Me making this deck
Ah, Dark Horse decks. The promise of getting +1 to all your stats is alluring, but the catch of having to sit at zero resources often turns out to be a bigger burden than one might anticipate. It seems as though there is nothing more elusive to find than a Dark Horse deck that doesn’t low-key suck. At last though, I’m ready to throw my proverbial hat into the ring with my special Innsmouth Dark Horse deck – Dark Compass Minh.
What does Dark Compass Minh do?
Minh’s face is my face when someone suggests I play a DH deck btw
Dark Compass Minh is an investigation focused deck. The main goal of the deck is to pick up 2 clues at a time as often as possible by using Mariner’s Compass while at 0 resources. It is designed to be played in multiplayer preferably at an even player count with others handling fighting.
Mariner’s Compass is a fantastic card for Minh, because her naturally high Intellect means she’s not overly dependent on boosting in order to pass the investigation test. However, this is Arkham Horror and we want our skill checks to be as safe as we can reasonably afford to make them. As the main clue getter, we can also expect to be be responsible for picking up clues off of 4+ shroud, and our base 4 Intellect alone won’t be reliable enough. That’s where the rest of the deck comes in.
Because we are playing Mariner’s Compass, we want to be at zero resources by the time we pull our token. Dark Horse gives you an additional +1 Intellect while at zero resources. This effectively pushes your skill check up by another point. If you happen to have Dark Horse and Mariner’s Compass out while broke and spend no resources, you will be testing 5 Intellect for 2 clues – which is already really good! A test like this is already 2 up on your typical shroud 3 location. However, we can make this even better.
Enter Madame Labranche. These three cards are the core assets to making this deck work. You will now be able to hugely exploit the reliability and action compression of Compass when you have all 3 of these assets in play (which only cost 8 altogether to put out, which is not much!)
Let me chart out how this works a bit more. For each example, we’ll assume I have all 3 assets in play already.
I exhaust Compass to investigate, hoping for 2 clues. If I have…
-No resources, I can exhaust Madame Labranche. This gives me 1 resource, which I spend to boost my Compass test. Dark Horse turns on. I investigate at 6.
-1 resource, I spend 1 to boost my Compass test. I now have zero resources, which means I can exhaust Madame Labranche. I now spend the new resource I just got back into the Compass. Dark Horse turns on and I investigate at 7.
-2 resources is the same pattern as above, but spending 2 resources initially instead of just the 1. By the end of this, you will have spent the maximum 3 resources into Mariner’s Compass, and you will investigate at 8. At this point, you are up by 4 on shroud 4 locations.
-3 resources, simply spend all 3 normally. Only exhaust Madame Labranche after the test, so as not to mess with your Dark Horse bonus.
-4 resources? Trickier to hit 0 at this count. You generally don’t want to be floating 4+ resources in this deck for this reason. I’ll get into other options to dump out your money later though.
So, now we have established this combo of assets can allow you to test for 2 clues at a time at ridiculous numbers. But can we go even higher? Of course, we can! We’re Minh! Obviously, we have our skill cards still available to us. But, we have another thing available and that’s a second hand slot.
My recommendation is simple – stick a Magnifying Glass in there! It’s Fast speed, and the 1 resource cost can help push you closer to 0 to activate your bonuses at certain resource counts. Dark Horse, Magnifying Glass, and a fully boosted Mariner’s Compass will add up to an Intellect of 9! How much more unstoppable do you want to be, right? Magnifying Glass will give you the added bonus of helping out your investigates when Compass is not available, meaning it’ll be a little bit less punishing should your Compass test fail.
Dark Compass Minh is secretly Jenny Barnes
Yes, you heard me. Why? Because once you have your combo engine going, you will constantly be dropping to 0 resources and then constantly exhausting Madame Labranche to get an extra resource each turn. You also will (almost) always want to simply collect your upkeep resource. We don’t need to forego that upkeep resource because, assuming we are managing our resource count correctly, we have so many ways to dump it before pulling out a chaos token. The end result is Dark Compass Minh regularly collects 2 resources per turn, 1 from Upkeep and 1 from Labranche, and still keeps Dark Horse up because she simply dumps out all her money immediately when it matters.
Obviously, we have a money dumping outlet in Compass, but could we possibly have more? Of course, we do – and they are good ones!
The main secondary money dumping outlet we have is Keep Faith and Resourceful. Now, you may be thinking, Keep Faith? We don’t care that much about Bless tokens, do we? No, we don’t especially synergize with them, but we do care a LOT about being able to dump out 2 resources at fast speed at ANY fast player window. And, the fact that we get 4 Bless tokens out of it means we get something nice out of it for the price, especially if we have team members who do care about Bless tokens (such as Sun Warrior Yorick). You can also buy Ancient Covenant with XP in this deck for this reason. It’s definitely not a bad idea!
Then, because we are Minh, we love Resourceful as a strong Survivor skill card. And what are we most hoping to hit with our Resourceful success? Keep Faith, of course, so we can continue dumping out our 2 resources (because remember, we can collect 2 resources per turn with Labranche + upkeep) at Fast speed over and over while flooding the bag with more Bless tokens.
Now, Compass and Keep Faith are pretty effective money dumps, but you may be interested in a few more. Basic skill pumps such as Dig Deep, Hyperawareness or Scrapper are options here. The Composures are also fantastic skill pumps with XP, because they can pop out from your hand at Fast speed allowing you to suddenly swing to 0 to force your Dark Horse or Compass to activate. I’m also a big fan of Mind Over Matter as a 1 resource fast card that you also get a lot of value out of in certain situations, especially by helping you evade. And of course, the level 0 Magnifying Glass lets you spend 1 resource at fast speed. Again, speed is key when dumping out your resources because it’s not really something you want to spend your precious actions on. This is certainly a spot where you can customize a little bit to your liking.
Dark Compass Minh Skill Cards (and other 0r cards)
Of course, we are Minh so we want skill cards! And, I just named a LOT of cards that are not skills. You might not be as skill heavy as other Minh decks, but generally, that should be okay. Aside from absolutely taking Resourceful to synergize with Keep Faith, your skill cards should focus on two goals: having lots of icons to clear your signature weakness and providing you with card draw so you can ensure you draw into your all-important combo pieces. For this reason, I like a bunch of the neutral cantrip skill cards from the Core Set as well as Inquiring Mind and Unexpected Courage. Of course, you can mix it up as you like, but just remember that because this is a combo deck, you need to get your combo pieces into play. That means you need to ensure you can draw them! A good way to add draw to any Minh deck is by simply slotting in cantrip skill cards.
Also, if you have extra deck space, more 0r cards are a great choice to not mess with your Dark Horse or Compass bonuses. Live and Learn is fantastic here. You are very vulnerable to losing out on a lot of investment if you autofail on your Compass, and simply having Live and Learn available guards against that possibility. I also like Shortcut.
The Secret Upside – Tankiness
So long as you got your basic combo in play, you are good to go. However, you still have plenty of deck space left you can play around with. For me though, because I am playing with Dark Horse, I like to run 0 cost cards. As a result, I have Cherished Keepsake and Leather Coat available as cards I can get good value out of. Now keep in mind that Madame Labranche is also extremely cheap soak at only 2r for 2 health and 2 sanity. If you have a Leather Coat, a Cherished Keepsake, and Madame Labranche in play all at the same time, you will have 11 health and 11 sanity available to you. If you perhaps added in a Composure (again, a good option in this deck), you get an additional sanity. Throw in the fact that you have 4 Will and Dark Horse is giving you +1 to all stats, and you are quite good at passing Treachery tests. You might not want to take this soak route if you are concerned about having time to play out so many assets, but it’s definitely something to consider as a way to continue to get value while operating at zero resources.
Now I feel like I did a pretty good job on selling you on this deck’s potential, however, I must also caution you on some major downsides.
First, this deck is really hard to play correctly. It is not a beginner friendly deck. You have to manage your resource count exactly by considering different game timings to be able to continue playing cards while also keeping your bonuses up. And even though the deck is designed to allow you to collect your upkeep resource while playing Dark Horse, you do have to sometimes strategically not collect your Dark Horse bonus. You also don’t necessarily lean incredibly hard into the obvious natural strength of Minh, which is skill cards. All in all, it can be a difficult deck to pilot optimally.
Second, this deck’s success is dependent on drawing specific cards, especially Mariner’s Compass. Now, I’m not saying if you don’t draw a single copy of Compass that you outright lose. However, if you don’t get your Compass out, you will be quite a bit slower. I recommend hard mulliganing for Compass and any other asset that combos with Compass. All in all, just be aware, this deck can feel a bit feast or famine depending on what assets you get out.
I was excited to write this article because I have to say Dark Compass Minh is one of my favourite decks to actually play. You get to do a lot of things, you test at high numbers when it all clicks in, and you collect clues fast. Most importantly though, you get to play Dark Horse! And who doesn’t want to play Dark Horse? I’ve had a lot of fun playing this deck, and I look forward to discovering more ways to exploit its various interactions. I’m not sure the below decklist is the most optimal variant of this deck, but it’s the one I came up with, so I hope you enjoy it! Let me know if you come up with any other variants of Dark Compass Minh.