A lot of players love Arkham not just for the gameplay, but for the stories that emerge from each campaign. For that reason, some love the idea of using pairings which have some connection the actual lore of the universe. While it’s always a little dubious to rely heavily on Arkham Files lore – it’s kept fairly sparse for a reason – it can be fun to make some connections and see how the investigators come together. So, here’s a list of 8 lore-inspired (inspired, so not necessarily “canon”) duos you can try out for your next campaign.
1. Minh Thi Phan and Preston Fairmont
Lore: One of the strongest connections in the game. Minh’s boss, the whole reason she is “The Assistant”, works for Preston’s father. In the lore, that man, Mr. Thomas, dies, and Preston’s father dies as well. If you were to trace the chain of command skipping over all the dead people, well, suddenly Minh could easily find herself being Preston’s new assistant after he takes over the company.
Gameplay: This is one of my personal favourite combos of investigators to date. In fact, I even have a name for it: Prestinh. On paper, it shouldn’t work. Why pick Minh, the skill card goddess, to accompany Preston, the person who has a skill line of just 1’s? Even if you commit skill cards to Preston, he still fails right? If that’s your approach to this duo, you are doing it all wrong. The beauty of this duo is that their card pool combined with Preston’s insane amount of resources means that they mostly either 1) pay to not test at all for things or 2) test at obscenely high numbers with boosts and skill cards. Look for cards in both Minh and Preston that let you get effects without tests. Preston decks are infamous for this, but Minh actually has more than you might think with Seeker and Survivor together. Working a Hunch, Connect the Dots, and now Extensive Research let her get clues for no test at all and while you may wonder how Minh can ever get money to afford these things, some simple economy cards like Emergency Cache, Crack the Case and Dr. Milan can make it happen. If Minh has to test, make sure she has the skill cards to boost as needed. If Preston has to test, make sure he’s set up to dump resources into boosts like Streetwise, Dig Deep, or Fire Axe. Overall, super fun team, highly recommend! (And, as a fun side note, Preston can make Minh “handle this one”, with her 4 Will.)
2. Jim Culver and Marie Lambeau
Lore: Classic story of a trumpet player and a soulful singer who got caught up in a bigger mystery after performing together one fateful night.
Gameplay: Now, at first, you may look at this pairing and think why would I want 2 Mystics? Too much generalization can be bad, since you can’t guarantee you will have someone available to do what needs to be done at the time. However, if you are going to pair any 2 Mystics together, these two work really well. This is because Jim’s 3 Strength and Marie’s 4 Intellect allow the two to specialize deeper into a fighter and a cluever fairly easily, by making use of a non-Will stat. That means they can cover the major needs of the game neatly, while still maintaining some generalist power if you choose to build them that way. They also have a good number of splash slots between them for out of class stuff, allowing for some neat combo potential across the card pool.
3. Skids O’Toole and Tommy Muldoon
Lore: Tommy arrests Skids one day while he was out on the town, only to hear the criminal spin some unbelievable tale. After listening to Skids’ pleas for assistance, Tommy decides the best thing to do for Arkham’s sake is to at least check out what Skids is saying…
Gameplay: Enemy management in this team is off the charts. For one, Tommy has a nigh-infinite gun with Becky and for two, Skids’ Agility of 4 and Rogue card pool allow him to run circles around enemies. That part will not be an issue. That leaves the whole issue of clues. But, what may be surprising to people though is how capable these two can be at getting them. First of all, both of them have an Intellect of 3 which is enough that you can get some clues out of it with some basic support. Second of all, they actually do have good access to testless clues between them with Scene of the Crime, Evidence!, Intel Report, and “Look what I found!”. Most importantly, Skids can take Lockpicks with XP, at which point he regularly investigates at 7. If you find Skids is dying to horror, a Solemn Vow from Tommy can move Skids’ horror he gets from being terrible at Will tests. This horror can kill off Tommy’s assets, generating more ammo for Becky. Alternatively, Testuo Mori can die for Skids’ sake and help Tommy find his gun! Lots of potential for these two.
4. Luke Robinson and Carolyn Fern
Lore: Carolyn is studying the dreams of her patients and takes note of the Dreamlands. She learns of Luke Robinson, who claims to have been there. Together, they explore the true nature of the world and uncover a dangerous threat to humanity.
Gameplay: This one may be a littttle bit trickier, because you need to extract damage output out of two investigators with base Combat scores of 2, who also don’t have tons of access to damage tools either. Carolyn can’t even take weapons past level 0, and Luke’s off class is Seeker, which also isn’t high on damage. On the bright side, they are both great at getting tons of clues, meaning you could blitz down certain scenarios fast enough that you can find yourself ahead of the curve so long as you don’t get bogged down by the encounter deck. They do have some options for enemy management. Luke can take combat-oriented Mystic cards and Carolyn has her infamous Dynamite combos. Otherwise, Luke can avoid enemies outright with his Gate Box, but he must be mindful of leaving Carolyn exposed. This pairing probably wants to approach enemy management in a different way than most teams. You’re no Tommy/Skids; you won’t be blowing up everything you see in a flurry of bullets. Being a little bit sneakier is the name of the game for these two.
5. Diana Stanley and Preston Fairmont
Lore: After a chance encounter around town, Diana and Preston share their knowledge of the Silver Twilight, realize some details are not quite right, and resolve to investigate a little further. Quickly, it becomes apparent they’ll have to work together to save Arkham.
Gameplay: Get used to seeing Preston on any lore-related list, because lorewise he’s one of the most obviously integrated and connected characters in this town. (I’m also biased because Preston is one of my favourite investigators both lorewise and to play.) And boy, do he and Diana get along. I already talked about what Preston can do in relation to Minh, but with Diana, it’s a little different. Diana is basically Preston’s ultimate bodyguard. Something bad is going to happen to him? Cancel it. He’s going to get hit by something? Cancel that too. Does he need an enemy killed? Diana kills it, and with style. Do you not have a cancel to save Preston from Rotting Remains? Oh, look, here’s “Let me handle this!” so you can take that test instead. As a result, Diana slowly ramps up in power all while allowing Preston to do Preston things blissfully unimpeded by anything. If something bad were to happen, a simple “You handle this one!” onto Diana also solves that whole issue. And! And and and! This pairing gives you access to a Teamwork via Diana’s Guardian access, so Preston can also pass his money around. Once everything is set up in terms of Preston’s resource pool and Diana’s Will stacking, this pairing will be able to do some real work.
6. Joe Diamond and Tony Morgan
Lore: Through a series of strange coincidences, Joe Diamond’s mystery and Tony Morgan’s bounties have lead them to encounter one another in the field. Perhaps two heads really are better than one.
Gameplay: If you thought Tommy and Skids were great at killing enemies, may I introduce you to Joe and Tony? These two can kill anything they see, no question. In fact, often they can even pick off enemies with no cards in play with their combat scores of 4 and 5! And Joe, as a 4 Int Seeker, can get clues admirably. You could give Tony some clue tools as well, or you could choose not to, and give him even more damage and utility. That choice is really up to you. The biggest issue these two will have is they both have a Will of 2 and an Agility of 2, meaning they could both find themselves bogged down by treacheries or other forced Will/Agility tests. However, if you slot in cards to protect yourself, you will find the rest of your goals easily achieved. Handling treacheries sounds so simple to say, but that will be the biggest issue this team faces. If you do choose to run these two, you definitely have to think about how you will approach their terrible defensive stats, whether that be through stat boosting, soaks, or healing. And, be advised again – you are going to have a really difficult time evading even the simplest enemy without a plan in mind.
7. Daisy Walker and Rita Young
Lore: Rita Young is a student at Miskatonic University, where Daisy Walker is the librarian. While Rita was doing some research for a class assignment, a strange event leads her to a frantic Daisy. Daisy needed to do further research to explore a way to protect Arkham, but she was nervous about going alone. Rita offered to protect her.
Gameplay: Daisy, known for her frail five health body and low combat, is someone who really wants a bodyguard so she can focus on getting clues. Rita, known for her frail five sanity mind and low intellect, is someone who really wants someone else to be getting clues so she can set up to manage enemies. An evasion-based bodyguard for Daisy is a little bit different from the norm, but given Rita’s efficiency it can still work wonders. A really neat interaction with these two is that if Rita is able to reveal locations effectively, which she can thanks to Track Shoes and her investigator ability, then Daisy could pull out Deciphered Reality fairly early on and investigate most of the map. Another point is that after an enemy is left behind by Rita, you could put down a Barricade as Daisy to prevent a non-Elite Hunter enemy from continuing to chase you after it readies. This may sound stifling to Rita, but as many scenarios do force you to camp out in one location, it certainly could work with the right timing. You may not have a very high damage output early on, but given your high stat values, you should be finding mostly success on the tests you do perform.
8. Lola Hayes and Patrice Hathaway
Lore: Lola is an actor at the Ward Theatre, a place Patrice is also no stranger to as an accomplished professional musician. One day, they were scheduled to perform as part of the same production. After a mysterious turn of events, the rest of is history.
Gameplay: Both of these investigators are very unconventional. That’s not to say they are bad. It’s just that neither of them, at face value, has a defined role at all. You kind of have to consider what you want them to do first, and then construct their decks to make that happen. They are both general enough that you could do almost any role successfully. One idea is you could have Lola go for Guardian, Seeker, and Rogue, meaning you have access to almost every card in the game among your team. Another neat interaction is both Lola and Patrice can take A Chance Encounter2 to grab allies out of each other’s discard piles. This is particularly great for Patrice, as she could get almost any ally in the game in her play area thanks to Lola’s expansive card pool (and Lola’s propensity to discard things). Imagine getting a Leo De Luca or a Brother Xavier on Patrice this way! Since most Patrice decks set up to at the very least Fight or Evade to handle the Watcher, Lola may want to take up clue duty to ensure both roles are taken. This isn’t too difficult for Lola either, as she’ll have full access to all the testless clue cards, many of which are level 0, and the Intellect stat is fairly easy to stack up with a variety of assets as well. Flashlight also helps with this goal, as a Neutral card.
And, that’s that, 8 lore-inspired duos you can try for your next campaign. If you enjoyed this list, let me know and I may do more lists like these in the future! Also, let me know which duos I list you think would actually be the best. Until next time, have fun investigating.