By Bryan Sandberg
Lola Hayes is one of the most intimidating investigators for newer players to play. She is an advanced investigator, whose strength comes from her massive card pool and her capacity to become a true jack-of-all-trades. However, she also some glaring weaknesses, including her below average health and sanity, her limiting role mechanic, and her unusually harsh signature weakness. This guide is designed to help newcomers to Lola get a better sense of how to approach this character and hopefully give you some insight into how to use her well.
Moreso than almost any other investigator, deckbuilding is really where you make or break Lola. Because Lola has a totally even statline and access to almost every card in the game, she can become almost whatever you want her to be. As a reminder, Lola needs a deck of 35 cards, which is 5 more than most investigators. Among those cards, she needs to have 3 classes represented with at least 7 cards from each class. This alone accounts for 60% of her deck, leaving 40% of your space for Neutral and other class-specific cards. With her 2 signature events, 2 signature weaknesses, and 1 random basic weakness, she starts the campaign with a deck of 40 cards. What you end up with is a very diverse deck, but with low reliability on drawing any one specific card and a high number of weaknesses. With all that in mind, let’s get started on how to approach her deckbuilding.
The first question you have to ask yourself when deckbuilding with Lola is who is on your team and what are they going to be doing. If you are on a team with a Mark, you may want to prioritize finding clues. If you are on a team with a Rex, you may want to prioritize combat. If you are solo, you will have to figure out how you’ll do both.
Once you have figured out what direction you want your Lola to go, you have to pick your 3 classes. While you definitely can pick more than 3 classes, for a new player, I unquestionably would recommend limiting yourself to just 3. This is because swapping roles is generally very taxing on Lola. Being in the wrong role at the wrong time can cost you the whole scenario, so sticking to 3 makes it easier. If you are a more advanced Lola player, by all means, add a 4th or 5th class. For this beginners guide though, we will focus on just 3 classes plus Neutral.
I will list out all six classes, including Neutral, with some recommendations for each one.
Guardian – Combat/Support
Guardian is the obvious combat choice. Machete and Beat Cop, which are mainstays in most Guardian decks, work very well with Lola as well. If you are running weapons, remember that a Prepared for the Worst can draw cards from any class, not just Guardian, and can help you get the reliable card draw Lola lacks due to her bloated deck size. Dynamite Blast is also a star card for Lola, as she can use tools from other classes to get rich in a way a regular Guardian can’t.
Don’t forget that Guardian is an amazing class for support cards. Given that you can run cards out of any class, Teamwork can open up a ton of options for you and your team if you start shuffling assets among each other. Dodge is cheap and helps protect you or a friend from danger, while Emergency Aid or First Aid can shift your Lola into a healer role.
AVOID: Guard Dog. Guard Dog requires you to be Guardian at the time you get attacked for this to go off, which usually means you are Guardian during the enemy phase. You are probably then going to continue to be Guardian during the Upkeep phase, which opens you up to having Guard Dog wiped by Crisis of Identity during the Upkeep card draw. Anytime you are not Guardian, Guard Dog will do nothing for you other than take damage. In that case, you may as well play an ally like Beat Cop that can take damage and be useful outside of being Guardian.
Seeker – Clues/Support
In my opinion, Seeker is the best class for Lola to be. This is in large part due to Higher Education being obnoxiously powerful, but it is also due to the fact that Seeker has really good options for Lola at Level 0. Magnifying Glass and Dr. Milan Christopher both offer passive Intellect. If you are building Relic heavy, Dr. Elli Horowitz can put a Relic of any class into play when she enters play, allowing you to get around Lola’s role restriction. Charles Ross, Esq. allows you to help your fellow team members pay for their items. Even if you don’t always draw a card from it, Tooth of Eztli can still give you helpful stats for surviving encounter cards. Anatomical Diagrams and Guidance are also great considerations if you are going for a support-oriented deckbuild – both of these cards can really help a fighter on your team take out an enemy. Overall, there are a ton of Seeker cards that work well for Lola; with the opportunity for passive Intellect not just within Seeker but other classes as well, I would recommend Seeker any time Lola is not required to fill a strictly combat role.
AVOID: Fieldwork. This card doesn’t work well with your role restrictions. Not only do you have to move into a location with a clue on it, you have to also be a Seeker when you move to activate the ability. How many times is this really going to be happening? Lola already has enough limits when it comes to using her cards as is; don’t make it harder by including cards like Fieldwork.
Mystic – Support/Clues
If Seeker is the best class for Lola, Mystic is the worst. Mystic is so bad for Lola that, if you are a beginner building a deck for Lola, I would say just don’t pick Mystic as one of your 3. Why? Because playing a classic Mystic revolves around upping your Will stat so you can use it in place of your other stats. All of Lola’s stats are a 3 to start, so replacing one of your other stats with your Will gains you nothing. Furthermore, upping your Will stat, which starts at a mediocre 3, is a lot of investment in mostly Mystic assets. (Investing in Will is different from investing in Intellect because Will, mostly a defensive stat, doesn’t really win games in the same way Intellect does.) Having Arcane slot spells out also means more Mystic assets in play. Having a ton of Mystic assets out means you are hugely susceptible to a board wipe from Crisis of Identity.
If you are going to be Mystic, these are some things I would recommend. Delve Too Deep works as well on Lola as it does on any Mystic. You may be less likely to pass a Will test, but for the most part, it’ll have the exact same outcome as anyone else playing it. The exact same can be said for Drawn to the Flame. Holy Rosary is a cheap stat and has some nice sanity soak. Alyssa Graham also has an Intellect stat, and a nice ability that can help you fish out your weakness. The Chthonian Stone also works exactly the same on Lola as it does on any Mystic. Again though, most Mystic cards are sub-optimal on Lola. You certainly could find 7 perfectly fine cards to run on her from the card pool, but you will be hurting for good options versus any of the other four classes.
AVOID: St. Hubert’s Key. This card is a huge trap for Lola. You might think, “Wow, 2 passive stat points for 4 resources sounds amazing.” And it is amazing. But St. Hubert’s Key also lowers your sanity by 2. “Great! Now I will play Desperates.” Yes, okay, that can work, but it is hugely risky. You know the part of the card where St. Hubert’s Key heals you when you would be defeated? That’s a triggered ability. That means you have to be Mystic at the time you would be defeated by horror in order to have not have this card kill you. Since Lola generally doesn’t want to be Mystic, because it’s a sub-optimal card pool for her, if you are staying in Mystic for the purpose of not being wrecked by sanity loss from St. Hubert’s Key you are probably not accomplishing much else. The easiest way around this problem is just don’t play St. Hubert’s Key. You have ample opportunity to get your stats elsewhere.
Rogue has some fantastic options for Lola. That being said, you also have to be cautious here, because just like Mystic, some cards need to be avoided for being sub-optimal on Lola versus an actual Rogue.
Rogue skill cards are very good cards on Lola. Double or Nothing, “Watch this!”, and Quick Thinking can all be played with each other, allowing you to get a huge swing in your favour if you succeed on the skill test. Liquid Courage is also a decent choice if you are going for a healing archetype; seeing as you have only 6 sanity to start with, it’s not a poor choice even for your own purposes. Leo De Luca is perfectly viable for Lola, as are numerous events which don’t require any sort of skill test, such as Elusive, Sneak Attack, Think on Your Feet. A superstar card though is Sleight of Hand, which actually can be used to put an item from any class into play. Like Dr. Elli, Sleight of Hand doesn’t actually play the card, it “puts it into play”. That means you can Sleight of Hand your Machete or .45 Automatic; definitely a card to consider depending on what kind of archetype you are going for.
AVOID: Lone Wolf. Just like every card I’ve mentioned earlier in the AVOID sections, Lone Wolf requires you to be Rogue at a certain timing window, this time at the start of your turn. Lone Wolf also requires at least 3 turns to become profitable, because you spent 1 resource for the printed cost and spent 1 action to play it, which could have been spent just taking a resource. So you have to be Rogue at the start of your turn a lot to make Lone Wolf worth it, which is not necessarily something you can guarantee. Just don’t include this.
Out of all the factions, Survivor is hit the hardest by Lola’s role restrictions. Many powerful Survivor cards don’t function the way they are supposed to because Lola very simply often can’t play them at the time she wants to. Basically if Mystic is bad for Lola because of her stat line, Survivor is bad for Lola because of her role restrictions.
That’s not to say there are no good options here. If you have a lot of resources at your disposal, Fire Axe can potentially be deadly. If you are not risk averse, Baseball Bat can also give you great stats and deal a good amount of damage for the investment involved. Leather Coat takes the body slot which is usually not highly contested outside of Fine Clothes. Peter Sylvestre can give you a passive stat, and while he has a triggered ability that requires you to be Survivor at the end of the round, missing one or two activations of this ability is not that bad. However, Survivor is a difficult card pool to build from. I generally don’t recommend digging into Survivor until you are comfortable with Lola’s timing windows.
AVOID: Lucky! Lucky! is one of the best cards in the game, just period. That being said, I would advise against using it on Lola, because it doesn’t work the way it does on a normal investigator. This is because you have to be Survivor to use it. So for example, let’s say that you are using a Machete, and you fail. You cannot play Lucky! to succeed. This is because there is no timing window to change role in between when you would fail and resolving the outcome. This means that a lot of the time you can’t play it. That’s not to say you can’t play it at all. If you are using Fire Axe and fail, by all means play Lucky! But generally, I would recommend including a card that is easier to get the benefit from over Lucky!
Of course, Lola can play and commit any Neutral card any time. Therefore, most of these cards are good choices on her. Personally though, I would recommend staying away from combat Neutrals such as Knife and Kukri, as you have better options available to you. Flashlight is strong and reliable, as is the standard, non-Desperate suite of skill cards. I almost always include all 10 skill cards – 2 each of Guts, Perception, Overpower, Manual Dexterity, and Unexpected Courage. You have the deck space for it, and they are some of the only cards that will always be playable for you. Backpack is also great for card draw if you are running an item heavy deck. Emergency Cache is also worthwhile if you have made an expensive deck.
AVOID: Calling in Favors. This card requires you to play the asset you draw, not put it into play. Therefore, Lola can only play it the new Ally if it matches the class of the Ally she just discarded. It could work, but only if you built around it.
Playing Around Crisis of Identity
Now, most deckbuilding for Lola focuses on getting as many passive bonuses out on your assets as possible. This is because unlike an activatible ability, Lola does not have to be in the matching role to benefit from a passive bonus. In general, I agree with this strategy, but it’s also potentially quite risky to rely too heavily on passive bonuses. Crisis of Identity is a huge liability for Lola, and any board state that can get entirely wiped out with an untimely Crisis of Identity draw needs to be avoided. To spell it out, a wipe due to Crisis of Identity causes you to lose:
- The cards you played
- The resources spent playing those cards
- The actions you spent playing those cards
This can be devastating if you are not playing around it. Imagine you used 1 turn playing a Beat Cop, Bandolier, and Machete, due to their passive benefits, only to draw Crisis of Identity during upkeep. Now you’ve lost 3 actions, 3 cards, and 9 resources. That’s a huge swing against you.
For this reason, I recommend keeping track of how many assets of each class you will have out at a time in your “ideal” board state. I also recommend loading up on events and skills as Crisis of Identity will not touch them.
Lola can only change roles as a free trigger ability, and can only do so once per round. While you can change to Neutral, doing so is only beneficial as a defensive move to protect your board state from a Crisis of Identity wipe. Consult pages 23 and 26 of the Rules Reference for a complete list of when you can legally change roles.
Knowing when to change roles is the most important part of playing Lola. When changing roles, you should always be conscious of what cards are you in your hand and what you have in play for the purpose of avoiding a Crisis wipe. Don’t be afraid to stay in one role for an extended period of time. So long as you have the cards to support staying in one role, you don’t necessarily have to be bouncing between all your available roles to be a successful Lola.
It can be difficult to keep track of your roles, so I use a six-sided die and assign 1 side to each role. Personally, I just have each number of my die match up with the classes in the order they appear on her card, so Survivor is 1, Guardian is 2, and so on. It’s a system that has worked fine for me so far, and I would recommend giving it a try if you have no system yet.
I have included two sample decks for you to try.
Big Money Lola is a combat/support Lola that sees Lola accumulate a ton of money to pay for Dynamite Blasts early and Higher Education/Streetwise triggers later on.
Lola Delves for Crime is Mystic Lola’s chance to shine, as she comes ready with 2 copies of Delve Too Deep. Lola uses these to draw more encounter cards in hopes of being able to get a 2 clue play of Scene of the Crime in a later turn. The whole deck will have her netting a lot of clues, often with no tests or a very safe test involved, no matter what role she is in.
Hopefully, this guide can help you get started with Lola. Once you understand her, Lola is undoubtedly one of the most fun investigators to play and a unique challenge in the game. The best way to learn Lola is with experience, so get out there and give the actress a try.