Roland Banks: Not a Single Investigate Action

Card draw simulator
Odds: 0% – 0% – 0% more
Derived from
None. Self-made deck here.
Inspiration for
The miskatonic G-man who likes high shroud locations 0 0 1 1.0

Lucaxiom · 755

Alternative Title: Lazy Investigator Roland Banks

What do you do with an investigator with decent access to cards but only has 3?

This deck offers a solution; exploit the combined selections of test-less clue gathering that seeker and guardian cards provide, and end up with a deck that can scoop up 14 clues without a single investigate action.

Because drawing from the chaos bag is for schmucks and you're too good for that.


When Tested in a normal difficulty, 4-player The Circle Undone Campaign, it fared admirably, reaching the final act of the final scenario before perishing with only one prior scenario failed.

Of note is the tempo that this deck espouses; with most clues gathered from one time card effects and most weapons having limited uses, it has an explosive early-game before 'burning out' very quickly. This is especially useful alongside investigators that need a bit of set up to come into their own. In the TCU campaign, Mandy Thompson and Diana Stanley start off quite in-effective, and Roland was there to pick up the slack. But once burn-out occurs, they had come online and thus carried the provided momentum to act-deck conclusion again and again.

Of course, the successes of that campaign depended on higher level cards, and the theme of this deck matures into a clue-as-resource shtick. Dr. William T. Maleson hints of the desired direction of the upgrade path, and the two other cards that bring it all together is Forewarned and Quick Study. We'll go into more detail later on; for now, let's describe the overall strategy when performing test-less clue gathering.

For a Lawman, You're Sure Breaking A Lot of Rules

What makes this deck so amusing is that it straight up ignores many of the trials and tribulations that befall clue-gatherers, a common one being high shroud locations.

If you're not testing for clues, then you're not concerned with the difficulty of investigating a location, and it can be immensely pleasing to clear out a shroud 4 location all by yourself.

It gets even more gratifying if the location has victory points on it, which is more likely than not, since Arkham Horror LCG uses higher shroud to balance locations with victory points against those that don't.

And as for any actual clue-gatherers in your team, they can breathe a sigh of relief, as either Roland will likely be sticking to them closely, moving from location with clues to location with clues, or they can go to lower shroud locations to do their investigating, increasing their success-rate.

Another ignored pitfall is the encounter cards that obstruct investigating, two of which exist in the core encounter set: Obscuring Fog and Locked Door. Neither prevent test-less clue discovery, and has Roland laughing all the way to the Bank.

Finally, some locations have printed additional restrictions that affect investigating, whether through additional costs to investigate, additional penalties for failing, or additional shroud when some conditions or other is met. The most eponymous example of this? Haunted Locations (that TCU campaign was a blind one, so my convenient bypass of the campaign's main gimmick was completely co-incidental, not that that stopped me from laughing at Mandy's consternation every time she resolved a haunted keyword).

Building Your Own Crime Scene

Seeding your deck with enough weapons is a universal consideration for any guardian, and I decided upon 7 weapons in a 33 card deck as enough. Some guardians are wealthier than others, and thus can afford the bigger toys. Roland is not one of those guardians, so we stick with middling priced weapons such as .45 Automatic and Enchanted Blade, with one cheap option in Blackjack.

Fortunately, Roland's weapon budget is not competing against guardian allies, which are often equally expensive. Still, before we can get some bigger weapons, we'll need to invest in some extra resource acquisition on top of Crack the Case, as we'll see in the upgrade path.

Everything Else

Art Student, Connect the Dots, Evidence!, Scene of the Crime, Working a Hunch, and True Understanding are the cards that facilitate the test-less clue gathering theme.

Other than Connect the Dots, of which we include one copy of due to it being prohibitively expensive, and True Understanding, which isn't technically test-less, there's nothing of note to go into detail here. True Understanding should be readily committed to other people tests by the way, since Roland's own and probably won't lead to successful tests.

Dr. William T. Maleson and Smoking Pipe are our primary means of survival alongside Art Student. While Dr. Maleson has a mechanic that we'll be delving into more when upgrading, his main claim to fame is the most soak for money in the whole game.

Crack the Case for resources, and especially in this deck, aim for a 4 shroud clear into a 4 resource burst, due to the nature of the deck.

Shortcut and On the Hunt get you and enemies into position to trigger Roland's own clue-gathering ability.

Vicious Blow is a staple skill card, and Take the Initiative is a defensive card to deal with encounter deck tests like the likes of Rotting Remains.

Upgrade Path

Since our ability to fight is now pulling double duty, both to defeat enemies AND to gather clues, neglecting our weaponry would be foolish. Thus, our first 10xp goes straight into some weapon upgrades, namely .45 Automatic (2) and, most importantly, Enchanted Blade (3) .

Enchanted Blade (3) is a must have, since it folds horror healing into a persistent weapon and adds much needed card draw. This frees up card slots that Blackjack and Smoking Pipe occupy, and thus future upgrades can replace these cards without issue.

After ensuring our combat potential, the next 6xp goes to clue-as-resource cards. Quick Study and Forewarned are both defensive cards that protect against treacherous tests and treachery cards respectively. The massively downside of these cards are alleviated somewhat by Roland for a number of reasons:

  • He occasionally 'whiffs' on opportunities for getting clues by killing enemies in locations without clues. Being able to drop clue on demand eliminates this lost potential and negates the downside of clue-as-resource cards.

  • Certain cards that trigger when there's a clue at your location or when you pick up the last clue at a location. In our deck, those cards are: Crack the Case, Connect the Dots, and even the scary Cover Up. These cards are ineffectual if you been too zealous if your clue-finding before you draw them, which you will be, because clues founds equals victory. Fortunately, the option of dropping clues prevents this awkward position from happening.

  • Quick Study + True Understanding is a +4 to any treacherous test with a next to zero chance of being down one clue by the end of it. Before, you'd have had to rely on other investigators to past tests with True Understanding committed to them; now you're in the clear to commit it to your own tests.

With these two cards, you can drop Take the Initiative and On the Hunt, which provide similar benefits.

At 16xp, we're in a good place right now on all fronts, and can look to late-game cards. But first we'll need to make sure we can afford them, so we take "I've had worse…" (2) for additional resources and survivability. As a consideration you could eventually take "I've had worse…" (4), as there are some truly punishing effects in most scenario 7s and 8s, and you'll be looking to roll with the punches of elder gods. In either case, you'll be replacing Smoking Pipe with these.

At this point Dr. William T. Maleson will be taking his leave, replaced by one copy of Bandolier (2), marking the final preparation for our big gun, so that we might carry it and some smaller weaponry for a flexible approach to enemy management. With "I've had worse…" (2), Enchanted Blade (3) , and Forewarned, his soak and ability are no longer required.

But What Was the Big Thing He Was Working On?

Lightning Gun.

To be fair, any big gun will do, and Lightning Gun likely has fallen off in favour over power-creeped, newer stuff (Flamethrower, M1918 BAR, Springfi... OK maybe not that one). But Lightning Gun is thematic, doesn't have restrictions like Flamethrower, and you don't need the flexibility of M1918 BAR, what with the rest of your weaponry. And naturally, Blackjack will make way for two copies of Lightning Gun.

And the total xp spent? 32-36xp (depending on your version of I've had Worse). With any extra, Vicious Blow (2) or Shortcut (2) will serve you well.

Conclusion

This deck is not very complicated, bypasses some of the bullshit Arkham Horror LCG will throw your way, and can take point in a team of slow-burners with lengthy set-up times. Shoot first, ask questions afterwards, and use the answers to shoot better.

As always, I appreciate criticism and feedback about my deck concoctions. At this point, I've published a deck for 4 out of 5 of the core set investigators, so we'll finish off with Agnes Baker, and then, the Dunwich Legacy investigators next. Thanks to all who've given my decks a look over, I hope to provide more heavily-themed, off-standard decks to muse over.

5 comments

Feb 19, 2020 l33tspaniard · 1

I think this deck wants to run both sets of Roland signature cards if available. The weakness can be a benefit if you're using the .38, and the asset is either additional testless clue gathering or a way to prevent the dreaded cover-up-with-no-clues-left trap.

Feb 21, 2020 Lucaxiom · 755

`@l33tspaniard' You're right, it would fit the theme I'm going for. It just... it seems The Dirge of Reason is more punitive the the corresponding Mysteries Remain, in terms of net clues gained. Also two weaknesses that target sanity in a 5 sanity investigator's deck sound that playing with fire.

I wouldn't know, since I haven't played with Roland's variants.

Feb 26, 2020 arkady · 72

Great deck, I love it! I really enjoy playing Roland Banks and this deck especially! I had never played Roland Banks without Flashlight or Magnifying Glass, and it works! Just a few questions/comments - I would be very interested in what you think of the following: I usually like to play Hallowed Mirror, especially with such a mentally fragile investigator. I really dislike Smoking Pipe - what do you think about replacing them with the mirror and another copy of Dr. William T. Maleson? In multiplayer, I find "Let me handle this!" better than On the Hunt because it's free, it helps protect your fellow investigators and it can be used with True Understanding. What do you think?

Feb 27, 2020 Lucaxiom · 755

@arkady On my thoughts about Hallowed Mirror vs Smoking Pipe:

I won't bombard you with the detailed list of pros and cons for both healing assets. Instead, I would recommend you recall your previous games with this deck and thinks on which lose condition you were finding yourself closest to (or being defeated by):

If you're cutting it close on the doom threshold, or are hitting the doom threshold on the final act, you may want to 'speed up' your deck with less action intensive assets and less set up, AKA Pipe over Mirror.

If instead, you're finding yourself dancing with defeat by damage/horror, then more effective healing is in order; certainly not Pipe, which provides net zero healing. Taking the Mirror would be the right call.

This is assuming the rest of the deck isn't holding you back; for example lacking fighting power will see you taking a lot of damage regardless of which form of healing you've taken. Do make the decisions of which defensive cards you should take based on what's defeating you in your games.

No opinion on a second copy of Dr. Maleson; 3-4 disposable allies is the acceptable band.

On my thoughts on "Let me handle this!":

While it does protect your allies, it's more danger coming the way of a 'mentally fragile' investigator, as you put it. On the Hunt, in that sense, protects Roland from the encounter deck; drawing an enemy means not drawing a treachery.

BUT... "Let me handle this!"/True Understanding is a fantastic insight, and one that now leaves me conflicted on the right choice. True Understanding is definitely the black sheep of the test-less clue gathering cards, as Roland really isn't suited to passing non- tests. "Let me handle this!", in that sense, makes it a feasible card from campaign start, rather than wait for future cards to fix it.

So my final verdict on it is; "Let me handle this!" is cheaper, more flexible (it can take treacheries off other's for True Understanding, or enemies for clue-gathering opportunities), and has no chance of whiffing, while On the Hunt protects Roland more from the encounter deck.

I predict that the choice is better made on context sensitive considerations. Example include: "Let me handle this!" makes no sense in single-player, is Roland the most vulnerable to the encounter deck, or some other investigator, and are you playing a scenario for the first time (is which case On the Hunt provide early warnings of unknown treacheries). "Let me handle this!" being cheaper gives is an edge or course, but other than that, you should decide when you know the campaign, the difficulty, and whose else is in your party.

Feb 27, 2020 arkady · 72

Thanks so much for your insights! I keep misjudging cards because I tend to forget the important concept of action efficiency (which might explain why I lose to the Agenda deck...). I guess Smoking Pipe is not so terrible, considering how fast it goes to heal Roland's sanity.

Also, I have used "Let me handle this!" and Hallowed Mirror in a Roland deck, and it is very hard to both remain sane and not lose to the Agenda deck. I've thought of using Mr. "Rook" to get Roland his Mirror and also to get rid early of Cover Up... I've just made a deck based on that idea but I still have to test it out.

Anyway, thanks a lot for the very interesting answer! I love learning the subtleties of deckbuilding in this game so much!