It’s pretty difficult to simply pick a “best investigator” in Arkham. The various play styles are a bit like apples and orangutans, and each scenario pulls you in such differing directions.
Any ranking system is inherently subjective, but there’s definitely a few pieces of evidence to support assertions. I’ll try to throw in a few stats to make myself sound good and otherwise rely on my effusive charm to sway you. I mean that’s basically how I get through everyday life anyway.
Without further ado, here are the best solo investigators for each of the major campaigns!
Dunwich: Leo Anderson
The King Of Allies reigns in Dunwich! Leo synergizes well with the potent story allies you can pick up along your rural investigation, but that’s not the only reason he’s a top pick for the first full campaign. Dunwich has virtually no agility pressure, so Leo’s dump stat is hardly a liability.
Dunwich has a few scenarios that ask you to make early Intellect tests: Museum, Essex, and most notably Where Doom Awaits. Leo’s respectable raw intellect proves to be an asset in those situations. His willpower gives him resilience against Dunwich’s iconic Willpower tests. Even Dunwich’s most ruthless treachery, Beyond the Veil, is taken in stride by Leo’s army of soaks.
Honorable Mention: Jenny Barnes
In my opinion, you have to be able to handle raw Willpower and Intellect tests to survive U&U and WDA respectively, and you otherwise must be able to handle lots of enemies. Jenny comes with answers to all of these threats and more, especially with the Rogue cards from The Circle Undone cycle. Between Well Connected, Money Talks, and High Roller, her raw stats have a chance to shine. I imagine she’ll splash for a decent guardian weapon and then some nice tools for your deck’s core concept. With plenty of auto-clue and auto-damage options she can handle higher difficulties as well. She has an outfit of weapons to take down enemies and the agility tools to evade what she can’t kill. Plus nothing feels better than slamming down her signature guns with double digit ammo just before a boss fight.
Carcosa: Joe Diamond
Joe Diamond is no doubt a strong solo investigator with his twin towers of Intellect and Combat stats. It’s really Joe’s downsides – his middling Willpower and Agility – that makes him a cut above the rest in Carcosa. Namely, Carcosa doesn’t test your defensive stats as much as other campaigns. 56% of Carcosa treacheries are testless, meaning Joe’s poor defensive stats aren’t a liability anymore.
All those testless treacheries begs Cancel cards to counter them. Forewarned is an underplayed card and one Joe is content to play; the hunch deck can recover dropped clues, and synergies are apparent with the Hawkeye, Connect the Dots, and Crack the Case.
The hunch deck is universally good, full of auto-clue and draw options. Carcosa is known for dealing out horror, and Joe’s got hunches for that too – namely Logical Reasoning and Delay the Inevitable.
Honorable Mention: Agnes Baker
Agnes’ powerful design gives you the ability to turn a negative (horror) into a positive (dealing damage). There’s certainly no end to the horror the King in Yellow dishes out, and a good Agnes player will try to harness that to their advantage. Peter  is a contender for the absolute strongest Carcosa tech, and Fearless and Clarity  are there to shore up your unavoidable horror. She can throw Wards at treacheries and has enough ways to cheat clues to get it done when she needs to. Hell, she can probably tear down a few VIPs along the way with all the offensive Mystic power we have now.
Forgotten Age: Wendy Adams
Wendy has long been a solo favorite, but I’d argue she really has a home in the Forgotten Age. Obviously the strong evasion tech is there, but there’s a fair amount of beefy 3- and 5- health enemies that she has fantastic answers to. Backstab does unprecedented work in TFA; Waylay makes great work of Serpents from Yoth and even Brotherhood Cultists; Hatchet Man / Sneak Attack / Coup de Grace round out your offensive suite alongside the trusty Fire Axe.
The Forgotten Age really tries to put you in your place right out of the gate in the first two scenarios. If you can best those two with a fistful of XP, you’ve got the campaign in the bag. Wendy, like all Survivors, is very strong at 0xp and quickly gets stronger with her first several purchases. Combined with ideal tech cards like Fine Clothes, I’m Outta Here, and Elusive, she’s well-positioned in The Untamed Wilds and the Doom of Eztli.
The treacheries are particularly nasty in TFA, and Wendy has a pair of 4s in her defensive stats and a pair of Tests of Will to get her around the rest. Wendy has answers to a variety of the jungles’ hurdles it throws at you; I don’t see her being held back anytime soon, regardless of The Forgotten Age’s infamous difficulty.
Honorable Mention: Ursula Downs
It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that I think highly of the Queen in Yellow in her home campaign. Ursula’s ability – and therefore her classic loadout of Fieldwork and Pathfinder – is practically designed to destroy the explore mechanic. And her enemy management style of “evade everything and then IGAP the big ones” works well in the few Vengeance scenarios. She does struggle against the legions of snake warriors, even with Acidic Ichor, so she’s a little fragile in that regard, but hopefully a strong Wilds run will get her the XP she needs to survive Eztli and she’ll be off to the races.
Circle: Ashcan Pete
Don’t worry, I was sure to offer up Ashcan as one of the strongest solo investigators! Pete and Duke get the nod against the Cultists and Witches of Arkham partially due to having a high Willpower in addition to simply being good at handling stuff with minimal setup. The biggest threats Circle throws at you are terrible treacheries and haunted locations; Pete’s high Willpower and his Tests of Will handle the former.
Haunted locations are a bit of a mixed bag for Ashcan, and I didn’t know if I’d settle on him for TCU. Namely, you want to cheat clues to avoid the Haunted effects, but Survivor’s best cheat is Look What I Found, which still invokes the haunted clause. In fact, usual Survivor tricks like Take Heart, Drawing Thin, Rabbit’s Foot, and Live and Learn all become less good when you can’t safely fail common investigate tests. So I’m picking Ashcan with the asterisk that he splashes for more appropriate clue cheats like Working a Hunch and Scene of the Crime.
Between a high evade (Peter and Track Shoes, anyone?), Duke, and Fire Axe/ Meat Cleaver, Pete has enough combat options to make him viable. His mobility is welcome on the intricate, hub-filled maps of Circle. He gets going immediately and his speed can relieve the pressure of the tight agenda decks. He’s a true all-rounder and that’s no exception in TCU.
Honorable Mention: Akachi Onyele
Akachi’s praises are not sung nearly enough as a solo investigator. Maybe it’s because she used to be slow to set up without multiple spell options for attacking or getting clues. Or maybe she just isn’t very interesting at first blush and folks aren’t keen to try her out. Regardless, she can be a real powerhouse, and TCU showcases that.
High Willpower aside, she has good cancels and fantastic enemy management (Shriv, Mists, Shards, Blades, Suggestion…etc etc), so she really doesn’t need to worry about the encounter deck. Haunted can give her pause, especially without Sixth Sense or Rite down, but Drawn still does good work and Flashlight can cheat a few clues here and there. She’s also not as mobile as Ashcan, and she’s probably about two set up turns behind in tempo, but get even a few key assets down early and she is going to stampede scenarios.
Which of my picks surprised you? Which ones do you disagree with, and what are your picks? Which Dream Eater investigators are vying for these spots?