EDIT: The first iteration of my review had shown that I was mislead by the power of the mythos. So here’s the new and improved version 2.0 with MANY changes which I’m completely too lazy to list here. The point was, I alone it seems, missed the fact that the Obsidian Bracelet can ONLY soak the damage and horror from Treacheries. Everyone around me knew that it seems, including their relatives and pets, alive and dead. And it did not bother them in the slightest, because this card still works as intended. “Read the cards” is a big pro tip we all forget sometimes and it comes back to bite us in the a**. I’ll fix my massive review, so it’s gonna represent everything in the right way, as well as add some bonus combinations, expand the investigator deck ideas, and add Joe Diamond on top of that. If I get to it, I may also do a few investigator guides for Tank-Support style in the future, who knows? Happy reading.
Hello ArkhamDB! This review took a VERY long time to research and write, and is at once a review of what I and many others think is a new archetype in Arkham Horror LCG (AH:LCG), and of course of this card - the Obsidian Bracelet. The review of the card starts after the next line in the text, so if you're only interested in only that, then you can freely skip down to it.
The strength of this card depends entirely on how you think about building the decks for Arkham Horror LCG. If you build decks for solo, or you want to build perfectly optimized overpowered decks to roll through the campaign with number=high, this card may better be left out, since it will not help you achieve that. Just go and build 4 overpowered decks that each do the intended thing of fighting/investigating or maybe flex and call it a day. Look at the "Top 10 Overpowered Assets" list and choose something like a "Magnifying Glass", or a "Cyclopean Hammer" and play the same 10 cards in every deck you play from now until the end of days. I have nothing against it, we all do it sometimes, others do it always, some just build funny meme decks. It's a board game about madness and Lovecraft, so craft with love and be mad about it ;)
If, however, you are tired of the endless optimization and "meta" aspect that's afflicting most of today's games, and/or you play a lot of this game and want to try something new, this card is actually pretty decent. Especially if you build your decks for the roles like in the RPG game that Arkham Horror LCG actually is, this card can actually be pretty great, or even essential for the role of a "tank" or a "support," or a new archetype of a deck that can now, with the release of The Scarlet Keys, be built and actually works beautifully - the Supportive Tank. It's an idea long in the making in the heads of FFG designers, but now has enough support cards to really do it justice. From Guardian support and resource cards, to Survivor negation, "Luck" and Dilemmas for every taste and pleasure, to Mystic negation, Encounter deck manipulation and utility, Seeker resources, card draw and movement, and now even Rogues with their resources, card draw and cheating different aspects of the game, all the Classes now have lots of unique and powerful cards that your friends would love to be on the receiving end of, so this archetype is now completely playable and competitive. Along Obsidian Bracelet (or OB), we also got more great soak (or tanking; cards that can take damage or horror for you) cards like Hunter’s Armor and Summoned Servitor, and it turns out they all work really well when stacked on top of each other. So, if you're interested in playing something like that... Stay a while and listen... Or rather - read.
Supportive-Tank, or Tank-Support (or sometimes just Tank, or then, maybe just Support, depends on the game) is a very well known GROUP-focused class (or I will mostly use a word "archetype" instead, for clarity) that is used in countless RPGs, strategy and tactical games, and is usually best built on someone like the all powerful Paladin, a Guardian, a Knight, a Shaman, a Druid, a Battle Mage, a Monk, a Dragon Knight, an Engineer, even a Necromancer, or many more similar classes that have efficient defense and/or soak (lots of health points), good to great supportive skills, utility skills, maybe some healing skills or abilities, as well as usually a lacking offensive ability, or they choose not to utilize it in favor of supporting the team. AH:LCG for me is a team game, and this role fits snugly into it, especially with the release of Carson Sinclair, which is imho a nudge in the way of "Do better, community, and play the damn Tank-Support."
Tank Supports are adaptable to any situation, sacrifice their own gain and play their role selflessly, so the entire group can benefit of more focused resource spending, less need on defense, since they themselves "tank" the damage for them, while also providing beneficial abilities like support and utility-based ones, or even strong debuffs, healing and/or defensive & countering magic. This archetype is a mandatory take in competitive games like League of Legends, DotA, World of Warcraft, Guild Wars, Warcraft, Starcraft, board games like Warhammer, and is also a core strategy of many WW2 strategy games like Company of Heroes or Steel Division (represented by just simple cheap tanks, basic expendable infantry with some mines, launchers or smoke grenades, recon troops, scouts, or something like bunkers with intel-based abilities) and many, many more roles that are not focused on directly winning the game, but helping your allies achieve that more efficiently by taking the dirty jobs away and doing them yourself (I've only listed some well known / most played games).
This card, the Obsidian Bracelet is not like Dirty Fighting, which is the end-all be-all of Fighter-Evader playstyle, but it damn well helps a lot and is very well suited to this role. I will now write a little about my experience with this fun archetype, and after that I will review and compare this card in depth. As there are many weird combinations possible in AH: LCG, I may be wrong on some. If that happens you can just correct me, and I will glady correct them.
EDIT: I was obviously wrong. In a big, big way. I completely missed the point that the Obsidian Bracelet ONLY soaks the damage and / or horror from Treacheries - which is still really good, maybe good enough – but it’s obviously not the shield of unbidden truth I thought it was. I was also stupid, because apparently everyone around me, including the people I play with (Wtf? Did I never play it wrong then?), knew the true effect and were unbothered by it, since it’s still good enough and fills the big soak slot it was meant to. Nevertheless, it soaks the most annoying and usually the most explosive source of damage, which are Treacheries, and I have said that this card is not the end-all, be-all of this saucy archetype. So yeah, after some testing and talking, which of course I will extend further in the future, but that takes time, turns out that this fact honestly doesn’t change much. OB soaked Treacheries for big damage, it still does, so combining it with other good friendly neighborhood effects, most of the points still stand. I also now see why lots of my teammates still used Something Worth Fighting For or True Grit sometimes. Hmm… Makes sense. What I will address is the usage of this card for the meme decks like Preston with Versatile, since this is then obviously not enough soak. But Preston still packs a very high frequency of throwing out nice expensive effects every turn, so who knows? For now I will scratch that, but I’m still interested in trying it :D I will also add some of the other cards the Tank-Support investigators were using, for the decks that were using them, as well as more cards with which to combine this card for more consistency. Similarly to fighters who need more weapons, Tanks need more soak, and Supports need more support. Again, I’m sorry for all the misinformation I was spreading.
I usually play in pre-made groups, or solo 3 or 4-handed (I don't like single investigator games), and I usually try to go out of my comfort zone and build something unique, but actually useful to my team, so this role is my current go-to for a 3rd or 4th player. I have built and played, or at least played with someone who was using it, to a satisfying efficiency, a Supportive Tank with these investigators (listed alphabetically):
- Amina Zidane - while her do-stuff stats plain suck, the defensive stats are decent, and she can benefit from a great economy (especially in the witch-hour, which is the turn before final doom of the current Agenda) and defensive spells, as well as use this card - the Obsidian Bracelet - to great effect. Along with Summoned Servitor – Armored Wings, these two cards provide soak for Treacheries and some combat, but it’s in all the defensive spells and something like Mind Wipe (3), that can cripple the mythos and allow your friends to succeed. It's really interesting how ridiculously strong Mystic is if you don't count its early offensive ability and dependence on charges for fighting / investigating. With the inclusion of the new Summoned Servitor for more soak and free movement it gives, so you can follow those friends who want to get themselves killed, Mystic is an interesting choice when it comes to this archetype. Not as much direct tank potential as a Guardian, but has enough great negation events and spells like Ward of Protection (2) to more than make up for that. I used the Enchanted Blade (3) for fighting, along with Dayana Esperance (3) and Summoned Servitor – Armored Wings for defense and mobility. Parallel Fates (2) and Eldritch Initiation give you that little bit of tutoring to make everything work, then you can bounce stuff back with Summoned Servitor and replay it to dodge Doom thresholds and gain more charges, as well as use Sin Eater to clean up your bill regularly. It was a bit complicated but worked great for me and I want to play it again, and my next deck is a Lily Chen Tank-Support (no Ward of Protection (2), sadly, but more than enough great Guardian support). Pro tip: Ghastly Possession can replenish other investigators bullets, charges, supplies, aether, cupcakes etc. It's amazing like that and believe me, they will thank and revere you.
- Duke the Dog - this pup can get clues and fight for his friend "Ashcan" Pete, while the human tanks damage and treacheries front left and center, and while also providing AMAZING support with Dilemmas, Catalogues, Multi-Tools and 5 free-class slots for maybe this card, maybe something else. The Scarlet Keys were kind to Survivors. I didn’t play this deck, only seen it in action, and it worked really nicely. The 5 free slots were expanded with Versatile, then used to bring in Tetsuo Mori, one Obsidian Bracelet, one Deep Knowledge, and two “Let Me Handle This,” and this worked smooth as butter with all the recursion in a Short Supply deck. Peter Sylvester, Improvised Shield (later upgraded into a strong Detachable Pocket Multitool – yes, works with Duke, as well as Pete’s ability) Mr. Pawterson (Cherished Keepsake) and Leather Coat were used for INSANE soak, while lots of recursion with A Chance Encounter (2), Salvage (2), Scrounge and Resourceful, as well as defensive spells like Lucky! (any), Alter Fate (any) and A Test of Will (any) for helping friends. At a Crossroads (1) as well as one Nature of the Beast (1) were Dilemmas of choice.
- Carson Sinclair - while his stats all suck, he can give his actions for others who actually can Fight, Evade, Investigate and Parley, while he himself has amazing support cards from any class he can take and tank potential with something like the Obsidian Bracelet and Tetsuo Mori, Brother Xavier (1) or Girish Kadakia (4). Btw, if you reeeally want to fight just take a Lightning Gun with Custom Mods and other bullet events, which you can also share with others. Motivational Speech, Leadership (2) and Stand Together (3) are some of the best support cards in the game, as well as his 2 signature cards “As You Wish” (which are also Practiced if you want to go for the broken Practice Makes Perfect). Pro tip: You have 2 “As You Wish” cards, which are some of the most generally useful signature cards in the game and people WIILL fight over who deserves them more. Pro tip 2: He can also Stick to the Plan and use the new Prepared for the Worst (2) and the ridiculous Ever Vigilant (4) on the first turn of the game when you're on the same location as your team.
- Charlie Kane - a do-it-all investigator with a bit more complicated deck-building and lots of preparation required when trying to carry, but can Tank Support amazingly if he takes Guardian, and can actually still do fight and investigate stuff when exhausting his many Allies. He starts with Charisma overflow, so all the juicy tanking Allies can just be enough to do fantastically in the role of a Tank Support. Take Survivor for recursion, or Rogue for cheating out amazing combos, and you’re golden. Can also take a myriad of supportive spells from any other class, while the new Motivational Speech which is basically his signature card, cannot be overhyped - it's so amazing. Pro tip: His signature weakness Burden of Leadership isn’t as scary as it looks, or it can sometimes even be entirely without effect if you play around it just a little bit.
- Daniela Reyes - an investigator with the best stats of all of them, but it's hard to use them with that weird deck building. Worry not, because she leans naturally into Dilemmas, “Lucky!”, A Test of Will etc., and can take loads of amazing Guardian support already at 0 xp. One of the strongest and most dependable defensive decks I've ever played. Can combine lots of other cards with Obsidian Bracelet and Tetsuo Mori, along with other Survivor soak, to really lean into tanking. And when she takes damage she does damage back, so this deck has pretty legit damage numbers, and it's all testless. She wasn’t as strong with only Edge of the Earth, at least her deckbuilding was weird, but with all the new Survivor cards from The Scarlet Keys, I think she’s now secretly one of the most reliable and adaptable investigators; Need damage? Take Baseball Bat (2) or Hyperphysical Shotcaster. Clues? Shed a Light, Old Keyring, Flashlight and Hyperphysical Shotcaster. Need soak? You already have it, but there are also Improvised Shield and Idol of Xanatos with a Short Supply deck. Need help on tests? Pocket Multi Tool, Grizzled and Gumption (1). Need draw? Dilemmas. There’s literally everything in Survivor now, it’s ridiculous. Pro tip: don't forget you can instantly evade anyone if they do damage to you, instead of doing damage back.
- Diana Stanley - a ridiculously strong deck that lets other investigators have "glass-cannon" builds that do stuff better, but don't care about anything the Encounter Deck throws at them. She naturally takes everything that can cancel or ignore and there are some perfect Guardian events (0 xp and experienced) when you go melee heavy with her. Just take a lightsaber (Enchanted Blade), Prepared for the Worst and Earthly Serenity (any) to roleplay a jedi, or a Survival Knife to stab back at people while you use your actions to play cancel stuff. Pro tip 1: She also has Ghastly Possession. Pro tip 2: I played her with Survival Knife and along the new Guard Dog (2) + Tetsuo Mori + Summoned Servitor – Armored Wings, for a really strong Daniela cosplay with cancel & ignore shenanigans. Pro tip 3: If your clue-getter isn't as strong in scenario 1, you can also take Drawn to the Flame for free clues. You were meant to destroy the Encounter deck ("You were meant to destroy the Sith." - more jedi cosplay).
- Jenny Barnes - this was a deck where we weren't sure at, but using those 5 off-Class slots and combining this deck with Friends in Low Places, the literally unbreakable Lockpicks (1), The Red Clock (any), Black Market (2), Counterespionage (1) and Kicking the Hornet's Nest, this was one of the most satisfying decks I've ever had a pleasure of watching in action in my entire AH:LCG history. It ran 2 Safeguard, 2 Tetsuo Mori and an Obsidian Bracelet, then only focused on pure Rogue shenanigans. Leather Jacket and Lonnie Ritter helps with tanking, Faustian Bargain gives away resources, “You Owe Me One!” can play events to spare people’s resources and give cards, Scout Ahead allows for quick jumping around the map from one friend to another, Favors can be used for anything, especially Counterespionage, and you fuel your addictions with easy money from Unscrupulous Loan and other people’s addictions with Embezzled Treasure (it’s so easy to fill this up A LOT). Run a Hidden Pocket to still be able to use Lockpicks (1), and there are so many more things you can do it’s crazy. It didn't run the unique Charon's Obol, nor In the Thick of it, to allow those cards to be used by other players (we have a house rule where one can only use In the Thick of It if it's absolutely crucial to the deck). But yeah... Who needs stats if you don't use them?
- Leo Anderson - A fantastic user of Obsidian Bracelet, as it can be combined with very upgraded Hunter’s Armor – Protective Runes and Lonnie Ritter for a ridiculous effect. Everything can quickly be searched for with Backpack and Friends In Low Places, and paid for from the vas Rogue fund. Nobody had to worry about any damage or horror in the entirety of this campaign, and our entire team was a meme... It had just standard Guardian support along with Mauser C96 for fighting and also the new tiny Chuck Fergus (2), which is surprisingly good enough, but otherwise he built just pure tank.
- Lola Hayes – the last year’s taboo was a big renewal of this investigator, and again, as with all low do-stat investigators, she has great defensive stats and amazing signature cards, so this was a treat and it just worked. She leaned into Guardian support and focused on providing resources and cards with a Neutral-Seeker combo, while also using some Survivor defensive and Exile cards. She used Tetsuo Mori and Brother Xavier, but it’s really ridiculous how much card draw and resource generation Lola now has. Just try her out and experiment, don’t worry about do something stats, throw in cards like Deep Knowledge for giving away cards and Faustian Bargain for giving away resources, Guardian events for general support and negation, and then you can also go into Mystic for their incredible negation. Pro tip: Don’t forget she can always use neutral cards, so cards like Calling In Favors, Call for Backup (1) and Emergency Cache (3) are very strong in her. Pro tip 2: Her crippling weakness Crisis of Identity can now hardly be evaded, but is now one of the weakest weaknesses in the game. With all the card draw she has, just remember to keep a card of the current role (chosen Class) in hand, so you don’t lose something like an ally.
- Vincent Lee - combining tanking with healing and giving away free Unexpected Courages was simple and VERY effective from turn 1 onward. I'd strongly recommend amputating people with Bonesaw and giving them Physical Trauma, or (if not house-ruling it) just using In The Thick of It to get that sweet Trauma, so this guy can then heal you up from turn 1. This is the most Paladin-ish investigator there is, and it's very effective at what he does. Again - not the best stats, but you have ways around that and to be effective without doing many skill tests. He was played with Obsidian Bracelet and Girish (heals damage, so ad far as I know he can be taken) for soak, I thought I’d also need Spiritual Resolve, but the first two were more than enough (and I also used Wounded Bystander to help tank massive damage xD Otherwise he has access to Seeker 0-3, which we all know is the best utility and support-based card class. Just take card draw like Deep Knowledge, some resource gain like Crack the Case (can give away resources), Guidance (1), Shortcut (1) etc. There’s so much it’s gonna be hard to choose. Then you also get access to most of the good Survivor and Guardian Support, like Dilemmas, A Test of Will, Extra Ammo for your fighter etc. Pro tip: Wounded Bystander comes in with 3 damage on him, so something that heals 3 is perfect for Vincent – the free Event Bizzare Diagnosis should always be on hand, so you can get rid of the guy. You also don’t take trauma if the game ends before he can die, so that’s another plus. He’s also bonus soak, if you think about it. Pro tip 2: he can also train to be a great supportive jedi.
Investigators I haven't yet seen, but think would be VERY effective in the playstyle of a Tank-Support:
- Lily Chen - an obvious choice considering how strong Mystic + Guardian is for this playstile. She can use her incredible signature cards to make fun combos and VERY high defensive starts, while also having access to the strong lvl 0 cancel and ignore, Sweeping Kick (1) to fight and evade, and Defensive Stance (1) to pass any test in the entire game, while combining those with Leadership (2) and Stand Together (3), which are staples of this archetype, so I consider her my next victim. Pro tip: makes for a very good aggressive jedi.
- Joe Diamond – I think this may also be a fun choice for a Tank-Support investigator. He doesn’t have high defensive stats, but that’s exactly why Obsidian Bracelet could soak Treacheries, as well as someone like Tetsuo Mori and Brother Xavier could be used for tanking other things. He has epic deckbuilding, as well as free support cards every turn out of hunch deck, with amazing Seeker-Guardian combo and many free clues every now and then. With Steadfast he could stick to someone and give them Guidance, cards, resources etc., and along something like Forewarned and Logical Reasoning (any), he could really add free flex to the meaning of Supportive Tank. He also has access to good weapons and tutoring, so he could be built in many different ways. Yes, his defensive stats are a problem, but if built around that, he’s already a great investigator.
- Zoey Samaras - a natural choice considering her very high defensive stats and access to full Guardian card list, high health and sanity, along with an ability to take 5 off-Class cards, which can be any combination of defense and support you like. She also gains lots of resources for free by engaging, so she can give more away :D I'd say she's very strong, as she usually is, but maybe a bit boring.
- Tommy Muldoon - the fist choice that one would have when looking for a Tank in AH:LCG. Strong deck-building with access to two of the best team-oriented classes (Guardian+Survivor) and many free resources in exchange for tanked damage made this guy arguably the only one capable of running the Tank-Support archetype until now, along with...
- ...William Yorick - the other obvious choice. One of the most fun and unique investigators, who also ran Tank-Support before, so we haven't tried him yet. The same deck building as Tommy, arguably a bit worse and a bit more aggressive, but gains one of the strongest abilities in the game in exchange, and buries ghouls deep on top of that to provide your team with bonus xp. Everyone loves Bury Them Deep for free exp. and getting rid of strong recurring monsters.
EDIT: The next thing doesn’t work, because as it turns out, Obsidian Bracelet does not tank combat damage. Silly me… (:
NOT OVER YET! WARNING! CRAZIES ONLY! This archetype can also be run with ANY other investigator by using one of the most ridiculous cards in the game - Versatile - to throw in something like an Obsidian Bracelet, or Tetsuo Mori, or something like that... Personally I'm most excited to try out Preston Fairmont, because with the introduction of Counterespionage, Friends in Low Places and Black Market, he has become one of my favorite investigators in the game. Is this crazy? Yes. Is it stupid? Of course. Will it hold back our team? Nope, since I'll focus on bringing them forward haha :D I'll see myself out.
So... Let's now FINALLY talk about this card.
This card, like some other cards, allows you to "tank" Damage and/or Horror for yourself, and more importantly, for other investigators on your location, which can be made into an important role if you know what you're doing. It can also ONLY soak damage from Treacheries, which is amazing if you want to dive deep into this role, and can help in some unique ways. By providing LOTS of cheap soak for tanking your friends' treacheries, you can enable some other investigators to do their job better. Some investigator’s personal Weaknesses are in fact TREACHERIES, along with most of Basic Weaknesses that do burst damage or horror. Examples include: Rogues, and all other investigators with low defensive (Head and Foot) symbols, who struggle to beat their own Encounter Deck draws; next is Harvey Walters - his loving weakness Thrice Damned Curiosity deals enormous damage, which again, you can now soak, and he can focus on spending his xp on investigation tools; then Diana Stanley - her Terrible Secret deals her lots of horror, or dumps her insanely strong tucked under cards, so you can just take the horror and forget the weakness; then basically all Madness and Injury treacheries, and then many, many more... Even just the most basic Grasping Hands, which can cripple lots of physically weak investigators can easily be tanked by this humble bracelet.
In the past, I thought this can also take combat damage, but it can’t, so that’s a gripe against it, but it turns out that in practice you can tank combat damage yourself, or with Tetsuo Mori, Brother Xavier (1), Girish Kadakia (4), Hunter’s Armor – Protective Runes, or something like Summoned Servitor - Armored Carapace etc., while also being able to just Engage those enemies and fight them normally. This card is a welcome addition to this package, so having more cheap soak has never hurt no one. Again, the most dangerous damage and horror is in bursts from Treacheries or Signature Weaknesses, and this card can prevent most of that for your friends on your location. Even if you don’t take the combat damage, most fighters are made to fight, and if you just take Treacheries off them, it could often be enough, then support them with other means like resources, cards or Encounter Deck manipulation and help them fight or investigate.
Now let's look at pure stats and some of the similar cards for the intended to see how strong this actually is and compare it to them (notice that this card can be COMBINED with all of the mentioned cards for even better effect):
- Obsidian Bracelet: - only soaks Treacheries, - medium cost, - takes up a Hand slot, = same high soak, + no xp cost, + cheap cost/damage soaked
- Something Worth Fighting For: - horror soak only, - expensive cost/soak, +no xp cost, + slotless,
- True Grit: - damage soak only, - expensive cost/soak, + no xp cost, + slotless,
- Tetsuo Mori: - medium cost, - less soak, - takes up an Ally slot, - arguably worse symbol, + tutor effect,
- Brother Xavier (1): - very expensive, - exp. cost, - takes up an Ally slot, = same high soak, + gives 1 Stat, + deals damage when defeated,
- Girish Kadakia (4): - expensive, - giant exp. cost, - takes up an Ally slot, = same high soak, + can replenish, + free boost on tap.
- Hunter’s Armor (Customizable): - expensive, - exp. cost, - usefulness depends entirely on exp. cost, - takes up a Body slot / = or an Arcane slot, + very diverse effects
Some more similar Guardian cards that do the job of soaking, but don't have an effect of tanking for other investigators:
- Protective Gear (2): - expensive, - exp. cost, = same high soak, + can cancel Hazard Treacheries,
- Spiritual Resolve (5): - medium cost, - giant exp. cost, = same high soak, + Myriad, + extremely replenishable with the right deck,
- "I've Had Worse" (2) / (4): - medium to high exp. cost, - one-time effect, +/- Event, + free to play, + Fast.
Then there are also many more other soak assets from other classes, like Heavy Furs, Black Cat, Cheerished Keepsake, Leather Coat, Idol of Xanatos, Improvised Shield, Leather Jacket, St. Hubert's Key, Summoned Servitor, Dr. Milan T. Maleson... Which all do their own job and can also be compared to this card, but there's just many more variables, so for the sake of brevity - you can use them with this card for a great effect and many more fun decks, which all do their own thing and can help build a fun Tank-Support deck.
One other card that can now actually be played along this is a Riot Whistle, which is arguably still bad, but can be useful if used in right ways (it worked for us a few times, saved some actions at least), so you don’t use precious Actions for taunting enemies off of your friends. A very good option instead can also be Blackjack (2), which can fight enemies engaged with other investigators safely, or if you’re the one tanking directly by engaging the enemy, a Survival Knife or Survival Knife (2), which in my opinion are of similar strength in this kind of deck.
Looking at all that, I would say that Obsidian Bracelet is a very well placed card which has its niche, it is the most accessible of all of these cards, as it is level 0 and only takes 2 deck slots and is basically a Something Worth Fighting For combined with a True Grit, without the option to tank combat or random other damage (like Weaknesses which aren’t Treacheries) but has a much better Traits of Item and a Charm so it’s very searchable. It has a very cheap cost per point of soak, but it takes up a precious Hand slot, so it instantly becomes VERY deck and archetype defining. It's unique in that it can soak most of the momentarily dangerous stuff from other investigators of all of these cards, and is still decently priced, again level 0 so it costs 0 xp, while also being extremely searchable, reclaimable (with something like Scrounge for Supplies), non-unique and extremely adaptable in any Tank-Support build, while also being stackable and combo-able with most of these and many other cards that focus on tanking or forcing enemies to show up / attack / pay with damage and/or horror.
- LOTS of Damage and Horror soak for Treacheries,
- very cheap resource / point of soak,
- is just a normal card, not Unique or anything, with no strings attached,
- level 0 and easily accesible, so it...
- ...can be used to peak efficiency by most investigators that would want to use it, even someone with weird deck building like Amina Zidane, Daniela Reyes, Diana Stanley, Lola Hayes or Vincent Lee, and provides them with new archetype and an actual place in a group for some of the ("weak") investigators,
- is an Item and a Charm, so it's very searchable with cards like Backpack (Backpack (2) is one of the best tutor cards in the game and it is accessible to everyone), Friends In Low Places (can search for ANY card and both Item or Charm can be built around perfectly), Tetsuo Mori (combos naturally with this card and can be the second combo piece of this archetype), etc.,
- is and Item and a Charm, so it's very playable with cards like Geared Up (Tank-Supports sometimes use lots of Assets), Ever Vigilant (the big boy Ever Vigilant (4) is an amazing card for this Archetype - just Stick to the Plan and it quickly becomes broken), Sleuth (combos especially well with strong supportive Tactics and Tomes from Guardian and Seeker), etc.,
- can easily be repaired by someone like Lonnie Ritter, or just bounced back and re-played with something like Summoned Servitor - Dreaming Call,
- Niche, but can be easily stacked on top of itself for 6/6 soak (maybe in case of a big bad boss attack?),
- can be used for pure +HP and +Sanity for any investigator that needs that in a convenient package.
- no other utility or bonus stats except soak and team tanking for Treacheries, so it’s arguably very niche,
- 3 isn't the cheapest resource cost, someone like Madame Labranche or Dr. William T. Maleson are still cheaper for pure soak, with arguably more utility,
- uses one Hand slot, which is it's BIGGEST downside, but you can play around that with just using it with a 1-handed weapon alongside, using Arcane or Ally slots to supplement your build, or using many new options which give you more hands, like a Bandolier, Hidden Pocket (combos well with Backpack), Astral Mirror (2), etc.,
- does not help in tests like fighting, evading, or investigating,
- doesn't upgrade into anything, except arguably a "soft" upgrade into Martyr's Vambrace (imho, it also doesn't need to).
And now just a few pros that relate to this card, as well as the entire Tank-Support archetype:
- Since you will want to stick to your friends so you can protect them, a card like Safeguard (any) or Summoned Servitor - Wings of Night, will be useful to move quickly with them. Track Shoes, Hiking Boots (1), Pathfinder (level 1, Taboo'd to 3 xp), Scout Ahead and Shortcut (1) can also be used if first two are somehow inaccessible or don't provide enough movement, as well as Runic Axe - Inscription of the Hunt, if built around (takes up 2 Hand slots, so you need more, or someone like Tetsuo Mori, Brother Xavier (1) or Girish Kadakia (4) to do the tanking job). You will also have access to cards that can be used on other locations, like Fighting Lessions or Ward of Protection (2) can also be used to help team members from far away if you need to.
- Arguably the most important point is that the Tank-Support archetype opens up valuable deck slots for fun and strong team-oriented support and utility cards that help your allies and can be a hard bargain to include in goal-focused fighters or clue-getters, but usually don't require high stats or are easily accessible and useful in other ways - e.g. Solemn Vow, Venturer, Ever Vigilant (4), Teamwork, Stand Together (3), Leadership (2), Pocket Multi Tool - Detachable, Talisman of Protection, Earthly Serenity (4), Jessica Hyde (1) with basically any Dilemma, Hallowed Chalice, Living Ink - Shifting Ink, Summoned Servitor - any upgrade, Power Word - any upgrade, Open Gate, Parrallel Fates (2), Liquid Courage (any), Pocket Telescope, The Gold Pocket Watch (4), Contraband (2), Untimely Transaction (1), Medical Student, Proffessor William Webb (any), No Stone Unturned (0), Guidance (any), Protecting the Anirniq (2), Shortcut (2), etc. These cards give your whole team insane boosts and can arguably be better than just having another fighter or clue-getter.
- The Tank-Support archetype uses lots of different cards than fighters and clue-getters, so the "carries" can then take valuable cards like In the Thick of It, Charisma, Relic Hunter, or even if you have many copies of those cards, there's still Charon's Obol, which is unique, or unique Allies and Items like Leo De Luca, Dr. Milan Christopher, Michael Leigh (5), or True Magick (5).
Well, that's basically it. I hope that you enjoyed the review and that I've maybe Parley-ed you into trying this fun (new?) archetype. It's a really fun and different way to play the game, especially if you've been sucked into the "meta" of this game, and it actually doesn't hit far from an actually useful deck for many of the investigators I've written about. Something supporty can also be done by other investigators, e.g. Carolyn Fern, Daisy Walker, Gloria Goldberg, Mandy Thompson, Norman Withers, Patrice Hathaway, Sefina Russeau, Sister Mary and Stella Clark have actually had legitimately strong builds for a pure Support-focused playstyle for a long time, and William Yorick and Tommy Muldoon had been combat-focused Tanks since when they were released (those teddy bears are really still doing it). It's the actually useful Tank-Support that had been missing that little bit of a push, and I feel that with Scarlet Keys the Tank-Support is now a real option to consider the next time you play with your friends. Just be careful that you don't all pick it now, because that would be madness.