After last week’s avalanche of cards, this week has only two cards for us… but it does include the full reveal for Darrell Simmons, our new Survivor investigator. Let’s check it out!
So, i want to get two things out of the way. First, i am not interested in spending an action just to heal a point of horror or damage. Second, 2 horror/damage per action is a rate that i am interested in, but not at the cost of placing down a doom. I’d not even be interested in those ratios if this card was free. Granted, as far as straight up healing goes, this does compare fine to other level 0 healing options… but that doesn’t say much since those are also quite bad (with notable exception of Mirror, of course). I do think that having some healing in your deck is quite worthwhile, but i’d just go for a leveled up card to fulfill my healing needs, like Earthly Serenity or the level 3 versions of Clarity of Mind and Healing Words.
That being said, this card does have a rather easy condition to remove the doom from it. So if we do end up getting a way to move doom from one asset to another (either in Scarlet Keys or in any other upcoming expansion), then Chalice becomes a lot more interesting. Because spending two or three actions to heal two or three points and remove a doom is a lot more spicy.
And there he is, including the signature and the weakness. With a card pool of Survivor 5/Seeker 2, Darrell was always going to be a powerful clue collector, but that 5 intellect really puts him over the top. Even without knowing more about him than his card access and stats, he’s notable for not only being the one to make Scavenging(2) sing, but also the one who commits Deductions to Winging It, cleaning out locations in one swoop. Yes, Minh exists but both her investigator ability pulling her into a different direction and that awful, awful weakness were somewhat offputting (or is that only me?). So i am happy to see Survivor/Seeker being represented here in a rather general package that can be built into many directions without feeling like ignoring some other direction the investigator would reward you for. That package includes of a signature asset that starts in play and accumulates evidence tokens for discovering clues at the location of enemies or treacheries. Those evidence can then be turned into -2 difficulty on skill tests at your location. This ability is remarkably open-ended and can be used on any test, not just investigations. It can also be used on any player. Since it lowers the base difficulty instead of raising the base skill, it can also do that Survivor thing where you drop a difficulty to zero and pass as long as you don’t pull the tentacle from the bag. That’s a really good ability with very low opportunity cost that can be used in a very flexible manner. It also stacks up with other difficulty reducing cards like Flashlight, Ice Pick or Winging It to trivialize tests.
Now, acquiring the evidence is going to be slow though. The Kodak is rarely going to be discovering more than 1 token per turn and often none at all due to the reliance on the encounter deck. Other assets coming into play with evidence on them is quite rare. The pre-Scarlet Keys card pool only has two cards that do use evidence, one of which (Michael Leigh) can not be used by Darrell. The other one, Hawk-Eye Camera, is near perfect for him though and i would expect it to be a staple card to use with Darrell. The Hawk-Eye can do a great job of finding more evidence to spend on his investigator ability while basically ignoring the actual abilities on the Hawk-Eye. After looking at how difficult it is to build up evidence, that weakness looks quite terrifying though. Losing 4 evidence is very rough and so is getting a chunk of horror. I suspect that you will want to include some very solid horror soak (or healing) in your Darrell decks to deal with this, similar to how you include a Bullet-Proof Vest or two in Harvey to adress Thrice-Damned Curiosity. Now, every expansion does of course also include some new player cards that are meant to support the new investigators and Darrell is no exception. Empirical Hypothesis is going to be amazing for him as a source of evidence to spend on stuff. He can only upgrade it to level 2, but considering that the card is already great at level 0, that’s hardly a problem. It just limits the card to gaining up to 1 evidence per turn (Alternative Hypothesis is fairly difficult to make work on its own). The only other card we’ve seen from Scarlet Keys that uses evidence is a rogue card, but it’s probably a safe bet that there’ll be a few more to be seen in the coming days.
To bring this to a close, i am super happy to see Darrell being a relatively “normal” and “basic” investigator where you can just use your deckbuilding to shape his way of playing and not something too out of the box. The investigators with “5/2” deckbuilding should in my opinion be more like Darrell and less like Preston to let those card pools speak for themselves in their entirety. In any case, I see myself committing quite a few Deductions to my Winging Its (and while doing so, Scavenging stuff!) in the future, so … yeah, great new investigator. Currently my second favorite behind Charlie from the Scarlet Keys.
Bonus round: Taking stock
So, since we didn’t get a lot of new cards this week i figured i take the opportunity to take stock of our current spoilers and see how the classes are looking right now. I will ignore the investigators for this. Please note that this is of course based on only the few cards we’ve seen so far and not intended as an actual commentary on class power levels or anything. It’s just meant to be a convenient tl;dr of the last couple weeks, nothing grander.
Hunter’s Armor, Runic Axe, Motivational Speech, Field Agent, Helping Hands, Grievous Wound, One in the Chamber, Fighting Lesson
Guardian came out of the gate real strong in week 1, with the customizable Axe and Armor both being very promising. Motivational Speech is fantastic and Field Agent certainly fills a needed role as well. Alongside those four cards, we also got to see Helping Hands and Grievous Wound, both of which are rather lacking. Sadly, the cards that followed in the coming weeks (One in the Chamber and Fighting Lesson) also weren’t really able to turn any heads due to their situational nature. We are sort of still waiting for some actual bangers in this class, including something that really enables Carson to do his thing.
Captivating Discovery, Orphic Theory, Map the Area, Alchemical Distillation, Raven’s Quill, Existential Riddle, Empirical Hypothesis
We have three customizables for Seeker so far and all three are varying degrees of good. Distillation is great for support in multiplayer, Quill is a highly flexible upgrade for several assets and Hypothesis is a ludicrous card draw engine that doesn’t even need XP to be good. Seeker doesn’t stop there, with Existential Riddle and Captivating Discovery both also being excellent. The final two cards, Orphic Theory and Map The Area are less universally good, but both have their place in certain circumstances as well.
“I’ll Take That”, Thieves Kit (0 and 3), Damning Testimony, Calculated Risk, Hit and Run, Quick Getaway
We’ve seen only one customizable for rogue so far and i feel like it’s not as good as the ones we’ve seen in other classes. It’s fine, doing an okay impression of Fingerprint Kit, but not really quite as gamechanging as what other classes get. That being said, there’s (probably) still 2 more customizables to go for rogue, so fingers crossed. The most gamechanging card here is certainly Thieves’ Kit, which allows rogues to fully leverage their agility for seeking, similar to how Mystics have been doing it since forever. “I’ll Take That” is not quite Motivational Speech, but it does combine economy and action efficiency in a similar package with enough upsides to be exciting. Hit and Run and Calculated Risk are both situational and will require certain decks to shine. Quick Getaway is mostly a coaster.
Summoned Servitor, Power Word, Ceremonial Sickle, Dowsing Rod, Elle Rubash, Sin-Eater, String of Curses, Ghastly Possession, Hallowed Chalice
The first week had several spoilers that i personally didn’t find too impressive. Sickle and Dowsing Rod are tailored for Amina and i don’t see myself using these outside of her deck. Possibly not even in it, to be honest. I am particularly sceptic of the Sickle. The two customizables are extra fancy, both centered around using actions to have some controlled summon or enemy do stuff for you. Servitor has potential to be quite good, but i don’t really see the point of Power Word. Everything we’ve seen in the weeks after that was fantastic though. Elle Rubash and Sin-Eater are amazing enablers for the doom playstyle. String of Curses and Ghastly Possession fit that same playstyle, but are actually pretty great outside of that specific deck as well. Those last four cards are all excellent and make up for the mediocre first impression i had from the first four Mystic cards. This week’s Chalice is a step back again, but a) it’s still an okay card and b) expecting that level of greatness 5 weeks in a row would’ve been greedy.
Improvised Shield, Heed the Dream, Predator or Prey, Pocket Multi Tool, Salvage, Grizzled
Both customizables are quite efficient in terms of encounter deck protection, offering bonuses to tests aplenty. Improvised Shield doesn’t really have much of a home, but Salvage could turn out to be a near-staple for many, many Survivor decks in the future. The final two Survivor cards we’ve seen so far are Dilemmas, which have revelation effects on player cards. Heed the Dream is quite good, Predator or Prey a bit too situational for my tastes. Bit of a mixed bag what we’ve seen from Survivor for now.
Just so you don’t think i forgot about this one… i don’t think Tool Belt is all that good. It will probably have its use in some niche interaction, but ultimately sharing the body slot with Backpack is going to kill Tool Belt for the vast majority of use cases i am afraid.