only available to those players with the correct Distinctions, you can show off your Distinction count in your Scrapbook — vanity!

Some of these are fairly trivial to obtain, and others are much less so. This page provides discussion of drafting and card-playing strategies for becoming highly Distinguished. That said, the general theme is that you will need to assemble a team with excellent synergy between Accomplices.

It will probably take you more than a few attempts to draft a team for any given Distinction, but don't lose heart--the capstone rewards require a total of 1500 Hearts' Game: Exploits anyway, so you're not really "losing" actions to bad RNG until you hit that point. Even then, you're still making profit!

The Distinction of Embalming[edit]

This Distinction is awarded for completing a Run with The Embalmer's Mark, which makes the game generally harder:

  • Checkless options that provide Progress provide 1 fewer CP of it — diminishing the effectiveness of Pages.
  • Difficulty for Highway Skill checks are increased by 30. Effectively, difficulty 180 checks become difficulty 210 and require 350 to 100% instead of 300. Difficulty 200 checks become difficulty 230 and require 384 to 100% instead of 334.
  • Difficulty for Advanced Skill checks is increased by 2, requiring 19 to 100%

Here are some general tips:

  • You don't have to pick the Distinction of Embalming at the beginning of drafting; you can choose it right at the end. Consider only picking it if you've drafted a team you're particularly confident with.
  • After your first round with a team, consider if a Boon would help make it more consistent:
    • Several stat boons are available weekly from Ecdysis (Guide), all of which can be helpful in Hearts' Game.
    • If you are an Exceptional Friend, this is an excellent choice for the Boons from the House of Chimes, as it will make advanced skill checks slightly more consistent.
    • Mood cards from the London deck are also highly useful here, so try and time them to get 1-2 rounds with their boost. You might even be able to get a third if you haven't yet played A Gift of Time!
    • Certain seasonal events like Christmas and Estival also often give temporary stat boosts you can make use of, though be sure to also enjoy the festivities!
  • Consider your unique equipment slots. Some of these can be extremely helpful in reaching high stat thresholds:
    • Have a third-tier Profession. You should have this anyway by the time you unlock Heart's Game, let alone think about distinctions, but if you're a Doctor or a Notary you are missing out on the Tools of the Trade.
    • Completing your Ambition gives you access to the Treasure slot, and therefore a large boost to your stats. The main statistic boosts are very helpful even if your Treasure's Skill isn't used in Heart's Game.
    • Completing the tale of the Youthful Naturalist gives you access to Irem and advanced Destinies, which give a small stat boost in addition to a point in an advanced skill that can be helpful.
    • Certain Spouses give upgrades to advanced skills that are useful in Heart's Game. If you are married to The Revolutionary Firebrand, Liberated, for example, you should consider using Kataleptic Toxicology Accomplices.
      • You can also always consider divorcing your Spouse for someone with better stats and then remarrying later, if you're a heartless powergamer in the browser game about kissing squid people.
  • Do not be afraid to use Second Chances here! You've been hoarding them for a reason, and this is a good reason.

The Distinction of Kings[edit]

This Distinction is awarded for completing a Run with at least one King and no Knights or Pages.

Achieving this Distinction is very much similar to a standard King-based run, using one King to make late-round progress with one or two supporting Accomplices. The main restriction is that some of the best support Accomplices are unavailable because they are Knights.


All Kings are viable for this Distinction, more-or-less similarly to a standard run. An ideal team will have any one King, and two Support cards focused on gaining Preparations. A team can still be viable even with one useless Accomplice that doesn't contribute, so long as all other cards can generate enough Preparations.

Any accomplice that builds Preparations with both its basic actions is a viable support card. This includes all available non-King cards except the Priest of Magpies. A second King can even act as a support if it generates Preparations with its basic actions, as is the case for Spines, Tallow, Ambivalences, and Motley.


In the early rounds, focus single-mindedly on building preparations until you are able to use the second action on both of the King's cards. Given an early choice between building moderate Progress or a small amount of Preparation, the latter is almost always preferred. Once the King's main actions become available, prioritize those, using others only if necessary to cycle cards.

A King-based run tries to land high-Progress actions in a race against rising Elusiveness. Poison Tolerance will tend to rise to high levels, but Kings overcome that by gaining enough Progress with each action to ignore it.

Individual Cards[edit]

  • Priest of Magpies: This is the only support card which doesn't generate Preparations, and is generally a dead card when attempting this Distinction.
  • King of Ambivalences: All Boon-bearing Accomplices are available when attemping this Distinction, so this King is viable for those who can pass his checks. This is also the only case where Magpies helps.
  • King of Roses, King of Tallow: These Kings need even more Preparations than usual Kings, so they are affected more by the absence of preparation-building Knights. They are still viable, but working at a slight disadvantage compared to usual.
  • King of Knuckles: Due to scaling with Elusiveness while testing a highway stat, this King can be a great choice for doubling up the Kings and Embalming Distinctions.
  • King of Motley: See the Distinction of Motley, below.

The Distinction of Knights[edit]

This Distinction is awarded for completing a Run with at least one Knight and no Kings or Pages.

Compared to Pages and Kings, the Knights cover a more diverse range of team roles. An all-Knights team is viable on its own, and doesn't rely on Priests, Queens, or the Fool to round out the composition. The important bases to cover are Accomplices that generate Preparations, like Livers or Skin, and Accomplices that deal damage, like Talons or Ribs.

Of special note is the Knight of Flames. Knights don't create quite as much progress as Kings, so they are slowed more by Tolerance near the end of a Round. Flames' special ability can greatly increase their ability to finish out a Round.

The Distinction of Pages[edit]

This guide is incomplete. You can help by expanding it.
What needs work: Have changes to Magpies, Lures, and Counterplay made a wider range of team comps viable?

This Distinction is awarded for completing a Run with at least one Page and no Knights or Kings.

It is vital to note that no Page, nor the Priest of Magpies, can generate Preparation, so you will need another support card to use any advanced actions. Using only basic actions is not recommended because of Counterplay. Further, a common problem with Pages is that they don't provide enough Progress before Tolerance reaches too high a level — Teeth and Inversions are particularly poor as primary Progressers — thus making this Distinction rather dependent on getting a good draft.

There are a few common approaches to this Distinction:

The Distinction of Gambits[edit]

One approach is to employ the Page of Gambits as Carry and at least one source of Preparations. Once you have 2 Prep, follow the standard Gambits-based approach and use Gambits' advanced actions as often as possible. You may instafail one or two Rounds, as is typical.


  • The Queen of Loins builds Prep, clears hands, and has no skill checks.
  • The Priest of Briars clears hands with an off-skill Persuasive check, but that doesn't matter if you only use him for Prep Support. Plus, Persuasive is one of the easier skills to raise.
  • The Queen of Cod may seem better than Loins (hey, fewer cards!), but if she is your only source of Prep, you may find it hard to properly use Gambits. However, with more Prep Support on your team, Cod is superior to Loins, and Cod + Loins will make the Rounds speed by.
  • The Fool of Audacities can build Prep slowly, and though its advanced options are off-skill, the checks are easier than other Accomplices', and it benefits from Priest support if you can draw one.

The Distinction of Roots[edit]

Then, the Page of Roots, due to his ability to ignore 3 levels of Tolerance, is the only non-Gambits Page that can outpace Tolerance buildup. Even still, Tolerance is still a concern so the options on Ten of Roots: Generosity should always be chosen over the options on Six of Roots: The Climb.[1] Finally, it may be difficult to gather the required KT for non-endgame Players.


  • The Page of Teeth opens well for Roots and pairs excellently with Cod, though without Cod they are somewhat anti-synergistic towards the end of a Round. Off-skill, but you wouldn't use their advanced actions anyway.
  • The Queen of Loins is very strong, as she builds Prep, clears hands, and is always on-skill (i.e. she has no skill checks) — she is the only on-skill Synergist for poor Roots, with his KT checks.
  • The Queen of Cod lets you play more Roots cards. Note that, as sole Prep Support, she is better for Roots than for Gambit because Roots wants to not play his advanced options until Tolerance has hit 2/3.

The Cervantes[edit]

A third approach is to have the Fool of Audacities fill the missing Progresser role on your team. In this case, the Fool is pretending to be a Knight, hence the name.

The ideal team composition is the Fool, an aggressive low-prep Page like Teeth or Inversions, and a Priest that can increase the Fool's attack. In the early stages of a Round, prioritize the Page's advanced attacks, trying to raise Progress to at least 5 or 6 before Tolerance reaches 2. When Tolerance kicks in, raise Preparations until the Fool can attack and use him to finish off the target. As Tolerance raises, the Fool will often be making 4 Progress or less each action, so it's important to build a large head start quickly.

Page options[edit]

  • The Page of Papers is unfussy and on-skill, though you will prefer to use Audacities as Progresser with sufficient Prep.
  • The Page of Teeth is more aggressive than Papers, though they are off-skill.
  • The Page of Inversions is also more aggressive than Papers, though they are off-skill (an Advanced Skill, to boot) and categorically worse than Teeth besides.
  • The Page of Gambits is off-skill, but they're useful when you haven't built up enough Prep yet for the Fool's advanced options and in cases where the target's Poison Tolerance is too high for the Fool to make much progress.
  • If you happen to have enough KT and are willing to spend Confident Smiles on Fool checks, you can shift your strategy to a combination of the Fool and Page of Roots, where you begin with Prep, use the Fool until outpaced by Tolerance, and finish with Roots.


The Distinction of Motley[edit]

This Distinction is awarded for completing a Run with the King of Motley and at least 8 other Accomplices. It is possible to achieve this Distinction concurrently with Kings and Embalming (and, of course, that of the current season), thereby achieving 4 Distinctions at once.

Because you will draft so many Accomplices, you will likely have the option to draft nearly every one that has good Synergy with the King. Further, with 9 Accomplices, the Three of Motley: Comedy card can provide 13 CP of Progress and Nine of Motley: Tragedy, 17 CP. This makes the King the theoretical second-best Progresser in the Game, if you can draw his cards.[2]

The general strategy is to ensure that you will have sufficient Prep to use the King when you draw his cards and to cycle through the deck as fast as possible to draw his cards. There are some powerful secondary Progressers that synergize well with the King, though some of them are off-skill (i.e., don't check Persuasive).

Excellent Synergists[edit]

Second-tier Synergists[edit]

Seasonal distinctions[edit]

These number six (the Distinctions of Nascency, Excess, Dares, Devotion, Irreverence, and Duplicity) and only require you to win a Run within the appropriate season, so the regular guide provides sufficient discussion.

  1. Also, Roots may be bugged and not give a minimum 1 CP of Progress the way other Accomplices do, though if it comes to this, you may have already lost.
  2. Playing with 9 Accomplices, Motley is the second-best single-turn Progresser in the Game, as Ambivalences is slightly ahead if you can get enough Aces. Playing with all 25 Accomplices, Motley is the absolute strongest single-turn Progresser in the Game, providing up to 33 CP of Progress (more if FBG add more Accomplices), though you will have a correspondingly harder time using him.
  3. There are six Aces in the game, so Ambivalences could even hit 30 CP of Progress, but as the Priest of Magpies's cards do not give any Prep, it is probably better to not draft them — though, simulation is needed to tell for sure.