Delve Too Deep File XXI: Essex County Express Review Part I (Guardian/Seeker/Rogue)

8Welcome back after a long break, fellow investigators. There have been important matters that have required attending which has slowed down my work, but I am back and ready to dive right back into more analysis! Joining me once again for a roundtable review are Drawn to the Flame host Pete “Unitled”, Scott and JC! You’re probably here for our opinions and not for introductions, so why don’t we go straight into it?

Bandolier (23/40)
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The Aficionado (9/10): This is basically the highly coveted +1 hand slot. As long as one of the three hand slot items you have equipped are a weapon, you’re completely fine. And if you’re playing a Guardian, when are you not going to have a handy Machete or some kind of gun not equipped? Compared to Leather Coat and Bulletproof Vest, I think Bandolier is going to get the nod from me almost every time (except in Scavenging decks). Fantastic card that opens up great options, both now and in the future.

JC (4/10): While this card can make dreams of dual-wielding a shotgun and a machete come true, I’m not as excited about it as others seem to be. For starters, I’m instinctively put off by having to pay 2 resources and an action for a card that, strictly speaking, doesn’t do anything by itself. Actions in this game are pretty tight, and I want my setup time and money to be more immediately impactful. You also have to draw both a Bandolier and three hands worth of stuff in order for the effect to do anything at all. Throw in the fact that it can’t be played in multiples (body slot), while only sporting one icon, and I’ll be leaving this out for now. There’s potential if we ever see some truly game-warping two-handers, but even then I’ll spend most games wishing that this was permanent like the other two slot-givers.

Unitled (7/10): Lets a guardian grab something like Shotgun and still run a regular weapon or hand slot item at the same time. That’s the main use I can see for it at the moment, though I’m sure when we get more double handed equipment we’ll see more of this. It’s slightly awkward that it doesn’t have permanent like the other extra slot cards in this pack. Your ideal rig will be hampered if this is setting at the bottom of your deck!

Scott (3/10): If you’re playing a Guardian, you’re almost always holding a weapon in your hand slots. I keep running through possible uses for this card in my head and can’t find any really obvious ones.  I don’t generally consider it a huge advantage to hold two weapons in most situations, and you’re using up your body slot to do it.  I suppose it is sort of nice to be able to use a Knife to stab those rats you turn up when both hands are full with the Shotgun, but that just isn’t that high-ranking on my list of “gee, I wish we had a fix for that”. I’m sure there are decent combos for some of the non-warrior classes, but most of the time if you’re a non-warrior class you’re not fighting a lot and don’t need to wield a weapon.  I’m sure some folks will find great uses for this, and I look forward to seeing what they come up with.

Stand Together (37/40)
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The Aficionado (10/10): Card of the pack for me. This is obviously a 0 for solo play, but going forth it’s likely to be my first buy for guardians in multiplayer campaigns. People already use Emergency Cachethis is that on steroids! It’s even got two Willpower icons, just in case you don’t really need the cards and resources. It’s a good time to be a Guardian!

JC (10/10): Absolutely nuts. In the early game, it’s amazing help to decks which need to set up a few key assets (like, oh, every Guardian ever); in the late game, double Willpower icons shield you against an untimely encounter draw. This card would already be crazy good if it just applied to one player, but the ability to set up your Mystic or Seeker as well at no extra cost is wonderful. It’s a bummer that it can’t be played in true solo, but I can easily see this being the first 3-6 XP spent for many group campaigns from here on out.

Unitled (9/10): A total of 4 resources and 2 cards for 1 action, absolutely great! Of course it’s limited by needing to be at the same location as your colleagues, and naturally useless in Solo play. However, Guardians currently have a lot of expensive cards and not a lot of faction cards that give them resources, making this a very welcome addition to their card pool. Potentially a little steep at 3 experience, but remember we also get two Willpower icons which is very welcome in Roland or possibly spell-slinging Zoey.

Scott (8/10): This one’s easy.  Three experience is a high price, of course, but virtually any Guardian character who is eligible to use this card and isn’t soloing will want it.

Art Student (26/40)
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The Aficionado (7/10): A disposable ally (not a comment on all arts students; I did languages!) with an upside when it comes into play. Simple, but effective. It’s a shame that she’s in the most competitive slot in the game, but a certain other card in this pack certainly makes her A LOT better. The easy comparison is the Working A Hunch, and I think that’s probably a little better.

JC (6/10): Seeker allies are forever going to have a tough time making the cut, because they’re all directly competing with the amazing Dr. Milan. However, Roland loves her for the cheap horror soak alone (the other day I ran a Roland deck with 2 of this and 2 Laboratory Assistant, and he almost never took a brain.) I also find myself intrigued by the fact that Seekers now have three cheap, nonunique allies with “enters play” effects. Could ally bounce/flicker be a future Seeker theme?

Unitled (7/10): Possibly best compared to Working a Hunch. We lose Fast, which is rough, but we gain 2 mental soak and 1 physical soak. Assuming of course we have a free ally slot!
I can see a build using Charisma (which we’ll come to!) and the ‘enter play’ reaction Seeker allies, including Laboratory Assistant, to build up an academic army, soaking up damage (which is key, especially in Daisy). Hopefully we’ll even see a card which benefits or helps with playing Miskatonic cards!

Scott (6/10): Discovering clues is never bad, even if you’re Daisy Walker and fail on an investigate action only ten or twenty percent of the time… but I can see how Daisy might be better off with the Laboratory AssistantRex Murphy has a lower Lore and thus fits a tad better with the Art Student.  Neither is really all that special, though, not like the way the Research Librarian goes hand-in-hand with Daisy‘s special ability.

Deduction (Level 2) (33/40)
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The Aficionado (7/10): I feel like the stock of this card is a bit higher in multiplayer, where you’re more likely to have more clues to find (and some of the lower shroud locations will have plenty!), but even in solo, it’s pretty great. I don’t know if it’s the first thing I’m going to be buying, but in certain decks (like Rex, for instance), I could definitely see this being an important addition to the succeed by 2 arsenal. I just don’t know if it’s enough of an improvement over the original to warrant early purchasing.

JC (10/10): Turns out that when you make a strictly better version of an already good card, it ends up pretty good too. Rex will be capable of some truly disgusting turns with this in hand. It also helps that Seekers don’t have a ton of high-XP stuff they need to save for (yet.)

Unitled (8/10): A straightforward upgrade to Deduction. Gets you more clues, which is always good, and gives you an extra pip. If you were using Deduction you’re likely wanting to pick this up fairly early. Only downside is potentially juggling number of clues; in 1 or 2 player games, having 3 clues on a location is more rare, meaning you might not get the full use out of the card.

Scott (8/10): This is a great card and a major upgrade on the zero-level Deduction. I just don’t know if I’d find myself spending two experience on it when you’ve got big upgrades like Cryptic Research or Disc of Itzamna competing for those same points. You’re talking about one investigation check per scenario. But if this one comes up at the right time, it could be a game-changer.

Switchblade (Level 2) (31/40)
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The Aficionado (8/10): Wow! Now that was an upgrade I wasn’t expecting! Unlike Deduction above, the boost on this compared to the original is quite substantial, turning an unplayable card into an incredibly cost efficient one. Say goodbye to the .41 Derringer!

JC (9/10): Apparently 2XP is what it takes to turn the worst weapon in the game into of of the best (Derringer was playable, this is an infinite-use version that’s cheaper and fast.) Only downside is that no Guardian has access to it, which would have been wonderful.

Unitled (9/10): Switchblade was one of the weaker cards in the core set, despite being Fast, a tremendously useful ability for a weapon. It didn’t give any bonus to your fight score, meaning a considerable investment to even hit reliably, let alone trigger the bonus damage.
This upgrade gives Switchblade an extra +2 to your fight, turning it into a .41 Derringer that doesn’t need ammo, that costs 2 fewer resources to play and, yes, is still Fast! This is a really fantastic upgrade, despite having conditional damage, and well worth the 2 experience.

Scott (5/10): Of course it’s better than its zero-level version, but two experience to spend for a weapon that still isn’t much better than a Knife (or a Kukri) isn’t great.  Only Rogues and Wendy Adams can even use this, and Wendy is so weak she’ll need a miracle to get the damage bonus benefit.  But if you’re a Rogue and you use the .41 Derringer, you now have an equivalent that costs less to play and doesn’t require ammo.

“I’m Outta Here!” (15/40)
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The Aficionado (1/10): Frankly, I don’t play to lose. It’s as simple as that. I’d much rather every card in my deck help me win rather than mitigate the effects of losing. There are one or two missions where I can KIND OF see this being useful, but until I see more, this is definitely not getting any better than a one from me. The only redemption is that it’s got 2 Agility blips; you could probably make a case for this to replace one Manual Dexterity, but I think I’d probably rather see Manual Dexterity in most cases. I do love that the design allows for cards like this to exist though, so props for that!

JC (5/10): How great is it that discussing the merits of a card that literally reads “quit the game” is actually a decent conversation? I love this game.

Double agility should be considered the base mode for this card, and that’s fine for a class that will be agility-ing frequently. The resign ability is highly situational, but will be amazing value when you need it. This card actually ups the value of Adaptable in my eyes, since now there’s something really worth swapping in and out for particular scenarios.

Unitled (7/10): A really unusual card, and one I think is potentially better than it first appears. The double agility icons means it could potentially take the place of Manual Dexterity without too much of a downside, and if you’ve already grabbed Adaptable then you’re able to just swap it in when you need it.

I’ll note the effect is real good in The House Always Wins, not only to help you escape, but means you can finally get all the experience off the victory point locations! As resigning doesn’t trigger an Attack of Opportunity, it’s a great panic button in the other scenarios too.

Scott (2/10): I mean, okay, as the tiniest of upgrades to Manual Dexterity, fine.  Otherwise, c’mon, man.  You never plan to lose, do you?

Thanks for joining us, and tune in next time for when we get to analysing the remaining six cards. What do you guys think of all the new goodies we’re getting? I think it’s pretty clear from the reviews of the cards so far that this has been a solid pack for player cards. Whatever you think, until next time, may your skill checks remain untentacled!

*all images courtesy of cardgamedb.com and Fantasy Flight Games.

Check out the Drawn to the Flame podcast here!

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6 thoughts on “Delve Too Deep File XXI: Essex County Express Review Part I (Guardian/Seeker/Rogue)

    1. I was a little confused as well, but what I think he meant was that if you’re aiming for the clause where you get 2 clues, you’re effectively sacrificing your two bonus icons (increasing the difficulty). I don’t know though so I might let him do the talking!

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  1. Great review as usual guys. I only don’t understand the Scott in his Deduction note. As this is a “skill” card it’s obvious you can use both lore icons for the skill check. Exactly like with perception.

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    1. I was a bit confused as well, but I think what he was trying to say was that generally if you’re trying to get the “exceed by 2 or more clause” you’re effectively forfeiting the 2 bonus icons from Deduction. I’ll let him clarify.

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  2. Yeah, I guess I’ve been playing it wrong all along, thanks for helping my Dunwich Legacy game get a little easier! (I was also viewing all the cards strictly by their various parameters, and looking at the icons against the card’s printed ability as a way of figuring out value.)

    I’d say Deduction improves to an 8 or so- great card, but lots of competition for those experience points. Do you want to spend multiple points on an upgrade for one test per scenario?

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