This is an overview of the player cards in the Dunwich Legacy Investigator expansion. I will be looking at the investigators first, then go over the rest grouped by class. For most cards I will try to keep it short and to the point to not stretch this article more than necessary.
For every group of cards I will nominate the three most useful and the three least useful cards. This isn’t necessarily about raw power, but more about how good they are at fueling a lot of your decks.
Finally, I will give my opinion on how well this selection of player cards stands on its own, answering if it’s worthwhile to get as a first expansion next to the core set and if this expansion + Core is enough to support the investigators contained in this expansion.
These articles do ignore the optional list of taboos. This is because they are mostly aimed at new players trying to figure out which investigator expansion to get next and taboo isn’t a thing that I want to weigh them down with. It’d also make things unnecessary complicated.
The ranking I use for cards is Bad < Okay < Good < Excellent < Staple with each of those spanning quite a range. I use something like “Okay to Good” or “Good to Okay” when I want to specify whether it’s on the upper or lower range of that rank. Please don’t take these rankings too seriously and more as a guideline, cards need to be evaluated in context and compressing these contexts down into just one word is really unprecise. I still find it useful for this overview as a shortcut to put the cards into relation quickly.
All five investigators follow the same deckbuilding rules: level 0-5 of their main class, level 0-5 neutral and up to 5 level 0 cards of any other class. This is simple and surprisingly deep. Even with a full card pool, this deckbuilding can often stand up to investigators that get access to a proper subclass or trait-based access because it does offer some unique combinations that would require the use of Versatile in other investigators.
Zoey, Rex and Ashcan are fan favorites and quite powerful. Rex is even considered to be too powerful, with his investigator ability giving him unparalleled efficiency at finding clues. Jenny’s ability to collect money can fuel some early forays into Rogue playstyle, overcoming some of Skids’ shortcoming. Jim lags a bit behind with a statline that isn’t really working well with the Mystic cardpool at the time. There’s some very solid things that can be done with him with a full pool of player cards, but he never really reaches the same tier as most other investigators.
All together a very solid set of investigators, both for new and veteran players. Personally I do especially enjoy how many different things you can do with Zoey these days.
Bandolier: Excellent. Enables carrying a sidearm with your two-handed gun which is super useful.
Blackjack: Bad. Deals no extra damage and the ability is ultra-narrow. Contender for worst card in the game.
Brother Xavier(1): Good. Powerful, but expensive. Flat stat boost, lots of tank and a damage ability is a fantastic package, but 5 resources is a lot.
Keen Eye(3): Okay to Bad. Worst of the five permanent talents. Very expensive, but has some narrow applications.
Lightning Gun(5): Okay. Powerful, but held back by ammo and cost. It’s just hard to invest that many XP and resources into something that only holds 3 shot by default. It has its uses, though.
Springfield(4): Bad. Very underpowered. Can’t be used against anything engaging you which is really not what you want as a guardian.
I’ve had worse(4): Excellent. Outclassed by a level 2 version that is released in TCU though.
If it bleeds: Okay to Bad. Nice effect, but the restriction to Monster enemies kills this card’s playability.
Emergency Aid: Good. One of the few ways to heal allies and at 2 points of heal per action it’s competitive.
Monster Slayer(5): Bad. Would be tolerable but still narrow at lower XP cost, but 5XP is just an outlandish ask for this.
Prepared for the Worst: Staple. This is one of the core Guardian cards, ensuring that they have a weapon in their hands early. When combined with Carcosa’s Stick to the Plan, the stock of this card goes up dramatically.
Stand Together(3): Excellent. Insane value for a single card. Highly recommended (as long as you have other players with you). Has a level 0 version in the Nathaniel deck that is even more of a staple card.
Taunt: Fair. Good in full multiplayer groups, only niche uses otherwise.
Taunt(2): Okay, but as the upgrade to a card that is already narrow, this is going to make your deck even fewer times.
Teamwork: Niche card that can enable some weird combo stuff in multiplayer, but I wouldn’t call it a generically powerful card.
Leadership: Another multiplayer centric card. It’s fine for its purpose, but not really all that great.
Vicious Blow(2): Staple. One of the best skill cards that Guardian has … and Guardian has some really good skill cards in general.
Most useful Guardian cards: Vicious Blow(2), Prepared for the Worst, Bandolier(0)
Least useful Guardian cards: Monster Slayer(5), If it Bleeds, Blackjack
Verdict: Overall reasonable selection with some staples in Vicious Blow and Prepared for the Worst. Stand Together is an absolute all-star if you want your teammates to like you. I’ve had worse, Xavier and Emergency Aid can help you tank while Lightning Gun offers an alternative big gun to the Core Set’s shotgun.
Art Student: Solid. If you can pick up a clue and use her horror soak, you got some good value.
Dr. Maleson: Good. Comes with a wordy ability, but is actually mostly notable for having 2 horror and damage soak each while only costing a single resource. He’s basically Seeker’s Leather Coat…
Higher Education(3): Incredibly powerful. Notable in that it fueled one of the most broken decks at the time when combined with Rex and Milan Christopher.
Laboratory Assistant: Excellent. Super solid at face value and goes up in stock when combined with Calling in Favors from TCU or the “Big Hand” archetype (enabled through Harvey’s deck)
Pathfinder(1): Staple. Possibly the best movement card in the game still. Immensely powerful, basically gives you an extra action per turn.
I’ve got a Plan: Excellent. Only held back by its situational condition and the resource cost, this gives seekers a very powerful way to get rid of enemies without having to rely on a fighter to bail them out. Has some competition in fuller card pools that keep it from being everywhere, but this has staying power for quite a while.
Deciphered Reality(5): A clumsy card, expensive and conditional. Has a fantastic best case scenario that is worth working towards, but doing so requires intimate knowledge of the scenarios ahead.
Expose Weakness(1): Not worth using this over something like I’ve got a Plan or just depending on a bodyguard.
Preposterous Sketches: Mildly playable, but 2 resources is a lot for this.
Seeking Answers: Bad. The effect isn’t really worth a card unless you can now skip that other location entirely. Outside of 1-player games, that’s rarely going to be the case.
Shortcut: Staple. A free move has tons of applications and is just good value in general.
Deduction(2): Staple. Even if you don’t expect running into locations with more than 2 clues, the upgrade is worth it for the extra skill icon on one of Seeker’s best skill cards.
Inquiring Mind: Excellent. It is conditional so it sometimes can’t be used, but having a skill that gives 3 wild icons is immensely helpful in lots of situations nonetheless.
Strange Solution: Excellent. A rather easy to fulfill condition and the two cards you get partially refund the actions you spent on it. The available upgrades are very out of whack in terms of power sadly, with Acidic Ichor just being way more powerful than the others. It’s basically a Lightning Gun that doesn’t take up hand slots. The other two are very limited in their application and outclassed by other cards.
Most useful Seeker cards: Pathfinder(1), I’ve Got a Plan, Deduction(2)
Least useful Seeker cards: Seeking Answers, Expose Weakness, any Strange Solution not named Acidic Ichor
Verdict: Dunwich elevates seekers to a level that they never really came down from. This box has so many powerful toys for this class that it can be considered to be absolutely essential. The Rex/Milan/Higher Education feedback loop (Milan feeds resources into Higher Ed to make sure that Rex oversucceeds and picks up two clues, triggering Milan to get resources to feed into Higher Ed and so on and so on) is the first real powerful deck in the game’s lifespan. But aside from that, cards like Shortcut and Pathfinder made Seeker the best at moving around the map right from the start. Acidic Ichor and I’ve got a Plan made them one-shot enemies that would require several attacks with a regular Guardian gun. This is all topped off with a pair of great skill cards and a couple super solid allies. Seekers are clearly the big winners of Dunwich and Dunwich is also clearly the best box for Seeker. The amount of power on display here is insane.
Adaptable(1): Excellent. An incredibly flexible card but you can really only use it well once you know the scenarios enough that you are comfortable swapping cards in and out of your cards to tune it towards what’s coming up.
Chicago Typewriter(4): Good. When compared to the Lightning Gun, this doesn’t enable fighting for low fight characters, but it does cost 1XP and 1 resource less while having one more ammo. That makes all the difference. Jenny and Skids aren’t really the best with this gun, though.
Hired Muscle(1): Okay. Can turn excess money into a fight value and some damage soak. Gets quickly outclassed in bigger card pools.
The Rat: Too expensive. There are some interesting uses for Joey with a wider card pool but nothing you can really capitalize on with just Core + Dunwich.
Liquid Courage: A necessary evil. Healing horror is important for many rogues due to their low sanity coupled with a low will. This does the job, but is costly. There’s a level 1 upgrade in Winifred’s deck that is a lot better than this.
Lone Wolf: Staple. Even in multiplayer, you can trigger this semi-reliably by going last with everyone else moving out of your location first. Obviously insane in single player.
Lucky Dice(2Ex): Okay. Allows forcing important tests to go your way by paying but quickly gets real expensive. I’m not a fan, but i’ve seen this card do good things.
Streetwise(3): Staple. Second best of the talents behind Higher Ed. Not only is it efficient at translating money to stats, but Rogue is the money class in the first place.
Switchblade(2): Okay. To make use of this, you really need a high base fight score so you can reliably oversuceed by two. Neither Jenny nor Skids really qualify.
Gold Pocket Watch(4Ex): Good. Gets crazier the more players you have, as repeating the investigator phase means that *everyone* gets to take another turn.
I’m Outta Here: Good. Has a surprising number of good uses and good icons for when you don’t need it.
Ace in the Hole(3Ex): Excellent. Allows you to basically take a second turn, but unlike the Pocket Watch it doesn’t take any actions or resources itself and it doesn’t remove itself from the game. That leaves it open for shenanigans.
Contraband: Okay. Very expensive, but has its uses. Not really in the Core+Dunwich pool yet, though. It is one of the few ways you have to put more supplies an Acidic Ichor, though.
Think on your Feet: Weak. Not really an effect that is worth a card.
Double or Nothing: Strangely mirroring its name, there are two ways to play this card. It’s either super awful because you tried to play it fairly or it’s completely degenerate because you found some combo with auto-successes and similar.
Opportunist(2): Bad to Okay. None of the characters able to take this in Core + Dunwich (with possible exception of Wendy) is able to really use this and the one wild icon isn’t really worth the effort in the first place.
Quick Thinking: Excellent… but not really yet. With a wider card pool, this becomes almost a staple as the extra action is a great payoff, but again… Skids and Jenny aren’t all that set up to make use of it. Rex likes this, though. And you can make it work with Streetwise, at least.
Most useful Rogue cards: Adaptable(1), Streetwise(3), Lone Wolf
Least useful Rogue cards: Opportunist(2), Think on Your Feet, Double or Nothing
Verdict: This card pool painfully showcases the issues that Rogue had during the inception of the game. A lot of these cards are built around oversucceeding tests and that’s all well and good, but then the two investigators that are bundled with it are Skids and Jenny, who both are basically a bunch of 3s through the bank. That’s not to say that these cards are all that bad, just that they really don’t fit anywhere yet unless you are leaning super hard on the talent assets. Cards like Quick Thinking, Switchblade and Contraband do become good or excellent cards eventually, but with just Core+Dunwich they are just something you might run in an off-class rogue here and there. On the more positive side of things, the “money talks” archetype got some solid support here with Lone Wolf, Streetwise, Lucky Dice and of course Jenny herself. The exceptional cards are appropriately powerful even in a full pool. And Adaptable is just an amazing card that stands on its own.
Alyssa Graham: Okay. Has some uses with later investigators, but at this point she’s mostly notable as an ally with +1 intellect.
Blood Pact(3): Okay. Adding doom means sacrificing turns from the doom clock, which is very risky business. It can of course be used to crush tests during the final turn before the agenda would advance anyways, but it’s a bit limited.
Clarity of Mind: Bad. Spending an action on a point of healing is bad in itself, having to pay 3 resource, a card and yet another action on the privilege to be allowed to do so is horrible.
Jewel of Aureolus(3): Okay. Due to the reliance on willpower, Mystics will rarely be willing to ditch their Holy Rosary for this. It is quite a reasonable card aside from that, though.
Rite of Seeking(0): Staple. The revised Core includes copies of Rite of Seeking(2), the old Core didn’t even have those. Dunwich is the first box then that gives mystics the ability to use their willpower for clue seeking. This is tremendously important for this class. Rite gets somewhat outshone by other cards with less harsh drawbacks, but it can’t really be overstated how huge this card was for the Mystic identity.
Rite of Seeking(4): Excellent. As long as you can get the full 3 clues from activating this, you are getting fantastic value out of your actions with this card.
Ritual Candles: Okay to Good. Sacrificing a hand slot to dampen the negative effects of the bad tokens is surprisingly potent and can help a lot with making your bag draws more predictable.
Shrivelling(3): Staple. Being able to progress from the level 0 Shrivelling to an upgraded version is super important. Even though it’s just a +2 skill value that you are getting for your 3XP here, that skill bonus is crucial in staying on top of the Mythos.
Shrivelling(5): Good. Another bonus damage and another +1 skill over Shrivelling(3) make this quite powerful, but that drawback has some kick now. 5XP is also kind of a lot. This is Mystic’s Lightning Gun for the set.
Song of the Dead(2): Bad. Meant to tap into Jim’s affinity for skulls, this isn’t even all that reliable in a Jim deck without considerable setup. Since reliability is a big thing to look for in a weapon, Song of the Dead isn’t really played outside of some gimmick decks that do it because they can.
Bind Monster(2): Okay. This is actually decent at tying down a Hunter enemy for a few turns. Expensive as hell, though.
Delve Too Deep: 10/10, would Ancient Evils again. There’s a group of players that swears by this card and plays it as often as possible. Others don’t find the risk worth it. Me, I just don’t see how i can fit a card that doesn’t immediately help me into my already tight 30 cards.
Hypnotic Gaze: Okay to Bad. Another overcosted Mystic spell. The effect is fine, but that price is definitely not right.
Moonlight Ritual: Good, but not yet. This is an important card that enables a lot of shenanigans down the line. In this set, there isn’t really a lot yet to combo with it.
Ward of Protection(5): Okay. Quite expensive in terms of XP, but the effect is super powerful and stops everything, even stuff like Surge that regular Ward would still have to let through. Once you have Carcosa’s Ward(2) you will probably not look at this upgrade again.
Defiance: Bad. Without the means of token manipulation, this doesn’t do much. With those means, that very manipulation already does Defiance’s job. Hard pass.
Fearless: Excellent. Healing up to two horror while also nailing a test is great value.
Most useful Mystic cards: Shrivelling(all), Rite of Seeking(all), Fearless(2)
Least useful Mystic cards: Defiance, Song of the Dead, Clarity of Mind
Verdict: This is a very mixed bag. On the one hand, there are some stone-cold staples in Shrivelling, Rite of Seeking and Fearless here. On the other hand, the rest all kinda stinks or is mediocre. Well, and there’s Delve Too Deep of course, for those that are into it.
If you are just looking for a way to get your Mystic card pool up to snuff, the Jacqueline Fine deck is a much better option. You also get a set of universally useful spells for fighting and seeking there (and evading for good measure) that can perfectly replace Shrivel and Rite. Ritual Candles, Hypnotic Gaze and Defiance are even in there as reprints… not that anyone was asking for more copies of Defiance!
Aquinnah(3): Good. A sizeable upgrade on her almost unplayable level 1 version from the Core, she is now able to use her ability to hurt the same enemy that attacked you.
Dark Horse: Staple. Possibly the card that spawns the most decks on ArkhamDB? Dark Horse is its own archetype and a powerful one to boot that can be played in a huge variety of investigators among all classes.
Fire Axe: Staple. Survivor is the only class that doesn’t get a Lightning Gun in Dunwich, but they do arguably get something even better in what might just be the best level zero weapon as long as you are willing to embrace that Dark Horse playstyle.
Fire Extinguisher(1): Bad. It’s either a bad weapon or an evade that costs two actions, some resources and permanent XP. Oof.
Newspaper: Okay to Bad. Sort of outclassed by now and only good for solo players in the first place.
Scrapper: Excellent. One part skill booster, one part Dark Horse enabler.
Peter Sylvestre(0): Staple. Simply fantastic, eats a free horror every turn while also giving a stat boost.
Peter Sylvestre(2): Staple. Wow, it’s like Peter(0), but twice as good. One of the cornerstones of the Survivor class. This sort of value would be 5XP in any other class and they’d be happy about it.
Try and Try Again(3): Bad. Really too expensive for what it does. Just include more skills. Has some niche uses with a bigger card pool, but at that point you probably also have the Grisly Totem already which does the same thing but better.
Chance Encounter: Okay. There’s just not a whole lot you can do with this yet. Aside from triggering Red-Gloved Man, I suppose. Massively overshadowed by its level 2 upgrade from Carcosa.
Bait and Switch: Bad. I’m sure someone somewhere used this for something worthwhile, but i’ve not heard about it.
Flare: Excellent. Maybe the best Exile card. Both options on this are good, but usually this will be used to cheat allies into play.
Lure(1): Bad. It just doesn’t do anything…
Oops: Bad. The restrictions to have two enemies at your location and then also having to fail an attack is just too much.
Rise to the Occasion: Good. Only becomes really good with later investigators, but anything with 3 wild icons deserves attention.
Stroke of Luck(2): Okay to Good. Near guarantees a test which is certainly powerful. Can be worth it near the end of a campaign to spend spare XP for sure, but probably isn’t the first thing you want to put into your deck.
Survival Instinct(2): Good. A sizeable upgrade on the level zero that not only gives an extra icon, but also evades every enemy at your place instead of just disengaging. Only worth it in multiplayer (or campaigns with lots of enemies) but then it’s not bad at all.
Most useful Survivor cards: Peter(all), Dark Horse, Fire Axe
Least useful Survivor cards: Oops, Lure, Fire Extinguisher(1)
Verdict: If you have even a fleeting interest in the Survivor class, you can not possibly pass on Peter Sylvestre, Fire Axe and Dark Horse. Those cards are just as integral to the class as Lucky, Scavenging or Leather Coat.
Aside from those, there are some neat toys here in Flare and Scrapper, with a couple nice skills to boot. There’s some stinkers in there as well, but the rest shine bright enough that even Oops can’t tarnish what Survivor has going on here.
Charisma(3): Staple. Actually such a staple that the designers throw a set of them into the Revised Core.
Relic Hunter(3): Staple… later on. Not quite as impactful as Charisma for now, but gets there with a full card pool.
Fine Clothes: Excellent. Parley isn’t everywhere, but it happens often enough that a dedicated card to make it easier is actually very useful. Savvy players will use it with Adaptable when appropriate.
Kukri: Bad. Not quite as bad as Blackjack(0), but too close for comfort.
Painkillers and Smoking Pipe: Excellent. These two assets don’t look like much, but are super helpful at keeping investigators with very lopsided stamina/sanity values alive (like Daisy with her 5/9 or Roland with his 9/5). They are two of those cards that consistently surprise you with how they solve a problem in the least painful way.
The Red-Gloved Man(5): Okay. Subject to a bunch of wacky combos to make him re-enter play a couple of times, but nothing I would really classify as “Good”.
Emergency Cache(2): Okay to Bad. I don’t really like this upgrade, but I did buy it before when I didn’t know what else to buy. 2XP just to tack a card draw onto one card just doesn’t cut it usually.
Moment of Respite(3): Okay. For whatever that is worth, I do like this better than Elder Sign Amulet as an anti-trauma panic button. You’ll usually not plan on putting this into your deck, but when you are at scenario 6 with Roland and are at 3 to 4 mental trauma, you just might be happy that this card exists.
Alright, to answer the question about whether Dunwich is worth getting on its own in combo with the Core first: Yes. Absolutely. Makes sense as well, after all that’s how the box was released. For a while there was nothing but Core + Dunwich, so of course they have been designed to work without anything else alongside them. I will now go into more detail on why I think this is the way to go:
Dunwich was the first expansion to the game and as such focused on expanding the core card pool of the classes while also planting some seeds for deck archetypes. For some classes, this was more successful than for others.
To start with the obvious, Dunwich is what put Seeker on the map as the class that towers above the others, getting capabilities in all directions here from clues over fights to movement. Some of the Seeker cards in Dunwich are still considered the best at what they do, even with a full pool.
Survivor also made out very well with several cards that define the class to this day.
Mystic and Guardian both get several staple cards that do a fine job of giving them more depth. This was very necessary for Mystic in particular who had to get by just on Shrivel(0) in the Core.
Rogues are limping a bit behind the rest still. They were somewhat incoherent in the Core and this changed only partially with Dunwich. This isn’t really the fault of the cards they get themselves, but that the two investigators that the class got to here aren’t great at making use of them.
The neutral cards are great, nothing really much to say there.
All together this isn’t a box to skip. It has lots of very important cards in it. You’ll want it eventually anyways, so you might as well start with it. While the Mystic cards sort of get obsolete as soon as Jacqueline Fine enters the pictures, the other classes all have a good amount that hold up perfectly even when you have everything.
As for the investigators, they provide players on just Dunwich + Core with a nice mix.
Zoey gives Guardian another strong fighter and most importantly one with built in economy. The resources Zoey generates are alone enough to allow her being a centerpiece to a “big money guardian” while Roland is notoriously poor. Zoey’s high will and flexible deck building also allow her to dip into spells for seeking, giving her great flexibility.
Rex is just busted. I don’t know if the Rex > Milan > Higher Ed loop was an intentional design plant or not, but boy does it smash scenarios to pieces. It’s no coincidence that all three of those cards got significant (optional!) taboos down the road. He can do non-degenerate things as well, of course. So please don’t let that discourage you from playing Rex, I actually quite like him.
Jenny generates money and unlike Skids who wants to set it aside for his ability, she is keen on spending it. That gives a nice entry into the Rogue lifestyle and allows her to make up for her stats. Early Jenny depends a bit more on Talents than I like, but it’s certainly a way to play that is viable.
Jim is a bit of an odd one to me, as I can’t really figure him out even with a full set of cards available. The issue I have with him in Core+Dunwich specifically is that there are cards that look like they are for Jim because they deal with revealed tokens… but there’s no actual manipulation there that would be needed to build into his ability. The only token manipulation in this set is Lucky Dice which he can’t take. So you can certainly build something here with him, but I suspect that Agnes will just straight up be better at anything Jim can do here. Not to beat a dead horse, but the Jacqueline Fine deck is built around token manipulation. Once you get that, you can mix her cards with Jim’s and do some more interesting stuff.
Pete and his dog Duke are great and well supported. Actually, one of the defining traits that sets Pete apart from other investigators is that he barely even needs any support. He is one of the investigators that is strongest right out of the gate thanks to starting with Duke in play who already acts as an investigation tool and weapon. His ceiling isn’t as high as for other investigators, but being this independent has tangible value. He also plays very well with the Dark Horse archetype, so whatever he needs in cards, he can find right in this box.
That’s it for the Dunwich player card overview.
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