The History of Jim
I remember when Jim was first released a few years back. The collective community assessment of his power level was, “Meh.” And, frankly, it was for good reason. His 4 base Will is honestly not that high given what he wants to do – literally just 1 point higher than his base Intellect and Strength (remember as well, this was before Mists of R’lyeh existed). His deckbuilding is honestly pretty restrictive, since it pushes him into the Mystic card pool which he doesn’t necessarily use very well. This was especially true at the time he was released, when there were few cards that synergized with his investigator ability. Not only that, but his investigator ability was also often not that good. In many scenarios, especially on Easy/Standard, the Skull’s modifier is low enough that investigators will often pass on a Skull draw anyway, meaning that Jim’s ability was superfluous in a lot of scenarios. In addition, Skull draws often lead to bad things, such as everyone at your location taking 1 damage off of Storm of Spirts or taking a horror from Shrivelling. Finally, his signature asset is healing-focused, a role which is often valued far below investigation and fighting, while his signature weakness, Final Rhapsody, can potentially nuke him right out of the scenario if you are unlucky enough. Overall, Jim was not a bad investigator, but he was also not particularly good either. Just “meh”.
The expansion of the card pool has given more options to Jim. Olive McBride, Dark Prophecy, Eldritch Inspiration, and now with The Wages of Sin, Sixth Sense and Wither, have all done wonders for our trumpety friend. These cards, along with Grotesque Statue as a key component, enable a style of play I would refer to as Skullfishing, where Jim tries to fish out Skulls from the bag as frequently as possible, sometimes even using Seal effects to slightly improve the odds of Skull draw. However, a different playstyle has also emerged, a playstyle that I honestly think is even better than pure Skullfishing.
That playstyle is Big Relic Jim.
~Relics + Jim 4ever~
Now, when people think Relic, their mind might immediately jump to Ursula, due to Ursula’s deckbuilding restrictions specifically mentioning Relics by name. However, did you know that Jim can take most Relics in the game naturally? Many Relics are either Mystic or Neutral. Furthermore, any Relic that is level 0, Jim can take due to his 5 out-of-class slots.
“Why does this matter?” you may be asking. “Jim doesn’t have good synergy with Relics anyway. All he cares about are his skulls.” That’s where you would be wrong, my cynical friend!
There is a critical card to all of this that Jim can take with his level 0 out of class slots. That card is Dr. Elli Horowitz. Introduced early in The Forgotten Age, Dr. Elli has been overlooked in favour of Dr. Milan in the Seeker card pool, being “forgotten” even in Ursula decks. However, Dr. Elli can do something amazing with Jim Culver. This is because Jim is the only investigator in the game who can pull his signature card using Dr. Elli.
Remember when I said Jim’s trumpet was undervalued? Part of the reason for that is the cost involved. It takes up a hand slot, which Jim actually uses to hold Grotesque Statues or The Chthonian Stone. Now Dr. Elli can hold the trumpet for him. Not only that, but Dr. Elli could also hold Grotesque Statue or The Chthonian Stone! Some Jim decks have him using Machete, due to the generic power of the card. If you are still a believer in Machete Jim, or some other weapon that’s better for him (COUGH COUGH, we’ll talk about a certain special weapon for Jim in a bit here), then Dr. Elli freeing up a hand slot is key for you.
You can also use your out-of-class slots to bring a Tooth of Eztli for Dr. Elli to hold.This is a great proposition for Jim, as it gives him reliable extra card draw, especially if you also have a Holy Rosary out in your actual accessory slot.
Now what if you don’t draw your Dr. Elli? Are these Relics still good without her? In a word, yes.
First of all, not drawing Elli is not the end of the world. You can play Olive in that slot instead and do great, as always. Also mentioned before, quite a few of these Relics support the Skullfishing strategy or they buff stats you would be using frequently anyway. Jewel of Aureolus, a level 3 Mystic Relic, is the Jimmest of cards ever made and may as well say, “only take as Jim” right on it. Other Relics are also amazing. Do I even need to discuss Key of Ys as part of this? Well, in addition to being just outlandishly good as a card anyway, Key of Ys also works insanely well with Big Relic Jim, due to:
- Dr. Elli being able to search for it.
- Not taking up an accessory slot when it’s on Elli.
- Mystic cards often putting horror on you in a controlled fashion, allowing it to stack at will.
What other relics are good? Again, still lots. Spirit Athame is basically a free Guts available to use once per round. Crystalline Elder Sign can work in some campaigns, given Jim’s Elder Sign not being strong anyway, his stats are fairly even, and he will often welcome the increased chance to draw Skulls. Even Hemispheric Map can be situationally good, as it buffs stats that Jim likes a lot.
However, there is a card recently released that has taken Big Relic Jim to an all new level. That card is Enchanted Blade.
Enchanted to Meet You
Enchanted Blade, released in The Secret Name, is one of those confusing dual-class cards that polarized the community for a while as we all debated how it fit into everybody’s deckbuilding restrictions. However, there is no need to be confused on how it works for Jim. Officially, Enchanted Blade does not count against your out-of-class slots for Jim. Yay! Feel free to use it in Jim without hesitation.
Enchanted Blade offers a lot of fighting power. Functionally speaking, it is kind of like a Knife crossed with a Shrivelling on one card. For Jim, this card can allow you to fight with a combat of 5 and deal 2 damage. That’s the same test as using say a Machete in a Guardian like Zoey. That is very good.
Enchanted Blade’s biggest downside is that it takes two slots, both of which are contested slots for Jim. However, there is an easy solution to that problem! If Dr. Elli takes the Enchanted Blade, it goes from taking 2 slots to 0 slots. This negates the largest downside to running Enchanted Blade.
Another point is that Enchanted Blade has no downside when you pull a Skull. That means you can use Dark Prophecy with impunity on Enchanted Blade, whereas you would not do that on Shrivelling.
Enchanted Blade, helped by Dr. Elli, allows much more consistency in combat for Jim. People complain about the generalist nature of Mystics, but a combat-focused Big Relic Jim will not have that problem. You can run Enchanted Blade, Shrivelling, and Wither, and potentially have them all in play at the same time. Amp this up with Storm of Spirits all at level 0 and you are well on your way to being a strong fighter out the gate. If you also incorporate elements of Skullfishing, your reliability to land hits also improves. I’m such a believer in this that I’ve already started running Overpower in my Big Relic Jim, specifically for my Enchanted Blade!
This whole analysis does not even consider when Jim gets XP. Doubtlessly, when the Mystic Enchanted Blade upgrade is revealed, this strategy will get even more powerful.
For this reason, I consider Big Relic Jim to have moved from a “generically cool idea for Jim” as it was when I was using it before The Secret Name to “badass combat archetype” post-Enchanted Blade.
Big Relic Jim is a very unique way to play Mystic, using its cards in a way that no other investigator’s deckbuilding restrictions, stats, or abilities really allow. If you’ve been itching to play Mystic but fear being stuck as a jack-of-all trades character and aren’t a huge fan of spells, try out a combat focused Big Relic Jim with the link here.