When you are trying to figure out who on your team will take on the role of main clue-gatherer, what do you normally look for? Probably a high base Intellect stat, right? You are probably angling to pick a Seeker, such as Daisy or Norman, or if you want to mix it up, perhaps you go with Finn and his base Intellect of 4. But, what if you wanted to empower someone else with a mediocre base Intellect of say 2 or 3 to gather clues? Could you ever possibly have a Zoey or Yorick grabbing clues across the map? You can now, through Enigma Investigation!
What Is Enigma Investigation?
Enigma Investigation is any clue-gathering that does not utilize an investigate action where your intellect is tested against the shroud value. If any part of that doesn’t happen, it falls under the category of Enigma Investigation.
A good way to explain it is by saying what is not Engima Investigation. Cards that reduce the shroud value alone, such as Flashlight, Lantern, Otherworldly Compass, and even The Skeleton Key are not Enigma. Cards that increase your Intellect or add some other value on to your Intellect, such as Magnifying Glass, Dr. Milan Christopher, Newspaper, or Lockpicks are similarly not Enigma cards. Finally, cards that allow you to investigate in some unusual way but are still testing Intellect against shroud, such as In The Know, Deciphered Reality, Seeking Answers, or Archaic Glyphs (Guiding Stones), are not Enigma. These are all valid options for investigation, but they rely on empowering the traditional method of investigations.
So what cards are Enigma Investigation cards? By my assessment, this is the complete list of Enigma Investigation cards in the game as of the writing of this article.
- “Look what I found!”
- Art Student
- Drawn to the Flame
- Gravedigger’s Shovel
- Lola Santiago
- Mysteries Remain
- Rite of Seeking
- Rite of Seeking (4)
- Roland Banks’ investigator card
- Scene of the Crime
- True Understanding
- Working a Hunch
As you can see, Engima Investigation exists in every single class. It is not solely a way to empower non-traditional clue-gatherers to gather clues. It can also complement traditional clue-gatherer’s abilities. However, for the purpose of this article, we are going to assume that a player who is interested in Engima cards wants to help an investigator with very low Intellect gather clues by bypassing traditional investigation.
What are the Pros and Cons?
Focusing on Enigma Investigation as your primary clue-gathering method has some pretty clear strengths and weaknesses. I have listed a few below.
- An Enigma clue-gatherer is usually very capable at handling enemies. If they have low Intellect, they probably have high Fight or Agility, and they probably have access to cards that make those things even stronger. For example, Roland, whose investigator card ability and replacement signature card are both Enigmas, is a Guardian with a base Fight of 4 who often is armed with strong weapon cards. If the investigator has high Will, such as a Mystic, they also can run cards such as Shriveling or Storm of Spirits to fight that way as well. In short, Enigma investigators can protect themselves as they gather clues.
- Enigma Investigation is often guaranteed and does not necessarily rely on tests. A card like Scene of the Crime is completely testless. Art Student, Working a Hunch, and Gravedigger’s Shovel similarly don’t test anything whatsoever. Evidence! does require to have defeated an enemy, which may or may not have required you to pass a Fight test, but the actual clue-gathering part does not require any additional testing. The end result is you can get clues with 100% certainty. This isn’t true with every card, such as Rite of Seeking, but it’s generally the case.
- Enigma abilities tend to give clues in quick bursts. Of the 14 cards on the Enigma list, six of them grant 2 or more clues at once. Roland’s ability, Evidence!, Working a Hunch, and Lola Santiago do not use an action to get the clue. True Understanding can be applied to a Treachery test, which very often will not cost an action either. This pattern doesn’t hold for every card, such as Gravedigger’s Shovel or Art Student, but in general, Enigma Investigation will have you sitting on a pile of clues in short order.
- Enigma cards tend to have good icons on them. This may not be immediately obvious, but almost every Enigma card has either a Wild or two icons. This means if you end up not needing your Enigma card for its actual purpose, you can probably still make use of it by committing it to a key test.
- If you don’t have the cards in hand or cannot afford to play them, you point-blank can’t gather clues reliably. This is the major downside to having an Enigma investigator as your main clue-gatherer. Unlike a Daisy, who can always investigate with an Intellect of 5, it’s entirely possible you will need clues and you simply don’t have any cards available to scrounge them up. Hopefully, you countered this by including many ways to investigate, to minimize the chances of being left with nothing available. Now, on the other hand, if you don’t have any good Enigma cards, you are hopefully making good use of yourself as a fighter, evader, or support. This downside should be tempered by the fact that you are not hopefully not entirely useless to the team when your ability to investigate is missing. However, if you run this strategy, be prepared to sometimes be sitting on a location with a measly shroud of 2 or 3 and not be able to gather clues off of it.
- Enigma Investigation competes for resources. While this is usually not a huge problem, as the cards tend to not be expensive, it can compete for resources you need for other things. Let’s say Roland wants to put out his Shotgun, but he also wants to play Scene of the Crime. Unless he has 7 or more resources, which is a lot, he can’t really do both. Rite of Seeking is one of the most expensive Mystic assets in the game, beat only by Rite of Seeking (4), which actually IS the most expensive Mystic asset in the game. Unless you are managing your resources carefully, you’re going to be hard-pressed to get a Rite of Seeking (4) into play with many other assets or events.
- Enigma Investigation competes for card slots in your deck. A card like Scene of the Crime gives you two clues, which Daisy or Norman can net easily using no cards at all. The card space saved can be used by these investigators to allow them to do other things. This is definitely something to keep in mind in your deckbuilding.
Upgrading an Enigma Deck
After you have started to gain XP with your new, shiny Enigma deck, you may be thinking, what am I going to spend all this on? Almost all of the Enigma cards are level 0, so you probably have all the Enigma cards you wanted anyway. Here’s the beauty of Enigma decks later in the campaign: you get to spend your XP on being able to do other things. Buy a Lightning Gun or Will to Survive or whatever else you were wanting to buy. Sure, you can buy more stuff that will help you gather clues, but if you have enough Enigma cards, you likely won’t need too much additional help on advancing acts. Furthermore, you usually don’t have to worry much about Enigma cards scaling. Working a Hunch will always give you 1 clue, whether the location has a shroud of 2 or 5. You probably don’t want to rely exclusively on Enigma Investigation, but you should be able to contribute enough to be a significant clue-gathering presence to the team.
Think about this: with 2 Drawn to the Flames, you have 4 clues already as one investigator. That’s already enough to advance some acts, and if you have another investigator who has some clues, you should be well on your way. If you start adding other Enigma Investigation cards, you can get to 12 clues off of 6 cards played as 1 investigator. That’s a lot of clues gathered in almost any scenario, and again, if your partner is helping you gather clues (and I really hope they would be) you should always be capable of getting enough clues.
In order to build a real Enigma-heavy deck, you probably want 10-12 Enigma cards to start out. This number can change based on how useful your partner(s) will be in gathering clues as well. You will need a high number of Enigma cards to ensure you can have cards available when you need to get clues.
Here’s a sample deck for an Enigma Zoey, which is a modified version of what I’ve been running through a multiplayer campaign with a combat-heavy Akachi (who eventually purchases Rite of Seeking(4) with XP). Zoey is an excellent Enigma Investigator, because she can easily pay for the cards she needs to be using with her investigator ability, she has out-of-class slots to run a variety of Enigma cards, and she is very capable at fighting when she is not gathering clues. Visit the link for some more details on the deck.
What do you think of Enigma Investigation? Is it a viable strategy? Or is it too unreliable for your tastes? Let me know what you think of this concept and if you have tried it out in your own games. Until next time, thank you for reading!
I think your idea is solid.
It’s not entirely the same thing, but I’ve been using a similar approach to make solo Jenny Barnes work on expert difficulty.
In that setting, the upsides of “enigma” cards are more important (especially the test-less part) and some of the downsides are less relevant (i.e. you wouldn’t be able to investigate normally even if you did play Magnifying Glass and Milan)
I do use Streetwise to enable normal investigating (and passing other intellect and agility tests), so it’s not a pure “enigma” deck.
Deck here: https://arkhamdb.com/decklist/view/5757/jenny-barnes-don-t-test-me-dunwich-legacy-on-expert-1.0