Investigating Investigators: Roland Banks

Heya, folks! I’m a bit obsessed with Arkham Horror at the moment, so I thought it’d be fun to talk about the Investigators (playable characters) a bit. This’ll be something in the vein of my Marvel Champions breakdowns, but for Arkham! What better way to start than with the characters from the core box?

Let’s begin with Roland Banks, the game’s original Guardian. Guardians are a highly useful class thanks to their excellent combat score–they come in handy when you need to put down monsters and cultists, which is pretty constant in Arkham.

One of the things that sets Roland apart from other Guardians is that he has quite balanced stats for the most part. He has 3 Willpower, 3 Intellect, 4 Combat, and 2 Agility, making him great in a fight but pretty solid at getting clues, too. Just don’t expect him to run from monsters!

His health and sanity are another matter, offering a more traditional Guardian experience: 9 health and only 5 sanity. He can take a hit, but he’s much more likely to go insane than a lot of other Investigators.

His innate ability allows him to discover a clue at his location after defeating an enemy, which reinforces the whole ‘balanced for combat and sleuthing’ gimmick he’s got going on. His Elder Sign effect likewise leans into his clue-grabbing abilities, giving him a +1 for every clue at his current location.

Most notably, he’s allowed to take Seeker cards of Level 0-2–a huge boon if you want to buff that investigative skill set, or if you’re pulling double duty as the fighter and the detective of your party.

Roland’s signature card is Roland’s .38 Special, a powerful firearm that grants a +1 bonus to Combat and damage. The Combat bonus increases to +3 if you’re on an area with clues. His signature weakness, Cover Up, is a nasty one: it’s got 3 clues on it, and whenever you would discover a clue, you remove 1 from Cover Up instead. If you haven’t removed all the clues by the end of the scenario, you suffer a mental trauma. I can tell you from personal experience that drawing this thing late in a game can be a huge pain!

Roland is also one of the few investigators to have alternate signature cards, released with the book The Dirge of Reason. His signature event, Mysteries Revealed, allows him to automatically gain a clue, even if there are none on his location, while his alternate weakness, The Dirge of Reason, forces him to lose 2 clues he’d already gathered. Personally, I don’t find either of these as interesting as his defaults.

Overall, I really like Roland as a character. I enjoy characters who are well-rounded, and Roland is certainly that! His playstyle incentivizes you to go after clues consistently, but you’re still able to defend yourself in combat. He’s a great character for new players, because other than Agility, he doesn’t have major weaknesses–and honestly, when you can dish out steady damage, you won’t be using Agility all that much anyway.

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