After Fantasy Flight Games made the Revised Core Set and is repackaging previously released expansions to be more accessible, the game is getting a lot more influx of new players. I was among those players feeling welcomed by the Revised Core Set to get into the game.
This is an exciting time to create more helping contents for this game so the community could grow easier. This site hosts some decks requiring low amount of expansions to get started with quickly before new players gradually transitioned to have fun with deckbuilding on their own.
Even after that, I want to host some other reference resources and tools that is not available in arkhamdb.com to help even after they are no longer beginners.
How it all began
Lengthy lore ahead!
Getting into this game
Despite what they look like, my starter decks in this site aren't specifically created "for new players" / "to be cheap to build", but they are my actual playstyle. These are mostly my past decks I ran in a campaign (with some edits after the campaign's end before publishing), together with friends who are building the decks normally using an entire collection.
When I first started with Revised Core Set and followed new Investigator Expansion format, the first box chronologically was Edge of the Earth. I was already in love with the game's "Deckbuilding Requirement" design and the class color pie. (Specifically those Edge of the Earth investigators has somewhat similar but "inverted" requirements to the core investigators, I instantly understand why this game is good.) And by adding Edge of the Earth Investigator Expansion, those multi-class cards open up even the core investigators massively. I remembered my Skids sweep kicking and casting Blur, he became very different man.
When the next box, The Dunwich Legacy Investigator Expansion, came out, I was once again delighted by exponentially improved possibilities. But this time I noticed something new. I learned about possible XP range (big part due to The Dunwich Legacy campaign's low XP) and how important deck space is in this kind of small deck game. I noticed I started having "staples", both from The Dunwich Legacy and Edge of the Earth, that keeps appearing in the deck. And those take a considerable chunk of XP!
At this time while I still had fun I started thinking these so-called "staples" here and there in the "expansion" that the community is raving about, are harmful to my deckbuilding enjoyment and longevity of the game. I love this game and I want to slowly exhaust this game as much as possible.
The start of my limited expansion deckbuilding addiction
By the time I got The Path to Carcosa Investigator Expansion, I didn't let my Mark, Minh, etc. access full collection immediately. I played with The Path to Carcosa only first. (The so-called "2 packs deck" when counted together with Revised Core Set.) Fun! But undoubtedly I want to express more creativity to my deck rather having to make cops and dogs work with Carcosa card.
Then, I try adding either Edge of the Earth or The Dunwich Legacy to my Carcosa investigators, but not both. The result is delightful : With this many cards to choose from the deck is not underpowered compared to full collection deck as I assumed. I didn't force my teammates to play similarly, but I found my +2 Investigator Expansion decks perform and still team up well with my friend's deck that picks a bit of stuff from an entire collection. It just change up how you obtain ideas about the deck in the first place.
Different ways to spawn ideas
When you build a deck with entire collection, you have fun utilizing your accumulated card knowledge so far combined with new stuff you just purchased. My friend's deck tends to be "anchoring" on build-around cards. These kind of cards put on a "filter" in your head and allow you to be reminded of other cards you own before. For example as "Calling in Favors" from The Path to Carcosa you would go look for entry effect Ally, "Well Maintained" from The Forgotten Age you would go look for equipments with double icons. Then my friend would go to generically useful cards such as "Inquiring Mind" from The Dunwich Legacy, or "Resourceful" from The Path to Carcosa, to complete those decks. Nothing wrong with this approach, by the way!
But let's look at limited expansion deckbuilding too. I have to look at the expansion as a whole what they gave together in a package for that particular class (or even across classes). For example, if any non-Dunwich investigator wants to include "Stand Together (3)" from The Dunwich Legacy, since The Dunwich Legacy now takes their imaginary "expansion slot" robbing their other options, they must now look at other Dunwich cards as well.
This may sounds yucky at first, but this is actually where the deck seriously became cool! I was not even thought of cards like "Teamwork" or "Bandolier" for the deck I was building at first... then followed a chain of "oh wait..", "actually that's great idea!". In the end, the deck has 2x copies of "Teamwork" and "Bandolier" and dragged in several other unexpected cards. I love how I often caught myself off-guard where it takes me building a deck this way.
It's a new Deckbuilding Requirement!
The designer once said different is good which I agree. Playing this way make sure I can replay each investigator as differently as possible in each run. I am also a fan of Parallel Investigator's Deckbuilding Requirement design, which is more limited but more mind-provoking.
I realized by limiting expansions, I added an another layer of "Deckbuilding Requirement" I loved in the first place. Instead of just Mark with his Tactics Lv. 3 deckbuilding, it is now "Dunwich Mark", or "Edge of the Earth Mark". And even more to come in the future such as "The Forgotten Age Mark" or "The Circle Undone Mark". All of which let me work with different The Path to Carcosa cards that comes with Mark that I never looked at before. This is very exciting to me! More so than Carcosa-only Mark, and more so than entire-collection Mark, "Practice Makes Perfect" Mark.
I found I always looking at that "Ambush" and "Mano a Mano" that comes with Mark's pack, wondering is it "compatible" yet with each new expansions I obtained. I would not have repeatedly looking at them this way ("cards that comes automatically with Mark") if not for limiting expansions. Jenny is an investigator with "exclusive" access to "Switchblade (2)" and "Quick Thinking" while others had to use their expansion slot to get them. Yorick comes with ".45 Automatic (2)" and "Resourceful". And so on. It's like they have their own group of semi-signature cards.
What's the hard limit?
After I decided I want to always play this way from now on, what's the hard limit of expansion count?
While I found out that Revised Core Set + 2 Investigator Expansion is around the right sweet spot to not losing to full collection decks, I extend that a bit to 3 expansions as the maximum.
For example, Minh Thi Phan (automatic The Path to Carcosa inclusion) + The Scarlet Keys for zero difficulty tech + The Dunwich Legacy for Inquiring Mind, would take maximum 3 expansions, while still achieved the original purpose of spawning me unexpected ideas, such as also considering "Expose Weakness (1)" in Dunwich to go with The Scarlet Keys zero difficulty techs.
At 4 expansions however, it gets to the level that I include an expansion to just cherry pick one or two staple cards there, which is "card first" approach in regular deckbuilding rather than expansions taking me to unexpected cards as I hoped, so definitely too many expansions.
Wouldn't this make the core set cards overused?
Yes. But it is actually exciting for me rather than boring!
I noticed when I'm doing single expansion deck ("2 Packs Deck Guide") I still actively made decision on core set choices. For example, Evidence!, Dodge, Dynamite Blast are such Guardian core cards that can't just appear in every deck the more you add expansions. If I don't limit packs, probably none of them would appear at all. But here some of them should appear due to lack of choices. The question is which one? How many copies? Same with Guard Dog or Beat Cop, none, both, or only one?
Plenty of puzzles to solve still, just with the same core cards.
The other purposes
I was playing the game that way for a while without realizing these interesting properties :
- These decks are economical. In new Investigator Expansion distribution, a unit of purchase is larger. Many decks in arkhamdb.com are extremely expensive looking at them that way. (But if you got an entire game, then all the decks are suddenly "free", of course.) I was not playing these decks for economical purpose, just for additional fun in deckbuilding, but this property is interesting regardless.
- More chances to form a team entirely consisting of these decks from a single collection with zero adjustment, due to limited expansion rule they avoid clashes of hot cards entirely by a unit of expansion. (e.g. Low chance of 2 investigators using a quite generic card "Take Heart" or "Lucky Cigarette Case" at the same time, as both have to select "The Forgotten Age" as their expansion first.) If I had a database full of these decks, it could be possible to make a cool "team builder" to quickly fill in more members which may not be interested in building a deck but just want to play, and quickly start the game, while also accounting for existing members that build decks freely.
I got curious, so I started publishing these decks 1~3 expansion decks in arkhamdb.com. 2 Packs Deck Guide (= 1 expansion deck, when you don't count Revised Core Set) using Edge of the Earth became especially liked due to how Edge of the Earth was the entry point of many new Revised Core Set era players just like me and that was likely exactly their card pool.
But unfortunately, arkhamdb.com cannot satisfy all my curiousities :
- It does not understand Investigator Expansion. When I go on to build Dunwich Legacy + Revised Core Set decks, it does not display "2 packs", as it considers Mythos Pack as a different pack.
- Pack display is not upfront, while this is likely big problems for new players. In search and in the first page the deck entries does not show how expensive to build that deck, you have to go inside to see it. And "10 packs used" is not reflecting actual cost anymore as nowadays you purchase not in Mythos Pack. My economical decks shows the same number of packs as entire-collection decks sometimes, despite massive cost difference.
- It does not count "Side Deck", both in packs used and in searching. I publish deck that is ready to use at start to the end of campaign, so I need the deck to be 0 XP and Side Deck aren't optional, but they are important cards to be swapped in as you earn XP to make a complete deck. Apparently arkhamdb.com thought the Side Deck is more like extra cards. In my site I want Side Deck to always be important, and with a new "Optional Cards" section to be truly optional and not included in packs used.
- It cannot build a team. So this site doesn't answer my original question how many different and interesting teams one player could build while having sparse collection.
- Deck's metadata is quite limited on the "front" side, looking at how deck builders has to put many things on the deck's name just to categorize them.
And so this site was born... (Thank you for reading!)