Opening Night: A Guide to Building a Lola Hayes deck

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zozo 557

Introduction
Hey all, this is a beginner-focused Lola Hayes deck that sprang out of conversation online around building a deck for Lola with a single core set and only a few packs. For this challenge, I've limited myself to 1 core set and 1 of each of the two deluxe expansions, The Dunwich Legacy and The Path to Carcosa. The implications of this are clear: many highly regarded cards from the core set, which ideally would be 2-ofs (here's looking at you Dr. Milan Christopher and Ward of Protection), are instead 1-ofs. That's by no means efficient, and comes in a deck for an investigator who has a larger-than-normal deck size. However, I thought it a fun challenge and in the process it raised some interesting points I wanted to share regarding the 'fundamentals' of deckbuilding, and indeed playing Arkham Horror.

Caveat
This is by no-means meant to be an 'optimum' Lola Hayes deck – I have no idea if such a thing can even exist. Instead, it's an opportunity to think about how to approach building a halfway-workable Lola deck and hopefully prompt some discussion in the community.

This is also meant to be a multiplayer deck with a focus on grabbing clues - but hopefully the guide below will point you towards making Lola work how you'd like.

Deckbuilding Concept
So, how does one build a Lola deck? There are various restrictions, most pressingly the two regarding roles: Lola needs 7 cards from 3 different factions, and during play, Lola can only play, commit or trigger abilities on neutral cards and cards of her role. She can also only switch role, using a trigger, once per turn (barring and Improvisation). Where does that leave us?

Well, one way of looking at Lola is breaking down her deck:

  • 5 required cards (2 improvisation, 2 crisis of identity, 1 random basic weakness)
  • 7 faction 1
  • 7 faction 2
  • 7 faction 3

which is 26 of her 40 cards, leaving 14 cards to fill out her deck. Rather than doing these 14 last, I've taken to doing them first: 14 neutral cards that can be used by Lola whatever her role.

The spine of the deck, then, is 10 neutral skills, 8 of which offer a chance of drawing through her larger than usual deck, 2 copies of Emergency Cache for resources and 2 copies of Flashlight. With Flashlight, Lola can respectably investigate locations of shroud 3 or lower, and she can use it regardless of her role. I'd suggest that even if you intend to build Lola as a brawler, 2 copies of Flashlight, so that she can do a teensy bit of clue-grabbing or has a couple of spare icons to chuck to investigators who need them, is no bad thing.

I just want to pause really to emphasise the importance of neutral cards in Lola: the trap many people seem to fall into with Lola decks is going hog wild with 35 cards from 5 factions, piling in all sorts of 'fun', 'cool', 'weird' possible combinations. But so many cards in this game, from Art Student to Forbidden Knowledge, will require Lola to be in the right role. Even a simple 'horror' soak like Peter Sylvestre requires you to be in to trigger the . Falling into the trap of 'wouldn't it be great if I could pull off this amazing combo?' is probably going to leave your Lola deck a hot mess and drive you the player quickly mad.

The other thing that Lola's restrictions don't stop, importantly, is static boosts – the +1 from Holy Rosary or +1 from Dr Milan. Some people have suggested a Dark Horse Lola deck, setting all four of her stats at 4, is the way to go. It's definitely worth consideration – though with our pack-restrictions for this write-up, sadly not possible!

Factions
With those 14 neutrals in place, it's all about filling out the 3 factions. For this deck, I've gone for , and 1 other - I think is always a fairly reasonable option, as it provides flexibility and the cards are usually cheap and flexible. (Of course feel free to strip out 7 cards of a faction you don't like and try out adding 7 from another. Personally I love the movement options in and if you wanted more of a combat focus, is surely the way to go.)

The single core set means that any of the 30 player cards from that set (of our chosen factions) will be singletons: that's not necessarily an issue, but it's worth bearing in mind. So, for instance, in if you decided you wanted to lean into collecting clues heavily (and why wouldn't you?), my first thought would be 2 x Magnifying Glass, 2 x Milan (you might not always be able to trigger his but he's still a static boost) and then a combination of Shortcut and Deduction (maybe even drifting to 8 cards and dropping a flashlight). But with only 1 core set, Milan, Magnifying Glass and Deduction all drop to 1x. I'd suggest they're still potent enough to include, but I've filled out the choices with Working a Hunch (a clue, for 0 actions? Ok!) and No Stone Unturned - the size of a Lola deck means you might sometimes want to dig - or help a partner hunt for something specific.

In this build, Lola is not going to be a massive damage dealer, but I've added a 1x shrivelling. With Rosary and Uncage the Soul, which can be used to reduce Shrivelling's cost or committed for +2 , Lola might be able to fight reasonably with her mind. Since we're including some willpower boosts, I've leant in to empowering her clue collection abilities with 2 x Rite of Seeking. Yes, it's pricey, but Improvisation and Uncage the Soul both help with that, and Guts, Uncage the Soul and Unexpected Courage all can help boost Rite of Seeking tests. Ideally I'd run 2 x Drawn to the Flame instead... but it's a core set card, so I've opted for more targets for uncage instead. Ward of Protection rounds out the package - there are times you'll end a turn in the role and having a smidge of cancellation in hand is no bad thing. Usually I wouldn't run ward - Lola doesn't have a bunch of sanity, but with Milan and Holy Rosary as possible protections, it's a flexible choice. By all means sub into something else if desirable.

For , Fire Axe is one of the strongest ways of boosting combat for anyone who can take it. It complements Shrivelling pretty nicely, too. This was originally Gravedigger's Shovel and I'm not certain the shovel, because of its extra clue potential, isn't in fact stronger. One or the other. With Resourceful to boost tests and recur the shovel, it could be very potent. Then Leather Coat, Stray Cat and Lucky! round out the survivor cards. You could lean more heavily into the 'discard' assets and run 2 x Lantern and 2 x Shovel with 2 x resourceful but a bit of damage protection and an emergency evade if needed are no bad things, either. As survivor is our 'third' faction, and it's filled with a range of good, cheap options, it's probably the most flexible slot.

Playstyle
Lola is a tricky beast, but at her core is flexibility: you need to be able to play your hand and respond to the board as best you can. I've found having a focus (in this instance - clues!) is very useful. If you've got nothing in hand that helps with getting clues, well, drawing cards is the way to go. I've also found that being set on switching role every. single. round. is probably a route to madness - play your hand, play with what you have. I reckon there's more to say, but I'll limit my thoughts in this instance to one observation:

Improvisation is an incredible card that can lead to some lovely set-up plays. For instance, 1) play Fire Axe, improvise into and 2) play Dr. Milan Christopher, 3) investigate (getting a resource from Milan) <- that's just a beaut, and even leaves a role switch so that you can switch out of into another role to protect your Milan in play. But really, the only want of getting the most out of such plays is by seeing what you have in hand and rolling with that. If you were to add more or cards, plenty more targets for Improvisation appear.

Alternatives
Some other alternatives – many, many others in fact – are out there. I like the idea of using Peter Sylvestre (who's a 2-of in our deckbuilding restriction) over Dr Milan to boost . If you're doing that, Rogue cards look more enticing. For more movement in this deck, Astral Travel can have its cost reduced by Uncage the Soul and is an option. As already noted, Shovel and Lantern make a nice pairing as well.

Further listening / reading
The podcast Mythos Busters did an entire episode dedicated to building a Lola deck. It's here

Drawn to the Flame have done episodes on deckbuilding (ep 16) and tips for 'good' play (ep 32). Furthermore, we asked Matt Newman his tips on building a Lola deck, which you can hear at the end of our interview with him (ep 22).

Thank you for reading and for any and all comments! Should finally add: upgrading strategy... well, !!head explodes!!

4 comments

Nov 09, 2017 slothgodfather 7

I get the reasoning behind Uncage the Soul - but the likelihood of drawing it first and then having to sit on it until you draw one of 3 spells is pretty low.

My personal ideal 7 cards for Mystic is 2x Scrying (to protect/embrace weakness), 2x Drawn into the flames, 2x Delve too Deep and 1x Ward. However, I get from the deck building restrictions that isn't possible.

Uncage does have 2x Willpower, so I get the value there, provided you already have a spell out. But I like Drawn to the Flame more for the clue burst. I'd likely trade 2x Uncage for 1x Drawn and 1x Alchemical Transmutation so we have access to more resources but aren't limiting them to Spells only, or 1x Scrying because I like trying to be prepared for her weakness.

I'd definitely trade the Cat for Peter. With the capacity for Rite of Seeking to gather 2 clues, Upgraded Peter (and a Charisma) is worth it for his bonus stats and potential at healing horror, so I'd slot him in now just as preparation for the upgrade.

I'd likely trade the Shortcut for a Seeking Answers. If you consider the scenario that Shortcut is a fast to move to a location before you investigate, Seeking Answers lets you not have to move in the first place to investigate that same location. Yes, each has their benefits, but the capacity to investigate an easier location to gain a clue from a harder location with SA is more in line with her clue-gathering focus. Shortcut has great versatility, so likely 1x on both should prove interesting and useful.

And I'd trade either a Fire Axe (how often will she really be attacking anyways) for a Look What I Found.

TL/DR: -2x Uncaged the Soul -1x Shortcut -1x Fireaxe (or Overpower) -1x Stray Cat

+1x Scrying (or Alchemical Transmutation) +1x Drawn into the Flames +1x Seeking Answers +1x Look what I found +1x Peter Sylvestre

Nov 09, 2017 zozo 557

@slothgodfather thanks for your great comment - this is sort of what I was hoping would happen, because although my write-up hopefully gives a framework for approaching a Lola deck, there are so many variations and finding the right option can be tricky!

To be honest with you, my absolute preferred Crisis of Identity protection and clue boost card is Alyssa Graham, but sadly with the deckbuilding restrictions it wasn't an option. I can see how Scrying fills that role, certainly, but personally I've found it slow.

But then, crucially, Lola feels to me to be really about personal preference - if you're going to 1 x Peter Sylvestre, you can go 2 x (he is a great card!). Shortcut has so many more applications for me than Seeking Answers but if that's working for you, you do you, ya know?! As you acknowledge, Uncage the Soul has an application outside of simply reducing the cost of spells ( is not to be sniffed at) but some people prefer to hit that potent combination. It's honestly all a case of testing and trying things out. I might give your set-up a whirl!

Final small point, which I didn't really raise in the write-up: Lola can take Adaptable and that is such a strong card for her, to allow small tweaks like you suggest and let her deck develop in line with whatever role she fulfils most often. Thanks again for your comment!

Nov 09, 2017 slothgodfather 7

Absolutely. It doesn't worth with this deck building restriction, but my preferred "clue gather" focus for Lola is:

Seeker: 2x Mag glasses, 2x Deduction, 2x Milan, 1x Seeking Answers Mystic: 2x Scrying, 2x Delve, 2x Drawn, 1x Ward Rogue: 2x Backstab, 2x Double or Nothing, 1x I'm outta here, 2x Quick Thinking

The rest is filled in as needed. The Backstab+Double or Nothing combo is pretty substantial for taking out late game bosses. The idea is to get into Charisma, Streetwise and Higher Learning, Lockpicks and upgraded Mag glasses and Deduction.

Scrying is definitely slow, but I only use it when I'm actually concerned about the assets I have in play. And then it generally covers me for the next 3 turns.

I actually hadn't considered using spells with her before - like Rite of Seeking - and think I need to rethink that because the extra clue is substantial. Too bad she can't use the upgraded version.

Also, I love that she can use Will to Survive and Ace in the Hole. Her capacity to use 3xp cards is really exciting the farther you get into the campaign.

Nov 10, 2017 zozo 557

Oh boy don't even get me started on Will to Survive and Ace in the Hole - it's just incredibly potent. You could go an all-action build Lola with Leo De Luca and Police Badge, too, and it starts to get obscene. What a bananas route to go.

I like your selections. I mean as soon as you have a focus, you can start to lean towards making your three factions, whichever they may be, help with that role. Certainly at least at the start of building you can pick two complimentary factions and work from there.

Usually Rite of Seeking and Drawn to the Flame offer similar but definitely not identical routes to get pairs of clues... so yeah, think about it!