Note: This guide is written by a Standard difficulty player and is primarily aimed towards people who will be playing on Standard. It will also be updated intermittently as the cardbase expands.
Ever since I began my maddening descent into the world of Arkham Files, Akachi Onyele has been one of my favourite characters. This mysterious, powerful spiritualist is one of the most powerful investigators lorewise, sporting not just the ability to commune with the spirits all around her, but also the ability to shoot fireballs from her hand, as evidenced in the Investigators of Arkham Horror book. If that’s not a badass character, I don’t know what is.
In Arkham Horror: The Card Game, Akachi continues to be a total badass who can curbstomp monsters by sheer force of will when she’s at her best. At her worst, Akachi fumbles around, cursing loudly that she is missing her most important assets and events. This feast or famine playstyle, common in all Mystics, is even more pronounced in Akachi. Unlike Agnes with her flashy horror trickery or Jim with his chaos bag manipulation or Mateo with his powerful timing windows, Akachi’s strength initially reads as understated and plain. You get one extra charge on assets with charges. That’s all it is, which means, bluntly, if you don’t get your spells out, you have no ability at all. And yet, on the other hand, if you do get your spells out, well, let’s just say it’s Akachi’s world and you’re all living it. Let’s dive into how to get more of the feast and less of the famine as we unpack Akachi’s playstyle.
Let’s start with her stat line. Akachi has 5 Will, 2 Intellect, 3 Strength, and 3 Agility. She also has 6 health and 8 sanity. Notice anything yet? Akachi has the exact stats as her Mystic rival Agnes, except that she flat out has 1 more Strength than her. In fact, if you total Akachi’s stat line, she is one of the few 13 total stat point Investigators in the game. That alone is great, but let’s unpack what this stat line means a little bit more.
5 Will is a huge amount of will. It’s a well nigh busted amount of Will on Standard. Yes, Will by itself is essentially a purely defensive stat, but Will in the hands of a Mystic like Akachi or Agnes can be morphed into whatever you want it to do. And 5 Will, for the purpose of Level 0 arcane slot Spells, will allow you to succeed on most any test you are applying it to early in your campaign, sometimes without any help at all. As the campaign progresses, you may run into harder tests and need to buff your will, but by then you’ve hopefully also empowered your deck to scale with the challenges. If you can get the right cards out, Akachi’s Will will find the way.
2 Intellect is terrible. I mean, it could be worse right? It could be a 0 or 1. But really, 2 is still bad. You really cannot discover clues with Akachi without major help. This exists through Rite of Seeking or Drawn to the Flame, but let’s be realistic. There are not tons of cards to help poor Akachi investigate within her deckbuilding restrictions, and without player cards, Akachi isn’t going to be collecting many clues with an Intellect of 2. That doesn’t mean Akachi doesn’t collect clues. It just means she doesn’t collect clues unless she has gained access to specific cards. This is a key weakness of this investigator, and you always have to keep this in mind when playing Akachi.
Next, let’s consider her Strength of 3 and her Agility of 3. These are actually decent combat stats, and they are easily the best combat stats of any Mystic and, looking more broadly, one of the most solid sets of base combat stats among, honestly, everyone. What does this mean for Akachi? Akachi can actually decently defend herself without player cards. It’s not amazing or guaranteed, but she has potential, especially early in the campaign when enemies tend to not be as challenging. Enemies with high fight tend to have lower evade and enemies with high evade tend to have lower fight, meaning with a 3 and 3, Akachi will often be able to handle an enemy in some capacity. This gives Akachi a little bit more survivability, which can in turn buy her the time she needs to properly set up her tableau and transition into being the Willpower monster she wants to be.
Signature Asset & Weakness
Akachi’s signature asset, Spirit-Speaker, sounds confusing at first glance. I tended to not even play it when I was just starting to learn Akachi, instead committing for the icons. Then, I realized that this card, much like Akachi in general, is actually obscenely powerful when played correctly and does basically nothing when played incorrectly.
This asset does 2 things for Akachi. When played on a spell with a lot of charges on it, it gives her a burst of resources. When played on a spell with few or no charges on it, it gives you recursion on that spell. The recursion part is by far the more exciting part of this card, because recursion in Mystic basically does not exist. Even Agnes with her Survivor splash is crucially not recurring her spells. Typically, when a spell is used up, it’s gone and you probably will never see it again. Spirit-Speaker gives you a chance to reclaim your dried up arcane slot Spells and play them again fresh. As far as the other effect goes, in a pinch, it’s great to have access to extra resources, but the effect of the spell is usually worth more than turning all the charges on it into resources. Note that you can’t do both effects on the same card as some sort of combo, as the card either enters your hand or is discarded, depending on which effect you chose.
Akachi’s weakness is Angered Spirits. Similar to Cover Up or Searching For Izzie, this is a signature weakness that gives you trauma. If you draw this early enough, it’s really easy to get rid of. In fact, as far as traumatizing weaknesses go, it is, in my opinion, the easiest one to deal with. You already start with 1 extra charge on your assets, so if you have two arcane slot spells out, which you probably do, half of satisfying this card is just removing your passive bonus. If you get an Elder Sign draw, you can gain a charge, which only makes this weakness even easier to deal with. It does hurt to lose your charges and exhaust your spells, but if you have Spirit-Speaker out, you can return the spells to your hand if they are empty of charges, or even just replace the spells with new copies. Not too difficult at all. (Also, note that the majority of arcane slot spells still function when exhausted.)
On the other hand, if you draw Angered Spirits late, you probably won’t get rid of it and you are literally just screwed over. This is because it takes MINIMUM two full rounds to achieve its conditions. What does this mean then? If Akachi hasn’t drawn her signature weakness and the game is nearing its end and you don’t want trauma (and you do not want trauma), stop drawing cards. Just stop. Gain resources. Move back and forth. Resign even. Just don’t draw any cards other than the ones you are forced to draw in upkeep, because even under the best circumstances, it takes a minimum amount of rounds to complete this. If you have Alyssa or Scrying, you may want to start trying to find this card if you are averse to physical trauma. (However, even then, with 6 health, 1 physical trauma is not campaign ending.)
All in all, Angered Spirits is one of the signature weaknesses you want to draw as soon as possible. This means, early on, you should do the opposite of what I just said and suck in as many cards as you can. Thankfully, this is Akachi’s playstyle anyway, since Akachi needs to get her core spell cards into play to be strong, and drawing her cards is the first step to doing that.
To review, Angered Spirits is countered by her innate passive and dealt with best by drawing early, which only helps Akachi access her key cards. For that reason, I’d say overall Angered Spirits is pretty easy to deal with. Having a powerful signature asset combined with having an easy signature weakness is part of what makes Akachi a powerful investigator.
As stated before, Akachi is a feast or famine investigator. Just like a Guardian who is hungry for a weapon, you need your arcane slot spells drawn and in play in order to be successful. With a will of 5, you don’t need tons of back up, but you can certainly get it cheaply with cards like Holy Rosary, St. Hubert’s Key, and if you want to play the doom game, David Renfield. Unlike Jim or Agnes, Akachi isn’t reliant on a gimmick like chaos bag manipulation or taking horror at will. Literally all Akachi wants to do is get her assets out, with events and skills at the ready as support. This means you must double down on drawing cards and very carefully managing your resources.
Akachi’s can perform any role on a team, whether clue getter or fighter, but she can only do these roles if she currently as a spell available to her. Therefore, her role often shifts over the course of the game. In an ideal scenario, Akachi is set up enough to be able to do both roles at the same time. However, reaching that point is usually very expensive, in terms of cards and resources. Rite of Seeking is obnoxiously expensive at 4 resources, and the upgraded version is even more so at 5 resources. Shriveling is also not particularly cheap at 3. I recommend therefore taking Uncage the Soul. Most spells in the game cost exactly 3 resources, so Uncage the Soul lets you play them for free. If you are still concerned about paying for your Spells, I recommend Forbidden Knowledge or even Emergency Cache. However, I find Uncage the Soul if usually enough assistance.
Akachi tends to want to play Arcane Initiate. This is because as stated earlier, she needs her spells, but also because Alyssa Graham is less useful on her than other investigators. The extra +1 Intellect takes you from a 2 to a 3, in which case, you are still failing most key Intellect tests. You also don’t really need to scout out your own signature weakness, as Akachi can usually manage it. Alyssa is also very expensive. For the price of Alyssa, you could just play Rite of Seeking and have a better chance of collecting clues. In contrast, Arcane Initiate gets cards into Akachi’s hand, hopefully, an arcane slot Spell. For this reason, I always advise shoving as many Spells as possible into Akachi so that Arcane Initiate can more reliably trigger.
On the downside, Akachi is easily destroyed by discard effects. She has no access to recursion from the discard pile and because she is hugely dependent on specific cards being available, discard effects hurt a lot. One time I autofailed a test on Visions of Futures Past in Dunwich and I discarded 2 Rite of Seekings and 2 Shrivellings. At that point, the majority of my power was now in my discard with no real hope of escaping. This is why I advocate, particularly in Dunwich, taking one copy of Quantum Flux as your emergency button. You don’t have to take this, but I personally like having it, just in case something awful happens to your deck.
Since Akachi’s inconsistency is basically a given, she is a very difficult investigator to solo with. You certainly can, and I don’t intend to drive you away from solo Akachi. Akachi just does so much better on a team, where her flexible nature often allows her to fill in gaps as needed. It’s hard to reliably gather clues with Akachi when you are dependent on Rite of Seeking and Drawn to the Flame, or perhaps were hoping for some combo of St. Hubert’s Key, Alyssa Graham, and Flashlight (which is obscenely expensive in terms of actions, cards, and resources for what you are trying to do). She has good options, but as a solo investigator, she will definitely struggle moreso than say Pete who can investigate and fight right away with Duke.
To summarize, playing Akachi is about playing to maximize what you have out at the time. You can have more stuff out by minding your card draw and your income. Akachi thrives on having her arcane slots full, and becomes very strong once her assets are in play. She does very little apart from her assets. Work up to your points of power, but be prepared to have your role on the team change at a moment’s notice.
In a campaign, her XP should most urgently go towards upgrading her core arcane slot spells such as Rite of Seeking and Shrivelling. This honestly will consume a ton of xp on its own. Getting 2 Rite of Seeking level 4s and 2 Shrivelling level 5s costs 18 xp, which puts you very deep into a campaign, with only 4 cards upgraded. While I believe in this strategy, don’t do this unless you are comfortable upgrading nothing else but a few cards.
Outside of that, protection in the form of Ward of Protection or Time Warp is another option. Grotesque Statue also deserves a mention as it gains an extra charge on Akachi. Remember as well that you may upgrade to out of class cards that use charges. Arcane Insight and Suggestion are both contenders for Akachi. Suggestion in particular allows you to not just evade with a skill value of 8(!), you also get to cancel up to 4(!!) attacks by non-Elite enemies made against you. If you aren’t already in the business of blowing things up outright, you may want to give Suggestion strong consideration.
On the lower end of the spectrum, Spirit Athame is a great pick up on Akachi, as the +2 for Spell tests is a great way to make sure you are getting the most out of your many charges. As a side bonus, she also can fight regularly with a 5 fight using this card. That will afford her one extra option to deal with the horrors she faces, as the need arises.
I do NOT recommend the Archaic Glyphs line on Akachi. You do not want to be performing investigate actions using your Intellect. Guiding Stones will likely never net you bonus clues (or even a clue), and you have more than enough combat options that the benefits of Prophecy Foretold are not necessary on you either. You have way better options for your arcane slots than either of these two things.
Remember that Akachi can do basically anything, so always choose your upgrades based on the needs of your team.
I took the liberty of constructing two basic decks for Akachi: one very basic I call Simple Arcane Akachi, and one more combo heavy called Torrent Skull Akachi. Both of them are posted on ArkhamDB for you to view. Feel free to make any alterations as you see fit.
Simple Arcane Akachi is a very basic deck with 4 options to go in your arcane slots. Uncage the Soul can help you pay for your big spells, and Holy Rosary and David Renfield together can get you to 7 base Will during the windows when Renfield has doom on him. However, you generally will prefer to have Arcane Initiate out in order to draw as many cards as you can into your hand.
Torrent Skull Akachi is a new style of Akachi that depends on the interaction between Torrent of Power and Decorated Skull. Torrent of Power is a strong card, but it has never felt great to use it because Mystics prize their charges too much. Enter Akachi with Decorated Skull. Her Skull starts with 1 charge, and can gain charges as enemies and Ally assets die. Mystics tend to want to kill off their Allies anyway, which Akachi can do easily through Painkillers, Smoking Pipe, Forbidden Knowledge, or Ward of Protection. Akachi is also more than able to kill enemies once she gets her combat spells. This will allow Skull to stack, giving Torrent of Power a strong target. At 3 charges spent, Torrent of Power will give you +7 Will or +4 Wild, allowing you to nearly guarantee success on a big test. Thankfully, Torrent of Power and Decorated Skull both hold their weight even apart from this combo, making this deck more solid than it might appear at first glance.
Akachi is a fun and flexible investigator with numerous builds available to her. Her generalist nature allows her to succeed on almost any multiplayer team and she can turn into quite the chameleon in terms of role not just from round to round but also from scenario to scenario as her deck upgrades. I highly recommend exploring the Mythos with her as your next companion! Trust Akachi to lead you through the lands unknown!