Roland Banks
The Fed

Guardian
Investigator

Agency. Detective.

Willpower: 3. Intellect: 3. Combat: 4. Agility: 2.
Health: 9. Sanity: 5.

After you defeat an enemy: Discover 1 clue at your location. (Limit once per round.)

effect: +1 for each clue on your location.

Everything by the book: every "i" dotted, every "t" crossed. It has worked, until now.
Magali Villeneuve
Core Set #1.
Roland Banks

Roland Banks - Back

Investigator

Deck size: 30.

Deckbuilding options: Guardian cards () level 0-5, Seeker cards () level 0-2, Neutral cards level 0-5.

Deckbuilding requirements (do not count toward deck size): Roland's .38 Special, Cover Up, 1 random basic weakness.

Roland had always taken comfort in procedure and rules. As an agent in the Bureau, he was relieved to have guidelines to follow in any given situation. But lately, his Federal Agent's Handbook had been entirely unhelpful given the cases he'd been assigned. Try as he might, Roland could find no mention of what to do when confronted with strange creatures, gates through time and space, or magic spells. If he hadn't seen it with his own eyes, he would never have believed it... and there's no way his superiors would understand. Roland knew he would have to handle this one himself.
Roland Banks
FAQs (taken from the official FAQ or FFG's responses to the official rules question form)
  • You can trigger Roland's reaction after you use any card under your control to defeat an enemy (e.g. Guard Dog).

  • You can only 'discover' a clue if there is a clue on your location.
Last updated
Reviews

Roland Banks is easy to like, maybe especially for new players. He looks great in his trenchcoat and fedora, he's has a beefy 4 Fight and a decent 3 in Knowledge and Willpower. Add his cool Roland's .38 Special to his ability to pick up clues when he kills something and you have someone who can really make a difference. After all, the whole game centers around picking up clues while killing off distractions and Roland can do both at the same time! He's versatile and thus fun to play; qualities too easily overlooked when designing hyper-optimized power-decks.

The real problem with Roland is that he can dish it out, but he can't really take it. He has the lowest Sanity of any investigator released so far, and his weakness card really preys on this. Roland also needs to kill stuff to use his special ability, so you have to put him in harms' way to get the most out of him. Several people have pointed out that this combination makes Roland one of the more difficult investigator to play in a campaign and I can only agree.

That's the short of it. Now for the longer analysis:

Statistics: 4 Fight is good. Fight is an easy stat to increase - most weapons do so as part of their function, so you'll easily reach 5, 6 or even 7. That makes him really good at killing stuff, which again makes it easy to activate his clue gathering special.

3 Willpower and 3 Knowledge is decent, really. You will need to use skill cards on the more critical tests, but 3 is a good start. It should be enough for Easy and Normal difficulty campaigns, especially since you want to include plenty of skill cards.

2 Agility is bad, but why evade when you can fight? There's quite a few Agility skill tests in the encounter decks, but they do stamina damage in most cases. And Roland has 9 Stamina! That's an insane amount of stamina, so no worries there.

But what he has in brawns he really lack in brains. 5 Sanity is the lowest of any investigator so far, so you really, REALLY have to nurse his head. There's several Treachery cards that inflicts multiple Horror if failed, so a single Tentacle autofail token can reduce him to a whimpering wreck.

The Roland's .38 Special is a decent weapon even if you're in a location with no clues. If there's clues around you almost can't miss with the +3 Fight benefit. It does +1 damage, so you can take out almost all lesser enemies with a single attack. You will need a few backup weapons, but as a Guardian you have the pick of the litter. The machete is great, and you can buy actual Lightning Guns when you earn some Xp.

Rolands weakness is really in character with his FBI theme; Cover Up. Basically, he has to cover up his (FBIs?) tracks by doing 3 successful investigations to complete it. If he can't do so before the game ends, he loses 1 sanity for the rest of the campaign. When you (and you will!) draw Cover Up late in a game, you can easily find yourself with few clue tokens within reach. In a worst case scenario you wont even enough clues left.

I might sound overly worried here, but remember that the each cycle has (at least) 8 adventures in them. Losing a single point of Sanity makes it so much easier to lose the next, and the next, and so on. No other investigator has a weakness so potentially debilitating as Roland Banks. I'm not saying you can't play around it, but you need to plan for it. Roland is probably the only investigator who should try to draw his weakness early on, just to get it over with.

(Note that the FAQ states: "Any investigator at the same location as Roland Banks with Cover Up in his threat area may trigger the to discard clues from Cover Up". That helps a little!)

You still want to play a half-crazed FBI agent? Good for you! Roland is a challenge, but a fun one. First you'll need to mitigate his mental problems by including plenty of Willpower and ? skill cards. Unexpected Courage and Guts are almost mandatory. Inquiring Mind is good too. You might want to take up smoking, since Smoking Pipe lets you trade stamina for sanity. "If it bleeds..." is also really good, both for you and for your friends. Dodge is also a lifesafer - it lets you avoid an attack; a common source of Horror, and it has a Willpower token when used as a skill card. Allies are nice dump-offs for Horror, especially if you eventually invest in Charisma. Elder Sign Amulets are bulletproof vests for your mind, so you might want to consider one early.

I'm not gonna go heavily into deck building in this review, but DadouXIII has a great write up here.

All in all - Roland can be frustrating to play at times, but I personally prefer him over Zoey Samaras, even if Zoey is far deadlier. He's always useful and his Guardian/Seeker combo gives him a lot of options for spending Xp in campaigns. And last but not least - Roland's nightmarish descent into insanity will give your campaign that extra little edge. :)

olahren 230
I cringe very severely every time I see someone on reddit recommend Roland for new players... — Difrakt 335
@Difrakt Nothing wrong with that, Roland is the best investigator for new players, and the FFG rulebook is right about that. He is the best fighter, and he finds clues while killing things. No other core investigator stands even close to that. Out of all 5 core investigators Roland was the only one I managed to beat the game (R1) with. — usrnm 1

Roland Banks is certainly a fun investigator to play with. He is mainly Guardian class and secondarily a Seeker class which makes him versatile in the two main objective in the game, fighting and obtaining clues.

He has a nice ability that lets him find clues whenever he defeats an enemy which, though you might not always be able to activate it, due to there being a lack of clues in the location, can save you an action or two when you need to gather clues (and possibly even more resources when trying to gather clues in high shroud areas).

Stats

He has 9 health practically making him a tank when it comes to taking damage but his low sanity of 5 make him quite vulnerable to a lot of the monsters in the mythos. You will definitely need cards that can either heal horror like Smoking Pipe or cards that shield you from horror like Elder Sign Amulet.

Combat: His 4 combat stat complements his beat up enemies to get clues play style and with a decent weapon like a Machete or his signature weapon, Roland's .38 Special, he can hold his own against a lot of what the mythos has to offer.

Willpower: Willpower is mostly a defensive stat. 3 willpower though on Roland isn't amazing but it's decent. There are rarely encounter cards that require you to succeed on a willpower of 4 or higher.

Intellect: Likewise with willpower, 3 intellect isn't amazing but it's decent. Having cards like Magnifying Glass or Flashlight definitely makes him better at gathering clues, especially when there are no baddies around for him to trigger his ability.

Agility: Roland's worst stat is agility, which isn't really game breaking as his playstyle mainly revolves around him killing enemies to get clues and he is in a class that has a lot of decent weapons. But it severely limits his options though as there are some enemies that he's better of evading and others that he might not even be able to damage at all (I'm looking at you Spoiler for Path to Carcossa)

Signature Cards

Roland's .38 Special is reliable even if you can't proc the +3 to combat buff it still functions as a cheaper version of .45 Automatic but when you get that +3 combat is when the signature card really shines. Also cards like Extra Ammunition works well with this card but if you have Lightning Gun you might be better off saving it for Lightning Gun's limited ammunition.

Cover Up is definitely one of the harder signature weaknesses to workaround which requires you to get clues (which thankfully Roland is decent at). Alternatively, you can have your allies help you especially if there is a more specialized seeker in the team. Also, the price for failure is the equivalent of being defeated in Roland's worse stat (sanity).

Overall, Roland Banks is a versatile as a fighter and clue gatherer but players need to work around Roland's 5 sanity and signature weakness Cover Up.

A solid investigator. Strong in killing and clue-gathering, the core of the game. Guardian and Seeker are among the stronger of the classes, so you have access to excellent upgrades. On the other hand, the lack of sanity is very hard to manage. Elder Sign Amulet is obviously an important first upgrade, which undermines the access to the better class upgrades.

Guardian and Seeker are the most specialized classes - its an important distinction because they both are fairly weak in Solo (and even duo) play. — Difrakt 335
If you're really really worried about Sanity, Brother Xavier provides three-fourths of an Elder Sign Amulet's Sanity buffer for one-third the XP cost, while also having other useful effects. — CaiusDrewart 858
Brother Xavier costs 5 resources though. If he's running high cost cards like Dynamite, Shotgun or Lightning Gun it's probably better to just get cheaper defenses like Elder Sign Amulet (though it might compete with Police Badge if you are running it) — Telumbra 3

In context of solo play Roland is very solid pick because his statline and cardpool allows him to get clues as well as deal with enemies. Roland´ ability is basicially a once per round use of evidence which can be used to clear clues of high shroud locations which he is unable to investigate with cards such as Flashlight and Magnifying Glass. This becomes especially important in solo play there the presence of enemies usually means that you need to waste actions on dealing with them. However, in context of Roland´s ability the presence of enemies is beneficial as they can be used in order to make progress towards the act deck. This theme is further developed by cards such as On the Hunt which spawns enemies at your locations and Scene of the crime which profits from the presence of enemies at your location.

Roland´s glaring weaknesses are his low willpower and sanity. Roland´s willpower of three makes him vulnerable to nasty willpower treacheries and the existence of encounter cards which can deal up to three (or even more) horror means that Roland is prone to go mad during the course of a scenario. What makes this situation worse ist that Roland´s unique weakness Cover Up forces you to either waste time in order to get rid of the clues on it or to take a mental trauma which makes it even more likely that Roland will go insanse.

While these weaknesses were huge problems at the beginning of the game when there were not a lot of good ways to deal with them, the growing card pool has mitigated them more and more: the dunwich cycle introduced cheap expendable allies such as Art Student and Dr. William T. Maleson who could soak sanity damage and provided additonal benefits for Roland. During the Path to Carcosa cycle Roland got access to cards such as Forewarned and Logical Reasoning which provided him with even more ways to deal with nasty treacheries or heal horror. At the same time Roland also got access to more and more cards which allow him to place clues on locations such as Quick Study from the current Forgotten Age Cycle. These cards allowed Roland to place clues on locations in order to mitigate a situation in which Cover Up came up and there were no collectable clues in play. All of this in mind I think Roland is a very beginner friendly investigator who allows you to play a guardian who contributes not only in regard of slaying the beasts of Arkham but also in regard of clue gathering.

You don’t need clues on your location to deal with cover up. You can investigate empty locations for that purpose. — Django 1380
No you can't — MoiMagnus 13
That's stated in the FAQ section of cover up page. "You cannot trigger Cover Up if there are no clues on your location." — MoiMagnus 13
Excellent review! What do you make of his replacement cards? — Myriad 524
I sadly do not have access to the replacement cards so I am unable to test them. My impression are: — Warforce17 1
The replacement weakness is better than Cover Up because it forces you to drop less clues with the offset that it is repeatable. However, since Roland usually does not draw a lot of cards I do not think of this as a serious drawback. One of Cover Up´s biggest issues is that it can be drawn in a moment in which you would normally not need to collect clues. This can force you to invest actions in order to prevent trauma. The replacement card does not have this issue. The signature replacement cards is a powered up working a hunch. It can be useful but I think that the gun is better because it is a free weapon card in your deck. This opens a slot for other cards. — Warforce17 1