Truly Understanding Silas Marsh

Card draw simulator
Odds: 0% – 0% – 0% more
Derived from
None. Self-made deck here.
Inspiration for
Silas and Carolyn 0 0 0 1.0

hotelfoxtrot · 129

So let me say first that this entire write-up is predicated on the idea that I actually correctly understand how to use True Understanding. Feel free to burst my bubble if I've got this wrong, but from discussion I've seen online, you're able to commit True Understanding to tests on cards that "belong" to the scenario:

  • On acts/agendas
  • Locations
  • Treacheries
  • Enemies
  • Story assets not included in an investigator's deck
  • Maybe something that I'm missing?

Now the potential here is kind of crazy, so I have to figure the reason I haven't seen/heard much discussion about this card must be the fact that most investigators who can take it already have better ways to get clues, but I'm here to tell you that this card is a 100% must-have in your Silas Marsh deck (in solo and 2-player, anyway... more than that and Silas won't have to worry about getting clues).

I recently finished a solo run-through of The Forgotten Age (standard difficulty) with this deck, achieving my best result in that campaign to date, and True Understanding was a big part of the reason why. I wish I’d kept count of the XP this card earned me from clearing clues off of VP locations, but my guess is that it was in the neighbourhood of 10XP – that’s a nice shiny pair of Timeworn Brands, is what that is. And all of those clues would have been considerably more difficult, if not near-impossible, for Silas to collect with the other tools available to him.

Using True Understanding

So maximizing your value with True Understanding does require a little strategy and planning, but it has the potential to be the best kind of card: one that rewards you for doing something you were going to do anyway.

It’s almost solely for high shroud locations. Flashlight alone has you covered for 2 shroud and less, and a combination of Flashlight and your variety of skill cards should do fine for 3 shroud.

The best move you can make is ending your turn on a high shroud location with a clue on it so that if you end up taking a test on a treachery in the mythos phase, commit True Understanding, do everything to can to pass it, and you’ll not only have beaten the encounter deck for a turn, you’ll have snagged yourself a clue for your trouble. Positioning yourself in the right spot shouldn’t be too hard with those snazzy new Track Shoes you’ve got on.

And when the stars align just right, you can get a bit more creative with it. One of my proudest True Understanding moments was when I drew a Locked Door that I placed on a 4 shroud location with 2 clues, worth 1 VP. I just ran around it until I got a pair of True Understandings in hand, then committed them both to the test to pick the lock, scooping up 2 clues after taking one agility test. I think I giggled.

The Rest of the Deck

I mean the point of this was mostly just to gush about True Understanding, but as long as we’re here, let’s chat about the 28 less exciting cards.

Honestly, I don’t think there’s anything ground-breaking here. Given the current card pool (and the need to balance clue gathering and fighting in solo), I’m not sure there’s a tonne of variation for what makes a good Silas deck.

Fight!Fight!Fight!

You can use Dark Horse and Fire Axe, this uses Meat Cleaver… I think both are probably fine, but I didn’t want to give up deck slots to Dark Horse. Given Silas’ limited options for weapon upgrades, Timeworn Brand is the clear next step since you have to keep a hand slot open to use Flashlight.

Other Clue Gathering

You’ll probably have noticed the conspicuous absence of survivor staple "Look What I Found!". I wanted to include it, and it was the last card to get cut out of this list, but it felt like the right choice. In solo, most of the locations have a single clue, so failing a test and paying 2 resources to only get half the benefit seemed underwhelming. Now, in 2-player with a mostly combat-focused Silas, I could see throwing this in instead of Flashlight, freeing up your other hand slot and opening up the variety of feasible weapons (I love me an Old Hunting Rifle…)

Belly of the Beast: It was pretty good! I think it particularly shines in TFA where you’re going to want to do a bunch of evading anyway, but it was a little bit harder to force the opportunity than it was with True Understanding. And of course, True Understanding actually helps you pass the test you’re taking!

Flashlight is Flashlight. Excellent at low shroud locations, a must in solo.

Honourable mention to Grisly Totem (both the Lv 0 and Lv 3 versions). Yup, it’s as good in Silas as you think it is.

I also used this run to test out Drawing Thin, but didn’t really fell like it shined here, and could probably just be Emergency Cache. It was the first thing in the deck that I replaced. Now, there’s some cool synergy with Take Heart, and I did manage to pull that off a couple times, but on the whole it just felt like too much set up for the payoff. That being said, I can see Drawing Thin working better in a more focused deck that was routinely taking tests at a skill level way above the pass threshold, like an evade-heavy Rita Young (as if there’s any other kind of Rita).

Upgrades

The deck is fairly tight as is, so upgrading actually got pretty tricky as the campaign went on, to the degree that I went into Shattered Aeons with 5XP left unspent because I just couldn’t bring myself to cut anything else.

This is where I ended up: Truly Understanding Silas Marsh (after TFA #7)

Priorities:

Peter Sylvestre (2): Always a solid include, but pretty necessary if you’re playing that dangerous Meat Cleaver game.

A Test of Will: Don’t wait too long to grab this, and don’t be shy to use it – especially in TFA where XP is pretty easy to come by. But probably save it for a treachery that doesn’t give you the chance to take a test – you’re Silas, if you want to pass a test, you probably will.

Grisly Totem (3): Even better than the original, with some good Take Heart synergy.

Timeworn Brand: As discussed above, it’s the only real choice for a weapon upgrade.

True Survivor: Natural fit in Silas for obvious reasons.

Lucky! (2): Efficient, great when you don't know what else to spend XP on. I specifically picked this up before City of Archives since keeping your hand full is crucial for making it out of that one in one piece.

Rise to the Occasion (3): Took me a while to put this in my deck, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized it was an unequivocal upgrade from Steadfast. Aside from the fact that you’re using icons instead of being limited to and , if you can commit Rise to the Occasion (3), it’s always a minimum of 3 icons, where Steadfast caps out at 3 and will only be that good early in the scenario.

I don’t really have anything else to say about the deck except that I had an absolute blast playing it through TFA despite that campaign’s innate brutality (I still wake up from nightmares in which I’m just drawing Lost in Time over and over again…).

The TL;DR here: True Understanding is a bit niche, but I think it’s WAY more powerful than we’ve been giving it credit for, and is a BEAST in solo Silas.

Try it out and let me know what you think!

12 comments

May 08, 2019 Ghost Meat · 266

Can attest this deck is a great time! Hotelfoxtrot and I often theory-craft decks together, and were both incidentally playing Silas through TFA at the same time. We had a few differences in card slot choices, but he had the great sense to identify True Understanding's flexibility and power in Silas, the range of which I missed a bit in my run, not understanding the diversity of moments one can use it.

Trust him, it's good. (Also, brilliant deck name!)

May 08, 2019 Greatsageishere · 137

How does true understanding help you pass your belly of the beast test?

May 08, 2019 hotelfoxtrot · 129

@Ghost Meat Thanks very much! Always great to kick around deck ideas with you, especially when I’m supposed to be working

@Greatsageishere It doesn’t. Sorry, I should have been clearer. What I meant was that it compares favorably to Belly of the Beast in that respect, since committing True Understanding to an eligible test, like say a Rotting Remains, not only gets you a clue if you’re successful, but also contributes a wild icon to the check to help you avoid the horror. As opposed to Belly of the Beast which, like True Understanding also gets you a clue for taking a non-investigate test, but Belly of the Beast does not actually help you pass the evade test. Hope that clears it up!

May 08, 2019 jamjams32 · 1648

It’s crazy how close this deck is to my solo Silas build that I made a few weeks ago and am currently taking through return to Dunwich legacy. But yeah it’s been unbelievably good. Game on

May 09, 2019 hotelfoxtrot · 129

@jamjams32 Great minds, am I right? Lol. But yeah, as I mentioned above, I think the most powerful card choices in Silas are pretty straightforward at the moment, with a few options depending on your role in the group. I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of support he gets whenever he’s finally widely released as part of a cycle!

May 10, 2019 CSerpent · 73

To be clear, you can use it for Parleys printed on enemies, for example, but not for Fights or Evades, nor for standard Investigates, since those are not "from an ability printed on a scenario card."

May 10, 2019 GreatGopher · 56

Looks awesome! I wasn't a huge fan of True Understanding when I played it in Minh, but it does seem like it would make a lot more sense when you don't already have 4 .

The only change I'd make is to find a spot for one Defiance, just so that the deck would officially have all five colors represented :)

May 10, 2019 brerlapine · 11

Love this. Thanks!

May 17, 2019 Eccegb · 1

I guess I don't understand what's so great about True Understanding for Silas. Silas' ability triggers after you pull the chaos token but before you determine finial skill value and determine success or failure. By my reading, if you commit this card and then use Silas' ability pull it back after the token is revealed, you don't get to benefit from its effect. Am I missing something here? Why is Silas' use of this card any better than anyone else's?

May 17, 2019 hotelfoxtrot · 129

@EccegbThanks for the question! It isn’t that True Understanding has any particular synergy with Silas’ ability, it’s more that, of all the investigators who can take True Understanding, I think Silas benefits from it the most. As I mention above, I think the card sees relatively little play because it’s a Seeker card and Seekers don’t need it. Silas, on the other hand, is not great at investigating, and has low willpower so he’ll often be committing cards to tests on treachery cards. True Understanding helps him in both those areas. And it’s not a bad target for his Elder Sign ability!

May 26, 2019 Praetorian1011 · 1

Hi, nice deck but I find the dark horse fire axe variant better? I will check this out though as havent tried the track shoes.

May 26, 2019 hotelfoxtrot · 129

@Praetorian1011 I can definitely see the appeal of the Dark Horse/Fire Axe build, and that might even be better in other campaigns, but I ran this Silas through TFA so I considered the following:

1) Evading is generally better than fighting, particularly in the first couple scenarios, so I wanted to make sure I had money for Peter and Track Shoes.

2) Lost in Time is a real pain. It’s already brutal for this deck to have lose a 3 cost asset... if I was keeping my money low with Dark Horse, it would be even tougher to come back from it.

3) In a Dark Horse deck I’d want to run Madame Labranche, but for this campaign I prefer Peter’s passive agility, and I didn’t feel there was room for 2 allies.

4) TFA is so generous with XP that it didn’t take me very long to replace both my Meat Cleavers with Timeworn Brands anyway. I think in Silas you have enough skill cards that you don’t need to rely on pumping a Fire Axe a bunch just to land a hit, so Timeworn Brand tends to be better, but it doesn’t synergize with Dark Horse.

All in all, I never wished I had the +1 from Dark Horse at the expense of all my cash. Again, in a different campaign where you were doing more fighting early on, and may not earn enough XP in solo to pick up the Brands, the Dark Horse/Fire Axe combo may pull ahead, but I do think that means some significant adjustments to the deck.