Kingdom Death: Monster is a marvelous game. It is brutal, punishing, and even if you do everything right, the inherent randomness within the mechanics of such things as settlement events or hunt events or resources gathered, will often times act to screw you over anyway. And yet, for all that, you will go back to the game and keep going back.
As a competitively minded war gamer, Kingdom Death: Monster is a game which appeals to me in terms of overcoming the challenge of actually defeating the game. This can be nigh on impossible at times and this just pushed the buttons of finding how to break the game and to power game it even more. And I’ve been successful in finding and implementing a combination of attacks and gear to power up my survivors massively in a single showdown phase, in effect gaining a power spike that normally will take 6, 7, 8 or more lantern years to gain.
So first up, it is official – I have the most insane survivors in the history of Kingdom Death: Monster with a full party of four survivors each gaining INFINITY Insanity (Infinity minus one to actually end the infinite insanity gain loop and continue the game itself if you want to be more precise) in a single Showdown.
Moreover, I maximised my understanding gains and whilst I had some understanding points already (7 out of 36 for the party), I gained the remaining 29 in the same showdown. Understanding unlocks the Insight and White Secret story milestones for a character and bring with them an incredible power spike (in my case, all 4 survivors rolled a 5, 6 or 7 meaning whenever they gain insanity they also gain an equal amount of survival, additionally they gain the Quixotic disorder which is one of the few disorders that is actually good being that if you are insane when departing the settlement you gain a +1 strength token and a +1 survival token). Insanity protects your brain from damage and if you pick up the Immortal Disorder then all hits strike your Brain instead and so are absorbed by the Insanity. Additionally, the Phoenix Placart has an ability whereby it ignores the first hit each round and you suffer a point of brain damage instead. Other gear, abilities or monster attacks target the brain, so having a lot of insanity can be quite a good thing. Of course, everyone could fall off the bottom of the world when they encounter feet of stone on the Hunt, and I can’t hunt Screaming Antelopes because at 20 insanity on killing the beast, you go crazy and run off into the darkness never to be seen again and are considered dead, but that’s really Kingdom death: Monster at its’ heart – a constant balance of good and bad with everything.
So how did I achieve this?
Simple: Gaming the White Lion Showdown.
Persistent Injuries are injuries which have lingering effects across the remainder of a showdown and are the result of gaining a critical wound on a hit location with a Persistent Injury effect. These Persistent Injuries affect the Artificial Intelligence (AI) cards in minor through to major ways. Having looked through the various monster decks, the only one worth tackling for this approach is the White Lion. I went about this by identifying Persistent Injury cards and AI cards that were directly affected by the Persistent Injury in question and which gave Survivor specific rewards through their interactions. In the case of the White Lion the Hit Location Cards are:
White Lion Hit Location Cards:
Strange Hand (Persistent Injury – Lost Hand)
Beast’s Maw (Persistent Injury – No Jaw)
White Lion Artificial Intelligence Cards:
(Basic) Combo Claw (Persistent Injury – Lost Hand)
(Basic) Vicious Claw (Persistent Injury – Lost Hand)
(Advanced) Bloody Claw (Persistent Injury – Lost hand)
(Basic) Chomp (Persistent Injury – No Jaw)
When the Artificial Intelligence Cards are drawn, they have an Alert for the Persistent Injury, either the Lost Hand or the No Jaw. Alerts come into play when the conditions within their text box meet the requirements for them to take effect. In these cases, the alerts replace the attacking profile with the Lost Hand or No Jaw attack instead.
“Lost Hand: The White Lion stares sadly at its bloody stump. Any adjacent survivors gain +1 understanding.”
“No Jaw: The White Lion vomits blood all over itself. Any adjacent survivors gain +1 insanity.”
The trick to this is you want to work through the AI deck using your Rawhide Headband gear to look at the top two AI cards and in combination with these use a Cat Eye Circlet to look at the top 3 Hit location cards. In both cases you can return the cards face down in any order you wish so for myself, on finding Chomp and one of either Combo Claw, Vicious Claw or Bloody Claw, I would place these on top of the AI deck and end my turn. The White Lion would attack with these and they would go into the AI discard pile. I could then focus on chomping through hit locations with low strength but high accuracy attacks to ensure I cut through the hit location deck to find the Strange Hand and Beast’s Maw cards and place them on top of the deck. In my case, I had a single founding stone and that was thrown to automatically hit and critically wound the Strange Hand location to bring the Persistent Injury ‘Lost Hand’ into play, and the Beast’s Maw I had a bit of luck with a +1 luck, deadly, scrap sword gaining an easier critical wound and bringing the Persistent Injury ‘No Jaw’ into play once the Jaw had been wounded. Note that just because you can activate in a turn doesn’t mean you have to as a survivor, you can choose to stand still and do nothing, and this can be challenging in Kingdom Death: Monster as the game likes to hurt you every chance it gets and as you sift through and manipulate the Hit Location and AI decks with this method, you will take damage, but suck it up as the pay off is well worth the patience even if it does hurt a little.
Once the 2 Persistent Injuries were in play and I had the two AI cards I needed to trigger the Persistent Injuries in the discard pile, I carefully ensured I wounded just enough times to strip wounds off until a reshuffle of the AI cards would occur and then with use of the rawhide headband I manipulated the AI deck so as remaining wounds would eliminate all AI cards except the two separate Persistent Injury cards.
This is where the fun began.
Each monster turn, the Monster would draw an AI to see who it would attack and how that turn. It began alternating between staring forlornly at its’ bloody stump of a hand and giving all my survivors adjacent to the White Lion +1 Understanding, or it would vomit blood all over itself due to having no jaw and my adjacent survivors would get +1 insanity. Once my understanding on each survivor was maxed at 9 and the milestone events of Insight and White Secret were carried out, I manipulated the AI deck with my rawhide headband to allow me to eliminate the Lost Hand attack and to just have the No Jaw AI card left in the stack. At this stage, the White Lion would go to chomp on me only to vomit blood all over himself and drive us a little bit more insane resulting in a gain of +1 insanity and +1 survival (the survival was as a result of the Story of the Survivor Peerless result rolled for all 4 of my Survivors who unlocked the White Secret milestone as a result of maxing their understanding in this showdown, the survival of course would only go up to my maximum of 5 survival with excess survival lost) each turn. This would go on forever and result in gaining an Infinite amount of insanity for each of my survivors. To put a time frame on it however so as the game could play on, instead of having the Showdown phase continue with a blood vomiting lion spewing its’ guts everywhere for eternity, I chose to end it at Infinity minus 1 Insanity for each of the survivors. Technically, as Toshi was on 35 Insanity when this loop began to occur, it’s not as high a total but I could have been not adjacent to the beast enough to even out the insanity with the others, this doesn’t really matter, what matters is this is the point where My Survivors became the most insane party in the games’ history (we know play testing had a Screaming Antelope doing similar things to the survivors but we also know that if you beat a screaming antelope and have 20+ insanity at the conclusion of the showdown that you runs creaming into the darkness and are considered dead, this doesn’t occur with the White Lion however). Once I was happy with my party being officially the insanest survivor party in the history of Kingdom Death: Monster, I committed to causing two more wounds and killing the White Lion to end the showdown. Suffice to say, I was (and still am!) on a pretty big high.
So, does this work all the time?
The short answer is no.
The long answer is that as each time you construct the AI deck the cards in it are different and there is a chance that none of the Persistent Injury cards will be present…at least in the level 1 White Lion encounter. The level 2 and 3 and legendary White Lions guarantee at least one of the basic AI cards needed but you won’t know till you work through the AI deck in the showdown.
With that said, why would you do a level 1 white lion encounter if you are guaranteed at least one of the Persistent Injury AI cards in a level 2 or higher White Lion encounter but can miss out entirely with a level 1? This comes down to a level 2 White Lion having the Cunning Trait in play at all times. The Cunning trait means that any survivor that is adjacent to the White Lion at the end of its’ turn will be grabbed (determine a single survivor randomly if multiple targets) and move a full move away from all threats with the lion to be placed knocked down in front of the lion and taking 1 damage per monster level to boot. Fortunately I had leather shields and a phoenix placart that meant if I did get grabbed I wouldn’t take any damage (the shields/placart eliminated a hit each turn and 1 survival spent to dodge the other attack made me immune to the damage effects of the grab. But beyond that, I had critically wounded the Beast Paw hit location when I attacked to remove the Lost Hand AI card once my understanding was maxed out. This gave the White Lion a -1 movement token and consequently allowed me to keep pace with the white lion after each grab and all survivors would get the insanity still each turn. I missed the part on the Beast Paw that stipulates that as a Persistent Injury the effects of grab be ignored, so the shields and placart and dodging weren’t necessary once I removed the Lost Hand AI card from the stack, in effect we all stood around and watched a white lion vomit blood all over itself and not much else. Missing this part of the card is not an issue as in both cases I didn’t take any damage from the attack which is as it should have been. A level 3 White Lion has the same odds of getting Chomp for the No Jaw Insanity farming as a level 2 White Lion but is also far, far harder to defeat as well, so I would strongly avoid going for the level 3+ until you are well and truly ready.
When can we feasibly attempt this strategy and what do we need as an absolute minimum?
I am playing a Seven Swordsmen campaign currently and this Hunt took place in Lantern Year 10 (though I could have done this earlier if I had realised the combination sooner!) and I had 4 sword masters with scrap swords, a steel sword and a Bow specialist with cat gut bow with a mix of leather shields and a phoenix placart scattered between the survivors for protection. Additionally, I had 2 rawhide headbands and 1 cat eye circlet and a single founding stone. The rawhide headbands and cat eye circlet are essential to pull this off efficiently as they allow you to manipulate the hit location and AI decks to perfection. Weapons with varying damage outputs were/are also a must as you will need to be able to do singular wounds or 2 or 3 wounds at once but not more. However, once the AI Persistent Injury cards are in the AI discard pile, then you want to be able to burn through the Hit location deck fast until you find the Beast’s Maw and Strange Hand. Using founding stones to automatically critically wound these locations ensures that the strategy is able to be implemented every time you go for it and failing this, a deadly weapon with a luck bonus from a lucky charm and two blue affinities in your gear grid is a huge help.
Feasibly, this approach could take place in the 3rd hunt as all you need equipment wise is 2 rawhide headbands costing 1 hide each and 1 Cat Eye Circlet which costs 1 Eye of Cat and is craftable at the Catarium which unlocks at the end of the 2nd hunt. Having 2 Cat Eye Circlets and 3 Rawhide Head Bands this early on whilst unlikely (as far as the circlets go) would go a long way towards mitigating a lessened damage out put and lessened armour available at this stage of campaign development. I would strongly advocate attempting this when you have Surge available as well.
Please note that the prologue White Lion encounter does not include any of the AI cards needed to pull this off even though the first hit location is Strange Hand, so utilising the Founding Stone and 1 survival combination to gain a +1 permanent strength straight off the bat is not actually as strong overall if you go down the path of maximising your understanding and insanity through targeted White Lion Hunts.
And with my Hunt concluded for the year, I returned to find a Hooded Knight and some Armoured Strangers awaiting my survivors.
Have a great day and good luck pulling this off and power boosting your survivors significantly.
aka Auretious Taak.
P.S. Comments are accessible in the Title Bar, click the comments button there and away you go! I’m somewhat of a wordpress redshirt still and not quite sure how to shift comments to a more traditional end of article placing.