On this edition of Additional Clues, we’re going to do something a little bit different. Rather than focus on one specific card, we’re going to focus on a set of cards. This time, we’re looking at all the cards with the Bold trait.
Boldly Going Where No Guardian Has Gone Before
First introduced in the middle of the Carcosa cycle, the Bold trait signifies a card that can only be played very early on in a round – typically the first action of your turn and potentially even sooner than that. So far, this trait has only been seen on Guardian cards, as it evokes the trademark heroism of a Guardian, boldly rushing in before his or her fellow investigators to do something extraordinary to save the day. As of right now, there are only 4 Bold cards in the entire game. Despite the small number of Bold cards, they have managed to create one of the most unique and interesting identities for any trait in the game, showing both mechanical novelty and flavourful storytelling. We will do an overview of all 4 cards to see whether any of them merit inclusion on your Guardian’s next adventure.
Who Can Play It?
Calvin, Carolyn, Leo, Lola, Mark, Roland, Skids, Yorick, Zoey
We start off with the first Bold card to be introduced to the game: Mano a Mano. For 0 resources (and 1 xp), you may play Mano a Mano on your first turn to deal 1 damage. Aside from 1 will and 1 fight icon, that’s all it does. At first glance, this card may seem a little underwhelming. It frankly does not offer that much benefit for how many conditions need be met to play it. Obviously, it must be the first action of your turn, but more than that, there must also be an enemy engaged with you. Thinking more broadly, you probably don’t want to deal only 1 damage to the enemy over the course of your turn. Yes, you can instakill enemies like Rats or Whippoorwills with this card, but as a Guardian, your sights are usually set much higher than that. Since you would want to finish off anything damaged by this card, you’re going to also want weapons in play to help you continue the fight. But then, if your weapons are already in play, you probably didn’t need this card to deal 1 damage anyway, did you?
So, what are the good parts of this card? The biggest part is it offers you testless damage for zero resources. Testless anything is pretty good in Arkham, but testless damage is especially worth taking note of. With many weapons granting +1 damage, this especially helps you kill enemies with odd numbers of health. Basically, imagine that if it typically takes 2 successful tests to kill a 3 hit point enemy, this card is allowing you to do it in 1 test. Sometimes, that can make a difference. Furthermore, if you are a fan of cheesy combo-style gameplay, Mano a Mano allows for some interesting interactions. For example, as Roland, you can use On The Hunt to pull a 1 health enemy like Acolyte on to your location during the mythos phase, then pop it with Mano a Mano to get a clue on your location for no tests.
In the grand scheme of things though, there are lots of other cards that offer testless damage. Dynamite Blast, Ambush, Guard Dog, and Beat Cop (and its upgraded version), just to name a few. So why Mano a Mano over any of these other options? Ultimately, it’s going to come down to whether you have a plan for making this card excel. Look at the other cards in your deck, and ask yourself if Mano a Mano can combo well with any of them. If your deck is on the expensive end, Mano a Mano can help you save precious resources. For the most part though, you are fine passing over this one and getting testless damage somewhere else.
Carolyn – With a fight of 2 and a restriction on buying weapons with her xp, Carolyn doesn’t have tons of options to deal damage. Mano a Mano can help give her a small push.
Roland – Mano a Mano can be repurposed in Roland decks to help him get free clues. This can be combined with Evidence! for more free clues.
Yorick – Just like Roland, Mano a Mano can be repurposed as a way for Yorick to put assets back into play without testing. Since it costs 0, it will not interfere with his resource pool when it comes to time to pay up for his assets.
Who Can Play It?
Carolyn, Jenny, Jim, Leo, Lola, Mark, Pete, Roland, Rex, Skids, Yorick, Zoey
This is my favourite Bold card, by a mile. Scene of the Crime allows your investigator to gain either 1 or 2 clues for 2 resources, no test required. On the face of it, that’s not that extraordinary. Other cards, such as Working a Hunch or Drawn to the Flame or Gravedigger’s Shovel, already give investigators clues without having to pass a test. What makes this card amazing is that it’s a Guardian card. In short, this card allows your party’s fighter to pick up clues, usually two clues, without having to test Intellect.
To maximize the benefits of this card, you’re going to want an enemy where you are, but if you’re a Guardian, this isn’t that hard to set up, particularly since unlike Mano a Mano the enemy does not have to be engaged with you. On the Hunt works fine for this purpose. Someone like Mark can play Shortcut to move for free to a location with a monster and still be allowed to play this card. If one investigator evades an enemy, she can leave it behind to allow you to play Scene of the Crime, and you walk out right after. Basically, the majority of the time you play Scene of the Crime, you should be picking up two clues. It’s not that hard to set up a proper window for this to be played. I remember a game I played as Leo, where I held Scene of the Crime while sitting on the final location and waited for a Hunter enemy to move to where I was. Once it moved there, I played Scene of the Crime and won the whole scenario.
Seriously, I would say this card is auto-include tier for Guardians and potentially worthy of the “5 out-of-class” slots on other investigators too. Think of it this way: can you think of a reason NOT to include Scene of the Crime? If you can’t come up with one, just play this card. It has an Intellect and Fight icon on it, so worst case scenario, you commit it to help you do something you would be doing anyway.
Skids – Until you get Lockpicks, neither Rogues nor Guardians have much help gathering clues. Scene of the Crime can help bridge that transition.
Yorick – Yorick’s signature weakness is an enemy and Scene of the Crime can trigger off this.
Zoey – Outside of using her out of class slots to run things like Rite of Seeking, Zoey is remarkably bad at getting clues. Her Intellect is 2 and she doesn’t have many options to make it better. This card gives her an out. As a bonus, she can likely pay the resource cost without issue as her investigator ability helps her get money.
Who Can Play It?
Calvin, Carolyn, Jenny, Jim, Leo, Lola, Mark, Pete, Roland, Rex, Skids, Yorick, Zoey
Second Wind is a card that does two things for you. It lets you heal either one or two damage and it lets you draw one card. Unlike the previous two Bold cards discussed, you do not want an enemy around when you play it, as Second Wind doesn’t prevent attacks of opportunity like Mano a Mano or Scene of the Crime. Think of this card as a recovery card. So long as it is the first action of your turn, you get back some health and a card at a low cost.
The main problem this card has is that it’s a Guardian card and most Guardians have a ton of health anyway. If this card healed horror instead of damage, this card would spike significantly in power. Unfortunately, it doesn’t do that. Furthermore, there are other healing options in Guardian that compete very well with Second Wind for its slot, the most prominent example being Emergency Aid. Still, it is worthwhile in its simplicity. It may be more valuable in investigators with lower health pools than your standard Guardian.
As a side note, Calvin can play this card because it has the Spirit trait. Doing so will cause him to lose stats, but if you like to have some healing options in your Calvin decks so he doesn’t, you know, die, consider taking this. I wouldn’t outright say I recommend it, but give it a shot, and tell me how it goes.
Carolyn – As a horror healer, Carolyn is used to being the team medic. That being said, with her base health of 6, she is particularly vulnerable to damage. Second Wind can help her out in a pinch.
Mark – Second Wind is strong for Mark because gives it him a way to counter Sophie flipping. As previously mentioned, there are other damage healing options in Guardian, so look at those too. That being said, I would strongly recommend Second Wind as Mark’s damage healing option because of how cheap it is and because it keeps the card draw rolling.
Lola – Lola has 6 health and an enormous deck to draw through. Unless you are considering using your Guardian card slots to turn Lola into a fighter (which is already a questionable endeavour), you can probably spare some space to include this card.
Who Can Play It?
Carolyn, Jenny, Jim, Leo, Lola, Mark, Pete, Roland, Rex, Skids, Yorick, Zoey
Our final Bold card is a Skill card that has drawn a fair amount of scrutiny in the Arkham community. Take the Initiative is unique in that, instead of becoming unplayable, the card steadily gets worse until it becomes unplayable as the phase goes on. Take the Initiative loses 1 wild icon for every action that has been taken this phase – and that’s any action, not just actions done by your investigator! So, if you want to play it during the investigator phase, you had better do it during your turn and your turn had better be first. Otherwise, it will have already lost all its icons and therefore be unplayable by the time it gets to you. Note: If you are playing solo, you never have to worry about that, since you are the only investigator taking actions anyway!
Some people have suggested that this makes the card bad. I completely disagree. Yes, it loses icons, but there are more opportunities for this card to have three icons than you may realize at first. If you play it during the Mythos phase, it will keep all its icons, making it a great defense against Treachery tests. It will also begin with all three icons in the Enemy phase, in case you are using something like Survival Knife. (As of now, I don’t believe there are any tests available in the Upkeep phase, but if there were, it would retain its icons again.) Even if you commit it on your second action as the first player on the investigation phase, it gives you the same number of wild icons as Unexpected Courage, and Unexpected Courage is generally seen as auto-include or almost auto-include.
Overall, Take the Initiative can be thought of, in general, as a third and fourth copy of Unexpected Courage with a few differences. Unlike Unexpected Courage, Take the Initiative is only usable on yourself. Unexpected Courage has a max of one committed per test, but you could conceivably play two Take the Initiatives on one test to give yourself 6 wild icons. A solid card if you can get the timing right and a card that does nothing if you get the timing wrong.
Jim – Hear me out on this one. Most Mystic skill cards are, to put it kindly, not very good. Why take a Fearless and gain 1 will icon, when you can take Take the Initiative and gain up to 3? Unless you are particularly keen on the bonuses provided by one or more Mystic skills cards, consider using Take the Initiative instead.
Rex – A lot of Rex decks revolve around succeeding by 2 or more and with Lucky Cigarette Case, it’s not just on investigation tests. If you are willing to spare the out of class, slots Take the Initiative can help make that happen with ease.
Zoey – Zoey goes first a lot. Yes, Guardians in general go first a lot, but I would say Zoey does this more so than other Guardians, because Zoey has greater incentive to be engaged with an enemy through her investigator ability and her unique asset. When you are engaged with an enemy, you tend to go first, because being able to dispatch that enemy can often change the map greatly for everyone else. Take the Initiative can give her a boost during those times.
While all Bold cards share a similar concept in their timing, they range quite a bit in how powerful they actually are. Hopefully, these small reviews gave you more insight into the cards. Think of these Bold cards as a little bit of spice you can add to your deck. You don’t want to add all of them, since, generally, you can only play one per phase anyway and you don’t want a hand stuffed full of Bold cards. However, you may want to include a few of them, as they can often give you a bit more extra oomph than your typical player card. Give them some consideration before you head out on your next adventure and let me know how it goes in the comments.