The Flash With a Cane (Infinite Actions Combo)

Card draw simulator
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Derived from
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republiclifehuman · 20

This post: https://www.reddit.com/r/arkhamhorrorlcg/comments/azvjo9/infinite_combo_with_rita/
on Reddit brought up the idea of an infinite actions combo with Ace in the Hole. After a lot of design and gold fishing to see if it was a workable combo, I came up with this deck and a companion deck using Joe Diamond here:

https://arkhamdb.com/decklist/view/10584/preston-assistant-infinite-action-combo-1.0

The basic idea is to draw the entire deck and then create a tight loop of Ace in the Hole and Cherished Keepsake. Along with replaying Cherished Keepsake, you're netting +1 action every other cycle. Repeated enough, you have unlimited actions, which gives you unlimited resources as well which Preston can convert into maxing out every test with Streetwise + Dig Deep + Hard Knocks.

I decided to test the pairing in Return to The Night of the Zealot, here's a quick recap:

The Gathering

Anyone who has played Dark Horse Preston can tell you that he's pretty bad in his first scenario. His archetype leans heavily on Streetwise, and without it all he can really do well is Fight (assuming he has Fire Axe). So a "bad" Dark Horse Preston deck was going to have a tough time.

The good news is that even with all the chaff in the deck to support the combo later on, Preston and Joe managed to pull out a win, but only by a slim margin. Joe was absolutely pounded by Repeated Crypt Chills and ended the scenario with literally nothing in play (not a problem for Preston and his crazy number of useless assets). The good news is that the team picked up 9 XP each, plus one bonus for Joe deciding to not burn down his house.

Upgrades

Preston had just enough to get the full combo together, 3 XP for Streetwise and 6 XP for Ace in the Hole. Joe did not have time to identify the solution, so his XP went into 2x Cryptic Research, leaving 2 extra. In a surprise move, I decided to stick them in the Hunch deck instead of his main deck for a few reasons: 1) The Gathering showed that Joe had a tendency to get his hand blown out every other mythos phase, and the though was that this would protect the card better. 2) With two copies in the hunch deck, it seemed like they would show up more easily. 3) Guidance wasn't exactly lighting the world on fire. 4) Joe was having trouble enough dealing with the encounter deck without cutting something like Guts to make room.

Midnight Masks

This was going to be the first true test of the combo, to see if going all in on infinite actions and infinite resources could win the scenario. Both Preston and Joe had solid draws, Preston getting down Leo De Luca right away, with Joe dropping Charles Ross into Machete and ready to fight. Right away the Disciple of the Devourer that started in play picked up a Mask of Umordhoth and it was a mad scramble by Joe to deal with it while Preston picked up some clues with a Flashlight at Joe's place to play around Masked Horrors.

Fires put out, the process of drawing Preston into his combo progressed. Joe's hunch deck provided Cryptic Research to accelerate Preston's draw. Preston had to discard a few cards to skill checks, but generally was making good progress. Joe got down Old Book of Lore and helped Preston refill his hand. Then the agenda advanced and, well, that's when things became kind of tough.

Dealing with Narogath (since getting Return to The Night of the Zealot, it's always Narogath for some reason) is trouble enough. In this case, the encounter deck saw fit to drop 2x Hunting Nightgaunt on the team in the same round the agenda advanced. Long story short, Preston with Streetwise, Leo, Dark Horse, Fire Axe, Track Shoes, and a bunch of money is pretty good. Evade Narogath, hit Nightgaunt, hit Nightgaunt, move away, problem solved. Joe dealt with his Nightgaunt and moved off, and the team was racing to finish the combo and stay away from Narogath.

Three doom in to the second agenda, Corpse-Taker showed up, and time was getting very short. Well, actually short for the cultists because Preston combed off that turn, getting unlimited actions and resources. Joe resigned, and Preston proceeded to race around the board killing every enemy, picking up every clue, putting all the cultists in play, and then killing all of them (actually he bought off Victoria Devereaux, it's always nice when a rich guy can make someone who appreciates the finer things in life see reason).

Upgrades

10 XP bought Joe the 2x Strange Solution (Empowering Elixir) he wanted to accelerate Preston even more, along with one copy of Eidetic Memory to copy Cryptic Research. Preston added in the essential 2x A Test of Will, 2x Flare (removing 2x Lucky, 1x Well Connected, 1x Thermos), and swapped 2x Dig Deep 1x Hard Knocks for 2x Dig Deep (2) 1x Hard Knocks (2).

The Devourer Below

This was the ultimate test, an even shorter clock until the second agenda advanced, posing a huge problem for Preston - the possibility of being forced to add a random Madness weakness to his deck, a card that could prevent him from ever completing the infinite actions combo. He could play around it with Dig Deep in play and a ton of resources... but that meant bailing on Fire Axe ever being a real threat and there was always the possibility of the autofail token. And then there's Ancient Evils, potentially shortening the clock even more.

The draws were fantastic. Joe dropping Strange Solution (Empowering Elixir) turn 1, then getting Old Book of Lore in play. Preston playing Leo De Luca turn 1, then Fire Axe, then Backpack into 3x Items. Turn 2 Cryptic Research from the Hunch deck sped Preston up even more. Things went well for the opening stages of the scenario.

The trouble began when the first Screeching Byakhee showed up. After the first agenda advanced (and boy it happened fast with an Ancient Evils that Preston didn't have A Test of Will for), Joe was staring down a 5/4/5 with nothing but a level 0 .45 Automatic and a few skill cards. It was on Preston to pull things out, but he was sitting on a lot of cash, preparing for the Willpower 6 test he might have to make before the combo could be assembled. A Flare attack backed up by Overpower and a discarded Fire Axe (7 v 5 and who knows what would have happened if it failed) followed up by a Preston Fire Axe hit solved this particular problem, but it was clear that the combo needed to happen soon.

Three doom into agenda 2, Another Screeching Byakee and Corpse-Taker dropped in, but Joe had top decked Cryptic Research off his hunch deck (after reshuffling the used one back in) and Cryptic Research + Eidetic Memory drew Preston the rest of his deck and gave him infinite actions.

It was at this point that it became clear that infinite money and actions didn't necessarily grant an immediate victory. Killing every enemy and picking up every clue was fine, but there was still the possibility of failure at the ritual site after spending a clue. Even playing around the highest negative in the bag doesn't stop the autofail, and the clues only refresh when the round ends. Fortunately, Preston didn't pull the autofail, and Urmordhoth was kept from the earthly plane.

Final Thoughts

The combo is real, it works. Having said that, it's not a guarantee, and things can happen that can interrupt it, or make it difficult to pull off. Number one is that many weaknesses prevent the combo from working at all, the Preston deck I played was lucky enough to get Indebted, a weakness Preston is all too happy to see, but weakness such as Paranoia, Amnesia, Through the Gates, or Overzealous are game enders.

Also, Preston's deck is severely compromised to allow him to combo out. Though he can still act somewhat like a typical Dark Horse Preston, his ability to deal with many things the game will throw at a player is vastly reduced without access to good skill cards or events. He can easily get wrecked by the encounter deck if it forces him to discard cards (slows him down quite a bit).

The Joe Diamond support deck could probably have been better, but it was shaped by the necessity of carrying the team early with clueing role that Preston was completely incapable of handling. The better combination of investigators is probably three, with a dedicated clue/support Seeker (Daisy with her free Tome action, say) backed up with a combat focused Guardian who will upgrade into an unimpeachable fighter (maybe Mark or Zoey).

Ultimately I would say that this experiment was interesting, but not really a game exploit. Barely beating Return to the Night of the Zealot on Standard with some big time luck isn't some huge accomplishment. It was fun experiment to try once, though.

9 comments

Mar 13, 2019 Django · 1645

The idea is insane, gotta try it at next opportunity. Luckily i'm currently plying as preston and joe in a 2 player game 2 character game, so this could work.

I've got Joey "The Rat" Vigil so i can play items without spending an action, do you think that works in this deck or would the additional ressources pose a problem?

Mar 13, 2019 Django · 1645

Do you think 2x Take Heart instead of Lucky! is worth it to accelerate your draw?

What do you upgrade into Ace in the Hole?

I was just wondering, does your hand look like this before the combo:

Mar 13, 2019 Django · 1645

Resulting in 8 cards on your hand before the combo, which works.

Mar 13, 2019 FractalMind · 8

Cool idea for sure, though this is something I would never play.

Mar 13, 2019 republiclifehuman · 20

Your hand size limit only checks during the upkeep phase, so the ideal way to combo out is massive overdraw on the turn you're going to combo. Have 8 cards in hand, then get Joe (or whoever is running support) to play Cryptic Research as many times as possible + any other card draw available. Then play Ace in the Hole, draw even more cards and combo off.

With just 1x Cryptic Research + Eidetic Memory + Old Book of Lore activation that's +7 card, factoring in 4 - 5 drawn from Preston you can combo out starting a turn with 11 - 12 cards still in Preston's deck.

Mar 13, 2019 Django · 1645

That's an interesting point, as it makes the combo a lot faster. However i prefer it to be more consistent, so i can continue the combo next turn.

Using The Gold Pocket Watch you could also skip upkeep phase to avoid discarding, while also freeing your relic slot.

Charles Ross, Esq. makes Joey "The Rat" Vigil better, i realized.

Joe could steal some of Prestons items with Teamwork, to free more slots. I think the second Cherished Keepsake and a full Backpack would be nice, so Preston can play another.

For Upgrades, Charisma and Relic Hunter are helpful to gain more slots for useful assets, espsically Lola Santiago.

Mar 13, 2019 republiclifehuman · 20

I tried Teamwork and it was useful occasionally, but I found Joe was usually pretty poor between his assets and his hunch deck events.

If you're running the deck in a campaign, one possibility is to start with a more or less straightforward Preston Dark Horse deck, then use Adaptable + other XP upgrades like A Test of Will, Flare, Devil's Luck, Hard Knocks (2) and Dig Deep (2) to transform it into the combo version. Maybe targeting scenario 5 or 6 to have the full combo deck together.

Mar 15, 2019 Django · 1645

You don't need to plan with 8 cards in hand. Instead you can still get the combo going next turn if your actions without the combo are enough to draw the remainder of your deck and discard pile.

More specifically, with Leo De Luca and Ace in the Hole you have 7 actions, so you could draw 7 cards and then begin the combo each turn.

I think it is very important to include fewer expensive assets and instead events that protect your hand, like "You handle this one!" or Lucky!.

Mar 16, 2019 republiclifehuman · 20

I tried to avoid events that go to discard without being exiled or removed from the game, because every such card you play lengthens the time to combo (it's like adding a card to your deck), along with potentially creating points where your hand will be clogged with cards that you can't play if you draw things in the wrong order.