Silas Dreams of Beating the Chaos Bag

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seasonedcoma · 46

Role

This is intended to fill an enemy management role. Compared to a Guardian, the lack of consistency in weapon availability and damage accelerators (e.g. Vicious Blow, Flamethrower) may be a challenge for higher player counts. He makes good use Double or Nothing assists from friendly committed to his attack actions (though not as flashy as big guns ). I've had success in 2p as the only option for dealing with enemies.

It was originally built for 3p TFA in expectation for a lot of evading with enough to cover Hunters and non-Vengeance enemies that might be easier to just defeat. I've run this through RtNotZ, DL, RtDL, Carnevale, and some custom scenarios on "Stanhard" (Standard bag, hard token effects). I never felt hindered by not having Guardian weapons, but some of the beefy Elites were would have been impossible to defeat. He was able to handle the The Experiment at 0-xp with a Baseball Bat easily enough (and a little help from spoiler).

Why Silas?

I like Survivors quite a bit and tend to fill the enemy management role in my group. I also like their generalist/flex capability and "succeed by failing" gimmick. Yorick has been in my top two investigators since I first played him, but he is a very different beast.

I'd noticed a trend in my recent decks for most roles. Skill cards had been getting squeezed out, unless they had a very strong effect (Vicious Blow, Deduction), to the point where I would have 2-6 Skills in a deck and tons of Assets or Events. This led me to see how I could make some decks that made good use of Skills. I started with a Minh deck that skipped out on Milan Money and was about half skills.

Then I looked into Silas. I've not looked closely at any Novella investigator, and my previous anti-Skill bias made me discount him. I watched the Whisperer in Darkness's RtDL playthrough and realized how strong his ID actually is. After looking for other Silas decks here, it was clear he doesn't get much love. Most of the decks were lacking some of the newer TFA and CUD cards, and almost all of them were Dark Horse decks.

Why not Dark Horse?

It's a very strong card and a Skill-focused deck shouldn't need a lot of economy, so it's seems obvious to use Dark Horse. However, it is a deck-defining card that limits your upgrade choices significantly. Timeworn Brand is an obvious upgrade, but hard to pay for as a Dark Horse. Having no resources also makes it hard to play some of the strong events, like True Survivor and Will to Survive.

On Your Own makes events playable, but with 2 and 5 Sanity, Silas really wants to have Peter Sylvestre. There are other options to get some soak, but most are also Allies. Madame Labranche is also a Dark Horse staple, which doesn't work with OYO.

There are encounter cards that demand resources, such as PtC spoiler or TFA spoiler, which Dark Horse characters can't contribute to easily.

Considering all that and my previous Dark Horse Pete and Calvin experiences, I wanted to avoid Dark Horse.

Piloting

Mulligan

Peter > Weapon > Nautical Prowess > Take Heart/Eureka > Keepsake (if no Peter) > everything else > Emergency cache.

You want Peter to soak and give you an extra . You'll need a weapon to fight with. A Keepsake is helpful, if you don't draw Peter.

Take Heart functions as economy and draw in a single action. Eureka! gives you filtered draw. Either can help you find anything you missed during mulligan. You probably only want one in your opening hand, but dropping two Take Heart on a test you're sure to fail isn't bad either.

Nautical Prowess is amazing. You can get the draw effect and still pull the card back with Silas's reaction ability. It's also an awesome target for pulls. Due to the icons, it's most useful for Treachery support in this deck.

Beyond those, your skill cards are fairly flexible. Use what you get. Resourceful is not terribly useful until you have some cards discarded, but it's good to have if Baseball Bat is your opening weapon, just in case. Quick Thinking is intended to be pulled from his ability, if it would proc a free action. I would not put a lot of effort into trying to make it happen.

I would only keep Emergency Cache if I had both Timeworn Brand and Peter Sylvestre already in hand in order to play everything turn one.

Once you get some experience, you want to go for Timeworn Brand and Will to Survive. I wouldn't throw away all weapons just trying to dig for the Brand. It's ok to use a Bat until you have resources and actions to replace it with a Brand. Will to Survive is just a powerful card. True Survivor is also a great card, but I wouldn't want to see it in my opening hand. It's basically dead until you've used at least 3 skills, so other Draw options are preferable early in the scenario.

Enemies

In the first scenario, unless you encounter a lot of enemies, Fire Axe may not consistently be able to do two damage. The deck is not intended to be a Dark Horse deck, but most of its expected costs are in later upgrades, which means you tend to accrue a pile of resources. This will probably become Meat Cleaver once the Secret Name releases.

Baseball Bat has its own reliability issues, but is strong as long as you can keep it out. I had good luck with it, but be prepared for failure with either your backup Baseball Bat or keep a Resourceful in hand to pull it back. Personally, I prefer to use the Bat over a Fire Axe early but both work. Later in the campaign, it becomes easier to get the extra damage from Fire Axe, but it's not as consistent as a Dark Horse build would be. At 0-xp, if you get a Fire Axe and Peter out, you basically have nothing else to spend money on, so you can freely buff to +6 on every attack until you burn through all your resources.

Depending on your luck, the first scenario can be hard to manage. Plan to leverage your (hopefully with Peter) to Evade enemies you don't have to kill. With 4-5 and plenty of skill icons, he has a strong ability to evade when needed or if your weapons don't show up. Stunning Blow is here just for action compression to deal with enemies you can't kill before the enemy phase or those odd enemies with low Fight/high Evade. Eureka! can also help with evasion tests, but is included mostly for either investigating 1 shroud locations or Treacheries.

Timeworn Brand will be our weapon upgrade of choice. It's a large chunk of xp and one of the main reasons we're not running Dark Horse. It is one of the strongest non- weapons and it removes a lot of the reliability issues with Fire Axe/Baseball Bat. Being only one-handed is nice, but not terribly important for this deck. Either of our weapons can be upgraded with this. If the campaign attacks assets in play (Crypt Chill/Pushed into the Beyond), it might be good to keep at least one Fire Axe to protect this (Painkillers also fulfill this role).

Soak is handled by Peter Sylvestre in combination with Painkillers. Cherished Keepsake is included as insurance against not finding Peter soon enough.

Dreams of the Deep is pretty soft and usually can be cleared with a Fight or Evade action.

Clues

As a primary fighter, LWIF is intended to fill all the investigation this deck might be expected to do. This can be a problem when the location has a bad effect if a skill test is failed (see TFA and Haunting). If you wanted to add more clue power, I would try to fit a Flashlight in. This conflicts with Baseball Bat, which is why it's not currently in the deck. Generally, I use Investigate actions as a way to play Take Heart. LWIF gets played if possible. If you need to contribute more than four clues, utilize Resourceful to get your LWIF back or commit Nautical Prowess/Eureka! on lower shroud locations.

If you expect to need more help w/ clues from your fighter, I'd suggest taking a Guardian instead. But Silas can utilize Inquiring Mind to good effect and later Rise to the Occasion can also help for higher Shroud locations. Don't count on lots of clues from him, but given enough economy and LWIF plays, he can get enough.

Resourceful and Eureka! have icons, but he's still not a clue hound. Save them for fighting, evasion, or encounter cards unless you commit enough to have a high likelihood of passing. Their draw/recursion effects are too important to this deck to take chancy investigate actions.

Economy

At 0-xp, this deck needs basically no resources. Indebted is your ideal Basic Weakness. You have Take Heart to draw cards and Emergency Cache is a dead card. The resource gain is there to pay for future Timeworn Brand and True Survivor. That's about it.

Once this deck has all the pieces, you "need" about 10 resources a game. You'd "like" 16-20 to fund True Survivor, Will to Survive, and LWIF, especially if you're pulling them back with Resourceful. Everything on top of that is gravy. You start with 5, should get 4-5 from two of Take Heart or Emergency Cache. That gets you to 9-10, and upkeep covers the rest.

The Emergency Cache is really an insurance policy for not drawing Take Heart. If you want to be more aggressive with Draw actions or use Resourceful on Take Heart instead of something else, you can safely drop it from this deck.

If you want to include Scrapper or Plucky, you may want to add a second Emergency Cache or recur Take Heart. I found I had "enough" resources, but didn't often have excess for boosters. Also, the build is fairly xp-hungry for a Survivor, which pushes Scrapper to a late buy.

Reacting to skill tests

Until you’ve used his Reaction to return a skill card to hand, you can safely commit cards to every test. This often means you’re committing Nautical Prowess during the Mythos phase and using your ability to save it, and that’s ok. The option to return a card protects you from missing tests you should have committed to and wasting cards you didn’t need to commit.

If you’re swinging your Baseball Bat versus a Ravenous Ghoul, you might not want to commit your Overpower. For Silas, you can do so to protect against drawing a -4/-5, but save it when you draw -1. This combined with his , True Survivor, and Resourceful mean you tend to have skill cards available for every test. You tend to fail far fewer tests than another character or deck. It’s a good feeling.

Note that his ID reaction only works on Skill cards, not Assets or Events committed to skill tests. You can’t save your Cherished Keepsake if you didn’t need to commit it.

When using his reaction, you will not get the effect or icons of any card you recall. This means neutral skills won’t draw a card if you succeed, Fearless won’t heal horror, and so on.

You pulled an ! Now what?

This is always going to be a situational decision, but I've found that the cards I prioritize for this effect are Nautical Prowess (which is basically the best Skill card in the game) and Resourceful.

Nautical Prowess has the benefit of being commitable to any type of test, but is certainly best for and . Pulling it from discard gives you future encounter protection and possible card draw. The flexibility to draw or get 2 make this card a priority to replay. The ideal play is to commit to a test, draw a negative token that allows you to pass without Nautical Prowess, take the Draw reaction, and return it to your hand.

Grabbing Resourceful nets you an additional card returned from your discard during this test, so it’s essentially a free Drawx2. Between and True Survivor, you should be able to play Resourceful (and by extension, any card) many times a game. If Resourceful would whiff, think about other options.

Eureka! gives you the chance for future draw and can be committed to tests, unlike Resourceful.

Quick Thinking is worth pulling, if it nets you an extra action from the current test, otherwise I would not recur it.

If you were resolving a something like Visions of Futures Past and grabbing a Guts out of the discard would prevent you from failing, do that.

So many cards!

As a primary fighter, it can be common to be 2-3 up on or tests on basic enemies before you commit anything. Combined with a low asset count, Silas's + ID ability, and Skill card draw effects can mean you often are swimming in cards on Standard. This is less true on harder difficulties, as you will end up committing more cards.

Don't feel bad pitching cards you have duplicates or already in play (e.g. Fire Axe), or overcommitting to tests knowing you can recur w/ Resourceful or True Survivor. You don't have to "save" skills as much as you might be used to with other investigators. You'll often play your core skills multiple times, so use them even if you're "sure" you don't need to.

He's so Resourceful!

Resourceful is a great card that let's you replay strong cards or adapt to what you might need in the future. As a primary deck, there are a ton of cards you might pick. Which should you though?

  • True Survivor
    • If your hand needs to be refilled and/or Nautical Prowess is in the discard, this is a great target. It’s basically Preposterous Sketches that lets you pick the cards drawn. What’s not to love?
  • Lucky!
    • Great insurance policy card. It can clog your hand at times, since you have lots of skills to buff your tests. If only the will cause a failure, this card does nothing. This is my default target, if nothing specific is needed.
  • "Not without a fight!"
    • If you have everything else you need or are doing a lot of fighting, this is a staple card. Lucky might be picked first. It’s almost Unexpected Courage that happens to be in .
  • Take Heart
    • Eh...maybe if you don't have True Survivor to refill your hand or really need resources. Not a high priority. Can be useful if you need to dig for weapons or Peter.
  • Will to Survive
    • This can be hard to pay for more than once, but it's a super powerful card. Only grab if you think you'll have the resources for it.
  • Baseball Bat
    • Unfortunately, it will break. If you don't have another weapon available to play, you should Resourcefully fix the broken one.
  • Cherished Keepsake
    • Who do you think you are? Yorick?!? I've not found the need to play this more than once if Peter is out.
  • "Look what I found!"
    • Do you need Clues? Because that's how you get Clues.

Upgrades

  1. Peter Sylvestre -> Peter Sylvestre (4xp)
    • He's 1/2 of Dark Horse with Horror soak as a bonus. He helps you against the encounter deck and shores up your weaknesses. You could swap this with the Brand, but think carefully about it.
  2. Any weapon -> Timeworn Brand (5xp)
  3. 1x Guts/Manual Dexterity/"Not without a fight!" -> True Survivor (3xp)
    • I've found 1x to be enough, as it can grab Resourceful, which lets you replay True Survivor. It has no icons, so a second can be a dead card when your hand is nearly full.

At this point the deck is fully online and you can prioritize whatever you might need for the campaign at hand. For example, in Dunwich, grab 1x Devil's Luck, because you can easily draw through your deck. You have enough recursion options to make a 1x work, even if it is forced into your discard (but take care if you don't have a Resourceful or True Survivor to save it).

After that, I'd suggest the following options in any order.

Note: "Any skill" does not include Resourceful. The recurring effect is very powerful, and I don't think you can easily replace it. If you replace Take Heart, you may need to consider your economy needs.

  • Second Timeworn Brand
    • This helps make the deck more consistent. I typically get this next, as finding the brand is so important.
  • Any skill -> Will to Survive
    • Extremely strong card. It gets better the harder the difficultly level, as testing without drawing is so strong with the all Skills you have to commit. Paying the resource cost can be an issue, so consider your resource curve before purchasing.
  • 1x Manual Dexterity -> Survival Instinct(2)
    • The action compression can be very valuable.
  • Any skill -> Fearless(2)
    • If you want more Horror soak or want to remove Keepsake. Keep in mind that you are typically at the mercy of the encounter deck for tests, so this healing is far from guaranteed.
  • Any skill -> Defiance(2)
    • It can be very good on harder token bags or for specific tokens with bad effects, but it's not amazing. Sad that it doesn't save the Baseball Bat.
  • Any Skill (probably Guts or Not without a Fight) -> Rise to the Occasion(3)
    • This card really helps pass hard tests, but I think you'll find more than one clunky or too expensive. It gives at least 3 icons with a possible 5. Mostly that lets you fight Brood of Yog-Sothoth, investigate 4-5 Shroud locations, or cover Treacheries.
  • Any skill -> Stroke of Luck
  • Lucky!
    • More draw, but not a priority.
  • Emergency Cache
    • Only if you need to get more health soak. It allows you to refill Painkillers. I don't think you need the economy, unless you are playing lots of events.
  • Alter Fate or A Test of Will are good for encounter deck protection, if you can spare the xp.
  • Charisma only if you have a story asset to consider. This deck only needs Peter Sylvestre.
  • Scrapper if you feel you often have excess resources.

Variations

I still say that Dark Horse makes this a different deck, but there are options for changing the level 0 deck or for upgrading out of cards.

Flex cards

  • Neutral Skill cards
    • The draw is fantastic, but they are situational. I'd put Manual Dexterity on the chopping block, if you're not playing TFA. You can replace with any of the cards in the next section. Unexpected Courage could be swapped with any of the neutral skills without an issue. Draw versus flexibility.
  • "Not without a fight!"
    • I like this as a more flexible neutral skill card. Usually it's just Unexpected Courage, but occasionally better. Worst case, you have to pitch it as a single on a Treachery. Definitely a bubble card, but the ability to pull it back with Resourceful can make it more valuable than neutral skill cards. Once you have True Survivor, this interaction becomes less of a priority, but always consider what you can pull back with Resourceful.
    • The extra possible pips on this card can help you deal with Dreams of the Deep more easily on Fight or Evade tests.
  • Quick Thinking
    • It's a useful effect, but not consistent.
  • Emergency Cache
    • Even without converting to Dark Horse, this can be removed without too much heartache. It just lets you make sure you have resources to play your assets/events when you need to.

What's not included?

  • Inquiring Mind is great for higher player counts, but can be dead in 1-2p or late in a scenario. Replaces Guts.
  • Fearless/Defiance - Not impactful enough. Get the upgrades, if you want them.
  • Yaotl
    • I tried this card. It's very strong, but not for this deck. I think you want more cards with double/triple icons and fewer icons. Many of the skills I was using have multiple pips, but they are all different. A number of no pip cards as well would turn off his ability.
    • He also requires Charisma, so he doesn't kick out Peter Sylvestre.
  • Live and Learn
    • I prefer Lucky!, but both are fine. Worse with harsh failure penalties (see Haunting) and doesn’t help vs most treacheries.
  • Try and Try Again (either level)
    • His ID ability fills the same role. It can be used if you overcommit and pull a or if you fail multiple tests in a turn. Adding it would require accounting for the extra action to play and resources to pay for. I don't think they are worth it.
  • Able Bodied
    • This deck is low on Items, so it would fit. However, a consistent 2-3 and icons are less valuable than the flexibility to have "Not without a fight!" for icons. It could easily be swapped in.
  • Opportunist (either level)
    • Not built as a succeed by 2 deck. Generally, you have enough cards that returning one on success is not super important.
  • Steadfast/Curiosity/Unexpected Courage
    • Fits in with the flex card principle and supports stats this deck cards about. I like them, but they just didn't make it in.
  • True Understanding
    • Better for a solo Silas deck. To get the effect, you may need to commit a lot to tests or use on / tests and you have to be on a clue location. Often a dead card.
  • Leather Coat
    • Painkillers fill the same role, but offers one more soak per card and can heal damage taken before you play them. They leave the Body slot open in case you need Fine Clothes or Trench Coat. Either choice will work. Dreams of the Deep is not typically a problem, but you can end up drawing it last action via a skill card effect, so you have to account for taking a few turns of damage from it.
  • Grisly Totem
    • I've not tried this. I think it could be good for Silas. It competes with Cherished Keepsake for the Relic slot. If you have Peter available and are confident you don't need extra horror soak, I think it's a good thing to try. It's certainly something to spend extra resources on. One free pip a turn is ok, but you have a ton of skill cards to commit. This is probably better for Hard/Expert.
  • Backpack
    • As mentioned in the comments, this seems like a good option to thin out the deck and pull the important items. In this case, the important items are Timeworn Brand or another weapon. There are eight items in this deck that are Item or Supply traited, so it has a good chance to pull 2-3 cards. Even if it ends up grabbing a duplicate item, it gets them out of your deck. I need to try it out a bit, but I'd replace a neutral skill for a 1x.

Conclusion

Silas is a lot of fun. His access to lots of skill icons can make him feel very strong and able to test well beyond the reach of the chaos bag frequently. You should try him out.

7 comments

Mar 12, 2019 Django · 1652

Did you consider Backpack? I htink you have enough items in your deck to make good use of it. It also helps fishing for Timeworn Brand, once you bought it. Once you played all relevant assets attached to it, it even serves as a mythos soak.

Good point that you can recover Take Heart with True Survivor. I like it because I'm currently playing a Preston Fairmont deck and it's pretty helpful when you're guaranteed to fail the test.

Side question, can you recover Take Heart with his ability and gain 2 ressources and 2 cards from it? I think not because his abilty triggers in step 4 but take heart in step 6 of skill test timing.

Mar 12, 2019 seasonedcoma · 46

@Django Thanks for the comment. I had thought about Backpack, but I’ve not run it. With ten eligible cards, it would thin the deck. Sounds good for a one-of for sure. Hard mulliganing for a weapon has mostly worked for me, and there is a lot of draw via neutral skills, Eureka!, and Take Heart.

For Mythos soak, you mean via Crypt Chill or the like? You do have to leave a card attached to it for that to work. Emergency Cache is a good option.

You are correct about his ID. I’ll add a clarifying comment above. Take Heart is also bad to pull with his , since you are likely to pass the test.

Mar 12, 2019 seasonedcoma · 46

I should mention that one of the things I like about this deck is the low action investment the setup is. You have one ally and a weapon (two if you’re unlucky). Backpack adds another, but would help with bad draws and make a second Timeworn Brand less urgent of a buy.

Keepsake and painkillers are optional assets, which only get played if you need them or have spare actions.

Mar 19, 2019 seasonedcoma · 46

@PureFlight Thanks!

To follow up on the Backpack conversation, I tried swapping Emergency Cache in a 2p TFA. This was fine in the early scenarios, as there is very little to spend resources on. It did an admirable job pulling weapons, so I’d likely move it into the main deck list.

While it was possible to manage without EC, I swapped in EC(3) when I picked up Will to Survive. Even with 2x Take Heart, resources could be tight. If I played Meat Cleaver first, it was often hard to afford Timeworn Brand.

To be fair, I did have a story asset to pay for on occasion as well, so that may be less of an issue in something like Carcosa.

Mar 22, 2019 RPZip · 1

Do you think this deck or something similar would work as the primary fighter in a 4p group? I'm looking at being the main Monster Hunter in our next game (likely RtDL) and I've been trying to decide between a straight Guardian or a Silas build. I'd like to run Silas but I'm a bit worried about his damage potential for elites and such in large groups.

Mar 22, 2019 Django · 1652

I've played a few 4 player games (2 players with 2 chars). Even with a big weapon you won't kill a boss alone, so working together is required. Everyone should have some combat option, as you're sometimes swarmed with enemies and you can only do so much with 3 actions. A figters typical turn is something like "move, engage, attack" or "move, attack, attack" if target has too much HP.

Silas advantage here, he can also evade the enemy as opposed to most guardians and don't need to be engaged for machete. But his weapons are unreliable, until you get the Timeworn Brand out. He's also cant play "Let me handle this!" or On the Hunt to protect his allies without moving there.