Benchmark Charlie (Quick Guide)

Card draw simulator

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Derived from
None. Self-made deck here.
Inspiration for
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chirubime · 25894

Benchmark Charlie

Clue: 9 | Enemy Mgmt: 8 | Treachery: 5 | Tempo: 7 | Consistency: 7.5

Here's a fast deck for Charlie, who I believe is someone that can be slotted into any campaign and any team composition. This deck is meant to be very flexible and can situationally swing from primary clue-getter to almost-primary fighter.

There are two general cons to the investigator to keep in mind--unique allies and tempo. An established board has 5-6 allies, 1-2 talents (Safeguard / Drawing Thin). You can start contributing to the team with 3-4 allies down, and will need your team to carry you through the first 2 rounds of the game generally, making 3-4 player the ideal place for this deck.

Charlie's Ability & Allies

This deck runs 2 types of allies, stat boost allies and active ability allies. Generally you use the stat boost allies with Charlie's ability while you don't use active ability allies if you can help it.

Stat Boost Allies

  • Leo De Luca - Ideal ally to use Charlie's ability on to boost investigation skill tests. Value is loaded on a constant ability.

  • Laboratory Assistant - Another ideal investigation skill test booster. This is your primary Calling in Favors target. Value is frontloaded onto putting her into play. Good play is to exhaust her (she's already on the board) during a skill test, calling in favors her, replay her, then use exhaust her again for the stats.

  • Miss Doyle + - Doyle is really good for stat boosting. Frontloaded ability puts the active cats Hope, Zeal, Augur into play. To a lesser extent, the cats Doyle summons are also decent stat boosters when they are not useful in your current situation with all of them giving you 2 different +2 stats in proactive stats , , . Hope, Zeal, and Augur are also good targets for Calling in Favors since they are fast so you can bounce them to hand and then replay them again.

Active Ability Allies

  • Bonnie Walsh - She's actually technically a stat booster, but her active let's you reuse active ability allies. Her ideal targets are Summoned Hound and Michael Leigh.

  • Summoned Hound - This is your bread and butter ally. Fast investigates avoid attacks of opportunity. Fast fights provide additional action compression. Usually when you stack Bonnie's ability on a Summoned Hound you can get away with triggering Drawing Thin on the test because you will be testing at 9 (Michael passive, Bonnie active, Summoned Hound base 5).

  • Michael Leigh - The passive +1 and +1 makes your Summoned Hound and Augur investigates start at 6. Michael Leigh also doesn't exhaust when gathering evidence so you can use Michael as a stat booster ally when you don't need to do extra damage. Charging his ability is also insanely quick because of Summoned Hounds giving you at so many free investigates. If you need extra damage during a particular round, you can use Bonnie to get 2 uses out of Michael's exhaust ability.


  • You want to commit Summoned Hound to an investigation or fight test, and ONLY put that ally into play with A Chance Encounter. This let's you bypass having to shuffle in Unbound Beast. Don't greed by playing Hound without this combo.

  • Synergy setup is ideally: Michael Leigh , Summoned Hound , Leo de Luca , and Miss Doyle/Drawing Thin for . This is relevant for Gang Up which can do 6 damage and Strength in Numbers which gives you a +6 skill card.

  • With 2 Charismas, your 6 allies should be Bonnie, 2x Summoned Hound, Leo de Luca, Michael Leigh, and Miss Doyle. Laboratory assistants are transitional allies that are good for early game and can be disposed when you are nearing ally slot caps.

  • Your statline is very versatile and makes you a fantastic troubleshooter for your team. If the team needs to evade a really big target, or perform some difficult parleys or skill tests on scenario cards, you can pool your boosts from Doyle, Cat Trio, Bonnie, and Michael Leigh for those tests. Use Bonnie to ready one of these fodder allies to reuse their boosts too.

  • Tank treacheries with your large amount of soak. Use your allies to boost through treachery tests only in situations where failing the test severely hampers your ability to do stuff.

Example Turn

Example Board State: Summoned Hound, Bonnie, Michael Leigh

Example Hand: Inspiring Presence

  1. Exhaust Summoned Hound to start a fast investigation test.

  2. Use Charlie's ability to exhaust Bonnie giving you +3 on a base of 5 . +1 from Michael Leigh putting you at a 9 .

  3. Use Bonnie's to ready the Summoned Hound that is exhausted.

  4. Commit Inspiring Presence to the skill test. Upon success, ready Bonnie.

  5. Michael Leigh gets evidence off successful investigation, without exhausting.

  6. Repeat steps 1-3.

  7. After Bonnie has been exhausted for the round and cannot ready again, finish off the rest of your tests using various stat modifications (Summoned Hound base 5, Augur base 5, exhausting a combination of Michael Leigh, Leo de Luca, Lab Assistant, Miss Doyle, Hope and Zeal).


Feb 07, 2023 argonwolf · 50

I've been looking for a really solid summoned hound charlie, and this is the first one i've been convinced by. What does the lvl 0 deck look like?

Feb 07, 2023 chirubime · 25894

Here is a lvl 0 deck

@argonwolf I put my In the Thick of It exp into 1 Chance and 1 Hound. Finding them can be a little bit of a nuisance but I flushed my deck as aggressively as I can with replaying Lab Assistants / Calling in Favors and finding teammate's tests to use Resourceful on for more Take Hearts.

It starts out primarily as a Dark Horse deck that uses Take Heart and Gregory Gry for economy. And then eventually gets to what this deck looks like. Lemme know how it goes for you

Feb 07, 2023 mrsdoubles · 1

Love it! Glad to see you back

Feb 07, 2023 sweetpumpkinboy · 42

Comparing the two Charlie decks on arkhamdb's top page, this build is way more robust, especially the allies chosen.

Summoned Hound ONLY has 3 Health and NO Sanity making it something you don't necessarily have to exhaust when you draw Burden of Leadership, because sanity would never kill it.

The cats that are summoned by Miss Doyle also don't have any Health / Sanity meaning you can opt to damage those allies instead of exhausting them given the lack of a must.

I really value not losing out on ally value and having to choose to use them for Charlie's ability vs. the ally's special ability. This decklist is carefully curated to not lose out on value from either of those things. Kudos

Feb 07, 2023 Codayus · 1

I love how strong and flexible Charlie is for deckbuilding. I ran a very similar deck recently - which also worked great - but made some different choices. Specifically:

  • Ran Short Supply plus Resourceful and Scrounge for Supplies for faster setup; quite likely to be able to get the Hound and Bonnie out early, and the recursion is generally helpful.
  • Ran Meat Cleaver over Fire Axe (frees up more resources)
  • Ran Medical Student over Lab Assistant (very questionable choice)
  • Ran Gregory Gry over Leo for the Rogue asset (Charlie benefits from extra actions less than probably any other investigator, and more resources are great)
  • Ran a copy of both Plucky and Scrapper as a resource dump
  • Ran a single summoned hound (you get a lot less benefit from the 2nd copy than the first, and ally slots are precious)
  • Instead ran The Black Cat (it's great!)
  • Cut Inspirational Presence and Vicious Blow (both good, but didn't quite seem to pull their weight, and I needed room for the recursion cards)
  • Ran Unrelenting (always good)

On balance I'm not sure my version was better (but it certainly worked great!). But what I find interesting is that even though the overall gameplan was similar (synergy + static stat boosts + a cheated in Summoned Hound + Doyle), it's interesting how many different decisions you can make with Charlie and still have something fun and viable, even if you're using the same subclasses.

Feb 08, 2023 Thatwasademo · 53

A note on Burden of Leadership: If you check the card page here on ArkhamDB you'll see that while your reading is correct, the card has been / will be errataed to add the word "must" to the choice.

Feb 08, 2023 chirubime · 25894

@Thatwasademo I swear the last few months have been nothing but messy mess mess from FFG. For anyone else reading this, feel free to play with or without the "future errata".

I'd consider playing 2 copies of Trusted on critical targets to keep them a little more resilient to Burden. That being said what @sweetpumpkinboy mentioned stays true about how most of the engine allies in this build don't have a 1 in Health or Sanity.

Feb 08, 2023 subzerojo · 286

Looks Great! With that much high cost allies, I'd consider Flare instead of Strength in Numbers. Or you can pluck out the 1xp from Leo De Luca. That way you have another way to get Summoned Hound in Play, but also lots of juicy ally targets. The survivor class selection is so good.

Feb 08, 2023 MisterTails · 1

This is extremely similar to a template I found several months back utilizing the survivor/guardian combination with a heavier focus on enemy management and played at a "higher" difficulty.

Beat Cop, Girish Kadakia, Grete Wagner, and Guard Dog were my choice picks. Gregory Gry is another solid choice to get some economy going (swapped out the Fire Axes for Meat Cleavers) and Mr. "Rook" allows for additional digging.

I'm also running Short Supply + Scourge for Supplies to generate some more consistency. This also helps A Chance Encounter find key allies early on and makes it more likely that a Summoned Hound is in the bin to get picked up. Trusted is another great support card for your allies, especially if you choose to run any of the allies that take damage for effects.

Feb 09, 2023 lok1686 · 8

Do you think it can be a primary clue-getter in 4p gameļ¼Ÿ it only can get 1 clue in 1 action

Feb 09, 2023 chirubime · 25894

@lok1686 Yes, I played this deck through two campaigns and in both instances while I was technically the flex role, I ended up outpacing the "primary cluever". Plus 1 clue per 1 action has added benefits in a campaign like Scarlet Keys. I will say that we play on Standard, and so this deck's viability as a primary cluever certainly goes down with harder difficulty in that you could potentially stretch yourself a bit thin trying to pass like 7 investigates per turn. That being said, you can still reliably pass on higher difficulties if you concentrate your boosts a bit more.

@MisterTails @Codayus I'm glad that we are all running pretty similar lists that makes me think that we all agree on the general gameplan. I mentioned Gry for the lvl 0 starter and you can certainly keep it in the deck and never swap into Leo, I believe my teammate needed Gry so I upgraded out of it as fast as I could.

The Short Supply + Scrounge Charlie builds for this sort of deck that relies on A Chance Encounter + Resourceful I've seen are quite consistent too so definitely consider those options for anyone debating how to craft this deck.

Feb 13, 2023 HarrisonF · 152

Question the on the weapon choice, why did you go with Fire Axe over Machete or maybe Runic Axe?

For Fire Axe it seems like you have a lot of other cards you might want to use your resources on?

Feb 14, 2023 chirubime · 25894

@HarrisonF For that exact reason I'm running Fire Axe. It's the cheapest damage compression. I mostly used Hound + Leigh and Gang Up for damage and Fire Axe was really just a backup. Strength in Numbers and Stat Booster allies work well to boost Fire Axe without you paying more than 0-1 resources.

But, the weapon isn't essential to the deck. Playing whatever your economy can support and what suites your playstyle works.

Feb 15, 2023 Sireal · 3

Great deck! I also wanted to run Miss Doyle and Summouned Hound in a Charlie deck. A few things. How do you fair on resources? It seems like a lot of high resource assets, not to mention Gang up. Do you ever feel strapped for cash? Also, I believe Bonnie is once a round, so you can't use her to ready the Summoned Hound more than once , no? Thanks again for posting the deck!

Feb 16, 2023 alberttrombone · 39

Great deck! By the way... how do you write the skill symbols or the ? symbols in the notes? thanks!

Feb 17, 2023 chirubime · 25894

@Sireal Thank you! I wasn't super strapped for cash. Take Heart + Drawing Thin did a lot. Usually non-fail by degree damage and horror from treacheries I would gladly dump Drawing Thin into, since I wasn't going to put the effort into passing it anyways.

Bonnie is once per round so you're extending your Hound play 1 more time each round really. However, committing Inspiring Presence to and readying Bonnie will also give you a chance to ready your Hound via Bonnie.

@alberttrombone Thanks. Yeah markdown formatting uses # to let you link cards and $ to open up the available symbols you can add to deck descriptions.

Feb 17, 2023 MisterTails · 1

@chirubime``@Sireal From my understanding of how Bonnie's ability works, it is limited to once per round regardless if you manage to ready Bonnie during your turn. However, if you were to have Bonnie leave play (via damage or Calling in Favors) and have Bonnie come back into play (via A Chance Encounter, for example), then this would technically be a new instance of Bonnie with her ability not used, so you can trigger it a second time.

@chirubime If someone were to play with taboos, then Drawing Thin would not be a legal card in the deck. Would you have any other alternatives for resource/card generation? Emergency Cache perhaps?

Feb 17, 2023 chirubime · 25894

@MisterTails just directly ready hound if you can't reset bonnie with making her leave the board.

Drawing Thin is legal. its just 3 exp in taboo.

Feb 21, 2023 Sireal · 3

@chirubime I played my own variation of your deck and I can see the powerhouse Charlie can be. You are right, the Take Hearts (was playing level 0 without Drawing Thin and with Resourceful to get Take Hearts back) and motivational speech and I was swimming in resources.

Sorry, not really understanding still. If you use Summoned Hound for a fight/investigate and tap Bonnie using Charlies skill for a +3, you ready Summoned Hound. That is your one use for the round. Even if you use inspiring presence during this test to ready Bonnie again, you can still use her for the +3, but you can't use her ability anymore, right? So in your example turn when you reach step 6 to go back and do steps 1-3, you can't redo step 3. That is my understanding at least. Sorry if I am missing something.

@MisterTails Drawing Thin is legal because it what is called "Chained" and actually doesn't change the level of the card. So, even though it costs 3 exp, it is still a level 0 card.

Mar 16, 2023 knoxb · 1

What does the level 0 look like?

Nov 19, 2023 Jss_hobbie · 1

Do you have a 0 xp deck to start from with upgrade recommendations?