Playing a Mystic successfully is all about understanding the balance between risk and reward, and no card exemplifies this better than Arcane Research.  This permanent card, introduced in Threads of Fate, serves to introduce an entirely new archetype of Mystic decks and a new way to play Mystic. Let’s dive into this card and see how best to play it.


What does Arcane Research do?

Arcane Research allows you to take 1 mental trauma at the beginning of the campaign (or later on if you were to Adaptable it in or something, but don’t do that), and in exchange, you can upgrade one Spell card for 1 less experience in between scenarios.  [To upgrade a card means to purchase the higher level of that exact same card with experience. The card must also have been a Spell when it was upgraded, i.e. Archaic Glyphs do not count.] This effectively can be understood as gaining 1 bonus XP at the end of each scenario, which can only go towards a specific card purchase.

I recommend always taking 2 Arcane Research and not just 1. This is for three reasons:

  1. There are no upgrades available that go for just 1 XP, but there are quite a lot of upgrades that can happen with just 2 XP. With 2 Arcane Research discounts, these upgrades are free.
  2. Most of the cards you would take to manage Arcane Research’s trauma heal more than 1 horror. Beyond that, most of the cards that another investigator might take to heal the horror off of you would also heal more than 1 horror.
  3. At the end of an 8 scenario campaign, 2 Arcane Research saves you 14XP, while 1 Arcane Research saves you 7XP. The reward is so much greater for 2 Arcane Research.

With two trauma on them, all Mystic investigators drop to 6 sanity, except for Diana who will drop to 5.  Now, that’s actually still a respectable amount of sanity remaining! Six sanity is more sanity than Roland and Mark even begin with, and 6 Health and 6 Sanity outright is the health and sanity of both Lola and Calvin. In short, don’t be too scared of taking the two trauma. It’s something extra to manage, but it is manageable, even on a horror magnet like Agnes.

Should Norman/Daisy/Sefina/Lola take Arcane Research?

Norman should not since he can’t get the full benefit of the 7 upgrades, and he can only take 3 other Mystic cards at level 0 if he took 2 Arcane Research.

Daisy and Sefina definitely should not because there are not enough level 2 options for them to use it every time, and the cards they do upgrade are things they can do pretty well anyway, i.e., you wouldn’t even want the level 0 versions of the cards that can be upgraded.

Lola conceivably could, because more options open up at level 3, but all her stats are even anyway, so she doesn’t benefit from swapping out her Will to replace her other stats. She could, in theory, benefit from Scrying, Clarity of Mind, Mind Wipe, or Ward of Protection. It would be a dangerous build though, both due to her role mechanic and her low base sanity.

The Arcane Research Shopping List

Below is the complete list of all the cards that can be upgraded by Arcane Research’s discount. Every upgrade that can be done for free with 2 Arcane Research is marked with * if it is done from a level 0 card and ** if it is done from a level 1 or higher card.



IF YOU DO NOT RUN THESE CARDS IN YOUR DECK OR DO NOT CARE ABOUT THE UPGRADED VERSIONS OF THESE CARDS, DO NOT PLAY ARCANE RESEARCH IN YOUR DECK. An example of someone like this is a Jim Culver who is going to do a Song of the Dead build.

If you are playing an 8 scenario campaign, there are 7 “in-between” sections were Arcane Research’s discount comes in to play. That means you will be able to make 7 upgrades between scenario 1 and scenario 8, and with 2 Arcane Research. I recommend having a rough idea of what 7 upgrades you want before starting your deckbuilding. This is because you have to include the level 0 versions of those cards in your deck in order to upgrade them. Also, having an idea of where the 14XP is going from the outset will help you include the supporting tools to complement the cards you take from the beginning. For example, if you know you want to go for Shrivelling(5), you might want to include extra horror healing from the beginning.


If you insert a side-story such as Curse of the Rougarou in to your campaign, you provide another opportunity for Arcane Research to trigger. Just be careful, because these are not easy scenarios and this plan can backfire if you end the scenario with a bad outcome.

My Upgrade Priority

Below is my preferred personal upgrade priority. I don’t always follow exactly this order, and it would be modified based on who I am playing, what’s in the deck, etc. You don’t have to follow this at all, but this is what I like doing.

  1. Shrivelling 0 to Shrivelling 3
  2. Shrivelling 0 to Shrivelling 3
  3. Shrivelling 3 to Shrivelling 5
  4. Shrivelling 3 to Shrivelling 5
  5. Rite of Seeking 0 to Rite of Seeking 2
  6. Rite of Seeking 0 to Rite of Seeking 2
  7. Ward of Protection 0 to Ward of Protection 2

As you can see, I prioritize upgrading the Shrivellings, because in my opinion, this is by far the best upgrade path. Of course, you absolutely might die from Shrivelling(5), but this card does so much damage with such a high bonus on your Will that I am always willing to take it anyway. If you are looking for a more clue-oriented Mystic though, by all means do the Rite of Seekings first. If you are risk adverse, take Mists of R’lyeh(4)/Blinding Light(2) as your monster-handler instead.

Regarding Upgrading Into Rite of Seeking(4):

Rite of Seeking(4) costs more resources than the lower level versions and it makes you pick up 3 clues at a time. Three clues at a time is a really awkward number of clues to pick up. On solo or two-player, there very often will either be fewer than 3 clues to begin with on a location or you will leave behind 1 clue after using your charge. Not only will this screw with your Victory Point locations, if you don’t have another way to get that clue, this could force you to use the last charge to get the final clue anyway. Rite of Seeking (4) is really only a good choice if you are playing with 3 or 4 investigators OR you are someone like Marie who can reliably pick up 1 clue at a time with your Intellect (but then why take Rite of Seeking(4) in the first place?)


What to buy with your actual XP

I like to use my actual XP to buy cards that help manage the 2 Arcane Research. This is fine, since it usually works out to be a net gain in power anyway. For example, I like to buy cards such as:

  • Fearless(2) to heal both horror from the traumas
  • Counterspell to protect you from the bad outcomes of the token bag on cards like Rite of Seeking and Shrivelling, but also to ensure you pass on those draws
  • Moment of Respite heals 3 horror, which more than covers your trauma and draws you a card for your trouble
  • Time Warp in case anything goes totally sideways

If you are Agnes:

  • Peter Sylvestre(2), not only do you get +1 Will and +1 Agility, but you also get an extra sanity on Peter to drain horror off of you.

These are just some suggestions to manage the trauma. If you don’t want to go with any of these, just buy whatever you think is the most powerful!


Key Level 0 Cards

The following cards are good choices to include in an Arcane Research deck at level 0.

  • Fearless(0) to heal horror
  • Arcane Initiate to be able to draw Spells as the campaign goes on
  • Uncage the Soul to be able to pay for your Spell cards (can be committed for Will icons as well!)
  • Thermos is an optional include, due to how expensive it is, but it does heal 2 horror on you from the outset with 2 Arcane Research
  • St. Hubert’s Key can prevent you from being defeated by horror, and heals 2 horror when it goes off. In the meantime, it gives you +1 Will and +1 Int! If you do go this route, you can cheese out some Desperate skill tests with some horror on you.


If you can take Seeker cards:

  • Logical Reasoning can heal 2 horror, be used for +2 will icons, or discard a Terror.

If you can take Survivor cards:

  • Peter Sylvestre(0) since you already have 2 horror on you and you want to protect yourself from taking unnecessary horror
  • Fight or Flight, at the outset, Fight or Flight gives you +2 Str and +2 Int, and if you refrain from healing yourself, this number will only go up since you have a high base sanity.

Carolyn + Arcane Research Mystic

Carolyn is an incredible partner for any Arcane Research Mystic. Not only will she heal you, she will also give you money as she does it. This greatly reduces the impact of taking 2 Arcane Research.  If there is a Carolyn on your team, you can likely get away with taking less horror healing.



This should hopefully give you enough insight to start crafting an Arcane Research deck. This playstyle is very fun as your deck’s power ramps up quickly, but also very dangerous as you do become more susceptible to horror defeats. Managing it does require knowledge of the entire card pool, so you can take the right tools along with you. Now that you know more about what’s out there to help you, I highly recommend giving it a try!