Testless Clue Machine - Parallel Roland Banks

Card draw simulator

Odds: 0% – 0% – 0% more
Derived from
None. Self-made deck here.
Inspiration for
Roland do Boris 0 0 0 1.0
Roland do Boris 0 0 0 2.0

HungryColquhoun · 120

Testless Clue Machine - Parallel Roland Banks

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Overview

This deck is built around testless clue gathering, paired with deck-drawing and a respectable ability for combat. The core engine for this deck comes built-in with Parallel Roland's Directives, so there's very little setup required.

With access to the 0-3 Insight cards, Roland has some of the best testless clue options in the game. The idea is to use Directive: Red Tape to play one one of these cards fast once per turn, then if there's an enemy at your location you draw a card due to Directive: Seek the Truth. With Alice Luxley, you can also deal one damage to that enemy (like a never-ending Beat Cop). This all takes place in the window before your first action, giving very nice economy (1 card drawn, 1 damage dealt, 1-2 clues found, at the cost of 0 or 1 resources to play the Insight card courtesy of The Fool • 0).

For combat and as Parallel Roland can only run 0-3 cards, I went for for Timeworn Brand as my main weapon with Enchanted Blade as a back-up. Timeworn Brand can provide up to 9 damage with Enchant Weapon and its one per game big hit (up to 10 damage with Alice), which is good enough for boss-killing. Grete Wagner is worth mentioning here, boosting your effective and allowing for more testless clues when you kill an enemy.

To expand a little on the Directives, the downsides of these aren't too bad. Directive: Leave No Doubt gives +3 sanity and caps your moves to 2 per turn, but most of the time you won't be needing to move more than this anyway (campaign/scenario dependent). I've already covered the good bits of Directive: Red Tape and Directive: Seek the Truth, their respective bad bits are you can only play two cards per turn and not being able to commit cards until you've found a clue (in cases where there are clues at your location). You can of course ignore one of these once per game with Roland's ability should the need arise (i.e. if you need to haul ass and get across a big map, if you want to do more straight investigating and commit cards, or if it would be good to have one big turn towards the end of a scenario where you play 3 or 4 cards - see "Advanced Strategies" on the latter).

Final points to cover are that this deck begins with 8XP (Parallel Roland starts with 5, and then In the Thick of It gives 3 more), so you can run Stick to the Plan from game one. Run Winging It, Emergency Cache and Well-Maintained (also purchased with opening XP) on Stick to the Plan initially, changing to Enchant Weapon, Flare and Well-Maintained later (edit: these aren't eligible targets for Stick to the Plan - my bad! See "important edit" below for more details). Speaking of Flare (Roland can also run Tactic cards), this gives you a great discount on Grete or Alice early in the game. Flare's exile cost is also offset nicely with Delve Too Deep, and as it puts allies into play they don't contribute to the Red Tape limit. The Fool • 0 makes everything a little cheaper, very nice for playing Working a Hunch and Scene of the Crime at a discount given Timeworn Brand is expensive and there's few options for resource generation.

Important edit: on Reddit a user pointed out that you can't have Enchant Weapon or Well-Maintained on Stick to the Plan (I had it in my head these were supply cards, I'm not sure why!). The recommended change is to therefore run one Clean Them Out in the place of a Burning the Midnight Oil, and then have this, Flare and Emergency Cache on Stick to the Plan instead. If you want an extra copy of Enchant Weapon, Grete can be ran un-upgraded and a Scene of the Crime can be removed to create space. I will likely do a full update when more sets are out!


Advanced Strategies

Other than the combo of play an insight card fast when enemy is present → card draw → damage from Alice Luxley that's been mentioned (using Directive: Red Tape and Directive: Seek the Truth), a couple of other strategies worth mentioning are:

  • Fast delving - Being able to play Delve Too Deep fast with Directive: Red Tape is huge. It's well-known that playing Delve Too Deep right before you're set to resign (or otherwise advance and finish a scenario) is a good strategy, so being able to play these cards fast makes it so much easier to find an opportunity without wasting a full action.

  • Clue blitz - So you're right at the end of a scenario, and the final location shows up with high shroud and 3 clues on it. If you've got a few testless clue cards saved up, now is the time to use them! The issue is Directive: Red Tape limits you to playing two cards per turn, however with Roland's ability you can flip this over mid-turn to get up to 4 testless cards played (play the first one fast, then flip, then play the remaining 3). While cards like Stirring Up Trouble add to the bag, if you're literally just getting clues off the final location before you advance this isn't an issue.


What didn't make the cut

  • Directive: Due Diligence. While this is a neat effect (especially if you're looking at using Directive: Red Tape for some fast investigate skill tests on Insight cards) the downside of only two attacks per turn is way too limiting for a Guardian. You could replace Directive: Leave No Doubt if you were massively keen (strengthening Burning the Midnight Oil) but I wouldn't recommend it.
  • Clean Them Out and One-Two Punch. These allow for fast attacks with Red Tape, however this deck is really designed around boosting with weapons rather than using basic fight actions. One-Two Punch is definitely the nicer option of these two so it can be considered.
  • Guns. All firearms require some ammo support, and Parallel Roland can only access 0-3 guns in the first place. While Roland's advanced .38 Special is top tier, it comes with advanced Cover Up which is a nasty weakness. The Guardian .45 Thompson is also nice, but as it takes up two hand slots it prevents you running a Flashlight. Timeworn Brand was ultimately picked as a result.
  • Ever Vigilant is a great card but unfortunately it doesn't work with Red Tape as it still plays cards. Flare does at least offer some nice economy as a compromise.
  • Prepared for the Worst doesn't put a card into play so it works poorly with Red Tape. As there's four weapons in the deck, you have around at 80% chance of one in your opening draw with a full mulligan - which is good enough for me.
  • Normal Roland Banks back. You can run Parallel front (keeping the Directive engine) and normal Roland Banks back for your investigator card. This does allow for running much nicer weapons and things like Magnifying Glass, but it comes at the compromise of losing 5XP and not having as many testless clue cards. For me the benefits of the latter offset the former (and plus, I wanted to make a straight Parallel Roland deck!).

Campaign starter and planned progression

As mentioned above, you're starting with 8XP so this is a 32XP deck. I tend to stick to 30XP as an appropriate campaign end point, but with Delve Too Deep it's not unreasonable to go a little higher. One copy each of Stick to the Plan, Well-Maintained and Stirring Up Trouble are the recommended first purchases with this 8XP (I've tried going Timeworn Brand as an opener, but the deck thinning and set-up you get from Stick to the Plan is really helpful). Starter deck is directly below (and link here):

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A recommended order of XP purchases/upgrades is as follows. You may want to re-order at what point you want to get Flare/Charisma depending on your soak needs (though if you keep re-buying Flare from the mid-campaign it will eat up XP):


Further upgrades and side deck

For the side deck, you can consider:

  • Winging It. I had planned for it to be included for end game, but decided to go with Forewarned to give a bit of protection from the encounter deck (which was a very sensible choice!). However if you're less concerned you can consider not running Forewarned and keeping Winging It.

For other XP purchases/upgrades, there's one big one to mention:

  • Burn After Reading. This can give very easy clues, and if you're buying it in the last scenario of a campaign then you don't having to worry about the exile cost. The very obvious card to exchange this for the end game is Delve Too Deep. I used this on the final scenario of Path to Carcosa to get 4 clues off the initial location (also using Drawn to the Flame) to advance the Act turn 1 - that kind of utility is too big to pass up!

Final Thoughts

I've not seen much talk about using testless clue cards with Red Tape to activate Seek the Truth - for me this is a fantastic engine and far better than other strategies (e.g. those focused on Directive: Due Diligence). I really think this deck is second-to-none in terms of testless clue finding, as a double up of Drawn to the Flame and Stirring Up Trouble can net you 4 clues without touching investigate actions. The icing on the cake is then being good at combat, as the deck is largely built on level 0 Insight cards so you have plenty of experience to afford a halfway decent weapon. Give it a go, it's good fun!

16 comments

Jul 31, 2022 alexalansmith14 · 620

Great deck and awesome write up! Thank you.

Jul 31, 2022 Gws · 37

Neat deck that looks like it’s got some great synergies! The core engine seems strong and probably more importantly really fun.

Has 7 felt like sufficient density of testless clue cards for the core engine? It seems like it’d be nice to fit in 1-2 more, but aside from the second scene of the crime I’m not sure what you’d run.

Is the tension between burning the midnight oil and flashlight worth it? Or do you think of burning the midnight oil as basically strictly Econ, and if you get a clue it’s just a bonus?

How has the fool felt? If it’s outside of your opener, do you ever bother playing it?

In terms of fitting into a team, how do you rant the clue-ing compared to enemy management? Which sorts of compatriots would you like to see alongside you?

Jul 31, 2022 HungryColquhoun · 120

@alexalansmith14 Thanks, glad you like it!

Jul 31, 2022 HungryColquhoun · 120

@Gws Thanks! There's 8 testless clue cards with Mysteries Remain so for me this did work well enough - especially if enemies come out and so you can get some card draw. Right at the end of a campaign, Burn After Reading takes the total up to 10 - which puts you even more of a comfortable position.

For Burning the Midnight Oil, yeah this is more econ than anything as there aren't many good econ cards for this deck (and a free chance of getting a clue alongside getting resources is never a bad thing). With it being an Insight card, you can also play it fast to get a clue at your enemies location in a pinch. Other econ cards, such as Crack the Case, don't work so well given you're only allowed to play two cards per turn with Red Tape.

The Fool • 0 feels great when it's in your opening hand, but not so good otherwise. Whether you put it into play later will depend on the balance of how many resources you have to hand and how many rounds you're thinking you have left. Given you have extra card draw from time to time, at least if you aren't going to play it then it doesn't feel like it's as much of a waste as it can do.

I found the clue-finding on the whole good (especially with Grete in play which the Flare helps with) but not quite so strong as a dedicated Seeker, however given you do have good enemy management in addition it is very versatile. In terms of pairing, Mystics work well given you're poaching some nice Seeker cards (Burning the Midnight Oil, etc.) and they are similarly flexible - I ran this alongside Agnes which worked nicely.

Aug 01, 2022 Calprinicus · 3790

Unlessed I missed something, Well-Maintained & Enchant Weapon cannot be used with Stick to the Plan since they are not Tactic or Supply traited.

Aug 01, 2022 elkeinkrad · 320

Good deck, but I think there are few targets for Red Tape: 2x BtMO, 2x DTD, 2x DttF, 1x Flare, 2x SUT; total 9 cards. I wonder that you have no troble to trigger Red Tape when you play this deck or to play cards due to regulation of Red Tape.

Aug 01, 2022 HungryColquhoun · 120

@Calprinicus Good spot, I've addressed this in an "important edit" already as someone had also flagged this on Reddit (I'll put in another edit though just to make this clearer). For some reason I had it firmly in my mind these were both Supply cards. Overall it doesn't make a large difference to the deck, but you do need to include another eligible target for Stick to the Plan to get good use out of it.

Aug 01, 2022 HungryColquhoun · 120

@elkeinkrad 9 cards is almost a third of the deck, and then there's 5 other cards that already play fast (Working a Hunch, Mysteries Remain, Forewarned - but the latter is obviously more of a reaction card). This is enough for me personally, especially as you have extra card draw to dig into to your deck, but you can always swap Forewarned out if you want to for another target (Winging It or Clean Them Out are some of the nicer picks).

Aug 03, 2022 dubcity566 · 70

Did you play this on higher difficulties? When my partner played parallel Roland it really was challenging. Hard to beat fight tests without over power and daring until you were fully setup. Impossible to investigate 3+ shroud locations, even with flashlight. Not having take the initiative also meant treacheries really sting, an even bigger problem with drawn to the flame.

Aug 03, 2022 HungryColquhoun · 120

@dubcity566 I played on standard. It's true that it's not going to beat investigate challenges a lot of the time, but that's why Grete and the testless clue cards are included to eliminate that challenge. I found Timeworn Brand good for combat as you can imagine, and with starting on 8XP with In the Thick of It you can get your first copy one or two games in - particularly with some Delve Too Deep draws.

Aug 03, 2022 Lazy-T · 1

How does Roland get any Mystic and Survivor cards? -- His deckbuilding does not allow for this.

Aug 03, 2022 HungryColquhoun · 120

@Lazy-T It's because he's the Parallel version, who is allowed 0-3 Insight and Tactic cards from any class (including interesting things like Swift Reload which I haven't used here). Parallel investigators were released in challenge scenario packs, and differ quite a bit from the base versions (though obviously are still similar as well).

Aug 05, 2022 Garzila · 1

Is it possible to play Scene of the Crime fast with your Directive during your first action?

Aug 05, 2022 Rick Dreckitt · 1

How did you find this Roland vs the encounter deck? I've always shied away from Seek The Truth for fear of getting shredded by treacheries while I can't commit cards.

Aug 06, 2022 HungryColquhoun · 120

@Garzila No it's not, which is why I've limited it to one copy. You can always play a different Insight card fast and follow-up with Scene of the Crime if you wanted to though.

Aug 06, 2022 HungryColquhoun · 120

@Rick Dreckitt I didn't find the encounter deck too bad to be honest, though Forewarned definitely helped a few times and I was paired with an investigator running Ward of Protection too. Directive: Leave No Doubt also makes you fatter in terms of Sanity so it's easier to take a few Rotting Remains on the chin.