Stella, the Hero Testing at Zero

Card draw simulator

Odds: 0% – 0% – 0% more
Derived from
Flex Stella, ready for Antarctica (0XP) 3 1 0 1.0
Inspiration for
None yet

DLloyd09 · 28

My disclaimer is that I'm not a top-tier deck-builder by any means, but I still like to share these from time to time, as I've had some great Arkham games using decks made by others (and this was adapted from two decks by a creator I've really enjoyed, so thank you!)


Paired with ultimate flex Joe Diamond, Stella went to the Edge of the Earth (and came back!) with this deck that tried to test at zero as often as it could. And when it couldn't and Stella failed, she at least got one more action out of it, and perhaps was able to squeeze some benefit out of that failure (looking at you, "Look what I found!" and, later, Dumb Luck!)

With the key upgrade here being double Quick Learner, the idea was generally to take a test on Action 1 that was as inconsequential as possible so that you almost certainly would fail it (perhaps still being able to get a benefit out of that failure!), thereby setting up a "normal" Action 2 and two great actions for 3 and 4, both of which therefore could benefit from the reduced difficulty, making for some pretty strong consistency.

Disclaimer: I played this before seeing the most recent ruling on Quick Learner which rather torpedoed it, though I'll also note that I will personally be completely ignoring that ruling and frankly think most people should. It is wildly inconsistent with the card as it is written and I suspect at some point it will be overturned.

That said, if it also makes tests harder in the mythos phase, that can definitely sting for Stella, but also frequently will mean that she gets to fail the test early, still giving her four actions rather than necessarily needing to bomb the first action on purpose to take advantage of the Quick Learner bonus.

The last time we played this campaign (well over a year ago), my playing partner and I flew into a bit of a rage as we got absolutely decimated by the chaos bag, and we actually quit the campaign partway through and it left such a sour taste in our mouths that we took ten months away from the game completely. (In retrospect, our decks were awful and we did not pick a good pair of investigators.) We were, therefore, quite hesitant to revisit the frozen wastes and I wanted to adapt from a deck that had some proven experience. We fared much better the second time around.

Playstyle and Mulligan

After you get the Quick Learners, bomb your first action unless you already failed a test in the mythos phase. It feels weird, but that's the move. You trade in a much more challenging test for TWO much easier ones later, and that's where you'll clean up. I didn't quite appreciate how much more fun difficulty reduction would be compared to skill boosting. It's... real good.

In terms of the mulligan, I always tried to hang on to a Schoffner's Catalogue if I could find one. This deck itself actually isn't very item heavy (though if in EOTE you start to pick up some cards from the Memorials of the Lost set, it's nice to have), but my partner's deck was rather loaded up with them and so that aspect of it was mostly for support.

But highest priorities were Rabbit's Foot (when isn't it a high priority?) and Take Heart, which is fantastic here to pair up with that intentionally-failed test. A lot of Stella decks seem to employ Short Supply, but I decided to skip it--I didn't think there were quite as many ways to dig things out of the discard as I would have liked, and the risk of losing good stuff seemed too high for my taste. Though again, in EOTE, I realize in retrospect that it would have been nice to be able to bypass a few of the sometimes-disgusting amount of Tekeli-lis I had in my deck.

Live and Learn is excellent when you draw it, and might even be worth keeping one in the opening hand if you find it. Find the right cute moment to play it if you can, but obviously it can also be a panic button for the must-pass. You can fail a test (thereby earning the extra action), then try again and potentially pass on the second go-around. When firing the Derringer, that also means you reload the bullet, then retake the test. If that succeeds, you've dealt 2 damage and still have the original ammo. It's just science, guys.


Note: We got up to 34 XP before the final scenario. The side deck represents what I had upgraded into by that point. Some other ideas also appear below, here.

The Essentials (10 XP)

  • The first 8 XP just need to be spent getting two Quick Learner, though it's okay to buy them separately of course! Save up if you don't get there in one shot; we fortunately did in our EOTE run, but in most campaigns this might take two scenarios.

  • Next was to turn the Unexpected Courages into Gumption (1)s. They appear the same on their face, but because skill tests floor at zero, even if your modified skill value is driven below zero because of a modifier, Gumption is in fact better!

Making the Most of Failure (7 XP)

  • Upgrading "Look what I found!" to "Look what I found!" (2) actually made it way more likely, I found, to take a challenging investigate action on Action 1, have it fail (by 3 or less), and still get the clues. The level 0 version just doesn't hit nearly as much on that first action. Though this one is a straight swap, it felt more impactful.

  • Waylay into Dumb Luck (2). Using an evade (even if it might fail!) as the Action 1 if tied up with an enemy was another common play in this deck. If you succeed, cool, if not, here's a nice perk to completely dispense with a pain in the neck enemy.

Easy Swaps (8 to 14 XP)

  • .18 Derringer into .18 Derringer (2). One extra bullet, potentially a buff.

  • Peter Sylvestre into Peter Sylvestre (2). In retrospect, I do wonder whether the stat boost was maybe counter to what the deck was trying to do, but frankly I always appreciated the horror soak, and frequently appreciated the extra during the investigation phase.

  • Lucky! into Lucky! (2) or even Lucky! (3). For when you (or your friend, with the Level 3) really need to pass, and you can't drive that difficulty down low enough, or you're on Action 1. I ultimately took one of them to Level 2 only.

Here's Where Your Mileage May Vary (??? XP)

Okay, so as my playing partner and I found our rhythm, towards the end I made some choices that arguably pushed back on some of the test-at-0 stuff, but just felt like what we needed in our campaign. The other three cards that found their way into the deck were:

However, I think realistically, I probably should have spent some of the XP to upgrade into Old Keyring (3), which would have made Actions 3 and 4 trivial to pluck a pair of clues off of up to 4-shroud locations. Shed a Light also could be fun, albeit more situational.

I didn't think upgrading to Rabbit's Foot (3) was necessary. I felt with Take Heart and regular old Rabbit's Foot, I was drawing plenty. During EOTE I also kept Danforth a lot of the time as my partner, which also helped immensely with card draw.