This is my first "serious" deck, or rather attempt at one, although it ended up being more thematic than competitive. But I do rather enjoy the theme. Deck description below, with discussion on some specific cards to follow. Initial playtests indicate that the deck is potentially very strong, but not quite consistent enough to be tournament level.
The Ladies in Yellow
The Distinguished Ladies Society of Arkham is proud to sponsor the Carter Memorial Theatre in its upcoming presentation of The King in Yellow! This noted play has been a sensation in Europe, and all the rage in New York - now it comes to our community, and is sure to thrill audiences, and to be an occasion to remember!
Maureen de Garmeaux (LR) x2
Deranged Diva (***) x3
Messenger from Beyond (Core) x3
Victoria Glasser (Core) x2
Alyssa Graham (ER) x3
Bringer of Fire (AH) x3
Danni Devine (LR) x2
Elise Warren (WaB) x2
Master of the Myths (IT) x3
Hastur (TSC) x2
Arkham Asylum (Core) x2
Guardian Beast (TSS) x2
The King In Yellow Folio (LR) x2
Stygian Eye (IT) x2
Victoria's Loft (Core) x3
Political Demonstration (Core) x2
The Greatest Fear… (SoA) x2
Apeirophobia (NN) x3
Horrifying Daydreams (PT) x2
Power Drain (Core) x3
Scotophobia (Core) x2
As a mono-Hastur deck, the focus is on control. Specifically, this deck focuses on minimizing the characters available to the opponent, through limiting cards in hand and cards drawn, and through rendering characters insane. There is not one key card that drives the strategy. Rather, each of the effects - card discard, removal of Terror icons, insanity - can be achieved through multiple cards, and multiple combinations of cards. The focus is more on finding synergies across a variety of cards, rather than on relying on one or two cards to drive the whole deck.
That the deck is stacked with lovely ladies is a happy coincidence.
Some cards are certainly powerful in the context of this deck, as follows.
Apeirophobia: OK, this card is potent in virtually any deck, not just this one. This has been the topic of recent conversation, and I think the people here are beginning to sense how powerful it is. This card absolutely shuts down opponents who try and get clever by deploying powerful characters early - e.g., a fast Terror of the Tides. As such, the very possibility of it being played - an open domain with two resources and a Hastur match - is enough to force defensive play, limiting cards to low-skill characters. That's game-changing, and important.
This particular deck is very touch-and-go in the first few turns, and relies heavily on dropping the Apeirophobia hammer at just the right time. As such, this is the one card I would like to see in the opening hand more than any other. Again, it requires very careful timing, but done right, can dramatically slow down the pace of the game, allowing the insanity and discard "engine" to get set up.
Alyssa Graham: Again, a topic of recent discussion, and yes, Ms. Graham is indeed very powerful. I primarily use her for cutting enemy draws from two down to one, which - after losing a good chunk of the hand to Apeirophobia - is critical. The timing is such that she can only cut draws by one card (there is not a timing window to execute a sanity-restoring action to cut the second draw), but still, one card a turn is really powerful. With Arkham Asylum, she can be used again during your turn, and specifically to bring back powerful cards from the discard pile - like, you know, Apeirophobia.
Is she balanced as a card? Absolutely, yes. One thing to understand is, since her ability requires her to be rendered insane, no attachments are going to protect her. That means she can be wounded, destroyed, returned to hand, or (ironically) rendered insane before she can use her very powerful ability. And she is a huge target for all of those. So how do you keep her in play? Well, if your opponent has been forced to discard his hand, and he's drawing one card per turn, and his characters are all insane, and you've got a Power Drain in hand, well, it's not too hard to keep her around . . .
Deranged Diva: One insanity per turn effectively free, and more with Arkham Asylum. No, it's not targeted, but still, it's very nice. Again, if you've cut the opponent's card count down, he's not going to have a lot of characters available, so this is very effective. Combos really well with the Messenger from Beyond, as most characters in the game have either one Terror icon or none.
The King in Yellow Folio: This is the card I wanted to use, and it's a good one. The Folio-bearer (I prefer Elise Warren, because, you know, she's nearly indestructible) is absolutely ideal as a defender in the story phase - send her in to whatever story the opponent has committed the most characters to, then drop Scotophobia, crazy stuff happens. Again, this is a very powerful card for forcing the enemy to play very defensively - if you have an open domain with a Hastur match and The King in Yellow out, they have to consider the possibility that you will play the Folio/Scotophobia combination.
So wait, what about Willpower? Well, yeah, that's a problem. You can wait for Hastur to take care of that, but in the meantime, there's . . .
Stygian Eye: Such a good card. Again, if you've been able to limit the opponent's access to cards, this just adds insult to injury by stealing one of their better characters. If the opponent is off to a strong start, this can potentially help turn things around for you. This allows effectively permanent control of a character with a Terror icon or Willpower, which is really nice. Its only limitation is that it is unique, so you have to pick your target carefully.
Danni Devine: The veteran players will note that I'm running two copies of several support cards, and this card is one reason why. Ms. Devine allows Hastur support cards to be brought into play more readily; while Ms. Graham allows the deck to be stacked, Ms. Devine is particularly useful, in that she can potentially increase your draws from two to (effectively) three per turn. Very handy. The restriction on needing two or more insane characters in play shouldn't be a problem. Also note that Maureen de Garmeaux can duplicate Ms. Devine's ability, to really accelerate your access to cards.
One item of note: given the special powers driven by number of insane characters in play, in this type of a deck you don't want too many insanity-proof characters. Counter-intuitive, but important.
Master of the Myths: Yes, he is very good, and yes, he (with Hastur and the Bringer of Fire) is crashing the ladies' party. In playing this card, I am of a mixed mind; he is very good at what he does, but I am reluctantly coming to agree with some others here that he is not quite as game-changing as the Khopesh of the Abyss, or even Apeirophobia. In this particular deck, he is really handy for holding the line and limiting the damage until immediate threats (read: the Khopesh) can be dealt with and the insanity/discard "engine" gets set up. He doesn't win the game for the deck as much as he keeps the player in the game until the real game-winning cards can start doing their thing. Should he be restricted? Not sure, but I can see both sides of the argument now.
Speaking of which, how to deal with the dreaded Khopesh of the Abyss with this deck? Well, obviously, direct insanity effects will work in some case, and Political Demonstration isn't quite impossible to get out as Ms. Warren carrying The King in Yellow Folio should be able to handily win a Terror struggle. But there is something of a secret weapon in the mix: Guardian Beast! It is completely counter-intuitive, but after figuring out that Stygian Eye does not work (the opponent still controls the Khopesh, if not the character), I suddenly realized that Guardian Beast can be played on any character, and works like a charm - can't use the Khopesh, can't bring another one into play, because it's unique, and additional Terror struggles? - bring it on! The main drawback is you have to wait for your own operations phase - which, yes, can feel like an eternity. As such, I think an advisable approach would be to use a minimal defense - Master of the Myths, Elise Warren, Stygian Eye - until the Khopesh comes out of the other player's hand, either played out or discarded through Apeirophobia, before deploying your more vulnerable characters.
Anyway, that's the deck. Again, I don't think it will be winning any tournaments, but it's great fun to play. I would not be surprised to see some of those cards show up in tournament-winning decks, however - I think Hastur is really coming into its own with this latest cycle.