is an assassin from the Dungeons & Dragons board game, The Legend of Drizzt. Among his at-will powers are his Magic Longsword and Saber of Wounding. Both offer statistical advantages. Which is better? With a touch of analysis paralysis, we overthink our choice.
What’s the difference between the two?
The Magic Longsword attacks an adjacent monster with an attack bonus of +10. It inflicts only 1 hp damage. The Saber of Wounding, on the other hand, attacks an adjacent monster with a lower bonus of +6 and inflicts 1 hp damage. However, if you roll an 18 or higher, you inflict extra +1 hp of damage.
Game play strategy
The D&D board games have two chapters; 1) the last tile and 2) everything else before it. Will you prepare for the tough villain at the risk of not making it far into the game? Or will you choose to stand up to the dungeon’s minions only to be too weak and too unprepared for the villain with its many hit points? While the game makes you think there’s strategy it comes with a lot of luck. Making it to the final tile is tough. Unless I’ve had previous experiences with a specific adventure, I often choose to survive the first chapter hoping I’ve been blessed with enough found treasure and luck to survive the villain stage.
Your luck of the dice
The 20-sided dice can be very cruel. I’ve made enough back-to-back “1” rolls, it would make Albert Einstein cry. The Magic Longsword gives a bonus of +4 greater than the Saber. That’s a 20% advantage. The Saber offers a 15% chance of being eligible for a bonus. Meaning, if you roll an 18 for a 1-hp monster, your advantage was wasted. I’ve discovered that the party needs to make its first 5 or 6 attack rolls to have an even chance to make it to the last tile. Misses early makes a session quickly over. This is why I often choose the attack bonus over the damage bonus. I would consider the Saber if other members of the party have better attack bonuses and place Artemis at the end of the line to clean up the left overs and give the party a chance of finishing tough monsters and villains.
Statistics and theory
Since monsters come in varying armor class, it’s difficult to appreciate the bonus especially if you figured you didn’t need it. It’s easy to understand the Saber. Even if you didn’t need the second point of damage, it feels good to deliver it. Let’s pretend we’re up against a tough monster with an armor class of 20. With the Magic Longsword, you would hit 11 times out of 20, inflicting 11 hit points of damage. With the Saber of Wounding, you would hit 7 times out of 20, inflicting no more than 10 hit points of damage. (1 plus an extra 1 if rolled an 18, 19, or 20) In addition, we assume we took advantage of the extra hp damage while overcoming a statistical disadvantage. In this example, the Magic Longsword has a minor, but appreciable, statistical advantage. What about weaker monsters? Against a monster with an armor class of 12, the Longsword would hit 19 times out of 20 for 19 hit points of damage. The Saber would hit 15 times out of 20 for 18 points of damage. Again, the Longsword has a +1 advantage over 20 rolls. Considering your character is unlikely to make 20 attack rolls in a session the advantage realized is minuscule.
After all that, what’s the difference between the two again?
The Magic Longsword gives you a real statistical bonus that you can immediate employ on every roll. The Saber of Wounding requires luck, rolling an 18 or better, to enjoy its benefit. Even then, its conditional.
Thanks to C.B.