Since his first appearance in Dunwich Horror, the expansion for Arkham Horror: the Board Game, Mark Harrigan has possibly been my favourite character from Arkham Files universe. Needless to say, he was the first Investigator beyond the Core Set ones I ever built a deck around. I've been playing as Mark for a while now - and given how there are still no reviews on this page, I thought I might give it a shot.
There are several merits to being a heartbroken, PTSD-ridden, cigar-chewing war veteran in a brown trenchcoat, which make him a very strong alternative to Roland Banks or Zoey Samaras, although in a different, unique way. Let's start with the obvious, slowly making our way to the less obvious.
His skills, 5 , 3 , 3 , 2 , give a very strong indication of what Mr Harrigan is good at: awesome firepower. You're a soldier. Fragging things is what you do. You can reliably switch from .45 Automatic to .32 Colt, which is cheaper and lets you kill more things before you have to reload. And, frankly, you do little else - although your willpower and speed are decent (enough to pass most horror checks, with some effort, and to do a tactical retreat from time to time), you rarely would find yourself searching for clues - these things are best left for other, more knowledge-focused Investigators. This makes Mark a tough choice for playing solo, but an excellent one for playing a smartass-hardass duo.
What else is there? A reason that you are not going to spend your actions drawing cards, possibly, ever. The first time each turn a card under your control gets assigned damage (either your Investigator or one of your Assets), you may draw a card as a reaction - so you basically get rewarded for getting into fights, soaking damage for others and acting recklessly. The first thought when picking an Ally for Mark should be Guard Dog, the second: upgraded Beat Cop, possibly even both, because these will expire quickly - you really want to trigger them every turn.
Mark already comes with a card that should give you a vague idea on how should you synergise your actions: enter Sophie. On the healthy side, your dead girlfriend gives you a sizable bonus to any skill check you might be doing while providing you with direct damage necessary to draw cards. In some locations, this could even suffice to discover a clue or two, in case you really needed to. But there is a catch - overdo this one and you will be reduced to a self-pitying wreck of a man. In this state, Harrigan really becomes only good at one thing, as all his scores are lowered (still, 4 combat is nothing to sneeze at, so even left in bitter tears you can dish out the pain) and the ability to buff any test is lost. So yeah, you will want to get wounded - but not too much, for several reasons. Keep your stimpack handy, soldier.
Your ability really makes you shine when already accumulated some wounds. Imagine drawing a blue token while blasting your Shotgun and a bit beaten... Heck, you might even consider buffing your barrage of lead with a memory of Sophie getting devoured to get this +2, additional +1 in an event of Elder Sign being drawn AND a card. And to increase your chances of blue popping up, consider the upcoming card from Dim Carcosa, "Eat lead!". I could go on with what Extra Ammunition could do here, but I won't. But I could.
Your deck comes with The Home Front. I doubt this requires an additional commentary. Four fists. FOUR. And if you succeed - you WILL succeed - you not only deal damage (with a firearm of your choice, hint hint), but also effectively deal bonus one, heal one. This lets you trigger Sophie one more time before you reach the danger zone.
As a Soldier, your deckbuilding options are somewhat limited - Guard and Neutral, but also 0-level Tactics. Now, the most useful of these are already in your faction as a Guardian, so I won't cover these up - pick whatever you need here. Considering your multiclass options, there is one that definitely deserves a mention: Shortcut. You can use it both as a free move action (to unleash a three-attack fury at whatever moves behind this door) or means of evacuating civilians from the combat zone. Excellent, versatile, handy and dirt cheap. Other than that? Elusive when you need to regroup before you reengage, Barricade for bottlenecking (or setting up for Dynamite Blast) and Sneak Attack for free two damage when the party nerd has already exhausted that Massive fellow and you want to go full Doomguy on his buttocks. The horror, I mean. Not the nerd.
Shell Shock is a serious weakness for a character with 5 sanity, which in theory should discourage you from using Sophie too much. You can get up to 4 sanity damage in one go if you're not careful, which is as close to an instakill as it gets. Triggering Sophie once and having your assets soak the rest of the damage should be a pretty safe way to manage it, though, if you don't mind your doing pretty much nothing. Alternatively, you can wait for your weakness to pass (easier if you secure some Ally early in the game and start drawing) and then begin beating yourself over how it's all your fault that she was devoured.
In case you didn't know that already, Harrigan is crazy. Most of his abilities revolve around you hurting yourself, which opens up for some amazing combos and give you a delectable taste of vengeance when this blue token spills out from the bag while you're already hanging by a thread. An immensely strong and fun to play, although very much specialized, high-risk high-reward character - this is Mark Harrigan.