Quick note on Hemlock Vale Spoiler Roundups

Hey. As it turns out, the first people end up having the Hemlock Vale investigator boxes in their hands and we have scans of everything trickling in.

I will keep the Visual Spoiler updated as close as possible. At time of writing, it has all of Guardian and Seeker and a couple extra rogue and mystic cards.

I’d expect the full spoiler to be completed some time tomorrow. So keep an eye on the Visual Spoiler 🙂 (EDIT: It’s complete.)

Instead of making further spoiler roundups i have started on doing a big investigator expansion review, similar to the ones i have for the other boxes – but of course in a Hot Take edition. We’ll see how long that takes me to complete, but i hope to get it out by the weekend!

Anything You Can Do, Better – A Winifred Primer

Intro

Thinking about what Deck Tech to do next, i figured… why not just take my actual favorite investigator with my actual favorite deck for them and talk about that? So here’s Winifred, the rogue extraordinaire who can do whatever anyone else can – except better.

As seems to be the case on this site more often recently, this sort of escalated a bit, so it went from just a deck discussion to a more fleshed out primer for the deck with a bunch of options discussed. I’ll use my deck as a guideline and will give you 5 versions of the deck. One each at 0XP, 10XP, 20XP, 30XP and finally 40XP. So you got your upgrade path spelled out for you, options included.

So if you’ve been looking at Skids and Jenny and just haven’t found a reason to care about green cards before, let’s just get on a train with the poster child for the rogue playstyle where simple success is not enough. We aim higher. Oh, now that you got in, I should also mention that this train does not have any brakes. Sit tight.

Winifred Habbamock

So what’s the deal with Wini, then? The cool thing about her is that she can really do all the things competently. Similar to fellow skill based investigator Amanda, Wini can use her skill cards to accomplish whatever is needed at the time, no matter if its fighting, investigating, passing treacheries, evading – if it requires a skill test, Wini can handle it. That does include willpower tests, by the way. Unlike Amanda who starts with a round of 2s in her statline, Wini gets 3s and a 5 in her active stats though. And Wini will add two cards worth of icons to any test on top of that. In exchange she doesn’t get the extreme power spikes that Amanda gets every couple rounds from using a Deduction or Vicious Blow three times …. but don’t worry about power spikes, she gets her own. Yep, Wini spikes. In fact it’s pretty much all she does.

Her investigator ability gives her the freedom to toss two cards into any test and still only be down 1 card (in theory… we’ll get to that in a bit and then have a laugh about it). In fact, from a card economy point of view, committing the second card is free and you’d be a fool not to do it. The amazing thing about her ability and what really unlocks Winifred is that her ability is not limited to once per round. It’s once per test. How many tests can you take in a round? That’s how many extra cards you get to draw. It’s not rare for Wini to draw 4 cards per turn … and as always with her you can aim higher.

She also gets one of the best Elder Sign abilities in the game. If you draw it, you usually just pick up all your committed cards and commit them again next test. It’s not a thing to rely on of course, but the Elder Sign is good enough on its own to offset the faceplant potential that the tentacle token represents.

Continuing with the health and sanity, there is still only upsides here. She has evenly distributed stats, so she isn’t vulnerable to anything in particular. She even gets a bonus stat points over most other investigators like all of the mono-class starter investigators do.

Her deck size is 30 and we can expect to churn through this roughly every 5-7 rounds without outside help.

Her biggest downside is her deckbuilding of course. She’s limited to green cards. Luckily, Winifred is extremely good at making use of rogue specific themes like oversuccess and the skills she has available to her are excellent enablers for her investigator ability. I will also just say here that due to her blasting through her deck so quickly, she is able to use Versatile with very little downside. Versatile for skills is a bit iffy, but if you wanted to do something like a Dream-Enhancing Serum or Occult Lexicon, i wouldn’t judge you at all.

Her signature nukes a test. I suggest not being too precious about it, keeping the cards flowing by committing two per test is more important than holding onto her signature for the perfect opportunity. That being said, it does enable all sorts of oversuccess triggers, it does secure willpower tests and is just generally awesome.

The weakness is a whole lot of nothing. We often test at skill values where a -1 hardly matters. And if you end up actually caring about it, just take an investigate with this committed against your location and basically just discard your weakness for an action. With the amount of cards we draw we also don’t care about missing one card draw here. Since we are cycling through our deck two to three times per scenario, our random basic weakness could be an actual problem that requires solving… but this weakness is laughable. Or maybe that’s just Arrogance on my part.

The Golden Rule

Before i get to the actual deck and the card choices, I’d like to hammer one thing home, the guiding principle that made (at least my version of) Wini click for me. As far as I am concerned, the following could be printed on her investigator card and it wouldn’t make a lick of difference to how i play her.

If you can commit at least two cards to a skill test, do that. No holding back. No exceptions.

I am serious. There really are no brakes on this train. With every test we want to get as much out of it as possible… which will in turn give us the necessary means to pass the next test. And the one after that. And each time we gain more and more incremental value on the side. Sometimes its extra resources. Sometimes its a full action. Sometimes all of it. There will be two types of situation: Either we do have our key assets in play. In which case we overcommit because want to trigger oversuccesses to get what those assets offer. Or we don’t have them in play, so we overcommit to draw more cards to find those assets. Always keep the deck churning. You’re engaged with a rat and are considering punching it with fight 3 vs difficulty 1? Who are you, Skids? Throw an Opportunity and a Courage on there, blast the rat, draw a card for your ability, another from the cigarette case, return Opportunity to your hand and look for the next test to obliterate.

This seems not sustainable at first, but actually building the deck and playing her shows that it very much is. Cigarette case and just your regular draw fuel you as a baseline. You can run a good amount of skills that replace themselves, either by drawing a card afterwards or returning to your hand. Some even draw extra. Some commit an extra skill from the deck when played. And each time you do use one of these skills, you win a little bit more. Soon you’ll be discarding down to 8 during upkeep despite the fact that you just committed six cards to three tests over the course of the turn.

Sure, you’ll draw the tentacle once or twice per scenario. But the Elder Sign makes up for that. And with the amount of value you are constantly getting literally everywhere, you can even laugh off drawing the tentacle with Anything You Do, Watch This and Opportunist committed.

The deck on ArkhamDB

Here’s links to the decklists on arkhamdb.com. As i mentioned earlier, there are five lists, one at level 0, then at 10, 20, 30 and finally 40.

Anything you can do, better – 0XP

Anything you can do, better – 10XP

Anything you can do, better – 20XP

Anything you can do, better – 30XP

Anything you can do, better – 40XP

Level Zero

Okay, so the level zero deck already has 3XP in it, but with our soak being what it is and how we are perfectly able to handle treacheries, we might as well make use of In The Thick of It. It comes at very little cost here and offers us access to some very important pieces that improve what would otherwise be our level zero by an insane amount, considering that it’s just 3XP.

So let’s just go over all of this, card by card.

2x Thieves Kit, 1x Lockpicks: We aren’t the main seeker, but we do want to be able to pick up clues when there’s no fires to put out. Thieves Kit is a lot better than Lockpicks for us here, because for one, it doesn’t exhaust. But what’s more important, we can’t commit agility icons to a Lockpicks test. That does mean we can’t throw Watch This or Man Dex into it which is annoying. Still, it’ll do for now.
Options: Turning your agility into your active stat is a key Wini thing and Thieves Kit is simply the best tool for the job. It also gives a whole lot of money which shouldn’t be underestimated! The Kit quickly pays for itself and then also for a dog. I think it’s not up for discussion. Lockpicks is much more of a flexible slot and i could see running a second Pilfer in its stead for example. Or just completely ditch it and play an extra skill or whatever.

4x Sled Dog, 1x Mauser: We aren’t the main fighter, but we do want to be able to defeat most enemies we draw ourselves so the fighter can care about the big stuff. Mauser and Sled Dog both exhaust after attacking, but as one of the best evaders in the game we aren’t bothered by this. In the level zero deck, we can have only two dogs out at the same time, but a weapon that attacks for 2 damage at +2 fight without ammo and without taking up a hand slot while providing soak is still excellent. Oh, and you can use them for movement as well. Getting two of them into play is absolutely trivial for us. Extra dogs can be used as fight icons until we get our Charisma (spoiler: it’s the first thing we buy after what you see above).
Options: It really can’t be overstated how good the Sled Dog is for this deck. It starts at “better than any pistol you could use” and ramps up to nonsensical levels of impact once you get your Charisma. Personally I consider any list that doesn’t have them to be inferior but if you are really adverse to them, replace them with a second Mauser, a second Backstab and a copy each of Gregory Gry and Lonnie Ritter.

1x Disguise: Disguise is a great way to handle non-Elite enemies that don’t just die to 2 damage. Tying something down for two turns buys you a lot of time. Note that you can even use this on Elites as well, perfectly viable just to start at agility 7 before commits.
Options: Nothing does Disguise as well as Disguise does. Slip Away can be an alternative if you don’t think you will be evading often enough to be worth the upfront cost on Disguise.

1x Backstab, 1x Pilfer: Burst damage and burst clues, both with double icons making them flexible commits as well. Don’t commit Pilfer though, it’s much too good for that. You have only one of these in the deck, but you can expect to play them two or three times per scenario anyways. With Pilfer, that’s a lot of clue flexing done already.
Options: I think these are both essential. Getting to do things with agility is fantastic for Wini. Still, even with the surprising amount of resources this deck churns out, the resource cost is not nothing so i included only one of each.

3x Easy Mark: The deck is somewhat hungry for resources and i find Easy Mark to be absolutely essential for Wini to afford her things. Getting this into the level zero deck was an absolute priority for me because it is just so much better than the next best alternatives at level zero. Faustian Bargain gives us curses – while we test high enough to blast past them, they can and will cost you LCC activations or oversuccess actions from Quick Thinking. I am really not a fan of that. Emergency Cache doesn’t have icons, that’s a big no-no for Wini. Sneak By is awkward to use, but at least it’s a step above ECache. Meanwhile Easy Mark gives us money, which we care about. It gives us cards, so the train doesn’t stop. And it has two excellent icons for when we need them. With our card draw, playing two or even three of them in one action is also a common occurence. It’s an extraordinarily good card for Wini.
Options: Again, essential. The only discussion worth having is over if you should get them from your Thick of It XP or not. So let’s talk about options for those 3XP. The first one is Charisma which would enable your full Sled Dog team right from the start. That’s certainly powerful and if you anticipate a lot of 3 and 4 health enemies in scenario 0 it’s a real contender. I don’t see any other reason not to run Easy Marks from the start. If you somehow don’t (because you start Charisma or something else you brewed up, or maybe you don’t want to or can not run In the Thick of It) play Faustians for a scenario then immediately spend your first XP on these after that scenario, no matter what.

2x Watch This: More money. Doesn’t quite have a wild icon which ends up being relevant for Lockpicks and basic intellect tests. By now you probably aren’t surprised to hear that i believe that a true Wini player always pays 3 resources into this, no matter the odds or if it’s your last 3 resources. This by the way, is my favorite card in the game. My favorite card in my favorite deck, with my favorite investigator. This really is a self-indulgent deck tech.
Options: I don’t see any. You do need money, you need reliable skills. Watch This is where those two things meet and the only way to be more perfect would have been a wild icon.

2x Daredevil: Automatically triggers your investigator ability while only costing you one card from your hand. Finding Savant with it stinks a bit, but it’s still a Courage that drew you a card in that case. As far as worst cases go, that’s pretty sweet. It also has recently been buffed by the taboo list, so now when it reveals your weakness, you draw yet another card. Noice!
Options: I don’t see an option here either. In Wini, they add a wild while drawing two or three cards, one of which gets committed to the test. That’s just incredible.

2x Manual Dexterity: Unlike any other event or skill in the list, this only commits to one type of test, but since its agility and we end up using that a lot we absolutely have to play these. A skill that draws a card is magnificent for us and keeps the train ahead of schedule.
Options: Not really? At some point we want the upgraded version anyways, so we might as well start out with the core version.

2x Opportunist: So, success by 3 is not a given. But this returns to your hand often enough to be worth it. That wild icon makes it a great enabler, something to just throw into a test together with whatever else you actually wanted to do to get your card draw on. If you get it back, awesome. If not… doesn’t matter, had card draw.
Options: The list of skills for Wini is really tight and cutting stuff somewhere is incredibly difficult. Opportunist is quite good for her, but i could see arguments that a +3 oversuccess is too unreliable. You could get away with playing only one or even zero of them if your replacement is particularly great.
So, since we finally found a skill that is not untouchable, let’s talk about options for the skill package.
Option 1: Nimble. A very good skill and the one that i would most like to fit in here. The reason i didn’t is that it only commits to agility tests and its reward is not always desirable. It is also sometimes a disappointing result to get for your Daredevil. But holding one of these in your hand and using it at the right time is incredible. Think about swapping an Opportunist or Quick Thinking for a Nimble, it’s a tough call. I don’t think a second Nimble is all that good though.
Option 2: Momentum. Will go into the deck later, but if you don’t think you want Savant, they could be an early pickup. I don’t think they are important quite yet though.
Option 3: Three Aces. Even after the taboo that removes them from the game, these are quite cool. Wini has the card draw to assemble the combo and actually can use them just as wild icons. The question is what to cut for them. You need an XP, so one Savant has to give at least from the start deck. And after that it’s either the Quick Thinkings, the Opportunists, the Courages or one of two of these. Reasonable enough.

2x Quick Thinking: At its absolute base level, Quick Thinking gives you an action which you can use to draw a card so it replaces itself. However, it’s much better than that of course. An extra action translates to an extra test… and as we established we get more than just a card out of that.
Options: I think QT is a cut above the Opportunist and even Courage and i would call it the best of the three “touchable” skills. I would still be very hesitant to replace them, they can really solve a lot of problems for you and get you out of hairy situations.

2x Savant: Alongside Easy Mark, the pair of Savants are what you want to get as a priority for your In the Thick of It XP. While they technically can be committed to any test just to keep the train going, its real value is as an encounter defense of course. To defeat cards such as Frozen in Fear, our deck has Savant and Anything You Do as the first line of defense which coupled with the obligatory second (or third… ) skill card will get even our base willpower of 1 up to “anything but the autofail” levels so this sort of thing doesn’t stop us.
Options: Look, willpower is a problem. That too is part of the rogue lifestyle. Savant is the concession to it. I would usually eye Counterespionage (or maybe even You Handle This One) as a reasonable way to deal with that sort of thing, but with Wini why do things with events when a skill can do the same while also feeding the machine.

2x Unexpected Courage: The Old Reliable. Commits to anything, solid skill boost. No special frills, just a nice security blanket.
Options: Reliable is good, but if you want to be greedy, then running a skill with extra effects on top of an icon can prove superior.
If i had to cut cards from the three non-essential skills (Opportunist, Courage, Quick Thinking), i would first cut a Courage, then a Opportunist, then the other Courage, then a Quick Thinking, then the other Opportunist and finally the second Quick Thinking. I find it hard to imagine getting to the point where i am cutting six cards out of this skill package, but who knows what future sets bring!

How to play the deck

Playing this Wini list is super simple. Do whatever is needed at the time. If there’s a big scary Elite, maybe go first and evade it. Otherwise let the fighter go first if they think they can clean house. Leaving you to pick off stragglers or small fry. Don’t need to fight? Pick up some clues. You don’t have clue compression, but you do have skill values that beat those difficult 4-6 shroud locations that often pop up with just 1 clue per investigator on them and that might give your seeker trouble.
Above all, observe the Golden Rule. As many tests as possible and always double commit. Two sled dogs should hit the table very soon, turn 3 should be no problem at all. The Mauser is a backup weapon. If you don’t need it because you got your dogs, it has a valuable agility icon that can feed many tests. The card you want to see most in the beginning is Lucky Cigarette Case. Hard mulligan for it. Then just start picking up more an more steam, and as soon as you start net gaining cards for taking tests, start crafting your hand to be ready for anything.
The only thing that can realistically stop you is the autofail. Our plan is to accumulate so much value with each test that faceplanting here and there is easy to compensate. That being said, there will be times where that damn red token hurts. Maybe you are still only spinning up or maybe you are blessed by Yog-Sothoth that day and draw multiple autofails back to back. A Winifred with an empty hand is miserable. Instead of trying to halfass things, possibly even failing tests because you decide to just test agiity vs shroud with your Thieves Kit and nothing (or worse, a single card) thrown into it, consider this: You can sit there for a turn, just draw three cards, then restart the engine on the next turn with 5 in your hand. This will cost you some time there, but at least you are gaining momentum again afterwards. It’s going to happen to you once per campaign. Twice, if the Elder Gods are particularly interested in you that day. It’s nothing to worry about, it’s the price for just running peak into peak into peak for the rest of the game.

Alright, let’s check out how to upgrade the deck.

Scenario 1&2: The deck at 10XP

Since we started with 3XP, it’s only a 7XP jump to this first breakpoint. For some campaigns, that is attainable in the first scenario. We pick up two absolute essentials here, spending 6XP on Charisma to fully enable the Sled Dogs to go super saiyan and on Lucky Cigarette Case(3), which will allow us to almost pick and choose a card each turn.
The final XP picks up Stylish Coat here. You can wait a bit on this one, actually it’s not an essential card at all and you can probably find good alternatives for it. I do like its interplay with both Mauser and Thieves Kit though and you will get good value out of it.
The card i am cutting here for Coat is Lockpicks. It was only a backup Thieves Kit, i have no desire to upgrade it either.
Options: Charisma and LCC(3) are essential. Stylish Coat isn’t but you will want to work towards shoring up your economy even more to enable some later things and for just a single XP it can do a lot for you down the line even if it’s not super necessary right now.

Scenario 3&4: The deck at 20XP

The next step in our evolution is giving Backstab and Pilfer their “return on oversuccess” feature so we have an outlet for the money we are generating. How this deck operates now is using your money at first for setting up, which of course requires a decent stack to get your dogs, LCC, Thieves Kit etc. running. But after that, you mostly run on skills. And skills don’t cost anything. Meanwhile, your Kits, Mauser and Coat even refund themselves within short time. So those resources you gain without actually having to give up much for it from stacked Easy Marks and Watch This start accumulating. Pilfer and Backstab give you something to funnel this cash into progression and killing.
The other four XP bump Manual Dexterity up to level 2. The triple agility icons on it help you completely secure the oversuccesses on Pilfer and Backstab and getting to draw even more cards is just going to be sweet.
At this point your deck is pretty much done. We are going to spruce up the skills slightly and add some cool stuff to get to 100% capability faster, but at this point you should already be crushing it.
Options: I believe these upgrades are all essential and i don’t really see pushing them back in favor of coming upgrades either. In fact, the only reason that Stylish Coat made it before is to keep the numbers at nice multiples of 10. In actuality, i would probably do the upgrades to Man Dex first. Then the Pilfer. Then the Coat. Then the Backstab. Thanks to the dogs, the Backstab has a little less priority than the rest. It mostly exists to either stab something while you didn’t get your third dog yet (so like turn 4 or 5), if you autofailed your dog attack or if you really want to nuke something.
Since these were all upgrades, we don’t have to consider options for cuts either.

Scenario 5&6: The deck at 30XP

With Backstab now upgraded, i feel like it’s time to ditch that Mauser and get an actually good weapon into this deck. You won’t need the Beretta every time, but you now have it available to you and it allows you to take over as the main fighter for a while. You’ll pretty much always be plinking things for 3 damage with this as you’ll most often be in double digit skill values. It takes over the handslots, but until you emptied the gun you will have found one of your Thieves Kits again – and you can always just Pilfer things while holding the gun.
I am getting the first Momentum into the deck here. This skill does some nice things for you, like enabling a basic investigate after reducing the difficulty to 0 or set up a nice oversuccess for your LCC(3). Ideally, both. I am cutting a Courage to make room for it here.
Hot Streak(2) and Thieves Kit(3) then cross into luxury territory. The deck works just fine, we have all our tools, all we are doing in the end is improving the money situation even further. The order for these is pretty much completely in the air. Hot Streak is both the highest immediate impact and thanks to your deck cycling two or three times, you’ll get to play it a couple of times. Sadly its icon is complete garbage… to the point where i might want to go to Hot Streak(4) just to turn it into a wild icon.
Options: The Beretta is a bit of a personal preference and i could understand if you are dubious about the double hand slot on it. Lupara makes a fine impression of it if you just want to nail some big elites sometimes, but doesn’t allow you to go into main fighter mode the same way that the Beretta does. Obviously it is not strictly necessary in the first place but i wanted to throw the option out there.
Two copies of Momentum make the way into the deck in total, taking the spot of the Unexpected Courages. I have used these to good effect and i would definitely recommend them, but again – not necessary for how the deck works in the slightest. I could see cutting a Courage and an Opportunist instead of two Courages (and in reality that would probably how i’d do things) but Opportunist is part of the engine so i decided to play it safe here.
Before talking about the final glob of resource enablers, let’s get to the full picture:

Scenario 7&8: The deck at 40XP

This list now has the second Momentum (and loses the second Courage for it) as announced. But more importantly, it throws its final 9XP into two copies of Another Day, Another Dollar and the final Thieves Kit upgrade.
Thieves Kit(3) is pure luxury, but whenever its on the table together with Stylish Coat you will absolutely love it, i promise.
The two Another Day, Another Dollar give you a headstart on your setup. Starting with 9 resources really gets things rolling.
Options: Alright, so the final bit of resource stuff can really be done in whatever order you prefer. Day/Dollar headstarts the setup. Hot Streak peaks your resources. Thieves Kit gradually pays off. By the point you are here to make these decisions you should know what you think you have been missing most because you have already played 5 to 6 scenarios.
Don’t think you need any money at all? Check out All In…

Notable omissions

Here’s a number of cards you might be missing from this list, so let me use this space to talk about a few of them to show up even more options.

“I’ll Take That”: Super solid and i definitely played it in Wini lists before. Even has good icons for her. Couldn’t fit it in here, but it’s a great addition.
.25 Auto: Needs the level 2 upgrade to be worth it – and it is worth it. But i didn’t want to put the XP towards it and knew i’d want to get the Beretta eventually. If you don’t want the Beretta, then taking a .25 or two seems neat. I’d still use the Mauser at level 0, though.
Charon’s Obol: We are running super low on XP here, so i don’t see the need. But sure, Easy Mark + Charon’s Obol is one hell of a 3XP package to get with Thick of It. And you could just put away the extra XP from Obol and treat yourself with a nice little care package of Relic Hunter + Red Clock. Level 5, obviously. Level 2 is for responsible folk that don’t value excess for its own sake.
Overpower/Perception: Ah, i wish i could. The whole “draw a card” thing on a skill is just fantastic. But i sacrifice them here on the altar of The Golden Rule to make sure we have as many wild icons as we can get. If your Wini deck is less flexy than mine and leans harder towards either fighting or seeking, then pack the appropriate Core skill!
Nimble: Already talked about before. Great card, fantastic good case. But only a single agility icon and somewhat awkward to Daredevil into on random investigate tests.
Hatchet Man: Another narrow skill that awkwardly turns up when we play Daredevil.
Three Aces: Daredevil again makes this one a bit more awkward than you want to. Aces rewards keeping skills back in your hand and playing conservatively. We want to feed a giant hungry machine that chuggs cards all day and spits out more cards, not assemble some combo.
Copycat: Dependent on what your teammates play, so i left it out here. It’s certainly good in some situations, though. Since you can switch between roles fairly easily, you can make use of a wide variety of skills that other people run… even if it’s just their Courages.
All In: It removes itself now, but that’s fine. A Courage that draws 5 cards is nuts. Costs 5XP of course, but we are running low XP enough that you might get there.
Opportunist(2): I am honestly a bit lukewarm on this upgrade. Sure, it helps and if you have the spare XP to burn go ahead. But i don’t think it moves the needle all that much on how useful Opportunist is or not. And since i was talking about possibly even cutting one of them from the deck, i didn’t want to give mixed signals here.
Another ally: Through a second copy of Charisma you could play another ally. And there’s a lot of interesting options here, rogue gets amazing allies after all. Something to consider at the stage where your money is set up and you are eyeing All In, Copycat and similar options. You could just drop 6XP on Charisma + Delilah. Or go big with Chuck, making your Pilfering fast. With Wini, there’s always room to grow, we don’t care about ceilings or boundaries.

Closing thoughts

And that’s Winifred. People value Mark Harrigan because he can fight at high skill values while also drawing cards and passing random tests on all four skills.

Wini can do what he can.

Better.


Designing a fan-made Return to the Dreamlands #5: Spin, Spin, Spin the Rotating Spider God

The player cards

I don’t have anything too much to share in terms of changes to things i have shown before so for the first half of this entry, let’s take a look at the player cards before we check out Weaver. Most of these are pretty much done at this point, but let me share a few notes on them.

First off is this group of cards. These are all level zero versions of higher level stuff that i feel like it would be cool to have them available earlier. For Abigail and Empty Vessel the difference to the original card is quite drastic, but considering they are dropped by 4 or 5 levels that seems very appropriate. They are meant to give a taste of the power that the later card you plan to upgrade into holds. There’s no Mystic card here because frankly i didn’t see anything in the Dream-Eaters mystic pool that i wanted to drop to level zero. So let’s check out Mystic next.

Open Gate and Mind’s Eye are both cards that offer a great fantasy but that i usually find to not be quite there when it comes to making it into a deck. Open Gate especially is often hard to justify three spots for when it then still has consistency issues. By giving the option to spend an additional action to chain draw into them, you can use them in a way that is actually more beneficial. Mind’s Eye is a super interesting deck centerpiece but suffered from its limited uses to the point where it still doesn’t allow building around it. By pushing it all the way up to level 5, i can give it the same treatment that FFG gave to Spiritual Resolve, where you can cash in extra copies for more uses. With some extra juice to justify the double arcane slot.

The Hungering Blade hungers for your blood and if you give it (Or the blood of your allies. Or the blood of your leather coat, i guess) you can frontload the Bloodlusts on the Hungering Blade. The cost is high but you can get a 4 damage sword out of it. Thinking about dropping the life cost to 2 per Bloodlust, but only allowing to frontload two or even just one. Basically, what you are seeing here is the eXXXtreme version that still needs to find the correct balance point.
The Crystallizer meanwhile learns to crystallize more than just your events. If you need to discard things to treacheries or as costs for abilities and other cards, then Crystallizer(3) lets you tuck those for extra skill icons as well. This is a bit of a more specialized bonus, but quite potent in the right hands.

Here’s the obligatory extra upgrade for the Researched card of the set. The original upgrades were all quite similar, but i think this one does add a new idea that is worth having around.

Level four Miss Doyle learns two new tricks. For one, she allows you to pick the cat you want to get when she enters play, not get one at random. But more importantly, she adds another option to the lineup. Bastion is a tank, able to shield you from harm.

The original Lucid Dreaming is sadly a bit too safe, it’s numbers are just not what they need to be for the card to be worth playing. By dropping the cost to 1, offering the ability to give it fast and making it search for all copies of a certain card (thus interacting favorably with Myriad) it should be a lot easier to fit into a deck now.
Versatile is a card that i like a whole lot, but getting two of them to fit two copies of a certain card in is usually a huge ask because the second copy is just not as good as the first in most cases. Versatile 5 allows to basically get two Versatiles at once, paying an extra XP to skip the deck size increase on one of them. It’s costly, but certainly powerful.

More than the other player cards, the weaknesses are still very much a work in progress. I am quite happy with Dream-Maze at this point. Basically, it mirrors Luke’s Dream-Gate and traps you in a remote location that instead of connected to everything is connected to nothing. Another investigator has to spend an action to open the way out.
Void-Portal is meant to be a drop-off point for enemies that spawn and then are able to hunt straight into the investigators. The token draw mechanics on it are up for being scrapped, they are just way too random. But the general idea is a location that enemies come from, it’s just still open if that’s any that come from the encounter deck or specific ones. And how the portal is closed.

And that’s it for the player stuff. Let’s head into the finale of Web of Dreams.

Return to Weaver

Weaver of the Cosmos is already one of the best campaign enders. It’s very gimmicky, but that gimmick works just incredibly well.

When thinking about what i want to do with this scenario, there are three things that stand out to me:
– Weaver is on the easy side regarding the doom clock. There is some player count scaling here at work that makes it more difficult in bigger teams, but for 2p, it’s almost trivial. This is mostly because of the doom clock which is very, very swingy. It has to account for the possibility of a doom landing on a location and counting for every agenda. Also, Atlach-Nacha’s final form drops doom when she moves and that movement is very random. The doom counter is dimensioned to leave room for all of this, but rarely will all of these things actually happen. In turn, you will usually find that you are able to finish this scenario before even touching the final agenda.
– Weaver also features the ability to trade clues for 3 damage. That puts seekers in a spot where they are better set up to kill the legs and Atlach-Nacha herself than many fighters are. I don’t think that makes any sense at all.
– The random spider movement from the drawn chaos token sometimes just … stalls out. Drawing zeroes or positive modifiers will have the spider stay frozen, sometimes for multiple turns back to back which is always super awkward. What’s more, bless and curse tokens (especially blesses) sort of break this mechanic.

So let’s try to fix these issues. The doom clock is something that i am hesitant to actually touch, though. I don’t want to change something here with the goal of tightening the scenario up for 2 players only to then break it for 4 players. Instead, i will just take this as extra justification for the change to the “clue to damage” ability on the act:

2 damage for 1 clue is a much more reasonable conversion rate. Since Atlach-Nacha’s parts all scale their health in multiples of 3, this means that Seekers are no longer able to blast away legs while just taking an attack of opportunity or two. The ability is now more useful for finishing off damaged legs or closing out the final confrontation with Atlach-Nacha’s “body”.

The eagle-eyed and attentive reader will also have picked up on the new act cards mentioning something called an “Atlach-Nacha Token Reference”. Well, let’s take a look at that next then:

Now, only the actual “0” token will make Atlach-Nacha just stay in place without doing anything. Any other numbered token will cause movement, positive modifiers however will move her in the other direction. Skulls get treated like additional “2”s. If you pull the Elder Sign, you can manipulate her to your liking, either moving her back, forwards or having her stay in place. If you draw the tablet, that means the Black Cat is on your side and she will potentially help you. The cultist and elder thing will make her stay in place, but either thrash around and hack at the investigators or drop doom, accelerating the agenda. If you pull the tentacle, two of these things happen. Any other token (aiming at bless and curse, but who knows what we get down the line) will be ignored and redrawn.
All of this adds a little bit more bookkeeping to the mythos phase, but will result in a much more dynamic behavior by the big boss spider which i think is very worth it.

Oh, and for the final confrontation I’ll be removing the zeroes from the chaos bag because her just standing there is way too anticlimactic to end on.

Finally, I am adding two copies of Crawling Web to the random Great Web locations to pull from. Between Web-Spinners, Swarm of Spiders, Spider of Leng and the Grey Weavers, these can find a good deal of relevant enemies. Having enemies show up mid-investigator phase creates nice tense moments where plans that were hatched out before need to be adjusted. I like that a lot.

In terms of replacement sets, Weaver uses only two, but they are Ancient Evils and Chilling Cold. Looming Evils and Chilling Blood are the replacements (see their current versions here) and they are quite impactful. The encounter deck is quite focused and i don’t think it’s necessary to mess with it further beyond those two replacements.

All of this together adds up to a significant amount of change to how the scenario plays. And it only takes 6 cards out of the card budget: Scenario Setup, Token Reference, two act cards, 2 Crawling Webs. Overall, i am satisfied with all of this and i would consider Return to Weaver to be pretty much done at this point.

Next up

Dream-Eaters, side A!

Designing a fan-made Return to the Dreamlands #4: Returning to No Return

Intro

After taking a small break for Hemlock Vale related things, let’s get back into figuring out this Dream-Eaters Return thing. Today, i want to go into The Unofficial Return to The Point of No Return, which is the unwieldiest title for a scenario ever. While last weeks look at Waking Nightmare was mostly a status report on what i consider to be pretty much done, URt No Return is a scenario that still requires a fair amount of work on my end and where your input can help a lot. So if you come up with anything interesting for the scenario after reading this article, please let me know.
The other half of today’s article is going to be about how the Unofficial Return box tries to tie the campaigns closer together by introducing some extra payoffs for things that happened on either side of the campaign. Actually, let’s start with that part.

Of Wells, Cats and Cadets

There are basically two things that i had planned for introducing some more inter-connectivity within the campaign. You have actually seen one of those before, in the second article of this dev diary i talked about the Victory Display theme and how i cut those out of the project. Part of that theme were two cards, Guarding Presence and All Alone, that were supposed to increase the depth of the decision around the Black Cat some more. While I did scrap those two cards due to their fiddliness and variance, this leaves two cards in the card budget for the custom expansion that can either go towards something else or towards another attempt at doing something with the Black Cat. Here’s what I currently have in my design file:

One copy of this card would be shuffled into the encounter decks of any scenario past the first one and just give that little bit of extra oomph behind the Black Cat decision. I would put two copies of the card into the set, so that the two campaign halves can still be played simultaneously. But i am by all means not married to this idea yet and could easily see myself using the card slots for something else instead.

What is more set in stone at this point however is that i want there to be something in each campaign side that pays off for a decision or result from the other side. Let me introduce you to Cadet Maheswaran.

You do of course all remember Doctor Maheswaran, who you meet during Waking Nightmare and who, depending on your choices and scenario result, can end up missing, dead or alive. If she ends up alive, she will stay with the investigators that are laying asleep in the hospital and in the original campaign is never heard of again, her campaign log entry not mattering in the slightest. Now, the dreaming investigators from side A will meet Maheswaran during Dark Side of the Moon because they unconsciously pick up on this person that is in a room with them in the physical world while they wander the dreamlands. There is some scenario text in the little booklet of course, but i won’t bore you with my hacky writing here. The gist is that the dreamers, Virgil and Carter run into this woman that like them got lost on the moon. She is part of the crew of one of the many ships around the place, got sent to scout and after getting turned around, ran into the investigators. She suggests joining the group and help them get off this rock.

Aside from being a cool and flashy payoff, she also mirrors slightly what happens in Point of No Return, where the party meets Upton Pickman. I thought giving the other side a story ally as well would be neat. Her abilities are supposed to help with either alarm or the for some investigators quite difficult agility tests in this scenario. The limitation through her health pool is significant but of course healing can help her do more.

That takes care of one side of the campaign, but i also wanted something on the other side. Some sort of payoff in Point of No Return for something that happens in scenario 1 of the other side, Beyond the Gates of Sleep. This ended up being a lot less flashy and much smaller than the whole Maheswaran business, because for one No Return already has a lot going on and you also already have a story ally there so handing out more story assets felt wrong. The only campaign log entry you make in Gates of Sleep is whether you stayed on the path or not and i didn’t want to use that as a trigger because while I do remove the heavy XP penalty for staying on the path (we’ll talk about that in a later post) I do not want to reward it either because frankly it’s kinda boring. So I came up with something completely new.

During Gates of Sleep, you can run into the Wishing Well, which triggers an interlude. Again, i will spare you the details for now, but the idea is that the well calls to the investigators, beckons them to throw something in (a non-signature Item asset card from their hand or play area, to be specific) and make a wish. Throwing the card in will Exile it and make it so that the card can not be re-added to an investigators deck for the rest of that campaign half. They can either refuse for an immediate payoff that helps during Gate of Sleep and the whole thing is done. Or they can throw something in … without getting anything in return there and then. However, during setup of No Return, the Item that was thrown in will fall at the feet of one of the investigators on the other side and they can start with it in play.

So for both sides, there is something in scenario 3 that does something depending on choices made in scenario 1 of the other mini-campaign. I am pretty set on these and response from playtesters has been quite positive. So I don’t think i want to change them anymore, chances are they are going to stay the way they are now (except maybe for some details around how exactly the Wishing Well works). What’s more in the air is the whole deal with the Black Cat. And actually, completely scrapping that idea and using the two cards for something completely different is still on the table. Would just be a shame about that art, I really like it.

The Unofficial Return To The Point Of No Return

Going into the design for this Return scenario, there were two things that I knew i had to do: Fix the Vale of Pnath which gates progress behind several Intellect(4) tests which can actually be an unpassable barrier for some investigators or even groups. Also, people were clamoring for more spiders because aside from a few tar spiders in the end, there wasn’t really anything like that in the scenario. And apparently people like their spiders. I do too, so that’s something to do as well.

Fixing the location is relatively straightforward. Just make it more costly to use events and skills here instead of prohibiting their use completely. Nothing terribly exciting, so let’s move on from that.

Since the two custom Returns to Waking Nightmare and Thousand Shapes both focus hard on the swarming aspect of spiders, i figured that I would use No Return to bridge the gap between those crawlers on the one end of the campaign and the big spider momma on the other side of the campaign. To that end, i threw some monster spiders in here.

Scourge of the Peaks would be in the encounter deck twice, probably not from the start but shuffled in at a later point when you actually put those Vale locations into play. This thing’s textbox is based on the interaction with location traits that is present on a couple of the original scenario’s treacheries. It’s a relatively tough enemy for being non-Elite, i am aiming for a point here where it is a credible threat but doesn’t overshadow the Dhole which is the real star of the show during that point of the scenario.

And then there’s this thing. During the development of the Unofficial Return to Innsmouth, we were joking about how we have all these locations in our design with all these various backsides. Some were Tidal Tunnels, some were regular locations, we had a location with encounter back and some other special locations as well. That whole discussion led to the creation of location weaknesses with player backs which will be on the player side of the URtTDE set, but also to me sneaking an enemy on the back of a location here. The whole Veiled location thing is pretty much predestined for such shenanigans. Now granted, the wording on the Revelation trigger of the Tar Tyrant needs a bit of work, but the idea is that you unveil the Sea of Pitch you just cleared and then – BAM – giant spider! You are pushed back to the Vale of Pnath with the spider in your face. Hilarity ensues.

Between the Tar Tyrant and the two copies of Scourge this adds enough eight-legged menace to the scenario to tide you over till Weaver.

On the side of the encounter deck, Whisper of Hypnos is switched for Song of Hypnos and Ancient Evils is swapped for Looming Evils. Overall, the encounter deck doesn’t really change all that much. Combined with the length of the scenario that means that this is probably the one right now that plays the most like the original. That doesn’t have to be bad, i quite like No Return. But if we can find a way to give it just a bit more spice, that’d be great. Since there is only 5 cards from the card budget allocated towards this scenario for now (1 scenario setup card, Vale of Pnath, Tar Tyrant, 2 Scourges) i could see tossing another 2 or 3 cards its way. Just needs to be a better idea than randomly swapping out a location or two which in my opinion does very little here.

Next Up

And that’s what I have for you today. Looking forward to any comments or insights you might have, maybe we can find something that gives Return to No Return that last kick it needs?
Next time, I will give you an overview of the custom Return to Weaver, a scenario where i used very few cards but for a rather big effect. That’s going to be another scenario that is pretty much done already, but that shouldn’t stop us from talking about it!
For the second half of the article i will… actually i have no idea yet. Maybe there’s enough ongoing development that i can show you another set of changes to cards you have already seen? Maybe i head straight into the other side of the campaign? We’ll see, i guess. Cheers o/

Masking up for Hemlock Vale

Intro

We have now seen all five Mask player assets from the upcoming player card expansion and while there is an outside chance of a sixth neutral mask (or upgraded ones Oo) this is good enough to start talking about them. All five of them are very important cards that are going to be showing up in most decks from now on with at least a copy. Since they are dirt cheap and don’t take up a slot, the opportunity cost to run them is extremely low, basically just the deck slot. Can you fill your deck with 30 cards that are all better than a 1 cost slotless asset that is getting you continuous +2 bonuses to your skill values? If so, feel free to skip the mask. But i would wager that most decks will not be able to outvalue these things on all 30 card slots. That being said, the whole “slotless” argument stops working once you start including a second mask. There will be times when putting in the second one is right, but that’s not quite as universal as the first one. So today i will only be looking at the first copy in a deck.
So, with these new assets being such a presence, I figured I’d just run over all the investigators (well, i’ll leave out the parallels and the weird ones this time) real quick and check out which mask or masks they are interested in. See which mask is going to be used the most. If there are investigators that aren’t interested in any of them. That sort of thing. Let’s get right into it.

The Masks

Just in case you haven’t seen them, here they are again.

Guardian

Roland: Can run Wolf and Mouse. I see Roland primarily as a fighter which makes me want to go Wolf straight away. But i can definitely see an argument for Mouse as well. The boosted stats are both relevant for him to take an okay skill value to a usable level. Of course, replenishing the Mouse is more difficult than it is for Wolf, so i am still leaning Wolf here. Point: Wolf

Zoey: Can run all of them! Wolf Mask shares a trigger with her investigator ability which is neat (but doesn’t actually make the mask better for her than for others) and as a primary fighter she would certainly gravitate towards that. I can definitely see an argument for Cat Mask as well, but probably not to a degree that i want to spend one of her five splash cards on it. Point: Wolf

Mark: Can only run Wolf, loves Wolf. Plays Wolf. Point: Wolf

Leo: Can run Wolf and Fox. Seems pretty clear cut, while he could appreciate an intellect boost, i don’t see him recharging that Fox mask at any point. Point: Wolf

Carolyn: Can run Wolf, Mouse and Cat. Mouse seems the way to go here as it raises her two most relevant stats. That being said, depending on how confident you are in your ability to replenish it, she might even skip masks completely. Still, i am going to give this point to Mouse.

Tommy: Can run Wolf and Sparrow. As much as Tommy likes the trigger condition on Sparrow, he can’t really use the boosted stats here much. Would be decent encounter protection, but Tommy doesn’t care about that much either. Point: Wolf

Mary: Wolf and Cat are available. This is a pretty even split between the two, i think. Depending on whether you take more of a support role or more of an active combat role, you are going to lean one way or the other. I am going to give this point to Cat, because its bonuses do serve both roles.

Lily: Can run Wolf and Cat. She really wants Wolf, but that will eat one of her 5 level zero Guardian cards. Is it worth it? That’s a definitive “Maybe” from me. I am going to give this point to Cat because it’s lower opportunity cost and we can get our fight bonus there as well, just not quite as consistently.

Carson: Can only run Wolf. Are you one of those people that actually use his statline through whatever means? Then maybe you care about Wolf because it saves you a charge here and there on the Runic Axe. Otherwise, he can pretty much skip masks. I am going to give this point to No Mask.

Nate: Wolf. Duh.

Wilson: Can only run Wolf. Good step towards making his statline more usable. Pretty sure i’d run two Wolf Masks, actually.

The Wolf Mask sticks out to me as the one that is easiest to recharge, giving you a new offering exactly when you need it. That makes it a fantastic allrounder card for any fighters (and evaders too, if they have access) that also provides some encounter protection towards agility treacheries.

This is our tally so far:
Wolf: 7 votes
Mouse: 1 vote
Fox: 0 votes
Cat: 2 votes
Sparrow: 0 votes
No Mask: 1 vote

Unsurprisingly, after only covering the Guardian section, the Guardian mask is in the lead. Going into Seeker, will the Mouse Mask catch up? Exciting stuff, just the sort of insightful analysis you can expect on this site.

Seeker

Daisy: She can also run Cat, but Mouse is perfect for her. It has the perfect pair of skills for her.

Rex: Can use any of them, but just like with Zoey i can see arguments for an off-class mask (Fox specifically), but not to a point where i am spending one of the 5 splash cards for it. Mouse it is.

Minh: Can do either Mouse or Sparrow. I am sure there are going to be Minh decks that are interested enough in the more consistent willpower boost from Sparrow, but for general use the one that has a book icon on it wins out. Mouse.

Ursula: Sorry hun, these aren’t relics. You are going to take your Mouse and be happy with it. Luckily you are, you were pretty much born to fulfill the replenish condition on it.

Joe: Wolf or Mouse. I see Joe in a similar boat as Roland, being mostly a fighter that also picks up a clue or five on the side. Mouse wouldn’t be bad on him, but Wolf is going to help him at his primary job and more consistently as well.

Mandy: Can only run Mouse and is perfectly happy with that.

Amanda: Mouse.

Monty: Fox is great for him. Mouse would also work, but not at the cost of a splash slot.

Vincent: Can run Mouse, Wolf and Sparrow. While he does appreciate the intellect boost from Mouse, does he care enough about it to play in a way that keeps the thing recharged? Or does he want to build into his fighting with Wolf? His self-harm tendencies even make Sparrow look interesting. I am giving this one to Wolf due to personal preference towards fighting Vincent, but he is a flexible character and i could see arguments for any of these.

Harvey: Mouse.

Kate: Mouse.

The Mouse mask has arguably the best pair of boosted stats, but it pairs it with the most awkward way of refilling that is not only difficult to do consistently (unless you are playing solo) but also has some scenario-based variance on it. That being said, it is one of two masks that increase intellect and the other one has its own difficult recharge trigger on it. So it still ends up being the best option for most clue getters.

Updated tally:
Wolf: 9 votes
Mouse: 9 votes
Fox: 1 votes
Cat: 2 votes
Sparrow: 0 votes
No Mask: 1 vote

Let’s hope we see some Fox love when moving into the green cards!

Rogue

Skids: No Fox vote here yet, the Wolf is just too good for Skids. Shoring up his weak fight value, this could be the piece that lets Skids make better use of his Guardian access? That is not to say that Fox would be bad for him either, he can certainly play a seek and evade game as well, but since that is better left to more specialized investigators, this one goes to Wolf.

Jenny: Can use any Mask, but any other than Fox would cost a splash slot. I am not particularly excited about Fox in Jenny, sounds to me like recharging it would be a pain. Since i see her mostly in a fighter role, i am heavily leaning Wolf here, even through the added cost of having to use one of her off-class slots for it. It’s an uneven amount of slots anyways, right? She is flexible enough that i can see uses for the other three masks as well, but i am going to give this one to Wolf.

Sefina: Uses Fox and Cat. You know what, these are both not great. A heavily mystic Sefina can of course use Cat to get better use out of her level 0 Shrivellings and the like. But i am not super impressed here. Is Fox giving you better Pilfers and Backstabs better? Probably. But how often is Sefina leaving locations with enemies in them? I suppose it could work out in multiplayer, but that seems hard to do otherwise. After much deliberation between the two options i have settled on No Mask. At least not as a generally accepted default.

Finn: Can run Fox or spend one of his 5 splash cards on Sparrow or Mouse. Fox seems perfectly fine here. Great, even!

Preston: Can run Sparrow and Fox. That being said, making tests is for plebs that can’t afford to just pick up clues from the board. Sparrow could be a solid way for him to protect himself a bit from the encounter deck. Testing at 3 is still not great, but it can save a point here and there against stray Remains or Grasps… but i don’t think he needs it. No Mask for this gentleman.

Tony Morgan: Can only run Fox. And let me tell you, Tony Morgan does NOT leave a location while there’s still an enemy on it. Hard pass. No Mask.

Trish: Now Trish, on the other hand… she’s been known to dance around enemies without killing them. With access to both intellect masks, Mouse and Fox, she has a nice little selection at hand there. Fox wins this one easily as the condition is easy for her to trigger and the combination with agility is exactly what she wants.

Bob: I like the Fox mask a lot here. Again, it boosts both of his important stats and evading enemies with Bob is definitely something you can do. You won’t be recharging the Fox as often here as Trish does, but it’s certainly rock solid. Since they are Item assets, he might even run the Sparrow in addition, to give it to someone else. Since its the defensive mask, there’s really nobody that would mind getting a Sparrow mask… unless they already have their own out of course. Point to Fox.

Kymani: Fox. Perfect.

Winifred: Fox. Perfect.

Alessandra: Fox. Perfect. That trigger on the Fox is worded so weirdly because it was meant to play nice with Parley, not Evade! I can’t believe i have not picked up on that before. Literally having a Eureka moment while writing this 😀 Well then, Alessandra, have your custom tailored Fox mask.

Like the Mouse Mask, the Fox suffers a bit from its rather awkward trigger to recharge. More than the location thing on Mouse, it pigeonholes it with regards to who can take it. The result is a whopping 3 investigators that would rather wear no mask than Fox. Weirdly, it does also scale with player count in a way. Mouse gets easier to trigger solo, meanwhile Fox gets easier to trigger the more players are in the group. Not sure how relevant that is in practice, but it’s kinda funky.

Wolf: 11 votes
Mouse: 9 votes
Fox: 7 votes
Cat: 2 votes
Sparrow: 0 votes
No Mask: 4 vote

Wolf and Mouse are head to head for now. But here’s Mystic, so that will put Cat into the race. And fun fact: There are more Mystics than other investigators which clearly means this whole poll is rigged!

Mystic

Agnes: Cat vs Sparrow. They both raise willpower. Sparrow fits in neatly with her investigator ability, giving her even more payoff for getting horror. It also has a better secondary attribute on it, as Agnes gets a lot more out of agility than out of fight. Looks like a clear Sparrow win to me.

Jim: Can run any. I do like Cat here. Both willpower and fight are relevant to him, so he gets a lot out of it. The potential upsides in consistency from another mask don’t seem worth the splash slot. Winner: Cat.

Akachi: Can only run Cat and is perfectly fine with it. Especially if she wants to do Enchanted Blade.

Mateo: Cat is all he gets and he can use it to shore up his willpower some more. Sure. Nothing too exciting, but good enough to include it. Cat.

Diana: Can run Cat and Wolf, and i am genuinely excited for Wolf in her. She has the statline to not play the willpower game and between Wolf Mask, Living Ink, Well Prepared, Bestow Resolve and Empower Self i think we are finally there to make Statball Diana a thing. If you are boring, just assume a Cat vote here, but it’s my list and i make Diana vote for Wolf 😀

Marie: Cat, Mouse or Sparrow. Mouse or Sparrow would take up one of the very limited splash slots, so despite Mouse having exactly the stats Marie wants to see, i am voting Cat here. Mostly on the back of Marie having an easier time to trigger recharges on Cat because she puts doom into play more often than others.

Luke: Cat and Mouse. And just as cartoons have taught us, Mouse wins its eternal battle against Cat. Mouse Mask is just perfect for Luke. It has both of the relevant stats for him and what’s better is that Luke gets to recharge the Mouse whenever he uses the Gatebox. That’s incredible.

Dexter: Cat and Fox. Foxes stats are his two weakest. Cats stats are his two important ones. Seems pretty obvious. Cat.

Norman: Cat and Mouse again. I am not consistently using willpower with Norman, so Cat’s use can even be rather limited depending on the build. I am giving this one to Mouse.

Jacqueline: Cat.

Amina: Can run all due to Charm access. So… this is difficult. Clearly Amina gets a lot out of the masks and depending on what you do with her you can go for different ones. The Cat with its doom interaction seems tailored towards her and the use with the doom charms… but since Cat pushes willpower and fight, the sickle is the only of the doom charms that directly works with Cat. And if you do sickle with your fight value, then Wolf might just work out better in the end. The doom charm angle actually has me lean towards Mouse because it would give Amina the necessary intellect (or willpower) to use Dowsing Rod properly (the only doom charm i consider to be good enough to consider over spell alternatives). Dowsing rods bonus move even helps with recharging Mouse. Without the doom charms, you can of course just run Cat and play a more generic willpower game with Amina. I will default to Cat for this one because it is never wrong, but chances are that something better can be brewed up with Wolf or Mouse. I am rather mild on the other two for Amina, though.

Gloria: Cat.

Kouhaku: Cat? Cat.

The Cat Mask is very interesting because for the most part, it doesn’t replenish from investigator actions, but from what happens in the scenario. Doom on the agenda and cultists give you more charges – and two at a time as well. Of course, if you do add your own doom to the game through Initiates, David and the like, you can keep this thing permanently full … as long as you can pay the price. That is raises fight is cute and gives it some neat use cases.

Wolf: 12 votes
Mouse: 11 votes
Fox: 7 votes
Cat: 11 votes
Sparrow: 1 votes
No Mask: 4 vote

With four classes down, only one vote went for Sparrow so far. This is sort of expected, considering the reactive, defensive nature of Sparrow. Actually, the one vote it got so far was Agnes who is interested in actually using it offensively. Let’s see what the actual Survivors think.

Survivor

Wendy: Fox or Sparrow. Wendy is a great Fox user, evasion + clues is her thing. Vote: Fox.

Pete: Uses any, but only Sparrow comes with no strings attached. Similar to Dowsing rod, Duke’s move to investigate plays nicely with Mouse’s replenish trigger. I think that is enough of a reason for me to put Pete’s vote towards Mouse here. I am definitely hearing arguments for Wolf as well and Sparrow as a fallback if I need the five slots for something else is certainly fine too. Oh, obviously these masks work with Duke. Presumably that means we put them on him. Awwwwwww.

William: Sparrow vs Wolf. Wolf. Not really close, Will doesn’t need the defense and anything that helps him fight better is welcome.

Calvin: Can only run Sparrow and he’s probably pretty happy about it! I hear he sometimes takes damage or horror for stat bonuses. That’s what Sparrow does as well!

Rita: Sparrow. Sparrow does increase agility and getting to test willpower at 5 isn’t bad either. Rita can really make great use out of Sparrow.

Patrice: Sparrow vs Cat. Both increase her willpower and a stat she doesn’t care about. The trigger condition is about evenly split in usefulness. I guess since agility does at least have some defensive value for her, she takes Sparrow over Cat.

Silas: Can only use Sparrow. Does he? Probably, yeah. I don’t think the mask is quite as valuable to him as it is to many other investigators, but getting those defensive stats can help him conserve his sanity and evade better.

Daniela: Wolf vs Sparrow. On the one hand, she is already good at fighting and taking Sparrow would bolster her already impressive willpower and make her agility at least usable. But opportunity cost makes this come out in favor of Wolf, and it’s not like we mind building on our fighting more.

Darrell: Sparrow vs Mouse. He’s a 5 intellect seeker that doesn’t even take tests to investigate. Well, technically he does, the skill value just doesn’t matter. So i would actually go with the defensive one here. Sparrow.

Stella: Sparrow. Sure.

Hank: Only gets Sparrow and it works really well with his statline in any of his versions.

There are two things that work against Sparrow Mask. For one, it is almost purely defensive (unless used with spells which only a limited number of characters can do or a main evader). Also, it raises the two stats that appear the most often on the masks. Between the five of them, fight and investigate appear twice while willpower and agility appear three times each. That means that for investigators that can run multiple masks and want either agility or willpower, the chances are high that Sparrow has more competition than for example Mouse has for intellect because there is only fox competing with it there.
Sparrow does have a very easy trigger for recharging though and you can definitely keep the skill bonuses going with this one.

Let’s check out the final tally!

Wolf: 14 votes
Mouse: 12 votes
Fox: 8 votes
Cat: 11 votes
Sparrow: 10 votes
No Mask: 4 vote

Honestly surprised that so many of the survivors ended up going for the Sparrow, i expected it to go a lot more in favor of off-class masks here. But that’s why I did the whole thing, right? To actually put some numbers down and try to put the masks into perspective.
Oh right, i forgot to mention… The two neutrals don’t get a vote. Both of them can use all of them and have like a billion different builds so they would both just pick whatever fits their build.

Putting it together

Alright, so where does this leave us. So, first obvious thing out of the way, all five of these are indeed excellent. Even the Fox mask which got the fewest points ends up being a near-staple for 8 investigators. That’s a rate that most cards dream of! From there it goes up to 14 investigators each that would consider Mouse or Wolf a staple which is seriously impressive. Overall, the range is even enough that i wouldn’t call it out of whack. We can see the relative worth of some attributes over others here though. Our fighters and seekers are always looking to stack their fight and intellect values to the moon, leading to Wolf and Mouse being where they are. It was even enough to look past Mouse’s rather meh trigger for recharging. Fox however scores so low on the base of its trigger – having to dance around enemies is just not something that anyone can do. Unlike say, revealing a location. Or take damage. I feel like there was some playability sacrificed here just to tie Fox Mask in with Alessandra. Something more universal (like an oversuccess) would have made the numbers a bit more even i think.
We have four investigators out of 57 that wouldn’t want a mask. Two of them. Carson and Preston, simply don’t care much about their stats and are mostly better off avoiding testing all together. Tony can only access one mask and it does nothing for him. And Sefina is just barely missing the point where i want to call the Cat Mask a staple in her. You’ll probably run it, but it’s not as much of a given as with most others in this list.

And that’s it. Not sure how much we actually learned here, but I feel like I understand the masks a bit better now that I went through all of this. There is of course much more still left to talk about. I deliberately only talked about the first mask here. That’s the copy you add without any opportunity cost. If we were to look at the numbers for investigators where we want a second copy of the same mask (or even of another!) then the numbers for where it is a staple go way down. And are much more deck dependent, too. Because the decision on whether to run extra copies of things is going to depend on your available card draw, card selection and investigator abilities that might turn dead cards into value. So we aren’t going to get into all of that here. Let’s just say that the Masks are all really good. Most people want one. Some might even want it enough to get a backup.

Hemlock Vale Spoiler Roundup #11

Intro

It’s the end of the scheduled previews. Are we getting more after this? Who knows?
Maybe we have the full list in our hands in just a moment’s time?
Until we do, let’s check out the final stretch of community previews. It’s a real zoo down there, we have cats, wolves, foxes, moths, mice. Even a giant spider features prominently.

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Sources

Cat Mask was previewed by El Mito Del Caos on their YouTube.

“Throw the book at them!” and Wolf Mask were previewed by Quick Learner on their YouTube

Fox Mask was previewed by the r/arkhamhorrorlcg subreddit.

Matchbox and The Silver Moth were previewed on a FFG Liveplay on the FFG YouTube.

Mouse Mask was previewed by will.i.game on their Instagram.

Guardian

We basically knew about this one since all the way back in early August. Still, seeing it confirmed is nice. My opinion on the Wolf Mask didn’t really change since my first impression. If anything, it went up. This card is just utterly ridiculous and joins the likes of Take Heart, Spectral Razor or Faustian Bargain in a line of cards where i need very good reasons to not play it if i can. And if there’s a reason, the chances are that the reason is wanting to play a different mask. Due to being 1 cost and not using a relevant slot, there is next to no opportunity cost to just throwing a copy of a mask into every deck from now on, chances are that one of them is going to be fantastic for you.
On a less powergamey note, this makes me want to revisit Empower Self/Well Prepared Diana. Again. It didn’t properly work out the last three times, but surely this will be the missing piece? Surely.

Seeker

This is my favorite artwork on a card in a while, it even beats out Rex falling from a ladder because he’s pogging out too hard. I just really like when there’s not just generic trenchcoat people on the artwork, but when the game remembers it actually has a cool and unique setting that is allowed to get weird and show off it’s incredible cast of characters.
Is the card worth it in gameplay? Eh. Not getting that extra point of damage is super rough and makes it very limited in where it’s actually properly usable. Getting the option for evasion is neat, Daisy with an Old Book of Lore basically gets to play Pocket Sand at skill level 5 which is not nothing. Getting a free activation out of your book sounds good, but since you just spent a full action and a card on a 1 damage attack that honestly isn’t as good as it appears. You even still have to spend any charges on the item, so you don’t really gain much more for your card here than a free attack. I guess you can use it to trigger a tome while engaged without an attack of opportunity, but that is such a narrow usecase. So to me, the evade mode is the draw to the card… and that kind of means that Core Set staple Mind over Matter is just straight up better thanks to being more flexible? Throw the Book is not a completely hopeless coaster, but it will need some convincing. Maybe Vincent can do something with Grey’s Anatomy here? Being able to use that without an attack of opportunity is valuable and he would attack at 6. Still seems aggressively meh and you would need to keep this card in your deck for a few scenarios until you even have the level 5 tome…

Giving willpower and intellect, this is a potent package for seekers, both in terms of progressing the game and in terms of encounter protection. Replenishing it is not quite as easy as the other masks as you need to reveal those locations yourself and depending on the scenario that might be easier said than done. Still, that seems perfectly fair for a mask that gives intellect boosts (which could be argued to be the most valuable ones) and you are near guaranteed to get your money’s worth here as triggering it like 5 or 6 times in a scenario should be trivial, provided you draw it early. But even when you draw it late, the worst case of two charges for a resource and a card isn’t all that bad either.
Like all masks, this is a good card and when compared to the other mask that raises intellect which is dependent of being around enemies you will often want to go for this one if it’s available to you. As with the fox mask, there is a certain group of investigators that are all quite interested in this, as “seeker that likes to move” is an archetype we’ve seen a few times now.
Also, Luke gains a charge whenever he uses the Dream-Gate, right? 😀 The mask has the perfect stats for Luke, too. So without having looked into it too much, i hereby declare Luke the best user for this one.

Rogue

Agility and Intellect together are my jam on Rogues. The flex evasion/clue finder is an archetype very dear to me and this mask obviously goes straight into that sort of deck. I can actually see running out of offerings on this one regularly as it’s not quite as easy to trigger as Wolf Mask is. But as before, for a mask that gives intellect that is perfectly fine in my opinion. As with all masks, you get your initial 2 offerings which are already giving you a very decent amount of value. And then you gain a bunch more over the turns. Notably, the trigger is a bit weird. I would have expected an evasion based trigger, but actually this triggers on leaving the location. That means you don’t actually have to evade, just strolling by a location where another investigator has something engaged or where an Aloof enemy hangs around is going to give you uses. On the flipside, evading an enemy that is engaged with you is not enough, you also need to leave the location if you want the offering.
This will be a huge card for Wendy, Wini, Trish and everyone else who plays a similar evade/clue game. There’s a lot of those, actually.
Sadly not playable in Rita though, because Rita doesn’t get nice things 😀

Mystic

I already had the Masks pegged as something that could pull Amina out of her ditch of mediocrity but i didn’t expect there to be a mask that was actually tailored to her. Seems unnecessary since she already has access to all five? I like that this one boosts fight instead of the usual intellect that we see on mystic statboosters all the time. That opens up some opportunities to capitalize on a middling fight value which is something that a surprising amount of Mystics have – and in the past have struggled to make proper use out of aside from occasionally swinging an Enchanted Blade around.
So, being an obvious plant aside (although i would still argue Wolf vs Cat for a fighting Amina), this still seems plenty good in other decks. It counts any card that gets doomed, which includes encounter cards like cultists or even the agenda. A slotless card that costs 1 and gives you 2 statboosts, then another 2 here and there because the new agenda just got its first doom or because a cultist showed up is actually still really, really good. Add Arcane Initiate to your deck to squeeze another trigger or two out of the mask and you are getting a lot of value here without even trying too hard.
While this is heavily Amina coded, I do see the best use for this mask on Mystics that care about both willpower and fight, so basically the classic Enchanted Blade candidates: Akachi, Dexter and Diana. Diana can again use the Wolf Mask and depending on how her priorities lie that might be an alternative. Dexter is unlikely to be interested in the rogue mask, so he defaults to this one. Cat Mask is the only mask available to Akachi.

Survivor

Right, because Darrell and the whole archetype associated with him wasn’t overpowered enough. And I suppose Old Keyring(3) not working on shroud 3 locations was just too much of a limitation, thank god that got fixed. That was sarcasm. Ugh, this card makes me recoil because i just despise that whole difficulty zero archetype so much.
My own misgivings aside, this is obviously a very good card. Cheap, relevant bonus, works through the whole turn, can be used on other investigators, stacks with anything else going on. It’s level zero. No hand slot. It’s an item that discards itself when empty for easy recursion. Makes the primary survivor recursion engine easier to trigger in the first place. Despite looking super innocent like it’s just a mini-Flashlight, everything about this card is pushed and there is little to no opportunity cost to it beyond the deck slot.
It’s a very very powerful card. I am sure this is just perfectly fair when used in Wilson, Kymani, Silas or whoever… and using it in conjunction with something like Lola Santiago even sounds very interesting.
It’s just the way that it fits into stuff that is already overtuned to eleven and turns it up further to twelve that makes me roll my eyes. For what it’s worth, Keyring(3) is the problem, not Matchbox – and i am aware that I am currently going off on a card that probably doesn’t deserve quite that amount of disdain from me.
So, in conclusion: Good to great card when played in normal decks. Looking forward to explore what it can do for investigators like Tommy that just want to pick up a clue or three on the side, maybe combo it with Look What I Found one or two times per game. I’ll just ignore that its another cog in the “pick up eight testless clues per turn, every turn” machine for my own sanity’s sake.

Weakness

And here’s our first weakness for this expansion and it is … not as bad as it looks at first glance? When it enters play it will take up an accessory slot which potentially sucks if it kicks out one of your assets. But on the other hand that means you could (almost) neutralize it with 3XP for a Relic Hunter. It will still take away a point of sanity in that case, but that would be fine for most investigators. Sure, someone like Roland will not like that at all, but he’s going to struggle with any sort of mental trauma anyways.
You also get the option to reshuffle it for 1 horror. That means you can keep your critical asset around if you’d otherwise would have to discard it, but also that you might end up losing another draw to it later on.
There are a couple worst case scenarios to Silver Moth, but the high degree of player choice attached allows you to always go for the case that is least dangerous for you right now.
I think this weakness is overall fairly mild. A point of horror here and there, alternatively the equivalent to a point of trauma for a couple turns until you discard it through its ability. That’s perfectly in line with other weaknesses in the RBW pool. Sure, it’s no wet blanket like Nihilism, but that’s a good thing.

Hemlock Vale Spoiler Roundup #10

Intro

Cards. Hemlock. Previews. Vale.
You know the drill, it’s been months now. Go go go. We got a lot of cards to go through!

Sources

Stir the Pot and Snitch were previewed by Rolling Dice and Taking Names on Facebook.

Hank Samson‘s backside was previewed by Great Old Ones Gaming on their podcast.

Scrimshaw Charm and Absolution were previewed by Arkham in the Aether on Instagram

Confound and Vamp(3) were previewed by Northern Lights over Arkham on their YouTube.

Strong-Armed and Survival Technique were previewed by Little Geek on their YouTube.

Guardian

I haven’t done the math, but this doesn’t convince me too much. The bless side of this is heavily outpaced by Keep Faith (which is also Fast) and the healing is at least not all that reliable. That being said, the Spell trait might be interesting (i know it has come in handy quite often on Voice of Ra, for example) and the ability to play it for 0 is not nothing. It’s also a level 0 card with double icons.
But i feel like i am scraping the bottom of the barrel pretty hard on my bless support if i have to include this one.

Incredible. It’s a better Vicious Blow, as long as you are using a melee or ranged weapon. Notably, this excludes firearms. Weirdly, being strong-armed also excludes basic attacks. Nathaniel Cho not getting any extra damage out of a card named Strong-Armed is one of the bigger flavor fails on a card that actually makes an effort to be flavorful.
Getting the +1 damage and also knowing that your attack is going to connect gives this one a fantastic amount of consistency. Not much to say about this one, it’s power is straightforward and obvious and this is going to be a near-staple for many, many decks.
Both Wilson and Hank can run this and i foresee some 4 damage chainsaw madness in my immediate future 😀 Actually, William and Silas can both do the same. No, not you Daniela. Obviously. We got something intriguing for you later, though! All these survivors (even Dani!) also gain Long Shot this expansion, so it looks like we will be viciously blowing a lot dealing a lot of damage with our red/blue investigators from now on.

Seeker

It’s a Seeker take on Breaking and Entering. Unlike B&E this doesn’t enable clueing with your agility, but of course that’s not necessarily something that Seekers are looking for anyways. Instead this gives you a way to evade (even double-evade) with your intellect. It’s Enter and Breakening!
It gives you two clues for playing it instead of 1, which is appropriate for a 3XP card. As a yellow Insight card, i am immediately sizing this one up as a contender for Joe’s hunch deck… and it looks pretty good for that.
Notable negative of Confound when compared to B&E: You can B&E on a location without enemies, simply to grab a clue. Confound needs the enemy or it’s a brick.
This seems like a very fair card. Nothing too exciting, but should make a deck here and there even without the Parley interaction. For the most part, 3XP in Seeker buys you better stuff though. Joe seems to be the most interesting place for this card.

Rogue

If you ever wanted to pay 5XP for a Dynamite Blast with inconsistent damage output that requires a test, you now can! Now, that’s not completely fair as Stir the Pot does cost 2 less and has potential Parley/Trick payoffs. And instead of being able to use it into connecting locations, you get to move yourself. But no, this is just not what i want to be doing for 5XP. I am afraid i will likely have to pass on this, as excited i am to finally see an upgraded Rogue card for this set.

From a 5XP Dynamite Blast with test to a 1-cost testless Pilfer. What is going on, this is soooo good. This is just an auto-include in any deck with a reasonable (or even unreasonable!) amount of Parley in it, because 1 cost for 2 clues is a great effect, no matter the circumstances. It doesn’t even become dead when there’s not enough clues on your location as it can also reach into connecting ones.
Clearly, 100% of Alessandra builds will use this, but what about others? It’s not a parley itself, so Eldritch Tongue can not double-dip on it either. Is it enough of a payoff to grab parley cards specifically to trigger Snitch? Snitch does offer you the same value as Pilfer, except that it costs 1 instead of 4 and doesn’t risk failing. That is really, really good. It’s good enough that i could see myself playing it with Fake Credentials in a deck that otherwise maybe only has another random parley event somewhere in it. Vamp is suddenly looking a lot better to me than it did before!

I don’t know. I don’t think this is all that good? If i play it and activate it once for all 3 tokens, i gained a net of 3 resources for two actions. On my accessory slot. Having a source of curse tokens is … fine. But also doesn’t seem particularly needed for Rogue who can just get there on the back of Faustian and Riastrad with much, much better payoff per curse and no accessory slot blocked up.
Nah, sorry to be a bit down on two of the rogue cards today, but this one excites me neither on the money nor on the curse end so i think i will have to pass on this one too.

Just as I was contemplating how much better Vamp becomes with Snitch in the picture, we get an upgraded Vamp to seal the deal! And it’s a killer upgrade that gets you a whole lot for your 3XP. Most critically, it drops the testing difficulty to 2, which means it’s zero with Fine Clothes which in turn means you can pretty much count on getting all four effects, no matter your skill values! Removing doom from an enemy is still narrow and those that do have doom often will just die to the 2 damage, so the first mode is not going to matter all that much. But a clue, 2 damage and an auto-evade? Now we are cooking. Add another 2 clues from Snitch and you just took one hell of an action.

Survivor

Hank’s deckbuilding is pretty good, it’s pretty much Silas and Calvin mashed together.
Notably that means that he doesn’t get any assets out of survivor, so for fighting (or anything else, but personally i see him mostly as a fighter) he will have to stick to red cards. Pitchforks and Chainsaws it is, then.
He has a decksize of 35 which sticks out as a bit random. I don’t really think that moves the needle much on how good he is, though.

It’s another survivor recursion engine! *resets clock*
This is pretty good, with a lot of interesting targets for it and a lot of them are in other classes. Breach the Door and Skeleton Key are both something to play around with in Tommy/Preston. Or Daniela! Unlimited Breach the Door sounds sick with her actually.
Slightly concerning is that Survivor now has a way to return and replay their Shrine of the Moirai for recursion of their recursion. That’s going to break something somehow.
Finally, the second ability on the card can be incredibly good in some scenarios. It does only count for actual abilities on those locations (so not for basic investigates) but there is a lot of those abilities around and some scenarios even are largely based on them. Just as the first thing that pops into my mind, this is going to make the Buenos Aires scenario of Scarlet Keys a good deal easier because you can much easier use the location abilities that let you peek at Concealed cards. Treacheries attaching to locations isn’t all that common (and even less common is seeing tests on them), but against something like Spires of Carcosa, this would be pretty good tech. However, in terms of encounter tech your Survivor should usually just get better mileage out of Alter Fate.

The 2024 Ancient Evils Comprehensive Investigator Evaluation and Power Ranking Tierlist

Games on Boards, being Played

Popular YouTube channel PlayingBoardGames does a yearly thing where the three of them that play Arkham rank all the investigators by their power in separate videos. These videos are always quite entertaining – and while they take up a combined total of six hours, they are quite engaging and you should definitely check them out! I watched all of them over the holidays and I find the different takes they have among them super interesting. Because ultimately it’s not about the placements of certain investigators on a list, but about hearing the reasonings behind the placements and they do a good job of justifying their placements… For the most part 😀
This year I have been starting to do a lot of non-encounter stuff on my site, so i figured i should give this a try as well. After all, i do have opinions too! Sooo many opinions. So let me just throw them out there. PBG did publish the tiermaker template that they use, so let’s get cracking!
And finally, taking another page out of the PBG playbook, i am not going to split this article up into bits either… so this is going to be a long one. If Justin gets to talk about cards for 3 hours on end, i can make you read about them for 3 hours. Brace yourself. Let’s see if WordPress has a word limit.

Some definitions

I will mostly adapt their tiers from S to D, but with a few definitions of my own.
S: The absolute best at their job. If there is another investigator in the same class that is better at your job, you can by definition not be S tier, but have to go down to A+.
A+/A: Efficient and powerful. What separates these from the ones in the B tier is that their investigator abilities already put them in a great spot, so you almost have to try to make them any less than competent through their deck.
B+/B: Very capable and you will be unlikely to run into any problems, but you need to actually build a good deck for them and there is a potential for you to screw this up.
C: Just fine. These get the job done, but it is going to require some more work on your part. They are handicapped in some major way that can be overcome or just lagging behind the average.
D: Not fine. It is rare for me to put an investigator here. But when I do, that is my way of saying that i believe that this one is so far behind the average that even if you build a good deck for them, your options are severely limited and you might just not be able to get the job done.
Unranked: Investigators that i didn’t actually play yet go here. This does include most of the parallel investigators, Carson and Amina. Everyone else i did play and i will give them a proper rank. For these unranked investigators i will still give my take and tell you where i would probably rank them, but i wont throw them in there for the final summary.

I’ll go through the investigators by class. And in set order within the class. After each class I’ll share an image of how the rankings look at that point.

I am also going to rank the investigators within their tier (left = high, right = low).

All rankings assume that you are playing with Taboo. Because that’s what i do and that’s what i know.

Speaking of what i know… i do almost exclusively play two-player, on Standard. And that is going to inform my rankings, whether i want to or not.

Alright, enough preambles. Roland, take the stage please!

Guardian

Roland Banks: B.
Statline: 3/3/4/2. Not great, honestly. Suitable for a Core Set investigator, but i really would have wished for another point of intellect here, to make better use of his seeker access.
Soak: 9/5. Having this extremely lopsided distribution is going to make you feel very vulnerable. This feels particularly bad for Roland due to his weakness.
Investigator ability: Overall the weak side. You won’t be able to reliably trigger it every turn, so you aren’t getting consistent value from it. A bonus clue is a good payoff when it triggers, though. His Elder Sign is nothing.
Signature: Great. I really like his .38 Special. Guardian has surprisingly awful low level firearms and the Special does actually give you a significant fight boost and good ammo for your resources. Since one-handed firearms in the Guardian pool are generally awful, this revolver doesn’t even get outpaced with XP.
Weakness: Friggin’ awful. A weakness that gives mental trauma to an investigator with 5 sanity is horrifying. Having to pass three investigations to discard the weakness is a lot worse than most weaknesses. A huge pile of yikes.
Card access: Great. All the 5/2 investigators have large card pools to build from and Seeker is definitely good access to have.

To me, Roland Banks is the benchmark for the lower end of where the average investigator should be. He’s not exceptionally powerful, but does a solid job as a primary fighter that also gets some clues on the side. As a fighter, he’s outclassed by many other guardians. His intellect is … usable. But usually not worth building on further with his Seeker access, i feel like including the likes of Mag Glass and try to do the seeker game is mostly a trap. Roland to me defines the lower B tier, he’s easy to mess up through the deck. But when you build him correctly you will do well. Not exceptional. But fine. From time to time, that weakness is going to make you hate life. Generally speaking, you don’t want to be worse than Roland, but being Roland is just okay enough.

Zoey Samaras: A+
Statline: 4/2/4/2. Good. This willpower of 4 does a lot of work for her, both defensively and offensively.
Soak: 9/6. Great. The Dunwich investigators get an extra point of soak. Together with her willpower, she is very resilient to what the encounter deck can throw at her.
Investigator ability: Fantastic. Oh yeah, this isn’t limited to once per round. She instantly fixes a major weakness of Guardian. The resources she accumulates through her ability can fuel a lot of cards or just convert into damage through her signature. Her Elder Sign is good, but unreliable because it only does something in a specific type of test. And when it fires, you probably didn’t need it.
Signature: Fantastic. One of the signatures you want to see most for their respective investigators. The Cross allows to throw a lot of extra damage around. It’s so good that Zoey will often just use 3XP on Relic Hunter to make room for it in the accessories.
Weakness: Fine. There are some situations where Smite the Wicked can be very inconvenient and like Cover Up it does threaten trauma which isn’t great. It is generally easier to deal with than Cover Up though and Zoey is also able to let this go through once or twice in a pinch unlike Roland who really needs to cling to every scrap of sanity.
Card access: Great. I am constantly surprised by how good the “Dunwich Five” access is. Especially for Zoey, the stream of new things that it unlocks doesn’t end. From being allowed to leverage your willpower with mystic cards to making use of all the “at deck creation” permanents from Edge of the Earth, the Dunwich Five access just does so much.

Zoey is a personal favorite of mine due to how flexible she is. She is a primary fighter, but really shows off the depths that this role can have. Leveraging her superior economy allows her to keep pace with those investigators that have a 5 in their fight stat and especially once the Cross enters play she can just wipe the floor with anything that has 3 or less health. She also can play a great support game, using her willpower to take treacheries on herself for her teammates and profit from it. She’s also a great investigator for Blessed shenanigans, as her deckbuilding allows her to take the good Survivor bless token generators and she can use Blessing of Isis to weaponize her Elder Sign into even more damage.

Mark Harrigan: S
Statline: 3/2/5/3. Exceptionally good. The 5 fight are obviously great and immediately put him at the forefront when it comes to primary fighters. Usually i’d prefer a 4 in one of the other stats over the flat statline that he has. But the interaction with Sophie actually makes the flat statline preferable here, because it means that Mark can now have a 5 in will or agility at the drop of a hat which are the primary ways to resist the encounter deck. I never noticed before that he has 13 skill points instead of the usual 12. Actually ridiculous.
Soak: 9/5. Okay, but not great. Like with Roland, the split is awkward because it makes him feel vulnerable to any encounter deck that has Rotting Remains (or equivalent) in it. But of course the split makes sense considering his interaction with Sophie. And while his weakness does deal horror, it at least doesn’t deal trauma so you can make it work.
Investigator ability: Amazing. He has two abilities and honestly, either of them alone would be great. One allows trading damage for stat boosts which makes him very, very flexible. The other allows him to draw cards whenever he’s damaged which is just super solid and fixes a traditional Guardian weakness. Having both of these abilities and they even interact with each other? Holy crap. However, the Elder Sign is nothing.
Signature: Good. The Home Front is just a very solid skill. Nukes a fight test, heals you for a bit. It’s Practiced for whatever reason which is very relevant because Mark can play (and will usually play) Practice makes Perfect.
Weakness: Very mild. Does very little if you do stay aware of it. But you do actually need to stay aware of it. Until you drew Shell Shock, you will want to not go overboard on damage. But honestly, unless you actually already have 6 damage on you (which you already want to avoid because Sophie will hate you) this will only deal 2 or less horror. And that’s not all that horrible for a weakness. It’s usually only going to ping you for 1 or even zero. Whatever.
Card access: It’s okay. Non-Guardian level 0 Tactic cards aren’t terribly plentiful, but there are a couple really good ones in there. And they do allow doing some cute things with Mark. He’s a very good user of Practice Makes Perfect in particular, but some other fun cards like Kicking the Hornet’s Nest and Act of Desperation are rather spicy too.

Mark Harrigan earns his S status as the best fighter due to his range. One might even argue that Nathaniel is better at the role itself… but Mark can also do everything else in addition to fighting thanks to Sophie. When you have the capability of boosting your skills to hypercompetent at the blink of an eye, you just become a small self-sustainable army of your own. And that’s really quite unparalleled in the game and might even earn Mark the title of best overall investigator. We’ll see where he ends up in the end!
Really, the only strike against him is his deck building which is still a bit flat, even in spite of how much “Mark can run it” has been memed to death with every Tactic that saw release.

Leo Anderson: A
Statline: 4/3/4/1. Good. Compared to Zoey, one point of agility moved over into intellect. And that is … fine. He’s rarely able to make great use out of it, but at least that can be leveraged with a Flashlight or similar. Agility 1 isn’t much worse than agility 2 anyways.
Soak: 8/6. Good to great. This is what i would call the expected split for a fighter. Like with Zoey, coupling it with high willpower leads to a lot of resilience in the face of the encounter deck. And that’s before we get into his ally thing.
Investigator ability: Fine. I am honestly not a huge fan, but it’s an okay ability. Unless you lean heavily into disposable allies (which i am not completely on board with when you can’t run yellow cards) you won’t be triggering this ability very often. But to be fair, a bonus action and a rebate to the played card is a great bonus whenever it fires. The Elder Sign mostly whiffs a lot, if i draw two allies off of it throughout the whole campaign i am already feeling blessed.
Signature: Good…ish. Two additional ally slots is a big game, but having to a) pay for it and b) having to draw it in the first place is rough. For one, having to find him in your deck first means you can’t really build around it and you still need your Charismas. And having to pay for him means that you have less money available for the allies that take up the slots… and allies usually cost a bit. There’s a bit more tension here than is comfortable for a signature, i think.
Weakness: This is perfectly fine. With Leo you are supposed to have multiple allies and losing one for your weakness is absolutely reasonable. You even have the option to instead discard allies from your hand to shield your guys in play (and the investment you made into them). There are some worst cases to Bought in Blood, but this isn’t a weakness i fear.
Card access: The 5/2 guardian/rogue. Gives Leo access to most of the good weapons and, more importantly, the ammo events. There’s a big chunk of green cards that Leo just won’t use due to his 1 agility. I can’t help but feel like his card access doesn’t really properly mesh with the ally theme he has got going on. It does a good job of giving him the resources to pay for all of it, though.

Leo is a perfectly capable and resilient fighter. He is exceptionally tanky in a similar way to Zoey. He can be similarly rich to Zoey, but needs to do it through his deck instead of getting it handed to him through the investigator ability. I wavered a lot between awarding Leo the A+ instead of the A, but decided to use the distinction here to put a space between him and Zoey who i believe is just more straightforward and direct. They both have similar capabilities, but Leo has to dig more through his deck to get there and can be vulnerable to bad draws in a way that Zoey isn’t.

Carolyn Fern: B+
Statline: 3/4/2/2. Fine. With Carolyn, we are basically treating her like a Seeker when looking at this statline. For some reason, she is missing a point as her skill total is only 11 instead of the usual 12. And i feel like that one point is sorely missing. If she had an extra point of willpower or agility, that would’ve been worth a whole lot. Willpower would’ve just made sense for her too. That’s a bit of a head scratcher for me.
Soak: 6/9. Good. To make up for the missing skill point, she gets an extra point of sanity soak. I’d have preferred the willpower point, but fair enough.
Investigator ability: Very strong. Carolyn is one of three supporter guardians and thanks to this ability she is the best one. Turning horror into money for everyone is universally useful and immediately scales up the capabilities of everyone. It’s even worth intentionally hurting yourself (and your friends!) to have more to heal. The Elder Sign is good. It’s usually valuable when you pull it.
Signature: Great. Doesn’t take a slot, has fantastic icons for use with Well Prepared and adds card draw to her healing. That’s just a great package and even when you heal through something else than Hypnotic Therapy you get extra healing if you want it.
Weakness: Fairly weak, honestly. Having to heal 4 horror before you can do your thing again doesn’t take a whole lot out of you. Especially if you have the signature on the table, you can get rid of this rather quick. Takes two to three actions to clear but is usually also not very pressing in the same way that an enemy or debilitating treachery would be.
Card access: Fantastic. Carolyn has the weirdest grab bag of cards available to her and it allows her to be built with a wild mix of cards from Guardian, Mystic and Seeker. Also everything that heals horror, which is even interpreted in a rather wide way (for example she can run Peter Sylvestre because he heals himself). But the really exceptional thing with her deckbuilding is the 15 level 0-1 yellow and purple cards. No limitation to events, skills or certain traits. Just those two classes, first two levels. That’s a lot of cards and well worth not getting upgraded weapons or highlevel Guardian.

Guardian often gets reduced to the fighter class, but support and healing is a big part of it too. Healing has traditionally had a reputation as not worth it (although that is in the process of changing) and Carolyn adds enough value to those cards to push them over the edge. She can also play a decent Seeker role, leveraging her stats and seeker/mystic access. She still mostly gets a clue per action in that role, so that does not put her up to the same level as an actual Seeker, but of course that is perfectly reasonable considering that she also does the support thing. I rank her as a B+ because on her own she’s not going to blast scenarios. But she does make the rest of the team better. Not necessarily through the horror healing itself, but more so through paying for people’s stuff.

Tommy Muldoon: A, ahead of Leo
Statline: 3/3/4/2. Hey, it’s Roland’s stats! This works a lot better for Tommy than it does for Roland because Tommy doesn’t have a seeker access that screams for a better intellect. His survivor side doesn’t care terribly much about having a 3 or a 4 in a skill.
Soak: 8/6. Great. Tommy’s soak is incredible thanks to his playstyle. His actual soak stats here are almost irrelevant in this context. That being said, this is what i called the best guardian split before and that applies here too.
Investigator ability: Great. There’s two parts to his investigator ability and both are relevant. The big part is that Tommy gets paid for assets being defeated. This lets him generate money through tanking with cheap assets and tanky allies. The smaller part is that the defeated card gets shuffled back. This allows him to redraw the card later on without having to go through the usual survivor channels of digging them back out of the discard. His Elder Sign is also very good. Moving around damage and horror tokens interacts well with his ability and allows him to mitigate direct damage and horror as well.
Signature: Good. It’s Becky! We like Becky. She has class and personality. You know, for a gun. One of the signatures that get whole decks built around and in the age of Backpack(2) finding her isn’t even that difficult. Is Becky good? Like… better than other options? Well. Somewhat. Becky can get outscaled by highlevel weapons but if your plan is to voltron a gun together from parts then Becky allows you to just dedicate your XP towards those upgrades and get a solid base weapon that doesn’t run out of ammo. She’s great for that deck but nothing terribly special otherwise.
Weakness: Rather strong. Rookie Mistake can really screw you over. An ill-timed Rookie Mistake ditches a bunch of your assets, so you aren’t getting paid for the damage/horror you “invested” into it and also don’t get to reshuffle them. It can dump those Guard Dogs, Gretes or Beat Cops you only used once so far and didn’t get your value from yet. That can really screw your plans over. This is one of those weaknesses you should keep in mind while it’s still in your deck so you play around it.
Card access: 5/2 guardian/survivor is fantastic. You get tons of goodies for your ability. Flare is a card that is worth highlighting here because it’s absurd in Tommy. Survivor is of course generally a great subclass to have because it has a lower level curve among its upgrades, so the level 0-2 cardpool in survivor is just simply a lot bigger than the 0-2 pool from other classes.

Tommy can play a very similar game to what Leo does. Primary fighter with 4 fight, able to hide behind a wall of allies to be very tanky. He gets the nod over Leo from me because i think his investigator ability is just more consistently powerful. It gives Tommy all the money he could want to fuel his stuff and doesn’t need to devote much towards that in his actual deck. He gets some great pieces of card draw (Take Heart, At the Crossroads) that Leo would reaaaaaally love to have an equivalent for.
Tommy can also play a very good Blessed deck, getting the best Blessed cards out of the two primary classes for the archetype in Innsmouth.

Sister Mary: C
Statline: 4/2/3/3. Fairly mid. Her bless ability allows her to get more out of this statline than the raw numbers suggest, but she’s still not really great at anything in specific before she gets specialized tools in her hands.
Soak: 5/9. Again, not great. She’s quite vulnerable to damage and will need to take precautions if she wants to do enemy management. Her signature helps a lot to mitigate it and her weakness deals horror instead of damage. So this isn’t as dire as it is for Roland, but it’s something to keep in mind.
Investigator ability: Underrated. Keeping the chaos bag topped up with very little effort is basically worth +1 to all your skills because you no longer need to be +2 up on every test to have great chances to pass. It’s subject to variance of course, but that’s just the chaos bag for you. Still, you need to actually support the blesses from your investigator ability with some more from your cards to ramp up fast enough, otherwise it takes you too long to get to where you can treat your skills as higher than they are. So this is below average, but not by as much as many would have you believe.
Signature: Great. I love this card. It immediately plugs Mary’s most glaring weak spot while also ramping up the bless game.
Weakness: Yikes. A game where you get this out of the way early feels very different from one where you have to fear it coming down on you at any point. A recent rules adjustment means that Deny Existence can no longer neuter Crisis of Faith and in turn Mary now has to deal with an absolutely crippling weakness that can either drop her from full sanity to the brink of insanity (or beyond) or undo all of the progress you made towards shaping the chaos bag. However you split the effect, this is just an awful ordeal all around.
Card access: I don’t think very highly of Mystic 0-2 because many of the cards in Mystic expect you to upgrade them or have as much Willpower as you can muster. There’s still an okay amount of cards here for you, but few that actually play into the Bless archetype.

I used to think of Mary as a B+ investigator, shoulder by shoulder with Carolyn. But man… that change to Deny Existence just crippled the hell out of her. The way i see it, Mary is best when you actually keep the blesses in the bag. Sealing the tokens away on cards for bonuses are things that i rather keep to other investigators that use blesses more incidentally. Mary is good because she can actually keep the bag stocked up at 7-10 tokens at all times (at least in 2p), which is when she basically gets to treat her statline as 5/3/4/4 and be an actually impressive generalist. Crisis of Faith dumps on that strategy so hard, it’s hard to even go for it anymore.
You can still play her with the kit that was tailored towards sealing blesses, with Holy Spear on the top end turning her into a serious enemy killer… but honestly Tommy and Zoey are just better at that.
#RevertDeny

Lily Chen: A, behind Leo and Tommy
Statline: 3/2/4/3. Also, she starts with a Discipline of her choice, giving her +1 to a stat of her choice. That means she can start with the same statline that Mark Harrigan has. That’s a good start! She also has the flexibility to stay at 4 fight and instead boost one of her other attributes by 1. Fantastic!
Soak: 7/7. This is what peak performance looks like.
Investigator ability: Starts out relatively weak. Basically, at first her investigator ability is that 13th skill point and an ability she can infrequently use at the cost of giving up that skill point. Once she gains more experience, this investigator ability scales up, giving her more abilities and more stats. She peaks at 4/3/5/4 with a handful abilities she can use for bursts of activity. Hot stuff. Her Elder Sign is consistently useful and can even be built around.
Signature: She doesn’t get additional signatures aside from her Disciplines. This is fair enough, but contributes to her feeling somewhat weak during the first couple scenarios.
Weakness: At least this also starts out being weak at first. Once you get a couple of them, they start becoming more annoying. Not because of the damage/horror, she tanks that like a boss. But because having 3-4 weaknesses in your deck that replace your draws in a Guardian/Mystic feels awful.
Card access: Fine. Of all the Edge of the Earth investigators that move from one class into the other, Lily is the one that in my experience goes through the most significant change. I tend to shed her Mystic parts almost completely, leaving only the busted level 0 events (Ward, Razor, Runes, Deny) and replacing everything else with blue cards. This card pool certainly works for her, but it doesn’t leave a lot of room for brewing up wilder stuff.

Lily takes you on the hero’s journey. You start out a bit undercooked, with a card pool she’s not quite set up to use well and abilities that are on the weak side. But with every bit of XP you put into her she gains a lot of power and at every 15XP breakpoint she levels up. An endgame Lily is a force of nature that both murders everything in her way and shrugs off the encounter deck. I am ranking her at A instead of A+ because of that journey though. Many campaigns have openers that don’t really play nice, when you get dropped into the Untamed Wilds or into a Pit of Despair you are going to feel that lack of an actual investigator ability or signature. You will still have a great chance on the back of your 13 point statline, but you will just have to be a bit more concerned than the best of the best before you get to join their ranks (and surpass most of them).

Carson Sinclair: Unranked
Statline: 2/2/2/2. Hot garbage. How he doesn’t at least get 4 will to make use of cards like Vambrace and other encounter mitigation cards is beyond my comprehension.
Soak: 6/6. Also just bad.
Investigator ability: The ability is S tier, though. The general rule of thumb for an investigator ability is that it gives you a little less value per turn than an action. You get a clue, a damage, a resource, a card. Something like that. Those that do give an action, have it restricted in some way, like only for a specific type of action and/or only with specific timing. The investigators that break out from this rule of thumb are immediately noteworthy as powerful (see: Mark Harrigan). Carson also completely disregards this rule and just straight up gets an action, no strings attached. More than that, he gives this action to anyone for even more flexibility than a regular action would be. And then also allows breaking the round sequencing on top of all that. This ability is absolutely nuts, no doubt about it.
Signature: Great. Securing a test with 3 wild icons while also drawing a card is really good. He even gets two of them. And since it’s Practiced he could even get more uses out of it through Practice makes Perfect, if he chooses Seeker as his subclass.
Weakness: Fine. Weaknesses the reshuffle themselves are the worst. (Actually… scratch that, they are second worst behind weaknesses that take your XP). You will usually want to fulfill this condition anyways, so this can stay around in play for a good while without hindering you much. This can be worked around, but that reshuffle means it’s just going to feel really rotten whenever it does fire.
Card access: Okay. Carson doesn’t get a full subclass, but gets to choose one of three. While that offers a choice at deck creation it still means that your card access is considerably worse than the 5/2 investigators that set the benchmark in the Core Set.

I haven’t played Carson myself so far because i am violently repelled by his playstyle, so he goes into the Unranked tab of the chart. If i had to come up with a ranking for him, I’d put him in C, above Mary (writing these words physically hurt me in my chest. Poor Mary.) When you play Carson, you are playing his investigator ability for the most part. Giving your actions away to other players means that they get to make efficient use of their upgrades, you are pretty much a force multiplier. It also means that your own actions are just going to be somewhat lousy. You can lean into some testless stuff with cards like Toe to Toe and Look What I Found to get the most out of them, but it’s just going to be very limited when compared what investigators with real stats can do. You can also give him a Runic Axe and be able to take out some stuff…. but to be honest that speaks more to how broken the axe is than anything else.
So yeah, he’s probably fine. But too dependent on what his teammates can do. Lending your actions to Mark is simply going to be better than lending them to Mary and I don’t want to judge an investigator just by their best case scenario.

Nathaniel Cho: A+, ahead of Zoey
Statline: 3/2/5/2. Basically the 12 point version of Mark Harrigan, losing only a point of agility. Hell yeah.
Soak: 9/6. An extra point of soak and a good split. More goodness.
Investigator ability: Fantastic. Additional guaranteed damage is just very, very good. I rank Zoey really high because she can get it through her signature. Nate gets that payoff without even having to find his sig. It notably is also once per phase instead of once per round, which gives him some extra potential with cards like Counterpunch to get even more out of it. Its main limitation is of course that its tied to events, so Nate needs a constant stream of both cards and resources if he wants to consistently trigger this ability. This is something he can do and it’s not all that difficult either. Oh, and his Elder Sign is one of the best in the game. Returning an event to your hand is fantastic value. My favorite card to return here is Stand Together(3), that is always a riot.
Signature: The Boxing Gloves are Actually his signature isn’t the boxing gloves, it’s a tutor for the boxing gloves. Close enough! Honestly though, Randall is good. Has the right amount of stamina and sanity to complement Nate’s innate soak. Can even heal you beyond that. But mostly, he fetches the gloves. And you know what, that is very good too.
Weakness: Nasty. Tommy Malloy does a great job of being a credible threat to one of the game’s best fighters. If Nate want’s to punch Tommy down, he has to attack three times which just takes up his whole turn. Luckily, there is a very elegant solution to Malloy in Handcuffs and Nate shouldn’t leave his home without them. You still are going to spend two actions and two resources on dealing with Tommy that way, of course. So the dude is always going to be just a bit of a dick.
Card access: Bad. It doesn’t really get worse than mono-class.

One of two contenders to Mark’s throne as the best fighter in the game. Nate throws out an absolutely ridiculous amount of damage and he does so from level 0 on. That investigator ability completely replaces the need for a weapon and allows Nate to just trade a card and an action for a defeated enemy all day long.
My first try with Nathaniel after his release was Return to Carcosa and i was just stunned to see him completely kill everything in Last King. Every. Last. Thing. All six of the Elites, Dianne, the crazed partyguests. Even the cockroaches. That was on six XP without even trying, it just happened. Just a delight.
Nate takes the top of the A+ tier due to his completely over the top power in his one role, but i won’t give him the S due to being so one-note. The comparison with Mark really highlights the value that having a bit of a range can give you and Nate simply doesn’t have that extra mile in him.

Parallel Roland: Unranked
Statline and Soak: Same as regular Roland. So not all that impressive.
Investigator ability: Pretty good. The Directives allow to either fix up Roland’s weaknesses (like his sanity) or give him some new angles to pursue to build around. They also come with drawbacks but overall the flexibility you get from building your own investigator here allows for a lot of really powerful stuff.
Signature and Weakness: Same as regular Roland. So, great weapon, awful weakness.
Card access: You lose the top end of Guardian and your Seeker access, but in exchange you get Insights and Tactics 0-3 from all classes. On face value, this isn’t great. Just in terms of size of the card pool, the tactics and insights from Survivor, Rogue and Mystic don’t really make up for all the other stuff from Seeker that you give up. In practice, Roland didn’t make great use of Seeker assets anyways though. And you do get some really fancy stuff from Kicking the Hornets Nest over Swift Reload to Drawn to the Flame and At a Crossroads. There is also a tremendous amount of Insights in Seeker, you are almost not giving up any events. In total I’d call this a fairly even trade.

With one exception that i like a lot, i am not really much into the parallel investigators. Most of them i didn’t even try because i find their design often to be cramped and inelegant. I don’t really have such complaints about notRoland notBanks, but somehow i never ended up playing him anyways.
It seems to me like the parallel version doesn’t move the needle much from the original version. The card pools are roughly comparable in how much they encompass, how many options they open up. The Directives are an interesting wrinkle and you can certainly squeeze a good deal of value out of them that does eclipse the occasional clue that original Roland gets. You do of course also have to deal with the drawbacks, so it’s a bit of a wash.
So yeah, i am going to have him unranked, but if i were forced to give him a rank i would put him ahead of his regular version, but still in the B tier. This is true for any of the permutations (parallel front/para back, regular front/para back, para front/reg back) and the original (reg front/reg back) is the weakest one of the four (but not by much).

Parallel Zoey: Unranked
Statline: Same as the original, so pretty good!
Soak: The parallel actually loses the 15th point of soak and goes down to the regular 8/6 which is fair enough.
Investigator ability: We have two abilities here. Adding a bless whenever she deals damage is neat. It’s limited to once per phase, but thanks to her cross and a couple other effects she has the potential to get more than just the 1 per round out of it. That’s going to be rare though. Still, this is almost Mary, it’s only missing the starting 2 blesses in the bag. Bizzaro Zoey (Bizzoey, if you will) gets a second ability on top of that though and that is a good one. Paying blesses to get extra damage is a great outlet and means that she doesn’t even need to have more payoffs in her deck, this is actually already worth putting blesses into the bag for. Her Elder Sign is nothing.
Signature and Weakness: same as regular Zoey. We liked them!
Card access: Again Guardian gets capped at 3, but we get access to two traits: Blessed and Charm. Up to level 4 this time. And then a handful of level 0 purple cards just for the hell of it. That is an a massive amount of cards you get access to here. Now you do lose the Dunwich Five which just pulls from all classes, of course. But that Blessed access is really spicy.

Okay, full disclosure. Before today, I didn’t really read her completely before. And let me just weep for Mary here again. notZoey really rolls just over everything Mary does, right? I suppose she doesn’t get the Spear… Alright, let me try to figure this out.
Well, the Blessed Zoey is certainly a very good investigator. She can play the same game that i liked with Mary and doesn’t have to fear a weakness that would punish her for it. She gets the majority of good cards, even has better access to Blessed than Mary does. Compared to original Zoey, she loses the resource generation and that is huge. Immediately, it makes the cross a lot less potent too. So you are giving up some things for sure and what you get back in exchange is a bit more involved than what the original had. Original Zoey is very straightforward and firing on all cylinders from scenario 1 on. The parallel likely needs some XP investment to have the Bless gimmick take off so I don’t think i would rank the parallel over the original. Let’s look at the half-parallel permutations as well before i make the speculative call where i would rank her if i had to.
Original front with parallel back: We are keeping the resource generation and trading just our old deck building for the Bless/Charm access. The bless stuff opens up a deck even further up that uses Blessing of Isis to farm the Elder Sign (for a very similar payoff that the parallel front has). Charms? There are some okay options here, but honestly Zoey never hurt for good things to put into her accessory slot. So that is not terribly relevant. Overall not a very attractive trade to me, i think the Dunwich Five access might just enable more interesting combinations.
Parallel front with original back: Now we can play Holy Spear and Nephtys. Zoey’s original deckbuilding is still able to do a great bless deck (and will get A LOT better once Hemlock Vale releases…) If i wanted to play the parallel front and do a Mary-style deck i could see going with either the parallel or the original back. Honestly, i don’t think the difference is all that significant.
Ummm… let’s say a speculative A for her. I think i want her a tier below the original because you need to have to do more work through your deck instead of just leveraging the text on your investigator card.

And that’s the Guardians down. Woo, close to 20% into the article. Close to 7000 words. Lord have mercy on us. Here’s where we are right now:

(click to zoom)

So we have a fairly even spread so far. Nothing that warranted breaking out the D tier yet, but while writing up Para-Zoey i was actually tempted to go back to Mary and push her down. I think i’ll just use Mary as the gatekeeper into C now. To get in you need to be better than her. If you are worse, you are D. Alright, in the interest of not wanting to dwell on that any longer, let’s move into Seeker. I expect greatness.

Seeker

Daisy Walker: S, behind Mark
Statline: 3/5/2/2. Good to Great. She has 5 intellect and that’s just never going to be bad. Her other stats are a bit lacking and i would have like to see her get that fourth point of willpower to really let her make use of the Mystic part of her.
Soak: 5/9. She’s very fragile and will need to take precautions not to die to unexpected bursts of damage.
Investigator ability: Fantastic. That additional Tome action generates insane amounts of value over the course of a scenario. You do need a book in play to make use of it, but there’s plenty of them around that work very well for this purpose and unless your mulligan goes exceptionally poorly you will be using this ability consistently every turn for the whole game. Hot stuff. That Elder Sign is also really good. Getting an unexpected injection of 3 to 4 cards once or twice per scenario does a lot of good for you.
Signature: The Tote Bag is fine. It’s relatively cheap and does give you more flexibility in what assets you put on the table. It’s not a particularly important card though, if you don’t draw it you won’t miss it terribly. It’s mostly good as a way to mitigate the Necronomicon.
Weakness: Nasty. Three actions and 3 horror to clear. When it enters play, it might kick another tome out of your hands. And it shuts off your Elder Sign which will cost you cards and the test when it happens. I’ve had it heard often that this signature can be ignored and just be kept in play, but i don’t necessarily agree with that take. I often want to get rid of it to free up the hand slot, having tomes in play is simply very valuable to Daisy. So it’s going to depend on whether i have the Tote Bag or not. If i do, i can just stuff the Necronomicon into it and let it be. Otherwise i will probably want to ditch it.
Card access: She gets mainclass Seeker, subclass Mystic and that’s fine. In terms of tomes that doesn’t really get her much. Basically just Abyssal Tome and De Vermis, both quite specialized tools that you need to build around and Scroll of Prophecies which is somewhat redundant with Old Book of Lore. but her high sanity can be used to pay for Wards of Protection and the like. Mostly she’s going to be a Seeker though.

I am just going to come out and say it: I believe that Daisy is the best Seeker in the game. That ability of hers is just incredible. It is not quite a full action worth of value every turn, but it’s oh-so-close. Her range of tomes is by now so broad that she can use this action to do nearly everything, no matter if it’s moving, investigating or just drawing fistfuls of cards. What sets her apart is the consistency with which she does it. You are going to get your value every turn and usually that value is going to exceed the 1 resource or 1 card that other investigators with similar consistency get. Just take Old Book of Lore and Grim Memoir as a baseline and be aware that it actually goes up from there as you put XP into your deck. Other investigator’s ability usually stays the same, exceptions like Lily aside. Daisy’s actually gets significantly better as the campaign goes on – and unlike Lily you already start at a level that is far above average.
I’ll still put her behind Mark, because while her tomes allow her to do a variety of things, they are ultimately still all Seeker things.

Rex Murphy: A+, behind Zoey
Statline: 3/4/2/3. Okay. Compared to Daisy, he trades a point of intellect for a point of agility. It’s hard to be excited about that.
Soak: 6/9. He does however get that extra point of health and that really helps.
Investigator ability: Very good. A situational extra clue per turn is good. It does require oversucceeding and in turn this is not quite as reliable as one would like. But you’ll be able to fire this often enough to get a significant advantage over the majority of other investigators. His Elder Sign is … interesting. Very situational, but occasionally you will draw some cards here. One of these Elder Signs where you are happy if it is relevant twice in a campaign.
Signature: Good. Search for the Truth is a huge injection of cards or triple intellect icons for your investigation, to get that crucial oversuccess. Both modes of the card are important and you will always be happy to draw this one.
Weakness: Rex’s Curse is mostly annoying to resolve, but not actually that horrible. A huge time waster as you have to take tests twice to pass. Reshuffling instead of discarding isn’t great because it will cost you a couple draws, but only if you are already drawing a lot of cards so it’s not that bad either.
Card access: Again, the Dunwich Five access doesn’t disappoint. In my experience, Rex borrows a lot of cards from Rogue especially, either for yellow/green curse shenanigans or simply to get the good resource generators.

Taboo’d Rex is ultimately a lot more fair than his legacy would suggest. As an investigator built on oversucceeding that doesn’t have a 5 in his main stat, he requires a non-trivial amount of commitment from his deck to do his thing. Higher Education exists to make this easier, but it’s still not a given that you get his bonus clue on command. And since Higher Ed does cost a fair bit of XP, you might not even have it before scenario 3 or 4.
Getting a clue per turn is good for sure, but i feel like Daisy is able to outpace that rate. You will also just randomly get situations where your Rex fails his oversuccess and you stumble just a bit as you now only picked up 1 clue instead of 2… leaving 1 on the location so you aren’t getting your bonus on your second action either.
There’s no doubt about old untaboo’d Rex being king during the times of Dunwich and Carcosa. But his taboo’d version in today’s scenarios such as Pit of Despair? He’s not going to get things handed to him just for showing up anymore.
I rank him on the lower end of A+, but will still give him the nod over the plebs in A.

Minh Thi Phan: A+, all the way on the left, longingly staring into S
Statline: 4/4/2/2. A very good statline that works well as a base for her investigator ability.
Soak: 7/7. We like this. We like this even more in a Seeker. This is one tanky secretary!
Investigator ability: Good to Great. How good Minh’s ability is depends a bit on the number of players in the group, because it has a limit of once per investigator per round. So it does scale up in a full group. Giving +1 to tests is valuable and if she does it multiple times in a round that really stacks up. Speaking of stacking, this ability does a great job of working together with some cards in her card pool to turn cards that would otherwise be dead or weak into big skill bonuses.
Signature: Great. Analytical Mind unlocks Minh’s true potential and turns a great investigator ability into a fantastic one. Attaching card draw and allowing for remote commits really does a great job of turning her ability up to eleven.
Weakness: Now this however… this i don’t like. Not at all. The King in Yellow is one of those few weaknesses that stop me from wanting to play an investigator sometimes because it’s just a tad too toxic. Enters play, kicks something out of your hand slot and then asks you to burn a whole lot of cards from your hand to get rid of it. Drawing an autofail on the test that is supposed to finally discard the King in Yellow is a table flip.
Card access: Incredible. Seeker and Survivor are arguably the two best classes right now in terms of just raw power in their pool. And Survivor 2 is pretty much 90% of Survivor, so this deckbuilding is just pure gas, back to front. Minh has probably the best deckbuilding in the game right now, with possible exception of Lola and Charlie.

That deckbuilding of hers does a lot for her. Minh has a bunch of decktypes available to her and they are all just very good. Supporting her investigator ability through her card choices is easy enough to do and just between her innate ability and Grisly Totem you will just never draw a bad card (unless it’s a weakness).
The only thing keeping her down is that on her own her ability isn’t quite up to where you want it to be in terms of value per turn – although in large groups it certainly can become so, as long as you all stay together. That and the King in Yellow. I absolutely despise this weakness.

Ursula Downs: C, ahead of Mary
Statline: 3/4/1/4. This works very well for her.
Soak: 7/7. Great!
Investigator ability: This is fine, but not overwhelmingly so. Getting a free Investigate each turn is super solid, even after the stipulation that you need to have moved first. It’s not on a level with Rex because it doesn’t actually offer you any test compression, only action compression. But i would rank it over Roland’s, who gets a testless clue but can’t rely on the trigger as well as Ursula can. The Elder Sign is … acceptable. Can get you a free action here and there. Sure, why not.
Signature: Almost agressively meh. He offers a good amount of soak for his cost and if you get to draw a couple cards off of him you are golden. But are you really keeping an ally slot open for him? Most campaigns also offer story allies that beat out Jake Williams. I’d argue that he’s just not that great and overall a bit of a strike against Ursula.
Weakness: And that is strike two. I find this weakness to be very grating to play with. Having to move every turn is a very notable restriction for an investigator that wants to collect clues already, having to also investigate there is even worse. And to add the final insult, it’s one of those annoying things that reshuffle instead of getting discarded. Yuck.
Card access: Honestly, also not great. You are getting some fancy bits out of Rogue’s selection of Exceptionals, you are getting some standouts like Hallowed Mirror and Grotesque Statue. But overall, this is not significantly deeper than just mono-Seeker.

Ach, Uschi. Why are you so unimpressive. She’s really not bad, at the end of the day she’s still a Seeker that is also fairly resilient to the encounter deck thanks to stats and soak. And she has some enemy management through her agility. These qualities make her a good allrounder, but her whole package is just a bit behind par. If her sig and weakness were just a bit better, i would be much more on board with her.
She gets the job done, but will almost never actually impress me. That’s almost exactly my definition for the C tier, so there she goes. And gains a free investigate while doing so.

Joe Diamond: B+, ahead of Carolyn
Statline: 2/4/4/2. Joe can both fight and clue, but the bumbling detective scares easily. This statline perfectly sums up his complete character: Good at actively contributing, but incredibly vulnerable.
Soak: 8/6. The Guardian statline. Makes sense.
Investigator ability: The Hunch deck is very good. Depending on how you build it, it can ranke from wildly inconsistent to very consistent. And you are usually getting good value out of it, roughly equal to a card drawn and a discount on that card. That is really, really good. But to get that consistency that you want you are limited fairly hard on what cards go into the hunch deck, so this lacks the broad range of options that Daisy gets from her thing.
Signature: Fine. Not exceptional, but gets the job done. Only +1 fight on a two-handed gun stinks, but since he only gets access to Guardian 0-2, the better options aren’t available to him anyways. So at least the Colt doesn’t get outscaled with XP. You get a decent amount of ammo for your resources, some good icons for Well Prepared shenanigans and a triggered ability that recycles hunches. Not the greatest of effects tbh, but occasionally it does some good. A very mid tier signature.
Weakness: The number one thing that i can’t stand on a weakness is if it steals away my hard earned experience points. So you have to keep 2 resources on you at all times to be able to get rid of it. It’s not a terribly impactful weakness. If you don’t have a clue on you, it’s even weaker. But just the potential of costing me XP has me violently dislike this card.
Card access: I think Joe makes slightly better use of his card pool than Roland, but the limit to Guardian 0-2 does put a severe dampener on how good of a fighter Joe can be.

Joe is solid. The way i like to play him is as mostly a fighter, but load up his hunch deck with free clue events and card draw. This lets him play a very similar game to Roland, with a lower potential for combat, but with an easier time to contribute to the clue effort. He can easily be built to skew more clue heavy too, but in my opinion that is wasting his talents a bit. He’s a very unusual seeker, and just trying to do usual Seeker stuff with him is missing the point.
The big issue with Joe is of course that he’s the encounter deck’s plaything. He just takes most effects directly on the nose and aside from a few tech cards like Logical Reasoning there is very little he can do about it. This vulnerability is what keep Joe out of the major leagues and gets him stranded in B+ instead.

Mandy Thompson: A+, but only barely
Statline: 3/5/1/3. This is the best statline in the game, perfectly optimized for what a seeker would want. Literally perfect. The only counteroffer i will accept is 4/5/1/2, which is Harvey’s statline. In any case, this is just top notch.
Soak: 6/8. Perfectly reasonable and what we expect from most seekers.
Investigator ability: Great! Getting to search 3 additional cards counteracts her 50 card deck perfectly. Meanwhile, the ability to resolve an extra search target allows for some really big plays with certain cards. She’s even able to lend her ability to other investigators, but unlike Minh she is limit once per round, not per investigator. You will be able to trigger this ability most turns as long as you built your deck correctly. Her Elder Sign is card draw with a bonus which is good before even taking in account that she can use her investigator ability on it if she didn’t use it before this round.
Signature: Fine, but not really anything too great. Her Occult Evidences give her three additional Research targets in her deck for consistency and that’s solid. We do like free clues after all. Drawing them sucks just a bit though. And after it found its way into your hand one way or the other it expects you to spend an action on shuffling it back into your deck. And that is just not worth it imo. You can get fancy and do some Farsight deck or whatever, but honestly i would just use it as a wild icon and not bother to try and maximise it.
Weakness: Cancels one of your searches and draws you an encounter card. That’s pretty bad and it would be even worse if it came at a point where you aren’t prepared for it. But of course that’s usually not how it goes. Mandy can bait this out really well by searching through her whole deck or big chunks of it and then once it’s resolved it will take a good while to shuffle back because of the deck size. Drawing the extra encounter card does sting, but it’s very in line with other weaknesses. On the milder side, even.
Card access: Has the same deckbuilding rules as Carson has: Her main class and then 10 events/skills level 0-1 from one of three other classes. As mentioned this allows for some choice during deckbuilding but strands her with pool of cards that is rather limited when compared to the standard 5/2 deckbuilding.

Ironically, the character whose investigator ability is literally having incredible consistency is having a bit of a consistency problem now that her deck is locked in at 50. Now, make no mistake, even with her card pool being a bit flatter than others, Seeker is deep enough to easily fill a 50 size deck with good cards. Great cards, even. She starts out just as strong as you’d expect from any other Seeker. But the main effect of having a large deck is being very inefficient when it comes to spending XP. Upgrading 2 cards out of 50 is simply not as good as 2 out of 30. The investigator ability works to still find you cards reasonably well, but you do get some variance that other investigators don’t have and at that point you are only using that ability to get back to the baseline.
She still is a Seeker with 5 intellect and some obviously powerful plays available to her. My favorite Mandy deck is doing a Miskatonic Army thing with her, and cheat two allies into play with each play of Calling in Favors or Flare. But she doesn’t ramp up in power as well as the other 5 intellect Seekers do. I will still give her the A+, but only barely so.

Amanda Sharpe: front of A
Statline: 2/2/2/2. Hot garbage 🙂 Her investigator ability does build on top of this of course, but the main takeaway here is that if you didn’t prepare the right skill in the turn before, you are quite vulnerable to what the mythos phase holds.
Soak: 7/7. This does help with that vulnerability and is a good base for her flexibility.
Investigator ability: Like the other 2/2/2/2 investigator we talked about before, Amanda IS her ability. The ability is really good and lets you squeeze an incredible amount of value from your skills. It also acts as an extra card drawn per turn, allowing her to filter through her deck really fast and find whatever cards she needs.
Signature: Excellent. Allows squeezing even more uses out of the skill you return to your hand. And it’s a 3 wild icon card of course, giving you a virtual 5/5/5/5 statline for a while. This is just gas all around.
Weakness: This weakness is a whole lot of nothing. You can just commit it to any old test that happens between drawing the card and the start of the investigator phase. And just like that, it’s gone. If you are really worried about it, keep the signature in hand and return the weakness to your hand if you have to put it under Amanda. And then commit it to the next test. In theory this could force you to spend a turn as a 1/1/1/1, but this happens very rarely.
Card access: Practiced 0-3 catches a lot of very, very good skills. This card access doesn’t give a lot of cards by number, but a very high level of quality.

Amanda is good at pretty much whatever she sets her mind to. But she has to put in the work to get there. It’s not like you can just put a Deduction under her and expect to get three bonus clues – you are still at only 3 (or 4) intellect then and need to pass your tests still. Where it gets interesting though is when you realize that she can just as good at fighting as she can at investigating. Well, almost. You are lacking good weapons, but you can still make her a better fighter than Joe on the top end.
Thanks to all those cards she draws from her innate ability she also upgrades extremely well. If you put XP into her cards you can be certain to get your value out of it. Basically the opposite to how it works for Mandy.
Overall i am giving her an A. She can be very, very powerful but the big difference to some others with similar heights is that she always requires some assembly to do her thing and ebbs and flows from turn to turn with available skills.

Monterey Jack: A, below Lily
Statline: 1/4/2/5. The closest comparison to this statline that we’ve seen so far is Ursulas. And tbh i do like hers a bit better. 5 agility is actually pretty good as it gives you reliable enemy management before even putting more cards towards it, but that 2 fight isn’t all that useful and 1 will is just a huge blind spot.
Soak: 8/6. With the 1 willpower, i really would’ve liked a 7/7 here, but it is what it is.
Investigator ability: Very, very good. There will be one or two turns in a scenario where you won’t be able to trigger it, but this is outweighed by the times where you get the full value from it. This ability generally puts Jenny’s extra resource to shame as the card draw is more valuable in general terms and you can get both often enough to matter. As required he can always get more cards or the resources to play them, whatever is required at the time. And that’s before putting his rogue and seeker cards towards that as well.
Signature: The whip is fine. Good even. But it’s a bit of a random card in his deck. With 2 fight you are planning on going for evades to handle enemies over fighting them. And with just the one whip allowing you to fight, it’s not something you can build around very well either. Sure, you got excellent card draw and you can make it work if you really want to, but it’s not worth really focusing on. So when you draw the whip it’s a bit of an incidental card that you can lean on from that point on. But it’s just not very connected to the rest of his identity.
Weakness: Oh this can just screw you hard. Getting rooted by your weakness on a high shroud location can be very hard to overcome. And taking 2 horror to shuffle it back in is aggravating as hell, even though i do appreciate this safeguard to getting completely nailed down.
Card access: Your little bit of rogue access you have can squeeze some additional value out of his agility stat. He uses Lockpicks and Thieves Kit exceptionally well and many of the evade events can also be quite valuable for him. He can take a good deal of money events from rogue, but he’s certainly not dependent on it as his innate ability already can pay for a lot. As a yellow/green investigator, he sits at the heart of the curse token synergies… but i am not sure i have actually seen a Cursed Monty before. Huh. I wonder.

Cheeseman is very consistent. He does the same thing I just talked about for Amanda where you see a truckload of cards without even trying. That makes him an excellent user for high-XP upgrades like the Researched cards. His investigator ability is subject to some variance due to scenario layout, but in the vast majority of cases you will be easily able to make great use of it.
He’s a very nice flex investigator that merges clue capabilities with enemy handling.
He earns his A but sits lower on that step than his more focused colleagues.

Vincent Lee: B+, just behind Carolyn
Statline: 3/4/3/1. This is a statline that goes very well with his deckbuilding and allows Vincent to be built in a lot of different directions.
Soak: 9/6. He gets an extra point over the majority here. Especially for a Seeker, he’s very tanky. As one of the yellow investigators that are looking to fight, that makes a lot of sense.
Investigator ability: Vincent is all about healing and his ability tries to make healing more worthwhile by attaching more value to it. The skill he hands out to anyone that gets healed is not bad at all and universally useful. Nobody is going to say no to free Courages.
Signature: The Bonesaw is nice. It’s a solid weapon, which is something you really can use if you plan on having Vincent take on some enemies. +2 skill value is really essential here and hard to get from his card pool otherwise.
Weakness: Perfectly fine. Unlike with Carolyn’s weakness you even get to trigger your investigator ability when you heal him. The Wounded Bystander is a whole lot of nothing. He becomes a bit of a priority to clear if you do currently use the Bonesaw as your primary weapon, but otherwise you can just keep him in play and make sure to not heal him completely… you don’t want to draw him again later after all. Yes, it’s cruel to just heal someone to the point where you can damage them again for fun and profit… but Vincent is just that kind of doctor.
Card access: A very similar wide array of cards from multiple classes like Carolyn gets. And like with her it’s a really good mix. It allows him to fulfill both the seeker and the fighter roles adequately.

Vincent’s greatest strength in my book isn’t even the healing. It’s his ability to be an even split seeker/fighter, even more so than Joe can. That is not to say that the healing is bad of course. Especially in the last couple of campaigns the amount of damage coming in from the encounter deck really had some peaks where the old “just soak it” attitude doesn’t really work consistently anymore, so having someone around that can wipe your trauma and neuter parts of the encounter deck while also handing out free Courages is very welcome.
I rank him slightly behind Carolyn, mostly on the basis that his investigator ability doesn’t stack as neatly as Caro’s does. But it’s close.

Harvey Walters: A+, on the threshold to S
Statline: 4/5/1/2. As mentioned earlier, this is a contender for best statline in the game, at least from the point of view of a seeker.
Soak: 7/8. Yo, this old man can take a beating!
Investigator ability: “After you draw a card, draw a card” is one of the funniest things to me. I just think this is hilarious in how single-minded it is. That being said, single-minded is good when it relates to an effect that you can’t really have enough of and that feeds into everything you do. This is a card game after all. And that means that “more cards = more good”. It’s math. This is a very strong and very consistent ability, exactly what we are looking for. We can even use it on others that are less fortunate with their card draws. Telling our guardian friend that they can use an action to draw a card and then get a bonus one is going to make them happy often enough to matter.
Signature: Vault of Knowledge does a good job of enabling the big hand archetype he got shipped with in his prebuilt deck. Outside of that archetype the hand size increase isn’t relevant, but the second ability on Vault is still good enough that you want to see this signature. Getting to trigger your investigator ability on investigates makes sure we can really use it every single turn. Or you know, it’s just an extra card every turn. Just like his investigator ability.
Weakness: Overrated. The weakness means that you do need to keep a bit of an eye on your health. But you can just run a card or two that mitigate it enough to the point that it doesn’t become a problem anymore. You got options, my preferred ones are Bizarre Diagnosis and/or good old Bulletproof Vest. There’s even people that use Versatile for Deny Existence, although i am not a fan of that over the other two. Even just Maleson can take the hit for you if you want to. This weakness is really not much of an issue in my opinion.
Card access: Seeker mono-class. It’s all that he needs because Seeker is nuts, but it is of course not ideal.

Harvey is just very good. He has all the things going for him that Daisy has. 5 intellect and consistent value from his investigator ability turn after turn after turn. Daisy squeezes past him because her tome range gives her that extra bit of range and ceiling that Harvey doesn’t have, but when it comes to just walking round the map and collecting clues they are on equal footing.
Something that i appreciate about Harvey is his ability to make his teammates draw better as well. So even when he reaches a point where his hand is full with goodies and he’d get diminishing returns from his ability, he can just catapult his teammates along as well.
Fantastic investigator. Top of A+.

Parallel Daisy: middle of C
Statline: 1/5/2/2, with an extra +1 will for each tome she has. So there is a bit of ramp to it, but she can get to 4 will fairly easy and quick, then move into 5+ with a bit more investment. That is generally preferrable to the static 3 willpower of the original and allows her to make better use of mystic cards that care about willpower than her mainline version can.
Soak: 5/7, but again with an extra sanity for each tome she has. That is actually a lot of sanity! In practice i am not sure this is all too different from the 5/9 that the OG Daisy has, the 5 health is the critical number here and it is unchanged.
Investigator ability: The parallel version trades her consistent value per turn in for a once-per-scenario ability that activates every tome in play for free all at once. I genuinely have no idea how that could even be remotely worth the trade. I don’t like this at all, not taken for itself and most certainly not in comparison to Core Daisy’s ability. The Elder Sign is excellent, on par with the original one. Perhaps even a bit better.
Signature/Weakness: Same as the original ones, but both of them are actually better for shadow Daisy. The extra handslots from the Tote Bag directly translate to more tomes in play which translates to more willpower and sanity and is essential for making the once-per-game nuke hit as hard as it can. The Necronomicon is a Tome asset, so it will count for willpower and sanity. So notDaisy will mind this less. That being said, it does take a slot away from her one-shot and it’s more difficult to clear for her because she doesn’t get to spend “””free””” tome actions it.
Card access: The top of Seeker gets cut as does the broad mystic access. In exchange she gets some very limited access to Guardian and Mystic, but only 5 cards of level 0 from the two combined. That’s very limited. The big selling point is supposed to be Tomes 0-5 but since most of those are already Seeker or Mystic she doesn’t actually gain a lot here. And what she gets is somewhat … not great. Honestly it’s pretty much just Schoffner’s.

I am very much not on board with this. Sure, original Daisy is exceptionally good and her parallel being a bit worse is perfectly understandable. But *that* much worse? I have a hard time seeing reasons to go for either of the two sides to this parallel investigator. The ability on the front side isn’t particularly interesting. And the deckbuilding enabled by the backside is way too limited as well. I tried the one deck she asks for which puts out all the tomes and tries to capitalize on having 7 or so willpower and it was just not doing enough. So yeah, swing and a miss.
So, the question then is… D or C? Well, I established earlier that Mary guards the gates of D and to go down there you need to be worse than her. Parallel Daisy is a Seeker with 5 int, soooo… enough said. C it is. But I’ll put her below Uschi who is at least able to fill her niche competently. Actually that comparison almost makes me want to move Ursula up into B. I’ll leave it as is though.

Two classes down, three to go! We are doing it! 12k words and WordPress still didn’t complain about it. Excellent, let’s see how much further we can push this. Here’s our current tier list.

The Seeker distribution is a little more top heavy than guardian, with 4 of them making it into A+. Not a huge surprise. Overall this is still looking somewhat as expected, although that gap in the B tier is a bit of an eye catcher. For now, no reason to tweak anything, but if it turns out that the distinction between B and B+ is actually not necessary i might be tempted to merge the two sometime down the road. For now, let’s move into everyone’s favorite class, Rogue.

Rogue

“Skids” O’Toole: D
Statline: 2/3/3/4. There’s nothing wrong with the statline inherently, but Skids is really not set up to actually make good use of those 3s in intellect and fight. He really should’ve gotten 4 fight to work with his Guardian subclass.
Soak: 8/6. Fine. In the early life of the game there was much handwringing over 2 willpower coupled with 6 sanity. With today’s card pool, this is nothing to lose sleep over, but it is certainly a drawback that you need to address.
Investigator ability: Aggressively mediocre. An action for 2 resources is the standard rate that many, many cards offer anyone through the card pool, so Skids doesn’t really get anything special here. There is some value to not having to spend a card for the effect, but if the effect is just merely okay, that still doesn’t add up to a convincing investigator ability. It’s not like you are using this every turn either, you do still have to play other cards for your resources. Especially if you are going for the Guardian cards, hoping to cobble something together that can fight with a .45 and a Beat Cop.
Signature: Also not great. Mostly a skill card, although admittedly those are some great icons on On the Lam. This is just very narrow to use. Since enemies do still engage you during the round you played the card, you are not likely to accomplish much that a simple Dodge wouldn’t have done as well.
Weakness: It’s mostly fine, but that’s another 6 resources taken away from your investigator ability. And it does go after your XP if you don’t clear it. This would be a lot more bearable if it didn’t have the limit twice per round on it because now it can randomly screw you for drawing it in the last two turns before the scenario ends. At least your teammates can chip in.
Card access: It’s a very good card pool and i would just love to play it with a more competent investigator. The fighter-evader hybrid that deals with enemies in whatever way is preferable at the moment is a nice power fantasy and this card pool is enabling that even when the rest of Skids doesn’t.

Welp, Skids is our first D for this list. There won’t be a lot of them, so that is a rather damning grade. Skids does indeed struggle to get the job done. He’s not great at investigating, he’s not great at fighting. He can evade, but many Rogues are at least as good at that. And the investigator ability is just not up to par.
Sorry Skids.

Jenny Barnes: C, between Ursula and Nether Daisy
Statline: 3/3/3/3. Oh no, it’s the dreaded wall of threes. It’s where you can’t do anything competently, unless your investigator ability and card pool pull you out of the gutter. Seeing this statline just always means that you have a bit of an uphill battle ahead of you.
Soak: 8/7. Brilliant. This is exceptional.
Investigator ability: There is something to be said for consistency. Jenny will get her bonus every single round, no questions asked. That bonus is on the bottom of the totem pole for what we can get, though. If an action is at the top, then a clue or a card comes somewhere below that and a resource is generally what we’d consider the lowest form of payoff here. This ability is good, but it’s just very, very fair. The vast majority of investigators gets something better, even if they sometimes have to sit out a turn where their condition to get it isn’t fulfilled.
Signature: I like this signature a lot because it gives Jenny exactly what she needs for the niche she occupies. Jenny’s place in the game right now is as a fighter, it’s where she beats out the other two resource generating investigators. So getting a weapon here with plenty of ammo and the all important +2 skill value that lets her 3 fight do the job is fantastic. This is a case where the card doesn’t look terribly hot on paper, but just fulfills exactly the right need.
Weakness: Izzie keeps hanging out in the dumbest places and is a whole lot of trouble to clear. You have to walk all the way over the map which in some scenarios might not even be feasible and on the average case will represent at least 3 actions. And then you still need to spend two actions AND pass an investigate on your 3 intellect to discard it. God forbid it lands on a shroud 4+. Absolutely horrible and genuinely on par with Roland’s Cover Up. It even has the same punishment, giving you mental trauma for failing to remove it. The difference to Cover Up is of course that Jenny has 7 sanity instead of 5, so she basically gets two freebies. You are actually better off just taking that trauma in many cases. But still, this is a horrifying weakness, among the worst in the game if you want to clear it.
Card access: Pretty great. The ability to reach into every class allows her to grab a variety of +2 skill value cards from everywhere to gain some level of competency. With Adaptable being in her card pool, she can make even better use of the Dunwich splash than the other four investigators that were released alongside her.

Jenny is in a weird place where her main gimmick, being the rich girl, has been partly absorbed by both Preston and Monterey. She can fight better than either of those and that does give her a very solid niche to live in. She is a posterchild for the definition of my C tier: She gets the job done, but she has to work for it.

Sefina Rousseau: top of B
Statline: 4/2/2/4. A very defensive statline at face value, but Sefina can pick one of the two to also use as her active stat which lets her get a lot of mileage out of these numbers.
Soak: 5/9. How very not-Rogue of her. We usually don’t have sanity around these parts. She’s just as fragile as many of the mystics are but the rogue card pool has some tools for helping her out in that department.
Investigator ability: Obviously super unique. That special 13 card starting hand gives her a very consistent opening into scenarios which is definitely something that I can appreciate. Having to spend actions to draw cards stashed under her always feels a bit bad, but it’s honestly just a better version of drawing a card for an action, something most players will do a few times each game anyways. At least Sefina knows what she gets when she does it. You aren’t getting continuous value per round from Sefina, she is giving you a large consistency boost at the start of the scenario instead and it is on you to make the most out of it. Overall this ability is quite average in terms of power, maybe even a bit below curve and has to make up for it with its uniqueness.
Signature: When you get three copies of your weakness, you are always in for a good time and Sefina is no exception to that rule. Getting additional uses out of your best events is pretty great and both green and purple cards have no shortage on great targets for this. I very much enjoy The Painted World and it is quite powerful as well.
Weakness: Stars of Hyades can be rough. It shuffles back into your deck after resolving and unless by pure chance the card ends up in the bottom 5 of your deck you will repeatedly draw it and have the cards under your investigator shredded and your signature neutered over time. And once there aren’t any cards there anymore, it will just start shredding Sefina’s paltry 5 health.
Card access: Her deck building grants her access to a wide array of events to use with her abilities. She also has the stats to use those events well.

Sefina is the event specialist and she does her very best to mitigate the most obvious disadvantage of events: being a one-shot effect. Commonly, events are seen as bad investments for your XP because when you buy a 5XP asset you will draw value out of it for as long as it stays on the table. But if you buy a 5XP event you get an effect once and then only again after cycling your deck or employing some sort of recursion. Sefina’s mulligan rule gives you the ability to find your XP card fast. And her signature allows doubling up on it. There’s a limitiation with regards to non-exceptional cards to clamp down on the obvious exploit cases (otherwise Ace in the Hole would be really stupid for her) but you can still get fantastic value out of your XP with her. And milk events for their worth. And by making use of that you in turn get the most out of Sefina.
So how powerful is she then? It’s sort of hard to quantify to be honest. The lack of continuous payoff over time catches up to her eventually. Even your signatures remove themselves from play and you don’t have a way of getting more events under your investigator card either. So you have this situation where you are on full steam at the start of the scenario and then actually somewhat power down over time. Usually you’d expect the inverse to be true. Since the bigger challenges in a scenario are generally towards the end of the scenario, this can pose a problem for Sefina. I think she is solid B tier, comparable to the baseline set by Roland.

Finn Edwards: A, between Tommy and Leo.
Statline: 1/4/3/4. Very good. He has three active stats that are all valuable to him.
Soak: 7/7. Also very good. I appreciate the solid amount of sanity here.
Investigator ability: Oooh, it’s a bonus action! We like those! It’s limited to evasion which means you won’t be using this every turn but we can certainly get some good value out of this. He has an excellent Elder Sign too.
Signature: Finn actually gets two of them. Smuggled Good isn’t very good though. When you can make it fast it becomes decent, but spending an action and a card on a card is just not where i want a signature to be. It also got outpaced by the card pool recently, every rogue has great access to their Illicit cards now thanks to Underworld Market. Finn’s gun is great and makes up for that. For just 2 resources you get 3 shots at +2 fight. You need to not be engaged to the enemy, but that’s what your free evade is for. The .38 is even fast itself, so you have a very good enemy management tool here. Trusty, indeed.
Weakness: I never noticed how many personal weaknesses shuffle back into their owners decks before. Caught Red-Handed can be absolutely dreadful if you draw it during your turn. And between Pickpocketing and seeker access, Finn can actually draw a lot of cards. If you get it during your upkeep it’s usually fine. You get very high highs and low lows with this one and due to the reshuffling the game will often get two or three attempts at screwing you over.
Card access: Frustrating to look at, but actually not as bad as the first impression will suggest. Non-illicit rogue 4 and 5 doesn’t really have a lot of relevant cards in it and the micro splash he gets from yellow and red cards is very potent for him. So that’s a good trade and allows him to support his statline really well in practice. I still think that it would have been reasonable for him to get 10 splash cards instead of just 5 because it would’ve allowed for more diverse decks… but i can’t really argue that Finn is overly handicapped by this deckbuilding in good faith.

There is a whole range of investigators that live somewhere on the border between rogue and seeker, marrying the evasion job with the investigation job. Ursula and Monterey were already covered. Trish is coming up still. Actually, Wendy does a great job at this role as well despite her main class not even be either yellow or green. Finn isn’t the best one at this particular hybrid role, but he’s very capable. He’s not getting consistent payout from his free action, but he does get it when he needs it. What he has that the other investigators i just mentioned don’t have is the capability to also fight.

Preston Fairmont: front of B+
Statline: 1/1/1/1. Sorry, this investigator doesn’t have a statline.
Soak: 7/7. Mr Moneybags is quite the tough boy though!
Investigator ability and Signature: I am going to lump this in with the signature because they have to be taken together. And it’s absolutely marvelous. That’s 5 resources per turn. You know how Jenny is rock solid just because she gets twice the resources that others get? Preston gets twice what Jenny gets. And then another one! This is absolutely gamechanging and accumulates a vast amount of value over time every single turn. I’d argue that it even beats out the ideal of a full action that I established earlier that investigators aspire to but don’t reach.
Now, this ability spans across both your investigator ability and your signature, so you don’t get something else on top like other investigators would. But you also get it as a permanent asset, so you don’t have to draw it and can make use of it from turn 1. That’s value on its own. Now, to be fair… if you aren’t spending your bonus resources every turn, you do need to spend an action to bank them and that does put an clamp on the true power of this ability. You do get the resources to play whatever you want in a turn, but you don’t necessarily get to hoard without at least spending a few actions here and there.
And supporting your income with yet further resource cards has to go through that action to bank resources as well.
But after all is said and done, this investigator ability is going to give you a lot more in terms of raw value every turn than the vast majority of other investigators get.
Weakness: Incredibly mild. You are in no danger of drawing this more than once and it doesn’t harm you at all during gameplay. All you need to do is play it on one of the final turns and you are golden. The 10 resources required to play it are nothing to Preston, that’s just 2 turns of income you need to set aside. Even if for some godforsaken reason you have this in your hand at the end of the scenario, that point of mental trauma doesn’t really matter much to Preston either.
Card access: Rogue with Survivor is fantastic for him. One the one hand, the cards that allow him to turn his money into power. On the other hand the cards that allow him to mitigate that he fails nearly every test.

Preston is just very, very good when he gets going. His big limitation is that he can’t do anything on his own, he is dependent on drawing what he needs. Many of those cards are events, limiting how often he gets to do his big things as well. You get some very big turns but also will find yourself bumbling around sometimes with nothing in your hand giving you the necessary tools to advance the game or solve a pressing problem.
This dependence on his hand cards is what keeps Preston from being broken in half. He can just bypass parts of the game, skipping the chaos bag while just buying the progress that he needs. But only to a point because for example there are only so many testless clue events for him to play. Once he runs out of Intel Reports and Look What I Founds, he just sits there hoping for a 2 shroud location he can shine a Flashlight on.
For those reasons i can’t justify to myself putting him into A tier, but top of the B+ seems about right to me.

Tony Morgan: S, between Mark and Daisy.
Statline: 2/3/5/2. 5 fight is excellent of course. Very similar to Nathan’s stats. His 3 willpower is probably a more consistent value than the 3 intellect of Tony, but i have actually gotten good value out of that intellect too.
Soak: 9/5. 2 willpower and 5 sanity is a very dangerous combo. This is Tony’s achilles heel.
Investigator ability: A bonus action! We just saw one of those on Finn and liked it. But lets be real, a fight action is just more valuable than an evade action so this is even more exciting. It’s limited by the bounty system, but that is a very generous limitation in practice and this ability is just very, very close to the ideal of a free action as the investigator ability. This is absolutely fantastic.
Signature: Yeah, so Tony gets three signatures. And they are all good. Holy crap. Bounty Contracts is economy. It gives the mechanical backbone to the investigator ability, allowing to mark the enemies you want to take down with your bonus action. That would already be good, but you also get resources for those bounties and those help a surprising amount with paying for your stuff. It’s a permanent, it has a generous amount of bounties to throw around. Great signature. And then Tony also gets his Long Colts. And those things are bangers. Good amount of ammo, only take one hand slot. And they refund bounties, making it so Tony will in many cases not even run out over the course of a scenario. When Tony released, these were necessary to make him work because there were no good guns (except the Derringer which he can use very well) in Rogue. Today these guns actually do exist in Rogue (thanks, Wini!) so these are just a straight upside on top of everything else.
Weakness: I mean… it’s an enemy. Tony destroys enemies. The Quarry even has a bounty on it to make it easier for him and give him a resource after dealing with it. He’ll have to walk over there and that will take a few actions away from him… but Tony is kinda famous for having many actions as well. And if worst comes to worst, it’s a doom that can advance the agenda early but then will leave an aloof enemy in play that doesn’t do anything anymore.
Card access: Same system as on Carson and Mandy. Again, it’s not great, but you can make it work. Tony would really have liked to get his hands on assets from one of those classes.

Tony is the second coming of Mark. An absolutely incredible fighter that through is bonus action just dumps on whatever spawned during Mythos. Like Mark he can actually do more than just fight as well. Using either seeker or survivor as his subclass, he can leverage his 3 intellect and collect a decent amount of clues on the side. Unlike Mark he has to commit to that plan during deck creation however. Mark’s Sophie allows him to switch to a desirable side job at will when he wants, Tony has to have the necessary tools prepared in his deck (and then also draw them). And that’s the reason why i put Mark ahead of Tony within the S tier, but there is no doubt that S is exactly where Tony belongs.

Trish Scarborough: A+, after Rex
Statline: 2/4/2/4. The statline is slanted towards her primary jobs and that’s certainly good. Just for the record i will note her that i believe that Ursula, Monty and Finn all have better statlines.
Soak: 8/6. As with Skids, 2 willpower and 6 sanity is a problem to be aware of and address in the deck.
Investigator ability: Your choice of a free evade or a free clue per turn is incredible. You do need to collect a clue on a location with an enemy to cash in on that and sometimes that won’t be possible… but the value you accumulate from this ability is very good. While it doesn’t quite reach the clue per turn that Rex offers, the ability to evade instead adds a nice bit of flexibility to the whole thing.
Signature: Hold this next to On the Lam and weep for Skids with me. Aside from just being able to count as 4 agility icons when used as a skill, you also can use it as a get-out-of-jail-free card which is a very soothing thing to have in your hand when your whole gimmick is staying in close proximity to enemies without defeating them. As an event, there’s only so much you can get out of this, but it’s a solid card.
Weakness: At face value, these are terrifying for a weakness enemy. Those are some big numbers at the top. But there are so many great way around it that Shadow Agents ends up being very mild. Even if you have to take just a straight investigate action with an attack of opportunity by them, you only really get 2 damage out of this weakness and then evade them into the discard pile.
Card access: Fantastic. There is a vast amount of power in Seeker 0-2 and adding that into the Rogue pool makes for an explosive mix. Trish also has the stats to make use of most things in there and much of it just perfectly supplements her investigator ability.

Sooo… she’s just very good, isn’t she? Yellow/Green is the second best combination of classes you can have (Yellow/Red beats it imo) and that gives Trish a stunning amount of power straight away. She has great movement options, action efficiency, clue capabilities and enemy management all in one tidy package. The only reasons she isn’t straight sailing into S tier is the lack of a 5 stat and that fiddling around with enemies can be awkward for you and especially for your teammates that share locations with you. I think she’s pretty much on a level with current day Rex, so that’s where she goes. Which one is better? It’s close but i think i will give this one to Rex because he gets to do his thing without depending on outside influences (=enemies). Still, an A+ is an A+.

Bob Jenkins: A, between Tommy and Finn.
Statline: 2/4/3/3. A very seeker-y statline overall. Not bad, not great.
Soak: 6/8. Big sanity to offset the willpower. Pretty good overall and desperately needed to survive his weakness.
Investigator ability: Yet another investigator that gains an additional action per turn! See, this is why i love rogue so much, you just get to do so much every turn. In Bob’s case you have to use that ability to play an item every turn if you want to make use of it consistently. The limitiation to that is that you need to be able to pay for all those things and that you need to have those items available in the first place. Luckily, other investigators can supply both the items and the money to make this very feasible to do! This is an excellent ability and since you are able to use it to save your teammates actions as well, he’s a boon to any team. If you think you might be interested in playing Carson’s support game but still want to play your own game as well, this is your investigator.
Signature: Again, very good. Shrewd Dealings is one of those signatures that you are really looking forward to draw because it supports your strategy so well. Sadly it’s not an Item itself, so you can’t just peel it from your deck with backpacks, so there’ll be plenty of scenarios where this comes either very late or never. But still… if you get it, this doesn’t only offer considerable savings that accumulate over the turns, but also allows redistributing items between investigators which is quite potent.
Weakness: Seems to come up at the worst of times. Since your job is playing items every turn, it’s quite difficult to keep the money in your pocket to stop Greed from hitting you for large chunks of horror.
Card access: The way the pool progresses is a bit awkward, but the available cards themselves are quite good. It’s basically a more limited version of Preston’s card pool… but notably, Bob Jenkins is indeed able to use Illicit items where Preston isn’t. So this is the one case where one could make an argument that the Edge of the Earth investigator has better deckbuilding than the most similar 5/2 split investigator.

I played Bob a few times now, as a flexible clue seeker that also can fight. Sort of very similar to Finn, but the Survivor card pool is honestly looking better than Seeker for a splash with every expansion release. Bob plays really well with a bunch of Survivor staples and he can use the weapons that he has access to to fight very well too.
He’s not exceptional at any of his jobs, but he’s very competent and the fact that he supports his whole team by playing their assets for them fast pushes him further to the front. I am going to give him a solid A, in the same range as Finn.

Kymani Jones: B, between Sefina and Roland
Statline: 3/2/2/5. Kymani’s statline is somewhat depressing when holding it next to their card access because it hinders them at actually making proper use of the Tool assets they can take. The agility is great and they are built around it. But overall i would rate this as fairly mid.
Soak: 8/6. No complaints here, this is what we expect from rogues.
Investigator ability: Discarding enemies without defeating them has some interesting implications. Turning your agility stat into the one you use to discard enemies is quite neat as well. Kymani isn’t getting the sort of consistent payoff for their ability that we often would like to see, but it’s certainly something that we can build around. The requirements to oversucceed the test put a dampener on how potent this ability can be though.
Kymani also gains 5 bonus XP to start out with, a sort of recompensation for their limited deck building. This is quite the nice headstart in Rogue especially because it allows going for a ton of different things. When combined with In The Thick of It, you can spend 8XP before even making your first move and that can buy you anything from excellent economy over evasion support to some really fancy exceptional goodie.
Signature: Once they get their grappling hook in play, Kymani is able to take bonus actions too. But they are severely limited in sequencing and type of action, as they need to be 3 different ones and also basic actions. If they pull this off, these three performed actions only take two actions away from their turn. I rarely find myself liking this signature much. It can do some neat things if things come together, but i don’t think the average case for the gook is all that impressive.
Weakness: However, Agent Fletcher is also not impressive at all. He just dies to Backstab very easily. Even without Backstab, Fletcher is just a dumb enemy with 2 fight that doesn’t hit particularly hard. Not a problem at all.
Card access: This stinks. I have to assume that this whole lot of nothing here is what earned Kymani their 5 Pity-XP, but this is pretty much just mono-Rogue with just a handful of cards that they can use with their bad active stats. Tools usually use either intellect or fight and Kymani has neither.

Sadly they are very outclassed. Five agility is great and what they can do with it is very good as well. But the ability to both fight and evade isn’t *that* different from what Kymani does. So unless you get value out of the difference between defeat and discard of an enemy (like with Vengeance in TFA), they just don’t bring anything terribly novel to the table.
I suppose Kymani also suffers a lot in my eyes from having their role snatched up almost completely by Winifred who does everything Kymani can do, better.
I was tempted to put them into C, but since rogues are able to do a lot of things through their agility these days, a B is warranted. Kymani is a good user for cards like Thieves Kit, Lockpick, Pilfer and the like and thus has a very solid clue grabber deck available that also can handle enemies. We have seen this sort of thing a few times before now, from the very best at it like Trish to the ones that are just competent at it like Ursula. Kymani lives somewhere on the halfway point of this scale.

Winifred Habbamock: bottom of S
Statline: 1/3/3/5. This is the statline i wanted to see for Kymani. Excellent agility which rogue can exploit to no end. And two active stats to build on. Wini builds on these stats the same way that Amanda does with a barrage of skill cards, so having these base 3 numbers is a lot more valuable here than it is for other 3 skill investigators.
Soak: 8/7. Chef’s Kiss, doesn’t get much better.
Investigator ability: It’s card draw. We like card draw and have been praising Harvey for his ability. Here’s the thing: Wini draws more cards through her ability than Harvey does because she’s not limited to one per round. She gets a card once per test and the reality of Wini is that she can trigger this ability in like 90% of all the tests she makes. You will frequently draw 3 cards per turn and when you only get to trigger this once you are having a slow turn. This ability is incredible.
Take a look at that Elder Sign, too. You pretty much get to return every card you just committed to your hand which is just unbelievably dumb. Best Elder Sign in the game? Possibly.
Signature: This could have been an Unexpected Courage and it would do the same job in the vast majority of cases. When you rarely take tests that don’t have two skills committed to them, then you don’t really care about the number of icons anymore past the fourth. Where this signature shines is when you can use it to let her willpower shoot to the moon and get rid of a Frozen in Fear or similar. But yeah… honestly, this signature is just fine. Feels really great to nuke a test and trigger all sorts of oversuccess though!
Weakness: Ooooh no, i am going to have to take this test at skill 8 instead of skill 9, whatever am i going to do. Arrogance is aptly named because i would be lying if i were to claim that i never gotten bitten by it before. But you can often ride it out for a long time before you at some point just decide to spend an action on a random 2 vs 4 investigate to ditch the weakness. This doesn’t scare Wini at all. Fun fact: You can even commit this to another player’s test if you think they are failing anyways.
Card access: Mono-Rogue. Kinda yikes.

Winifred is Mark Harrigan, but with agility. You get a 5 in your active stat and with todays card pool you are perfectly able to leverage it to fight, clue or whatever you want. She can basically treat her agility the way a Mystic treats their willpower. Mark is the king of the 5 fight investigators because his other skills can be pushed to 5 at will. And because he draws extra cards when doing so. Both of these things are true for Winifred as well.
She’s consistent, she is powerful, she is efficient. She doesn’t fail tests and she stacks tons of extra effects through all of those skills she plays every turn. She draws more cards than everyone than *maybe* Harvey without having to stop doing active things. Wini is absolutely incredible. Her card pool and her reliance on assets to convert agility to whatever she needs are the only reason i am only putting her on the bottom of S tier. But she is an S for sure.

Parallel Skids: Unranked
Statline/Soak: Same unimpressive numbers that OG Skids has, but being able to run 6 copies of Lucky does put this into a very different context.
Investigator ability: At the very least, we can treat his money ability as 1 resource per turn. There’s a test attached but you have some tricks and can even earn more than just 1 if you are in a gambling mood. I would put this roughly on par with Jenny when it comes to resource generation. However, the ability does more than that, as rogues are able to squeeze value out of low difficulty tests by triggering oversuccesses. Once you start throwing in your Watch This! and use it to activate your cigarette case, this ability leaves Jenny’s baseline completely in the dust.
I suppose this is also where i talk about that ability of his to run more copies of a card than usual by keeping the both the lower and the upgraded version in his deck when he purchases an upgrade. This means he can run six Luckys and four Look What I Found, if he so chooses. This will increase his total deck size, but is still something that can be used to powerful effect. He runs 25 cards instead of 30 by default, so you can even do this a few times and still be ahead of other investigators. Or just stay with your low deck size and gain consistency through that. That is all very powerful.
The final thing to note here is his Elder Sign which is just insanely good. Whenever you get cards back from your discard you are very happy.
Signature/Weakness: Same as OG Skids. So… a mediocre to bad signature and a pest of a weakness. Bizarro Skids doesn’t really put them into a new context, i think. So I’ll just go with what i said further above.
Card access: You no longer have Guardian access, but instead gain a trait-based deckbuilding with level 0-3 Gambit and Fortune in addition to full Rogue. Those two traits add mostly Survivor cards. Considering that Skids always struggled to use the Guardian cards well (at least the fighting part of it), this is a net upside even if it isn’t just by numbers of cards.

I’ve not played the guy at all before and honestly didn’t think about him very much before either. Even now that i am writing all of this and am forced to think more about him, he doesn’t really grab my attention the way that for example Parallel Zoey did. A limited green/red card pool, a somewhat flat statline. Extra money. Kinky special rules about running duplicates that is probably breakable. He reads to me like he’s somewhat halfway between Bob and Jenny and that’s where my speculative ranking would put him. B+ sounds about right maybe? But for the purpose of this list, he goes into Unranked of course.

That’s 34 investigators covered. With 28 to go, that puts us past halftime! Or well, it would if i didn’t plan on having at least one more bonus round at the end. But we’ll burn that bridge when we get there, for now let’s just take a look at the ranking at this point, with Guardian, Seeker and Rogue in place:

In true Rogue fashion, the highs are extra high and the lows are extra low. While Rogue sent two investigators into S, it also is the only one so far to send one into D.
Okay, enough fun had. Let’s do purple cards.

Mystic

Agnes Baker: A+, between Nate and Zoey
Statline: 5/2/2/3. The first in a long line of 5 willpower mystics, what we want to pay attention to with them is whether they are able to also make use of their other stats or if they are just willpower on legs. In Agnes’ case, her agility of 3 plays very well with her survivor subclass. Her boyfriend, Peter Sylvestre, turns this into a 4 and that is surprisingly relevant.
Soak: 6/8. She has an ability that requires her to take on horror, so this is really the only distribution that makes sense. I prefer this to 5/9 as well, so yeah. This is best case for her.
Investigator ability: She has the necessary tools to get this to trigger almost on demand, so she can great consistency out of it. It’s also once per phase, so Agnes can actually manage to trigger this multiple times per round. Testless damage is quite powerful, as another data point and reference, it is what makes Nathaniel such a powerhouse.
Signature: Not particularly dependable because Agnes lacks options to find it (beyond Backpack which is usually not a card you are particularly interested in). Mystics like Agnes are mostly asset based, so the number of triggers you get out of this is somewhat limited. More importantly, the Heirloom fights for a slot with Holy Rosary and it doesn’t win.
Weakness: It’s Ancient Evils, but you have to spend an action and resources to play it. And if you don’t your sanity (which you need to trigger your ability) suffers. This is a fairly horrible weakness. Yes, you can sometimes ride it out for a bit, maybe even use the horror from it to trigger your thing… but overall it’s just a huge yikes.
Card access: Really good. As mentioned before, Survivor 0-2 is basically most of the class anyways and you do get a lot of great cards here that make your tests more consistent or protect your sanity.

Agnes makes for a fantastic combat mage. Combining a spell asset with additional pings from your ability can let her do something similar to Nathaniel for a while. Unlike Nathan, she has to find a way to pay sanity for it. So it can’t be completely spammed (even when Peter works hard to keep Agnes safe) and you do need an enabler like Forbidden Knowledge for it. But it’s still plenty great. Sort of like Zoey with a Cross out.
A rather mid signature and a nasty weakness keep her from the highest laurels, but i feel like putting her between Zoey and Nathaniel is fair. A+.

Jim Culver: D, ahead of Skids.
Statline: 4/3/3/2. The statline is fine, but it’s really hard in Mystic to properly enable it.
Soak: 7/8. Excellent.
Investigator ability: This is not always the case, but just as a rule of thumb, the skull token starts out as the weakest negative token in the chaos bag and then ramps up over time to become harder. For example, it could be a -1 during the first turn and gradually ramp up to -4 or -5, scaling by whatever mechanic the scenario has. Jim neuters this token for himself, pushes it to zero. This makes the chaos bag a bit easier for him than for others, but usually this only matters towards the end of the scenario. It also is debatable how much it helps you in the first place… some scenarios or campaigns have only 2 skulls in the bag and even if you do have 3 you might have 15 others in the bag left still.
I’ve talked about how much Mary’s ability to keep bless tokens in the bag does a good job to actually change the needle on chaos bag probabilities and make testing easier. Jim’s doesn’t sadly. It also only counts for him while blesses work for everyone.
You can use some token manipulation to increase the ceiling on this ability, but that is usually a lot of work and the same token manipulation can usually just fish for a regular -1 or -2 to still pass the test anyways. Sorry, this is just not a good ability.
Signature: The trumpet is occasional horror healing. Not terribly impactful and it does take the hand slot while still depending on drawing skulls. I’m not a fan.
Weakness: Can randomly be devastating, can randomly be a whole bag of nothing. The variance on Rhapsody is worrying. Luckily, Jim is pretty tanky by nature and can take this on the chin pretty well.
Card access: Yay, we are doing Dunwich splash again. Since Mystic doesn’t give you much to leverage your intellect or fight value, this is where you have to get it from. And sure, Jim can fight passably with a .18 Derringer or investigate with a Grim Memoir. There is good stuff to gain from this deckbuilding in more general ways as well. I’ve raved about the Dunwich splash before and i am almost sad that i only get to do it once more during this article.

Jim has the same problems that Skids has. A flat statline he can’t properly use and an investigator ability that is not up to par. A weakness that is on the weak side. And a weakness that is often okay but can randomly turn up the heat.
So next to Skids he goes. Ahead of him, but only slightly.

Akachi Onyele: A, between Lily and Cheeseboy
Statline: 5/2/3/3. Hey, that’s 13 statpoints. That’s cheating. It’s literally Agnes statline with an extra point of fight. Can’t really complain about that, can we?
Soak: 6/8. Again, that’s Agnes. Sure, that works.
Investigator ability: An extra charge on everything you play. So how many charge assets do you play in a scenario? Three? Five? Is five charges, distributed evenly among five assets the sort of value you expect from your investigator ability? Is her ability just Recharge, but you can’t put all charges on one asset? Honestly, this is rather weak. It’s frontloaded value and it does feel pretty nice to have 4 charges instead of 3 on your thing, but in terms of raw value this isn’t great. You can lean harder into it and push the ability further, but even if you gain 10 charges to 10 different assets… i mean, at that point you already put around 30 regular charges into play, is increasing those to 40 really necessary?
Signature: Spirit-Speaker however is fantastic and makes up for the investigator ability. The ability to return spells to your hand to replay them or cash them in for more resources gives Akachi excellent ability to just keep casting her stuff. This signature is transformative. I wish it was Permanent, Akachi with it and Akachi without it play very differently.
Weakness: Angered Spirits does the same annoying thing that Skids Hospital Debts do where it has a limit on it that makes it so it has to be cleared over the course of multiple turns. That means that you get those situations where you draw it the turn before the scenario ends and get randomly screwed with trauma. If you have four different spell assets with charges on them in play you can clear this immediately, but the chance for that is rather small and limiting in its own ways. That being said, it doesn’t take actions away from you and just eats up 4 of your charges. That’s … okay?
Card access: Actually pretty good. Cards with charges are plentiful and do cover more than just spells. This is a reasonably varied access. And then she also gets Occult cards which does shoehorn the excellent Hallowed Mirror and Occult Lexicon into her kit. She doesn’t interact with either in a special way, but those cards are incredibly powerful and being able to play them is certainly valuable.

Akachi is an excellent combat mage that has extra ammo to her spells and is thus able to fight longer without having to “reload”. I have a few problems with her though that keep her behind other 5 will mystics. Her signature is great but you don’t run at full steam without it because her innate ability is just a bit too below par. Her weakness can only eat up charges from spell assets specifically and that is annoying too. Akachi has the potential to do some other non-spell related things with charged assets like Wish-Eater, Enchanted Blade, Grotesque Statue or Bestow Resolve. But running those cards doesn’t help you with your weakness so you are still forced to run a certain amount of spells just to deal with that.
She’s a 5 will mystic, so i can’t in good conscience put her below A, but i will mark her a step down from Agnes. Lower A tier.

Father Mateo: C, between Uschi and Jenny
Statline: 4/3/2/3. Agility has more intrinsic value than fight has when sitting at an unsupported 3. For that reason, this is better than Jim’s statline, but not by much.
Soak: 6/8. Yup, seen this one before. Still good.
Investigator ability: It’s a oneshot ability, so this better be worth it. And it isn’t. It prevents one autofail and turns it into an Elder Sign which is good, no doubt about it. But as a one-shot it leaves a lot to be desired.
It is often said that his “real” ability is his Elder Sign, which offers extra actions or card/resource rewards. This is an excellent Elder Sign, of course. Is it better than the ones that return a card from your discard? Eeeeeh, sometimes. Either way, to turn this Elder Sign into something that we can bank on, we have to put in a lot of work. So i wouldn’t want to overvalue it either way.
Finally, Mateo gains 5XP at deck creation which he can use very well. You can either get a headstart on upgrading your spells, get some bless synergy going or even just slam Seal of the Elder Sign for the memes. There’s a lot Mateo can do with that.
Signature: Too much tension for a signature. Gaining a point of willpower in a slot that doesn’t offer this easily is essential for Mateo to catch up to his colleagues with 5 will. To get that you do have to seal the Elder Sign though… and we just argued about that being his actual investigator ability. Do we want to give that up? We can get it back on command and trigger the Elder Sign, but paying 2 and an action to play Codex more than offsets anything that Elder Sign would give us. Not enough of an upside here.
Weakness: The Serpent is very weak. Locks away your Elder Sign, but since it just spawns on you (rather than say, sit on the other side of the map with aloof) you can just kill it in one to two actions and that’s it. A very unimpressive weakness.
Card access: Blessed 0-3 is a gargantuan card pool today and it is soon to get even larger. This card pool is really good.

Mateo had a bit of a journey behind him. When he released, his #Blessed access was basically two cards, neither of which were all that good. Then Innsmouth came around with the Bless/Curse archetype and Mateo had his 5 minutes in the sun. But then, more and more bless investigators came around and they are all just kinda better at his thing than he is.
And now he’s just sort of … mid? Other investigators doing his thing doesn’t make him weaker except by comparison, so he undeniably still gets the job done. But he’s not excelling at anything in particular. Sounds like C to me. Ursula is better. Jenny… isn’t? It’s close, but i suppose we have to pay some respect to the Bless archetype and what it does for you. There you go, top of C tier.

Diana Stanley: B+, between Joe and the healing twins
Statline: 1/3/3/3. Oof. Her willpower does scale up over time, but this is a statline that causes more grief than it does good. As mentioned before, Mystics are really not well set up to use the other stats if they are only a 3.
Soak: 7/7. I am a fan of this.
Investigator ability: Brilliant. You are scaling up your willpower, but even if we set that aside for a moment, you are gaining both cards and resources for canceling stuff. Most cancels don’t cost a lot, so this ability does in many cases fully refund the cancel, allowing Diana to stay ahead of the encounter deck and gaining a lot of consistency.
Well, and then the willpower scaling as well. She can go up to 6 willpower and if you force the issue you can get there rather fast.
Her Elder Sign is also very good, getting you back cancels and more opportunities to trigger the card draw and resource.
Signature: She has two! And they are both good! Dark Insight is a cancel that even explicitly works on weaknesses. It shuffles that card back instead of discarding, but it does still solve the problem for the foreseeable time. The best part is that you start with this card in hand in addition to your regular five cards. That’s incredible and means you can always have an ace up your sleeve.
Her other signature, the Twilight Blade, allows Diana to replay events she placed under her. This does a lot for her. It basically gives her a second hand to play cards from, so it’s card advantage. She frees up slots under her that can be filled again for more triggers of cards and resources. And don’t forget that the card you recycle there is a cancel. Those cards are really powerful. If you can use a single Ward of Protection to blank the Mythos phase for you two times back to back, you win so much momentum for not having to stop to deal with whatever you’d otherwise have to.
Oh, and i suppose you can randomly poke an enemy with the Twilight Blade here and there.
Weakness: Has a bad reputation, but it’s honestly not that bad. You can always take just a few points of horror and then dump two or three cards from under you. You’ll be back up to 5 cards under you soon enough. You can even use a Deny Existence on this to cancel one of the horror and put Deny under you to start recouping the loss of cards immediately.
Card access: She’s got a bit of a Skids problem here. Guardian 0-2 gives her access to a bunch of Dodge-like cards and that is nice. But if you think that you can use that card pool to escape from the shackles of willpower and do something more interesting, your 3 fight just doesn’t find enough support in Guardian 0-2.

Getting to say no to the encounter deck is a very powerful thing and Diana gets extra mileage out of all cancels she plays. She also does a great supporter job. If she wants to take a more active role, she has to crank up that willpower or try to make use of the wall of 3s in her other stats. Going the willpower route is generally better but does require running some cards that are just kinda bad but technically count as cancels (like Eldritch Inspiration) and/or using some cancels early when it would have been more optimal to save them for larger threats.
For the ranking i will group her with Caro and Vincent, two other supporters that are great at their job and passable at either fighting or seeking. Encounter canceling is more powerful than healing, so she goes in front of them. Yep, that sounds about right to me. B+.

Marie Lambeau: A+, bottom of the tier behind Mandy
Statline: 4/4/1/3. Good. Marie is one of the few mystics that can get good mileage out of three of her stats instead of just being a willpower bot.
Soak: 6/8. Yep. She’s still a mystic. Moving on.
Investigator ability: It’s a free action! We like those! A restriction to interacting with spell cards isn’t terrible either, that’s what you usually want to do anyways. You have to have a doom in play to turn this ability active but honestly that looks a lot scarier than it actually is as well. Mostly it does mean that there are like 2 or 3 turns in a scenario where this ability isn’t active, but considering that we get an action here… this is an S tier ability, comparable to that of Tony.
Signature: You get to extend the Witching Hour, that turn where the agenda would flip due to doom anyways so you can go nuts on putting doom in play, by one turn. That is pretty good. It’s a one-shot effect but it’s a pretty big effect. This can even counteract the “this may cause the agenda to advance” text on Ancient Evils and its variants and prevent nasty surprises that would otherwise sneak up on you. Costing 3 resources isn’t great because that’s a lot to hold back for a reactive card. But overall this is a good card for sure.
Weakness: Oh, i hate this guy. He sits right next to Minh’s King in Yellow on the list of weaknesses that make me want to play some other investigator. He pretty much forces Marie to play Charisma because he’ll otherwise dump whatever other ally you had in play. Then add a bunch of doom into play and take forever to discard. Woe is you if the agenda advances and removes the doom from him because now he is going to stick around even longer. What an awful, awful, awful weakness.
Card access: She gets a weird pool that does work quite well for her. Full access to Spells is fine. Occult cards level 0 are good, enabling Mirror, Lexicon and Glyphs for her. And then a small seeker/survivor splash that lets her build on top of her intellect or agility. Great options in here.

Marie is underappreciated by many and I include myself in that statement. Her statline is daunting, her weakness is horrifying and the prospect of playing doom on your own cards does sound sketchy.
But she only needs one single doom to completely unlock her ability and that free action is very, very worth it. The card pool also has plenty of cards that enable this very easily. Just an Arcane Initiate and you are rolling.
Her high highs and low lows make it a bit difficult to place her on the ranking and i have been wavering between A and A+ for a bit. In the end i decided I’d rather put her with Mandy and Trish than with Amanda and Tommy. Congrats, Marie. A+ by a hair. I need to play you more.

Luke Robinson: A+, between Trish and Mandy
Statline: 4/3/2/3. Putting this line next to Marie’s really puts into perspective how much difference a single point can make, even if it’s not in the primary stat. This isn’t particularly good.
Soak: 5/9. And neither is this. Luke is fragile. Luckily he’s able to dodge enemies easily but that 5 health can be a huge pain in scenarios that let it rain damage from the encounter deck.
Investigator ability: Getting to fire events into connecting locations is very good. It keeps him safe from monsters and it can save up some of your actions you would otherwise have needed to walk somewhere. Of course this ability works incredibly well together with your signature.
Signature: And that signature is just broken. It literally breaks the game on more than a handful of occasions. The Gatebox makes Luke near immune to enemies while also allowing him to teleport all over the map and use his events on any revealed location in play. It is utterly ridiculous and a contender for best ability in the game, period.
Weakness: Detached from Reality removes Luke from the board for a turn and puts him into a special location. He can try to escape by overcoming the 6 shroud on it, but usually you are just better off taking the three actions to play assets or draw cards. You then take 2 horror, but you have plenty of sanity for that. And you even get a free teleport out of your weakness. There’s a lot happening here, but the total isn’t really all that bad. It can even be borderline beneficial and save you a Gate-Box charge.
Card access: Seeker subclass is great, but at the same time a bit of a trap. Similar to Roland’s situation, one could be tempted to try and build into actually taking investigate tests with your intellect, but that is just not up to par with what else you can do. So instead you use your subclass to draw cards, get some neat allies and a couple of interesting events to project around the map.

Even if we set aside the circumstance that Luke does just neuter some scenario specific challenges, his ability is just marvelous. Trying to quantify it in terms of actions saved or the like is hard, but we can put it on the higher end rather safely. There’s some concerns with the availability of events (and having to pay for them) and the fact that the Gate-Box uses charges, so we won’t be getting our payoff every turn… but since the signature is permanent, we can basically treat it as a second investigator ability and that is just very consistent and makes up for some turns where we are playing fair. Whenever Luke has to play fair, he’s just bumbling around a bit on his somewhat mediocre stats. This does keep him from being incredible at actually getting a specific job done. Putting him next to Trish sounds about right to me. A+.

Dexter Drake: A, ahead of Amanda and guarding the gates to A+
Statline: 5/2/3/2. Worse than Agnes, but gets the job done just fine.
Soak: 6/8. Yup.
Investigator ability: A free play action. Kinda. You have to ditch an asset you played before to use it, so you probably won’t be triggering this every turn unless you get a bit gimmicky about it. But even when you don’t, this still works very well towards making sure that Drake sets up efficiently and more importantly, that he replaces his assets when needed without losing momentum. There is also some resource saving involved which is welcome for chronically broke mystics, even when they have rogue access.
Signature: Showmanship supports the playstyle of having a constant flux of new assets in play nicely. By giving you skill boosts for that asset until end of turn, you can play something, empty it that round and hopefully be ready for more next turn. That +2 can even put his fight to 5, making rogue guns an option… not necessarily one that is better than just doing willpower spells, but it’s an option.
Weakness: Quite mild. You get a willpower malus for two turns, but this doesn’t really neuter you or cost you much the way that many other weaknesses do. It does force you to use your ability to clear it, but since it doesn’t use an equipment slot itself, you are quite free in how you want to handle it. If you have something you want to play anyways, the Scraps can do only very little to slow down your gameplan.
Card access: Mystic with rogue subclass. Being able to pay for ally our mystic toys feels great and really puts into perspective how bad mystic actually is at doing that usually.

There’s a lot of fun things to do with Dexter. Even when you play him to his strengths as a 5 willpower mystic with the usual spell suites, there’s some fancy stuff you can do on the side that makes him not only fun to play but also very good at what he does.
I don’t think he quite reaches the same tier as Agnes and Marie, but i would put him ahead of Akachi for sure. Let’s go with top of the A tier for Dexter, barely missing the cut into A+ for me. Sorry Dexter, you are on this council, but i won’t grant you the rank of Master.

Norman Withers: A+, between Harvey and Minh.
Statline: 4/5/2/1. Excellent! Two great stats to build on, this line was min-maxed pretty hard.
Soak: 6/8. Ah. If anyone was doubting that Norman is a Mystic, there you go.
Investigator ability: Amazing. Playing a card from the top of your deck is like drawing a card whenever you do it in terms of value and in terms of digging through your deck and seeing more options. You even get a rebate on costs whenever you do it. Norman gets Joe Diamonds hunch deck, but on steroids.
Signature: Livre d’Eibon fixes a glaring issue with your investigator ability: It allows you to use skills from the top of your deck as well. Through this book you can now use two extra cards from your deck instead of just one which is obviously very good. It can also fix up your top card of the deck for shenanigans like putting your Fast events on top so you can play them right away and keep the swapped card for later. Just really, really good.
Weakness: The Harbinger isn’t bad at all. Sits on top of your deck and blocks your ability, but you aren’t immediately stopped from contributing to the game. Even at your worst, you are still a 5 intellect clue machine. Ditching the weakness is a simple double action, no special considerations here either.
Card access: A more limited version of Luke’s card pool, but when you have 5 intellect, those yellow cards suddenly look a lot better than they do with 3 intellect. Norman builds some fantastic decks.

There are two somewhat distinct builds to Norman and they are both excellent. In one you load up on fast and/or cheap events, avoiding skills, and churn through your deck on the back of your investigator ability. In the other, you focus more on skills and play around your signature and Astronomical Atlas. Whatever you do, you are drowning in cards and clues.
Basically, he’s a less one-dimensional version of Harvey Walters. And next to Harvey he goes on the ranking, too. Top of A+.

Jacqueline Fine: Bottom of A, below Monty
Statline: 5/3/2/2. It has the 5 willpower and little else.
Soak: 6/9. Hey, it’s the extra point of soak that the starter deck investigators get. Not a huge difference in practice, but we take what we can get!
Investigator ability: Really good. Once per round, you are near guaranteed to pass your test. You can even attempt an emergency evade or a random investigate here and there and expect to pass it. This doesn’t give you any bonus things, it just makes sure you don’t lose actions to fails. How often do you usually fail your tests with your 5 willpower mystic? How many actions do you think you get out of this? To be fair, you are getting these when you need them the most, as avoiding a fail while in combat is absolutely worth more than just the action you would have lost otherwise.
But especially on Standard, this does feel more like a crutch at times than as something that consistently gives you something.
Signature: Her investigator ability is good, so getting to do it twice as often is good too! Super boring card, but undeniably a good one.
Weakness: Ugh, it’s so random. And interacts really really badly with curses and blesses. You can use your ability and anything you have from your deck to increase your chances of discarding this one (Grotesque Statue, Olive McBride, Dark Prophecy) and that makes it not that bad on average. But the variance hurts a lot and while it’s out it does shut your abiltiy down completely. You still are a 5 will mystic at that point so you aren’t really stopped from contributing, though.
Card access: She’s the mono-Mystic. Eh. Not great. Lacks card draw and resources to play your expensive cards.

Possibly the most boring investigator in the game right now, she does the willpower 5 game and really not much beyond that. That being said, she’s very powerful. As one of the three starter investigators that gets to laugh at the concept of a chaos bag, she will just do her job without fail every turn. That gives her a high power floor, but she also has little room to grow due to the lack of a sideclass to accompany her spellcasting. After re-reading my initial definitions for the A and B tiers i settled on bottom of A. She gets to coast by on the back of her investigator ability but for anything more than a low A i would like to see her peak more often. Or… peak at all.

Amina Zidane: Unranked
Statline: 3/3/3/3. Really bad and the mystic pool has very little in it to make it work somehow.
Soak: 5/9. Also not great, she is more fragile than her Mystic colleagues as well.
Investigator ability: Free emergency caches is one hell of a payoff. If you were able to make use of those often, then that would ramp up a lot of value over time. However, there are three limitations in play here, two of them fairly big and a smaller one: It is only applicable to assets. You pay for it with a doom. And to get full value out of it, the asset needs to actually cost 3. You aren’t keeping the change. In general, you can not bank resources from this ability, you have to generate them at the time of spending. This all comes together to clamp down on this ability pretty hard. We are unlikely to play this more than like once every three rounds, which puts it on Jenny’s level… but with the aforementioned limitations on top.
I will take Jenny’s ability over Amina’s any day. And Jenny is already on the lower end of what we expect.
Signature: She has two signature events. They are both a bit narrow and also don’t have any icons so to make use of them, we need to once again fulfill the specific terms and conditions set forth by them with little wiggle room for your own ideas. Word of Woe buys an action on an asset for 2 resources and a doom. This does sound really bad, especially considering you also pay the card for the effect, but you do also get to ignore all other costs of the activation. This can be worth it if you get more out of that cost ignore than just a charge but again you need to work for it. The best use for it is probably activating Sin-Eater. The other event is Words of Weal which gives you your willpower as a skillbonus to a test on a doomed asset. So it’s a very limited quasi-skill with 3 icons.
Either Word does shuffle the other back into your deck, but honestly i am not sure if that’s even something that i want. These two events are very mediocre and limited.
Weakness: Ah, nothing like an almost-Ancient Evils to balance out that the rest of your kit doesn’t do a whole lot. While this doesn’t add a doom into play, it does make sure that we don’t get to work around our doom play by ditching the cards in time.
Card access: Also bad. Nearly mono-Mystic. And Dream Diary so you can at least pass a test sometimes.

I have no idea what happened here, but this is just all awful in a roundabout way.
Didn’t play her yet, don’t plan on doing so. There is nothing here that is appealing to me in any way.
I don’t doubt that you can cobble something together with Dream Diary and the new mask assets that we are getting in Hemlock Vale, but all that work just to test at what other investigators get natively doesn’t appeal to me.
I feel like she was balanced around the expectation of having 20XP worth of enablers in play to even be competent and it kinda got forgotten that she needs to somehow acquire those XP first.
Hard pass. Unranked. Speculative rank: Far bottom of D.
Let’s move on fast, and prepare for emotional whiplash because we go from the worst investigator currently in the game to the best.

Gloria Goldberg: S, all the way to the top of the list
Statline: 5/4/2/1. Just as good as Norman, possibly even better.
Soak: 5/9. Nobody is perfect, not even Gloria. You really are vulnerable to that Grasping Ha… hahaha who am i kidding.
Investigator ability: Gloria doesn’t play fair. By pretty much neutering the encounter deck, she makes the whole game a lot easier for everyone. Reordering the investigator order during mythos makes sure that encounter cards that she deemed suitable for this round go to whoever is able to take them best. No more Frozen in Fear for your rogue, Gloria can take that one. Instead lets have Wini take that Grasping Hands from her. It’s really dumb what that first line on her massive textbox does on its own already.
Signature: Ruth is not that great. Getting a skill boost here and there when dealing with encounter cards is nice, but having to play a 3 cost ally for it is iffy. The value of the signature depends on whether you use Gloria’s ability to take some encounter cards out of the game permanently (bye, Evils) or if you rotate through the cards dynamically and keep molding the top cards of the deck turn after turn. If you are doing the latter, then Ruth can add a decent amount of boosts, but the trait matching mini-game can be in the way a lot.
Weakness: A very reasonable drawback considering her investigator ability. Often, this will just make something take effect that you prevented earlier. Other times the Peril or -2 skill doesn’t matter (welcome back, Evils). It does however mean that there are some risks involved with putting certain cards under you. Enemies gain bonus attacks, Surge can be painful here. But overall, i wouldn’t call this too bad.
Card access: She’s the purple investigator that uses Carson’s, Tony’s and Mandy’s rules. Guardian, seeker and rogue are her available subclasses and they all have their merits for sure.

It is often said that Luke breaks the game, but Gloria is actually the one that unravels it the most. Taking the sting out of the mythos phase is something that can just make scenarios keel over and do very little of anything. While you do still draw encounter cards and have to deal with those, the innate variance in those decks that keep it spicy is removed completely. With Gloria, you will just never get ambushed by Deep One Bull on your first mythos phase. You won’t be scrambling for icons to save Roland at 3 sanity from a Rotting Remains. You will always be able to make for best case scenarios, effectively doing more encounter canceling than Diana before you even played a card. And of course you can still play encounter canceling on top of that. And you are a 5 will mystic with all the bells and whistles. If you picked seeker subclass, you can even get your intellect to 5+ easily and contribute that way. Gloria is just sort of fundamentally broken. She beats Mark in the ranking for that reason. Top of the S tier.

Parallel Agnes: S, between Daisy and Wini
Statline: Same as the original one, but without the survivor access, the 3 agility aren’t particularly interesting anymore.
Soak: 8/6 instead of 6/8. Parallel Agnes uses her health to fuel her ability instead of her sanity, so this number flip just makes a lot of sense.
Investigator ability: A damage for a 2 cost rebate. This is how to do a rebate on played cards. A damage is an okay price to pay. A 2 cost reduction makes most events free. And the shuffle back gives you a payoff even when you use it to play events that cost less than 2 and thus don’t get the full resource savings. The reshuffle ability removes the major limitation on events that otherwise limit how often they can be used. Over time, it also leads to a deck that is just amazing cards back to front and no need to ever reshuffle the stuff in your discard.
Signature: The heirloom works a lot better for her than for her core version. Since you are event based, you end up playing more spells than when you simply do assets that stick around. Para-Agnes will get a lot of value out of the heirloom and will even have to do a double-take when she realizes that the card draw is not in fact once per round but uncapped. Since her investigator ability is also not capped per turn, this can reach combo levels of dumb.
Weakness: Still pretty bad, but you can usually play it once, suffer through it and then not redraw it ever again. With her reshuffling, her discard doesn’t reshuffle unless you specifically want it to.
Card access: Pretty good. Unlike many other parallels, she still gets full access to her main class. Occult and Spell 0-3 doesn’t add a whole lot, but to be honest just upgraded Lexicon and Mirror are so incredibly busted in her that it’d be enough.

Shadow Agnes is very, very good. Not only is she more interesting than her 5 willpower colleagues, but her ability to abuse the hell out of events puts her completely over the top. Mystic has some amazing spell events, from Ward over Razor to Runes. And really the only reason they don’t overtake the class is that you only get two copies of each. Agnes breaks this limitation and can cast at least one of these every turn. Without paying for it. And she can still have a spell asset or two in play to do the normal investigating fighting as well, of course. Hallowed Mirror singlehandedly breaks her limitation of having to pay life for her events. Both Soothing Melody and Blood Rite are spells. The synergies don’t end. She gets into S just on the back of pure unmitigated power.

Parallel Jim: Unranked
Statline: Same as vanilla Jim, just kinda eh.
Soak: Also same, 7/8 is very good.
Investigator ability: Once per round you can get a charge to one of your assets. You do need to draw a curse or a skull to trigger this, so there will be some misses. But overall i think this is quite a bit better than Akachi’s ability.
Signature/Weakness: The trumpet is still bad. If you want to curse interaction from it (which isn’t worth it imo) you need to go for the Upgraded set of sigs and weaknesses… and that Upgraded weakness is so over the top that this just isn’t justifiable to me.
Upside Down Jim also gets another pair of signature and weakness in addition to those. The Beyond acts as a revolving door for fleeting allies that lend their abilities to their shepherd for a while. This can do anything from just giving easy stat bonuses to help with his mediocre numbers over enters play effects to more fancy activated abilities. The Vengeful Shade hangs out in The Beyond and threatens some attacks on Jim’s sanity if he doesn’t deal with it. A rather annoying weakness that needs to be dealt with because you need your sanity for your other weakness.
Card access: Curse access 0-4 is very potent. You even get a mini-splash of level 0 red cards on top. Yeah, this works very well. Oh, and you can take any allies level 0-2 from any class for your Beyond which opens up even more options. Very cool, Jim.

Another one i didn’t play yet, so he stays unranked. I find it very hard to rank him off the cuff. He still has some of the core weak points of the original version: Bland statline, meh signature, worrying weakness. But he does get a pretty great card pool, a nice investigator ability and a funky ally thing. Here’s my issue with all of this though: This all has nothing to do with anything. You put a charge here, have an ally there, draw a curse afterwards and the synergy between all of these things is paper thin at best. So you have to drop a gimmick to focus on the others or stretch yourself thin to make use of everything.
The Beyond looks incredibly powerful to me on face value and it is absolutely the main appeal of this parallel investigator to me.
Speculative rating: I don’t know? B? Maybe B+? Probably B.

And that’s Mystic in the bag. This ended up rather top heavy which is to be expected considering that just 5 willpower alone pretty much makes sure you aren’t dropping below A.

Notably, Mystic launched two attempts at breaking the game completely. Gloria actually succeeds at this. Luke does sometimes, depending on the scenario.
One more class to go, then neutral, then bonus round(s). Getting there!

Survivor

Wendy Adams: A, between Amanda and Tommy.
Statline: 4/3/1/4. Very strong defensively, and both intellect and agility can be expanded on as active stats.
Soak: 7/7. When you need someone to tank the mythos for you, the orphan is the clear choice.
Investigator ability: Amazing. When you fail a test, you can just retry. It’s not even limited to once per round, only to once per test. So as long as you have cards available you can assume that you aren’t actually failing a lot.
Signature: You get to recycle your events. If you have some ways to reshuffle the deck manually that can improve your deck quality significantly. If you play it after already having a bunch of cards in your discard, you get a good amount of immediate value through being able to replay cards from the discard. All of this is quite good, but usually needs working around a bit during deckbuilding. Just using the amulet as two wild icons on a card that can be scavenged is certainly viable, too.
Weakness: Pretty rotten and one of the major reason why building around your signature isn’t really fun. Eats up your sanity, takes huge bits out of the deck and crucially doesn’t remove itself when doing so. So you can run into a feedback loop of having your deck shrink rapidly while you keep drawing this thing more and more often.
Card access: Amazing. Rogue sideclass pairs extremely well with survivor and Wendy has lots and lots of opportunities there to weaponize her high agility or turn the intellect into something that works well enough to flex investigate.

Her ability is very comparable to that of Jaqueline Fine in that it gives a great safety net whenever reaching into the chaos bag. She gets to do it multiple times per turn but at the cost of a card. Where she leaves Jackie completely in the dust is with the card pool though. That works just incredibly well for her and she can do lots of very powerful things with it.
The lack of a universally good signature coupled with the fact that her weakness is just all kinds of horrible keeps her down a bit, but i still feel comfortable putting her in the same tier as Jackie and even a good deal above Jackie within A.

Ashcan Pete: bottom of A, behind Jay-Quellin
Statline: 4/2/2/3. Survivors do pretty well with flat statlines, making this quite okay in general. Once you factor in Duke this looks downright great!
Soak: 6/5. 8/8, if you include Duke. This is again quite good. In theory, Pete is a bit more vulnerable to direct damage/horror and trauma than other investigators but in practice that rarely ever matters.
Investigator ability: Discard a card to ready an asset. At the baseline that gets more uses out of Duke, but you can get other stuff from it too. This ability needs a bit of work to really take off, but it’s at least solid because Duke gives you something worthwhile to do with it at all times. So you consistently get something out of it every turn and while ditching a card is a cost, you can sometimes even use that to your advantage.
Signature: Duke! You start with a way to deal an extra damage in play which is huge and the free movement on investigates is worthwhile too.
Weakness: Wracked by Nightmares. This can randomly bite you if you draw an enemy with Wracked in play. With Duke turned off you are left without good ways to fight and discarding Wracked will trigger an attack of opportunity and leave you with just one action. That being said, it is just a double action to clear and often that means it’s just a speed bump. Probably a fine weakness overall, but i have had some intense combats happen thanks to it.
Card access: Our final Dunwich splash investigator. Reaching into all classes gives Pete some cool options for things to use his investigator ability on. But he is mostly a Survivor through and through and of the five Dunwich investigators he’s probably the one who gets the least out of this splash.

The great thing about Pete is that his power floor is very high. He starts with both a weapon and an investigation tool in play and can start contributing to the game immediately without any setup or fancy experience cards required. The bad thing is that as soon as you try to use something else than Duke to do your thing, you are working with a considerably worse statline. So your options for improving are sort of limited to things that work with Duke. For example, the good boy can absolutely use a magnifying glass to sniff out clues or employ the help of a Guiding Spirit. This does put the ceiling for growth lower than for most investigators. While he is quick to reach a certain powerlevel with very few XP and low setup within the scenario, other investigators pass him once they are using those highlevel cards and did go past their initial turns while Pete just kinda plateaus at that point. Pete’s best deck is probably Dark Horse which just works incredibly well with his flat stats, Duke and the low cost curve.
Looking at the rankings, i am leaning towards B+ because he plays a very similar fight/investigate split to Joe (albeit going about it very differently). Double checking my own tier definitions, i said that investigators in A are separated from those in B through being put in a good spot through their investigator abilities. That basically describes Duke exactly, so it does convince me to squeeze Ashcan into the bottom of A.

William Yorrick: A+, between the Old Men Society and Minh
Statline: 3/2/4/3. Rock-solid. He fights well and brings some defensive stats as well.
Soak: 8/6. This is good, but ultimately not important because William is one of the tankiest characters in the game through his ability.
Investigator ability: Incredible. Not only is it reliable recursion, it is also a bonus action. You won’t be triggering it every round, but you will do so often enough to gain a whole lot out of it. It’s not even limited to Items, so feel free to recur allies with this as well.
The Elder Sign is a contender for best in the game. Personally i rank Winifred’s slightly higher, but since that distinction is only academic anyways it’s enough to acknowledge that William just gets an incredible Elder Sign here. It’s a real shame that Blessing of Isis is Guardian level 3 🙂
Signature: William’s sig is an XP for everyone. That’s great, even though it doesn’t help much during the actual game you play it. Well, that’s not completely true. You could use it strategically to take out a pesky enemy that would otherwise threaten to return later on. But honestly, just the XP is fine and i am perfectly comfortable burying a Swarm of Rats in my victory display.
Weakness: This isn’t actually a weakness, this is an opportunity to trigger your investigator ability and/or your signature. Okay, fine it is a weakness – it still costs your draw and does take away actions from you because you need to defeat it. But the fact that you can actually trigger your ability to recur something when you defeat the Ghouls seems like an oversight to me. No matter if it isn’t or not, i generally don’t fear this weakness.
Card access: Very good. Like Joe, Will is actually able to use the weapons in this card pool to fight well. It’s actually a bit debatable how important that still is today because Survivor has gotten some really good weapons as well since William’s release. For example, the .18 Derringer is fantastic for William and puts Guardian pistols to shame. But even if it’s just Guard Dog and Vicious Blow, you gain some very nice things here.

William doesn’t have the raw fighting power on the top end that someone like Nathaniel or Tony brings, but he makes up for it in consistency. His access to the discard pile can be leveraged into vast amounts of quasi-card draw. And while the bonus actions he gains from his scavenging isn’t on the level of Tony’s, he does at least gain enough out of it to play in the major leagues.
I have debated quite a bit about putting him in S or in A+ and it comes down to the question whether i think you need that 5 skill value to get into S. Again, i will try to come back to my initial definition and that states that S tier investigators are the best at their jobs. I don’t think that quite applies here. So I am going upper A+ for him.

Calvin Wright: Top of C, ahead of Ursula
Statline: 0/0/0/0. Oh no.
Soak: 6/6. Oh no!
Investigator ability: Okay, so here’s the thing with Calvin. Maybe you think of him as a 6/6/6/6 investigator. Maybe you think of him as a 3/3/5/5. Or whatever else you consider to be the typical case that you judge him on. But at the end of the day, he’s just a statline. The ability to nudge him into will/int or into fig/agi is a good one and makes him quite flexible. But you are still just playing a very fair game of taking an action for an action. And to get there you have to ramp up first because your initial few turns are going to be pretty bad. In terms of powerlevel I don’t think all this risk is quite worth it in the end. Yes, you can get 6 intellect, commit another skill and pick up a clue with near certainty. But it feels to me like there are many ways to go about it that are better, even just using level 0 survivor fail tech.
Signature: Until The End Of Time offsets his poor initial soak and puts it to an overall of 8/8. Desperately needed to give some wiggle room.
Weakness: Over time, this is going to kill you. You really want to avoid having to draw this one multiple times per scenario. This weakness is the reason why i believe that intentionally causing trauma to yourself with Calvin is not a great idea. You want some buffer to get around Voice of the Messenger and to survive until you draw your signature.
Card access: Spirit is a very relevant trait and getting level 0-3 with them adds a bunch of great cards to Calvin’s kit. You have to devote much of your deck to managing damage and horror on you, but you do indeed have all the necessary tools to do so available.

I view Calvin as very middle of the road. He’s just sort of fair. While his unique investigator mechanic looks interesting and interactive, it actually doesn’t really end up doing many interesting things. The deckbuilding does allow for some more involved trickery and that does keep him from just being completely bland. But overall he’s just a solid “gets the job done, doesn’t excel at anything”. That’s a C, but I’ll put him at the top of C because i like his card pool a lot more than for example Ursula’s who is hanging out in a similar rank.

Rita Young: B, between Sefina and Kymani
Statline: 3/2/3/5. Really good. 5 in a primary stat. And that 3 in fight is quite useable too.
Soak: 9/5. Not ideal. We like the 5 at the top of the card, but at the bottom it’s really not what we are looking for.
Investigator ability: Once per round it’s a bonus damage or a bonus move. That sounds pretty damn great! We’ve ranked investigators with that type of ability really high before. The issue is that we need to evade something to trigger it. And a damage doesn’t really stack well with an evade. If we can deal a damage while fighting or without even having to engage in the first place (like say, on Agnes or Nate) then it’s awesome. Adding damage to an evade is a bit situational though. The movement is quite good with evasion though. And having either as a choice makes it better still.
Signature: Dirty Fighting is a fantastic card that really does a lot to make Rita playable. It’s a bummer that it costs 4XP to add the pair to your deck which is very unusual for a signature, but considering the amount of power it adds that seems appropriate.
Fine, here’s her actual signature: I’m Done Running is a skill card and not a good one at that. What an awful signature card. Basically, for a turn you can use your agility to do basic fight actions. Basic fight actions are bad and we don’t want to do them and we certainly don’t want to spend a card on the privilege of doing them. This gets committed for two icons.
Weakness: Pretty tough to deal with. Since you have only 3 fight yourself, overcoming the 3 fight of the enemy isn’t trivial at all. And at 3 health these guys even can take a punch and still threaten you. It’s a travesty that Rita can’t play Backstab. My advice: Bring a chainsaw.
Card access: It’s a travesty that Rita can’t play Backstab. Yes, it bears repeating. Her deckbuilding is severely limited. While Trick is actually a decent trait, this deckbuilding just stands completely in the shadows of Wendy’s subclass and regrettably, Rita also can’t play Chuck. Her deckbuilding works and is mostly fine, but I can’t help but feel bad when looking over to Wendy. If Backstab was a Trick we probably wouldn’t even have a discussion here.

Oh, Rita. It wasn’t so long ago, i would’ve just put you in D tier because there was nothing you could really do better than Wendy or Silas. So the thing about Rita is that if all you are doing with her is evading and picking up the occasional clue, then Wendy can just do what you do, better. Rita needs to make use of that fighting skill to get ahead. She has been able to do a neat split of evasion and fighting for a while now, where she can either go for her high agility or her chainsaw/ornate bow depending on the enemy she’s facing. And you know what? Silas did outclass her at that. So she was kinda stuck between those two other survivors taking up all of her space. Then Dirty Fighting came along and changed everything. Now she is able to weaponize her agility, using that sweet 5 she has there to initiate fights. Her combat and her evasion no longer only complement each other, they support each other. And that’s a beautiful thing to see in action, as Rita can suddenly almost do what Wini does (almost. let’s not get carried away here.) and throw a lot of weight around. Using her investigator ability for mobility and Dirty Fighting for bonus fights, she can trigger a whole lot of stuff on the base of just one successful evasion and gain a lot of value through that.
She does require the help from the deck and until she draws her Dirty Fighting she is still playing a bit under par. But she does have a place in the game now and she breaks cleanly into B. I think she is better at Kymani at what they do as well, but they are comparable enough that I am going to put them next to each other. Solid B.

Patrice Hathaway: D, ahead of Jim
Statline: 4/2/2/2. I don’t really see why Patrice needed to have 2 points of stats clipped. She could’ve just had 4 agility 🙁 This just limits your options too much and tries to shoehorn you into Mystic nonsense
Soak: 7/7. That’s good!
Investigator ability: That’s Erestor! I like Erestor! Drawing 5 cards per turn is incredibly powerful as long as you can properly capitalize on it. Since you see so many cards of your deck, you can find a specific card in your deck very reliably. The counterpoint to this ability is however that discarding your hand every turn means that you are forced to use a card when you draw it, otherwise it’s gone or at least harder to access. This does make reactive cards quite a bit harder to use.
Shoutout to her elder sign, too. Reshuffling all of your discard pile except for one card is great because it mitigates her weakness. You are happy to see this happen every time.
Signature: The violin is very good. While it does take up a handslot, that is pretty much always worth it because chucking cards that you aren’t able to afford into resources that you can use to buy other cards just makes all sorts of sense with her playstyle. A very essential piece of her puzzle.
Weakness: What a weird card. The Watcher hangs out in your hand and slaps you when you reshuffle your deck. To get rid of it you need to pass a difficulty 5 test which threatens to spawn the thing if you fail. This starts out rough in the first scenario but can be mitigated quite well through some cards that are available to you.
Card access: 5/2 Survivor/Mystic. Kinda weird, to be honest. Her statline pushes her towards mystic assets, but for most of them she can’t run the upgraded versions. So that limits her as the campaign goes on and other investigators can get better things for their XP. Both classes are also full of reactive cards, like counterspells in Mystic or test manipulation and fail tech in Survivor. Reactive cards are not at their best when you have to discard your hand each turn. So this isn’t really a great pool for her specific needs, i think. Then again, that ability on a seeker or rogue pool might just have been stupid broken, so what do I know…

Patrice has a way of making my campaigns crash and burn. She is the investigator that i failed the most with. I do still enjoy her, mind you. But it’s always an uphill battle. You can do some fun things with her, like Cornered, Miss Doyle or Mind’s Eye. But you are mostly just putting in work to get on other investigator’s base level.
I am going with a D on her rank. It’s been a bit of a difficult decision because i really do enjoy playing her and that card draw thing she has going on is really good on the surface. But I’ve not really seen it come together in a way that wouldn’t work similarly well with someone else.

Silas Marsh:
Statline: 2/2/4/4. He’s able to fight well and evade well. A great start for becoming a good enemy handler.
Soak: 9/5. Ooh, this is a bit of a weak spot though. 2 willpower with 5 sanity and you want to go into fights? That needs some precautions.
Investigator ability: This is really good. Being allowed to take back your skill card after seeing the chaos token means that you remove the opportunity cost from committing single cards and in general only use your skills when you actually need them to change the result of the test. Whenever you do this, you basically gain one card worth of value. Both the fact that you know what you are getting and that there are some skills that do something on commit instead of on resolving push the value on this ability ahead of a regular card. You aren’t going to trigger this every round, but close enough to it.
Silas is another investigator whose Elder Sign warrants mentioning. Actually, it’s another contender for the top spot. Not only do you get a skill committed to your current test, but you also get it back to your hand afterwards. With something like Resourceful coming back from the discard this can snowball into even more value. Really fantastic.
Signature: He gets two of them, the net and the harpoon. And they are quite good, not only acting as passable weapons or evade enablers, but can also return your skills back to your hand. This can become a bit expensive over time, especially if you plan on replaying the harpoon a lot, but it’s absolutely worth doing. It is a bit fiddly though and at some point you might just decide that using a better weapon is worth more to you than doing this weird skill dance.
Weakness: The Siren Call drains your already strained resources fairly fast. One of the biggest advantages of the skill based playstyle is that skills are free, but Siren Call puts a stop to that. Luckily you can just discard the weakness for 2 actions, which limits how much this can really set you back. But it’s a speed bump at the very least.
Card access: A good amount of Innate skills are already Survivor or Neutral, but there are some standouts in this kit from other classes. I would call this pool weaker than what the Practiced investigators get though.

When you abuse Silas ability to return skills to endlessly draw cards with Relentless or just fill up the chaos bag with Blesses then he quickly feels very degenerate and broken. He doesn’t have to go for that extreme, but it’s almost too easy to have something like that happen accidentally. Recursion is just a very powerful thing and Silas has it maybe even easier than William when it comes to using the same cards over and over.
He’s a great fighter/evader and his skill interactions put him ahead of both Rita and Kymani in that department as well. While Rita is more explosive when she gets to fighting dirty, Silas has the more consistent output and without having to draw something specific that enables him.
His vulnerability to horror makes me hesitant to give him the A. Yes, i know that Pete Sylvestre exists. But it’s not like he comes completely without opportunity cost either. Also his card pool is kinda mediocre. I’ll be giving him the top spot in B+, but i could see myself flipflop on that decision in the future.

Daniela Reyes: A+, between Zoey and Rex
Statline: 4/1/5/2. Similarly min-maxed as Norman Withers, except Dani is focusing on fight instead of intellect. That just seems very good to me!
Soak: 8/6. She’s supposed to be a tank, so these numbers make sense.
Investigator ability: A bonus damage or a free evade when it triggers. Reminds me a bit of Rita’s thing, but there are some differences. For one, the damage is more valuable to Daniela than it is for Rita because she plans on attacking those fools that attacked her and stack with that damage. She actually also gets to trigger her ability multiple times per round. That is somewhat unlikely to happen (and if it does it involves getting beaten up) but it’s there. You aren’t going to be triggering this every turn, as you’ll often be able to just defeat enemies during your turn. While there’s nothing wrong with that, you are probably not going to get as many triggers out of Daniela as you are out of other investigators. Overall i think this is about as good as Rita’s thing. So… pretty good, actually.
Signature: The wrench is a really nice weapon. Provoke an attack, trigger your ability, smack back for 2 damage at 7 fight. There you go, you just did 3 damage with one action and it didn’t use any charges or ammo, just a bit of your soak to take the attack. If an enemy already attacked you anyways (because a hunter ran into you or you triggered some other weird attack they have) you can even just smack them straight away.
There is one big problem i have with this thing and that is that i need a Bandolier or tool kit to carry it alongside a chainsaw. But that’s perfectly fine, that combination of weapons is incredible.
Weakness: The weakness sort of illustrates the difference between Rita and Daniela. While Rita really struggles a bit with her 3/3/3 enemy, Daniela just wipes the floor with hers.
Card access: Much has been said about this before, much handwringing has happened over her inability to play Survival Knife(2) or Guard Dog(2). She still has a card pool that lets her do her thing exceptionally well, though. But it is lacking some depth for more options.

She’s a murder machine and tanking hits is no problem for her either because between cards such as Flesh Ward and Bandages she can just shrug off most of it. She is very, very good at her job which puts her near the top of the list immediately. We don’t need to discuss much about her 5 fight, that’s just a very obvious asset to have and the survivor pool by now has enough great weapons to make use of that.
So, does she have range in addition to just raw power? Eh, not really. She can throw out some incidental healing here and there. Her 4 willpower lets her take on some mythos stuff. But overall Dani is just a very good, streamlined fighter. I don’t think she quite reaches Nathaniel, but i can see her hanging out with the likes of Trish and Zoey. Sure, let’s go with that. Solid A+.

Darrell Simmons: S, between Gloria and Mark.
Statline: 2/5/2/3. This is one off of Mandy’s statline which i previously called the best statline available for a Seeker. For Darrell the extra point of fight might even be better than the point of willpower. Either way, this is remarkably good.
Soak: 6/8. The sanity soak buffers the worst peaks of the weakness. Just overall solid.
Investigator ability: Completely broken. By itself it would merely be very, very good, but since he got released alongside a whole kit of survivor cards that stack with the difficulty reducing effect, he can just drop tests to zero very reliably. And there is also good evidence generators in his card pool, so there isn’t much of a limitation to the ability from that angle either.
Signature: His signature is a permanent one that starts in play, so we are off to a great start here as well. Darrell uses it to collect evidence and while it is among the weaker cards in his kit to provide these evidence tokens, it does contribute to the consistency of his ability without costing him anything much.
Weakness: If you draw this in the first turns, it is just going to slap you for 4 horror which is sort of nasty. Later on, you can spend the evidence pretty comfortably. But this weakness for sure has situations where it can take some momentum away from you and have you get by on just being a 5 int seeker.
Card access: Minh has the slightly better card pool, but Darrell uses it slightly better. The Survivor/Seeker combo is just nuts either way.

I have similar feelings about Darrell as i do have about Gloria. Both of them reliably take away a major component of the game. While Gloria is busted even though there are like four or five cards that even work with her investigator ability, Darrell’s power is dependent on stuff in his deck. However, Scarlet Keys threw so much difficulty zero support and so much evidence support into the card pool that this is not a restriction at all. Not even at level zero. Once he has two scenarios worth of XP for a set of upgraded Keyrings and Shed a Lights, he’s routinely picking up 2+ clues per action. And unlike Rex, he isn’t limited to once per turn with that. Or requires oversucceeding. Or really just succeeding at all. Well, technically he still draws from the bag and the tentacle can make him fail, but only if he doesn’t have Shed A Light. And why wouldn’t he, Survivor gets to recur stuff all day.
There are other investigators that can dance around the chaos bag, but Darrell does it in the most consistent way and with the fewest limitations.
He is utterly ridiculous and i consider him a mistake. To the top with him, next to Gloria.

Stella Clark: A+, between the Greybeards and William
Statline: 3/2/3/4. A little bit of everything. Usually we’d look down on this sort of thing, but for a survivor – and especially for Stella – this works very well.
Soak: 8/8. She is the tankiest investigator in the game right now… at least when it comes to what is printed on her investigator card.
Investigator ability: Remember that ideal of getting a free action every turn and that we want to strive for that but never reach it? Stella gets it. She takes four actions each turn unless she moves three times or something. Failing the test is not without cost of course, especially when it’s a test you had to initiate with your own action. But you can usually draw enough value out of that as well and every now and then you actually fail during Mythos and really get a straight 4 action turn. This is an amazing investigator ability.
Signature: Hoo Boy. Neither Rain Nor Snow cancels all effects of a failed test – or prevents it from failing in the first place because for some godforsaken reason there are three wilds on it. Oh, and you get three of these. They are also Innate and Survivor class, so you can get them back with Resourceful and True Survivor. These are incredibly good at everything.
Weakness: To balance out your incredible investigator ability and grip full of crazy signatures, you get a wet noodle of a weakness that might deal a damage or two to your 8/8 soak before you discard it. Ahem. Called to the Mist isn’t a huge deal at all. Like so many weaknesses that can be discarded with a double action, this can be a minor speed bump. But an investigator that routinely takes 4 action turns, spending 2 actions to deal with a weakness means very little.
Card access: Mono-Survivor. Finally, something to complain about.

Stella puts the game on easy mode. There are three investigators in the cycle of starter decks that dance circles around the chaos bag: Wini tests at skill levels so high the chaos bag can barely reach her. Jackie selects the token from the chaos bag that she wants and passes that way. And Stella doesn’t even care much if she passes or not because to her it’s all upside.
Now, this is not completely true, at some point you do need to pass tests to achieve some things because you can’t just live off of Look What I Found and Close Call alone. But Quick Learner offers her a way to do that as well. Honestly that card is probably a bit too busted too. It doesn’t quite reach the same ceiling as Darrell’s brand of nonsense, but Stella has a similar thing going on where she herself is kinda fair and interesting, then pushed over the edge by her available cards that are just a bit too much tailored to her exact specifications.
I feel pretty comfortable putting her near the top of A+. She kinda lives in a similar situation to William, where she gets great value out of her ability every turn and can use her cards to support her statline in a very good way. William leans heavily into fighter with some clue stuff on the side while Stella is more of a true generalist, but i see them on similar levels overall. A+.

Parallel Wendy: Unranked.
Statline: Unchanged. Good start, Wendy has good numbers.
Soak: Also unchanged. More good numbers.
Investigator ability: Nightmare Wendy starts with the Tidal Memento in play, a seashell that allows her channeling curses into her enemies (don’t worry about it, i am sure this makes sense somehow). After evading a non-Elite she can seal curses or blesses on them to keep them exhausted for longer. She also can spend tokens that were sealed this way to reveal them for her tests. Tokens sealed this way have to be taken from from the bag, so this is not token generation. That doesn’t seem particularly great to me? You get to abuse enemies as your own personal Favor of the Moon/Sun, so that’s neat for sure. It allows keeping enemies around to remove curses from the bag or reveal tokens on command for your triggers. That’s useful, but since you have to go through evasion first it’s also somewhat limited in how often you can use it.
Signature and weakness: Unchanged. There’s no particular interaction with the new themes of the parallel investigator that would put this into a different context, so this is probably similar to how it’s been for original Wendy.
Card access: Massive. Blessed AND Cursed? And at level 0-5? That’s bonkers good and has so many incredible cards in it. You have to choose either one of the two traits or accept a +5 decksize if you take both… but with the power you can cram into your deck now that seems barely relevant.

Okay, I hope i didn’t miss anything here. Like with Parallel Zoey before, this is pretty much the first time i actually read this closer. So obviously, I haven’t played with her yet either.
Seems to me like Parallel Wendy is mostly her deckbuilding with some generally good numbers from her statline. She’s probably really good at using the curse spell suite, giving her 4 willpower a whole new use. I’ve heard others talk about how she obsoletes Mateo and reading her now that seems accurate. Mateo even only gets Blessed 0-3.
This isn’t really the point of this article, i do want to rank them by what i think their power is and not drone on too much about flavor aspects and design and such, but… the whole design of this investigator doesn’t make a lick of sense, right? Somehow the Urchin is both blessed and cursed, channels those blesses and curses into her enemies with her seashell. Meanwhile her original weakness and signature are a complete non sequitur as well that has no mechanical interaction with anything. I dislike this breed of parallels on a conceptual level. Sorry, rant over. But since i am probably never going to talk about these ever again, i needed to get this out.
Speculative ranking: B+? Possibly A? I don’t think her investigator ability generates quite enough value for me to consider A, but she does a great job of enemy management and through spells and agility she can leverage all her stats very well and do a great generalist game.

Parallel Ashcan: Unranked. Another one i largely ignored so far, let’s see how this one goes.
Statline: 4/2/3/3. Gets an extra point of fight over the original, but notably doesn’t start with Duke in play. Pretty standard survivor fare, looks like a great Dark Horse base to me!
Soak: 7/7. Looks good. Again, the lack of Duke means that he gets standard numbers.
Investigator ability: Instead of Duke, he starts with his guitar. We’ll look at that in a bit, for now there’s another ability here. Once per round you recur a card to your hand that was attached to a scenario card and would otherwise have been discarded. Pretty good, this really does a good job of getting extra value out of Traps in particular. Those aren’t great as a baseline, but if they aren’t costing a card anymore, they might become more interesting? After a quick look over cards that he can run, Hiding Spot also seems good. And On The Hunt(3) is downright exciting! Yeah, this has potential even if traps don’t end up being good enough still.
Signature: The Guitar is pretty insane, isn’t it? This is pretty obviously meant to herd enemies into traps again, but… do you even need traps anymore when you have the guitar? As a fast action you can just move enemies out of your way. If they aren’t Hunter, they are now already dealt with. If they are, you at least got some leeway. And then you also heal horror or gain resources on top? Huh.
Weakness: Hard Times has you discard cards whenever you draw some. That’s pretty harsh, but like his original weakness, a double action takes care of it. I think this is less harsh than the original Wracked in Nightmares actually, as it won’t create any dicey situations on the board. I don’t see a mechanical connection to punishing card draw with anything that Bizarro Pete is about, but i suppose it’s meant to counteract the card advantage from returning your traps? Sure, why not. I like the trait, though. “Hardship.” I think that’s a new one and a much better fit than Blunder or whatever else is on many of these weaknesses.
Card access: Oh no, it’s another Tactics investigator. Will the memes ever stop? That aside, this card pool is stacked. Tactics and Improvised at 0-4 is a fair amount of goodies… although Improvised is all low level survivor stuff right now so it’s only flavor for now.

Is it weird that I am excited about the prospect of using Duke to attack with 5 fight? Sure, you need to find him in your deck first, but nobody is stopping you from playing both sets of sigs and weaknesses in your deck 😀 And Flare can probably get you there quick enough to be worth doing. Means you have two weaknesses that both demand a double action to clear… eh, it’s probably fine.
Parallel Pete looks interesting and like something i might want to try at some point. He does something fairly unique and doesn’t just obsolete existing investigators. Trapping is something that also needs the more direct support from an investigator to become worthwhile. The ability on the guitar is rather heavyhanded for that and possibly even so good that the traps aren’t even necessary anymore, but that’s not a call i feel qualified to make without testing him. I feel confident in saying that the guitar is insanely good though. When in doubt you can just herd enemies around, then drop dynamite on them. That works as well :> Or put a trap down, then Kick the Hornet’s Nest into it.
Yeah, i like this one. Speculative ranking: Upper range of B.

Alright, that was Survivor! Let’s blast through the two Neutrals as well real quick, then we take a look at the final tier list!

Neutral

Lola Hayes: C, between Ursula and Mateo.
Statline: 3/3/3/3. This is bad. Unless we are playing particularly survivor heavy or testless, this takes a lot of effort to get anywhere.
Soak: 6/6. Nerfing her here was entirely unnecessary.
Investigator ability: She considers her card access her ability, therefore everything in this space is actually drawbacks and limitations that keep her from having fun with card combos, forcing her to micromanage her “roles” instead.
Signature: Two copies of Improvisation and they are quite good. They don’t cost you a card, they switch your role and they give you three resources to spend immediately. That’s really a nice bit of econ right there. You can even use them as Unexpected Courages if you don’t need their primary effect.
Weakness: This weakness has been massively neutered by the latest taboo (and rightly so), but it’s still not nothing. You have two of them and each is going to cost you two cards (the one it replaces itself and the one you have to discard for it) So basically you pay four cards for dealing with the weakness on your go through the deck. That’s pretty well in line with what other weaknesses cost. Like the two actions and a card on one of Pete’s weaknesses we just looked at before. Add to that the forced role switch and this becomes actually pretty well balanced.
Card access: This is the reason to play Lola, her whole reason to even exist. All cards 0-3. When i am already gushing about getting to include 5 cards out of all cards level 0 on the Dunwich investigators, then this can only be amazing. And it is. Lola’s limitations about her roles do their hardest to spoil the fun for you by not letting you combine cards from different classes with each other like you’d naturally want to do in a multiclass investigator. And there are some additional hoops to jump through concerning deck composition. But you can cobble some things together. And with the couple cards with the synergy trait that care about different class cards in play there is now even something that Lola does exceptionally well.

She is a very unfun design. Like… literally. At least that weakness got changed but the whole concept of roles exists only to spoil your fun, making sure you aren’t combining things in ways that aren’t authorized. I have quite mixed feelings about this. I do recognize that she can’t just be left completely unlimited, but the way it’s done here just feels bad.
But we aren’t here for my personal feelings and this isn’t a therapy session so let’s see where we put her on the rankings. I think my initial definition of the C tier can just be copy pasted here because it fits Lola like a glove. So that’s what i will do: [She] get[s] the job done, but it is going to require some more work on your part. [She is] handicapped in some major way that can be overcome [and] just lagging behind the average. There you go. Where in C? I think she’s actually better than Jenny now. And better than Mateo as well. Better than Ursula? Nah, probably not.

Charlie Kane: A, between Wendy and Tommy.
Statline: 1/1/1/1. Argh.
Soak: 6/6. Ouch.
Investigator ability: Like with Lola, i do actually consider his deckbuilding rules part of his ability. That being said, he does have some other abilities as well. Like 3 additional ally slots. Which is insanely good! That’s 9XP worth of Charismas! And he can use his allies to boost his stats which actually is also really powerful. It does need the help of his signature to fully unlock this ability though.
Signature: Bonnie is the best assistant a person could ask for. She not only brings a tidy +3 bonus to one of Charlies tests, but also readies another ally. So at worst she gives +4 to a test. But if you even built your deck semi-competently, it gets so much better. Through Bonnie, Charlie can pretty much once per turn test at Winifred levels of skill. It’s only once per turn, but that still means he crushes that test.
Weakness: Note that the card has been errata’d to include the crucial word “must” that makes sure it works as intended. You don’t want to be drawing cards when your team is exhausted because that will deal it a lot of damage and horror, probably causing casualties too. If you draw it during upkeep, you just readied everything so you can decide to exhaust the allies again to stop them from dying. Of course that will put a massive dampener on your next turn and you will need to make your decisions before going into mythos and seeing what you have to deal with. So this weakness does have some teeth but you can play around it fairly well. If you don’t it will slaughter your team though!
Card access: Excellent. And in many ways, even better than Lola’s because he doesn’t have arbitrary restrictions on what he can do with cross-class synergies. He has to pick two subclasses instead of having all five always open but his allies 0-5 breaks that open to a point where you end up combining stuff from various classes in ways that other investigators can’t. This is not just fun either, this is also very powerful and lends itself to some ridiculous decks.

Charlies initial numbers are very misleading. His attributes are as fluid as Amanda’s, but where Amanda gets a decent increase over the whole turn, Charlie usually shoots to the moon but for only one test. His printed soak is low, but with an army of allies in front of him, he’s almost as tanky as Tommy. Charlie can do a lot of things really well and synergizes hard with a couple of standout allies (like Miss Doyle) that give him huge power boosts when they show up. The biggest of these boosts comes from his signature and Charlie with and without his Bonnie in play are on very different levels.
I hold Charlie in very high regards and have had a lot of success with him in the two campaigns i played with him. Recognizing that he has valleys where his stuff is all tapped out and needs recharging i don’t feel like i can justify A+ for him, but I will give him A for sure. Let’s put him next to Tommy… comparing both more directly i think i will even put him ahead of Tommy. But not over Wendy. Yep, that looks right to me.

Final tierlist

Phew. 35k words later, we made it. Somehow we arrived at the final tierlist. (<- click there for a direct link to tiermaker.com for a better resolution image.

I now want to go over all of this per tier again and see if i notice anything strange or if i disagree with any of my own assessments here.

S: Seven investigators. One guardian, one seeker, two rogues, two mystics, one survivor. Well, the survivor is arguably a seeker, but he got into S on the back of survivor mechanics, so that counts. Looks good to me? Even distribution between classes, these are indeed all at the top of their respective roles and classes and do something exceptionally powerful to the game.

A+: Fourteen investigators which seems like a lot. It’s actually the most populated tier. That being said, it’s an almost even split between A and A+ and i did expect most of the investigators to go somewhere in A. So this checks out. We have two guardians, four seekers, one rogue, four mystics and three survivors.

A: Thirteen in total. Two guardians, two seekers, two rogues, four mystics, two survivors and one neutral. Apparently this is where you go with 5 will as a mystic without anything too powerful going on in addition. Looking at the lineup here, i could see arguments for all three at the top (Dex, Amanda, Wendy) to go up into A+, but i think they are well treated by being at the top of the tier. The breakpoints between A and A+ is arbitrary anyways.

B+: Six investigators. One of each class except seeker who sent two. This is a very diverse bunch.

B: Two rogues, a survivor that plays like a rogue. And Roland.

C: This is where i start to question how playable the character is but still declare them passable. Again, there’s one from each class except Seeker who sent two. And Lola is here too. I don’t think this sort of even distribution actually means anything, but it does please me especially since i didn’t shoot for it. It just came about organically.

D: Just three. They are who i do expect now to get in real trouble if i play them. Patrice, Jim and Skids. Patrice really hurts me here, but it is what it is. It’s not for a lack of trying!

Unranked: Yeah, i don’t know about these parallels. Pete is cool. I could see trying Skids some time. Roland i can at least appreciate. But the other three are just not my cup of tea at all. I suppose a super optional print and play thing like this is exactly where such experimental overstuffed things should go, so i’d rather see the orphan with her curseshell here than in an official product. But yeah. Not for me. Also not for me: The two TSK characters that i still have to play and very likely won’t.

Overall this list looks good to me, i feel this adequately represents my thoughts on where these investigators all are right now in terms of powerlevel. If i were to rank them by enjoyment, things would look quite differently, though. Maybe i will go into that some other day.

B-B-B-B-Bonus Round! Speculative Hemlock Vale rankings!

Ah, you thought i was about to close out this article, were you? This is the article that never ends, though! And since we now know all the investigators from Hemlock Vale, back and front and all signatures and weaknesses, we can wax poetically about them too! We don’t have the full card pool from Hemlock Vale yet and usually there’s a bunch of stuff for these investigators as well… but I can at least get to a preliminary ranking to set my expectations for when I get to play them in a month or two. If you haven’t seen these investigators before or only parts of them, you can find all of them on the Visual Spoiler!

Wilson Richards: Speculative B+
Statline: 3/3/3/3. Oh no. Luckily this is mitigated by his investigator ability, so as long as a tool is involved, this is a 4/4/4/4. Certainly not ideal, but we can work with this.
Soak: 8/6. Yeah sure, this is fine.
Investigator ability: +1 skill when using Tool traited assets is essential to making his statline work. He also gets to play a Tool for 1 cheaper every turn. This is … fine? You probably aren’t going to play a load of tools, so that rebate is going to be valuable during setup but not that often beyond that. Making the most out of his stats means trying for a generalist angle that both fights and clues respectably without excelling at one or the other. Traditionally that sort of gameplay doesn’t lend itself to being perceived as all that powerful but as long as he can do a solid job that is fine.
Signature: Ad Hoc seems pretty good for me and like it can potentially pick up some of the slack from the rather mid tier investigator ability. Through discarding tools and weapons you can generate bonus actions after using a specific tool or weapon. As long as you can find a good target to put this on (likely a weapon?) this can generate some consistent value for you. You pay for it with cards and in Guardian that is a real cost. But i think this has potential.
Weakness: Two action to discard, until you do, blank your investigator ability. We’ve seen it before many times, we’ve not really feared it before. I suppose this is very similar to Ashcan’s Wracked in Nightmares though, in that bad timing can leave you with an enemy in your face that you can’t handle.
Card access: Crucially he gains all the Tools. That’s a pretty nice range when you actually have the stats to use them. Using this access, he can build a pretty flexible deck. What i find particularly interesting here is Upgrade and Improvised access. He only gets 5 cards, but those can be massive for you to push your skill values over the edge. I am eyeing Jury-Rig in particular which could just be the missing piece to make Wilson go big with a Fingerprint Kit(4).

My speculative ranking for him would be B+. This is where i generally would put this sort of generalist investigators that are kinda good at two things but have to throw a decent amount of cards at reaching competency. Vincent Lee in particular is very similar that way, i think. That being said, Vincent can’t run chainsaws, so…

Kate Winthrop: Speculative A
Statline: 2/4/2/4. That’s Trish’s numbers. Kate can’t get that much out of that agility, but maybe we can use it to base some sort of enemy management on top of it.
Soak: 6/8. Sure. At this point, i completely ran out of things to say about the 6/8 or 8/6 split.
Investigator ability: Okay, so we have an ability to move clues from her onto Science and Tool assets. One clue per asset. Looks like we need to get into the Flux Stabilizer to find out what that actually means
Signature: The Stabilizer starts in play, inactive side up. By putting a clue on it, we get to flip it to active and shuffle one of our two Aetheric Current events into our deck. They are different events and i think we get to choose? I wasn’t expecting that figuring out this investigator is a science all by itself. Anyways, after putting down the clue our Flux Stabilizer is now active. And that means any other clues we put on assets give us +2 to our next skill test. This isn’t limited, so we can stack it if we have many clues on Kate and as many free assets. Alright, so to sum up, Kate can use discovered clues in special ways. The first goes on her signature and shuffles a special event into her deck. Any other ones can then be used for skill bonuses. Mkay. Moving on to the events then.
Either of the two events can only be played while the Stabilizer is Active. This should usually be the case, after all turning active is what shuffles the event in. For playing the event, you get to take a fight or evade action, using your intellect. If you picked the fight event, you get to teleport the (non-Elite) enemy to any location after a success. If you picked the evade event, you get to shuffle the (non-Elite) enemy into the encounter deck. No matter which one you picked and no matter if you pass or not, you draw a card and flip the Flux Stabilizer back to inactive, keeping all tokens and attachments on it.
Alright, continuing this dissertation that is trying to figure out an investigator ability, some things catch my eye here. For one, replacing your fight with intellect is a lot more valuable to you that replacing your agility. Whether you want to teleport the enemy or shuffle it back in is going to depend on the enemy. Not doing much against Elites is a bummer, but you are a Seeker and expecting Elite handling is just greedy, despite all the previous instances of such in the yellow card pool. Flipping back the Flux thingy is bad, right? Means you have to flip it to active again before you can gain skill boosts again. Also, since clues are tokens and thus stay on the stabilizer you just flipped back to inactive, you can’t even flip it back before you spend the clue. That’s something to keep in mind.
Alright, so where does all of this leave us? I don’t think the events are very good. I think it’s likely you want to just not play them so your Flux apparatus stays active. With your agility and potentially +2 skill value from an active fluxicator you can already manage enemies fairly well so those Current Events (lol) seem entirely irrelevant.
The Fluximicator 2000 itself seems pretty strong though. Getting skill bonuses on tap is great. Using clues for it is a bit of a weird currency and you will either need to spend these clues on the act to make your assets free again or run some clue dropping shenanigans to enable it. Actually, that sounds pretty fun, rotating clues around between your investigator card, your assets and your location, triggering all sorts of stuff along the way.
Weakness: Good lord. Just with a conservative estimate of three clues on your assets you are looking at a willpower (6) test that you have to take with your base will of 2. And any you fail by goes as clues back on the location or straight to your sanity. No upper limit to how much you can fail by either. That is insanely punishing.
Card access: Seeker with some trait based add-ons. Science is mostly seeker stuff anyways, but Insight is a pretty broad trait that has some nice stuff. This seems perfectly fine and both traits have good potential for growth in the future.

Okay, dude. I didn’t expect to have to solve some science puzzles to understand the investigator before i can play her. Once you worked through it, it appears fairly simple. Clues are now +2 skill value, as long as you have assets to put them on. You gain some events, ignore them or commit them. Done. With her statline and the skill bonuses, she should be able to be a pretty great seeker with enemy capabilities. She doesn’t get anything particularly valuable each turn like Trish or Rex do, but it looks to me like she’s a solid A, playing a relatively fair game of intellect vs shroud?

Alessandra Zorzi: Speculative A
Statline: 3/4/2/4. Hey, she gets an extra point here. Neato. A rogue with 3 willpower, is that even legal? This seems like a very good statline to me.
Soak: 7/7. Always a fan of this.
Investigator ability: Oh thank god, this fits on her card and it doesn’t need three signatures one of which is double-sided to explain that you get +2 sometimes. You get a bonus action! I am instantly a fan, this is good old Rogue stuff, i know this! It’s limited to Parley and if i hadn’t seen the card previews for Hemlock that might have made me worried. But i have and so i can tell you to not worry about it, everything is Parley now. This is a really good ability. All that extra space on the investigator card is taken up by her Elder Sign effect which is… okay. The auto-evade on an enemy at a connecting location is good preparation for moving in there and start parleying, but it’s not going to be in any shape or form be reliable enough to be a big part of your plan.
Signature: Allows Alessandra to investigate and evade at remote locations by moving enemies around. You get three of these which seems entirely excessive but if nothing else it does act as a testless way to get rid of non-Elite enemies that would otherwise attack you. Since you need to basic investigate/evade through this you probably won’t be picking high shroud locations clean this way, but as a rogue that is not your job anyways. I think this is pretty good and it does give you an outlet for your free action every turn if you don’t have anything better to do. I kind of suspect i will have something better to do often though, which is why i am skeptical about needing three of these.
Weakness: He’s Elusive, but thankfully not Aloof. So when he shows up you should hopefully be able to get rid of him by moving into his location, then deal 3 damage in one swoop. That last part is important, if you deal only 2, he buggers off into the next location. So what are your options here? My mind immediately goes to Backstab and i think that’s a fine plan. If you don’t have a three damage option available, then evading him before attacking might be a good idea to stop him from running away. I think this guy is on the upper end of what we’ve seen from weakness enemies. I am reminded of the Hoods that are plaguing Rita and that is probably the right benchmark here.
Card access: Anything green and anything parley. That’s solid. Your stats support both investigation and evasion and i can see her doing something similar to Trish where she keeps enemies occupied while picking clean locations. Trish gets the better card pool (it’s hard to beat seeker 0-2 subclass with a trait or keyword based access) but both of them do gain quite a lot through their ability every turn. I’d put Alessandra at a speculative upper A, but i wouldn’t be too surprised to see her make the cut into A+ in the end. The parley support she is getting in Hemlock Vale seems really significant.

Kouhaku Narukami: Speculative A
Statline: 4/4/3/1. Reminiscent of Marie Lambeau who has the 3 and 1 in opposite places. This can potentially work out well for Kouhaku and allow him to do a similar thing to Marie where both your willpower and intellect are actively contributing.
Soak: 6/8. He’s a mystic, of course he has 6/8.
Investigator ability: There are two parts to his ability. One, he adds a blurse token to the bag every turn, either a curse or a bless depending on which one there are fewer of. That is Mary-like in value and i do like that part of Mary. Then you also get the ability to remove both 2 curse and 2 bless for a bonus action. At face value, that’s a full bonus action every four turns which isn’t great, but can be sped up with additional token generation from the deck. I’m not sure this is really the best way to spend four tokens, but having the option when you don’t have other payoff available (or just really need the action) is certainly a relevant upside. I find the whole package here hard to evaluate. It depends a lot on how relevant that option to take an extra action ends up being. I have the impression that i’d rather find other way to spend my tokens, so you’d end up with just a token generated per turn which is mediocre. The Elder sign adds one of each token (or half an action, if you will) and that strikes me as quite good.
Signature: This thing looks very strong. Book of Living Myths allows you to know ahead of your token pull that you are going to draw a certain blurse token. Like a Favor of the Moon/Sun it can interact with a lot of different things to trigger all sorts of beneficial effects. You are limited to finding only the token you have the most of, but what that actually means is that this also works remarkably well if you decide to just focus on one type of token.
Weakness: Aloof. Elusive. Hunter. This is a wild combination of words on this enemy. Its 2 health limits how much it can actually do with it. The most worrisome interaction on this enemy is that it can trigger its bonus attack when you reveal a blurse token on your attack against it. Means it can get a hit in even when you are about to kill it. Overall probably not the worst, but since you have to engage it out of Aloof, then attack it to kill it it will take the better part of your turn away and then still threaten to slap you for 2 horror before it dies. Hint: Kouhaku can play Occult Lexicon. Weeping Yurei dies to a Blood-Rite in one action and it doesn’t involve a test.
Card access: Both Blessed and Cursed 0-5. That is just an incredible card pool. You also get Occult on top for good measure, giving you the Lexicon. Mystic only goes up to 3, but that’s perfectly fine in light of what else he gets.

For the first time in a long time (Diana?) i am excited about a Mystic. This guy seems quite potent and there are a couple of good ways to go about it. You can play both Bless and Curse at the same time. Since they both roll into another token, that is even feasible. In theory you could trigger both a Blessing of Isis and some bonus clues on a test to activate your Eye of Chaos. Hell, put Tristan Botley into play while doing it. Magical christmas land? Maybe, but between his signature and running Favors this isn’t as outrageous as one would think. And while i am exaggerating here, you can probably shoot for a pretty decent average case.
The more efficient plan is probably to focus on either Blesses or Curses. When doing so, your investigator ability generates one of the tokens you don’t need every turn and that means you can cash those in for a bonus action every other turn. You then also need strong generators for your primary token as well, but honestly… with full Cursed access, especially curse tokens are dirt cheap. Play cursed cards to gain lots of money and some free clues. Use the cursed spells to cash in on those tokens. Have his investigator ability produce some blesses on the side that get turned into free actions. There’s definitely something there and i didn’t even get into any new Hemlock Vale cards yet.
Speculative ranking is A, but i hope we can push him into A+. Probably too much assembly and ramp up required for that though.

Hank Samson: Speculative A
Statline: 3/1/5/3. Or 4/1/6/3. Or 3/3/4/4. Oh god, this is going to get weird again, isn’t it. Okay, so he starts as a strong fighter. Once defeated for the first time he can become a stronger fighter or switch to becoming mid at everything. Hm. That is going to need some convincing.
Soak: 5/5. Once that is used up, another 6/4 or 4/6. Notably, any excess damage/horror when moving from his first form into the Resolute one of his choice is discarded. This means that Hank is able to take quite a beating if he times everything right.
Investigator ability: In his first form, he can tank damage and horror for his teammates which is a rather strong ability. He even can take the damage for allies at his location, which is even more potent as it can get a lot of value out of Beat Cops, Grete and others. Once in his other form, he can no longer be healed which puts a stop to the reckless shenanigans though! Should he take more damage in his combat form, he will get resources for that. Should he take more horror in his … less efficient combat form … he draws cards. So your now dwindling soak pays you quite well. He can still take on damage and horror for allies and investigators at his location in his advanced form, but considering that he can no longer heal, that can become a lot more dangerous.
This all seems certainly powerful defensively. Tanking for allies seems particularly good to me.
Signature: Very, very good. After engaging an enemy, you can move 2 damage/horror from you onto an enemy. Costs 2 resources, but is even fast. A fast testless attack that even heals you? That’s incredible. Notably this also “heals” you when you can’t be healed because it actually moves tokens around. With only one of these in the deck, this might not be consistent enough to count on it to prolong your life in your second form, but who knows, maybe Survivor finds a way to recur it somehow. It’s neither Innate nor Survivor nor level 0 nor an Item, so it at least doesn’t make it too easy!
Weakness: It deals a direct horror at the end of the round, so assuming you draw it the regular way during upkeep it will trigger this horror before you have a chance to act. Considering that Hank reaches a point where he can’t heal and possibly also sits at 4 or below total sanity that seems massive. On the next turn you have to move into that enemy’s location and kill it in one strike. If you don’t manage that, it goes Elusive and you have to suffer yet another trigger. Draw an enemy during Mythos and you are completely screwed. This looks very, very dangerous to me. Even when you forget about the direct horror thing, just the potential of giving Elusive to a random enemy has some nasty outcomes. Elusive Hunters are quite dangerous because they do a hit and run thing. Elusive Aloof can be a massive pain if you can’t kill them immediately. Anything with more life than you can remove in one strike becomes a problem. This is one hell of a weakness with lots of unfavorable outcomes.
Card access: Innate and Spirit 0-2 in addition to full Survivor. That’s pretty big. Calvin already famously gains a huge boost from his Spirit access and while there are some Spirit level 3 cards that Calvin can run and Hank can’t, Hank’s pool is for the most part just superior. Looking at the list, it’s really just Stand Together 3 that Hank doesn’t get and i am not sure if Calvin even runs that usually.

Seems like a strong fighter to me, but I don’t think he touches Daniela. Depending on how awful his weakness ends up being and how fragile/tanky he ends up in the end, he might not break out of B tier but my first impulse is putting him at a speculative rank of lower A.
The thing that might be most interested here is actually his ability to take damage for allies and investigators. If he can keep allies like Grete or Beat Cop in play indefinitely, then that might even be worth loading up on efficient heal for and try to stay in the first form.
Obviously there is something to be said about having a 6 in your primary stat too. But i am really scared of that weakness. I think i’ll stick to Daniela’s 5 fight but be consistently resilient without any dangerous gimmicks.

So that’s four As and a B+ for Hemlock Vale? Seems good. If i had to pick one of them that is most likely to break out from the pack and be exceptionally good, it would be Alessandra. If i had to pick one of them as most likely to break out, but in the other direction, it would be Wilson. But i think we can go into the Hemlock Vale investigator expansion with solid expectations to do well!

Signing off

Alright, this went on for long enough now. If you actually read through all of this, kudos to you. I’m out now, i hope you all got something out of this exercise. I know i did.