Norman Withers - Delving into the Abyss

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Tacomental · 10


Hello and welcome! I've been drawn to Norman Withers as an investigator since I first started playing the game. I just love the idea of this science based astronomer discovering an anomaly in the stars and that leading him down a path to the occult.

I also mechanically speaking love both Seeker and Mystic classes and Norman truly gets the best of both worlds at the cost of being fairly weak in the first few scenarios ( he loves a babysitter).

Recently my GF and I played 2 player through The Circle Undone and I found GREAT success this starting build. I do need to work out my exact upgrades but I feel I've stumbled onto a fantastic way to start out with Norman.

Peeking Into The Abyss - Initial Mystic Cards

  • 2x [Arcane Research](/card/04109)
  • 2x [St. Hubert's Key](/card/03269)
  • 1x [Delve Too Deep](/card/02111)

Having only 5 mystic cards can create some interesting choices. My goal here is to create a strong base for pushing into the LVL 1-5 card pool. To this end 2x Arcane Research and 1x Delve Too Deep. 2 copies of Delve is an option but I strongly feel 2x St. Hubert's Key key is just too important to pass up on. It gives you a nice bonus to both of your key stats and grants you some mental damage protection to offset starting with 2 mental trauma. The icing on the cake is that your investigator ability will help you get it into play cheaper on occasion.

Key Cards

These cards are so important stay in your deck the entire campaign

Hawk-Eye Folding Camera - This card is KING. You'll be getting a LOT of clues for your team and this card stacks up both of your key stats and allows you to take more horror. Once you sub out your magnifying glass you'll run two of these at once. If you can get them both out early enough you can stack evidence on them twice as fast.

Dr. William T. Maleson - This guy is awesome. He is cheap soak and he lets you spend clues to redraw bad encounter cards. This is REALLY helpful early to stop the drawing of monsters before you're setup to handle them. He can be played for free off your deck as well.

Knowledge is Power - This card was literally built for Norman. This gets you extra uses out of Shrivelling and Rite of Seeking. In a pinch you can use it to cycle a card out when you have a duplicate.

No Stone Unturned - This card is great for healing up your horror from the starting trauma and future hits from your Shrivellings.

Crack the Case - I used Unearth the Ancients as a solid economy card for Norman but as the campaign goes on and your cheaper cards start to leave your deck and the expensive spells start to become a liability. I will now sub in Crack The Case because you'll always be getting clues, you can trigger it on friends, and on average you'll get more resources per use. It's not bad that you can also hand some off if you need to help a friend.

Logical Reasoning: This card is really good for healing your initial horror. It is also great for stopping Frozen in Fear. In a pinch it can be used for it's but that is rare.

St. Hubert's Key & Arcane Research These will not be going anywhere throughout the campaign either but are described in more detail in the previous section.

Early Seeker Cards

These will be replaced as you gain xp

Dealing with enemies

["I've got a plan!"](/card/02107) - This is your big hitter and you want to try to save this for mid-late campaign for big hits unless you're in a really dire situation. Yo're not upset if you have it after a redraw though because your base investigate will get you some initial clues if needed.

[Mind over Matter](/card/01036) This is a good cheap combat card for your first scenario or two. It's a little more flexible than ["I've got a plan!"](/card/02107) since it lets you evade. For this reason you'll want to replace ["I've got a plan!"](/card/02107) before replacing this. [Persuasion](/card/04105) This is another trick up your sleeve for enemies. It's great for getting rid of cultists. If you're the type of person who likes fine clothes and you can make another cut somewhere it could be a nice combo. [Occult Lexicon](/card/05316) This card is great because it can give testless damage in a pinch or it can help with card draw. It does take a hand slot and i've found that I'll often replace my magnifying glass with this if the need arises.

Finding What you Need

[Eureka!](/card/03231) - Throw this into checks you're already sure to succeed to go find that tool you're still looking for; Hawkeye, Huberts Key, or something to deal with an enemy. This will be replaced pretty early. [No Stone Unturned](/card/03026) This will be replaced in the late game. Its great for finding those first few spells you'll add, help ensure ealry access to hawkey and in general reshuffling enemy weaknesses before you're setup to deal with them.

Clue Hunting Support

[Deduction](/card/01039) - This can safely be replaced after you grab 2x [Rite of Seeking](/card/51007) (4). It will speed up your early game and I try to save it for until I have my [Hawk-Eye Folding Camera](/card/05154) in play. [Magnifying Glass](/card/01030) - This is a gimme card. Play it as soon as you can and especially off the top of your deck. Eventually you'll replace these with other card and start dual-wielding [Hawk-Eye Folding Camera](/card/05154).

Opening Hand & Mulligan

There are three areas you need tools for at the start.

  1. Enemy Management
  2. Key Stat Boosts
  3. Economy

Enemy management you're not picky on. You have 5 cards that work out for you always mulligan your [Occult Lexicon](/card/05316) but you're never mad if you redraw it.

Stat Boosts you're also not too picky on but your top pick is [Hawk-Eye Folding Camera](/card/05154) since your initial stats are passable and you'll want opportunities to get evidence on to this. Also magnifying glass popping up on your deck is idea.

Economy is low priority in the first game or two. [St. Hubert's Key](/card/03269) is your biggest drain and you'll want to make sure you have money to use ["I've got a plan!"](/card/02107) when you draw that random enemy you have to deal with. [Crack the Case](/card/05110) you'd want to get rid of to save until you're better setup to tackle large shroud locations.

Norman's Ability I want to take a moment to bring up how good Norman's ability is in the early game. After your initial mulligan if you don't get your key cards you have a decent chance to have grabbed one of your 4 deck search cards. On top of that you get to see the top of your deck. If it's not one of the core cards you need then you can search with [Eureka!](/card/03231) or [No Stone Unturned](/card/03026). The added benefit is that after you do this search if you still don't have what you need, you get another deck shuffle and it might pop up on top of your deck ready to use with a 1 resource discount.

This really helps Norman to setup his early game very efficiently. You'll find [Hawk-Eye Folding Camera](/card/05154) very reliably and be able to get it setup for the needed stat boost.

This is also true as you start to add in 1 or 2 copies of your high powered spells. Don't be afraid to spend 5 xp on 1 [Shrivelling](/card/02306) (5) instead of 2 copies of [Shrivelling](/card/02154) (3). This saves you wasting XP on intermediate steps and this is why the starting deck has 5 options for dealing with enemies ( not counting [Dr. William T. Maleson](/card/02302) & [Split the Angle](/card/98008))

Piloting The Deck

Piloting this deck starts out relatively straight forward. Get your stat boosts in place, get lots of clues while safely managing the encounter deck ( monsters included). This is literally the core of what you need to do in Arkham Horror and Norman can do this very well.

Ability, Elder Sign and Signatures

Ability: Norman's ability is fantastic for both economy and consistency/flexibility. It's core downside is that you can't play skills from it. (This is why you have 4 total skills and why we go for mega boosting the core stats so you'll rarely need to commit cards anyway). It has 1 downside. When you reveal your weakness it gets played RIGHT away. This is bad because if it is an enemy weakness and it comes out on your turn you get attacked. It is good because you never waste your end of turn draw getting a weakness. The other big advantage it has is that you can trigger deck reshuffles to get a new peek at your top card. This combos really well with [Eureka!](/card/03231) and [No Stone Unturned](/card/03026) as discussed previously.

Elder Sign (): This isn't anything to write home about but very rarely you can use it for a hail-mary situation. Usually it's used to setup a smarter economy play by moving a card you were planning to play this turn to your deck so you get it out for 1 resource cheaper.

[Split the Angle](/card/98008): This is not the strongest signature card and most of the time it's use for it's skill icons. That being said it can be used in a pinch to proceed more safely. This card makes you want to be the lead investigator so that you're seeing and stopping the card you would draw.

[Vengeful Hound](/card/98009): This weakness can be really annoying. This is the reason we need to make sure we have a way to deal with an enemy on top of trying to get [Dr. William T. Maleson](/card/02302) out early. Until you deal with this weakness you want to recycle drawn enemies with his ability.


  • HUGE XP gains: In the first three scenarios of TCU I had 9xp, 10xp, and 7xp respectively. 26xp after 3 scenarios.
  • Consistency: See the mulligan section.
  • Encounter Deck Defense:
    • High stops most encounter cards in thier tracks - Base 7 with huberts + 2 [Hawk-Eye Folding Camera](/card/05154) with only 1 evidence each.
    • You can safely use [Dr. William T. Maleson](/card/02302) with your high
    • [Split the Angle](/card/98008) can be used if you need to really be cautious such as being on low health or not setup
    • As you dive into the card pool you'll get cards like [Ward of Protection](/card/02307) (2) or [Ward of Protection](/card/03270) (5)
  • Token Manipulation: You can potentially add cards that help you mitigate the chaos bag since you'll be rolling XP.


Low : This will bite you from time to time. You can mitigate this when it comes to evading monsters and to a degree the encounter deck via [Dr. William T. Maleson](/card/02302) and [Ward of Protection](/card/03270) but you will still run into issues when locations have skill checks requiring feet. Speed: Norman is not the speediest investigator over all. You will want to clear locations for building up Hawkeye which will mean you want to stop at low clue count locations to grab a clue and this will lead to more XP but until you get more action compression from your skills. Also [Dr. William T. Maleson](/card/02302) is safe but you'll have to drop and pick up clues as a cost for that safety. Expensive: Norman starts with a really great cost curve in the beginning. This will change as you pick up your LVL3-5 cards. This means you will need to continue to support yourself with the included economy cards and potentially add more [Sacrifice](/card/04234) or [Recharge](/card/03197) can help here. Though [Sacrifice](/card/04234) is more reliable and offers card draw if needed.

Early Game

Early game for Norman is about Safety and setting up. If you have a solid start, meaning you have a way to deal with a monster and at least one stat boost you should get that stat boost out and start grabbing clues. If you start with [St. Hubert's Key](/card/03269) get it out and start getting clues but you'll really need to take some econ actions in-case your only combat option early game is ["I've got a plan!"](/card/02107). [Hawk-Eye Folding Camera](/card/05154): Get this out asap and start stacking it up. Go before your friends and end up on their locations if they are getting final clues, Target low shroud / low clue count locations.

Tip 1: Use [Dr. William T. Maleson](/card/02302) when you're on low shroud location with 0-clues. (If you haven't used that location for evidence yet). It doesn't matter what the encounter card is just deflect it and drop a clue. This tactic is especially important mid-campaign when you're trying to run these in both hands and want to stack them up.

Mid Game

Reaching for the stars

You want all the xp you can get. Stack clues by clearing out all of the victory point areas and forget about the other locations. Generally speaking if you can end your turn on non-victory locations so that if you need to use [Dr. William T. Maleson](/card/02302) you can drop a clue and not worry about it. Bonus if it's a low shroud and you can pick it back up if your [Hawk-Eye Folding Camera](/card/05154) needs stacking.

With all the clues stacking up and the victory locations clear you'll also want to look for an opportunity to use your ["I've got a plan!"](/card/02107) for it's +3 damage to help finish off any enemies that have Victory.

[Delve Too Deep](/card/02111): This is another way to stack up XP and you personally can use it without much worry once your stats are stacked. [Dr. William T. Maleson](/card/02302) should be available as insurance against a bad pull. This is also another good use for [Split the Angle](/card/98008. In a 2p game if you're not the lead investigator you can peek at the top card and when it's a good encounter card for your partner safely pop your Delve.

Late Game

Late game will be the final scramble for a few clues, which you're already geared up for. In the first scenario you will now probably be out of your monster fighting options. This is usually where I drop a magnifying glass for [Occult Lexicon](/card/05316). This gives you more accuracy in pulling extra copies of [Blood-Rite](/card/05317) and the card draw will help me spike through my deck on my terms ( for mitigating the horror it gives). Once your deck is reset you can hope to draw more tools to deal with any other monsters. As long as [Norman Withers](/card/98007) strong consistency gave you a good start and you're paired with an investigator that can handle enemies for you (with evasion or damage) you'll likely coast through with a decent amount of XP. ( If you can get 6xp after the first scenario [Arcane Research](/card/04109) and [Delve Too Deep](/card/02111) will get you to 9xp. That is enough for both [Rite of Seeking](/card/02233) and [Shrivelling](/card/02306) and you're already way ahead of the curve.)


I've only begun to scratch the surface with Norman who has such strong upgrade options into the high xp Mystic Card pool. I'll post updates and leveling guides in the future as I build him up. I hope you find this guide helpful to get a [Norman Withers](/card/98007) deck rolling. It really is a snowball and the hardest part is starting with a foundation that will set you up for success. This is my first in-depth guide and I welcome all comments and feedback! I'd love to hear what types of upgrade paths as you teach this old-dog new tricks as he moves from the world of academia to the occult.