Welcome once again, investigators of the world’s mysteries. Wherever you are, I hope you’re having a wonderful time and nothing’s driving you too crazy. In this installment of Delve Too Deep, we’ll be looking at a shady character, one who’s served some time in the clink, and just when he’s gotten his taste of freedom, disaster has struck. Standing up to the challenge of the unknown is the ex-con, “Skids” O’Toole. Let’s see what tools he has to stand up to the horrors he may face.
Like Roland, the other Guardian character in the core set, “Skids” has what can be considered a balanced statline. 3 Intellect and 3 Combat are reasonable starting points; he’s able to have a stab at many of the average tasks required, and with an Agility of 4, he can always run away from anything that’s too tough.
Also like Roland, however, “Skids”‘s Willpower and Sanity are rather low. Whilst he starts with one more Sanity than Roland, his Willpower is also one lower, meaning that if he rungs into Rotting Remains or suffers some Crypt Chill, he’s going to have a much more difficult time dealing with them. That being said, Willpower is also the only stat that “Skids” doesn’t actively have to use, and he’s reasonable at all the others. I quite enjoy his statline, as long as you don’t run into too many horrible creatures.
“Skids” boasts, in my opinion, far and away the most powerful Elder Sign ability. Coupled with his other power, the Elder Sign ability often means “take another action”. Increasing your available actions every turn is a huge deal, and the +2 on top of that means he’ll probably succeed at whatever he was doing as well. It’s nice that this is amazing whenever it comes up, and if you do get lucky and pull that Elder Sign, “Skids” reaps the largest benefit.
Of all the signature weaknesses, “Skids”‘s one is, in my opinion, the least crippling by a mile. While Hospital Debts can be painful to draw late in the game, it has no chance of randomly eliminating you from the game, nor does it cause trauma of any kind. Instead, it limits your positive growth by taking away your experience. It hurts, but at least it will never cause your early elimination in the current or any future games.
Notable Strengths of “Skids”
Two Words: Action Economy. “Skids” has the ability to save on so many actions, as long as you are willing to take it a little slow in the early game. This allows him to build up his engine and lead him into an extraordinary late game. Key cards that this ex-con wants to see are Leo de Luca, Pickpocketing and Burglary.
Each of these offers “Skids” the opportunity to really accelerate his game, either by drawing more cards while evading enemies (effectively +1 action per Pickpocketing), gaining resources quickly (+2 actions if you succeed, which isn’t that hard in many early locations) the Louisiana Lion providing an extra action every turn, as well as a solid soak for both horror and health. Once you’ve got the action economy setup, you can race through and make up for lost time by “buying” actions.
Courtesy of the Guardian class, “Skids” also has access to the best weapon in the game: Machete. Don’t be tricked into using any of the Rogue weapons; needing to beat an enemy by 2 is not going to happen very often, and at that point Switchblade literally does nothing, and the .41 Derringer is only useful if you need it for the +2 and not the damage; otherwise, it’s probably almost always better just to use the Machete, or even the .45 Automatic if there are too many enemies.
Backstab is an excellent one off attack, allowing you to use your great Agility in order to deal 3 damage to an enemy! This should easily allow you dispatch most enemies, while also being an option if you’re caught without a weapon by a monster.
Notable Weaknesses of “Skids”
“Skids” greatest weaknesses is his lack of ways to search higher shroud locations. With no in faction ways to help out, and only Evidence! as an alternative means of clue gathering, he can really struggle to put pieces together. This can be a notable problem if more than one enemy stacks up on a location, as if “Skids” isn’t setup properly, he can struggle with dealing with them early on.
In fact, early on is probably “Skids”‘s greatest weakness. He’s not inherently strong enough or good at investigating to effectively and reliably deal with average monsters or shroud (on standard difficulty, you’ve got a 37.5% chance of failing any check where you initially exceed the check by +1 (assuming the Skull and the Cultist are -1). That means that just over one in three checks will be failing, and this just will not do. If “Skids” gets gets too busy just dealing with the board, then he’s unable to develop and transition into the late game. Unlike Agnes who is fine as soon as she has Shrivelling, or Roland who can at least fight immediately and investigate off his ability, “Skids” needs time, and sometimes you just don’t have it.
As such, “Skids” is a difficult solo to play, and requires a lot of planning. In multiplayer, where he hopefully doesn’t need to investigate at all, he can really shine and carry the late game due to his insane action economy, but he can be a bit of a burden early, again due to his inherently “selfish” playstyle.
Build Path: Cowardly Carry (2 Cores)
On the Lam
2 Leo de Luca
2 Unexpected Courage
2 Vicious Blow
2 Dynamite Blast
This is a build that focuses on being able to build up while allowing others to investigate, before coming in strong in the late game with great Combat courtesy of Machete or the .45 Automatic combined with either Physical Training or Hard Knocks. With four actions a turn from Luca (possibly five if you have the resources spare), “Skids” emerges from his cowardly, criminal ways as a great hero ready to take over the game later on.
Opportunist is an interesting card, and I think it’s often borderline. However, what it provides is certainty; chucking one or two on top of an already good check (generally something at +2) means you’re likely to bring them back, while also eliminating the ugly possibility of hitting a -3 or -4 and having it run your day. If you’re not a fan of it, you can cut if for another Manual Dexterity and a Sneak Attack (or even two).
The objective of this deck is simple; find an easy place to hang out, and camp there, robbing it with Burglary and hopefully being engaged with one enemy once Pickpocketing is out. Once you’ve gotten Luca, a Machete, a few resources and some powerful cards in hand, slay that monster and go out to help your friends. You should be more than capable of dealing with anything that comes your way, either with powerful cards like Dynamite Blast or through pure action attrition. If you really need to, you’ve got a Flashlight to help with the investigation. You should have an amazing economy and endless stream of skills to overcome anything by this point.
When levelling up, focus on cards like Sure Gamble and Hot Streak (especially Hot Streak). Sure Gamble merely gives you more certainty in the late game, while Hot Streak allows you to get to that stage much, much faster. It’s far and away the most action efficient card in the game. Police Badge also goes very well with your theme of action economy, and also provides a nice bonus to Willpower. Once you’ve gotten two Hot Streaks, you can probably cut a Burglary. I’d also suggest cutting the .45 Automatic and even Opportunist once you’ve gotten Sure Gamble; it becomes far less necessary to have them once you’ve got the certainty of this powerful event.
For solo play, I’d probably suggest cutting a Dynamite Blast for another Flashlight, as you’ll need to do far more investigating (and there’ll probably be fewer enemies). Other than that, there isn’t much else to say about the build. Take your time and build up; make sure your other investigators know you’ll be there later on to save the day. Show them that you can grow to be more than just a petty thief.
Conclusion on “Skids”
Working as a police transcriber, I was drawn to both Roland and “Skids”; after all, they remind me of the kinds of people I deal with each and every day at work. That said, of the two, I think I like “Skids” far more. Whereas Roland feels simple and inherently powerful, “Skids” takes time to build up, but eventually becomes an absolute weapon, quickly running from place to place to make up for lost time. Being able to take up to five actions a turn is a huge boon, especially in smaller player counts (you’re improving the actions/encounter cards ratio substantially).
Skids has the potential to be greatly hurt by random basic weaknesses, such as Amnesia or Paranoia. However, I believe that his amazing end game potential (much like Agnes), and the pure action efficiency he can produce, is a big draw card for this plucky criminal. Given the flexibility of his ability,. I also believe that he will be the investigator from the Core that will scale the best as more cards come out.
What do you guys think? Do you see “Skids” in the same light as me? Or is the criminal nothing but a prison dog? Let me know, as I’d love to discuss this great game even more with all of you guys. As always, and until next time, have fun gaming!
*all images are courtesy of cardgamedb.com and fantasyflightgames.com