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StyxTBeuford · 743
A lens into a world unseen can reveal things you wish it hadn't.
This is my take on a true solo viable Carolyn Fern deck. It's no secret that Carolyn is geared towards support. She is a popular and powerful choice in multiplayer, however like many here I enjoy playing true solo quite a bit. This is yet another deck in a series based on maximizing Hawk-Eye Folding Camera, all inspired by Brownloaf's deck: "Snap snap, grin grin, wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more!". I've made a Marie Lambeau deck based on this idea, and Alpha5099 made a Norman Withers one titled: Norman Withers Teaches A Photography Elective. I highly suggest checking their decks out, they're fantastic.
"That's the worst plan I've ever heard. Well, what are we waiting for?"
The core idea of this deck is the same as all of its inspirations. We want to get one or both copies of Hawk-Eye Folding Camera out and we want them to get filled up to at least two evidence each. Alongside one copy of St. Hubert's Key, and if you choose to clear Foolishness of his horror, this will put you at 7 and 8 . From there you can use Mind over Matter and "I've got a plan!" to defend yourself using , as well as Shrivelling using . Cards like Magnifying Glass (later Death • XIII) and Deduction will help you fill the Cameras faster and more consistently.
The big trick in a solo Carolyn deck is figuring out exactly how much horror healing you want. Carolyn's 9 Sanity means she's not at much risk of dying to horror, so the ability becomes analogous in solo to that of Jenny Barnes, allowing you to consistently gain extra resources each turn for healing horror. For that reason we run Peter Sylvestre + Forbidden Knowledge, an engine that guarantees we heal 1 horror per turn for 4 turns, netting us 5 resources total in that time (gain 8, but pay 3 for Peter). Peter will then continue to pay off in the long run as the scenario occasionally dishes out horror. Other sources of horror are included in the deck itself- Painkillers allows Carolyn to heal her significantly more fragile 6 Health, and Shrivelling will occasionally dish out a horror as well. The only other horror healing in the deck is Liquid Courage, which can be used to clear any horror in Carolyn that made it past Peter. For additional economy we run a single copy of Crack the Case and a single copy of Emergency Cache.
Prepared for the Worst:
The card I want to talk about the most in this deck is Backpack. My goodness I love this card for Carolyn. Obviously it can help us grab Cameras, but counting the other copy of it, there are twelve targets in total it can hit: Hawk-Eye Folding Camera, Magnifying Glass, St. Hubert's Key, Liquid Courage, Painkillers, and one each of Backpack and Emergency Cache. Now when we replace Magnifying Glass with Death • XIII, the Backpack is more likely to whiff, however we will be upgrading into Stick to the Plan which will help thin things out a bit by grabbing Dynamite Blast, "I've got a plan!", and Ever Vigilant. But whether it grabs 1 card or 3, I've never regretted putting it in this deck. It's amazing at doing everything this deck needs to do.
One quick thing I want to note is Deduction. If playing a campaign in true solo with less 2+ clue locations (for example Carcosa), I'd swap this with Eureka! for the extra draw and digging. Deduction helps us fill the Cameras more quickly, but there are simply some scenarios where they are basically useless in true solo. If you're not sure which to bring, go with Deduction to be safe.
Finally I want to talk about Foolishness and To Fight the Black Wind versus Hypnotic Therapy and Rational Thought. In solo, I find the former pair to be superior. At worst you add some doom to the agenda (all but guaranteed you get 1 doom), but the 1 horror it inflicts is fairly benign. In subsequent rounds to avoid doom all you'll need to do is assign horror to Sylvestre and have him heal it, and nab the rest with Liquid Courage. Once the current agenda advances, it falls off. Rational Thought on the other hand punishes you for not having enough horror healing sources, and it punishes your economy very harshly. This deck really does not have the time to deal with clearing 4 horror out of nowhere. On the other hand, clearing Foolishness' 3 horror is doable if you happen to Backpack or draw into Liquid Courage, and if not he can just be committed for icons. That said your mileage may vary. For example in scenarios with very large doom thresholds, To Fight the Black Wind becomes significantly more risky. Both sets of cards work fine, the extra source of healing from Hypnotic Therapy is not useless by any means, but in general for solo I find one weakness to just be slightly more manageable than the other.
Do not exceed the recommended dosage. ~ Painkillers
Hard mulligan for Hawk-Eye Folding Camera, Backpack, St. Hubert's Key, and Peter Sylvestre. Other cards worth having early include Forbidden Knowledge, Magnifying Glass, and Deduction. Your initial turns should be prioritized setting up Peter, Key and Camera. Once you've got a Camera out, start investigating and build your stats up. Once you pick up Death • XIII you'll want to hard mulligan for that as well. Do note that Backpack does not grab Death, as it doesn't constitute an item, so Backpack loses a small bit of value post upgrade.
For self defense you have lots of options. Even before your stats are up, Mind over Matter alongside Peter Sylvestre will help you evade most things, and later on allow you to punch for an extra damage or three. "I've got a plan!" is incredibly powerful but relies on you being mindful of when to advance the act. Hoard your clues if it means you can take out that horrible enemy right now. Shrivelling helps once you've got your up a bit from the Key or from the Camera (and later Peter Sylvestre will help out with this as well). As long as you're keeping your economy up, Dynamite Blast shouldn't be any problem to afford. Don't forget to heal any extra damage with Painkillers.
Take the Initiative will help you on the more severe treachery tests (especially later on for tests in particular). You can also use it if needed to clear a high shroud location at the beginning of the game while your stats are down. The majority of the cards in this deck boost or , so Take the Initiative is particularly good at covering the other two stats in a pinch.
If you've got a spare second to play some assets, I recommend Backpack and Liquid Courage. The former helps you grab more cards, and the latter will help you heal horror on Foolishness or Rational Thought, or to prevent the doom on To Fight the Black Wind.
Let go, and embrace a new truth. ~ Death • XIII
1x Stick to the Plan (6 XP)
1x Keen Eye (3 XP)
The upgrades are centered on economy more than anything. Ever Vigilant and Stick to the Plan together allow you to compress your initial turns more easily. Stick to the Plan means you can have Dynamite and Kevin McCallister in your back pocket right from the beginning as well. Upgraded Peter Sylvestre gets us another , and Keen Eye lets us sink any excess resources into for a whole turn, particularly useful with Mind over Matter. Upgraded Dynamite Blast lessens the need to evade due to Attacks of Opportunity. Finally, if you're running Foolishness, you may elect to have him hang out with the boyfriend to get your stats even higher or to just have more soak.
"Will we need to save you again?" Foolishness flicked his tail back and forth. "Perhaps. Perhaps I'll do the saving." ~ Foolishness
I've really enjoyed making and playing this deck. By no means do I think this is a perfect solo deck, so criticism is more than welcome. Carolyn is not as clear cut for solo as many other investigators, but I highly recommend giving her a try. She might very well surprise you, as she did for me.