Scarlet Keys: Customizables #2


First part here: Click me.
Today i’ll continue with the other four cards we have gotten from previews already. The next article might take a while longer… depending on how the previews go, it could be until we get the eventual full reveal. It’ll come when we got another set of 4 customizable cards to talk about.

Oh, also i kinda got lost in puns here. It … uuuh… just kinda happened and when i realized what i was doing it was too late, at least for the first two cards. I apologize in advance for any headaxe this might cause, it was mostly an axeydent. Most of these puns aren’t very cleaver at all and shouldn’t have made the cut. I just couldn’t for the knife of me get a handle on them. I suppose it’s a bit of an axeperience.

Pocket Multi Tool

I don’t think you include this card as something you primarily want to investigate or fight with. If that’s what you are looking for, then Ice Pick does a similar job for cheaper and with an upgrade that is pretty great. Multi Tool’s biggest strength lies in being useful for any sort of test and in being actually really good encounter protection. I don’t really see much use for the Lucky Charm upgrade, unless you are playing Stella of course.
Springloaded (4XP, level 2): “A Difference Like Knife and Day”. Not much of a combo, since it’s only the one upgrade, but this is worth talking about. Just Springloaded on its own virtually increases all your stats by 1, at least until you actually needed that extra point once. I think this compares favorably to Dark Horse, actually. It would also stack quite well with Dark Horse.
Signal Mirror + Magnifying Lens (4XP, level 2): “We Blade Them For Fools”. Having the option to help with evades is a solid reason to prefer Multi Tool over Ice Pick, since that plays into the hands of a couple of Survivor investigators who often have higher evade than fight values.
Springloaded + Pry Bar (5XP, level 3): “Yeah, this will do knifely.” This is what i personally consider the core for this card and i will likely always get these upgrades when i play it. You can always branch out into getting the bonuses for other tests, but having full blown Lucky!s on standby for treachery tests is just fantastic. Stella can add Lucky Charm (8XP, level 4) and use her first action to deliberately fail a test (as she does) and ready the Tool after using it in Mythos. Everyone else should just get whatever bonus they need most. Detachable will spread the love in multiplayer.
Springloaded + Pry Bar + Detachable + Lens + Mirror/Knife (10XP, level 5): “A Capitool Investment”. That’s how it looks when you take the previous combination and crank it up to the maximum. Basically, it’s a better Jake Morrison. And Jake is already extremely powerful, just limited in application due to being tied to blesses. This isn’t.

Runic Axe

Like with the other customizable cards that are gated by uses, the upgrade that makes those uses last longer seems almost mandatory. The Axe is different in that it doesn’t have an upgrade that increases the number of charges it starts with, but has one that makes those charges replenish (faster). I think that Saga is really, really good and i would need serious convincing to play Axe without it.
Saga (3XP, level 2): “Little Chop of Horrors” So let’s talk about Saga on it’s own. Once per turn, it allows you to swing your axe at +3 attack for 2 damage. That’s quite good for a level 2 weapon, although dampened a bit by being a two-hander. That being said, you do have a spare checkbox you can use without going into level 3 and that can make all the difference. The Inscriptions of Glory and Hunt look the best to me, allowing to channel spare charges into card draw or movement.
Ancient Power + Inscription of the Elders (4XP, level 2): “You have to get a handle on axing the right questions”. Spend as many charges on +2 fight bonus as you need to oversucceed reliably, then dump the rest for bonus clues. I don’t think this is quite viable on its own, but it is sort of a unique thing to do for Guardian.
Ancient Power + Saga (6XP, level 3): “Axetracurricular Activities”. If you don’t plan on using your weapon every turn, this can give you tremendous burst power. Spending all your charges at once can give you an attack with +3 fight for 4 damage thanks to Ancient Power. And with Saga you can do that every other turn. That’s almost half as good as a full pack of Sled Dogs! Add Scriptweaver for the full 10XP package and you can spend three of your charges for a +7 attack with 4 damage, which starts to actually rival the pack of dogs.
Ancient Power + Inscription of Elders + Saga (7XP, level 4): “It was fine before, but then i runed it.” The problem with the level 2 clue-axe is that you dump all your charges then have to wait 4 turns to recharge. Saga cuts that in half, making it a more feasible option.
Ancient Power + Inscription of Elders + Scriptweaver (8XP, level 4): “Axepensive, but does the job”. Alternatively you can use Scriptweaver to make the combo only take 3 charges which allows you to get your 3 clues at +7 attack. Takes 3 turns to fully recharge, but that does look like a spicy thing to do, especially if you can back it up with some charge generation from mystic and seeker card pools.
Scriptweaver + Saga + Inscriptions of Glory, Elders and Hunt (10XP, level 5): “The most stunning cleavage you will ever see”. You can imbue your attacks with 4 different inscriptions on every turn and still keep 2 charges in your backpocket at all times. This approach lacks the raw punch of something using the Ancient Power upgrade, but it does make for a good value card. Probably not what i am looking for when spending 10XP, though.

Power Word

So let me be upfront about something here. I don’t really get this card. At level zero it’s an actually decent emergency evade that you can just drop on a non-Elite and use to auto-evade them. But most of the upgrades are just way too weird for me and also quite inconsistent because they depend so much on stats of the enemy you grab. Which is something you can’t quite plan for in most cases. Except for Greater Control, the upgrades also don’t really build on the ability of the level 0 card.
Greater Control (2XP, level 1): “Assuming direct control”. If a reliable emergency evade is exactly what you are looking for, then Greater Control lets you lean into it. The ability to get it back at will means you will always be able to dodge whatever enemies come down on you, as long as you have 3 resources at hand. Since it’s only 2XP and Power Word is an event, this is an option that is even open to Mandy and Carolyn.
Betray + Mercy + Confess + Distract (4XP, level 2): “The Kitchen Sink”. So what do you do when you can’t plan for one thing in particular but still want more than just an evade out of your power word? Answer: Plan for everything then see what you can use when you’re on the field. Your dominated enemy should have stats that fit at least something on the list, so you can get some value out of it.
B+M+C+D+Bonded (7XP, level 8): “Remote Control”. The Kitchen Sink approach has the issue that it leaves you with a ready enemy still at your location, waiting to smack you when you move or otherwise take actions. Bonded can solve this issue. Order your pawn to move away, and in the next turn let it do … whatever. Pick up clues, hit the cultist, … do stuff.
B+M+C+D+Tonguetwister (7XP, level 8): “Mr. Manager”. The other way to solve that issue is the ability to give two commands. Use one to do something productive and the other to make the enemy exhaust or move so it doesn’t bother you or anyone else afterwards. Note that both the Remote and the Manager approach still leave enough room on the upgrade sheet for Thrice Spoken in case you want to get really gimmicky about it.

The Raven Quill

This card is even more flexible than the rest of the bunch, as you don’t just have to consider the upgrades for the card itself, but also the wide variety of spells and tomes it can attach to. I think it’s very, very powerful for that reason and my candidate for “Most Likely To Break” as more cards get released over time.
Endless Inkwell (2XP, level 1): “A Discount To Experience”. The idea here is that if you have 3 different tomes or spells in your deck that you want to upgrade, you can use Raven Quill strictly as an option to buy an extra point of XP for 3 resources during each scenario. You get 7 opportunities for this for a theoretical net plus of 5XP over the course of the campaign. Of course, 3 cards with 2 copies each are only 6 upgrades, so one of them would need to be upgradable twice (like Shrivelling, for example) to be able to get the full 7XP.
Spectral Binding + Endless Inkwell (3XP, level 2): “A Helping Hand”. This gives you an extra handslot to hold all those tomes or an extra arcane slot for all those spells. There’s even some extreme cases where you save even more slots (like Enchanted Bow, which conveniently counts as a spell) but those are kinda rare. I do think that paying 3 for an extra hand slot is often absolutely worth it and unlike with Bandolier or Arcane Enlightenment you don’t have to give up another slot for it here.
Interwoven Ink + Living Quill (4XP, level 2): “Shenanigans”. This is what i think will be the abuse case for Raven Quill. Being able to ready *any* asset has lots of potential, the exhaust clause is often used on assets to prevent those assets from going super charged. This bypasses that security barrier. Put this on something that you can use every turn, so nothing that uses charges or secrets itself. I suggest Old Book of Lore. Find an asset that exhausts as a free trigger and you can start each turn by doing whatever that asset does, then drawing cards with OBoL and then exhausting the asset again. Do whatever you like with the 2 remaining actions. Let me throw out Quickdraw Holster, Pathfinder, Eon Chart and/or Ariadne’s Twine as assets to get funky with. Farsight, if you want to get reeeeaaally spicy. I also kinda want to see someone combine this with Sign Magick(3) and do all sorts of stuff after activating their spell.
Supernatural Record + Spectral Binding (5XP, level 3): “The Occult Lexicon Care Package”. The Occult Lexicon is an amazing card and i play it in almost all my Seeker decks. It has two major problems though: You can only include one of them in your deck. And after playing it, it just sits there passively in your hand, without doing much but stopping you from playing other hand assets. Raven Quill can fix both of these issues while also giving you a 1XP discount on the eventual upgrade to Lexicon level 3. By that point you threw 7XP at your Occult Lexicon, but … that still seems worth it. That Lexicon is quite the card. Note that your “extra copies” of Lexicon cost 5 resources, so you do need to have somewhat good economy for this to work. Especially since the Blood-Rites also tend to eat up a lot of money afterwards.
Supernatural Record + Endless Inkwell (6XP, level 3): “The Toolbox”. The plan here is to run 3 different spells and/or tomes, include only 1 copy of each and then pick whatever you need most at the time when you draw your Raven’s Quill. That way you need one fewer deck space than if you had 2 copies of each of the cards while still increasing the chance to draw the one you want most early. You also don’t run into the issue of drawing a tome that you already have in play which is mostly a dead draw. Use this with three spells/tomes that you are looking to upgrade to get some extra value out of it, otherwise the 6XP cost is a bit steep for what’s on offer here.
Energy Sap + Mystic Vane + Endless Inkwell (6XP, level 3): “The Generic Spell Package”. If you pack a couple of different spells and want to just generally enhance them, this gives you a way to get more charges and a +2 boost to any associated tests. Pretty good, but there’s a problem here: It’s level 3. So unless you are Lola this means you are a Seeker main that only gets access to offclass Mystic. This does help Daisy to get more juice out of her level 0 Shrivels, basically getting the level 3 upgrade through a loophole. That seems fine? Mainclass Mystics will need to drop parts of this configuration to run Quill in such a manner. Luke can combine Inkwell with either Vane or Sap which might be okay. Gloria has to also drop Inkwell, leaving her just with Vane or Sap which seems more questionable. I would refer Gloria to the XP saving recipe of just using Inkwell as detailed before.
(Just to throw this out there, i am aware that there’s spells in other classes than Mystic and tomes in other classes than Seeker. But those mostly are either not great (Obfuscation), not an asset (Blood Eclipse) or don’t benefit from Vane or Sap (Grimm’s Fairy Tales). Exceptions like Blur, Abyssal Tome and Guiding Stones do exist, of course.)

One Reply to “Scarlet Keys: Customizables #2”

  1. I think, Power Word could also be used to mitigate “Unbound Beast” or, in case of Dexter or Sef, also the “Guardian of the Crystallizer.” Both of them have 3 fight, 3 evade and 3 health, so won’t be useful on the toughest enemies or shroud, but still useful on medium threats or challenges. “Mercy” obviously stinks, healing just one damage or horror for 1 action is never a good return. Will this make “Summoned Hound” decks, that don’t cheat the puppy into play, viable? I’m not sure. But I think, I might try it.

    You have here a typo regarding Jake Morrison: Obviously meant Blessing, not Curse.

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