Shallow Gravedigger William (Hard Mode)

Card draw simulator

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Derived from
None. Self-made deck here.
Inspiration for
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Ruduen · 353

This deck has successfully made its way through a normal run of The Forgotten Age, and has defeated incredible odds in a hard run through Night of the Zealot. As such, I'm happy to present a build to show off what William is capable of:

Shallow Gravedigger William

This deck is my most recent experiment with William Yorick. While the base chassis of this deck looks similar to various others, I believe that the eventual build path diverges enough. It is meant to focus on handling monsters, either through strong hits with Meat Cleaver or retaliatory damage, while keeping his own stats in good condition through those kills using Cherished Keepsake, Leather Coat, Guard Dog and Aquinnah to tank or retaliate to blows that most would crumble under. It focuses on taking advantages of costs William can bear, rather than spending those effective actions on additional attacks - a decision which has larger impacts at higher difficulties.

Initial Variation

Note that this deck has the initial 9 XP spent to indicate how it should be played in a stand-alone and to give a better idea of initial upgrades. If you are playing a new campaign, make the following adjustments:

Mulligan Strategy

General Strategy

The goal of this deck is to get as much monster killing power as possible early on, and then consistently use, lose, and recycle the 'survival'/'retaliation' cards to support it.

This deck will focus heavily on Guard Dog and Aquinnah to squeeze out extra bits of damage. In most minor fights, William can afford to take a hit of sanity or two. Damage should generally be distributed so Guard Dog can take a few hits, while setting up sanity such that Meat Cleaver can finish something off while recovering a bit of sanity. In an ideal case, William can hover around 2-3 sanity, taking hits to Cherished Keepsake and continuously bringing it back to pay for Meat Cleaver, while occasionally soaking blows himself if you need to bring back Aquinnah or Guard Dog.

This also allows William a lot more flexibility with Drawing Thin. As long as there is a Cherished Keepsake and Leather Coat available in your discard, it means flat damage dealing treacheries are an easy sink for Drawing Thin. Once you have enough resources, you can have Aquinnah or Guard Dog soften up your enemy, go down, and then bring them back after you finish off the enemy. Just as important is the consistency involved - you're almost guaranteed a large chunk of damage whenever you're using them to tank, rather than subjecting yourself to the whims of the chaos bag.

If you don't have monsters available, then you can turn some effort to finding clues. A couple of Flashlights and "Look what I found!" means that while William won't be grabbing every clue on demand, he can usually scrounge up enough to get by. Lucky! can also fill that gap, should you really need it. In solo, you'll want to keep a closer eye on your Act of Desperation, just so you can chuck and re-grab any used-up Flashlights. Eventually, Eucatastrophe will help you plug that gap - two resources is often a small price to pay to make checks that you have no business making, especially at difficulties where the bag is rife with negatives. While William isn't an expert clue gatherer, he can scrounge up things in larger games or sneak by in smaller ones.

Strategies for Cards

While many cards in this deck are self-explanatory, I wanted to clarify the most 'core' pieces of this deck and the corresponding combat style:

  • Meat Cleaver: William's primary weapon. His sanity should hover at around 2-3, so he can always get a +2 from this on demand. Cherished Keepsake should tank any excess damage to keep him hovering in that sweet spot.
  • Cherished Keepsake/Leather Coat: Mr. Pawterson will often soak more than enough sanity to keep you intact or in good condition through a fight, and I've had games where he took more damage than any single investigator did. If you've got no better cards in your discard, keep finding and setting him back up. While the coat isn't quite as necessary, it's available just in case you need a health tank. It can (and often should) serve as an extra icon to commit, that you can happen to bring back should you need it.
  • Track Shoes: Even by default, William can occasionally squeeze out an extra move or two with the shoes. However, the main purpose of these is to eventually offer an outlet for...
  • Drawing Thin: William can make as good of a use of this as any other. However, it's worth noting Drawing Thin's resource gain will see more use than the draw would in other decks - William effectively has access to his discard for assets, which means he'll constantly re-use some major tanking cards.
  • Aquinnah (3): While Cherished Keepsake will be your primary sanity sink, Aquinnah can serve as one in a pinch. However, her more useful ability is the ability to deal an enemy's damage to any other, including itself. Even if you're forcing her to tank the sanity damage as well, this usually means that she's capable of saving you an attack action every time you use her, as well as preventing the damage from hitting you.
  • Guard Dog: While dogs don't do as much damage as Aquinnah usually does, they're more than capable of taking a few solid blows, and are often a better option for dealing a single damage to lower health targets. You often want them to start things off, so you can also regain a sanity from a Meat Cleaver attack.
  • Act of Desperation: While this allows William to recycle 'used up' weapons for resources, it's also worth noting that in an easier fight, it's not a bad option to chuck a Flashlight, just so you can bring it back without consuming an action. Of course, if you already have one out, feel free to chuck it so you can scrounge up some extra batteries when it comes back.

Notable Adjustment Options

  • -Enchanted Blade for Survival Knife: This variation of William certainly takes enough hits to make Survival Knife tempting. However, I found I often needed the immediate extra damage from Enchanted Blade more often, and the Survival Knife's condition requires an engaged enemy to attack William specifically at the end of the turn. That resulted in too many conditions and odd timings to be worthwhile - rather than triggering Attacks of Opportunity, it would require William to sit and engage at the right timing. I found the Enchanted Blade's consistency to be more important than the occasional spikes the knife could give. This is especially true since this build uses no damage healing, and tanks through distribution to gear/allies.
  • -Unexpected Courage for Dig Deep: This build uses a lot of resources for bringing back assets. However, if you prefer to use resources to better handle certain treacheries, you may prefer having Dig Deep and burning through those resources. Note that this will depend even more heavily on Drawing Thin than before.

Notable Exclusions

Upgrade Options

This build spends William's first 9 points on essential cards to make sure he has enough resources to consistently recycle his more impactful allies. However, once you've spent those, there are some other very good options for William:

  • -Flashlight x1 for Key of Ys x1: William is an absolutely amazing user of the key. Meat Cleaver allows him to fuel it up while fighting monsters. Aquinnah will allow you to sideline up to 4 sanity without putting the key at risk, and once you have Relic Hunter, Cherished Keepsake allows you to buffer even more, and to simply bring it back if it goes down. Even if the key goes down, it just means he'll scrounge it right back after the next fight. Despite the taboo cost increase, this can allow William to do comfortably make attempts at anything as long as he has it. Always keep your eyes open, because if you ever have enough XP to take the key, you'll want to do so.
  • -Act of Desperation x1 for +Eucatastrophe x1: William's favorite contingency. As long as you keep it on hand, you can change any auto-fail to "Spend 2 resources to get +2 instead", and immediately bring it back for future use. It also allows you to take some larger risks with more difficult investigation checks.
  • +Relic Hunter x1: Under normal circumstances, this isn't quite as good as Charisma. It only comes later than Key of Ys because William is more than capable of keeping the key out without the slot support. However, once you have the key, it makes for a reasonable backup tanking mechanism. If you're particularly greedy later, you can also try working in extra copies of Rabbit's Foot.
  • -Lucky! x2 for +Lucky! (2) x2: 2 XP might seem like a lot for an extra draw. However, Lucky! is solid enough that it never feels bad to recover it with his effect. Between Resourceful and that effect, one upgraded copy of Lucky can end up drawing you three or four extra cards over multiple repeated uses.
  • +Charisma x1: Surprising nobody, Charisma remains a powerful for William, allowing him to use both Aquinnah and Guard Dogs whenever the right moment calls for it, or keep one on hand if the other goes down a little early. It may even be worth a second copy of Aquinnah if you're going this route. It also jumps in value if you are playing a campaign where William was assigned a story reward ally, since it will be important to keep a slot available.
  • -Enchanted Blade x1 for Machete/Timeworn Brand x1: After Meat Cleaver, William doesn't have a lot of great fighting options. Both of these are reasonable methods of getting solid hits in, if you feel you need to fight rather than just retaliate.
  • +Scrapper x1: Since William has solid fighting and evasion stats, this is usually low priority. However, if you really need a solid hit or an extra bit of move from his shoes, this allows you to near guarantee it.
  • -Cherished Keepsake for +Police Badge: This is a low priority upgrade. While a Police Badge is a good way to cycle some power, I don't find that two actions is always worth the three resources spent to get it, since those actions will often require spending more resources to make you can make them count. This is combined with the fact that William desperately wants the accessory slot for Cherished Keepsake to keep his sanity stable if he's attempting to retaliate against any sanity-based attacks. I'd only consider this if you have enough extra XP to also grab a second copy of Relic Hunter.


Thanks for sticking through this entire write-up. If you liked this build, you may also want to look at some of my other decks.

Thoughts and comments are appreciated!


Feb 11, 2020 TWWaterfalls · 539

I love playing the Aquinnah/Guard Dog combo with Yorick. I just started TFA with Stray Cat Yorick and this might be a ridiculously good combo especially in TFA where killing everything isn't a good thing.

Feb 11, 2020 Ruduen · 353

@TWWaterfalls I can see the Stray Cat becoming more important in TFA. In my run, I found that with Track Shoes, Resourceful, and Lucky!, Yorick can evade once or twice. Later on, I ended up tanking a hallway full of hunters with the power of the Key of Ys and Eucatastrophe for the major threats, while occasionally taking swings at the smaller ones. The innate three is notable enough with those boosts strapped to it.

Stray Cat is tricky to manage in normal cases, where you would be using it to evade one enemy, then need to defeat something else before bringing it back, rather than bringing a higher combat card back. However, in a situation like TFA where it's more important to keep evading, it can certainly earn its place.

Feb 11, 2020 TWWaterfalls · 539

I am more or less just expecting the Stray Cat to reduce the number of enemies that need to be killed. Yorick will still do his killing but the action efficiency with Stray Cat is silly good. Play it initially and then it is actionless (1R) to bring it back and actionless to evade before restarting the cycle. The other befefit is that you can evade enemies engaged with other investigators without having to engage them.

Feb 11, 2020 Ruduen · 353

@TWWaterfalls I didn't consider that the cat is worded to give it that flexibility - that's definitely a useful ancillary benefit, especially in larger play groups.

Thanks for the feedback and the extra thoughts!