Best-Laid Plans: The Hemlock Residents and Paths through The Vale

Introduction

There are nine notable members of the village of Hemlock Vale that the investigators will meet during the campaign. Additionally, there are two more characters that they can interact with, arriving on the island with them for the survey.
This guide (which is part of the larger “Best-Laid Plans” Campaign Deep Dive) will go over most of these characters, sum up their storyline and point out where you can find them and what you have to do to follow these storylines.
I will also give a few example paths that you can follow along.
Obviously, this will include lots of spoilers, including for the finale in all of its versions.

The Cheat Sheet

Here’s an image. Check it out. (Open in new tab for bigger view)

This is where every resident can be found at a given time.

For many use cases, this table will already get you at least 80% on the way to whatever you may want to know about what routes to take. It’s not quite a guide on how to maximize relationship with someone or how to unlock one of the endings, but it will at least give you a strong direction.

For the details…. read on. For each of the residents (and Rosa) I’ll go over a short overview of who they are in the story, how to max out their relationship and any special requirements for unlocking things. Note that maxing out their relationship is not required for anything, but if you want to hit relevant thresholds (3 to share a dance, 4 to be available as an ally during the last half of the finale), or simply as a hook or guide for a route through the campaign, you can use that information as a resource.

Rosa Marquez

Overview: Rosa is the head of the survey and acts as a stand-in for the investigators in many of the story bits. Following her around gives you what was dubbed “the canon route” which gives a solid experience for the first play of the campaign. Doing so (successfully) will unlock version 1 of the finale.
Relationship: Rosa isn’t a resident, she came to The Vale with you as leader of the survey. She doesn’t have a relationship track.
To unlock v1 of the finale:
– save Bertie in The Twisted Hollows
– play The Longest Night
To be able to sacrifice yourselves in Rosa’s stead:
– additionally, gather the Prismatic Shard from the mines and have it in play during the finale when act 2 advances.

Mother Rachel

Overview: The matriarch and spiritual leader of the village. She is for the most part the primary antagonist (until The Colour takes over that role). Getting into her good graces is more difficult with her than with other residents because there are only few opportunities to increase your relationship with her. You can even go along with her which will cause an early end to the campaign (with the option to regret and redo your choices). Whatever your relation to the matron during most of the campaign, by the finale she will end up your enemy.
Relationship (max 4):
– During the meal on evening 1, ask Rachel about the Atwoods or the Children of the Stars. (+1)
– Talk to Rachel during the prelude on Morning 2. (+1)
– Play the Longest Night
– Talk to Rachel in the interlude afterwards, thanking her for her prayers. (+1)
– Play Silent Heath on day 3 and talk to Rachel there. (+1)
To unlock a non-standard Game Over (with a chance for a rewind):
– Follow the steps above to gain 3 relationship with Rachel before the final (=fourth) prelude.
– During the setup of the Final Prelude tell Rachel “You have done nothing wrong.”
– Keep playing the Final Prelude.

Simeon Atwood

Overview: A young man with more than one screw loose, Simeon is the head (and only active member) of his secret society that hangs around in the mines. And then needs to be rescued from there or disappear. He has a plan of disrupting the feast with fireworks to spite Rachel, which the players can encourage and help with… leading to its own version of the finale where the stashed fireworks are used to torch the place for good.
Relationship (max 6):
– Talk to him during Prelude 1 (+1)
– Rescue Simeon from the mines on day 1 or 2 (+2)
– During the meal on evening 1, join the kids’ table. (+1)
– Talk to him on the second morning.
– Stash fireworks on the third morning.
– Talk to Simeon on the final prelude (+2)
To unlock v3 of the finale:
– Rescue Simeon from the mines on day 1 or 2.
– Join the youths at dinner (-> Simeon hatched a plan)
– Talk to Simeon on the second morning (-> Plan is underway)
– Stash fireworks on the third morning (-> Vale is full of fireworks)
To gain a bit of extra epilogue:
– Both Leah and Simeon must survive.

Leah Atwood

Overview: She is Simeon’s mother and her fate is in large parts connected to his. She’s Rachel’s sister and as the Vale cook heavily involved in the preparations for the feast.
Relationship (max 6):
– Talk to her during Prelude 1 (+1)
– On day 1 or day 2, rescue Simeon from the mines.
– During the meal on evening 1, listen to her compain about work. (+1)
– During prelude 2, run an errand from the Crossroads to the Store (+1)
– Talk to her during prelude 3 (+2)
– Talk to her in the final prelude (+1)
To gain a bit of extra epilogue:
– Both Leah and Simeon must survive.

William Hemlock

Overview: The last of the Hemlock line, concerned about his family’s legacy. He clashes with River Hawthorne who has less romantic ideas about the future of The Vale and the Hemlock heritage.
Relationship (max 7):
– Talk to him during Prelude 1 (+1)
– Find Little Silvie in the Hemlock House on day 1 (+1)
– During the meal on evening 1, ask William about the Hemlocks. (+1)
– On morning 2, take William’s side during his argument with River at the Atwood House (+1)
– On day 2, in the Hemlock House, take William’s side during his argument with Judith(+1)
– Talk to him during prelude 3. (+1)
– On day 3, talk to William at the Akwan Shore (+1)
– During the final prelude, at the Atwood house, let the Hemlocks make a truce out or side with William. (+1)
To unlock v2 of the finale:
– Gain at least 3 relationship with William before the second evening.
– Share a dance with William
– Have William stand by you in the Longest Night.
– Talk to William on the following morning.
– Let the Hemlocks fight it out and make a truce.
To gain a bit of extra epilogue:
– Both River and William must survive and they need to have made the truce.

River Hawthorne

Overview: River visits The Vale from the city and isn’t really on board with the traditions and rural way of life on the island. They want to use their claim to the Hemlock heritage to bring a more modern touch to the place.
Relationship (max 8):
– Talk to them during Prelude 1 (+1)
– Help River in the mines on day 1 (+1)
– During the meal on evening 1, chat with them about jazz. (+1)
– On morning 2, take River’s side during their argument with William at the Atwood House (+2)
– On day 2 or 3, help them in the Eastwick Bog (+1)
– On the second evening, dance with them
– Play the Longest Night and have them stand by you.
– Talk to them during prelude 3 (+1)
– During the final prelude, at the Atwood house, let the Hemlocks make a truce or side with River. (+1)
To unlock v2 of the finale:
– On morning 2, take River’s side over William’s.
– Gain at least 3 relationship with River before the second evening.
– Share a dance with them
– Have them stand by you in the Longest Night.
– Talk to River on the following morning.
– Let the Hemlocks fight it out and make a truce.
To gain a bit of extra epilogue:
– Both River and William must survive and they need to have made the truce.

Gideon Mizrah

Overview: An old sailor, knowledgable in his own ways and always willing to tell tales of ships, voyages, history, shipwrecks… or food.
Relationship (max 7):
– Talk to him during Prelude 1 (+1)
– Help Gideon in the Hemlock House on day 1 (+1)
– During the meal on evening 1, listen to his sailor stories. (+1)
– On morning 2, listen to another sailor story. (+1)
– Help Gideon find his treasure on the Akwan Shore on Day 2 or 3. (+1)
– On the second evening, dance with him
– Play the Longest Night and have him stand by you.
– Talk to him during prelude 3 (+1)
– Talk to him during the final prelude (+1)
To unlock v1 of the finale:
– Talk to him on the first evening (-> told the story of Captain Hemlock)
– Talk to him on the second morning (-> told the tale of the Annabelle Lee)
– find the treasure on the Akwan Shore on Day 2 or 3.
– Talk to him during the final prelude (-> finish the tale of the A. Lee)

Judith Park

Overview: Judith introduces herself as “the muscle”, she and her hunting rifle are out to make sure no wildlife interferes with the feast. She is plenty fed up with The Vale and ready to leave.
Relationship (max 7):
– Talk to her during Prelude 1 (+1)
– On day 1, play the Thing in the Depths (+1)
– During the meal on evening 1, take Judith’s side against River. (+1)
– Play Twisted Hollow and have Judith save you from the bear.
– On morning 2, chat to Judith and tell her you can handle yourself. (+1)
– On day 2, in the Hemlock House, take Judith’s side during her argument with William (+1)
– Talk to her during prelude 3. (+1)
– On day 3, in the Hemlock House, “remodel” the place by defeating at least 8 location-enemies. (+1)
– During the final prelude, talk to her (+1)
To gain a bit of extra epilogue:
– Get her relationship level to 5 by the end of the campaign. And she must survive, obviously.

Theo (and Helen) Peters

Overview: Theo is a young man who will drive the survey members around on the island. Much of his story deals with the fallout he had with his sister over whether it’s a good idea to stay in The Vale.
Relationship (max 6):
– Talk to him during Prelude 1 (+1)
– Parley during The Lost Sister on day 1 or 2 to make him reconcile with his sister Helen. (+1)
– During the meal on evening 1, talk to Theo and Helen joins the survey. (+1)
– Play Twisted Hollow and have Theo save you from the bear.
– On morning 2, chat with Theo (+1)
– Talk to him during prelude 3 (+1). If you didn’t share a dance and do Longest Night with him, this will require running an errand from the Store to the Commons.
– Talk to him during the final prelude (+1)
To unlock v2 of the finale:
– Reconcile Theo and Helen during The Lost Sister, then win the scenario ( -> family is reunited).
To gain a bit of extra epilogue:
– Get his relationship level to 5 by the end of the campaign. Again, also don’t get him killed.

To cap this article off, i will now go over a few paths you can take through the campaign. They aren’t necessarily particularly efficient or better than others, they are just a recommendation if you are struggling to prioritize things yourself. As an alternative, you can also pick any of the residents above and follow their “Max relationship” path.

Path 1: Following Rosa (AKA the “Canon Route”)

For this path, we act as part of the survey and support Rosa in her studies of the island’s ecosystem. We are completely free in what we do during the preludes because they don’t relate to Rosa. The nighttime scenarios are a fixed part of this route and will unlock a version of the finale. I am picking Written in Rock for day 3 because it will allow you to save Leah and/or to grab the Spectral Shard for an alternate ending to Rosa’s version of the finale.

Day 1: The Thing in the Depths
Night 1: Twisted Hollow
Day 2: Silent Heath
Night 2: Longest Night
Day 3: Written in Rock

Path 2: Skipping the nighttime scenarios

Generally speaking, it is not recommended to skip Twisted Hollow or Longest Night because doing so will make the chaos bag worse and also cost you a bunch of XP and relationship opportunities from missing out some of the log entries earned around those scenarios. But if you want to do it anyways, here’s a suggestion on how to do it:

Day 1: The Thing in the Depths
Night 1: Silent Heath
Day 2: The Lost Sister
Night 2: Written in Rock
Day 3: Hemlock House

For the night scenarios i chose Written in Rock because it’s the only one that actually adds something interesting at night (The Subterranean Beast) and Silent Heath because its daytime social interactions are the thinnest and you lose very little by going there at night. I put Silent Heath first so you can recover the Diary. Going into the mines at night will not allow you to save Simeon, but it will stop Leah from getting lost in the mines with him. The order of the other three scenarios was chosen to offer the most interactivity with the villagers.

Path 3: All the options

There are four different variants to the finale and unlocking them isn’t all that difficult. The following path will make it so you have all four of them available to you when you have to make the decision. v1 simply requires playing the two nighttime scenarios, v2 is opened up by reuniting the Peters family which can be done through playing Lost Sister on day 1 or 2. v3 is the most involved one, but still rather tame. It just involves interacting with Simeon at some specific points and making sure he doesn’t get lost in the mines. v4 is always open. It doesn’t matter if you play Lost Sister or Written in Rock first, as long as you play both on day 1 and 2.

Day 1: Written in Rock, rescue Simeon
Evening 1: Join Simeon at the kids’ table
Night 1: Twisted Hollow
Morning 2: Talk to Simeon
Day 2: Lost Sister, reconcile Theo and Helen
Night 2: Longest Night
Morning 3: Stash fireworks
Day 3: whatever you want

Path 4: All the epilogues

On this path, we get all four epilogues after finishing the campaign. This path requires at least three players, otherwise you won’t be able to talk with all three of William, Judith and Theo on evening 1.
Prerequisites fulfilled here are: Theo and Judith at relationship 5, William and River at a truce, Simeon and Leah both survive.

Morning 1: Talk to William, Judith, Theo
Day 1: Lost Sister, have Theo and Helen reunite
Evening 1: Talk to William about the Hemlocks, Take Judith’s side over River’s, talk to Theo
Night 1: Twisted Hollow, have Judith save you
Morning 2: Take William’s side in his argument with River, tell Judith you can handle yourself
Day 2: Written in Rock, save Simeon
Evening 2: Share a dance with William, share a dance with Theo
Night 2: Longest Night, have William and Theo stand by you
Morning 3: Talk to William, Judith, Theo
Day 3: whatever you want
Evening 3: Let the Hemlocks fight it out and make a truce. Talk to Judith. Talk to Theo

Path 5: All the options and all the epilogues!

Path 3 and 4 can actually be fused… well, in theory. What that will leave you with is the ability to pick whatever you want during the finale and getting to read everything after you finished it. This does require four players however, as you will need to do another thing on evening 1 which was already the bottleneck for path 4. Morning 3 is also going to be very crowded as you will need to stash four pieces of fireworks while also talking to three people… and since you start with 4 doom in play due to player count, that’s going to be tough.

Morning 1: Talk to William, Judith, Theo
Day 1: Lost Sister, have Theo and Helen reunite
Evening 1: Talk to William about the Hemlocks, Take Judith’s side over River’s, talk to Theo, talk to Simeon at the kids’ table
Night 1: Twisted Hollow, have Judith save you
Morning 2: Take William’s side in his argument with River, tell Judith you can handle yourself, talk to Simeon
Day 2: Written in Rock, save Simeon
Evening 2: Share a dance with William, share a dance with Theo
Night 2: Longest Night, have William and Theo stand by you
Morning 3: Stash fireworks, Talk to William, Judith, Theo.
Day 3: whatever you want
Evening 3: Let the Hemlocks fight it out and make a truce. Talk to Judith. Talk to Theo

Fate of the Vale

Other encounter sets in this scenario: Final Day, Agents of the Colour, Horrors in the Rock, Refractions, Transfiguration
Available experience:2 (Crystal Parasites) + 5 (Main Emissary, requires a willpower(100) test) + 3 (the other three parts of the Emissary) + 5 (resolution R1) = 14XP on v1 of the scenario

Size of the Encounter Deck28
# Enemies6
# Willpower8
# Agility4
# Intellect2
# Fight2
# Damage4
# Horror12
# Doom

My take on this encounter deck: So, technically speaking this scenario has no encounter deck. It does however have its Abyss and during the mythos phase it behaves just like the encounter card would, serving up one card per player, skipping all the non-encounter stuff that is in the Abyss. So that’s what the numbers above are referencing, those are the part of the abyss that is used for encounter cards during mythos. And what can i say, i kind of expected a bigger number than 28 there for the full thing, it certainly appears like more when you handle that large brick. Sure, it gets beefed up with player cards, residents, locations and whatever else is at hand, but still.
Looking at the numbers, we can immediately point at one reason why the finale is quite difficult: That is a truckload of horror on these cards and that doesn’t even account for enemy attacks, extra attacks from tokens, the Emissary or Resident cards. We also go back to willpower as the dominant skill to use for tests … and those willpower tests are usually linked to horror. This alone is going to get some investigators, with rogues being particularly vulnerable. You do get a free heal early on in the scenario that wipes your trauma and any damage and horror you got until that point, but there is enough in the encounter deck to still catch up to you after that happens.
There’s only six enemies in all of that, but they are gross ones: Crystal Parasite, Miasmatic Shadow and Crystal Mimic, with two copies each. Notably, Parasites and Shadows have Victory so Crystal Mimics are the only ones that go back into the deck after defeat (which is relevant for one of the versions of Fate of the Vale). By this point, you need to be able to kill Miasmatic Shadows. They are far too dangerous to let them stay alive as discard is everywhere and they simply can not be avoided. Since it’s always night in this scenario, Shadows also gain their Elusive, making them even more awful to deal with. Depending on the specific variant of the scenario you might also have to deal with several of the residents once/if you return to the village in the final act so don’t let that low number of only six enemies in the deck fool you… there is plenty to do for your fighters here.

My take on the scenario as a whole: I love it. It’s dangerous, it’s unique, it’s outrageous. This is what a campaign finale should look like, utterly memorable and with several payoffs depending on things you did during the scenarios that came before. Is it completely fair? Oh no. Not at all. Doesn’t matter though, it’s a fantastic experience and just achievable enough to be motivating. Now obviously it’s going to be different from person to person where you draw your line between motivating and frustrating difficulty. And i certainly have read enough complaints online about it, in particular about not scaling all that well down to two players or even solo play. I feel like it’s nowhere on a level with something like Where the Gods Dwell however. Just to put my own experiences forward as a reference, at time of writing this page i have played the campaign four times, at two players on Standard. Of those four plays two were wins. Two were losses. One of the losses, my first play, would almost have been a win had i just had two more turns. One of the wins was a win despite playing a meme-y teamup of Finn and Skids. So winning here is absolutely possible… just don’t expect it to be easy.
It’s regrettable that missing the opportunity to regain a True Self and have it go back to the top of the Abyss sets you back far enough that it’s almost a game over. That is a bit unfair and can be frustrating to experience. But still, I am taking a memorable experience over the forgettable finales of the last few campaigns any time of the day. Even when they aren’t perfect.

Variants: There are four different versions for the final bout of the scenario (and the campaign!), which are available depending on your choices in the interludes and scenarios up to here.
Version 1 stays in the alien realm for the last act. The players will need to deplete all of the Abyss deck. Version 1 ends with either Rosa Marquez sacrificing herself for the investigators or the other way round. This version is only available if you followed either Rosa’s story or Gideon’s.
Version 2 is available if you either made William and River have a truce or if you reunited the Peters family. You will return to the Hemlock Vale at night, searching the village for the residents that are cooped up in their homes and evacuate them.
If you put fireworks all over The Vale, you get access to version 3 where you can torch the place. This seems to be the most difficult variant, allowing you little time to move around The Vale to collect and place kindling at the appropriate spots.
You always have the option to just flee. This will also move you to the village at night and you will need to prepare everything that you need to get out of there.
During all of these variants the Cosmic Emissary will be around, in its “Shattered” form where it can be attacked and defeated. But where they will also be much more active in haunting the players.

Before the scenario enters its final act with different versions depending on how your campaign went, the Cosmic Emissary provides a consistent background threat. You are forced to fight or evade it every turn despite being unable to damage or exhaust it, otherwise you get smacked by varying amounts of damage and/or horror.
Notably, this doesn’t scale with player count, so one investigator spending this action will also make sure that the others at their location are safe from being attacked by the Emissary that turn. Compare this to the location effects which will require every investigator to do a thing or they have to discard immediately when they end their turn.
The Emissary also provides the constant presence of a Colour enemy, powering up the Otherworldy Visions treachery.
Thankfully, the Emissary cannot make attacks of opportunity, limiting its damage output to “just” its regular attack with Massive and even that only if nobody attacked or evaded that part of the enemy. To make up for it, there are a couple of effects around that trigger an extra attack, so it’s worth keeping in mind which part of the combined enemy is currently nearest to you. On that note, each player can freely choose any of the four locations to start at, so picking a location with an enemy that you can easily evade or fight makes sense. The stats per enemy vary, with two of them only having a 2 in either fight or evade (however with the added threat of retaliation or alert).

This thing replaces your investigator card at the beginning of the scenario, triggering violent flashbacks to the many times that TFA’s City of Archives screwed you over. What salvages Shattered Self is that it does give you the tools to get your real self back. You can potentially win any test and the doubling of icons can give you the necessary reach to oversuceed towards your investigator cards. In theory.
In practice you will have to struggle hard not to fall prey to the many discard effects in this scenariobecause those will cause a downward spiral real fast with you unable to pass anything… which will just knock more cards out of your hands. Keeping your hand size up is absolutely vital here. You do not want to get into a situation where you have to use your three actions to draw a card, only to then have to discard one of them to the effect of your location and another one to this turn’s treachery.
The silver lining is that once you found the first of the true investigator cards in the abyss, you can flip the Shattered Self into a coupon that grabs any card you pass by in the abyss, provided you can pay some clues. This is incredibly helpful for getting any other investigator cards for your team (or any of the locations, later on).

# in the encounter deck: 2

Threat level: High to Very High

What a ghastly card. Elusive and Hunter on a 5 health enemy? That is so incredibly difficult to defeat. It also has high values for fight and evade which makes it even more difficult. Well… hopefully it has high values there. The alternative is that you are running out of cards in your hand which is just as dangerous in this scenario.
It even triggers a (random!) discard on attack and just for fun also counts as a Colour enemy to power up Otherworldly Visions. Absolutely dreadful. Whenever one of these shows up, the scenario instantly gets a lot more difficult because it will eat a lot of your actions, soak, cards or whatever else you need to throw at it to have it go.
And when it goes, it goes back to the abyss instead of the victory display, too? Yikes.

# in the encounter deck: 2

Threat Level: Mid

I don’t particularly care about the “on top of the abyss” part, but losing up to four cards from my hand? Absolutely not. Thankfully you always have the option of taking an attack from the Emissary instead and that is what i would assume as the default mode here.

# in the encounter deck: 2

Threat Level: Low to Mid.

This one works similar to Sublimation, but the alternate option to eating an attack by the Emissary is much more reasonable here. Losing an asset is not great and will often hit one of your allies, but i’d rather do that than lose three or more of my cards in hand in most cases. Sometimes you can even get lucky and lose something that you don’t need anymore, but since it goes for your highest cost assets you can’t just throw a Mag Glass at this one.

# in the encounter deck: 2

Threat Level: High

This one however allows you to feed it a Mag Glass, Mask or similar low cost thing to satisfy it. I still do think that this is a lot more dangerous though. Two horror is not what you want to take in Fate of the Vale, there is just too much of it going around. But since you have to pick one thing even if you pass the test and have to pick both if you fail, that will be very hard to avoid. Intellect is also not necessarily a skill that many investigators can test well and certainly not at difficulty 4. This card has some really awful worst case scenarios that simply can not happen at all with the other two scenario specific treacheries.

Ranking all investigators by enjoyment

Intro

Arkham players sure love their list rankings 😀 The investigator power rankings i did a while back were received very well and generated a ton of discussion that was fun to follow and participate in. So let’s do the thing that every other content creator for this game does and follow that list up with another ranking, but by personal enjoyment.
Now, the power rankings was an article that went out of hand and became way too much of a mammoth, so i hope this one doesn’t derail as hard. But we’ll see.
Like with the previous article i want to take a more systematic approach, looking at each investigator from different angles and think about what parts of them i actually enjoy. My hope is to get more out of it than just a “I like <xyz>, they are fun.”, something with a bit more substance.

Obviously, this is a highly subjective affair and while i tried to be somewhat objective in the power rankings, i will just let my biases fly this time around. Let me just put a disclaimer here that this means i will likely voice some inflammatory opinions on some of these… remember that everything here is just one person’s opinion and not an attack on anyone who happens to enjoy things that i don’t. If you find yourself getting angry about anything in here, take a deep breath, open a window, feel the fresh air and meditate on why you are getting worked up about what some dude on the internet thinks.

Some definitions

I’ll use the same article format as before, with similar rankings:

S: Just all around great, i never have a bad time with them and likely played them many times.
A+/A: I like them a lot and will always be happy to play them. The distinction between A+ and A is that an A+ already brings a lot of enjoyable stuff to the table by themselves, while an A provides the tools to shape them into such, for example through intriguing deckbuilding.
B+/B: Perfectly fine. I don’t mind returning to them, but i will usually need a specific reason to seek them out.
C: Just okay. When i play them it’s usually because they are the only one providing me with a certain deckbuilding angle. With them, i will usually let some player card take center stage while the investigator is often not the focus of what i am doing.
D: Meh. I have a grudge with these that makes me not want to play them. This can take many forms and there are certainly investigators that i dislike a lot more than others. Instead of doing something like an F tier i will put all of them in D however and try to explain myself. Don’t be too triggered if your favorite lands here, i can be petty.
Unranked: I played all of the Standard investigators except Amina, most of them multiple times. But especially with the Parallels, there are some that i didn’t play yet and don’t plan to. That being said, if it didn’t play them yet, there’s usually a reason for that and that reason might very well earn them the D. Wait, let me rephrase that. What I am saying is that i hope i don’t need to put anyone into Unranked, chances are i can give a take on everyone.

For each investigator i will go over my thoughts on:

Abilities: What i think of the investigator’s abilities, how they feel to play. This can include investigator ability, stats, weakness, signatures… whatever sticks out to me about them and impacts my enjoyment of that character.
Deckbuilding: Being fun to play is one thing, being fun to build a deck for them is another. Building decks is a major part of the game for me and engaging deckbuilding goes a long way towards me liking the investigator. Some investigators are one-trick ponies, others have a multitude of different builds available that allow exploring their abilities from different angles.
Power: Their power ranking from the previous article. Power and Enjoyment aren’t directly linked, but it’s likely a component? Checking out the strength of the link between the two is actually something i want to find out for me with this article. In some cases i provide new or updated rankings, where i changed my opinion since that article or where we are talking about a previously unranked character.

Alright, enough talking. Roland, kick us off!

Guardian

Roland Banks: A
Abilities: Pretty fun, actually. Getting some extra clues is fairly standard, but having to get clues through fighting is an interesting angle. I enjoy my flex investigators. Cover Up is a major downer, though.
Deckbuilding: Most of the 5/2 investigators will score fairly well for me here, but Roland’s ability to make full use of the seeker pool is somewhat limited. There are at least a few cool cards that let him double up on his ability. You can do a couple of distinct things with Roland for sure, but most other 5/2 split investigators are more open.
Power: B

Powerwise, he was just the benchmark for the middle of the road, but in terms of enjoyment he’s higher than that for me. He can do some really nice things, has a fairly open card pool to play around with. He’s kept out of A+ by his weakness and the sad state of Guardian handguns, though. There’s also the circumstance that i generally prefer to play Joe Diamond who can do a very similar thing to him. Still, solid A.

Zoey Samaras: S
Abilities: Money! It sounds like such an unimpressive thing to get a buck here and there, but having access to a bunch of money as a guardian is incredible and genuinely build-enabling. There are so many asset heavy things that Zoey can do that most other Guardians would just simply struggle to afford. Her signature is a blast, too. Zoey with double Relic Hunter is a common sight at my game table.
Deckbuilding: I have sung the praise for the Dunwich Five splash many times and i am actually still surprised every time i build a deck for Zoey by how many different things i can do with her.
Power: A+

One of my all-time favorites. Open ended in all ways, she doesn’t force a specific direction on anything, she lets you come up with deck ideas and chances are that she’s at least a solid contender for it.

Mark Harrigan: B+
Abilities: Similar to Zoey’s bonus money, Mark’s card draw can do wonders to keep a deck together and enable some ideas through consistency. Having a heavenly statline through Sophie also helps. The sig interacting with Practice Makes Perfect is neat, i guess.
Deckbuilding: Just fine. There’s not a lot of variety there. You kinda do the Practice Makes Perfect thing once, maybe check out how good Hornet’s Nest is for him, but after that you have pretty much seen everything he has to offer.
Power: S

Sometimes it’s just fun to blast things and be a bit OP. Mark provides a nice power fantasy and that certainly is fun as well. I just find him a bit one-note, His ability and allrounder statline would make him a perfect host for all sorts of shenanigans like Zoey is, but his deckbuilding doesn’t offer the freedom to capitalize on that potential. He does his thing really well, but at this point most guardians can do similar big gun decks and not be too far behind. Solid B+.

Leo Anderson: A, ahead of Roland
Abilities: Neat, but hard to use properly. His canonical shtick is churning through expendable allies, but those don’t really exist all that much. I actually like Mitch. He enables Leo’s ability very well and having more ally slots is fun.
Deckbuilding: He’s the one that gets all the good ammo events. That’s worth soooo much already and then you add the money stuff from rogue on top.
Power: A

Leo is an investigator that i had quite the journey with. There was a time where i would barely have ranked him at C because i was just very frustrated with his 1 agility preventing him from using large parts of the rogue card pool. I have always wanted to play the evade/fight hybrid that switches between using Guardian and Rogue cards at will to deal with enemies… and the two investigators that share those classes are Skids and Leo. And Tony, who similarly has no agility.
Since then, he has won me over and i got over my hangups. His ally gimmick opens some interesting options but most importantly he does money and ammo really well, giving him a great base for big gun strategies or leaning into the oversuccess part of rogue. He’s currently also the only investigator capable of properly utilizing one of my favorite big guns in the game, the BAR.
I honestly could see him climb to A+ at some point, he’s consistently been great the last times i played him.

Carolyn Fern: B
Abilities: She does the one thing and it adds money for everyone. It’s a good ability and I do appreciate the build-enabling amount of resources she craps out. And then her sig adds cards on top. Quite nice.
Deckbuilding: Kind of crazy. So many cards from all over the place. You can do a lot with this.
Power: B+

I should rank her higher, but I don’t. I guess i just don’t enjoy her playstyle much? It’s honestly weird, all the parts of her are great and she should rank high for me just on the base of how flexible her deckbuilding is and how her abilities enable that variety. But i somehow rarely end up wanting to play her. My apologies to the Carolyn fans, but i do not even have a good reason for you. She just doesn’t speak to me.

Tommy Muldoon: A+
Abilities: I really like reshuffling things into your deck. It’s a mechanic that i find very interesting in a game where your deck usually only has like 15-25 cards in it at a given point. I wish all survivor recursion was based on reshuffling, it’s such a good mechanic. That aside, he’s another rich Guardian, but like Carolyn he’s forced into a specific playstyle through his money making scheme. Rookie Mistake can end up being a bit of a shitshow 😀 But Becky makes up for it tenfold. The gun is so cool.
Deckbuilding: Stellar. Unlike Roland and Leo, Tommy can make full use of his 5/2 card pool. His survivor access is fantastic for him and provides him with so many interesting pieces, both to feed into his primary gimmick and to push him into other directions.
Power: A

Tommy is close to Zoey in how much he can do with his deck and how his ability to gain money gives him the necessary backing to capitalize on those opportunities. Unlike Zoey, his money forces him into a more specific playstyle, but it’s a fun one that is relatively unique. I’ve done a bunch of different Tommy decks, from Bless decks over Becky Voltron to flaring out Agency Backups. Always a good time. If Zoey didn’t put the yardstick for S fairly high, he’d get in. But i want him to be just a slight notch below her. Top of A+.

Sister Mary: D
Abilities: Better than she gets credit for. Keeping the bag topped up with bless tokens lets her effectively pretend to have +1 to all stats. I enjoy Blesses in general. Guardian Angel is super cool. Such a unique and flavorful card. The weakness is infuriating.
Deckbuilding: Mystic access really doesn’t help her bless theme. Probably the weakest 5/2 split and not in tune with the abilities and theme of the investigator.
Power: C… But i would aktually rank her D today.

Oh Mary. The Deny Existence ruling really screwed you over. I’ve always had a soft spot for her, and before that ruling i would’ve put her at B or even B+, but i really don’t want to deal with a weakness that completely undoes everything i did until that point. She also had her cake eaten by other investigators so often at this point, it’s hard to even find a reason to bother with her. Zoey and Tommy both arguably can build better Bless decks in class and that’s before even considering people like Kohaku or Bizarro-Wendy. Lower C for Mary.
Actually, let me drop Mary from C to the top of D and let her be the yardstick for getting out of D. At this point i just don’t see myself playing her again, so who am i kidding with that C.

Lily Chen: A, ahead of Roland but behind Leo
Abilities: The Disciplines are really cool and allow you to customize your Lily and make her feel different from one campaign to another. I enjoy these signatures a lot (as long as they stay the exception, i wouldn’t want to see many more investigators with that many cards associated with them.)
Deckbuilding: I enjoy the Edge of the Earth deckbuilding rules where you start in one class and end up in another. Lily makes one of the most drastic transformations, often ending up with a deck that is pretty much completely blue. That being said, she does suffer a bit from the same problem that Mary has where the lowlevel Mystic pool is just not that great if you want to do more than throw the occasional counterspell around.
Power: A

Lily gives a nice contrast to many other Guardians and her style is different enough to always give her a place. I quite enjoy her starting out relatively weak and then becoming a monster once she has “levelled up” a few times. Upper half of A tier for me.

Carson Sinclair: D
Abilities: I am not doubting his power, but this is just completely unenjoyable to me. If i am showing up to play Arkham, i want to play and not watch. No kinkshaming, but i will take my own actions, thank you. I like his signatures, those are cool and super helpful. His weakness reshuffling into the deck is more of a pain than i think is appropriate.
Deckbuilding: Pretty good variety there in what it allows you to do. I do think that i like Seeker the most here, both because it gives you PmP to get more out of your cool signatures and because it allows you best to contribute to the game in spite of your statline with some autosuccess clue discovery. That being said, Survivor lets you do something similar and Mystic gives you support cards that are also perfectly valid.
Power: Unranked with a speculative C. I’ve played him since then and i will say that i undersold him and he’s probably more like a low A?

Some like to play, some like to watch others play. I want to play, not give my actions away to others. I am aware that giving actions away is not a zero sum game when it comes to enjoyment, but i am just not into it. I want to add more to the team than just being everyone’s Leo de Luca. If your wife’s boyfriend wants more actions, tell him to play green cards like a normal person. Into the D tier he goes.

Wilson Richards: C
Abilities: Very basic. A stat point here, a bit of cash there, but all limited to a specific niche. The signature is neat and has cool interactions. When i played him, i found it hard to make proper use of Ad Hoc but it definitely has potential.
Deckbuilding: His card access allows him to fully realize his tool gimmick. But not much else beyond that.
Power: I put him at a speculative B+ and after playing him that seems correct.

Wilson is fine, but unexciting. As a guardian that can play a Seeker role, he is worth keeping in mind for sure. But his deckbuilding isn’t really all that more open than Nathaniel’s. Actually, i would guess that Nathaniel has more different builds available to him than Wilson has. Too one-dimensional for me to want to return to him often, but i wouldn’t particularly mind it either. I considered squeezing him into a lower B, but for now I’ll put him in C.

Nathaniel Cho: A, between Roland and Lily
Abilities: I’ve got a thing for event based investigators. Playing different cards every turn to achieve something is just more interesting to me than playing an asset once and then activating it over and over for the rest of the scenario and pretty much taking the same turn every time. His ability rewards you handsomely for your dedication to events and it enables many of those events that would be unplayable or at least mediocre for others. I enjoy Tommy Malloys design, even though he is a pain to deal with even when you have the handcuffs ready. Randall Cho is kinda eh, he just fetches Nathan’s real signature.
Deckbuilding: Not much here. Nathaniel is pretty flat in his options. I do like that he can make good use of some of the cards that are rather fringe for many other Guardians.
Power: A+

Played him a few times and had a good time with him, but there is only so much you can do with him. Hemlock Vale gave him another neat angle with Purified and Ancestral Token, which allows him to farm his incredible Elder Sign through Blessing of Isis. So when things like that show up, i am very happy to return to Nathaniel. But i think i got his basic “punch things with events” twist out of my system by now and would require new angles to return to him. Solid A, but lacks the depths to go higher.

Parallel Roland: A, between Nathaniel and Roland
Abilities: Pretty cool. Taking on specific challenges and get various payoffs in return lets you twist your base investigator even more in certain directions than Lily’s Discipline cards.
Deckbuilding: I’m a fan of trait-based deckbuilding because it allows breaking the boundaries set by classes. Tactic and Insight are both very relevant and have great cards in it. And both are likely to get something with most expansions. Overall, i like this deckbuilding a lot.
Power: Speculative B

I didn’t actually get around to playing notRoland notBanks yet, but he’s one of the more likely candidates for me to pick up rather sooner than later. He takes Roland, keeps his basic identity of a Guardian/Seeker, but adds some extra twists and turns on top. Arguably, that’s how a Parallel should work. I am actually going to put him ahead of regular Roland in this rating because i find him a lot more interesting, even though i didn’t find an opportunity to build a deck for him yet. Not too far ahead though, maybe once I have hands-on experience.

Parallel Zoey: B, behind Carolyn
Abilities: Instead of money, you get blesses. And a payoff ability to get more out of those blesses. Pretty cool. The signature loses a lot of its luster without the free money on engage. Since you focus on blesses, you likely want different accessories, so the cross ends up being a bit of a dud here.
Deckbuilding: Blessed and Charm is a fantastic card pool.
Power: Speculative A

Parallel Zoey gives up the flexibility and is much less of an allrounder, but she is really good at the thing she does. She’s another investigator that i didn’t play before, but unlike with Roland i don’t really feel like i want to. The primary reason for that is that her niche, being a Bless Guardian, is already filled sufficiently by both Tommy and the original Zoey. She is better at Bless than original Zoey, but i don’t think it’s enough of a twist that i really want to check it out more. I also feel like i already know how this will play out, i have played plenty of bless decks by now and Bizarro-Zoey doesn’t add anything too interesting aside from just some extra power. B?

The ranking so far:

Guardian put someone at every tier. It pains me a bit to see the supporter side of Guardian rather far down the rankings here, i do actually enjoy playing supporter decks, even in two-handed solo. It’s just that this support angle usually comes from the deck, be it bless tokens, healing or cards like Stand Together.
There’s not really much to talk about here yet, so let’s move into Seeker. I expect Seeker to be end up fairly similar, with a somewhat even spread, peaking in A because that’s just the most natural tier to put investigators into.

Seeker

Daisy Walker: A+, ahead of Tommy
Abilities: Just amazing. I love extra actions. There is really not much more to say here.
The tote bag used to be fairly minimal, but with the number of great Tomes available to us these days, every hand slot is valuable. For the same reason, i also started to respect the Necronomicon more. I usually want to get rid of it so i can put more useful tomes on the table.
Deckbuilding: Honestly, not that great. Like Mary, Daisy doesn’t get a whole lot out of the Mystic 0-2, aside from a couple events. For her specific Tome gimmick, there is very little that isn’t just straight up Seeker.
Power: S

Daisy is one of my favorite ways to just be a bit abusive towards the game and its so-called “challenges”. She’s an amazing baseline seeker and her tome gimmick simply plays well. Usually i prefer playing events over asset heavy stuff, but when you play with many handslots, you end up with an array of options every turn anyways.
Her deckbuilding is a bit poopy and as a result, her deckbuilding doesn’t allow for a lot of variety aside from some seeker-only things like big hand or secret synergies. What keeps her fresh is that you can usually count on her getting one or two new tomes with each expansion to toy around with. She’s an A+ for me, she’s who i go for when i absolutely want to win.

Rex Murphy: B+, behind Mark
Abilities: Sure, an extra clue. Boring, but practical and open-ended. His weakness is annoying, but tbh neither his signature nor his weakness really register for me in a way that would change my opinion on him all that much.
Deckbuilding: The Dunwich splash gives some neat ways for Rex to get things done. It doesn’t quite reach Zoey levels of opportunities, but the deckbuilding is certainly my reason to return to him from time to time.
Power: A+

I don’t return to Rex often, but it’s always nice when i do. I do not believe that taboo’d Rex is overpowered at all, his ability still requires a good deal of commitment to it to work and even then… it’s just a clue per turn, get over yourselves. I am more interested in putting his splash to use … which will often mean putting green cards into a Seeker deck. No matter if it’s money, building on his base agility, doing the yellow/green curse extravaganza or wanting to play Hit and Run in an Archeology Funding deck, Rex is there.
I have to be honest with you though… i am a bit afraid of having way less reason to play Rex again once we get the real 5/2 Seeker/Rogue. Let’s go with B+.

Minh Thi Phan: C, behind Wilson
Abilities: I find her base ability neither strong nor interesting. It’s just an extra icon. It scales up nicely in multiplayer, but that isn’t relevant to me. Kinda boring? Before the rules change that turned Crisis of Faith into a nightmare, the King in Yellow used to be my least favorite weakness in the game. I still despise it. Her signature asset is amazing however and i would look at Minh much more favorably if that was her actual game text and not hidden away on a sig that you might find or not find.
Deckbuilding
: She has the best 5/2 pool. I think it’s better than the 5/2 Seeker/Rogue, too. It’s just packed with incredible cards.
Power: A+

Minh never quite clicked for me. To me she pretty much is her deckbuilding and the rest is fairly inconsequential or, in the case of the weakness, a strike against her. I will play her sometimes because i want to do a red/yellow thing and Darrell is too filthy. But that’s pretty much always out of necessity and i will probably check if someone like Rex or Mandy gets access to what i am planning for as well. I’ll call that a C.

Ursula Downs: Top of B
Abilities: Sort of unique in that she gets rewarded for moving. Sort of bland in that it’s with an investigation, but at least she can use any investigation on any card, it doesn’t have a basic one. Overall, i like this well enough. The campaign better not give me any story allies or Jake gets benched in an instant. Honestly, he already struggles to make a dent against the usual seeker allies. The weakness is equal parts annoying and interesting. Interoying? Annesting? Moving on.
Deckbuilding: Mono-Seeker with a handful relevant Relics sprinkled on top. She can use a couple fancy cards like Red Clock, Eye of the Djinn or even Charon’s Obol. Let’s hope she doesn’t get completely obsoleted in that regard once the Seeker/Rogue shows up.
Power: C

I like Uschi a lot more than I would expect. This is the first time that i need to talk about a certain archetype that i am coming back to a lot and that we will hear a lot about going forward, the evadey clue getter. This is a playstyle i like quite a bit, picking locations clean while also handling enemies through evasion. Uschi does this really well, but the space around that archetype has gotten really crowded over time and her rather flat deckbuilding doesn’t let her muscle in besides powerhouses the likes of Trish, Cheeseman or now Alessandra. I’ll go with a high B for her.

Joe Diamond: S, behind Zoey
Abilities: I absolutely love the hunch deck. It’s fantastic. Highly thematic, it’s powerful, it’s fun to have two decks. 10/10, no further notes. However, losing XP to a weakness is not okay. I hate this. Luckily the card is easy enough to get rid off, but if i am pulling this with a Dissonant Voices in play, i’ll need to step away from the table for a bit.
Deckbuilding: Whyyyy doesn’t he get better weapons?! I get that he’s a seeker, but come on, the best weapon for the hard-boiled PI shouldn’t be a mystical blade. That aside, his 5/2 split works extremely well for him, imo even better than it does for Roland.
Power: B+

I love this guy. I enjoy playing with two decks. Actually, make that three decks because these days i am more likely to add Ancestral Knowledge than not. This is also a case where being weak at something enhances my enjoyment with the character. Seeing him be the plaything of the encounter deck just tickles me the right way. I’ve done a challenge run for both Innsmouth and Edge of the Earth where i took Joe and Preston to a campaign and just let the encounter deck rock their boats and watched them bumble from one misery into the next. For the record, they won both campaigns. Hilariously fun.

Mandy Thompson: B, between Uschi and Carolyn
Abilities: I enjoy toolboxing my deck and Mandy is the queen of finding the exact needle you need in a haystack. The weakness looks so much worse than it is. The sigs look so much better than they are. I don’t know, neither weakness nor signatures really catch my interest.
Deckbuilding: Yellow and green cards, you say? Good! 50 of them? More cards is more good! I know, i know… she can do red or purple cards instead of green ones, but why would you do that to yourself willingly?
Power: A+

I rarely go for Mandy, but she’s very enjoyable to play. Filling her deck with 50 great cards is trivial at the current state of the cardpool and you can do some really fun things with her. I do have one issue with her however. One thing that i like about this game is seeing my deck change and evolve with XP from scenario to scenario. Throwing 5XP at a 50 card deck simply doesn’t change enough and i often find myself underwhelmed with my upgrades and feel like i am playing the same deck throughout the whole campaign. There’s also the circumstance that Forced Learning exists to put the Mandy experience into any investigator with yellow level 0 access and that has taken a huge bite out of Mandy’s pie. Low B.

Amanda Sharpe: B+, behind Rex
Abilities: I enjoy the card draw more than the skill thing, if i am perfectly honest. That being said, she is unique and offers a playstyle that is simply not open to other investigators which is excellent. Sig and weakness are just kinda lame. You can do some neat tricks with the sig, allowing you to use your Deduction six times instead of three, i guess. The weakness might be the biggest nothing that any of the investigators get.
Deckbuilding: Pretty fantastic. Practiced is an incredible trait to gain access to with a wide variety of effects to build around.
Power: A

Another investigator i enjoyed playing but where i am struggling to see new ways to build her now that i’ve done the thing that’s expected of me. Her Practiced access could at any moment pay off to give her some new build around card however and if it happens, i’ll be happy to give it a whirl. I like how Amanda uses many cards in her card pool differently than others and even reaches for some cards that would otherwise be considered unplayable, especially for a seeker. That she can actually go more combat heavy than Joe is something i also enjoy about her. I am currently not yearning to give her another go, but the potential to make a comeback through her card access is definitely there. B+.

Monterey Jack: A, between Lily and Nate
Abilities: I’ve been speaking highly of just getting some generic resources or cards to fuel your strategy, whatever it may be. Well, the cheeseman gets both. It’s also a reward for moving, something i commented on before when talking about Ursula. And indeed, i do like this ability a lot. I also like the design on the weakness. It’s a horrorshow waiting to happen, but at least it’s a well done horrorshow 😀 The signature i am less impressed by, it doesn’t really fit in with much of what i am usually doing with Monty.
Deckbuilding: Starts as a rogue, turns into a seeker. We already established that i like the colors on his cards!
Power: A

Another one of the evadey seeker archetype. Monty is probably the most open-ended of all of them, and able to do his thing really well. He lacks the access to higher rogue cards which is a shame because his card draw would have been amazing to find those Exceptional cards. Still, he can use it to find the Researchable cards, making sure that he can translate them and then makes sure he gets those cards he upgrades into. Money is no object either, both through his rogue access and his ability. This all combines into a very solid foundation that gives me a decent amount of freedom to build on, which i appreciate and gladly make use of. Upper half of A.

Vincent Lee: B, ahead of Mandy
Abilities: On par with Carolyn, i guess? The skill cards are more interesting than cash, but cash opens up the gates to more interesting things in each players decks. The bonesaw is super cool and i do enjoy torturing the bystander by repeatedly healing him till he’s almost cured then using him for soak again. Look, before you report me, i’ll have you know that this is what the card wants me to do, it’s not my fault it’s designed this way! 😀
Deckbuilding: Like Carolyn, he gets a wide access to lots of things. Definitely a great pool.
Power: B+

I was very hyped for Vincent during TSK spoiler season, but similar to my largely undefined issues with Caro, i didn’t click with Vincent as much as i had hoped. His deckbuilding is great and i have built some neat decks with him, but i currently do not feel any incentive to explore him more. I do enjoy him more than Caro, though. The fighting Seeker is a more interesting concept to me than the clue Guardian. Still, i’ll give him the same grade, B.

Kate Winthrop: Top of C
Abilities/Sigs: What a convoluted way to gain a couple +2s to your skills. I am sure we could have achieved this without involving investigator text and three signatures, one of which is double sided and two of which dip in and out of the deck while also introducing a whole new concept with accompanying rules for clues on assets. If this was meant to represent “doing science” i will have you know that “doing science” usually doesn’t involve doing things as complicated as possible. I didn’t hate it during play, but i had to roll my eyes a bit. The weakness is absolutely ghastly. Desperately needed an upper limit of how many clues it can drop, this can just nuke you completely. Similar impact to Crisis of Faith but Kate can at least play around it somewhat without completely sacrificing the point of her abilities.
Deckbuilding: Honestly, pretty good. There’s a bit of a meme going around that she’s just mono-Seeker in a similar way to Uschi, but that is underestimating how big the Insight trait is. Yes, much of it is yellow cards, but there is a good amount in other classes too and many of them are quite relevant. It’s also a trait that is likely to grow with most expansions. If we are okay with Mark’s Tactics thing, we should be okay with Kate’s Insight thing, too. But yeah, the Science trait is largely flavor, similar to Illicit on Finn. I am somewhat against putting flavor text into the deckbuilding instructions, but that’s a topic for another day.
Power: Speculative A which checked out in the campaign i played with her since then. Might even be a low A+.

She’s an evadey Seeker, what’s not to like. She even does it without leaning on green cards which is cool and makes her different from others in that archetype. I had a good time with her in one of my FHV playthroughs and i could see doing something with her again. I will however say that her whole ability maze is a huge turnoff for me. Upper C.

Harvey Walters: Bottom of C
Abilities: He’s just a bit boring, isn’t he? As hilarious as the whole “when you draw a card, draw a card” thing is, it’s not particularly enabling anything new in Seeker like it would elsewhere. He can use it on other investigators however and that is what saves him for me. He’s a very cool supporter, something that we don’t have a lot of in Seeker. His sig is more cards! Yay. In more exciting news, a weakness that is talked about a lot. I think by now everyone caught on that it’s largely offset by running some healing or a Bullet-Proof Vest? Doesn’t bother me personally.
Deckbuilding: Meh. The Seeker pool is powerful, but doesn’t really have as many different ways to go as the Rogue and Survivor pools have. Even mono-Guardian and mono-Mystic have some more depths to it than “Draw cards, gain clues, all your cards are fast and cost zero resources”. It’s just not all that interesting to me.
Power: A+

Taken on his own, i don’t see why i’d ever play him instead of Daisy. His saving grace is as a team-player and as someone who plays two-handed that’s only of limited value (although the value is absolutely there). He does Big Hand better than anyone else and that can be a reason for me to pick him up, but aside from that, he’s near the bottom of the box for me right now. Low C tier, in danger of falling to D.

Parallel Daisy: D, just barely ahead of Carson because of her backside
Abilities: Just no. Replacing one of the most fun playstyles that the seeker investigator pool has to offer with a one-shot? I don’t care how awesome that one turn is going to be, that’s a hard no from me. She is depending even more on having as many tomes in play as possible, making both the sig and the weakness more important than they already are. I think that’s a positive?
Deckbuilding: She doesn’t get enough out of the Tome access, at least so far. I am having my eye on this as i could imagine doing a “Regular front, parallel back” thing at some point if the number of off-class tomes reaches critical mass, but for now having full Seeker access is just way preferrable. This is the one part of Shadow-Daisy that i overall like and that i hope will grow into its own over time.
Power: C

The ability is a deal-breaker and i don’t have anything else more to say here. D.
Call me when there’s some real cool tomes outside of regular Daisy’s cardpool and i’ll take another look at that parallel back, but the front is out of the question for me.

Parallel Rex: A, near the top between Leo and Lily
Abilities: Marrying curse synergy with clue drop synergy is such a cool idea. I like this ability to pay one with the other a lot.
Deckbuilding: Gambit and Curse cards. More green stuff to put into your yellow. And Act of Desperation, i guess. Sure, this enables the investigator ability very well. Not sure i like it much on its own merits, to combine it with the original front, but it’s something for the toolbox.
Power: Unranked and unplayed, i will give him a snap estimate of… A? Possibly B+? Let’s go with B+.

I am eager to try him. He’s relatively new and i don’t have a nice print of him yet, so i didn’t get around to it yet. But his ability is simple, to the point and interesting while also doing something that nobody else does. Clue drop is an archetype that didn’t click with me before, so that’s also an opportunity for me to use some previously underappreciated cards in my card pool. Pretty cool. Tier A, don’t want to go too high before actually playing him. I want to put him a good deal ahead of Para-Roland though.

Here’s where we are now:

Seeker did indeed also put someone into each tier, but this turned out to be a lot more bottom heavy than the guardian ranks. A prime reason for that is redundancy among each other and the circumstance that i have been trending fairly heavily towards flex investigators instead of full focus clue gatherers. And rogue has really come into its own in that regard over the last few expansions.
Speaking of rogue, they are next and are my favorite class. I expect a lot of high marks here.

Rogue

Skids O’Toole: Top of A, head to head with Leo.
Abilities: So here’s the thing. I like taking extra actions. Even expensive ones. I enjoy converting things into actions. So even though his ability isn’t powerful, it’s actually right up my alley. The weakness is three fewer actions to take 🙁 And the sig is a skill card with dead text on it. Meh.
Deckbuilding: I really like this card pool, but Skids has always lacked just that extra point of fight value to fulfill the promise of a fight/evade hybrid. Until recently.
Power: D, but if i were to do the ranking today, i’d give him at least a C. Possibly even a low B. Yes, i am a Skids truther now.

Long story short, Hemlock Vale fixed Skids. Wolf Mask and Bull Dog put him on the map as someone who is able to do what i want him to. And with his extra actions, he is even good at it. It’s not just the Hemlock Vale additions either, but other recent adds to the card pool like Savant, Defensive Stance, Dirty Fighting and Sweeping Kick also gave him some really good cards tailored to his specs. Yes, he lacks the raw immediate impact of a Tony or Mark and i won’t claim that he’ll win any power rankings anytime soon, but if your take is still that he’s unplayable, then you are behind the curve and need to catch up 🙂 Yes, i am aware that i ranked him D in the power rankings. Those came out before Hemlock Vale was out and I’d rank him higher today, now that i played him through the FHV campaign and he did remarkably well. Strong A, i feel like he completed the same journey for me now that i had with Leo.

Jenny Barnes: Bottom of C
Abilities: I have previously established that extra resources are good, but for a rogue it’s just a lot less of an enabler because they are already able to be rich. So this isn’t really a particularly interesting ability to me anymore. I say “anymore” because it used to be, but even in her niche she has been pushed to the side by both Preston and Monterey. So… eh. Her weakness is awful and that signature doesn’t make up for even though I am indeed fond of the twin pistols.
Deckbuilding: Like with all five Dunwich investigators, the splash allows doing a couple fun things. But since Jenny herself is lacking a bit of focus, mostly because of her dreadful statline, it’s often hard to have those 5 cards be significant enough to carry.
Power: C

I don’t really play her anymore. It’s not that i think she’s unfun, but other characters simply do her thing better now. Resource generation in rogue has just in general been going up just through more options that are available, so she doesn’t really do anything special anymore. I have fond memories of my early Arkham days with Jenny, Leo de Luca and a .45 Thompson (TCU was my first campaign after Dunwich) and my love for rogues definitely started with her… but those basics are not really something i feel like returning to. Low C.

Sefina Rousseau: Low S, but an S after all
Abilities: Delightful. The event expert, with the necessary tools to make events be replayed more often. Stars of Hyades shuffle back after resolving, which to be honest is a bigger deal to me than losing one of my stashed cards. Her signatures are an integral part of her investigator abilities and identity and very enjoyable to me.
Deckbuilding: She can make better use of the Mystic 0-2 than Mary and Daisy, since many of the best cards from that pool are actually events (with the assets being much more dependent on being upgraded to level 3+). “Green Sefina” and “Purple Sefina” are two very distinct builds, both with some variations within themselves, making for a pretty flexible deck despite the laser sharp focus of her investigator ability and signature.
Power: B

Sefina is simply a blast to build and play. There’s a lot of different things you can do with her, some more obvious than others. For example, her special mulligan enables her to use tarots fairly well and she also has good chances to find any Exceptionals in her deck. She is often associated with Double, Double for that reason and that card is indeed pretty filthy in Sefina builds. Chuck is great as well. She simply can make great use of some really neat deck centerpieces and find them in her start hand. I’ve been haggling with myself about A+ or S for her for a bit now. Considering that she used to be one of my favorite investigators at a point, S seems appropriate. And it’s not like anyone else can do what she can do. She’s utterly unique.

Finn Edwards: B+
Abilities: Monkey sees bonus action –> Neuron activation. Also, I like his gun. It’s ultimately not anything too special anymore, with the increasingly great state of rogue pistols, but i still have a soft spot for it. His weakness plays weird and feels super random. I am not a fan of its design at all and i can’t say i enjoy it much.
Deckbuilding: I don’t care whether it matters in the big picture or not, but his deck building is just frustrating. The cut off Rogue access. The Illicit trait that does nothing out of rogue. It’s just unnecessarily feel-bad. I mentioned this earlier, but i am really not a fan of putting flavor text into the investigator defining deck building rules. His splash is powerful, but again… five cards? Come on, he’s hamstrung enough, getting 10 cards here like so many other investigators would have done a lot to justify the rest of his deckbuilding.
Power: A

He has a bit of a problem to stand his ground as more and more investigators invade on his “evade, but also clue” turf. That bonus action plays fantastic and i absolutely do like playing Finn, but i kind of have to consciously ignore the likes of Trish and Alessandra when i want to end up with Finn. B+

Preston Fairmont: Middle of A+
Abilities: I usually heavily dislike investigators that ignore large parts of the game, but Preston is the one exception. Buying your way through the game instead of taking tests is incredibly powerful, but doesn’t feel as abusive to me like the nonsense someone like Darrell is up to. I have a voice in the back of my head that tells me i am kidding myself and Preston is actually just as abusive and i am being a hypocrite, but i have gotten used to suppressing these voices.
Deckbuilding: Ah, and this is where i need to vent a bit of a grievance. Preston is a squatter. He sits on the 5/2 rogue/survivor cardpool and then has a playstyle and outlook on the cardpool that is just completely abnormal. I often find that i would want to play some cards that require a specific highlevel rogue card and want to combine it with Survivor stuff. And then i see it’s Preston that has that cardpool and he is just not able to do the thing. I then have to see if i can do something with Wendy instead or … i don’t know. Jenny? Tony? It’s annoying in a similar way to what i was talking about with Leo and how his 1 agility makes way too many rogue cards and rogue archetypes impossible for him.
Now, as with Leo, the cardpool does work very well with the investigator, of course. It’s not like Preston has a bad card pool, rogue and survivor is a great combo for him. I just wish he got something slightly different than the 5/2 so that particular deckbuilding could have gone on someone a bit more generic.
Power: B+

Preston is another one of the one-dimensional investigators like Nathaniel that don’t have a whole lot of ways to be built, but that i hold in high regards nonetheless because that one thing simply speaks to me. There is some variation in how you plan on using his piles of money, either hoarding it for things like Well Connected and Black Fan or spending it to regularly throw big haymakers around. Or do Dark Horse, i guess. I don’t see the point personally, but i am going to get yelled at if i don’t mention it, so there you go. I mentioned Dark Horse which allows you to have Carson stats. Woah.
But all shade aside, the extra resources allow you to do some degenerate stuff and the game has a couple cards specifically added to the TCU expansion to enable him. He’s a good time thanks to being so fundamentally different from everyone else.

Tony Morgan: Top of A+
Abilities: Daisy is my preferred power fantasy for seeking. Tony is the one for fighting. He’s incredibly good at his job and like Daisy he is probably even better than is healthy for the game. But you know, extra actions. Unloading 6 shots into one final boss enemy in a turn. Moving a location, killing a guy, then starting on your real three actions which somehow end up being five actions after all. It’s so … satisfying. Tony frequently does outrageous things and it’s hilarious to me how over the top he can be.
When he was released, his pistols were needed because there were not enough rogue weapons to support him. Obviously, that has changed. But similar to Finn’s revolver, his guns have actually not been powercrept into irrelevance, they are still really good. The weakness is just a guy. Tony doesn’t care about guys.
Deckbuilding: As with the other two previous investigators with similar deckbuilding, Tony gets good options from each of his three available subclasses. While it usually will not change the core of his deck much, it does certainly inform enough of his playstyle to make a difference: Guardian if you want ammo events to lean into firearms over just Switchblade. Seeker for carddraw and consistency. Survivor for clue tech.
Power: S

Is he OP? Sure. But you can’t take six to eight actions in a turn and not have a good time. It’s impossible. It does feel a bit dirty and also a bit repetitive to do too often, but every now and then it’s something to indulge in. I am actually interested in how he will rank for me in a year’s time. Until now, he’s been pretty much the only game in town for a fighter that uses rogue cards. But now Skids is actually viable and i could honestly see him take a large bite out of Tony’s pie in the future.

Trish Scarborough: High B+
Abilities: Pretty fun. Trish is about the first time that i really started taking the option to keep enemies in play serious. That was a bit of a paradigm shift for me and how i play and my fondness of the clue/evade hybrid i have talked about so often already started with her. I feel like the weakness missed its mark a bit and was probably intended to hurt a bit more than it actually does. The Shadow Agents notably fold to Breaking and Entering, but that is by far not the only way for Trish to easily deal with them. Her signature is like a fixed On the Lam, but still ends up being not that great. Absolutely beastly icons however and i am happy to use it for 4 agility icons without feeling bad about it.
Deckbuilding: Everyone is holding their breath because of the eventually upcoming 5/2 Seeker/Rogue, but to be honest i am pretty sure that Trish’s Rogue/Seeker is just straight up better. She gets an incredible amount of cards that help her do either of her jobs or both at the same time.
Power: A+

I feel like she got her lunch stolen by Alessandra, but i think i need to play Trish with the new options from Hemlock Vale before i can really commit to that opinion. She kind of crosses some borders for me where doing her thing is a bit too easy? Doing the evadey/cluey thing with her is almost impossible to mess up and i think i enjoy having to deckbuild for it a bit more than just getting autosuccesses handed to me all the time. I do enjoy her archetype a lot of course, but with the number of investigators serving that niche, i usually find someone else who just is a bit more interesting to me. I think i will call that a high B+.

Bob Jenkins: Upper A, between Leo and Pseudo-Rex
Abilities: His free action is limited to Items, but that just means you need to consider that during deckbuilding. That he’s able to use his ability on other investigators feels super good, too. I like his abilities a whole lot. The sig is transformative, but since it’s hard to find in the deck, it doesn’t really change a whole lot about how i think about Bob. Greed can be incredibly punishing and playing around it is rather hard if you want to make consistent use of your action.
Deckbuilding: He sort of gives an alternative to the 5/2 split that Preston is squatting on. That alone gives him a huge portion of the pie.
Power: A

Bob is cool. I like supporters that do work perfectly well in two-player games and Bob fits that bill well. He’s also got a niche that is uniquely his, so i at least consider him relatively often. I wish his sig was a bit easier to access in his deck, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying my plays with him. High A.

Kymani Jones: Bottom of C
Abilities: Eh. Fine, but not all that exciting to me. You do the thing with discarding Vengeance snakes in TFA once and after that’s out of your system, there’s not a whole lot here that i find particularly noteworthy. Fletcher is a joke and the Hook is difficult to use. I do still quite like the Hook conceptwise, but i have been struggling with making it live up to expectiations in actual gameplay.
Deckbuilding: Quite bad. Kymani gets mono-Rogue with tools added into it, but lacks the necessary stats to actually make use of their options. For what it’s worth, the rogue pool is a very good one and they can weaponize their 5 agility through it very well.
Power: B

They are too bland for me. A more open deckbuilding could have saved a lot here… but as it is, if your gimmick is being a near-mono Rogue with high agility, then you are just standing in the shadows of too many other rogues. Most of all Winifred, of course. I’ll have to go with a C, i find little reason to pick them over someone else.

Alessandra Zorzi: just barely crept into A+
Abilities: A super flexible extra action thanks to the range of different Parley effects around. It’s fun and rewarding to play with. Controversial opinion: I don’t like the signature much. It’s very good, but i think it’s too dominant. Her skillset in total is fairly open-ended but the sig sort of overtakes a lot of her gameplay while its down, eating up her actions and so forth. Since there’s also three of them, you are near guaranteed to spend a significant time on Beguile. I know that some people really like this one (and it partly makes up for the horrible crimes committed towards Power Word), but it’s just not for me. Her weakness i like a whole lot however. Zamacona is scary and not as trivial to defeat as Shadow Agents or Agent Fletcher are.
Deckbuilding: All parley cards means that she has a great amount of cards available to her with a bunch of different effects. This allows her to be flexible and be built in a couple different ways. I like it. There is also a significant overlap of Parley with the Trick archetype, which again lets her do some neat things.
Power: I gave her a speculative A, but after playing her i think she belongs in A+.

I had a great time with a Double Double/Chuck Fergus version of Alessandra. She has her niche, she plays well and i’d be happy to return to her. As with her powerlevel, she’s somewhere on the border between A and A+ and i think i will actually give her the nudge into A+.

Winifred Habbamock: S
Abilities: Risk/Reward turned up to eleven, an ability that is incredibly fun to play out and makes you actually care about icons during deckbuilding. Card draw, stat boosts, big splashy moments…. it’s just an all-around winner of an ability. Six wild icons on the signature look fantastic, and it kinda is, but overall it’s just solid. Feels good to crush a willpower test with it, though. The weakness is a whole lot of nothing and i think something with a bit more punch would have been appropriate to keep her deck cycling a bit more in check.
Deckbuilding: Rogue only, which isn’t great. However, there are two things about this that make this hit a bit differently for than it does for the other starter investigators: For one, rogue at this point can do everything, no matter if its fighting, moving, investigating, … there’s something for it in the pool and as Wini is very well setup to use all of it (unlike for example Nathan, who has large blind spots in his pool). Also, i appreciate that Wini actually unlocks a lot of cards that were barely even playable before her because she simply does the oversuccess thing to perfection where other investigators struggle to get anything out of those cards. So yeah, her card pool is technically limited, but also kinda not.
Power: S

If you’ve spent any time on this site before, reading my mad ramblings in any of the other articles, you have likely seen me sing the praises of Winifred before. She’s easily my favorite investigator, delivering an amazing power fantasy and a risk/reward playstyle. What really gets me about her is that she doesn’t have valleys in her playstyle, she is just constantly on fire. Every test is a spectacle, there is no “oh i am just going to book v shroud” here. It’s simply an onslaught of memorable plays without downtime.

Parallel Skids: Low B+
Abilities: Pretty cool. Gamble often, get paid. This is a neat spin on resource gain abilities that feels rewarding to build around. With the extra resource generation that ShadowSkids has access to, the weakness is less of a deal than with the original. And the sig is still just a skill card. Meh.
Deckbuilding: Completely different from the original, instead of green/blue cards, the parallel Skids mostly gets green and red ones. And an ability to run extra copies of cards he upgrades into. It’s a pool that works better for his statline for sure.
Power: Speculative B+

So, this is where i again have a grievance to air. I do not appreciate how different Parallel Skids is from the original. I talked about how Skids and Leo have left me wanting for a rogue/guardian take on a fighter/evader. And then Parallel Skids pulled a Monty Python on me and went “Now for something completely different.” Long story short is that he doesn’t feel like a parallel investigator, he’s not a variant or twist on the OG Skids, but something completely different. Instead of forcing some gambling ability on “The Ex-Con” we should have gotten “The Gambler” as its own investigator in a real expansion because my grievance aside, this character concept is actually cool and worth having around. You know, as a real thing instead of one of these parallel fan-fictions.
Anyways, putting my petty issues aside… B? B+? I think i’d at least be interested in using the parallel front with the original back at some point.

Parallel Monterey: B+
Abilities: Somewhat unspectacular. Monterey’s normal ability is card draw and resources, both of which already allow you to find anything in your deck faster and also pay for it. So this ability is in some ways a more limited version of that.
Deckbuilding: Very interesting, especially considering that it replaces the Edge of the Earth deckbuilding. It’s a bit more limited pool overall, but gaining access to higher level rogue while still getting at least some seeker stuff inverts the original deckbuilding to a point which I can appreciate.
Power: Unranked and unplayed. I’d put him below the original, so B+.

I’m not really into his front, it seems rather unimpressive to me and not enough of a variant of the original to push me towards something unique. That backside however… combining that with the original front has potential. I talked about how Monty can use his card draw to consistently have access to cards with Researched. With the parallel back, one could apply that same concept to some of the Rogue Exceptionals. Another B+.

The story so far:

Yep, as expected the Rogue class went pretty hard here. Two in S, Three in A+. And the first three in A are also all rogues or rogue-adjacent. This doesn’t come as much of a surprise to me. There’s no green investigators in B or D, but Jenny and Kymani act as the low points for me here. Again, this is mostly due to redundancy. They both do something that one or more investigators just do better and in a more interesting way.
We are now heading from my favorite class into my least favorite one. I apologize in advance for any broken hearts over what is to come.

Mystic

Agnes Baker: A
Abilities: Simple and sweet. Interacts with a bunch of cards in the Mystic pool and is quite efficient. Her signature is rarely able to shine properly and the accessory slot is usually just better served with a willpower boost. You can build around it, but it’s always going to feel rather janky if you do. Her weakness is terrifying, one of the heavy hitters. Honestly, i enjoy seeing weaknesses like that. Personal weaknesses should matter.
Deckbuilding: I often find it surprising how well the Survivor 0-2 actually works for her and it gives her some cool options that other Mystics don’t have.
Power: A+

Before i get to Agnes, let’s start by talking about the spell asset thing. Because i am sooo over it. It used to be interesting, but somewhere between the fifth and the sixth investigator that can just run the same deck with only minor tweaks, it stopped being so. Mystic is my least favorite class because for the longest time, their cardpool was just built around one thing for the most part.
With that out of the way, Agnes is one of the more fun ones. Her horror trigger lets you circumvent a bunch of enemy abilities and feel clever about it. At the same time, getting value out of being hit is fun and so is figuring out how much self-harm to put into your deck. She is my yardstick for the “Willpower + spell asset Mystic”: High A. Sorry, that’s as far as i can go for the willpower thing.

Jim Culver: Top of D
Abilities: He just doesn’t do much. As interesting as his skull shtick is on paper, it just fails to matter 90% of the time. Bit of a shame. His signature is a fancy Grimm’s Fairy Tales and his weakness anywhere between nothing and crippling, and where it falls any given day is random. Dunno, there’s just not much here for me.
Deckbuilding: The Dunwich splash offers a large amount of flexibility, easily the thing i like about Jim the most. Getting to put some good card draw into your Mystic feels particularly great.
Power: D

I feel like i have done everything with him that i want to. And it’s all not remarkable enough to do again? My best experience with him was probably taking him to Scarlet Keys where his ability did finally feel like it moved the needle a bit on the chaos bag, considering how hellish the bag in TSK is. Honestly, in a world where bless tokens exist, Jim doesn’t have a job anymore as those will just do his whole shtick better and with more interaction from the card pool. He’s benched for now, unless he somehow manages to pull a Skids with a future expansion. D. A high D, but i am not sure that really matters in practice.

Akachi Onyele: Low A, ahead of the Rolands
Abilities: I think her ability to put charges on things is actually rather weak, unless you go for very specific assets that do not have redundant options (= not the spell suites). Messing around with Spirit-Speaker is pretty fun though. I also appreciate her statline which somehow manages to have 5 will and still have fight and agility both start out at a value that’s at least usable. That’s rather unique in Mystic. I do not appreciate her weakness pushing her into specifically Spell assets. Without that trait showing up on the weakness, Akachi would have had a lot more freedom to explore charges in more creative ways than Shrivelling and Azure Flame.
Deckbuilding: The charges gimmick locks her pretty hard into asset based strategies, but there are a couple more interesting things she gets access to, like Bestow Resolve.
Power: A

I don’t mind Akachi. She plays second fiddle to Agnes, but every now and then something weird comes up that you can do with charges and you can throw a gimmick deck together with Akachi. Is it going to be good? Rarely. Is it fun? Usually. Let’s go with a low A.

Father Mateo: D
Abilities: A one-shot ability is just not that interesting. His signature is kind of hard to use properly. He just doesn’t have a whole lot going for him. Even starting with XP is something that everyone can do now.
Deckbuilding: Blessed in addition to Mystic used to be a pretty fancy card pool, but at this point it’s nothing special anymore. There’s a handful investigators around that do Mateo’s thing better than Mateo.
Power: C

Another one where i feel like he lost his reason to exist. Even when you ignore the fan-fiction investigators, you now have Kohaku around who is just straight up better on every level. And i don’t just mean powerwise, i also mean in terms of interesting interactions with that card pool. Mateo’s not bad, he’s not unplayable… but… you know… why would I?

Diana Stanley: A+, between Preston and Tommy
Abilities: Her investigator ability solves the resource and card draw problem that is very common to the Mystic class. Her strange willpower thing is at least a solid attempt at trying something new. And her affinity for canceling things puts a spotlight on some cards in the pool that are otherwise unloved. I like a lot about Diana. Starting with a signature in hand is also a delight. Unlike with Crisis of Faith, i do not mind her weakness or what the “For each” ruling did to it. You still are able to do your thing without having your you whole game undone at some point.
Deckbuilding: I have the weirdest obsession with this card pool. One day, i will make “statball Diana” work, with Well Prepared, Empower Self, Living Ink… all the good stuff. One day it will not end up sucking. Surely. Any day now. I should give it another try, i am sure that Wolf Mask and Strong-Armed will be the final piece that was missing.
Truth be told, she doesn’t make the greatest use of the Guardian 0-2.
Power: B+

TCU was my first expansion after Dunwich and i latched onto Diana for a long while then. Her event based playstyle is one that i like a whole lot and dunking on the encounter deck, deciding on which card requires canceling at a given point is something close to my personal interests, as evidenced by the existence of this website. I almost want to give her the S, but i feel like i need to account for the fact that i didn’t play her in a while because i’ve done her thing so many times now. Let’s go A+, behind the investigators there that are on heavy rotation on my roster.

Marie Lambeau: A
Abilities: Free action! Yay! I appreciate a lot about Marie and it’s not just that you get to take 4 action turns more often than not. I also like her willpower/intellect split that works just well enough with the dash of Seeker cards she can run. The doom interaction is on point, with a powerful payoff for having to put up with it. I am in a love/hate relationship with Baron Samedi. He is incredibly difficult to get rid of sometimes, he blocks an ally slot and he is simply dangerous. On the other hand, he can on his own enable your gimmick sometimes.
Deckbuilding: Kinda weird, but weird is good and the traits are all relevant. Similar to Finn, i would have liked more than just 5 splash cards here, to be able to explore some ideas a bit more.
Power: I put her at A+, but i think i’d downgrade her to a solid A now that i have played with her again since then.

She does the willpower spell asset thing, but she does it with 4 willpower, with doom and with 4 actions. That’s a lot of spice to throw on top of the generic Mystic blueprint and i find that very engaging. It can feel a bit frustrating when certain scenarios simply don’t allow you the luxury of putting out doom because of very short agendas, but most of the time you will be able to play to your strengths very well and that makes up for it. I’ll put her next to Agnes, at the top of the willpower archetype.

Luke Robinson: Top of A
Abilities: Rewards you for playing spell events which is a plus. Breaks the game, which is hilarious. Nothing about how the Gate-Box works is remotely fair, but that doesn’t stop it from being an absolute riot.
Deckbuilding: Only okay. Throwing clue discovery events around the map is great, but it’s also kind of all that you get out of the Seeker subclass. Well, that and some card draw.
Power: A+

Nobody does was Luke does and that is by itself enough for him to stick out of the Mystic class. And let’s face it, breaking the game a little bit is fun from time to time. I’d never take him on a blind play of something because with Luke you’ll rarely get the intended experience out of a campaign. But he’s someone to return to frequently and just do some dumb stuff. Top of A.

Dexter Drake: A+, between Preston and Diana
Abilities: Yes, but where did the lighter fluid come from? While your audience still ponders the question, you traded another three assets for something else. Dex will usually play the willpower spell thing straight, but with the twist that he actually has money for it. Swapping assets around feels good to do.
Deckbuilding: And playing green cards will also never get old. No matter if it’s extra resources, extra actions or oversuccess cards (oversuccess on willpower? Is that even legal?), the 5/2 Mystic/Rogue pool has plenty of depth.
Power: I put him in A, but he probably deserved the A+

His asset shenanigans add enough play on top of the willpower stuff that he ranks higher for me than the other spell asset users. A large part of why i like Dexter is also that he is incredibly well set up to play the cursed spells, or a curse deck in general, while still carving out a niche within that archetype against the powerhouse that is Kohaku. A+.

Norman Withers: Solid A+, with Diana and Tommy
Abilities: You remember how much i like the Hunch deck? Norman has a giant hunch deck! I have always liked this mechanic, playing from the top of your deck, in other card games as well. It’s one that rewards building your deck in a certain way that makes sure you can grab something off the top as often as possible. The Livre d’Eibon is amazing in how it enables this further. High marks all around
Deckbuilding: Not as interesting to me as most other Edge of the Earth investigators as Norman tends to keep a lot of his level 0 seeker cards around.
Power: A+

I like this guy. Putting together a deck that uses lots of cheap events and then just aims to play at least one card from the deck each turn is just up my alley. I prefer this to the skill heavy version with Astronomical Atlas, too. But both are pretty neat, no doubt about it. Since i usually want to keep a good amount of seeker cards around (Norman is the one Edge investigator where i feel like he often doesn’t even change his class) i end up throwing some big XP Mystic cards into his deck. That’s a good time too. He’s not quite S for me, Joe has him beat on that front. But a solid to low A+ for sure.

Amina Zidane: Bottom of D
Abilities: Amina is like Jenny, if Jenny had to put doom on her stuff to gain her resources and then was only able to spend it on assets. And if Jenny had a worse deckbuilding pool. And Ancient Evils as a weakness.
Deckbuilding: Almost none. She has access to Mystic, with very little in the pool that actually works for her. And a trait based access to at best a handful cards that serve little more purpose than to make her pass a test. Maybe.
Power: Speculative D.

There’s just no other way to say this, but to me Amina is just straight up miserable. She’s the only one of the non-fanfiction investigators that i didn’t play yet, but that’s because after spending a considerable amount of time on multiple occasions to make a working deck for her and just didn’t find anything that wouldn’t just straight up take 25XP before it came close to online. And in the end you don’t even get any payoff because you will still just end up doing what any other investigator can do. I’d have more to say but I don’t want to dwell too much on her. I don’t want to end up crapping too much over someone who i am sure has her fans as well. But to me, she is just unacceptable on a fundamental level and i don’t think she’s fixable, unless she gets like two additional mask slots or something. And even that would just be a bandaid. My least favorite investigator by a mile.

Kohaku Narukami: S, just behind Winifred
Abilities: My neurons are firing again, must be a free action around here somewhere. Kohaku’s ability is interesting in that his ability can either be an enabler, providing tokens to use for a payoff you get on other cards. Or you can use Kohaku as a payoff, for the tokens that other cards gave you. And both ways are perfectly viable. His signature is similarly an incredible enabler for all sorts of things. And his weakness is a painful piece of crap, just how i like my weakness enemies. High marks!
Deckbuilding: Nuts. Both Cursed and Blessed up to 5 is insane. You sacrifice the top end of Mystic, but never worry about that, you have more than enough to spend your XP on.
Power: I gave him a speculative A. He peaks higher, but considering that he will always require some assembly and ramp through the tokens in the bag, a high A sounds about right for power.

Boom, S tier. I have not been this enthusiastic about a Mystic since Diana. Kohaku is the full package for me. Wildly flexible in how to approach his deck (Curse? Bless? Both? Using which mode for his investigator ability? Events? Assets? All of the above?) and powerful enough that it feels rewarding to play. He’s got a ton of moving parts and in turn is anything but boring as i have come to experience most other Mystics. I was just about ready to think that i explored bless and curse enough since Innsmouth, but Kohaku has given all of that new life and revitalized a huge chunk of the card pool for me when it was just starting to turn a bit stale.

Jacqueline Fine: An exceptionally boring C
Abilities: Token manipulation is a neat part of Mystic and Jacqueline really kicks it up a notch or two. It’s a pity you’ll use it mostly to just do regular spell things, but i have nothing against the investigator ability itself.
Deckbuilding: I think this is the flattest deckbuilding in the game right now.
Power: A

Just kinda all-around boring. She at least does her archetype well and the token manipulation is a nice twist on it. But it’s rarely enough that i’d want to play her over someone like Agnes or Akachi. A rather unspectacular C from me for now, but i could see her taking off if a future expansion revisits the token manipulation angle outside of bless/curse at some point.

Gloria Goldberg: D
Abilities: She’s across the line. There is a point where a strong investigator is no longer an enjoyable powerfantasy (Tony, Daisy, Luke) but just broken and unbalanced. When an investigator disables a large part of the game and does so in an efficient manner, then i feel like too much of the game gets lost. And that’s the case here, with Gloria disabling much of the threat from the encounter deck. Not enjoyable at all to me.
Deckbuilding: Her deckbuilding is good and allows some variety through the selectable subclass.
Power: S

In addition to be so game warping, there is also little way of just playing a suboptimal list or something. She has all the power built into her and all she needs is Alyssa or Scrying and she immediately goes through the roof. It’s not like with Daisy or Tony where you could in theory just not play the best weapons or tomes and play a downscaled version. Gloria is either on or off. That she’s also just another willpower mystic doesn’t help.
I do not have any desire to play her. D.

Parallel Agnes: A+, slightly behind fellow power fantasies, Tony and Daisy
Abilities: The event-based combat mage, Nathaniel in purple. How did it take this long for this archetype to exist and even then only outside of a proper release? Parallel Agnes is awesome, her playstyle very different from other Mystics. Her reshuffle ability solves the event problem of being one shots. Agnes signature suddenly sings to the tune of several cards per turn as you for the first time since release of the game realize it doesn’t exhaust on triggering. This can all reach rather silly heights and feel a little unhinged as well, but lands in a similar corner as Winifred or Daisy in that you are just doing lots of different cool things per turn and it just feels satisfying.
Deckbuilding: Gives up the survivor access, but in turn gets all spells 0-3 which is fine and Occult 0-3 which is insane. Honestly, just being able to run both the upgraded Mirror and Lexicon is worth giving up the Survivor class for. Those bonded cards are spell events. You get to shuffle them back. You get to draw with Heirloom. It’s nutty. And then there’s the thing about being able to play more copies of certain cards than normal… woo boy.
Power: S

I desperately want this archetype in a mainline expansion. It’s way too good to hide away in the print and play files. Reshuffling the events is the perfect solution to the event problem. Easily my favorite parallel investigator, Shadow Agnes just does all the things that i like. I also appreciate that the different combinations of back/front between regular Agnes and her clone all work well. I didn’t play her in a while because i was waiting for some new events to come out, but i think with Drain Essence and the upgrades to Razor/Runes/Form now a thing it might just be time. A+. Honestly, the only thing stopping her from being an S is that she’s fan fiction and not real. Yeah, i am petty like that even towards my favorites.

Parallel Jim: B+, likely first in line among the parallel investigators that hang out there
Abilities: The parts taken for themselves all look good and like things I can enjoy. His token interaction is now a lot more tangible and more likely to actually do something. I think it beats out Akachi at her own game, actually. And his spirit deck is quite powerful even if it comes with another weakness and lets me look at the pool of allies from a new angle. That’s always neat.
Deckbuilding: Curses? Sure, i can work with that. Not all that special anymore and i am not sure if that small splash of survivor cards is enough to set it apart from other curse investigators. But considering that there’s also the spirit ally thing and that it can reach into 0-2 of all classes, there’s something here.
Power: Speculative B

Hm, this is actually two investigators, not one. But of a pity that his curse ability and his spirit deck are completely differenct concepts with little to no interaction. That being said, the spirit deck is an interesting enough gimmick that i will want to give it a try sometime. And the curse based recharge is at least better than the original skull thing. I’m not in a hurry to play him, but this is likely going to happen eventually. Let’s call that a B+.

Current state of affairs:

You know what, that went to a happier place than i expected. Sure, there are a whopping four purple investigators down in the pits in D tier, but also the majority of them across the top. One of them even got to sit next to Winifred.
Actually, there is only two Mystics across all of the B+, B and C tiers. I suppose that means that i am simply more critical towards Mystics than i am towards other classes. Hey, biases exist and it’s valuable to recognize and acknowledge them. Doesn’t change my opinion on those dorks on the bottom, though 😀
Let’s head into Survivor then. As is appropriate for them, i have no idea what to expect.

Survivor

Wendy Adams: A+, between Shadow-Agnes and Preston
Abilities: Deceptively simple, but with great impact and a chunk of interactions. That’s just good design and i like it quite a bit. She cheats at testing, but since you have to pay a significant cost every time, it feels fair – even when you start and using the fact that you can easily move things from your hand to the discard to your advantage. Her weakness is sadly one of the notable ones that can feel bad enough that they impact my enjoyment with this character.
Deckbuilding: For the longest time, Wendy was the best rogue. She uses the cards from her splash class very very well.
Power: A

That archetype of being an evadey clue getter i talked about so much in the Rogue section? Wendy did it first. I’ve built a bunch of different Wendy decks over the time and this is unlikely to stop anytime soon. Her whole setup is just open-ended enough that anything from discard synergies over clue flexing to heavy Scavenging focus are all very viable, often even in the same deck. Also, i like green cards. We’ve been over this. A+

Ashcan Pete: B+
Abilities: Duke is one of the most notable signatures in the game, everyone loves the dog. Pete’s ability to ready assets in play has some neat interactions, either because you want to use a specific asset as often as possible or because it’s (like Wendy) another discard outlet. There’s some cool hool hooks for decks there.
Deckbuilding: Pretty good. Pete can use splash cards from any class and is an investigator where i frequently wouldn’t mind having more than 5 available.
Power: A

I like Pete, but at this point i am pretty much in a holding pattern until something new pops up that i would want to use him with. The bog-standard Dark Horse list is about the most boring thing that you can build and i am completely over that, but if something comes up that interacts with his readying ability in a funky way, i’d be game for that. B+.

William Yorrick: S
Abilities: Here’s something i am not over however, and it’s very unlikely that i will ever be. The way that William interacts with the discard is incredibly fun to me. There is so much cool stuff you can do with it. His signature is a huge feel-good card to me as well, getting that extra XP per scenario likely doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, but it feels sooooo great.
Deckbuilding: The card pool is also really nice. The guardian access turns William into one of the better Survivor fighters.
Power: A+

I am generally not a fan of too much recursion in this game, but William is the one instance where it simply won me over. It might be the fact that i am still paying for my assets, so it feels fair even when it isn’t? In any case, i really enjoy this dude’s dynamic playstyle that rewards you for tangling with enemies and i am putting him at the top.

Calvin Wright: D
Abilities: He’s just a statline. His ability does in theory allow you to shift your stats towards what is needed, but in practice you will likely focus your deck on either the physical or the mental stats. I don’t really think that he’s all that interesting.
Deckbuilding: Spirit is a great trait to have access to, that’s a lot of cards. Can you do something good with it? I guess you could if you didn’t have to devote so much deckspace towards dealing with his gimmick.
Power: C

Consider an investigator that doesn’t have an investigator ability. Is there a statline you can think of that would make this investigator interesting to you? Calvin is an investigator that i played once, to experience the gimmick. And then, when i took him later to a second campaign, i was already bored with it. I currently have no desire to revisit him. D.

Rita Young: Low A, in a Roland sandwich
Abilities: Her actual signature is worse than Skids’ On the Lam. Quite the achievement. Her other abilities and stats didn’t impress much for the longest time, but she’s had a bit of a second coming over the last couple sets. Her 3 fight value are critical to what i use her for.
Deckbuilding: Her Trick access is finally good. Took a long while, but we got there!
Power: B

Rita is a lesson that even investigators that currently look boring, unimpressive or barely playable can, even years after their release, come into their own. I used to be rather harsh on Rita, to me she was pretty much “Wendy but bad” for the longest time. Now, i am still not rushing out to play Rita often, but her Trick access now something actually worth building around and doing some cool stuff with. She also plays that fighter/evader hybrid role that i talked about earlier well enough to carve out her niche. With all the new Trick-related goodies from Hemlock Vale she’s overdue another go. I am wavering between B+ and A, but to atone for my past harshness towards her, i will go with a low A here.

Patrice Hathaway: High A, with Skids and Marie
Abilities: Super cool and unique. I like card draw, i like making the best out of a drawn hand every turn. Patrice’s whole shtick is very much my thing. I wish her statline wouldn’t put her in such a confined box, alongside her deckbuilding.
Deckbuilding: I don’t really like her being a mystic. Now, i do have a proven anti-Mystic bias in general, but the 5/2 split just doesn’t work for me here. She’s unable to upgrade most of the spell assets, forced to rely on just her 4 base will. Her hand cycling plays against the reactive nature of many mystic events. I am not saying that there’s nothing here, but it’s just very limited.
Power: I ranked her D, which notably caused a couple angry DMs and Discord pings. Likely my most controversial take in the power rankings. I’ve played her again since and i would go with a C now. Maybe even on the upper end of C. But i really don’t think she has more in her. She’s just too boxed in.

I enjoy Patrice a whole lot, even in spite of my less than stellar success with her in actual campaigns. There’s not a whole lot of variety in how you can build her, the Mind’s Eye thing is almost mandatory unless you want to enjoy a Carson statline for doing anything. But that one deck she has is really enjoyable. The mechanic itself is just straight up S-tier in terms of how much i enjoy it, on a level with William’s shenanigans. But the rest of the kit keeps it down too much to be more than a regular A for her in total.

Silas Marsh: Low C
Abilities: I have this hangup about his ability that stops me from wanting to play him. I feel like replaying the same skills each turn ends up super repetitive and boring, and also kind of busted. It’s way too easy to break, even accidentally. You don’t even have to go deep, just your basic Relentless is enough for me to turn up my nose and feel like that’s just bullshit.
Deckbuilding: I’ve come to like skillbased deckbuilding on other investigators, it’s really notably different from what you usually do.
Power: B+

He’s possibly the best evade/fighter hybrid, so i should really like him more. But i just don’t. His recursion is too strong and one-note for me to enjoy him. I am fully aware of my hypocrisy after giving William an S, but Silas is a C for me. And a low C at that. Now that Rita has risen to the fulfill the role of a evade/fighter survivor, there is very little left for me that would make me want to play Silas.

Daniela Reyes: A, between Agnes and Bob
Abilities: Taunting enemies, then going “He started it” while you are wailing on them is a neat twist on the primary fighter. It helps that she is just really, really good at her job. There are other tanky fighters around (Tommy and Hank come to mind), but Daniela sticks out to me. A big part of that is her limited card pool actually. Being mostly tied to Survivor means she can’t just grab any of the big Guardian weapons and go to town, she has to piece something together from red cards.
Deckbuilding: I don’t mind her deckbuilding at all. I actually think of it as a positive. If you could build her deck with Guard Dog(2) and Survival Knife(2), you’d just end up with the same deck that builds itself every time.
Power: A+

That she’s a primary heavy fighter in Survivor makes her stand out immediately and that’s something i enjoy. Dani with a Chainsaw can let loose the same way someone like Nathaniel can and it’s quite something to see. She’s not one to get clever with, she’s just a clean, straightforward fighter, but sometimes that’s just what i want without feeling like reaching for Tony or Mark again. Solid A.

Darrell Simmons: near the bottom of D
Abilities: He’s just too ridiculous, man. Like with Gloria, you are able to invalidate a huge part of the game with him, except this time it’s not the encounter deck, but the concept of taking tests and test difficulties. He’s too consistent, evidence is too easy to come by and his ability takes the fun challenge out of everything I do. A hard no from me for the entire archetype.
Deckbuilding: Fantastic, and on any other investigator i would have a good time with this 5/2 split.
Power: S

If he would have only been able to gain evidence through his camera and no other player card, he would probably have been fine. But as it is, he’s just trivial to build and then trivial to play. He shouldn’t have come with an archetype around him, the whole concept of that archetype (“What if this game had no difficulty?”) is just completely wrong to me. Bottom of the box, even below Gloria.

Hank Samson: low C
Abilities: Reminds me a lot of Calvin in that it looks mighty flashy and weird at first, only to then end up as just kinda pedestrian and boring. Hank tanks well(-ish). Stop the presses. He just doesn’t seem to bring anything new and interesting to the table. Except an absolute horrorshow of a weakness.
Deckbuilding: Pretty good, lots of options here. Again, he is just rehashing already existing options, though.
Power: I gave him a speculative A and after playing him, that seems about right.

My first question would be: Why? He doesn’t really have anything going for him, does he? Even his role as a survivor tank is done better by both Daniela and Tommy. And William, for that matter. Maybe he’ll pull a Rita on me and with a future expansion his Innate access allows him to do something spectacular that moves him out of Daniela’s shadow. But until then, he stays at a low C. Maybe his ability to tank for others at his location hits better for people that play in a bigger group, but i don’t know… just play Solemn Vow?

Stella Clark: Top of B+
Abilities: Free action! And the silliest set of signatures ever. She executes the whole fail-forward thing that is rooted in many survivor cards to perfection and it’s quite fun to bumble around with her. She also makes it clear however that you don’t want to fail all the time, at some point you need to get shit done. Finding the right balance between fail tech and actually making her pass tests is quite interesting… unless you cheat and use Quick Learner.
Deckbuilding: She does have a similar thing to Winifred going on, where she only has one class available, but is extremely well set up to use most of it, including a bunch of cards that are barely playable elsewhere. This makes her deckbuilding work out better than mono-class would suggest.
Power: A+

I’ve done the Quick Learner thing, i am over it. About as interesting as playing Darrell. But if you don’t enter the cheat code, then Stella plays really well and forces you to interact with a lot of game mechanics is a way that is notably different. I do enjoy that a lot. A lack of variety keeps her barely out of A, but i’ll go with a strong B+ for her.

Parallel Wendy: upper D, between Jim and Mateo
Abilities: What a mess. This whole ordeal of text that barely makes any sense thematically is a major turn off.
Deckbuilding: Incredible. Thankfully this Bless and Curse combination is now available on a real investigator, so i can keep ignoring Miss Little Seashell.
Power: Speculative B+

Nope, not for me. There are a few investigators that come with a Permanent because the ability text doesn’t fit the card and those investigators are fine (Tony, Preston), but overall i would take it as a red flag that this needs to be cleaned up. And i feel like Wendy falls on the bad side of this, it’s all just too over the place and disconnected.
The one thing i was interested in here was the backside with the deckbuilding and maybe doing a regular front + parallel back combo of Wendy, but before i got there, Kohaku got released and i can just forget about notWendy.

Parallel Ashcan: A, between Monterey and Nathaniel
Abilities: It’s always nice when an investigator has an ability that puts existing cards into new contexts, especially when it’s cards that were underpowered and/or underappreciated so far. Playing a trap deck sounds like something i would be interested in, sure! I am a bit suspicious of that guitar being so good that trapping is no longer necessary, but i am at least willing to give this one a try some time. Definitely going to play both sets of signatures, though.
Deckbuilding: Seems fine? Tactics does a good job of pulling in all Trap cards, and i do appreciate that he got Tactic instead of just Trap as the trait he cares about.
Power: Speculative B

He’s on the shortlist (and it’s a short list indeed) of fanfiction investigators I want to try. Just haven’t gotten around to it yet and i might wait until i get my hands on a properly printed one. I like that he came with replacement signatures instead of enhanced ones, that opens up some further options when considering mix and match options of regular and parallel Pete. Tactics is a broad enough trait that doing regular Ashcan with parallel back could open something up. You could even do regular front, regular back and then just throw the guitar and the new weakness into your deck. What did i give parallel Rex? An A? Sure, that sounds good, i’ll put him halfway between notRex and notRoland.

Getting close to the end:

Oh, this was top-heavier than i expected. Survivors are a diverse bunch of course, so it’s difficult to make sweeping statements about them in a list such as this. Maybe that’s the takeaway, that i like Survivors because they offer diverse and often unique playstyles? Soudns right to me, especially when i look at the lower ranks where Survivors either landed because they are boring/redundant or because they are just a little bit too OP for their own good.
Alright, let’s finish this real quick with the three neutral ones, then head straight into the final list.

Neutral

Lola Hayes: B, between Uschi and Vincent
Abilities: Her deckbuilding is so powerful that she doesn’t get abilities, only drawbacks. This is actually fair, i see that you can’t just have an investigator with universal level 3 access around completely unfettered. But this is really the most unfun design that they could have come up with. They worked really hard on making sure that everything that could be fun about combining two classes with each other is forbidden through her role restrictions. I like her signatures, extra economy is always welcome. And her weaknesses are on point after the taboo. As written they are just part of the fun police, here to make sure you don’t have any.
Deckbuilding: Really nice and enables some unique things by now as long as you are able to work around her role restrictions. I do like that she is forced to run a certain amount of cards from each class, that’s a great example for a restriction on her that is actually fun and breeds creativity instead of smothering it with a pillow.
Power: C

Post taboo, Lola is perfectly fine. There are a few things that she can do better than anyone else and playing her is usually quite enjoyable because you do get to cherry pick from a lot of powerful cards. Deckbuilding however is often an exercise in frustration as you are bound to stumble over cards from different classes that you want to combine with each other only to have the fun police wag their finger at you and go “we don’t do that here”. All of this adds up to a B, i think.

Charlie Kane: S
Abilities: “You have three additional ally slots.” This is one of the sexiest line of text ever put on a piece of cardboard, right along hot stuff like “You may copy the imprinted instant card and play the copy without paying its mana cost” and “After you pay for a standard project, you gain 3MC”. Charlie is just amazing. Running a horde of allies is great. And his way of using them to pass tests is fun and powerful. I have only good things to say about him.
Deckbuilding: Really good too. And flexible as hell. All of the ten class combinations are viable, they all have their distinct ways to build. Throwing 15 allies into one decklist without feeling its too much in gamplay afterwards is wild.
Power: A

The only politician i was ever excited about. I love Charlie Kane, both in playing and deckbuilding. He walks that line where you consistently do absurdly powerful things, but still feel like you are engaging with the game in a fair manner. There is lots and lots of ways to get clever with his deckbuilding. Allies are incredibly varied and his 0-5 access to all of them is going to make sure that every single expansion will have something cool for him. I struggle to come up with something negative to say here and you know, i will stop trying to do so and instead just slap a well deserved S on this guy.

Subject 5U-21 “Suzi”: Mid of C, with Harvey and Silas
Abilities: The ebb and flow of the statline is interesting to watch and manipulate. I like the bit of planning involved where sometimes just need to make the most out of a turn or two where your stats are currently in the dumpster and set up for your high tide turns. The weaknesses add just the right amount of uncertainty to this, threatening to interfere with your planning ahead, while the signatures safeguard against the weaknesses. It all works remarkably well together, even in spite of the heavily random natur of her mechanics. I do not mind losing cards out of my deck, that is a thing that never impacted me at all (I’m a Heed the Dream truther, too). So her random effects that relate to semi-permanently pulling cards out of my deck don’t bother me.
Deckbuilding: It’s easy to make a stack of “greatest hits” cards for each class and mash them together. That certainly works. Not sure that i’d call that a deck though 🙂 That huge pile of hers crosses into a territory where i find it hard to actually build something that is coherent and her upgrading restrictions don’t help in that regard either. To be fair, i found it rather easy to manipulate your devoured stack to get the upgrade class you want at the end of the scenario.
Power: Even after playing her, i find this difficult to evaluate. On the one hand, there’s some degenerate stuff you can do by combining level4/5 cards from different classes. On the other hand, going for highlevel upgrades with Suzi will make it difficult to find those things in her mammoth of a card stack. I am trending B+ here, but let’s call her an A for power just on the potential.

I am actually still in a campaign with Suzi right now, have two more scenarios of Cyclopean Foundations to go. I wouldn’t say that she made a particularly great impression on me, to be honest. There is some good stuff in there for sure, like the manipulation around her changing statline and how that impacts you from turn to turn. But i am not warming up to her deckbuilding at all. It just seems all so random to me. For upgrades i went with a wide approach instead of a deep one, trying to muscle as many “high power but low level” upgrades into her as possible. And sure, it works fine. But it doesn’t really feel different enough to me. Mid of C, i guess. I am not having a bad time with her, but it’s not as special as the whole “I am the Anomaly” window dressing pretends to be.

The full list

And that’s the full list. A very appealing distribution, four of the tiers ended up with exactly 10 entries. That wasn’t planned and it pleases me to see that it worked out like that. It’s pretty 🙂 No Unranked tier either, everyone got their two cents. I looked at the classes and how they are spread across the list already, so next i want to go by tiers. Let’s see what we got.

S: Every class got one into here, even Neutral. Again, not planned at all, but that only makes it more satisfying to me. Seeing two rogues here also warms my heart. In terms of powerlevel, this is a fine spread as well, with some high powered ones (William, Wini), but also some that are more about their gimmicks than their strength (Sefina, Joe). Notably, Zoey muscled into S purely on the strength of her variety in deckbuilding. How’s that for an appreciation of the Dunwich Five splash?
A+: Wini and William both got into S, but more often being too powerful actually works against the investigator as they can feel too cheesy to me. Tony, Daisy and Parallagnes are all sitting on that line where they are fun and exciting enough to offset being a bit too good and lead the pack in this tier. Again, we have each class represented here. Surprisingly, Mystic manages to get the most investigators into A+, four of them. A fine counterbalance to the four in D.
A: This tier got a bit crowded, but that makes sense. Overall, i like the game and by extension, most investigators. A is simply a very natural placement for those that i enjoy and return to all the time, but not want to highlight as exceptional. A bit of a special case are the three parallel investigators, all of which i have not played yet. But they are the three where i am actually keen on doing so.
B+: Looking at this lineup, it does indeed feel a significant notch below what’s in A. These are mostly characters that i like well enough when actually in the game and playing them, but where i am not really feeling the deckbuilding. At the bottom of the tier is another three parallels, all of which look fine to me, but my interest is basically limited to only one of their two sides.
B: I can’t help but notice that there are three seekers in there, plus a blue card that might as well be yellow. A parallel. And Lola. So, four seekers and two weird ones. Not sure what happened there.
C: Oh wow, this ended up being the boring tier. Investigators that are in the shadow of one or two others, investigators that are one-dimensional without that one dimension being spectacular enough to make up for it. And Silas, who i was petty towards and deserves better, just not from me.
D: The gap between C and D is fairly small and we can see a few others in here that have a similar issue of being a bit redundant as there are in C. This is also the tier where i nuked some investigators for either being OP to the point that it tanks the game for me or, on the other hand of the spectrum, incompetent enough that don’t get to have a game. Also another hefty dose of pettyness.

Signing off

Oh wow, this took a while. Not completely sure it was worth the effort overall in terms of what i learned from it… but hey. It was successful procrastination a fun distraction from the many other open projects i still have going on and spending time discussing the investigators counts as playing the game, right.

Right?

In any case, thanks for making it through yet another way too long list and my apologies for any grief my hypocrisy and pettiness may have caused. Cheers o/


Irregular Evils #46: Too many hands in too many pies. Also, i was on a podcast

Hey, just a quick headsup. No update this and last week. I am plugging away at several articles that are a bit longer right now, nothing that is in a state i want to share yet:

  • The scenario page for the Hemlock Vale finale has a bit more on it than usual
  • I am making good progress on the “Best-Laid Plans” comprehensive deep dive for Hemlock Vale
  • There’s likely going to be a ranking of the investigators “by enjoyment”. Not quite as excessive as the big investigator power rankings, but excessive enough…
  • I also started designing for the Unofficial Return to Dream-Eaters again. My plan is finishing up the B side and making it available to play on TTS in the near future, then turn towards the A side which has a lot more questionable stuff in it still.
  • Some other small bits and bobs, related to my drive to update a few of the existing pages.

So there’s plenty cooking, just nothing finished yet. Maybe next week, but don’t be too surprised if there’s nothing then either.

However, i have one neat thing to share. I was on the Los Archivos de Arkham podcast to chat about the fan-made Return to Innsmouth and some of the design ideas behind it. The whole podcast is 3.5h and in spanish, but the segment where i am on is in english.

Los Archivos de Arkham, Season 6, Episode 15 on iVoox

The english language part starts about 100 minutes in and goes on for about an hour.
My thanks to the three hosts for having me on, it was good fun and i’d be happy to return at any point.

The Lost Sister

Other encounter sets in this scenario: Blight, Horrors in the Rock, Mutations, Myconids
Residents involved: Theo (day 1 and 2), Gideon (day 2 and 3), William (day 3), Helen (any day)
Available experience: 1 (parlaying Helen/Theo or William) +2 (resolution) +2 (Limulus Hybrid) + 2 (Crystal Parasites) = 7XP
Available experience on day 2/3: as before, but also +1 from helping Gideon = 8XP

Size of the Encounter Deck26
# Enemies8
# Willpower3
# Agility5
# Intellect2
# Fight5
# Damage9
# Horror7
# Doom2

My take on this encounter deck: This is a relatively small encounter deck that has a little bit of everything in it. With Reclaimed by Nature it even has an encounter card that has something of everything on it!
The encounter deck takes a bit of a step back and lets the mutated crabs that are set aside at setup be the clear stars of the scenario instead. Notably, the enemies in this encounter deck are quite soft: Cavern Moss is barely even an enemy, Amanita is not all that dangerous. And Crystal Parasite at least gives you plenty of warning before it arrives. The one copy of Corpse Lichen is really the only case where an enemy can unexpectedly pose a challenge to your enemy handling. That being said, Crystal Parasite at least is not something to underestimate.
Calcification and Desiccation together put a bit of a strain on investigator’s health however and can let some of the other damaging treacheries appear a bit more impactful than they look at first glance. Aside from that, there’s not much to specifically mention here as standouts. This deck tests everything just a little which means that on the one hand you don’t need to prepare anything special for this scenario. But on the other hand, it also means you can’t really prepare yourself and if random chance happens to serve you with multiple cards that all exploit a particular weakness of your investigator and deck, you can just end up in a bad spot. It’s not particularly likely to happen though.

My take on the scenario as a whole: I like this one for putting some of the encounter cards that work off dark/light mechanics into a different context. I also think that the Elite crabs are fun to fight, at least as long as you don’t have someone on your team that can just blast past the mechanics with raw power.
Personally, i would have wished for the encounter deck to have more of a presence here, it’s at times very mild and only provides minor background noise. That is fine as long as you are tackling a crab and busy with that, but kind of unimpressive while you are just making your way through the caves.
But that doesn’t distract (much) from this being a fun scenario thanks to a cool central mechanic that puts a spin on the day/night things we see in the rest of the campaign.

Scaling/Variants: This scenario is key if you want to follow Theo’s and Helen’s story, reuniting the two with each other. To do this, you need to parley with Theo multiple times while Helen is around and then finish the scenario successfully, saving the lost sister. This unlocks version 2 of the finale (which can alternatively be reached by reconciling William and River in their own path) and allows you to add Helen Peters to an investigator’s deck. This is true no matter if you do the scenario day 1 or day 2, however there is a subtle difference in that Helen will not be available to “share a dance” if you do this day 2.
On day 3, this is no longer possible and you will instead find William who can simply be parleyed with for a small chat (and an XP). Gideon is around on day 2 and 3 and requires help finding his “treasure”. If you manage to do that, this not only rewards an XP, but also unlocks the final stage of Gideon’s personal path which can also come into play to unlock a version of the finale.
There is some limited day number scaling on the smaller of the Elite enemies in this scenario, but not something that i would really consider when deciding when to play this.
Since the scenario doesn’t actually work differently between day and night, this can be played fairly well at night, in place of either Twisted Hollow or Longest Night. Doing so will remove all of the interactions with residents from this scenario however. Considering that Lost Sister is quite rich in that department, that feels like a shame to do.

The smaller ones of the Crab Hybrids. There are two of these lobsters and their main job is making up for the lack of enemies in the encounter deck before the investigators reach the big guy. Defeating them doesn’t earn any victory, but they do at least go into the victory display so you don’t have to see them again. They basically teach you how to handle the dark/light mechanic in this scenario so you can put that into practice when the big crab shows up.
The enemy flips sides depending on whether it is in a dark cave or an open spot. In the light, it becomes hard to kill, with only 1 damage per attack getting through to it. That coupled with its Elusive means that it takes quite a few actions to defeat with attacks in this state as you will either keep running after it or evade it first. And evading it is even reasonably difficult.
If it moves (either through Hunter or Elusive) from a light into a dark area, it will however become easier to damage. Its fight value goes up slightly, but that is of course still preferable to only dealing 1 damage per action. When flipping into this state, it will deal 1 damage to each investigator at its location. This makes it hit relatively hard when it hunts into you, but in most cases doesn’t do anything on an Elusive move.
Depending on the day, its health scales from 4 to 6, without any player scaling. This means that they are a lot more dangerous for small groups than for big ones.
Something to be aware of is that the damage reduction on their light side only applies to attacks. So if you are able to hit them with damage from other sources, that will go through in full. What’s more, that sort of damage will also not trigger their Elusive. As a result, keeping multiples of something like Blood-Rite or Sneak Attack can give you a way of getting rid of one of these lobsters without having to interact with any of their mechanics.

This massive horseshoe crab is the big boss of this scenario. It uses the same day/light mechanic to switch sides as the Crustacean Hybrids but with some twists. The first one (and one that is easy to miss, i know i played this wrong the first time i went into this scenario) is that the light side of the Limulus Hybrid doesn’t have Hunter. So you need to attack it and trigger its Elusive if you want it to move into a dark area again. It also means that this thing will not follow you forever, if for some reason you need to flee from it and recover or dig for another weapon, you can do so… as long as the doom clock permits, of course. That being said, having it in the light is actually good for you. There is no damage reduction here and the lack of attacks of opportunity can be used in your favor.
If you are fighting the crab in the dark, this is getting a lot tougher. The fight value goes up and the thing gains Retaliate, always a dangerous combination. It also dishes out a lot of damage in this form, further supported by a Forced ability that hits anyone attacking it with a melee weapon. Since we already noted that dwindling health can be an issue due to effects from the encounter deck, this can become very dangerous. Notably, the crab doesn’t have Elusive in this form, so once you are fighting it in the dark, it will stay with you. That can be a good thing if you are able to just burst it down with a good fighter, but can also mean that you might want to have it hunt towards you into a light location again for it to swap back into its more tame form.
Having it swap back and forth is also rewarded with a damage trigger on the light side. Weirdly, this trigger scales with player count… so while a solo player will only deal a point to the Hybrid here for 1/8th of its life, a 4p group will chunk the beast for 4 damage each time it flips to light which is almost a quarter of its full health.
Unlike the lobsters, the crab does not scale its life by day number. It does however scale by player number in the usual way that we expect from this sort of boss enemy.

# in the encounter deck: 3

Threat level: Low.

What a weird card mechanically. While it’s pretty clear how it’s supposed to work from a thematic point of view, this created a lot of questions for me on how it interacts with various cards. Questions that i have seen repeatedly asked elsewhere as well. So take this with the usual grain of salt when it comes to edge cases in this game, but the way i understand it is that Cavern Moss does still count as an enemy at your location while attached to an item in your play area. That means you can use it to fulfill the condition on Scene of the Crime or Trish Scarborough. Or you can parley it with the likes of Grift. It does however not count as an enemy engaged with you, so it won’t attack you. Not even if it is attached to an item in your threat area like Daisy’s Necronomicon. On that note: Yes, Cavern Moss can blank Item weaknesses for you.
There is no limit on how many mosses can attach to one Item, so if you have a good spot to stick it (like a weakness or a Hallowed Mirror) or are simply able to do without one of your items you can basically ignore any further Cave Moss you draw and just put them on the same item.
You can choose to engage Moss which might be useful if you want to trigger something like a Wolf Mask or if you want to evade it. Evading it will exhaust it and stop it from blanking your asset for a turn. It will however not detach and once the moss readies your item is blanked again. This is rarely going to be useful.
There are some other wild edge cases like Markmanship being really good for sniping moss off your items – since Moss isn’t engaged with you, Marksmanship will deal three damage to it.
So, once we push past all of the rules weirdness that comes from attaching enemies to items … how dangerous is this card in the end? I’d say it’s almost a player card. Blanking weaknesses and enabling parley or similar cards is very much in the player’s favor. And even when it does its thing and takes away one of your assets, it’s only temporary and can be dealt with rather easily.

# in the encounter deck: 3

Threat level: Mid

Of the two modes on this card, i am definitely more afraid of the daytime one. Damage is just much more relevant than horror in this scenario and the alternate choice of having an enemy attack is also more relevant that healing a damage from enemies.
With the big Elite crabs around that can take a bunch of attacks the healing isn’t completely irrelevant, but doesn’t really move the needle much. Notably, you do have to pick an option that changes the gamestate however. So if there is no enemy on the board, you have to take the 2 damage on the day effect. If there is not damaged enemy nearby, you have to take the 2 horror on the night version.

# in the encounter deck: 3

Threat level: Low

Turns a dark cave into a light location. This effect is going to be highly context dependent but is usually not going to end up being scary enough that you actively want to pursue the test to discard it. You might do it if you are already at the location and have nothing better to do, but keeping it around can even work out in your favor, especially if it leads to multiple locations without Dark next to each other where you can herd the Limulus Hybrid back and forth without having it enter a dark location so you never give it the Hunter ability and can fully control the pace of combat. The main counterpoint is that having more light locations makes Black Aminata and the lobster hybrids more annoying to deal with.
And there is of course the fight/damage bonus to consider.

The Silent Heath

Other encounter sets in this scenario: Agents of the Colour, Horrors in the Rock, Refractions, Transfiguration, Blight, Striking Fear
Residents involved: Leah (day 1), Rachel (day 3). On day 2, Rosa is around.
Available experience (day 1 and 2): 2 (Brood Queen) + 2 (Crystal Parasites) + 3 (Crystal Remains) = 7XP
Available experience (day 3): As day 1, but also 1XP for parleying with Rachel = 8XP

Size of the Encounter Deck38
# Enemies10
# Willpower13
# Agility2
# Intellect2
# Fight4
# Damage12
# Horror12
# Doom2
(the enemy number includes the Crystal Parasite)

My take on this encounter deck: This is a chunky encounter deck and with that comes a lot of variance. There’s eight Insect enemies in the encounter deck (3x Larva, 3x Soldier, 2x Parasite), so about 1 in 5 encounter cards. Not actually as many as i would have expected! There are two more enemies in the deck, the Miasmatic Shadows. These don’t have a whole lot of synergy with the rest of the encounter deck though. There is some incidental discard in Transfiguration and Blight. This scenario’s Commanding Resonance also has possible discard on it. But considering the size of the encounter deck, it’s not a whole lot so you can reasonably avoid triggering the Shadow’s engage for a long time, possibly for the whole scenario.
A bigger worry is the amount of damage and horror. 1 in 3 cards deal damage, 1 in 3 cards deal horror and there is also some overlap between them of course. You can basically expect that half of the encounter cards come after your health and/or sanity. The cards that deal horror seem to be a bit more dangerous though, especially if you are struggling with passing willpower tests.
To be honest, I’m not sure this encounter deck really needed to be almost 40 cards. Seems a bit bloated and the variance you can get from it could be something to worry about. That being said, it hasn’t been a negative for me so far and i have not heard anyone else talk about it.

My take on the scenario as a whole: This is a cool scenario. You can make a decision early on to either go loud and murder your way through the swarm or try to sneak by. Either way works well, however be ready for a very tense turn when the Queen shows up if you went on a killing spree. I had a good time on my blind playthrough, figuring out how to best deal with the situation when the number of enemies spiked up from “the board is clear” to “there’s six enemies in Wilson’s threat area and another massive on on his location” in the blink of an eye. Since then i had another play of the scenario with Kate and Nate who were much better prepared to fight and evade anything that came up and finally a third one with Finn and Skids who claimed all three remains without killing a single enemy. I really appreciate when a scenario can play this differently depending on how you approach it.
There’s some interesting interactions with soak and damage/horror here. You have a lot coming your way from the encounter deck just in terms of raw numbers, but some of it is direct. Some of it can only be put on assets. There’s the treacheries that get easier when you have damage/horror on you. There’s story assets that you don’t want to see defeated. Those story assets actually deal damage and/or horror to you as well while you get them to their drop-off location. Some of the locations also deal a considerable amount for revealing them or ending your turn on them. It quickly becomes a bit of a number puzzle as you try to figure out the best way to distribute all these horror and damage tokens while keeping your options open.
This is a good one that i enjoy both the gameplay and the theme of.

Scaling/Variants: The residents that are here depending on the day aren’t terribly influential for how this scenario goes. Leah earns a clue for each investigator, Rosa draws some cards and/or peeks under locations. And Rachel hands out an XP, to make up for the circumstance that you only get the Pearl Diary asset if you do this scenario before end of day 2. It’s also one of the few opportunities to gain relationship with Rachel. Meeting Leah here on day 1 will also gain you a log entry, however this will ultimately lead to nothing.
The health of the Brood Queen scales with day number and player number multiplicatively, meaning she can gain anywhere from one (day 1, 1 investigator) to twelve (day 3, 4 investigators) bonus health. This can obviously make a big difference in how difficult she is to defeat, especially when considering that higher player counts will likely also have more Insects spawn alongside her.
If you want to do a different scenario than Twisted Hollows during night 1, this is a good choice. While it doesn’t gain anything specific from being played at night, it also doesn’t lose much. You can gain full XP for this scenario and can recover the Diary asset as well. Note that if you play Silent Heath instead of The Longest Night, you will however not be able to pick up the Diary because you missed the trigger for that to happen by a hair.

How much the arrival of the Queen on the board is going to impact you is going to depend a lot on how things went so far. That’s because for a 2VP Elite boss she’s not even all that tough. But she does arrive with every Insect you killed so far and that can be a huge deal as it will see you swarmed in a way that you are likely not going to be able to handle in full.
So, what does this mean for us? First off, you will likely not want to spend the effort to kill Crystal Parasites if you expect that the Queen will make an appearance. And as soon as a Parasite is in the victory display, it will only be a matter of time before that happens. So either defeat the Parasites after the Queen is dealt with or as close to your time of resigning if you plan on skipping her.
In a best case situation, you kill one Larva or Soldier early on and then immediately get the Queen afterwards, leading to a situation where she doesn’t get much in terms of reinforcements. You can then kill the Queen and from then on play the rest of the scenario without having to worry about the whole thing.
As long as she doesn’t show up, you constantly have to ask yourself if defeating an Insect is worth the later trouble though. Likely, it won’t be. Once you advanced the agenda, the Queen will be likely to appear rather sooner than later even with just two Insects in the victory display so I’d recommend avoiding any more than that for sure.
One final thing to note about the Queen is that she doesn’t have Hunter. If you evade her and run, you can let her be. Since she hits pretty hard and life/sanity are so valuable in this scenario, that can be a reasonable option.

# in the encounter deck: 2

Threat Level: Mid to High

The ceiling on what this can do to you is pretty high as both the second option and the third one can trigger an attack by an enemy. The first option only deals a damage, but stacks up nicely with any of the other choices in a scenario that already has a whole lot of damage and horror on its encounter cards.
So if things go really wrong and you fumble the test at the worst time possible, this will make you engage a Miasmatic Shadow and the nearest Insect, both will attack you immediately and then you get another damage on top. Pretty brutal worst case.
Now, this extreme case isn’t particularly likely, but even just at base level this is just a grab bag of unpleasant effects that will on average be worse for you than Rotting Remains.

# in the encounter deck: 2

Threat Level: Mid to High.

Honestly, the horror worries me most on this one. Taking 2 points when there’s already so many other horror sources around is bad news. As long as an Insect is in play, it will put down a doom instead and (luckily?) that is the likely outcome because you usually don’t have a reason to murder everything in your way in this scenario. Defeating the enemy will take care of the doom, but of course that will also put the Insect into your Victory display, something you might have wanted to avoid. If you are trying to get through the scenario without ever having the Brood Queen appear, you might even decide to just let the doom happen. In that case, the treachery hits you more than if killing the Insect is no big deal to you.

# in the encounter deck: 3

Threat Level: Very Low.

These are almost no threat at all, at least not directly. Their Forced effect will put them directly into the Victory display however and there is a decent amount of effects around that could cause a Larva to attack. When that happens they will make it more likely for the Brood Queen to appear (and bring them back).
They also deal a horror which is a bigger concern than damage in this scenario.
So the Larvas aren’t a complete freebie, but overall you will likely be glad to draw these in the Mythos phase instead of something more pressing.

# in the encounter deck: 3

Threat Level: Low.

Another Aloof enemy (as long as they aren’t with the Queen or at a location that makes them lose the keyword) that doesn’t pose an immediate threat. They make investigations at their location more difficult which can be a problem if multiple of them congregate. Often you will be able to effectively “park” them on a Cave location that you are finished with however, simply by keeping a clue or two on the location for them to guard while you plunder the rest of the map.
If you have to kill them, that isn’t too difficult either. Their 2 health betrays what their flavor text and artwork presents them at. I would have expected more from a 3 meter long creature made of chitin! In any case, this is another enemy that isn’t terribly dangerous on its own and that i would be happy to draw during my Mythos phase instead of almost any of the treacheries.

Irregular Evils #45: Updating the Site and my Takes

New Header menu

I am currently in the process of remodeling and updating some things on the site. This starts with a new header menu that is no longer broken down all the way to the last encounter set. That menu was causing issues for a while, both for using it and behind the scenes on a technical level. Linking every single page i put out somewhere in it was reasonable when i started the site a few years ago, but stopped being so like four or five expansions back. So i paired it down significantly. This has two main advantages: It’s now faster and less buggy. And it allows me to actually spotlight some of the content on this site that was previously buried in submenus of submenus. Most importantly, this puts the buying guide and the campaign deep dives to the front of the line where they belong.
I am still changing some details here and there, but i am largely satisfied with the new reduced look of the header.

Update to the Buying Guide

Speaking of the Buying Guide, i updated it with infos on the latest two expansions. And changed the recommendations for the Return To boxes due to the increasingly awful supply situation around them.

Update to the Investigator Set Reviews

The largest part of this site update was going over all of the Investigator Set Reviews and re-reviewing the cards to see if i still agree with my takes. I made a bunch of changes to ratings there. Some of those changes were because those reviews were the early ones i posted and i was still zeroing in on how i define my ratings, like where is the line between “Okay”, “Okay to Good” and “Good”. The Dunwich review in particular had a lot of cards where i didn’t even give such a rating. The last three campaigns (Edge, Keys, Vale) also just had me change my opinions on the cards a bunch after playing with them more since posting their reviews.
Notably, this update moves the Hemlock Vale review from “Hot Take Edition” that i made when the set wasn’t even released yet into something based on multiple campaigns played since i got the set and based on actual hands-on experiences. As with Edge and Keys, i do expect more changes to my opinions of the cards when i do my next round of updates in half a year or a year or whenever.

What follows now is a changelog of all the ratings i changed on the cards in their respective Investigator Set Reviews (formatted as “old rating -> new rating”). Sometimes this was accompanied by also changing the explanatory short text that i post with each card, but often this wasn’t even necessary. I’ll just post this changelog uncommented as it would be too much to go over everything. If you are interested about specifics, you are as always invited to ask and/or challenge me on my takes.

Investigator Starter Decks

Flesh Ward: Okay to Good -> Good
Safeguard(0): Good -> Good To Excellent
Clean Them Out: Okay -> Okay to Bad
Monster Slayer(0): Okay -> Okay to Bad

Arcane Enlightenment: Okay to Good -> Okay
Encyclopedia(0): Okay -> Good
Library Docent: Good to Excellent -> Good
Whitton Greene(0): Good -> Excellent
Burning the Midnight Oil: Good to Excellent -> Staple
Extensive Research(0): Bad -> Okay to Bad

Beretta M1918: Good to Excellent -> Excellent
Lonnie Ritter: Good -> Staple
Mauser(0): Good -> Good to Excellent
Mauser(2): Good -> Good to Excellent
Backstab(3): Okay -> Good
Daredevil(0): Okay to Good -> Good

Arcane Studies(4): Good -> Excellent
Robes of Endless Night(2): Good to Excellent -> Good
Voice of Ra: Good -> Excellent
Prescient: Okay to Good -> Okay

.18 Derringer(0): Good -> Excellent
.18 Derringer(2): Excellent -> Staple
Grimm’s Fairy Tales: Okay to Bad -> Bad
Granny Orne(3): Good to Excellent -> Excellent
Mysterious Raven: Okay to Good -> Okay
Grit Your Teeth: Bad to Okay -> Bad
Will to Survive(0): Okay -> Bad

Dunwich

I’ve Had Worse(4): Excellent -> Good
If it Bleeds: Okay to Bad -> Bad
Taunt: Okay
Taunt(2): Okay -> Okay to Bad
Teamwork: Okay
Leadership: Okay to Good

Art Student: Okay
Higher Education(3): Excellent
Laboratory Assistant: Excellent -> Staple
Deciphered Reality: Bad
Expose Weakness(1): Bad
Preposterous Sketches(0): Okay to Good

Hired Muscle: Okay -> Okay to Bad
Joey The Rat: Okay
Liquid Courage: Okay
Streetwise(3): Staple -> Excellent
Think on your feet: Bad
Double or Nothing: Excellent
Opportunist(2): Bad to Okay -> Bad

Blood Pact(3): Okay -> Good
Jewel of Aureolus: Okay -> Good
Ritual Candles: Okay to Good -> Good to Excellent
Delve Too Deep: Staple.
Ward of Protection: Okay -> Good

Newspaper: Okay to Bad -> Okay
Stroke of Luck: Okay to Good -> Okay

Emergency Cache(2): Okay to Bad -> Okay to Good

Carcosa

.32 Colt(0): Okay -> Okay to Bad
First Aid(3): Okay to Good -> Okay

Arcane Insight: Okay -> Okay to Bad
Charles Ross: Okay to Good -> Okay
Logical Reasoning: Excellent -> Staple

Pickpocketing(2): Good -> Excellent
Suggestion(4): Good -> Okay

Spirit Athame: Good -> Okay
St Hubert’s Key: Staple -> Excellent
Torrent of Power: Okay -> Okay to Bad

Gravedigger’s Shovel: Okay to Bad -> Okay
Not without a Fight: Okay to Good -> Okay

Forgotten Age

Kerosene(1): Okay -> Okay to Bad
Venturer: Good -> Okay to Good
Blood Eclipse(3): Good -> Okay
Reliable: Good -> Good to Excellent
Scene of the Crime: Excellent -> Staple

Dr. Elli Horowitz: Good -> Good to Excellent
Tooth of Eztli: Excellent -> Good to Excellent
Persuasion: Okay -> Good

Decorated Skull(0): Okay -> Bad
Coup de Grace: Okay to Good -> Okay
Olive McBride(0): Excellent -> Staple
Protective Incantation: Okay -> Okay to Bad
Shards of the Void: Okay to Good -> Okay

Backpack: Okay to Good -> Okay

Circle Undone

Alice Luxley: Okay to Good -> Okay
Delay the Inevitable: Good -> Okay
Interrogate: Okay to Bad -> Good

Hawk-Eye Camera: Staple -> Excellent
Connect the Dots: Good -> Okay
Curiosity: Good -> Okay

The Moon: Good to Excellent -> Good
Tennessee Sour Mash (3, Rogue): Good -> Good to Excellent
Money Talks: Okay to Good -> Okay
Cunning: Okay to Good -> Okay

Prophesy: Okay to Good -> Okay

Dream-Eaters

Safeguard(2): Excellent -> Staple
Self-Sacrifice: Okay -> Okay to Bad

Extensive Research(1): Okay to Good -> Good
Surprising Find(1): Good -> Okay

Burglary(2): Okay to Good -> Okay
Gregory Gry: Good to Excellent -> Excellent
Swift Reload: Excellent to Staple -> Excellent

Summoned Hound: Okay to Good -> Okay
Twila Katherine Price: Good to Excellent -> Good

Scavenging(2): Excellent to Staple -> Staple

Innsmouth

Book of Psalms: Good -> Okay
Ancestral Knowledge: Staple -> Excellent
Guided by the Unseen: Excellent to Staple -> Excellent
Deep Knowledge: Excellent -> Staple
Gaze of Ouraxsh: Good to Excellent -> Good
Stirring up Trouble: Excellent -> Staple
Plan of Action: Bad to Okay -> Okay

.25 Auto(2): Good to Excellent -> Excellent
Eye of the Djinn: Excellent to Staple -> Excellent
Tristan Botley: Good -> Okay
Breaking and Entering: Excellent -> Staple
Justify the Means: Good -> Okay

Eye of Chaos(4): Staple -> Excellent
Blood Pact(0): Okay -> Good
Ward of Radiance: Excellent -> Good

Mariner’ Compass: Excellent to Staple -> Excellent
Harmony Restored: Okay to Good -> Okay
Signum Crucis: Okay to Good -> Okay

Tempt Fate: Staple -> Excellent

Edge of the Earth

Geared Up: Good -> Okay
On the Hunt(3): Good to Excellent -> Excellent
Sweeping Kick: Excellent to Staple -> Staple
Defensive Stance: Good -> Excellent
Medical Student: Excellent -> Staple
Protective Gear: Good to Excellent -> Okay to Good
Quickdraw Holster: Okay -> Okay to Bad

Archive of Conduits: Good to Excellent -> Good
Join the Caravan: Okay -> Good
Unearth the Ancients(2): Good to Excellent -> Excellent
Survey the Area: Good -> Excellent
Medical Student: Excellent -> Staple

Underworld Support: Good to Excellent -> Excellent
Black Market(2): Staple -> Excellent
Quickdraw Holster: Okay -> Okay to Bad

Close the Circle: Good to Excellent -> Good
Occult Theory: Good -> Excellent
Prophetic: Excellent to Staple -> Staple

Bandages: Good to Excellent -> Excellent
Schoffner’s Catalogue: Excellent to Staple -> Staple
Blood will have Blood: Okay to Good -> Okay
Jury-Rig: Good to Excellent -> Excellent to Staple
Dauntless Spirit: Good -> Excellent
Protective Gear: Good to Excellent -> Okay to Good

Rod of Animalism: Okay to Bad -> Bad

Scarlet Keys

Obsidian Bracelet: Okay -> Good
Runic Axe: Excellent -> Staple
Bolas: Okay to Good -> Okay
Custom Modifications: Excellent -> Good
Breach the Door: Okay -> Good
Field Agent: Excellent -> Good to Excellent
Girish Kadakia: Good to Excellent -> Excellent

Alchemical Distillation: Good -> Okay
Grim Memoir: Excellent -> Staple
Captivating Discovery: Good to Excellent -> Okay
Analysis: Okay -> Good
Lab Coat: Good -> Okay
Map the Area: Bad -> Okay to Bad

Damning Testimony: Okay to Good -> Good to Excellent
Hit and Run: Good -> Okay
Kicking the Hornet’s Nest: Good to Excellent -> Good
Calculated Risk: Okay to Good -> Okay
Stylish Coat: Good to Excellent -> Good
Dirty Fighting: Excellent to Staple -> Staple
Breaking and Entering(2): Excellent to Staple -> Staple
Thieves Kit(3): Excellent to Staple -> Excellent
Underworld Market: Good to Excellent -> Excellent
Clean Sneak: Okay -> Okay to Bad

Summoned Servitor: Good to Excellent -> Good
Power Word: Good -> Excellent
Eldritch Initiation: Okay to Good -> Okay
String of Curses: Excellent to Staple -> Excellent
Binder’s Jar: Good -> Okay

Pocket Multi Tool: Good to Excellent -> Good
Idol of Xanatos: Okay to Bad -> Okay
Makeshift Trap: Good to Excellent -> Okay
End of the Road: Good -> Excellent
Exploit Weakness: Okay to Good -> Okay
At a Crossroads: Excellent to Staple -> Staple
Gumption: Staple -> Excellent
Katja Eastbank: Good to Excellent -> Okay to Good

Hyperphysical Shotcaster: Good -> Okay
Refine: Good -> Okay
Tool Belt: Okay to Good -> Okay to Bad

Hemlock Vale

Katana: Bad to Okay -> Okay
Ofuda: Okay to Good -> Okay
Absolution: Okay to Bad -> Okay
Task Force: Okay -> Good
Tinker: Okay to Good -> Good
Cleaning Kit(3): Good to Excellent -> Excellent
Miracle Wish: Okay to Good -> Okay

Microscope: Good to Excellent -> Good
Control Variable: Okay to Good -> Good
Thorough Inquiry: Good to Excellent -> Good
Gabriel Carillo: Excellent to Staple -> Staple
Esoteric Methods: Okay to Good -> Okay to Bad

Bianca Die Katz: Okay to Good -> Okay to Bad
British Bulldog(0): Excellent -> Staple
Fake Creds(0): Okay to Good -> Okay
Scrimshaw Charm: Okay -> Good
Bank Job: Good -> Excellent
False Surrender: Good to Excellent -> Good
Grift: Okay to Good -> Good
Diabolical Luck: Good to Excellent -> Excellent
British Bulldog(2): Excellent -> Staple

Speak to the Dead: Okay to Good -> Okay
Wicked Athame: Excellent -> Good
Rod of Carnamagos: Good -> Excellent
Accursed: Okay -> Okay to Bad
Read the Signs(2): Excellent to Staple -> Excellent
Spectral Razor(2): Excellent to Staple -> Excellent

Matchbox: Excellent to Staple -> Staple
Pitchfork: Good to Excellent -> Good
Pushed to the Limit: Good -> Okay
Stall for Time: Okay to Good -> Okay
Hatchet: Okay -> Good
Persistence: Okay to Good -> Okay
Hunting Jacket: Excellent -> Good

Written in Rock

Other encounter sets in this scenario: Horrors in the Rock, Refractions, Chilling Cold, Ghouls
Residents involved: River (Day 1), Simeon (Day 1/2), Leah (Day 3)
Available experience: 3 (locations) + 2 (Crystal Parasites) + 2 (saving Simeon/Leah or killing the Beast) + 1 (helping River, only day 1) = 8 XP (7 XP on days 2 and 3 and during the night)

Size of the Encounter Deck31
# Enemies12
# Willpower4
# Agility10
# Intellect
# Fight2
# Damage10
# Horror8
# Doom
(the enemy number includes the set-aside Crystal Parasite)

My take on this encounter deck: That’s a lot of agility testing and all of it threatens some damage if you don’t pass it. If you play Written in Rock on day 1, you can even add Swarm as another “test agility for damage” treachery to the pile. Much of this damage is aimed at defeating the villager that you meet in the mines, but will generally just put a huge strain on your soak and health. The fact that there is also a large number of enemies around only reinforces this. Looking at the numbers, horror seems to be almost on the same level, but that isn’t the case in practice. Almost all of it comes from the Refractions set and as long as you can avoid triggering Captivating Gleam you should be good on that end. There is very little forced discard in this scenario, so that is generally not much of a problem to stay ahead of.
The biggest threat does come from the enemies for once, keeping your investigators busy while the mine cart rumbles ahead on its path. Reminiscent of Innsmouth’s Horror in High Gear, you need to find the time to nonetheless pick up enough clues to use the scenario’s special rules and prepare the track ahead.
Overall, this is an encounter deck i like quite a bit. Ghouls are criminally underused and it’s always neat when you get to use them (and the OG Grasping Hands). Enemies have a tendency to not do too much beyond just being a bit of an action soak, but the ones specific to this scenario do sidestep that issue and bring a good amount of impact with them.

My take on the scenario as a whole: I don’t really enjoy the gimmick of the scenario a whole lot, but that’s a very subjective take. There isn’t really much wrong with the scenario itself and the conceit of having to find your way through the mines and escape before time runs out, also can you rescue the villager, can you pick up the story asset or can you possibly both? That’s a good risk/reward decision to make.
I do also like the fighty nature of the scenario, i feel like this one strikes a nice balance between the usual clue grabbing and having to fend off enemies.
Well, but then there is the whole gimmick with the slide puzzle and just personally, I think it overstays its welcome just a bit. It’s neat to do a first time, maybe a second. But at least for me, it loses a lot of its luster on replays. This would be perfectly fine (most scenarios go down a bit on replays) if it weren’t for that huge slog of a setup that you have to go through before finally getting to play.
So, taking a step back, this is actually a fine scenario. It’s also well integrated into the campaign with repercussions for multiple villagers, which is great. But at least for me, meta reasons do spoil the fun more than I’d like. Your mileage may vary, of course.

Variants/Scaling: This scenario is one of the more important ones for the narrative, because it decides the fate of Simeon and Leah Atwood and is thus a prerequisite for the “fireworks” variant of the finale. If you don’t enter this scenario on days 1 or 2 and rescue Simeon, he will be crossed out and that version will be no longer available. If you don’t go for the mines on day 3 either, Leah will share that fate. Leah will only be crossed out if you never entered the mines. So if you went on day 1 or 2, but failed to rescue Simeon, then Leah will *not* get lost in the mines. So at least you aren’t losing two villagers for one failed scenario. Similarly, going at night will sacrifice Simeon, but not Leah.
No matter if you meet Simeon or Leah, the scenario plays out the same with them waiting to get picked up by you on the top row of the map.
All three residents involved in this scenario (River, Leah, Simeon) give stat bonuses while you control them (in the same order: willpower, fight, agility), so they don’t fundamentally change anything either.
If you go day 1, you get an opportunity to earn another XP and a point of relationship with River, however that will require you to take her with you through the mines and also keep 2 clues per investigator unspent. Failure to do so will not earn the XP and even cost you relationship.
The scenario at night gets a new wrinkle through the appearance of the Subterranean Beast, a big Elite that hurries after the mine cart in pursuit of the investigators. This makes up for the lack of a resident to rescue and the relative ease with which you can go after the Prismatic Shard. Since it has Victory, it also makes up for the 2XP that you’d otherwise be able to gain for getting the villager to safety. I like this and it gives the scenario at least some appeal to be played at night, even if it’s just to see a different variant of the scenario. If you don’t care about Simeon surviving, but about Leah, you can use this night trip to make sure she doesn’t get crossed out on the final evening while also earning a decent amount of XP and the story asset that bypasses the need for playing Twisted Hollows and Longest Night to unlock version 1 of the finale.
There is no explicit scaling by day number in this scenario, but it’s worth pointing out that Downpour(day 2) can be particularly bad in this scenario because you want to hold onto your clues. And Swarm (day 1) stacks up neatly with all the other agility/damage cards, something you might want to avoid if you are weak in agility.

The Subterranean Beast only appears during the night, to make up for not having to care about rescuing Simeon or Leah from the mines. It reminds me a lot of the Conductor from the Return to Essex Express, in that it’s a massive enemy that follows you around and is a bit of a pain to kill. Thankfully, it doesn’t hit as hard and also doesn’t reappear after being defeated.
When resolving the Hunter ability on the Beast, remember that Hunter triggers an additional time in this scenario unless it already caught up with you. This makes evasion a somewhat unsatisfying answer because chances are that the Beast is going to be able to get you again rather sooner than later. The clue ability to “super-evade” is much more potent. It does present a drain on your clues that could otherwise be spent to move the tracks around, but with Simeon and Leah no longer around, you can focus on just grabbing the Prismatic Shard and getting out.
If you manage to kill it, it’s also worth a chunk of victory points which is appreciated. It does have a very healthy amount of stamina however and at 3 per investigator, it does scale rather aggressively. There’s a bunch more enemies with high health in this scenario, so if you spend your spike damage on bursting this thing down, you could find yourself short when trying to handle a Crystal Parasite or Frenzied Miner later.

# in the encounter deck: 3

Threat level: Mid to High.

A 3/3/3 that hits for a damage and horror is the line where the more notable enemies start. Both attacking and evading does require some solid stats of your own to succeed and at 3 health it won’t go down in just any attack either. We have seen these stats a couple of times before of course, in fact the Ravenous Ghoul is right there with it in the encounter deck.
The real juice is in its ability however and that can mess up things pretty badly for you. At the very least it will lead to a cost you have to pay in clues or resources to fix the track ahead and might very well even cause you to spend a switch to stop moving if you can’t immediately make sure the way ahead is safe.
As just an enemy it’s not a particularly dangerous enemy, but there’s already a lot of enemies crawling around and the ability makes it always relevant.

# in the encounter deck: 3

Threat level: Mid to High

This guy is a problem. It doesn’t take long into the scenario before you are probably going to be on the right side of the map and have X scale rather high. For some godforsaken reason he has 4 health which combined with 3, 4 or even 5 fight and evade makes him a threat that would often warrant an Elite tag. Except he isn’t, there’s 3 of them in the deck and he can come down at any point.
Evading him isn’t all that attractive in spite of his high health as he will likely catch up to you thanks to the double Hunter movement. He does hit every investigator and (more importantly) Resident at the location which will threaten Simoen, Leah or River directly.
During the day this is likely the most dangerous card in the encounter deck and you should be happy to see it early when it’s still sitting at relatively small values of X and don’t have a Resident asset to protect yet. During the night, the Miners are a bit less of a problem because you won’t be picking up a villager, so evasion becomes a more reasonable option.

# in the encounter deck: 2

Threat level: Low

It’s an action to clear and any investigator can take it. Getting rid of the Cave-In shouldn’t be a particularly big problem unless you are already swamped by enemies. But even then, it will likely just cause you to spend a switch so you can take care of the Cave-In the next turn.
The text on the card looks pretty scare with the 2 damage to everyone, including the residents. But it’s just so unlikely to come up. This is a very mild card.

# in the encounter deck: 3

Threat level: Low to Mid?

So, this is a weird one. On the surface, this looks pretty gnarly, threatening an early demise through running off the tracks or deling a bunch of horror/damage to players and residents. Or at least requiring you to spend two switches if you want to stop those extra moves. The agility test is also hard enough that it might as well have been a testless card that simply gets added to the threat area.
The weird part however is that in my games this worked out in my favor like 3 times out of 4. Since you can build the track ahead of your cart, you will run into situations where Wild Ride asks you to move 2 additional times and you gladly do it because that just saved you two whole turns of playing the scenario and put you ahead of any Hunter enemies on the board.
So yeah… strange card. When it’s bad for you, it’s very very bad. But it seems to work out to be fine surprisingly often.

The Thing in the Depths

Other encounter sets in this scenario: Mutations, Blight, The Forest
Residents involved: Rosa (day 1), River (day 2/3)
Available experience on Day 1: 3 (resolution, escorting Shelly) + 3 (locations) = 6XP
Available experience on Day 2/3: 2 (The Thing in the Depths) + 1 (River) + 3 (locations) = 6XP

Size of the Encounter Deck31
# Enemies10
# Willpower
# Agility5
# Intellect3
# Fight2
# Damage15
# Horror
# Doom4

My take on this encounter deck: Well, how about that… not a single willpower test or point of horror in sight. Instead half of the encounter deck deals damage and that doesn’t even count the enemies. This scenario is out to kill you via damage, with very little else on its mind. Notably, it’s not just that willpower tests are completely absent, but tests in general are rare. As is tradition, agility is the most important thing to have to avoid at least some of the incoming damage.
Doom mechanics are rare in the Feast of Hemlock Vale, this scenario does however use both Mutations and The Forest and therefore both of the encounter cards that put doom into play. The doom from Unnatural Growth and Forest Watcher can be removed through defeating an enemy, so it shouldn’t be too much of a bother however. The doom clock is fairly generous in the first place, unless you have Shelly backtrack which is much more important to avoid than anything else.

My take on the scenario as a whole: Pretty good, but doesn’t quite reach its potential. Escort missions are historically looked down upon in games, but i think it works reasonably well here. Keying the Chelydran Hybrid as an enemy instead of an ally makes a lot of sense, both in terms of theme and in mechanics as it for example allows us to work the Elusive keyword in our favor.
It’s a bit of a pity that the Thing in the Depths is so easy to disable via evasion, this takes a lot of the bite out of the scenario. It especially means that staying in a Sunken location isn’t really all that scary with only the Sinking Sludge treachery really hurting us for it.
Since i only play two-handed myself, i can not confirm this, but i suspect that there is a lot of player scaling happening here. With more players, the board gets a lot more crowded and entering Sunken locations becomes more difficult to avoid. Solo players don’t have the option of having one investigator on evasion duty while the others do the escort thing (well, unless you use Beguile, Power Word or Servitor to remotely do the evading!). In a two-player game, i feel like i am exactly sitting at the spot where the location mechanics are easy to minimize while also being able to effectively disable the big baddie.
I am not a fan of how escorting the Hybrid still leads to its death unless you do it day 1. Just feels unnecessarily bad. I have a vague understanding that this was likely done to compensate for prelude 1 not giving any XP while prelude 2 and 3 do… but it doesn’t feel right. The log entries around the fate of the Hybrid never matter anytime during the campaign either, so … i don’t know. Something feels off or incomplete here.
Related to that, this scenario sadly doesn’t really offer any incentive to go for it in terms of campaign payoffs. If you come here day 2, you can earn a relationship point with River… and that’s pretty much it. The Thing in the Depths isn’t tied into any of the villager’s storylines the way that the other scenarios are, it’s just kinda there. Still worth playing because it’s a good scenario and the XP is decent… but i feel like there’s a missed opportunity to make this scenario matter more in the grand scheme of the campaign.

Scaling/Variants: This scenario plays out very similar, no matter when you play it. The Grasping Tendril’s health scale by day number and that makes them a lot more resilient especially if you decide to do this scenario day 3. My suggestion would be to either do this on day 1 (the “canon” route where you follow Rosa around) or day 2, if you want an additional opportunity to get on River’s good side.
I don’t see a reason to play this scenario at night. All that does is give Tendrils Aloof and buff several of the cards in The Forest, while removing any support or payoff you could get from villagers or Rosa.
Depending on how late in the campaign you play this, you also add one of the three day-specific treacheries. Both the Day 1 and Day 3 treacheries add more sources of damage to the encounter deck, but both also have alternate ways of paying for failing the test. The Day 2 treachery is a rough one no matter where, but at least doesn’t get too much additional bite here. In fact, i’d argue that clues quickly don’t become important in this scenario at all, so this is one of the milder scenarios to have to put up with Downpour.
As mentioned, there are no specific campaign related payoffs that would make you want to go here particularly early. There is no scaling with day number on the cards either, but on day/night 2 you will start with a doom in play and on day 3 with yet another addditional doom. The doom clock is relatively forgiving in this scenario however, so this shouldn’t make or break the scenario even when though it does give a little less wiggle room for worst cases where Shelly wanders off the path you want it to go.

The Chelydran Hybrid, or “Shelly” if you’ll indulge me, is nominally an enemy, but we are actually tasked with escorting it. As long as we can make sure that there’s always an empty location available next to it that brings us closer to the finish line, we are good. We also need to root out any Abomination enemies at its location, which usually is going to mean Grasping Tendrils.
This escort business isn’t terribly difficult as long as someone can keep the Thing in the Depths occupied. Note that aside from its Patrol movement and the clue ability on the act, there’s actually another thing you can do to keep it on track or make it go faster: You can attack it, triggering the Elusive. It’ll cost you an engage and then an attack action, but this can accelerate her quite a bit. Bonus points if your attack misses and you don’t even hurt her in the process. I am going to leave you with the mental image of Preston Fairmont, hitting the turtle with his walking cane to speed it along the swamp. You are welcome.

The primary enemy of the scenario and it does seem suitably dangerous at first glance. 10 health plus another 5 per investigator is a huge pool to go through if you want to kill it. It has an amount of keywords and abilities that would make Akroma proud and they all fit together quite neatly. Its Hunter keyword does get a lot of extra riders in particular. The map is relatively small, which in combination with its ability to directly hunt into Sunken locations will make it very hard to avoid attacks from the Thing. What’s more, whenever it attacks, it also regains life and gains an Elusive move. All of this will also happen on Retaliate. And Massive turns its attacks into area attacks.
This seems all super rough… until you realize that it gets completely deactivated by evasion. While exhausted, it just shuts down completely. No elusive, no hunter, no retaliate, none of the effects on attack, nothing. Pass an agility(2) test and the Thing just becomes a pile of health which you can either hack your way through to finish the scenario. Or you can let one of the investigators evade it every turn while the others escort Shelly.
Solo investigators are sort of screwed here, however. They better hope that they can chew through the health fast enough, because escorting Shelly while also keeping this Thing evaded is going to be near-impossible.

# in the encounter set: 5

Threat level: Mid.

This is the main thing to look out for when escorting, as these will just pop up and stop Shelly from moving. Since they also surge, this happens in addition to whatever other fun the mythos phase has in store.
Obviously, the day number matters a lot here, as the difference between 1 health, 2 health and 3 health on these things is pretty huge. They are somewhat difficult to evade, so defeating them will be the usual approach to taking care of them. That being said, an evaded Tendril has a couple neat advantages. For one, it doesn’t have Hunter, so it will just stay on the board instead of potentially coming up again after a reshuffle. It will also make that location non-empty which cuts off the way back for Shelly, which can be useful if the way forward is blocked and it would otherwise turn back.
Finally, it’s worth noting that its Flora and Mutated traits give it some interaction with the Mutations and The Forest sets. Of special interest are Sudden Mutation and Bloom which can act as additional copies of Grasping Tendrils.

# in the encounter deck: 3

Threat level: Mid

Ground Disturbance looks pretty dangerous at first glance, but i found it to usually be rather mild. There’s two reasons for that. One, it tests either intellect or agility, and most investigators are either good in one of those or do at least have a good amount of health. Although to be granted, Mystics in particular are going to look at this with more concern… hopefully they have a Deny or Ward if things get dicey. The other reason is that often, the sinkhole won’t actually matter, at least as long as you don’t have to backtrack.
Where this treachery suddenly becomes very dangerous however is when there are no Bog locations left. The potential to be hit for up to 4 damage then is not nothing, especially with all the other damage sources around. Hopefully you finished the scenario before that happens though.

# in the encounter deck: 4

Threat level: High

This however, is much more of a problem. If you are on a Bog location, Sinking Sludge does very little. It adds a sinkhole, but that’s perfectly fine as the effect of the encounter card. It’s almost a freebie. When you are at a Sunken location however, this comes after your Ally assets while also directly damaging you. The damage to yourself isn’t sooo bad, but many allies are already defeated from just one damage. There’s four of these cards in the encounter deck, so it should be a factor in your decision to stay around on a Sunken location or not. You don’t get a test to avoid it either, the only way to not get hit by it is anticipating and playing around it.
Sinking Sludge makes it so you can’t rely on your allies to tank for you. Non-ally soak and healing becomes more valuable as a result.
If you are depending on a particular ally, you are in a bit of a pickle in this scenario because you will really want to avoid ending your turn in a Sunken location then.

Hemlock House

Other encounter sets in this scenario: Agents of the Colour, Transfiguration, Blight, Locked Doors, Rats
Residents involved: Gideon and William(day 1), William and Judith(day 2), Judith and Theo (day 3)
Available experience: 2(locations) +1(Shapeless Cellar) +2(resolution, 10 seals or defeats) =5XP.
Additional experience dependent on the day: 2XP on day 1 or 1XP on days 2 and 3, bringing up the total to 7XP (day 1) or 6XP (day 2/3)

Size of the Encounter Deck25
# Enemies7
# Willpower4
# Agility6
# Intellect
# Fight8
# Damage8
# Horror4
# Doom
The scenario can also involve Fire! which will add more agility tests.

My take on this encounter deck: There is a lot of fight and agility testing happening in this scenario, much more so than usual. However, that’s more or less where the things of note about this encounter deck end, as i find it mostly unimpressive. There’s some damage floating around, but not in an amount that would scare you much unless you are someone particularly fragile like Daisy or Luke. The enemy side is one half Rats. The other half is Miasmatic Shadows which are a credible threat for sure and Grappling Spawns which at least have their moments.
The scenario specific treacheries do interact with the central mechanics of the enemy-locations, either providing additional triggers to flip locations or pulling players to those enemies.

My take on the scenario as a whole: The real driving force of the scenario however is supposed to be the House itself, the double sided locations which turn into enemies. I am not quite sure they fulfill that promise either however. In general, i had a very easy time with Hemlock House each time i played it. Discard effects are around, but scarce enough that you can avoid triggering Miasmatic Shadows fairly well. The Spawns are hard to fight on higher floors, but easy to evade. Rats are almost a freebie. Many of the treacheries ended up either being freebies as well and not particularly threatening even when they do something.
The Predation Test mechanic works similar to the Infestation bag from Dream-Eater’s Waking Nightmare. An extra bag is set up with three kinds of tokens. One does nothing. One flips a room to its enemy side. The final one makes every room attack anyone in them and shuffles all tokens back. Depending on when you play the scenario, the number of “Do Nothing” tokens varies. On day 3 there’s literally only 3 tokens in the bag, one of each. This mechanic does what it’s supposed to. It’s slightly fiddly because of the extra bag, but just like with Waking Nightmare i didn’t find it to be a huge problem. Definitely expect to forget it two or three times over the course of the scenario though 😉 Again, if you played Waking Nightmare, you know already how this goes.
I like the general setup here, but I think the location-enemies are too far on the tanky side and don’t have enough “bite”. There’s two ways to play the scenario, one by collecting clues and sealing everything, the other by attacking the location-enemies and tearing the place down. The first is a whole lot easier than the second and since the scenario rewards you for sticking to one of the routes, there’s just not enough reason to actually fight the house.
It’s an okay scenario, but i would call it one of the weaker ones from Feast of Hemlock Vale, at least once you are replaying it for the Xth time and the enemy-location mechanic has worn off its novelty value.

Variants/Scaling: There are a couple things that are different depending on when you play this scenario. Let’s start with the residents, because there is actually a bunch of things happening here. Day 1 has you meet Gideon and William and you get a chance to improve your relations with each of them. You also get access to the Little Silvie story asset which is a doll that takes up the accessory slot, but lets you replace discard effects with putting cards to your deck. This not only preserves your cards, but also stops Forced triggers that activate on discard from working (like on the Miasmatic Shadow), so this story asset is actually pretty nice to have. On day 2, you meet William and Judith and witness an argument between the two where you will need to take a side, earning you relationship with that person and an XP. Finally, day 3 has Theo and Judith. They are great allies for the scenario, one of them giving you a free move, the other a free attack. Judith also tells you she wants to “remodel” the place… by tearing it down. If you do so, you gain an extra XP in the end. All three of these options have their merit and depending on if you want to deepen your relationship with one of them, a different one might be interesting to you. However, if you after relations, note that you won’t gain any for Theo and to gain a point with Judith on day 3, you will need to defeat at least 8 location-enemies which is no small ask. Getting relationship points is certainly easier on day 1 and 2.
There is no scaling by day number on the cards or the token modifiers, except for the already mentioned influence on the predation bag. There is a good amount of scaling by floor number and notably you start on level 4 on day 3 so you are possibly getting harder tests right away. But you can always just go down the stairs immediately if that is a problem so i wouldn’t put much of an importance on this in terms of deciding when to go to the Hemlock House.
Finishing the scenario doesn’t earn you any kind of log entry, so no repercussions for the rest of the campaign either. Sadly, William will not care at all about you potentially burning down his family home.
Bottom line, all three days offer something interesting from the residents there and the different combinations do change the tone of the scenario remarkably well. There isn’t really another notable consideration when you want to decide when to go here. Oh right, there is no incentive to come here at night at all. All that will do is tune up a few enemies slightly and remove the villagers from the scenario.

Before we dive into the encounter deck, let’s take a look at the location-enemies first. These all follow similar guidelines, with some numbers switched around a bit. What they have in common is that they are easy to evade, have large health pools and fight values of 3 or 4. They all can’t make attacks of opportunity and often they will trigger some sort of effect when turned from their location side to their enemy-location half, like doing an extra predation test or attacking every investigator at the location.
There’s two ways to get rid of an unruly location: You either defeat it in combat or you seal it with clues. The former requires to punch your way through all of its health which will move it to your victory display and collapse the house to fill up the space. The latter requires dropping a clue per investigator onto the location-enemy to turn it back to being dormant. And then spending an action and another set of clues to seal it. A sealed location will never “wake up” again. Now here’s where i think the balance is a bit off: Dropping the clues to flip the location is a free trigger. Sealing the location costs an action. So while you did have to acquire the clues first, you only need to spend an action in the location’s presence to do the thing. Meanwhile, a fighter will be spending their full turn (or more) on beating down on it and some of the locations have Retaliate as well. Following the damage route also requires rooms to wake up in the first place. While you can just seal any location for cheap while it’s still dormant. There simply isn’t enough incentive to actually stay at an awake location which undercuts almost any of the threat the scenario tries to present with its enemy-locations. The final location, the Shapeless Cellar, is almost an exception but evasion handles it so incredibly well that it can’t really do much to you either.

# in the encounter deck: 2

Threat level: Mid.

We don’t see a lot of monsters that change their health value up and down as the game goes on. This leads to a slightly awkward interaction where you can put three damage on this thing while on a higher floor, evade it and when it follows you downstairs it dies because its health went from 4 to 3.
This mechanical weirdness aside, these are pretty tough to fight. Scaling anywhere between 3 and 6 health coupled with a very solid fight value does give them some staying power. Evading it works very well as a stop-gap, but since there are so few enemies actually worth fighting in this scenario you might as well unload on these.

# in the encounter deck: 4

Threat level: Low.

Of those possible options i almost only care about the middle one. But let’s start at the top.
When you are standing at an enemy location, you are dealt a damage and horror each. Not all that terrible in the big picture, especially not considering that there’s an agility test to deflect it. As far as “test agility to avoid damage” treacheries go, this is fairly weak. Not sure why it deals flat damage and horror instead of making the room attack. That would have been more flavorful and given a bit of extra punch in some of the rooms.
The second option flips over a room to the enemy side. That mostly represents a speed bump because you now need to turn it back to sleep with some clues, but will also likely trigger some sort of “when revealed” ability on the room. If you are going the route where you want to destroy the house, this might actually be a card you want to see because you can’t fight dormant locations.
Finally, if your location is sealed, you discard a random card. Since it’s random, it can be annoying, but usually will not be anything too tragic. This effect is something to remember however if you have a Miasmatic Shadow on your tail. If you end your turn in a Dormant location with a Shadow, then the discard from Out of the Walls will have that Shadow engage and attack you.

# in the encounter deck: 2

Threat level: Low to Mid.

The fact that enemy-locations don’t deal attacks of opportunity means that Pulled In very often does very little. It can even be the setup for you to just pay the clues afterwards to seal the whole thing. If you fail hard enough, you get attacked and that can stack up with Out of the Walls and the treacheries from Blight and Transfiguration, but happens rarely enough that you’ll probably not be too bothered by this one either.