Ursula Downs
The Explorer

Seeker
Investigator

Wayfarer.

Willpower: 3. Intellect: 4. Combat: 1. Agility: 4.
Health: 7. Sanity: 7.

After you move to a location: Take an investigate action. (Limit once per round.)

effect: +1. After this test ends, you may move to a connecting location.

"Discovery is easy. Understanding is the hard part."
Magali Villeneuve
The Forgotten Age #2.
Ursula Downs

Ursula Downs - Back

Investigator

Deck Size: 30.

Deckbuilding Options: Seeker cards () level 0-5, Relic cards level 0-4, Neutral cards level 0-5.

Deckbuilding Requirements (do not count towards deck size): Jake Williams, Call of the Unknown, 1 random basic weakness.

Not many people can say that they've climbed a mountain on every continent. Fewer still can say they've stolen a golden idol from a tribe of cannibals. Among women in a male-dominated society, Ursula is unique in being able to make these sorts of claims. Ever since she was a small girl, Ursula has broken the rules set down for her, climbing trees, playing in the mud, exploring the woods, and doing plenty of other things that a "proper young lady shouldn't be doing." Since getting a degree in archaeology in Boston, she has been traveling the world searching for forgotten civilizations.
Ursula Downs
FAQs (taken from the official FAQ or FFG's responses to the official rules question form)
  • Q: Does Ursula Downs' ability trigger AoOs? A: It does. You're doing the full process / rules for taking an action. It's different from something like Yorick's or Leo's ability, if that's the comparison being made. - FAQ, v.1.3, May 2018

  • Q: Does the 'move' on Ursula's effect trigger AoOs? A: It does not. It's not a move action, so behaves like Shortcut.

  • Q: Does the ability on Ursula Downs allow me to take an investigate action on an asset or event card? A: Yes. Ursula’s reaction allows you to take any investigate action, including those performed via the activate action or via the play action. - FAQ, v.1.3, May 2018
Last updated
Reviews

I think Ursula Downs is an awesome investigator worthy of a lengthy data driven review. In case "lengthy" is'nt your cup of tea, here's the TL:DR:

Ursula Downs is one of the fastest investigators in the game and she's reasonably survivable thanks to her high . She is let down by her minuscule cardpool but just bring all the clue cards and focus on the clues.

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First off, stats!

  • 3 makes Ursula squarely middle of the road, defending against will be important to her since her weakness forces horror damage, give consideration to Logical Reasoning, Elder Sign Amulet and/or Tooth of Eztli and obviously: Guts.

  • 4 is to be expected, it may take some work to make "I've got a plan!" hit but with the proper assets and allies clues will not be an issue. Because of Ursulas speed seriously consider Fieldwork in your base deck as a means to consistently finish difficult locations, this only gets better on higher difficulty and if you play Archaic Glyphs.

  • 1 is to be ignored. Even Swarm of Rats is better evaded then fought.

  • 4 means that the vast majority of enemies don't pose you real danger, it does mean that multi-clue pickup is extra important though so that you don't spend too much time hanging around a location with evaded enemies on it. This stat lineup also benefits unusually well from Hyperawareness. Sadly there is literally nothing in your cardpool that leverages into anything useful (aside from evaded enemies).

So, Ursula has a very single-minded stat set, GET ALL THE CLUES, EVADE ALL THE ENEMIES. Looking at her health and sanity you might think she wont ever die, Health will not be an issue, but horror can get very dangerous, resist it!

Her ability requires little discussion, free investigates! Keep in mind that you may use the free action to trigger your Investigate assets (Fingerprint Kit, Archaic Glyphs) and other Investigate effects. If you have Shortcut+Pathfinder or 2xPathfinder you can use all the free movement to shuffle around and net free investigates anywhere you like. Ursulas ability nets her more investigate checks per turn which makes Arcane Insight a good pick for her.

The ability is really nice, but not always helpful, you sometimes just don't want to move. A +1 with an optional bonus is still much better then a scaling bonus with no extra effect so Ursula has it pretty good in this case.

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So, cardpool. Short version, she's a straight , long version, the ability to grab artifacts is extremely limited. At level 0 the major options are The Chthonian Stone and... stuff you really don't want.... At higher levels it looks a little nicer, Charon's Obol for the risk-taker, Lucky Dice for consistency, The Gold Pocket Watch is one of the most powerful effects in the game, Grotesque Statue is another consistency route. So yeah, the XP options are interesting but still few in number, Ursula Downs has one of the smallest cardpools but look on the bright side, its bigger then Mateo's.

With her nice Ornate Bow might grab your attention, just keep in mind that there is no card support here, no Live and Learn, Lucky!, Streetwise, Narrow Escape, Double or Nothing, Leo De Luca, Quick Thinking you get the picture. There is still Hyperawareness so you can still muster accurate shots, but it will come at the cost of your Magnifying Glass and/or Fingerprint Kit. I'm obviously not a fan of this setup but if you're super desperate for a way to fight then this is it.

Ursula Downs lover her the classic go-to clue stuff, everything that grabs extra clues, boosts and buffs. Dr. Milan Christopher, Magnifying Glass, Deduction, Fingerprint Kit. Another important thing for Ursula is speed, Working a Hunch so that she doesn't spend too much time on a location after evading, Shortcut and Pathfinder are musts, Fieldwork and/or Arcane Insight to put all this speed to use, the high movement also gives extra strategic value to Connect the Dots since you can easily leverage Pathfinder to browse locations to make the combo happen.

Ursula Downs likes her some Archaic Glyphs, both options sync with what she does so with/without Shrewd Analysis risks you'll always get stuff you want, I prefer the bonus clues though.

Strange Solution however is a bit less useful for her, her only way to buff a Strange Solution attack is with Unexpected Courage, so accuracy is an issue, the Strange Solution isn't needed and she doesn't have time to spend her actions supporting the team with Strange Solution. I'dd say Strange Solution is still worth the work if you're desperate for more killing power but leave it on the shelf in 3 player.

Defensively you can ponder Trench Coat and/or Tooth of Eztli.

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Finally, the signature cards.

Jake Williams is'nt terribly helpful. Extra cards are nice but this has an upper limit on how often it may trigger and contests the ally slot for Dr. Milan Christopher, you might grab an extra buddy like Dr. William T. Maleson and go for Charisma but generally I just play Dr. Milan Christopher whether or not I'll bediscarding Jake Williams to do so, > Card draw.

The weakness, Call of the Unknown, woo this one is nasty. Luckily if you draw this early you'll only be slightly more desperate to do things you want to anyway, move forward and get clues, as the game progresses less locations will have clues, you may still investigate a location with no clues but this will still suck away your movement advantage and free clue pickup on a roundly basis. Try to resist horror the best you can so that you might take this on the chin every now and then.

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Altogether. Ursula Downs will probably take more investigate checks per map then any other character, with an effective of 5-7, she can not quite match Rex Murphy clue for clue but the race is still very close, and she's a heck of a lot safer then he can be. Her ability to kill stuff ranks among the worst in the entire game so partner with friends who can cover that aspect and bring "I've got a plan!" to relieve the pressure against the worst encounter enemies and bosses.

Tsuruki23 · 1193
Don’t forget that she can use Eli Horowitz to tutor high impact relics from her deck, such as Key of Ys or Ornate Bow - also keeping slots free for magnifying glasses etc. — Death by Chocolate · 421
Crystalline Elder Sign is quite good an xp choice for Ursula, since she can leverage 3 of the stats. — ak45 · 256
Outstanding Review. I have gone for the home run build with Ursula. My first upgrade was the Ornate Bow and I hope that Elli finds it each time. If she does then Ursula is a 6+ skill cards in combat (agility stat) and usually a 5-6+ investigating. If you don't hit on the Elli/Bow combo then Mark has to babysit but the scenario becomes a lot easier with the Bow in play (held by Elli). — TWWaterfalls · 549
CES has probably been the MVP in most of my Ursula solo runs. Depending on the scenario, Ornate Bow and Prophecy Foretold are also quite good, and can take care of enemy management, especially with Shortcut, or to a lesser degree Pathfinder. Jake Williams allowing you to move without taking an AOO can allow you to use Fieldwork to evade enemies, as well (same with Shortcut). Also there are some scenarios where Jake will draw you a ton of cards (Depths of Yoth in particular), but most of the time there's an upper limit, as you say. I probably could go on for a long time about solo Ursula, but I'll leave it at that, for now. — Zinjanthropus · 93

Ursula has the abilities of a dedicated clue gatherer like [Rex Murphy], so let's compare her to Rex and not Daisy and Minh.

Stats:

Ursula loses 1 fight and gains 1 escape.

Rex couldn't really use his strength without a [Fire axe] and tons of money anyway.

Now Ursula has high chances of being able to escape monsters. That's especially useful when you know that seekers have low combat abilities and that Ursula cannot splash for combat cards like [Fire Axe] or [Elusive].

Ability:

Rex's ability isn't capped, Ursula's ability is. That changes a lot of things.

In solo play, most locations will contain only one clue and Ursula's ability is better.

With 3-4 players, most locations will contain tons of clues and Ursula's ability will fall behind Rex's.

In duo, the two abilities are quite similar. Rex needs to move, investigate and succeed by 2 or more to get both clues.

Ursula needs to move, investigate successfully during her free action and then investigate successfully once more.

Rex only needs to succeed one test, Ursula has more flexibility in her actions.

Rex doesn't really need [Archaic glyphs: guiding stones] but Ursula could definitely put it to good use to investigate as fast as Rex!

Cards pool:

Rex can splash for awesome cards like [Fire Axe], [Ward of Protection], [Elusive], [Scavenging], [Lone wolf] and so on. He seems more versatile, stronger in the early campaigns & safer. With money, [fire axe] and [Higher education] he can basically succeed in every task easily. But later in the game, his card pool only improves with Seeker cards.

Ursula has access to [Armor of ardennes], [Charon's Obol: the ferryman's pay], [Grotesque statue], [Lucky dice], [The chtonian stone], [Jewel of Aureolus: gift of the homunculi] and [The gold pocket watch: stealing time]. Those are all strong late campaign cards. Those can be combined with [Dr. Elli Horowitz: assistant curator] or [Relic Hunter] to great effect. Basically she can gain xp faster and use that xp better.

She still has access to [Mind over matter], [I've got a plan], [Knife] and [Manual dexterity] to survive alone early on. Later in the game she will have access to [Strange solution: acidic ichor] and [Disc of Itzama: protective amulet]. The later also prevents Yig's revenge from stacking in the victory pile!

This may still be a bit weak for solo play, especially against bosses, but in a duo it would work wonder!

Bonus cards:

Both are useful but not broken. It's a bit sad that Ursula's card takes up an ally slot. [Dr. Milan Christopher] & [Dr. Elli Horowitz: assistant curator] are both really interesting ally choices. This may make [Charisma] a high quality option for Ursula at some point.

Malus cards: Both are back-breaking but generally won't cost you the game. Be sure to pack some horror soak for Ursula anyway.

Conclusion: In my opinion, Ursula is a really good dedicated clue gatherer. She may be even better than Rex in a multiplayer campaign or in a duo as she has a better late game potential and her ability is basically equivalent to Rex's in a duo. She is also favored in scenarios with tons of locations to explore & investigate and little to no time to do so.

Kiliath · 110
Nice review, just one thing to remeber. She can't take Armor of ardennes ( its lv 5) — Cambro · 12

As a rule, investigators are especially good in the campaigns they arrive in. And since almost all of Ursula’s reviews are from 2+ years ago, it’s worth revisiting her post Return to TFA.

Moving and investigating is great. You often want to move every turn, unless you have “In the Know and active teammates. The forgotten age offers a move that doesn’t seem like a move: the explore action. Multiple scenarios require you to explore over and over, with text like “when you successfully explore, reveal and move to a new location”. And if Jake Williams is around, you also draw a new card. Combine him with fieldwork, and you can move to a location your group no longer needs to be, evade an odious enemy you don’t want to deal with (Starting at a +6), and then come back and investigate again with Pathfinder at a cost of two actions. Just leave a clue or two around.

Over the course of a regular adventure, Ursula is going to be taking more actions, and when you take more actions in your specialty, you complete the scenario faster. You go faster, your see less of the counter deck, which means fewer obstacles.

That’s why Ursula is often pitched as the best solo seeker; she can outrun her problems, adequately deal with the encounter deck, and compress essential moves into essential investigates. (When she gets pathfinder, she can turn one free action into two. The expedition journal can turn a free explore into a move and an investigate.)

Now that Rex doesn’t get to clues for every investigate and Mandy has the least spend paid to make her infinite combos work, Ursula is back at the top. She’s a character who will make a new player feel very effective, especially when you’re busting out TFA.

(Also, if you’re curious about universities in Boston that would’ve existed in the 1910s and offered archaeology degrees, most likely Miss Downs went to Boston University. Go Terriers.)

MrGoldbee · 196
If you want a fun run, try Rita and Ursual in TFA. They are stupid fun! — LivefromBenefitSt · 167
It is difficult for me to rate the Seeker investigators for all types of play but I play Ursula as a cluegetting generalist at 2p and she definitely the best Seeker for that role (Joe HM). I have been making her deck faster and faster by going with Mag Glass (and upgrading) and a lot of skill cards. She starts investigating immediately and can usually investigate 2-3 times each round while still being able to handle enemies if needed. I will also say that her style is a very fun way to play the game. There might be more effective Seekers at collecting clues faster for those that play the binary Fighter/Cluegetter decks or at 3-4p but Ursula is incredibly good at the generalist cluegetter role. — TWWaterfalls · 549

Dev response to my rules question about Ursula's interaction with Searching for Izzie:

"Yes, you can use Ursula’s ability to trigger the ability on Searching for Izzie. If you do, you must still spend an additional action, since Searching for Izzie costs two actions, and Ursula’s ability only allows you to take an investigate action (as in, one action)."

ddbrown30 · 2