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Cardiology: Curse of the Dwindling

Decision: Should You Play Curse of the Dwindling?


Is there a Mollog? Then, yes.  Are you already playing Cruel Taunt and want more control? Also, yes. Are you playing upgrades/ploys that boost your chance to get Channel results on magic rolls?  Still yes, then.  Otherwise, put in Cruel Taunt first.

Factor: Wizardry

As we've discussed before, the utility of Gambit Spells is tied directly to the likelihood that you'll be able to cast them successfully.  Spells that require 2-Channel are among the more difficult to cast, having an only a 44% chance of success off an unmodified level 2 Wizard.  At the current state in the preview cycle, we haven't seen any warband restricted cards that will help Ylthari cast Dwindling, so she'll be dependent on universal cards to bump her chances of spellcasting successfully.  With a single innate Channel or one of the many "replace-result-with-channel" effects available, Ylthari's chances of successfully casting Dwindling increase to 89%, making it much more attractive.  Simply adding another die to her roll will increase her success chance to 74% - not as effective as a free Channel, but definitely better than her base chance.

Unfortunately, the only universal spellcasting modifier available at this time in Ploy form is Spirit Sacrifice, so you likely won't be able to consistently abuse Dwindling in the very early stages of the game unless you pack spellcasting Upgrades and a way to play them for free. 

Factor: Wow Factors

The first thing that stood out to us about Curse of the Dwindling was that had a couple of unique or nearly-unique features.  These extra rare "wow factors" really make the Dwindling stand out among its peers.

First, Dwindling has an exceptional range.  There are currently no attacks with a range of 5, so Ylthari can cast this spell from relative safety against most models.  If she runs away after casting Dwindling from max range, very few models indeed will be able to engage her after being cursed.  While there are gambits that have an unlimited range characteristic, Dwindling stands out among those that are restricted by range.  When started in an aggressive position (which is viable thanks to her 2-dodge base defense), Ylthari can reach almost the entirety of the enemy board with Dwindling.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, is the duration of effect on Dwindling.  Very few effects in Shadespire have the potential to persist for the entire game.  Cruel Taunt and Abasoth's Withering spring to mind as examples of this kind of duration and - surprise - they're both very popular right now.  While Dwindling does go away if the targeted fighter is taken out of action, it's unlikely that you'll cast Dwindling and then immediately attempt to nuke the same target.  Essentially, Dwindling should be used to drastically reduce the effectiveness of a hard-to-kill target over the game's duration...which brings us to our next point.

Factor: Mollog

It's hard to adequately express how tired we are of having to consider this moldy cretin specifically with every valuation we do.  The meta-deforming power of Mollog is an unequivocal negative on the competitive scene, and we genuinely wish that he would get hit by a bus and never be heard from again. Fortunately, Curse of Dwindling very nearly does just that to the big fungal turd.

In essence, a successful Dwindling on Mollog will drastically reduce his effectiveness, dropping his big club attack to 1-hammer and his spin to either 1- or 2-swords, depending on whether or not he's inspired (is he ever not inspired though?).  Since Dwindling is restricted to the tree-elves, we can look at just how much harder they are for Mollog to kill post-Dwindling.

Gallanghan and Ylthari will benefit the most from Dwindling Mollog, since they both start on 2-die defenses.  On average, Mollog's inspired club does 1.56 and 1.88 damage per swing to the elves, respectively.  Slapping a Curse of Dwindling on the giant, stupid mushroom will reduce those numbers to 0.80 and 1.04 - effectively allowing your Ylthari to survive an additional swing on average and Gallanghan to survive an impressive two additional swings on average.  Your dangle-bros don't benefit as much from Dwindling in this case, due to their lower starting defenses, but they are still both much less likely to die from a single Mollog smash after the spell is cast.

Combining Curse of Dwindling with other Mollog-meta will result in a reduction of the great deathcap into a lowly Toad.  If you can manage to hit Mollog with both a Curse of Dwindling and Cruel Taunt or Frozen in Time, we expect you will probably win that match without much difficulty.  

Factor: Everyone Else

Mollog is obviously the most effective single model in the game right now, but there are literal armies of other guys you also have to worry about.  How good is Dwindling against those other goons?  If you're truly interested in the nitty-gritty of every single attack versus every elf defense, both before and after the Dwindling, boy have I got a spreadsheet for you.  However, if you're a relatively normal human, and you'd rather just get the highlights, we can discuss those here.

In prior articles, we've dabbled with the idea of a "Random-Average Defense;" that is, a defense score that represents the average of all the available models' defenses, weighted for how common they are.  In other words, if you were to roll against a Random-Average Defense, it would essentially show you the chances of success against a randomly chosen model, over the long run.  This isn't a perfect representation of a real game, but as we discovered in analyzing data from Adepticon, it's pretty close, at least in big tournaments.

In the case of Dwindling, we don't need to worry about too many defense scores, as it's restricted to elves.  However, we might be able to use the Random-Average concept to get an idea of just how effective Dwindling is against a randomly chosen attack (once again, weighted by how common they are - 1range/2hammer/2damage being the current reigning king). 

The table below summarizes the results.  A few notes: the first two number columns represent the damage output of a Random-Average attack against a given elf; the third number column is the difference pre-and post-Dwindle; and the fourth column is the number of additional Random-Average attacks that model can survive after the attacker is Dwindled.  There is some rounding going on for readability - don't freak out; the full spreadsheet is available on request for those of you who must know down to the thousanth of a point of damage just how effective the imaginary Random-Average fighter is against your elven princes and princesses.

Ahnslain (uninsp)0.990.660.332
Ahnslain (inspired)0.790.500.302

Summary: Dwindling really does drastically reduce the effectiveness of a single fighter (assuming that fighter initially rolls more than 1 die on their attacks).  If your enemy is largely dependent on one or two strong fighters to take out your army, Curse of the Dwindling will throw a giant sized elf-stick into the spokes of their Huffy.

Alternate Path: Cruel Taunt

Cruel Taunt and Curse of the Dwindling are comparable in many ways.  Both cards affect only a single model, and both (ostensibly) reduce that model's effectiveness.  Cruel Taunt is slightly more likely to work in an unmodified case (50% vs. 44.4%), but there aren't currently any ways to improve the chances of Taunt going off.  On the upside, Cruel Taunt isn't restricted by range.

 There are currently 104 cases to consider regarding Cruel Taunt and attacks.  Of those cases, 2 attacks (1.92%) are completely worthless (against the Horrors).  An additional 32 (30.76%) attacks are not affected by Cruel Taunt at all regarding base accuracy or damage, while 32 (30.76%) attacks are affected by Cruel Taunt in exactly the same way that they would be by Dwindlnig.  24 (23.07%) attacks stay just as accurate after being Cruel Taunted, but lose a damage - a difficult thing to compare to Dwindling, but notable.  Finally, 8 (7.69%) attacks lose both accuracy and damage, and 6 (5.76%) attacks get removed entirely.  

It's worth noting that Cruel Taunt does a bunch of things other than affect attack accuracy and damage directly.  It will often remove Cleave or Knockback and will occasionally reduce range, remove critical abilities, or remove rerolls.  Additionally, Cruel Taunt can affect things that aren't tied to attacks at all: wounds, defense scores, movement, and abilities!  Because of this, in most cases, Cruel Taunt will probably do more than  Curse of the Dwindling.

However, there are some cases where Dwindling will be better than Cruel Taunt.  The most obvious one is when a model isn't inspired and is unlikely to inspire.  Additionally, there are a few models that don't actually gain much from inspiring: Grawl and Arnulf spring to mind.  In some senses, the Farstriders dangle-bros fit both of these categories: they don't gain much from inspiring outside of additional defense dice, and they are unlikely to inspire.  In these cases, Dwindling will gain you more than Cruel Taunt.

However, when viewed in aggregate, Cruel Taunt is probably better in most cases, particularly early game.  There's no rule that you can't play them both, though (and make Mollog very, very sad).


Curse of the Dwindling is a solid spell choice for the wood-elves, and in some cases will prove absolutely devastating to your opponent.  It's duration and exceptional range put it head and shoulders above several other options for debuffing your opponent's guys.  However, Cruel Taunt is probably a better option in general - though there are plenty of cases where the effects of the two cards will essentially be the same.


  1. by saying 44% for you successfully casting the spell are you also taking into account a critical counts as a success?


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