Welcome back, friends and fellow investigators of the mysteries of the world, to another installment of Delve Too Deep, a series of articles where I go a little crazy in analysing all there is about Arkham Horror: The Card Game. Last time, we looked at the troubled federal agent Roland Banks and how he is poised to tackle the horrors of the world. This time, we’ll be looking at the reincarnated sorceress who is able to unleash horrors upon the most terrible creatures of the world: Agnes Baker.
Agnes boasts an interesting stat line. Her amazing Willpower of 5 means that she’ll be able to pass many of the treachery cards posed without so much as batting an eye (she’s seen worse, after all), as well as allow her to very successfully cast all the spells she’ll ever need. Whilst her Agility is reasonable at 3, her poor Combat and Intellect, two very crucial statistics, are very low. Agnes is, therefore, highly dependent on her spells in order to succeed.
Agnes is odd in that she enjoys experiencing the horrors of the world. Whenever she does, she’s able to wound enemies at her location, an absolutely amazing ability. Being able to pick off a single health monster with barely any effort is incredible. On top of that, the limit is only once per phase; if she takes Horror multiple times in a round, she’s able to continually damage enemies at her location. Just be careful not to go too crazy, however.
Agnes’s Elder Sign ability is reasonable, in that it should scale well into the late game, and is useful in all situations and at all player counts. Like all Elder Sign abilities, it’s never going to completely make or break a character, but they certainly are nice for those odd times when you do get lucky and draw an Elder Sign.
I think a lot of the issue with Agnes, and also Roland, is that their Elder Sign abilities tend to be great in losing situations. It’s not often I go into a skill check with any amount less than the target number +1 (normally +2), so while it’s great that the Elder Sign means I will succeed, it’s not really anything exciting at all (not like Skids for Daisy, for example).
Notable Strengths of Agnes
Mystic far and away contains some of the most powerful cards in the game. Scrying allows you broken levels of manipulation. As the player count increases, it’s function radically changes, however, to being a very handy support card that allows a different kind of manipulation. All in all, Scrying, in my opinion, is close to if not the most powerful player card in the game at the moment.
Shrivelling makes Agnes an absolute monster in combat. The drawback is sometimes even a boon, allowing you to trigger Agnes’s passive ability and deal out an extra damage and producing powerful efficiency. Further to that, Forbidden Knowledge again allows for some ridiculous action economy. Arcane Initiate provides further methods of gaining a huge action advantage, whilst also acting a soak for all the excess horror Agnes may take.
The list of amazing cards doesn’t stop there; Ward of Protection, Drawn to the Flame and Lucky! (from Survivor) mean that Agnes is almost always cooking with gas. Once you’ve gained some experience, you also gain access to Grotesque Statue and Book of Shadows, two cards which effectively solve any and all issues you may encounter with the randomness of the bag and the finite uses of your spells.
Notable Weaknesses of Agnes
Agnes’s huge strengths all come at a cost. Almost all of her most powerful cards have some kind of drawback, whether it be taking damage, generating doom or even drawing Encounter Cards. Delving into the mystical side of things is risky business, and if you’re not careful, you may find yourself biting off far more than you can chew.
Agnes is remarkably dependent on Shrivelling in order to fight. Without it, she has no reliable way to deal with enemies, and with a laughable Combat of 2, she’s not going to be thumping minions of evil with her fists very effectively. If she can’t find it quickly, she’ll have to find some other way of avoiding monsters.
Agnes’s signature card is also rather underwhelming, while her signature weakness is one of only two in the game that can actually cause your elimination. It’s a fantastically designed card, but having to give up two resources and an action to add Doom means that Dark Memory has the potential to be the most devastating of all the signature weaknesses.
Build Path: Sorceress Supreme
Heirloom of Hyperborea
2 Forbidden Knowledge
2 Arcane Studies
2 Holy Rosary
2 Arcane Initiate
2 Unexpected Courage
2 Ward of Protection
2 Drawn to the Flame
2 “Look What I Found”
Unlike Roland, who has divergent paths that are possible, I feel as though this is the one and only way to build Agnes optimally right now, whether it be for solo or team play. With virtually no competing slots and plenty of powerful cards, playing Agnes simply becomes knowing what risks to take and when.
Drawn to the Flame and “Look What I Found” allow you to, for the most part, completely ignore making successful investigation checks. In case you really need to, Perception, Flashlight and Arcane Studies can assist with that. Mostly, however, Agnes will be using her actions to build up her spell repertoire and either manipulate the deck (using Scrying) or blasting away bad guys (with Shrivelling).
Arcane Initiate is a reasonable card draw engine, and works especially well with Forbidden Knowledge as it allows you to drive off the student before their studies lead to your doom. Other items, such as the Holy Rosary and the Leather Coat, allow you to tank up in case the damage becomes just a little too much.
Some key buys are the Book of Shadows and Grotesque Statue, which completely eliminate all problems that you could possibly run into. I’d suggest cutting Perception (which is nice but often unnecessary) and Leather Coat for them as you progress. Whilst Lucky! and Grotesque Statue fulfill similar functions, do not under any circumstances cut Lucky! for it; it is an incredible card.
Blinding Light Level 2 is nice, but it can be a bit risky; be sure to use it as your last action if you do choose to buy it. It’s like a one off potentially better, potentially worse Shrivelling, which is the card that makes your deck work; thus, if you feel the need to play it as well, again I’d cut Perception and Leather Jacket first. Elder Sign Amulet should be a mostly unnecessary choice, as Holy Rosary is far and away your preferred option for the accessory slot.
Conclusion on Agnes
Agnes (and the Mystic faction in general) boast far and away the most powerful abilities in the game at the moment, all of which come at potentially great cost. The faction oozes with the flavour and feeling of delving a little too deep (wink, wink), with great rewards on offer if you’re able to manage the risks and horrors you may be unleashing upon yourself.
Agnes will be truly rewarding players who enjoy more long term planning, as the many issues encountered in the faction can be overcome with careful execution and management of the downsides. As far as solo heroes go, Agnes can very easily fulfill everything, but is much more at the mercy of the draw due to her dependence of key cards to function. If she can get setup nice and early, then she can dominate whatever mysteries and madness she may encounter. Without them, however, she will flail and struggle to do very much at all.
Overall, I think Agnes has the potential to be stupidly powerful; however, this is mitigated significantly due to her need to see Shrivelling in order to be at all combat effective, and her relatively poor natural Intellect. If you’re into playing high risk, high reward characters, or even just feeling almighty and powerful as a reward for clever planning, Agnes is the character for you.
*all images are courtesy of cardgamedb.com and fantasyflightgames.com