The Raw Truth of Traits

Guest Writer Donny “Spirit” shares his initial insights on a comprehensive analysis of Traits in AHLCG!

One of the great aspects of Arkham Horror: The Card Game is, for me, the immersion and theme that’s constantly present. A gravedigger that recurs cards as a gimmick, a magnifying glass that gives you more insight or even trains that get sucked into a portal where you have to either run or die. I feel that this is something we can all agree on. However, one of the aspects that isn’t discussed often enough, in my opinion, is the traits. The rules state that traits are there for theme only and have no inherent effect on the game, which might be true. Even though traits don’t have an inherent effect, a lot of cards actually reference traits: deckbuilding rules for each investigator tell you which traits they can take, some cards don’t work on Elite enemies and some cards only function on certain traits, such as Logical Reasoning on Terror-cards and Custom Ammunition on Firearm and Monster-cards. So, I started to wonder, what is in a trait? How many statistics can I squeeze out of them? Do some traits mean something? Which one is the most common? So, with a multitude of questions, I started my trait-journey.

In this article I will present my findings, ranging from the locations to the weaknesses, from the Core Set to Return to the Path to Carcosa and The Blob That Ate Everything. First, however, as any ‘scientist’ should in data analysis, I will report my methods. Spreadsheets was my go-to-tool for this task. I took all the cards that are currently released, which includes Return to Path to Carcosa and The Blob That Ate Everything, and noted down their traits. If a card had multiple traits I made a separate row for each. So a Machete used three rows: one each for Item, Weapon and Melee. If I were to then add a Knife, that would result in three new rows, even though they’re the same traits as Machete. The columns consist of a trait, what kind of card it is and which set it is from. Duplicates only count once, meaning that even though there are five copies of Whippoorwill, it still counts as just one Creature. No other shenanigans. Just plain and simple.

But what would an article about a game be without a game? So before I actually present my findings, I would like to share some questions that I asked myself – some trivia, if you will. How many you can get correct! If you don’t feel like reading all my findings or rummaging through it to find the answers, I will post the answers at the bottom for your leisure:

1. What is the most common trait?
2. How many traits only appear once? Which ones are they?
3. What is the highest number of traits on a card? Which card is this?
4. What is the most common Location trait?
5. What is the most common Enemy trait?
6. What is the most common Guardian/Seeker/Rogue/Mystic/Survivor trait?
7. Which deluxe box introduced how many new traits? How many weren’t reused in later cycles?

General Findings

Let’s kick things off with looking at some global findings. Across the entirety of the game, I wrote down 2,547 rows of traits. These aren’t single traits, though. The Machete took up three rows, but the .45 Automatic would also take up three rows, even though there are two common traits (Item and Weapon) between them. Over these 2,547 rows there were a total of 188 different traits. Which means that on average each trait shows up 13-14 times. Averages don’t mean anything on their own, but I still wanted to report it.

Amongst all these traits, there are only three that show up on over 100 cards. The number three spot goes to Humanoid with 112 cards. Second place is Monster with 115 cards. Finally, the crown goes to Item with a grand total of 164 cards: 164 different Items in the game! The common thing between these three traits is that they are (almost) never alone. Most enemies that are Humanoid have, for instance, a Cultist trait, while most Items have a classification, like Weapon, Tool or Charm.

Enemies are different in the sense that the most common trait besides these two (Humanoid and Monster) isn’t a description of the actual enemy. With a display of 76 cards, the Elite trait is number three for Enemies. Considering that the Elite trait is probably the trait with the most impact on the actual game and that (almost) all enemies either have a Monster or Humanoid trait, I will look for the next most common trait. Which would be the Cultist trait, which shows up 51 times. Probably not that unexpected now that I think about it.

There are a plethora of items. Before I started this list, I was thinking that Relics would be the most common Item card, since they not only show up in Player Cards, but also in Encounter cards as rewards for scenarios. However, I was mistaken, with 47 cards the Weapons take the number one spot. Relics are a solid number two with 44 cards, though. So who knows, maybe a future expansion could make Relics the king again!

I was kind of surprised by the Locations. I noticed that a lot of the locations from earlier campaigns didn’t have a trait. It wasn’t until The Forgotten Age that most locations acquired a trait. The most common location trait in The Forgotten Age is Ancient with 54 locations. However, the crown goes to Otherworld, which shows up 55 times across all cycles. It appears from The Dunwich Legacy to The Circle Undone.
Lastly we will take a quick gander at the treacheries. I’ve mentioned Logical Reasoning before and how it synergises with Terror cards. Luckily for this card, Terror is the most common Treachery trait with 60 cards. It’s also miles ahead of the runner-up, which consists of 36 Hex cards.

What about the rarest traits? Before I started this list I was expecting maybe 10-15 cards that have a unique trait, meaning a trait that only shows up a single time. However, I was wrong! At time of writing this, there are 25 cards that have unique trait. I asked this question in the above quiz, but I won’t post a list of the traits here (look at the end of the article). However, here are some interesting facts I found. Of these 25, 8 were tied to Locations and 3 were on Investigators. Shantak is also one of these sole traits, but I expect to see more of these in The Dream-Eaters cycle.

Another interesting finding was that there are several cards with 4 traits. For instance, the Chicago Typewriter (Item, Weapon, Firearm, Illicit) and Josef Meiger (Humanoid, Cultist, Silver Twilight, Elite). I anticipated that 4 would be the highest number of traits on a single card, but surprisingly he highest number of different traits on a card is 5 different traits. Can you guess which cards they are (Hint: there are 4 of them, all from the same scenario)? These are the Heretics from Wages of Sin. These have the Monster, Geist, Witch, Spectral and Elite traits!

A Class On Its Own

Now that we have the knowledge of the whole card pool, let’s take a closer look at the player cards, especially the classes of the investigators. As some of you may know, there is a single strange card in the collection that lacks a trait: “If it bleeds…”. Should it be Spirit or Tactic? It’s hard to know! In my opinion, this was an oversight, but it’s still worth pointing out. But what are the most common traits in each investigator class?

With holding the record for most common trait, it won’t be a shock that Item is the most common trait in Guardians with 25 cards. The second spot goes to Weapon with 18 cards, a potent mix of Melee and Firearms. Lastly Tactic shows up 17 times; maybe it will claim the number two spot in The Dream-Eaters. I also found it worth mentioning that Spirit shows up 11 times. Somewhere, somewhen, Calvin is content.

I was afraid there would be a pattern where each class would have Item at the top (with an obvious exception), but Seekers already broke this theory. There are 29 Insight cards in the Seeker pool, which is just slightly higher than the 26 Items. I am very happy to report these findings. Just hitting the podium with bronze are the 10 Talents.

Rogue, not unsurprisingly, also has its own winner, namely the 21 Illicit cards, beating the very close 20 Items. Just like the Seekers, Rogues have some great Talents with 13 cards! Can you imagine an investigator with access to all of these Talents?

Probably the least unexpected of the most common traits is the one we find in Mystics. Spell easily claims the top spot with a whopping 43 sightings. Again, though, silver goes to Item with a meager 15 cards. The bronze goes to the 7 Relics. To be fair, I was expecting these to show up as Seeker cards, possibly due to Ursula’s theme.

Lastly, we have the Survivors, who, sadly, also have the most Items – namely 19 of them! In a fun twist, their number two are the 14 Fortune cards, which are amongst my favorite cards. The number three spot, again, goes to Talents, with 10 present in their collection.

The Cycle of Cards

To top it all off, I want to close with looking at the cycle-specific traits. There have been a multitude of diverse traits, as we have seen. It is a shame that some of them only show up in one specific cycle. Let’s take a quick look at all the cycles, including The Core Set, but excluding The Circle Undone (because there haven’t been any new released cycles yet), to see which traits have been abandoned in the future releases.

The Core Set (or The Night of The Zealot) introduced 53 traits. Of these, four were on locations. As a general rule, I will not be considering location traits for future releases, because most of these (excluding three) only appear in their own cycle. This gives us a total of 49 traits on encounter and player cards. I am happy to report that all of these traits have been used in future products.

The Dunwich Legacy gave us 29 traits. Five locations were amongst these, totaling the new traits at 24. 4 of these haven’t been used until this point. These were Hunter, Instrument, Report and Shoggoth. Furthermore, I don’t doubt we will see another Reporter, once Darrell Simmons, the photographer, is revealed.

The Path to Carcosa presented 26 traits, of which there were 7 locations. Of the remaining 19 traits, there were 3 traits never to be seen again. I feel all three have the potential to show up in future cycles: Composure, Desperate and Patron.

Lastly we have The Forgotten Age. The Forgotten Age had 23 new traits. There were 12 locations with traits. As pointed out earlier, The Forgotten Age is the cycle where almost all of the locations started to have traits. Of the 11 remaining traits we haven’t seen 4 of these up until now. Some of these traits, on the other hand, still have a lot of potential, like Augury and Flora, while Eztli and Wayfarer are pretty tied to The Forgotten Age.
As mentioned above, we won’t take a look at The Circle Undone, since these traits haven’t had the chance yet to properly make a comeback. But who knows? A future article might take a look at these.

So, these were my findings. Of course, there were more statistics and facts I found here and there. But I’ve covered a lot of ground already. Maybe I’ll revisit this topic in the future and take a more detailed look at some of these. What are your reactions to this data? What are your trait-related follow-up questions?

 I would like to thank you for reading this far in the article and truly hope you enjoyed it. As promised, here are the answers to the questions posted at the start of the article!

– Donny “Spirit”

1. The Item trait shows up 164 times.
2. 25 Traits only appear once: ???, Artist, Boat, Boon, Campsite, Circle, Clairvoyant, Dhole, Eldritch, Familiar, Flora, Footwear, Future, Government, Gug, Historical Society, Hunter, Instrument, Reporter, River, Salem, Shantak, Shuggoth, Tentacle and Tindalos.
3. The highest number of traits on one card is 5 in Heretic from Wages of Sin, namely: Monster, Geist, Witch, Spectral and Elite.
4. The most common location trait is Otherworld across all cycles. Ancient is number two, which is only in The Forgotten Age.
5. The most common traits on enemies are: Monster (115), Humanoid (109), Elite (76) and Cultist (51)
6. The most common traits in the classes are:
Guardians: Item (27), Weapon (18), Tactic (17)
Seeker: Insight (29), Item (26), Talent (10)
Rogue: Illicit (21), Item (20), Talent (13)
Mystic: Spell (43), Item (15), Relic (7)
Survivor: Item (19), Fortune (14), Talent (10)
7. The number of traits introduced by cycle, including those that weren’t reused in the future (excluding locations), is:
Core: Introduced 53 traits. 0 weren’t reused.
Dunwich: Introduced 29 traits. 4 weren’t reused.
Carcosa: Introduced 26 traits. 3 weren’t reused.
TFA: Introduced 23 traits. 4 weren’t reused.
Due to being the latest installment, we didn’t look at TCU (yet).

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