Lola Hayes - Femme Fatale

Card draw simulator
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Croaker13 · 1088


Is access to level 0-3 of all five classes extremely powerful? The designers of Arkham Horror certainly seem to think so, as they gave poor Lola below-average health and sanity in addition to a couple of crippling weaknesses (her restriction on using one class at a time as well as her actual weakness).

The end result appears to have been a bit of an over-correction. To quote a post on Reddit: "With great effort, knowledge, and a bit of luck, she can achieve mediocrity."

However, as the card-pool grows, Lola's five-color access becomes ever more powerful. At this point I'm personally willing to upgrade her from "mediocre" to "good", and she'll only get better from here. But you need to play to her strengths to get there.

Here's my suggestion on how to do that. I've run versions of this deck through The Dunwich Legacy and The Forgotten Age (on standard difficulty), and it worked very well.

The deck is presented at the 11-XP level, as that's where it starts to shine. You can see the changes made from the 0-XP version below the deck overview.

I'll start by giving a broad overview of the playstyle and then describe the actual deck and give some specific piloting-advice.

Five-color Lola

Here's a bold statement: Since Lola pays such a steep price for five-color access, you really should build your deck around utilizing all five colors! Everything else would be a massive waste.

There's a tendency to build Lola with as many neutral cards as possible. That produces a fairly consistent deck, but since every other investigator can take the same neutral cards, she usually simply ends up as a less good version of someone else.

For that reason I like to start a Lola deck by asking the following question: What is the best level 0-3 card in each color for this deck? I'll put those in and go from there. I still play neutral cards, but only when they genuinely do something unique.

It's obviously not that easy. You still need to plan around Lola's restrictions. I therefore group the colors into three "tiers":

Primary: One of the colors with 7+ cards and the one you'll want to stay in most of the time. It should be a color that works well with a low board-presence, as it'll likely get wiped by Crisis of Identity at least once during each scenario.

This role should enable both clue-gathering and enemy management. Enemy management can be especially tricky since most weapons require an action to take advantage of. One option is to mostly use neutral weapons (which can work), but both rogue and survivor include good options for both evading and attacking without having to put an asset into play beforehand. Good examples include: Streetwise, Lupara, Impromptu Barrier, Backstab, Switchblade, Survival Instinct and so on.

For solo play, I therefore find that rogue works best (not least because of Streetwise) and survivor second-best. There might be a Scrying/Alyssa Graham mystic build that could work by not getting hit by Crisis of Identity, but I haven't tested it yet.

Secondary: The two other colors you'll include 7+ cards of. They could broadly speaking serve two functions: Either as something you switch into for specific situations or for low-cost assets that you won't mind losing too much.

Survivor works well here as luck-mitigation (initiate a test in one role and then switch into survivor during one of the two player-windows (see here:

I also like seeker for the "academic army" type of allies (one-time effects upon playing and a bit of soak afterwards), and Magnifying Glass (1) ( which can be protected by returning it to your hand before drawing cards).

Additionally, Mystic has a bunch of powerful, but circumstantial, events that fit well in this secondary role.

Tertiary: The two last colors. You'll realistically only be able to include one or two playsets (i.e. two copies of one card) of each color in the deck, and you won't be spending much time in them, so they should be high-value permanent boosts. Crystalline Elder Sign, Bandolier (2) and the tarots are all good candidates. Dark Horse is another obvious choice, but I personally dislike playing "broke" Lola. You can also get some good boosts from allies like Lola Santiago, Brother Xavier and Peter Sylvestre if you can spare the ally slot, but you might not be able to take full advantage of their active abilities unless you are prepared to risk losing them early.

General piloting:

Mulligan: You are looking for assets in your opening hand - especially from the tertiary colors. If you get one of those, you begin the scenario in that color, play the card, and then switch to another color to protect the asset.

Playing cards: To minimize the odds of playing one of your important assets only to have it immediately wiped by Crisis of Identity you should generally adopt the following procedure:

By default, you should be in your primary color. Once you draw an asset from one of your secondary or tertiary colors that you'd like to play, you wait till the end of the round (preferably the player window in the Upkeep Phase) and change into that color. First action next round you play the asset and change back into your primary color.

Because you'll often draw after the last player window (see here: this generally means that you'll play these cards two rounds after drawing them. That's just something you'll have to get used to.

There's also always the chance that you'll get hit with something that forces you to change into a different role to deal with, thus delaying the process an entire round unless you have an Improvisation in hand. Just one more thing you have to live with.

For lower value assets you might occasionally simply choose to take some risk, and play it on the turn you change into that role. It can speed up setup a bit, but don't make a habit of it.

Doing things: With the secondary and tertiary colors providing static boosts (preferably getting Lola to at least 4+ in the skills you use most) and "silver bullets" for dealing with specific problems, you should be able to spend most of the game in your primary color simply getting clues and not dying.

Playing the Femme Fatale

The above framework is fairly flexible, so I find that you can construct some quite varied decks from it. This is the version I've run through TFA.

The deck runs rogue as the primary color, survivor and seeker as secondary and guardian and mystic as tertiary.


Rogue: The lynchpin of the deck is Streetwise. It won't be discarded by Crisis of Identity, so as long as you are in the rogue role, you'll have an answer to the two biggest obstacles the game throws at you (shroud values and enemies).

The other rogue cards help with economy and survival. .41 Derringer should be played with Sleight of Hand if possible.

Lone Wolf has some obvious problems in Lola, but I still find it to be worth the card slot. It get's replaced by Hot Streak (2) at some point though.

Seeker: Magnifying Glass will help you investigate and is cheap enough that losing it won't hurt too much. Art Student is great for getting clues off high shroud locations and provides a bit of soak. Dr. William T. Maleson is basically only there for the cheap soak.

Shrewd Analysis is included to bring the number of seeker cards to seven.

Laboratory Assistant could theoretically work very well, but after once playing it and drawing Crisis of Identity as one of the two cards, I'm not going to touch it. I was simply too much of a downer.

Survivor: Provides some luck mitigation. Initiate a skill test in another role and then change to survivor (either before or after committing cards) in case the test fails.

You can make a case for Lucky! over Live and Learn, but I wanted to keep the cost low.

I've also enjoyed playing Winging It and Act of Desperation is always worth a look.

Guardian: I don't include any other tarots, so the Ace of Swords is an easy way to boost combat a bit. Obviously best if drawn in the opening hand.

I've also experimented with Bandolier (2), which worked fairly well. Especially good if you bring some double-hand slot items.

Mystic: Crystalline Elder Sign is already great, and Lola is actually better positioned to take full advantage of the blanket skill boost than most mystics. If we ever get another "+1 to all skills" asset (besides Dark Horse), I think Lola will become a real powerhouse. Holy Rosary is a poor substitute, but you won't always draw the Crystalline Elder Sign early, and the extra soak never hurts.

Neutral: Nothing fancy here - just some all-round good cards, as well as Knife, which is getting replaced by Switchblade at the first opportunity.


The first 11 XP should obviously go towards getting to this deck. Buy cards in the following order:

After that I like to upgrade my weapons. I like switching the .41 Derringers for Luparas (which want to be played and used in one turn) and Switchblade. Many people prefer the Timeworn Brand, but I personally find it to be too expensive.

Also upgrade to two Magnifying Glass (1). and get two Hot Streak (2) (replacing Lone Wolf and a "Watch this!").

Once that's done, you can start getting the late-game flashy cards, like Will to Survive, Stroke of Luck, Sure Gamble and so on. Depending on the campaign you might also want Charisma.


Mulligan for a Crystalline Elder Sign and/or Ace of Swords. Get those into play and start investigating.

You aren't super killy, but between the weapons you do have, Elusive and Streetwise, you should be ok. The deck also has fairly many investigating tools, so gathering clues shouldn't generally be a problem.

As long as you keep the "playing cards" procedure in mind, Crisis of Identity will wiff most of the time.

Other than that just stay on your toes. The deck if fairly well-balanced, so you'll be able to handle most situations the game throws at you. It doesn’t have a ton of -icons though, so try to get an ally into play early to take a bit of heat off Lola.


Apr 03, 2019 mattastrophic · 408

Great deck and writeup!

Apr 04, 2019 Croaker13 · 1088

@mattastrophic Thank you. I'm not claiming that this is the only good way to play Lola (I can see that you've been successful with a relatively different setup, for example), but it's quite effective and isn't as swingy as some builds.

Apr 04, 2019 mattastrophic · 408

Yeah, I've been kicking around new builds myself, so your list was a perfectly timed sight.

What do you think of .45 Thompson or Enchanted Blade? I have a concept going to combine those and maybe Fingerprint Kits with Act of Desperation.

Apr 04, 2019 Croaker13 · 1088

@mattastrophic I did look at them for this deck, but they are both very vulnerable to an untimely Crisis of Identity. I think the .45 Thompson might work alongside Sleight of Hand, and maybe Fence, if you can afford it, but it seems like a really janky build.

On the other hand, you could just chance it and take the hit from Crisis of Identity when it happens. In that case I'd be way less upset losing the three-cost Enchanted Blade than the six-cost .45 Thompson. And even though getting a +6 to with Act of Desperation is cool, it's probably also almost always overkill. +3 should do in most cases.

Apr 13, 2019 mattastrophic · 408

On the other hand, +6 with Act of Desperation... then add Double or Nothing... yeah, it's janky but hilarious.

I'm having a fresh look at this deck right now, and I really like how you're using Survivor only for events and skill cards. I'm going to give Act of Desperation a shot (replacing Lone Wolf) with Enchanted Blade instead of Knife, so I'll have a non-Asset survivor card that does damage and gains resources.

May 03, 2019 Croaker13 · 1088

Yay! Awesome :-)

May 03, 2019 Greeniguana · 1

Congratulations on Deck of the Week! I've got some thoughts on this:

1) Thank you so much for being one of the people that's trying to make Lola work. I 100% agree that, if you're playing Lola, you should be playing the strong cards in all five colors otherwise you're just doing what other characters do, but worse.

2) I'm pretty sure that Ace of Swords doesn't work in Lola. Lola can only play cards of her role, and she chooses her first role AFTER she draws her opening hand. Ace of Swords triggers "When the game begins". I'd be thrilled to be proven wrong, but I remember seeing a discussion somewhere when the tarots were first introduced.

3) Have you given any thought to using Mr. Rook instead of William Maleson? He costs two more resources to put out, but then you can use him to forcibly pull out your weakness and also pull out a weapon or another power card you might be missing. Could be useful with Lola's bigger deck size, and if you're in Seeker, you can make sure none of your Magnifying Glasses are on the board. Just a thought.

May 04, 2019 Croaker13 · 1088

@Greeniguana Thanks. It's worth noting though, that the new Taboo list royally forks over (#watchthegoodplace) this particular version of five-color Lola. Maybe don't use it with this deck.

Regarding Ace of Swords: I don't have the reference at hand, but if I recall correctly, the game doesn't "begin" until after setup, which is where you draw your opening hand and choose role.

Put another way, you can't have the card in your opening hand when the game begins (text from Ace of Swords) if you don't draw your opening hand before the game "begins", so if it doesn't work for Lola, it doesn't work for anyone else either.

Regarding Mr. "Rook": I made this deck before he was released, so I don't think I considered him for it. I do think you're on to something, though you probably want to restructure the deck quite a bit if you run him.