The Gaze of Kane

The Many Faces of Charlie Kane

This is my contribution to the Many Faces of Charlie Kane event hosted by Veronica of Until the End of Time. For those unaware, that is an event where 10 different content creators each build and showcase a deck for one of the 10 different class combinations that Charlie Kane can take. The result is going to be a great resource for inspiration for this flexible and fun new investigator. I’ll be doing Seeker + Rogue, here’s the full roster:

https://cdn.discordapp.com/attachments/908350705864167454/1032946332727517236/Many_Faces_of_Charlie_Kane.png

For more info on this event, please refer to this Google Doc, which Veronica will keep updated with links to the contributions by each of us. I’m actually quite excited to share with you what i come up with and i can’t wait to see what the others got as well. Spoiler: Charlie is shaping up to be a Top 3 investigator for me for sure.

Seeker + Rogue

This is a super interesting class combo and Charlie can actually do a lot of different things with it. Due to his ally focus, the first thing that jumps to mind is (ab)using the Miskatonic allies that enter play with some effect and then bouncing them all over the place with Calling in Favors and Hit and Run. They are also the two classes with some of the best raw efficiency in their cards, with lots of free actions and resources everywhere. But while i will be incorporating these things to a degree, my Charlie deck will have its eye on something else that is shared between the two classes: Curse tokens. Now you might be thinking that Trish can do that as well. Or that Dexter gets better payoff for those tokens through the cursed spell suite. But that’s where the access to Ally 0-5 comes in: Charlie can take Dayana Esperence. And Olive McBride. And Arcane Initiate. Gaze of Ouraxsh, one of the coolest cards in the collection, is a spell that Dayana can cast for you. And Olive can enhance it. And Initiate can find it. And with that we are zeroing in on a core for a deck. A deck that puts the curse synergy cards from three classes together for what is hopefully going to be something special.
This is … The Gaze Of Kane.
I will play this Charlie deck from level zero to finish through a campaign of Return to The Forgotten Age. RtTFA because a) it’s my favorite and b) i can splurge on upgrades and really test things. Other campaigns put me on XP constraints that i don’t want to deal with for this test run. The campaign will be played two-handed alongside a Kymani deck which i’ll intentionally keep somewhat generic (your basic evasion/oversuccess deck). This article is in form of a running commentary, meaning that i am writing bits as i move along the campaign. As a result, it might be a bit stream of consciousness at times or even contradict itself as i discover new things along the way and/or change my mind on stuff. We’ll see 🙂
Along the way i will provide 3 decklists: One at the start, one around the 19XP standalone mark and one at the end. I will also document two of the games as a play-by-play where you can follow exactly what actions were taken during the game, to showcase how the deck plays.

Level Zero

Now, building around a level 3 ally and a level 2 event and several other curse related cards that are also level 1 or 2 is all well and good, but what do we do about level zero before we can throw those into a deck? Well… it looks rough but we can make do. Check it out:

Allies(11+1):
2x Laboratory Assistant
2x Medical Student
Dr. Milan Christopher
Alice Luxley
Guard Dog
Peter Sylvestre
Tetsuo Mori
Research Librarian
Library Docent(1)
Bonnie Walsh
Ally events(4):
2x Friends In Low Places (naming Ally, of course)
2x Calling In Favors
Curse events(4):
2x Deep Knowledge
2x Stirring Up Trouble(1)
Money(7):
2x Emergency Cache
2x Faustian Bargain
2x Crack The Case
1x Lone Wolf
Tech(4):
1x Disguise
1x Crystallizer of Dreams
1x Occult Lexicon
1x Embezzled Treasure
Permanent(1):
In The Thick Of It
Yikes(2):
Arm Injury (random basic weakness)
Burden of Leadership

(This deck on ArkhamDB)

Alright, so this requires some explanation. First off, this level zero deck was built to be played alongside a Kymani and make it through Untamed Wilds without dying or being poisoned. It uses In The Thick Of It for a head start on the necessary XP to get going. While that does pose an issue with the initial trauma (especially in TFA), hiding behind allies should work well enough. As for what the deck wants to do: Play allies and soon. I run 11 allies here and also four cards that find more, so i can quickly fill up those four ally slots while having spare guys to throw at any Snake Bites that come from the encounter deck. The allies are mostly picked to help with investigating, so I can make it through that scenario as quick as possible. Others are simply too good to exclude (Peter Sylvestre, Guard Dog) or will become more valuable later (Tetsuo).
Disguise allows evading very well. In an emergency (like a Pit Viper or a Serpent of Yoth), exhausting two to three allies and Disguise gives a good chance of leaving the enemy behind and also keeping it down so you can finish up your clue grabbing.
Embezzled Treasure is a fun card that i want to try. Due to needing so much money to set up, this deck runs a lot of economy. Once that is no longer required, the Treasure can transfer the goodies to the next scenario.
The Occult Lexicon gives a way to turn resources into testless damage, something that someone like Charlie can use very well. I included a Library Docent that can bounce Occult Lexicon to your hand. Note that under the recent errata for the Lexicon you can play your Blood-Rites and once you have two or three in the discard, simply play Docent and return Lexicon. The Rites are set aside again and when you replay Lexicon you are fully armed again with one Rite in hand and two more in your by now probably rather slim deck. Good stuff.
[EDIT: Sooo, it has been pointed out to me that this doesn’t quite work like i want it to. While the part about replaying Occult Lexicon to reset the spells does work, it doesn’t work with Docent… unless i have another tome in my hand. The reason is that i am not able to activate Library Docent’s ability if i am not planning on playing a tome with her because i need to change the gamestate with her ability (and not with the cost of her ability). So the Docent/Lexicon thing would only work if we also run something like a pair of Grim Memoirs in the deck. Not bad at all, but this is where we run into issues with deck space rather soon.]
So that’s the plan. Get in, grab some clues quickly, if things get dicey either blast the enemies with Blood Rites or evade with Disguise. (And Kymani plays backup for all of this). Sideplan: Don’t draw Arrows from the Trees. Consider teaming up with Ichtaca to disarm that treachery.

After Untamed Wilds

I played the scenario and it went great. I actually kept a detailed diary of all the actions, draws and plays in this scenario which you can find here. Lots of Snake Bites as expected but nobody got poisoned. Ichtaca was parleyed with easily. Bonnie Walsh is absurdly good. It’s fine to draw Voice of the Jungle if you have Peter Sylvestre on the board. Between investigating with skill 7+ and the two Stirring Up Trouble Charlie found two thirds of the clues with Kymani pilfering the rest. The Crystallizer is not needed and should be something else instead. The money was as expected very good and embezzling 10 resources is no problem either. 6XP were earned, so let’s get to the good part.
Spending the 6XP:
+ Dayana Esperence(3)
+ Gaze of Ouraxsh(2)
+ Ríastrad
– Crystallizer
– Guard Dog
– Dr. Milan
Getting the first copy of the Dayana/Gaze combo in was the obvious choice. For the final XP, i picked Ríastrad (runner up was Cheat The System). Ríastrad adds more tokens to the bag, it’s a powerful attack by itself and it’s also a spell for Dayana. So with Dayana i now have three options: Ouraxsh when the bag has a lot of curses, Ríastrad when the bag is empty. And Blood-Rites when i don’t have anything better. Seems fine. Dayana also exhausts for +3 will if i need it.
Cutting Milan feels weird, but i realized that under taboo rules, i can’t exhaust him for +2 intellect if i also want to get the resource afterwards. Now, he’s still fine of course, but Alice is just better and Field Agent is about to go into the deck soon anyways… and by “soon” i mean i will buy her in the interlude for the 2XP i get for carrying binoculars.

Another two scenarios later: The deck is “complete”

Skipping ahead: Two days later i got the next two scenarios down. Doom of Eztli went very well. Personal highlight was spending an action on Charlie to engage the Harbinger off of Kymani because his 10vs4 test was a lot safer than their 6vs4. Didn’t get to play Dayana+Gaze, but did play Gaze on its own to kill two Vengeful Serpents at once (the third was binned by Kymani earlier) which was neat. Got out with not a whole lot of XP (only 3), but did manage to embezzle 10 resources :> This made the start into Threads of Fate easier and it was desperately needed. In total I had to kill 5 Brotherhood Cultists, 2 Stolen Minds and 4 Brotherhood Acolytes… still ended up finishing 3 out of 4 act decks, but the last one was literally on the last action. 4XP, no embezzling this time. This is how the deck looks now, before going into Boundary Beyond (15XP total, 13 from the three scenarios, 2 from the first interlude):

Allies(10+3):
Field Agent(2)
Laboratory Assistant
Medical Student
Alice Luxley
Peter Sylvestre
Olive McBride
Research Librarian
Library Docent(1)
Dayana Esperence(3)
Miss Doyle(1)
Bonnie Walsh
Veda Whitsley
Ichtaca
Ally events(4):
2x Friends In Low Places (naming Ally, still no checkboxes ticked)
2x Calling In Favors
Curse events(4):
2x Deep Knowledge
2x Stirring Up Trouble(1)
Money(6):
2x Cheat The System(1)
2x Faustian Bargain
2x Crack The Case
Combat Spells(4):
2x Ríastrad(1)
2x Gaze of Ouraxsh(2)
Tech(2):
1x Occult Lexicon
1x Embezzled Treasure
Permanent(2):
In The Thick Of It
Adaptable(1)
Yikes(2):
Arm Injury (random basic weakness)
Burden of Leadership

(This deck on ArkhamDB)

Ah, now that is looking a lot more focused and a lot more like a deck than the pile i started with. Some might say that 13 allies is a bit much in a 35 card deck, but this huge toolbox means that i have no problems at all filling my 4 slots even when TFA throws its crap at me and i have to discard them to Snakebites or Final Mistakes. Sometime in the middle of Doom of Eztli i realized that i forgot to put Olive into the deck which was a major oversight. She makes Gaze show 9 tokens instead of 7, so obviously she has to be in there even if it’s a bit gimmicky. Adaptable to the rescue. Adaptable is also nice because it gives me a Rogue asset in play for Cheat the System making sure that i basically always can use it for 3 or more. The goal of the deck is finding Dayana, but i actually didn’t feel the need yet to put a second copy in because a) i can find her rather quick with all the card draw and ally search and b) the deck functions perfectly well without her. If you’d want to turn this deck into a 19XP standalone deck, i think that’s perfectly viable. The list above even has 4XP to spare, so feel free to include that second Dayana or a Charisma. In standalone you also have another deckslot to fill, as Embezzled Treasure won’t do anything for you there. Maybe Lola Santiago or Delilah O’Rourke can fill that role of being a place to throw leftover money at. Upgrading your Friends in Low Places to either look at 9 cards or be fast is also a strong option. Sadly you can’t do both because that would need level 3 rogue, but oh well. Now, i am no expert on solo play at all, but that list even looks like it could play well solo. It has clue capabilities, combat and can randomly boost any of its skills into the stratosphere if needed. One time, i exhausted a bunch of allies (granted, Ichtaca was one of them) to punch Agent Fletcher with 10vs2 😀 Hilarious deck. I am going to enjoy finishing this campaign.

Boundary Beyond

Ended up with 4 ways discovered. Total of 6 XP and 2 Vengeance, i am at 8 Yig’s Fury total now. Looks fine to me. Two cool things of note that happened in this scenario:
1) I realized how silly Bonnie is with Miss Doyle’s cats. I had Doyle, Augur and Bonnie in play. Exhaust Augur to investigate at base 5, exhaust Bonnie to crank that up to 8 and ready Augur. Afterwards, exhaust Augur again for investigate base 5, exhaust Doyle to take it up to 7. So for just two allies played you get great access to high skill value cluegrabbing on your 1 intellect investigator. Looking at the icons on the cats, they even have the right icons for when you want to do something else than their primary thing. So Augur has agility and fight pips, for example. And doesn’t take up one of the ally slots. Actually absurd in this context. Pretty sure that Doyle should just be in every Charlie deck ever.
2) Dayana made her debut and just in time for the finale. With four locations cleared i set her up with Gaze of Ouraxsh attached and threw some more curses in the bag by playing the curse events i still had in hand. The agenda advanced, Padma Amrita shows up. I let her hunt into my position and spread 3 horror from her attack over my allies. On Charlie’s turn, exhaust Dayana to play Gaze (reveal 2 curses and a tentacle for 4 damage), then evade her exhausting 3 allies, including Bonnie who readies Dayana. Exhaust Dayana again for another Gaze, revealing 3 curses and the tentacle for 5 damage. Easily enough to overcome her 6 points of health and finish the scenario. That was a rather cool finish that i was quite happy about.

Heart of the Elders 1+2

Pretty uneventful, as these scenarios usually are. Added Katja Eastbank to the deck, as another way to draw more cards. Also added two Charisma. I realized that City of Archives is coming up soon and that playing a deck with 13 or more allies in it is going to be pretty awful on just one ally slot, so Charisma should help with that to some extent. I was originally planning on skipping Charisma, but i suppose i do run enough allies to justify it. Embezzled Treasure left the deck as a consequence of now needing more money to play more allies. Another thing that came up: I put Olive McBride into the deck to help with Gaze reveals. However, she’s also useful in another capacity. When i have one or more of my neutral allies on the board, i often test something silly like “evade this guy with 11 vs 3” or “investigate with “9 against 2”. Olive makes it so i can beat the tentacle with this sort of test because i can usually count on beating two tokens at the same time. This can also help with keeping curses in the bag when you need them later or filtering them out when you have too many, depending on circumstances. Pretty good in this deck!
I had to go into HotE#2 with 3 Vengeance (and got a fourth and fifth down the road) which turned Broods of Yig into powerhouses. I drew one early on, but was able to knock it out with Ríastrad. At a later point i drew the other two of them back to back in the same Mythos phase, but luckily Charlie was already set up with Gaze on Dayana so he just nuked the crap out of both of them. He also wiped the Serpent of Yoth from the map a few turns later with another Gaze. At this point i feel quite confident in saying that the deck works as i wanted it to. It does require some setup, but you aren’t helpless or useless while doing the buildup, you scale your power with more and more allies and just keep doing useful things. Next up is City of Archives which i expect to be pretty rough.

City of Archives

Hot. Flaming. Garbage.
This was just pure pain and to be honest, not all that much fun. Both decks were really not well equipped to handle CoA’s special challenges. An oversuccess deck that commits cards for the privilege of testing 6vs4 and an ally deck which just has bad icons everywhere. Getting out of there with 4 of the things done was already an accomplishment i feel, but it still resulted in the process backfiring and both investigators picking up the absolutely dreadful Out of Body Experience weakness. Nobody got turned into a Yithian permanently, but to be fair if anyone had you wouldn’t know about it because i would’ve just have ignored it … The scenario even started out well enough with Kymani having both Crafty and Chuck(5) in their starting five and Charlie hitting the ground running with a Field Agent for some early clues. Doyle and Augur even showed up shortly thereafter, for a decent try at a clue once per turn. Mostly i was pulling 4vs3 though and it was just awful. When the final agenda was starting to become a concern, i suicided Kymani into a Yith enemy and got Charlie out of there with two Deep Knowledges. Ugh. I don’t want to talk about City of Archives anymore, let’s just move on.

Final decklist

(Well, not completely final. We are likely going to get another 5 or 6XP from Yoth, but those aren’t going to change anything significantly anymore.)

Allies (11+3):
2x Dayana Esperence(3)
2x Field Agent(2)
1x Beat Cop(2)
1x Medicine Student
1x Olive McBride
1x Miss Doyle(1)
1x Katja Eastbank(2)
1x Arcane Initiate(3)
1x Laboratory Assistant
1x Bonnie Walsh
1x Veda Whitsley
1x Ichtaca
Ally events(4):
2x Calling In Favors
2x Friends in Low Places (4XP, level 2: Prompt and Versatile, naming “Ally” and “Cursed”)
Combat spells(4):
2x Ríastrad(1)
2x Gaze of Ouraxsh(2)
Money(6):
2x Cheat the System(1)
2x Faustian Bargain
2x Crack the Case
Other Curse Events(4):
2x Stirring Up Trouble(1)
2x Deep Knowledge
Tech(1):
1x Occult Lexicon
Permanent(2):
2x Charisma(3)
In The Thick Of It
Adaptable(1)
Yikes(3):
Arm Injury
Burden of Leadership
Out of Body Experience

(This deck on ArkhamDB)

That’s 39XP (3 of which were paid for by In the Thick of It). Not all that outrageous for TFA, actually. And this deck could run Charon’s Obol fairly safely, so getting to this amount of upgrades in Carcosa, Innsmouth, etc would certainly be in the usual range.
Alright, so what do we have. I completely built the deck around two things now: Finding clues. And blasting enemies with curse spells. To that end, the second Dayana is now in the deck. I felt i no longer needed to rely on Lexicon, so both the Library Docent and the Research Librarian are out. We got double Charisma for 6 allies in play at a time which is just an enormous amount of power for Charlie. There’s 7 spells in the deck for Dayana to take (including the 3 Blood-Rites) and i even added a cheeky Initiate to dig for them. Speaking of digging, Friends in Low Places is now fast and it can find both Ally and Cursed traited cards. That covers 24(!!!) cards in the deck. Basically, i expect Friends in Low Places to be a better Cryptic Research now, drawing 3 or more cards and thus making sure you find what you need.
I am super happy with this list, it’s very tight and works very focused towards what its supposed to do.
This is a weird case where aside from the ally slots i am using just a single hand slot. The rest is all completely empty and that kinda bothers me. I wish i had a couple more deckslots available to throw something like the Eye of the Djinn, Eon Chart or even a Hyperphysical Shotcaster in there, but as is i wouldn’t know what to cut for it. I did consider Versatile’ing for Promise of Power to give me some extra slots for an accessory and another hand item. Using Tempt Fate could even make the deck size increase mean not too much. But the web of search and filtering i set up works so well that i am scared of shaking it up. I suspect that the Versatile would overall improve the deck though. Of course Eye of Djinn + Shotcaster + Versatile would be another 8-10XP.

Depths of Yoth

Absolutely insane. That’s the best way to describe this scenario. One of the best games of Arkham i ever had and guess what… i do have the play-by-play of it for you, commented between each turn while i was playing.
That game was meant as a showcase for Charlie, but it actually ended up being a very strong showcase for Kymani as well. But Charlie certainly got his moments and you can see how much he contributes even when he gets what is maybe the worst draw he can have. And then, how fast the deck springs into action from zero to full once the pieces fall into place – allowing Charlie to just drops some nukes on unsuspecting Elder Gods.
A couple of other Scarlet Keys cards also got their spotlight, including a fantastic Friends in Low Places for four cards that catapulted Charlie forwards just the way i hoped it would.
I don’t think i need to say more about that here, the play-by-play speaks for itself. Just a delight to play and i am so happy that this is the scenario i chose to write up in detail.

Shattered Aeons

Compared to Depths of Yoth the finale was almost anti-climactic. Usually this scenario gives me a lot of trouble because the location mechanics deal a lot of horror to investigators unable to find clues. This team was well able to handle things when split up, so that was much less of an issue. Alejandro fell to a Riastrad/Backstab combo and from then on it was just going through the motions. Dayana made an appearance again and i made a point of nuking enemies like Temporal Devourers with Gazes. The whole scenario ended in a campaign success… which isn’t actually all that common for me. I really like to play RtTFA, but i am at less than a 50% chance to win against Shattered Aeons. Yay \o/

On Veda And Ichtaca

The deck of course made great use of the campaign specific allies, Veda and Ichtaca. However, i don’t think that they were essential to the success of the deck at all and i feel like i should just address that real quick. The real star of the deck is Bonnie Walsh. Whenever Bonnie entered play she was just ridiculously good for the rest of the scenario. Easily worth to hard mulligan for. And with all the ally search in my deck i found her early in every single of the games even if she wasn’t in the starting five. To just put Bonnie into perspective quickly: If you have her and another ally, you are testing at base 6 even if the other ally doesn’t have a matching icon. If it has one, it’s skill 8 already. And it goes up from there easily with more matching icons and/or global skill bonuses. The other ally i want to point out as a Charlie allstar is Miss Doyle. Whatever cat you get will give you base 5 skill for its specialty (like Augur for investigation) and you can exhaust Doyle to bring that up to 7. Obviously Bonnie and Doyle are great together. My point here is: Yes, Veda is good. Amazing, even. No, she wasn’t even the best ally in the deck and this deck (or any Charlie deck, really) will perform outside of TFA just as well. If you are looking for something that will add the same sort of oomph to your Charlie as Veda does, consider dropping 5XP on the Black Cat. I didn’t really focus much on the icons my allies provide, but doing so is certainly another way to get more out of your Charlie deck.

On Curse Tokens

Going into the campaign i had some concerns about dumping a lot of curses into the chaos bag, especially when pairing up with a Kymani that focuses on oversuccess. Turns out i should not have been worried, as this proved to be not much of an issue at all. Both investigators ended up routinely testing at such high values that eating the occasional -2 ended up barely mattering. And for when it would, the green Covenant that i bought from Kymani’s initial 5XP took care of it. I could’ve included the yellow Covenant on Charlie as well, but never felt it to be really worth it. That is of course not to say that the curses were completely irrelevant. They did cost me a few tests and/or oversuccesses, but compared to the sort of benefit cards like Faustian Bargain, Gaze of Ouraxsh, Ríastrad or Stirring up Trouble give you, it’s easy to justify. What is more, this Charlie deck didn’t need the curses immediately from the start the way a Dexter with Eye of Chaos would. Instead i could just keep it to a Faustian or Deep Knowledge to get started and hold my curse events in hand until i was ready to go off with Gaze and Dayana.

Final Words

Alright, and that’s the campaign. I feel like this was a good showcase of the Charlie deck. What I anticipated to be a somewhat gimmicky thing turned out to actually be legitimately good and I am quite happy about that.
I hope this inspired you to check out what can be done with Charlie as his deck building does give him access to options that no other investigator has. In this case it was using the full Rogue/Seeker curse suit but also the Mystic allies for further profit. There are plenty of similar things available and i am sure that you will find plenty more ideas like that in the other submissions to the Many Faces of Charlie Kane event. Please remember to check out the Google Doc linked in the opening paragraph and check out what the other content creators cooked up as well!
My thanks to Veronica for setting this up, coordinating it and for including me. It was good fun!


2 Replies to “The Gaze of Kane”

  1. As someone who enjoys trying to get the not-so-hot Seeker cards working (I swear I’ll get upgraded Cryptic Grimoire to not be dead weight at some point), this was an enjoyable read and I’m surprised I didn’t stumble upon it earlier.

    I’ll definitely give a rendition of this deck a go at some point. I’m just a bit wary about the piloting of the deck though. As you mentioned, you mostly picked allies for their abilities, not so much their icons. Most decks tend to value keeping their allies on board as long as possible since the action+resource cost of getting another one into play is generally a big tempo loss. How did you prioritize/juggle which allies to play as you drew them? Aside from Bonnie Walsh, were there any allies you wanted to get into play ASAP despite your ally slots being full (and potentially tight on resources)?

    And just one quick last question. You mentioned Library Docent for bouncing Occult Lexicon. Unless I’m missing something, I’m assuming you’re just replaying the tome as an action later to refresh the Blood Rites since Librarian Docent’s reactionary effect is for a different tome and the decklist only runs one tome.

    Anyways, thanks for the write-up 🙂

    1. Hey. So, this deck runs a crapton of allies partially because i want to be able to throw a few of them at Snakebites and the like. So there’s definitely a line where some allies can be called expendable while others are some that i want to keep in play. Bonnie, Dayana, Veda, Olive and Miss Doyle are the big ones to keep on the board once you have them. The rest i don’t care too much about, although i would of course much rather sacrifice a Med Student than a Field Agent or Ichtaca. With 5 ally slots you shouldn’t really run into problems when it comes to prioritizing one over the other.

      For Library Docent, i was aware that she can’t just play the Occult Lexicon herself straight away, however since i posted the article it was pointed out to me that she does need another tome in your hand to use her ability. So you can’t just play her just to return the Lexicon to your hand and it doesn’t quite work like i talk about here in the article. You could make it work by also running Grim Memoirs and that would certainly be decent. But might be a step too far. In the final decklist i even cut the Docent because i needed the room, so devoting two more deckslots to the strategy likely doesn’t pan out.

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