Dark Horse Duke (Solo) - Updated (my best solo deck)

jamjams32 · 5685

I published my Dark Horse Duke deck last May that got a lot of buzz and I played to great success. Here is the original list: https://arkhamdb.com/decklist/view/1368/dark-horse-duke-solo-updated-6.0 This deck has been my baby and I’m constantly trying to refine this deck and make it even more powerful and more consistent than it already has been.

Well this is my current iteration of the deck and I have to say that so far through the dunwich campaign and almost done with the Carcosa Campaign, it has been an absolute powerhouse and is completing most scenarios with ease.

A lot of my original comments from my first posted deck still apply to this deck. The synergy between Lucky and Dark Horse is amazing. Fire Axe is a superb weapon when needed. The goal of my original deck was very few events and a very low cost deck trying to turn on Dark Horse as quickly as possible for the entire game. This proved to be effective and a ton of fun.

This new spin on the deck still utilizes a lot of these same concepts but has certainly been improved with the addition of some newer cards. A core identity of this deck is trying to incorporate further passive stat boosts on top of the amazing boosts from Dark Horse. Things like Magnifying Glass do this perfectly and is used here. But a brand new card that has fit seamlessly into this deck and has added to the power and consistently of this deck has been St. Hubert’s Key. Adding passive boosts of willpower and intellect is amazing. And the downside of the card having to decrease your sanity by 2 opens up a totally new archetype - that of using the Desperate skills. As soon as you play Hubert’s key, all of those skills are immediately turned on and make it so you rarely fail an important test. I’ll often save these skills for those big tests that I need to pass.

Another great card in this deck is Calling in Favors. This card is an amazing card in so many decks and my deck is no exception. Being able to use it as a way to put damage on allies and then bring them back to hand to heal that damage and play another ally for cheap or free is amazing. And remember you can use this on Duke. Duke can soak up a bunch of damage and being able to bring him back to hand and heal him and then play him again right away has proved to be invaluable. There is so much survivability in this deck from Calling in Favors, Leather Coat, Pete Sylvester, and Scavenging to help reuse these cards. The last few months I’ve had Cherished Keepsake in this deck and actually pulled out Peter Sylvestre in favor of other allies. But with Hubert’s Key playing such a key role in this deck and taking up the accessory slot, I found it wise to pull Cherished Keepsake and slot Peter Sylvestre back in. I mean you can’t go wrong with Sylvestre - the best ally in the game (especially his upgraded version).

In my original deck i was really proud of discovering and using Forbidden Knowledge as a great way to make a dollar on the fly to play a Lucky or boost a Fire Axe attack or whatever. Well as soon as Madame Labranch came out, I knew she’d fill this role absolutely perfectly. She allowed me to pull my Forbidden Knowledges’ from my deck in favor or better out of faction cards. Her ability to generate a resource as a free ability when you have no resources fits into everything I’m trying to do in this deck. She has made a huge difference in this deck and allows so much flexibility to be able to play Lucky or Calling in Favors or boost up a Fire Axe attack.

In my original build (and all it’s variations),the goal was always very few events and running a very low cost curve deck and to benefit as quickly as possible from the amazing card that is Dark Horse. This new iteration of the deck still focuses on that concept but is slightly more expensive with the addition of St. Hubert’s Key. For this reason i have included a couple copies of Emergency Cache which is an obvious include in most decks but i typically never ran in my Dark Horse Duke builds as the cost curve was already so low. Also Madame Labranch can help to generate a fair few resources. This deck does take just a tad more set up time than my previous deck but the beauty with Pete and Duke is they can be a very effective investigator right out of the gate and can find clues and kill monsters very well without much setup. But my goodness once you’re set up with things like Dark Horse, Hubert’s Key, Madame Labranch/Pete Sylvestre, etc., it’s an unbelievably powerful and consistent deck that rarely fails a skill test. I’ll continue testing and tweaking this deck but so far, this has been the most fun and most effective solo deck I’ve ever played. Comments or questions or ideas are always welcome!

As a side note, I’m still unsure whether to go full board with the Desperate skills or just use the regular skills so as to also benefit from the card draw. The desperate skills have come in handy many times but there are also times, especially when I’m set up where my base stats are so incredibly high that an extra boost of 4 icons is sometimes overkill. I’m using St Hubert’s Key mainly for the passive skill boosts but was excited about the prospect of turning on all those desperate skills right away. What do you think?


Mar 05, 2018 nebukadnezar42 · 1

Really nice one! Like it! But it still fells like he could get insane in one round... maybe cherished keepsake? Would fit with the zero cost....

Mar 05, 2018 nebukadnezar42 · 1

I was wrong, calling in favors to heal allys is way better!

Mar 05, 2018 jamjams32 · 5685

@nebukandezar42yeah I love cherished keepsake but with me trying hard to get out St Hubert’s Key early and also taking up that accessory slot, i just couldn’t justify including it. But more importantly between calling in Favors and Pete Sylvestre, my sanity has always been just fine. Fun deck. Thanks for your thoughts

Mar 06, 2018 JuSTiN · 15

@jamjams32, Hey, I have not yet tried Ashcan, but this build looks really interesting.

What are your options for upgrading the deck with the earned experience? I guess Peter Sylvestre is the first thing that comes to mind. Lucky!? Flare? Stroke of Luck? Any other options you'd consider?

Thanks for sharing your deck.

Mar 06, 2018 jamjams32 · 5685

@JuSTiNSo my first upgrades were Charisma and then upgraded Pete Sylvestre and Lucky. After that it’s not as concrete but I’ve gotten good mileage out of cards like Red Gloved Man, Stroke of Luck, and even upgraded Aquinnah.

Mar 07, 2018 JuSTiN · 15

@jamjams32, but isn't Charisma like opposing Calling in Favors? I always thought it either one of the other that you should play. As having both is a bit counter-productive. Was I mistaken?

Mar 07, 2018 jamjams32 · 5685

@JuSTiNnot sure what you’re alluding to. They actually work synergistically together. Charisma gives you the freedom to not just play more investigators but also include more investigators in your deck which in turn makes Calling in Favors better. So I actually find they work better together and are both very strong in this deck

Mar 08, 2018 Noelle · 1

why do you have 2 dark horses it says on the card you can only have 1 per investigator

Mar 08, 2018 jamjams32 · 5685

@NoelleYou can only have one in play at a time but can have two copies in your deck (to have a greater chance of drawing it)

Mar 08, 2018 JuSTiN · 15

@jamjams32, Thanks. I somehow always thought that Calling in Favors and Charisma don't work well. But then again, I haven't played the game that much :) Will give it a try!

Mar 08, 2018 jamjams32 · 5685

@JuSTiNNo prob at all. Keep playing. It’s an absolutely fantastic game. So much fun

Mar 09, 2018 dubcity566 · 109

It's really counterintuitive, but you're not allowed to play lucky like you think you are. You can't have 0 resources, fail a test, activate Labranche, and then play lucky. There's no player action window in there to activate the Labranche. www.reddit.com

Mar 09, 2018 jamjams32 · 5685

@dubcity566 I’m not using her that way. I’ll use Labranch before a skill test to ensure I’ve got that resource to play Lucky if needed

Mar 16, 2018 Stebb · 2

Just building an "Ashcan" Pete deck so very interesting. Just checking once you activate Madame Labranche you have a resource so dark horse no longer gives stat bonuses... luck effectively becomes a net +1 skill check taking that into account? Seems like a lot of cards / actions for a situational net +1... or have I missed something?

Mar 16, 2018 Stebb · 2

Ah... maybe just answered my own question! You test without dark horse (because you have a resource) but if you fail then play luck and as you no longer have resource dark horse also kicks in? That makes more sense I think and effectively makes playing luck a net + 3 which sounds awesome...

Mar 16, 2018 jamjams32 · 5685

@Stebb Thanks so much for your thoughts. Yeah Lucky is one of the coolest cards/tricks in the deck. You can use Labranche to gain 1 ressource before making a check and when you need to use lucky, you'll get the horse back on track before the test resolves, so it's effectively +3 instead of 2. If the test succeeds you saved an action and a card. Later you even get to draw a card, if you upgrade Lucky!. So in essence if I have Lucky in hand I will gain a resource at the end of the round so that if i need to use Lucky, I can spend that resource to gain not just plus two but actually plus 3 as dark Horse automatically turns back on. Hope that makes sense. In short Lucky is phenomenal in this deck.

Mar 16, 2018 jamjams32 · 5685

@Stebb I must have posted my previous comment before i saw your second comment. But yes that’s exactly how it works! Getting essentially a plus 3 is ridiculously good and just adds to the consistency of the deck to pass skill tests without much issue. Have fun!

Mar 17, 2018 Zedd · 1

For upgrades, do you usually get 2 Charisma before moving on to upgrading Pete and Lucky? Or just 1 Charisma?

Mar 18, 2018 jamjams32 · 5685

@Zedd I usually upgrade Pete first and then usually just one Charisma and then Lucky after that. I don’t think the order is critical but yeah my first 3 upgrades are typically Lucky, Pete, and Charisma.

Mar 24, 2018 Barkash · 29

Just a really great deck, congrats. Thoughts on Inspiring Presence? Tough to find an off class swap, Hubert is obviously crucial, but maybe instead of Vicious Blow? Replicates ability but gives the damage and horror heal on an ally. Also maybe because there isn’t a ton of draw, throwing cards for the ability might be more limited.

Also wonder if Perception might replace Desperate Search. Love the Hubert/desperate card synergy and reckless and say your prayers are keepers, but base investigate with duke looks good even with minimal setup and the draw off perception might be helpful.

Just thinking out loud though, super deck.

Mar 24, 2018 jamjams32 · 5685

@Barkash Thanks for the comments. YES, I’ve looked long and hard at Inspiring Presence. I love the card and think if you included it, you wouldn’t be wrong. It’s solid in this deck. I just liked Vicious Blow to get that extra damage so you don’t have to ready and attack again with Duke with those odd health enemies. But they fill a similar role. I think since I’m playing Calling in Favors, the healing you get from Inspiring Presence isn’t quite as impactful as I’m often putting a lot of damage on Duke, bringing him back in hand (which essentially heals him totally) to play another ally, and then will quickly pay 2 to get Duke back out there.

I do love the Desperate skills. However I think i do agree with you that Perception can and probably should replace Desperate Search as I often am already pretty high in my investigate stat. That extra card draw would be huge. Thanks for the recommendation!

Mar 24, 2018 Barkash · 29

Yeah, solid reasoning and i think you’re right, no small number of 4 health enemies and better to take one test rather than ready and take two.

Mar 24, 2018 dogzbody · 14

I'm not a fan of leather coat, what would you suggest swapping it with?

Mar 24, 2018 jamjams32 · 5685

@dogzbody So Fine Clothes would be a good replacement for Leather Coat. Or you can never go wrong throwing in a few more skills in this deck like two copies of Unexpected Courage. Those would be my substitutions

Mar 29, 2018 Gizmo_86 · 14

@jamjams32This deck seems very interesting and I would like to try it. I only have a couple of questions. Why you have included only 1 Magnifying Glass (I don't like very much using only 1 copy of a card in my decks...) and why don't you prefer Lantern? How do you use Scavenging in this deck? Thanks in advance.

Mar 29, 2018 Stebb · 2

Lantern won't stack with Duke may be one reason. Scavengingis probably there to mainly get St. Hubert's Key back if it gets discarded. 1x Magnifying Glass may just be compromise to keep the other cards but you could go with 2x Magnifying Glass and no Scavenging. i'm sure it was a tough choice so will be interesting to see what @jamjams32 says.

Mar 29, 2018 jamjams32 · 5685

@Gizmo_86``@Stebb So with Ashcan’s deckbuilding restrictions, you can only include 5 out of faction cards. So I knew I wanted two copies of both St. Hubert’s Key and Vicious Blow because they’re amazing cards in this deck. So that leaves only one more out of faction card I could include so in my mind Magnifying Glass is another cheap, useful card giving a static boost to my stats. You can probably tell but that is absolutely one of the goals of this deck is to consistently pass skill tests of any type and that is largely done by cards that give me static boosts - such as Dark Horse, Pete Sylvestre, St Hubert’s Key, Magnifying Glass, etc. All of these push my base stats so high that it becomes very easy to be passing tests consistently - especially with Dukes ability. And my goodness, this deck becomes off the charts good when you can upgrade into Key of Ys. Being able to get another +2 or +3 to all of your stats is HUGE. Especially knowing that Pete Sylvestre can keep your horror/sanity safe after you do get Key of Ys out with a couple horror on it.

Scavenging is probably not a lynch pin of the deck but is a nice card if I see it. I’ve had games where i didn’t see it and the deck still performs just fine. But when I’ve got it, the primary use of it is to keep recycling my Leather Coats which adds to the survivability of the deck. Being able to recycle a cheap asset to help soak up damage is awesome. But yes if i do need to fetch St Hubert’s Key or eventually Key of Ys, yes Scavenging can be useful. Another reason I like this deck is because it is so resilient to damage with cards like Leather Coat, Scavenging, Calling in Favors, and of course Pete Sylvestre. I hope these comments help. Have fun with the deck!

Mar 29, 2018 Gizmo_86 · 14

@jamjams32Thanks for the explanation! I am very interested about upgrade this deck with the newest Key of Ys... Why don't you write an upgrade guide for the deck? It would be very useful! I think to update first Peter Sylvestre, then Charisma and then Lucky! on your suggestion. After these I would like to include in my deck the Key of Ys and the other card I love: Aquinnah. What do you think about these last 2 card? With which other cards could I replace them?

Mar 29, 2018 jamjams32 · 5685

@Gizmo_86 Yeah I would say I’ve always upgraded these first:

Pete Sylvestre Charisma Lucky

But with Key of Ys now in the card pool I may even consider trying to upgrade into that first. It’s such a clutch card and so so good especially in this deck. So in some combination my first three upgrades would be Key of Ys, Pete, and Charisma. Lucky would be my fourth upgrade. After that, I think upgraded Aquinnah is a solid include as is Stroke of Luck to just continue to pass tests without issue. Upgraded Emergency Cache is also good for the card draw.

As far as what cards to replace, it’s really up to you. I think I’d pull maybe one copy of Calling in Favors and/or Desperate Search/Perception as your book stay is already pretty boosted. Let me know what you would replace or what upgrades you’d do first

Mar 30, 2018 Gizmo_86 · 14

@jamjams32Thanks again! I like this upgrade order!

Mar 30, 2018 Gizmo_86 · 14

@jamjams32I think I will add to my deck 2 Key of Ys instead of 1 Perception and 1 Say Your Prayers (to balance intellect and willpower boost).

When I will add 2 Aquinnah I think I can remove from my deck 1 Calling in Favors and I don't know which other card remove... Maybe 1 Madame Labranche?

What about the Stroke of Luck? With which cards would you replace it?

May 11, 2018 Tiltowait · 20

Question on upgrades...all the base cards are good...what do you drop for say adding Charisma?

May 12, 2018 jamjams32 · 5685

@Tiltowait Since Charisma is a permanent card, it doesn’t count towards your deck size so you don’t need to drop anything to include it! Good stuff. Game on

May 13, 2018 yepesnopes · 1

It is a really cool deck! Why do you consider it as a “solo” deck? Does it pose problems in multiplayer?

May 14, 2018 jamjams32 · 5685

@yepesnopes Thanks! Yeah this deck would still perform just as well multiplayer as it does solo. I’d say that in general, solo decks have to really be well rounded and be able to handle everything because it can’t rely on a teammate to pick up the slack. So yes I feel this deck absolutely can handle anything the game can throw at it by itself which makes it a great solo deck. But if you wanted to run it multiplayer it would still perform really well. In fact i just played through the first scenario for Forgotten Age with 2 of my buddies and one of them was running this deck and he was a powerhouse in the game. So yes either solo or multiplayer it’s strong. Game on

May 14, 2018 yepesnopes · 1

What do you recommend to mulligang for? I guess from the description that you have to hard mulligan for Dark Horse. Then? The keys? Peter? Thanks

May 14, 2018 jamjams32 · 5685

@yepesnopes Luckily Duke is so strong on his own that if for some reason your initial or mulligan draw isn’t perfect you’ll still be fine.

BUT....absolutely I’m looking for Dark Horse fairly early. I’d also love to see my emergency cache early to help me get set up. After dark horse I’d say I’m definitely looking for the key and then maybe even Madame labranche as she’s so flexible and has such a solid ability. Obviously getting Sylvestre out early is always good too. Again the deck doesn’t need a ton of set up to be effective but my goodness once it’s set up with the key, Dark Horse, Pete, Labranche, Fire Axe, etc it’s nearly unstoppable. So consistent and powerful

May 17, 2018 Kyula · 1

Can you post a guide how develop this deck throughout a campaign?

May 22, 2018 Tiltowait · 20

Came across this deck while making one of my own. I was wondering what do you use to consistently get extra investigates or clues? Duke can be readied with a discard...if you have an item for scavenging, etc...what else is there? Some missions require a frightening amount of clues, not even my specialized Rex could keep up.

May 22, 2018 jamjams32 · 5685

@Tiltowait Yeah I’ve never had a hard time getting clues with this deck. Between magnifying glass, Dark Horse, st Hubert’s Key, dukes ability, and eventually key of Ys, there is so much investigate skill and it passes investigate skills consistently. It’s not grabbing multiple clues at a time like Rex or with Deduction, but in a solo game you often don’t need more than 2 or 3 clues to advance the act deck. So yeah I’ve played this deck so much and have always been just fine in terms of clue gathering

Jun 16, 2018 Faith + 1 · 1

wow! played this deck tonight for the 1st time solo Curse of the Rougarou. Hard mulligan and took the 1st few cycles to get set up. This deck was a "beast". I'm always worried about dyeing or going crazy but with this set up the clock is now the new enemy. Just running out of time on the agenda got me the R1. This deck seemed to have sustain for hours. Maybe lucky draws or chaos pulls but I never felt weak. Im going to run it threw dunwich camp. blind Fingers crossed

Jun 16, 2018 jamjams32 · 5685

@Faith + 1 Awesome! I’m glad you enjoyed it and that it performed well for you. It is a really strong deck. With dukes ability, you can get going right away with getting clues and killing monsters. But yes like you said, once this thing is “set-up,” oh my goodness it’s amazing and so strong and consistent. Not sure if you’ve played with Key of Ys yet but that card in this deck is just silly good. Good luck with your upcoming campaign! Hope it goes well :)

Aug 05, 2018 chunks · 1

Any thoughts on putting Yaotl in the deck? It seems to work so well with Duke!

Aug 26, 2018 crymoricus · 233

So I guess with Key of Y's you go ahead and take out St. Hubert's, which in turn makes Reckless/Desperate/Prayers pretty pointless (6 cards), transforming this deck into something completely different. St Hubert's being gone opens up room for another cheap ally, etc... Honestly, the addition of Key of Y's really seems to require a new decklist, Jamjams -- and I'd love to see it.

Sep 03, 2018 RegisF · 63

I built basically the same deck, without knowing there was an update of the old version of Dark Horse Aschan. It's a very strong deck.

For those who are sceptical, you to understand that you're not gonna roll over on every scenario. Sometimes, it's gonna be very painful, but most of the time, you will survive, wandering for some place to another, like a real hobo, enough average in every part of the game without having a real weak. If you don't have St Hubert key on board you can always take some horror waiting to have the asset in hand.

Usefull skill : inspiring presence which matches with Duke.

Feb 03, 2019 Cthurkey · 1

I don't get all the allies, are you saying that you sacrifice Duke for them?

Feb 03, 2019 jamjams32 · 5685

@Cthurkey Duke doesn’t take up the ally spot. So an early upgrade is Charisma so you can have both Madame Labranche and Pete Sylvester our at the same time (along with Duke)

Aug 22, 2019 kybconnor · 1

when you enter a skill test the timing says that ST.5 calculate skill value if you have money, Dark Horse now work at ST.6 determinate the result then you could play Lucky!

no player window between 5 & 6 that means with Dark Horse lucky only cound +1

Sep 02, 2019 aphillipe · 1

A year later, how would you update this deck with cards that have become available since?

Apr 22, 2020 alkemist · 1

Great deck, I'm playing a variant of it right now. Does it make sense to include Relic Hunter to upgrades and try to run both St. Hubert's Key and Key of Ys or is one of those enough and is better to spend XP elsewhere?

Jun 05, 2020 Mr.Bottle · 1

Nice job! Im playing Carcosa and Its going on correctly! Im a newcomer in this game... What are the most important upgrades? Charisma, Pete... and? Im lost! sorry! thnx for all!

Jun 09, 2020 jcrobertshaw · 1

just built this deck and drew paranoia as my random basic weakness. lol

Sep 15, 2020 Malkavian · 1

@Stebb @jamjams32 @kybconnor kybconnor is correct - according to the skill test timing rules, you can't use lucky and dark horse in combination like that. Dark horse is either counted or not counted during ST.5, and if it's being counted then you won't have the resource for Lucky in ST.6 It's very much an either/or sort of deal, not a combo.

Oct 27, 2020 shenaniganz11 · 34

Why is no one talking about how amazing Lone Wolf must be with this kind of Dark Horse setup? I haven't tried it out yet, soon will, looks great on paper!

  • You can easily get 2 resources to play 2-cost assets.
  • You get to have 0 resources for Dark Horse bonuses during the mythos phase but still have one resource at the beginning to play a 1-cost asset, or to deal with a spawned enemy by fuelling fire axe, or Scrapper for evasion, or Scrapper to attack before you get fire axe out.
  • You can get two resources to fuel fire/scrapper if you know an enemy is coming.

Jul 05, 2021 vak36 · 1

1 Question, for what do we need Scavenging here? and why only 1? There are very few Items we can get back from Discard (if any at all). Plus with only 1 Magn. Glass is heavy to find it in the Deck. Plus how to manage to get St. Hubert when you are spending your resources for Dark Horse, and maximum for Pete Sylvestre, Key is 4 Resources, where should you get this when you are on the Dark Horse mode?

Jul 10, 2021 vak36 · 1

Hi, do you have options instead of lucky here or is it extremely important?

Oct 24, 2021 Mrwiggly · 1

Everytime I build this deck in TTS I end up with 29 cards plus the two weaknesses and Duke is MIA. Are my missing something?

Oct 24, 2021 Mrwiggly · 1

Correction - after a few retries, I now have 31 (plus the weaknesses), but Duke is still MIA.

Mar 05, 2023 walla · 553

@jamjams32 Your deck inspired me to play all the official campaigns in true solo, thanks!
I updated the deck with new cards up to 2023, I would love to hear your thoughts
"Unstoppable Survivor" arkhamdb.com