Joe Diamond - P.I. Staker. (Hard Mode)

Card draw simulator

Odds: 0% – 0% – 0% more
Derived from
None. Self-made deck here.
Inspiration for
The Hunchdeck of the Notre Dame 1 0 0 1.0
Joe Diamond - P.I.Staker (Hard Mode) - Now Improved! 583 483 41 1.0
Joe Diamond - P.I. Staker. (Hard Mode) 0 0 1 1.0

StartWithTheName · 31795




New improved and rebalanced P.I.Staker

Incase it helps I've also sorted out the write up a quite a bit on the revised version so its a lot easier to find things.


This is a investigation and combat focussed Joe Deck that has been refined over a small number of hard mode runs of the first 3-4 scs from Dunwich and Carcossa paired with a more thematic Joe deck that im developing but is seemingly a long way off. I wrote it for my blind run through The Circle Undone, but since I have yet to play any of TCU I dont yet know how it will perform there. Certainly it is probably not in great shape for Forgotten age since it lacks decent agility. Eitherway it is very satisfying to play at least and so far it seems strong enough. Dont expect Rex level clue generation, but the combat access more than compensates for this.

Since at time of writing, Joe is new and the theory crafting around his Hunch deck is still being explored, I have included my personal take on this under "PACKING A HUNCH". This isnt really linked to this deck specifically per se and can be skipped if needed. The specific guide to using the hunch deck included in this list (See "WORKING THAT HUNCH" under "DETAILED PILOTING" section instead). Sorry for how much length this has added to the guide.



A mixed clue and combat Joe build capitalising on his 2442 statline and mixed seeker/guardian card pool. The rough game plan is to use one hand slot for and one for a weapon, then add passive boosts from Milan & Ace of Swords to be able to investigate or fight with a base skill of 6 to cover basic investigating and combat.

Higher shroud or combat tests are aided by an ample supply of skill pips. And burst damage for particularly high HP enemies is provided from Dynamite Blast (paid for by Milan Money, Vicious Blow and later on Timeworn Brands second action.

The hunch deck is:

This is a mix of draw and auto clues. Early game this means we have access to either an auto clue for a high shroud location, or a draw card to dig for our tools. Late game it means we dont need to chase super high or over spend on Higher Education for high shroud locations.

This keeps cash in reserve to pay for Unsolved Case and liberal use of Higher Education to protect us from sanity hits from the encounter deck. Take the Initiative, Say Your Prayers are reserved for encounter checks, Logical Reasoning can be used to recover lost sanity retrospectively, and Dr. Milan Christopher offers a little san soak if needed once you find the second copy feel free to let him die off and just replay him.


THE PAY OFF (Upgrades)

Ive put this up here as i know not everyone wants to read the full piloting section


Then some options

Pick these to match playstyle and group composition.

Clues Upgrades

  • Pathfinder - (See Pay attention to positioning in the clues section). In addition to the bonus action that everyone loves. Positioning yourself on the clue before your first action can be very important.
  • Deduction (2) - Less useful on 1-2p, but much better on 3p+ since the 3rd clue is more likely to be present.
  • Death • XIII - if you took Beat Cops (2) instead of the Ace of Swords.

Combat Upgrades

Cash/Draw/Hunch Deck Upgrades

  • Preposterous Sketches Cryptic Research - Lets you take your primary draw card out of the hunch deck to make space for more clue related cards (see "WORKING THAT HUNCH" section).
  • No Stone Unturned (5) - Simply amazing when its free. Despite not being a clue card, the 2 cost reduction and change to fast status means this is just too good not to leave in the hunch deck.
  • Emergency Cache (3) - 1 more penny is nice, but this also gives you the option to reload Fingerprint Kit if needed.


PACKING A HUNCH - A brief guide to hunches


NOTE: This is a general guide to hunch deck building rather than the hunch set for this deck. If you are looking for specifics of the hunch deck used here, see "WORKING THAT HUNCH" in the "DETAILED PILOTING" section instead.

It is very important to note that the hunch deck operates on a different form of randomness to your hand. In short cards in your regular deck will show up and can sit in hand for a turn or two while you position to make best use of them, hunch cards on the other hand need to be spent fast before they get shuffled back into the deck. In exchange for access to them at sub-optimal timings, we are given a hefty 2 cost discount and an effective free card draw a turn - a bargain if used well, a hindrance if not.

So how do we get the most from this? Here`s a few ideas:

  1. Try to make the cards in the hunch deck perform a roughly similar role. That way it matters less which card you draw from the set, and means the function they provide can be relied upon from the deck and played around than needing a specific card showing at the right time.

  2. Fast Cards are great. Without the need to draw these, they function like a bonus action in a lot of cases.

  3. Avoid cards that depend on or benefit heavily from timing. Since you are least likely to be able to play these well when they show. Examples: Delay the Inevitable - pricey to keep in play. Interrogate/Evidence! - suitable enemy needed at the right place. Logical Reasoning, better held back for Frozen in Fear, or to ensure access when san is low (see below). Shortcut Timing that fast move can be crucial to leverage it well. "I've got a plan!", needs to show when you have a target (and clues).

  4. Where possible pick cards that cost 2 or more A bit of a no brainer. If you are being encouraged to play these sub-optimally timed then the price your paying for their reward usually needs to be lower to compensate (I'm sure there will be exceptions ofc).

With these points in mind, we're looking for sets of cards that match up to common or core deck functions. After a little scoping a few sets stand out to me:

The set picked needs to be considered while building the main deck. Good options include suring up something you lack, or bolster your primary activity. I'm still to get my head around it fully but on paper it looks like a long term a pure clue base will be best (and most thematic). Unfortunately the tools available at level 0 atm (mainly Interrogate) are a bit too circumstantial.





Priorities: All Eureka! >1xMilan> Mag Glass> Ace of Swords (xp)> Machete

If you didnt see Milan, then keep 2x Magnifying Glass if you saw them. Fingerprint Kit can surrogate, but bare in mind it is a little too expensive before you get Milan down, or find an Emergency Cache. Muligan away anything else. Note that Eureka! takes priority as it effectively can be used to self replace for a choice of 3 cards rather than 1. If for some reason you expect to need to fight early, go for Ace of Swords & Machete as priorities instead.


WORKING THAT HUNCH (Using The Hunch Deck)

The plan is simple. While we build up a high base for investigating, we leave the high shroud locations to the hunch deck. Either it can help draw into the tools we need fast, or we can use the autoclues to compensate on high shroud while we look for them.

If you take Cryptic Research, then put both Evidence! and Connect the Dots in and keep Cryptic Research in the main deck. Youre odds on drawing Cryptic Research arnt hampered that much, and you no longer get the benefit of the 2 cost reduction. On the other hand you improve the density (and consistency) of the clue related hunch cards in the deck lowering variance.

Never Start with Logical Reasoning or Shortcut in the hunch deck. They benefit too much from choosing when to play them. If you get the opportunity to reuse them via Detective's Colt 1911s or the , then go for it if the game state feels right. Getting a second use from the card is different to blocking its first use. Just be careful not to over dilute the proportion of clue based cards if you are reliant on them.


CRACKIN' THE CASE (Getting Clues)

On hard we want to be testing 3 above test value to get reliable odds on success and out strip some a lot of the nastier token effects (some scenarios need higher). So getting your base to 5 lets you gives you (~70% to ~80%) pass rates against a shroud 2. Similarly a base of 6, or 7 are needed for shrouds 3 and 4 respectively. Which implies:

The priorities:

The Rest:

  • Eureka!, Deduction, Unexpected Courage, Evidence! or Connect the Dots: These all offer back up pips for higher shroud or while we dig for the passive buffs. Keep an eye on the modifiers too.

  • Higher Education: This can be used in a pinch in place of the pips. but be aware of the need to keep resources high for encounter/weakness protection (See GETTING OUT OF A JAM) and cheeky Dynamiting.

  • Hunch Deck: A large amount of this is devoted to autoclues, which can be used to clear high shroud locations or locations with investigation caveats or hazards. Very very minor spoiler warning for TCU: this helps with the new haunt mechanic.

  • Bonus Clues: Deduction, Fingerprint Kit, Connect the Dots, Scene of the Crime (with an enemy) and Working a Hunch allow us to get more than one clue in one action. Evidence! also sort of tags a clue onto an action that woudlnt have one.

  • Pay attention to positioning: Try to end turns on locations with clues. Scene of the Crime is first action only. Since its free its still good value without an enemy, but it will be appearing at random. Similarly, Evidence! requires an enemy to be at a location with a clue to be used. The Shortcut you kept in hand is your friend here. Use it to move before your first action to enable Scene of the Crime or carry an enemy to a clue for Evidence!. You can also Dynamiteenemies from an adjacent location to use Evidence! at your own.

  • Hand Slot Juggling in the long run were looking at one clue tool in hand and one weapon in play. I started with Bandolier but, its huge time and resource sink and removes the benefit of Joes Signature Colts. Its easier and more effective to just play around it. Just pick up Upgraded Mag Glass pull them back while Fingerprinting.



This build isnt a dedicated enemy handler, but it can hold its own very well.

  • Get to 6 on attacks Much like our cluing this puts us 3 above a 3 enemies. our starting weapons add +1, hence we want the Ace of Swords to act as a surrogate Beat Cop that doesnt take an ally slot. With a little xp we can get Timeworn Brand and/or .45 Automatic (2) for built in +2. The value of this in terms of tempo (not needing to find 2 cards) is huge. And late campaign as higher tokens are added to the bag, these will let us reach 7 base with The Ace down.

  • Regular +Damage Each of our basic weapons (including the upgraded ones) have the standard target of +1 damage built in. For the majority of 3hp enemies, were just going to have to suck it up and attack twice, though we have the options of using some of the burst damage options in a pinch.

  • Burst Damage Vicious Blow, Dynamite Blast and later on Timeworn Brands once per game ability offer a moderate number of burst damage options for larger enemies. Ideally keep these back for the typical vp enemy from the encounter deck (these are typically 4 or 5 hp) or boss type enemy.


SIMOLEONS (Cash Management)

Despite Milan money, I have kept the bulk of the deck cheap. This is because when Milan didnt show early the deck was way too slow. Once you add Higher Ed, a few more medium/high price assets like Pathfinder, and the need to float 2-4 resources (see Below) its better to be safe than sorry.


GETTING OUT OF A JAM (Treachery and Weakness Protection)

Joes Achilles Heel is his combined 2 and low sanity. His low isnt as much of an issue as tests are typically linked to Damage, and since he can kill enemies fairly well and has high HP anyway you have a lot more leeway there.

So, how does an honest man stay sane in a rotten world?

  • One Shot protections Take the Initiative, Say Your Prayers and if necessary Unexpected Courage should be held back for tests (these often deal horror). Logical Reasoning should be kept back in hand to play when times are quiet. Note that Frozen in Fear can be cleared by Higher Education.

  • Keep a little cash on hand. Unsolved Case is quite mild relative to other signature weaknesses, but it appears fairly reliably and only has a small window to be dealt with due to the way the hunch deck works. Additionally you are looking to keep 1 or 2 pennies on hand for Higher Education to reach 6 on demand incase of test treacheries. This means you are ideally trying to float 2 to 4 resources as protection. Obviously if you have some of the one shot protection in hand you can use these to risk going to 2.

  • Recycle Logical Reasoning with and Your Colts. But dont start with it in the hunch deck Logical Reasoning is a card that is too reliant on timing to put in the hunch deck (See Packing a Hunch). If it shows before youve taken horror its a dead card. Late game however you are very likely to have taken some horror so recycling it can be much more effective.


I have some notes on variants, but a fair few of them are untested. I`ll hopefully add them later.


As ever, thanks for reading! I would love to hear thoughts and experiences.


Feb 09, 2019 Sixtyten · 13

This looks great. Will be trying it tonight!

Feb 09, 2019 StartWithTheName · 31795

@Sixtyten swap in 2x Steadfast over one of the Overpowers and the Say Your Prayers. I somehow didnt think of this when testing, but changed it when i started my "real" run and it was a lot more flexible for that first sc before you get Ace of Swords.

Feb 09, 2019 Sixtyten · 13

That’s a good call. We’ve already built the deck so won’t add them now: we got 6xp off scenario 1 so lots of toys to add.

Feb 11, 2019 StartWithTheName · 31795

Oh im honored. Thanks for letting me know @PureFlight. If it helps im actually working on a smoother version of this. I just dont know if i`ll have time to publish it. incase anyone is interested. The rough game plan is similar, but this one uses Death • XIII (over the Flashlights) and takes Charisma to pick up the boosts without too much xp expenditure.

The build listed here was really just as refined as i could be bothered to get it before my blind run. I alluded to this in my comments above, but it was tested without every trying Steadfast - which turned out to be a game changer for early encounter checks.

I miss the Dynamite though. you can get away fairly well without the burst damage if needed. But more the big loss is losing the decks overly dramatic guns blazing feel slightly.

Feb 17, 2019 StartWithTheName · 31795

For anyone following this, ive now managed to get the final version of it up and published here: