User:Asarta/Deck Optimisation (Guide)

From Fallen London Wiki



Original by Vainfire.

Wiki formatting and copy editing by Asarta, Lux Gracetail, and Vainfire



This guide will be split into two sections:

  1. Section One is the stuff that basically anyone can do, or the stuff where progression helps your opp deck. You can’t be locked out of opptimization through progress here, basically.
  2. Section Two is the opptimization that you can be locked out of due to progression. This one’s for if you’re starting a new account.

In order to get the most value out of this guide, it is recommended that you read it with a goal in mind. What do you want to get out of your cards? Whose favours are you looking for? Which items? These questions are personal, and vary greatly depending on which statues you have, which renowns you’re grinding, and how far along in the game you currently are. Note: this guide only covers the London deck.

The audience for this guide is new players and old players starting new alts. It can be read both for instructional value and as a theoretical argument for optimal play.

Section One: Just play the Game[edit]

Holding cards in your hand[edit]

Your opportunity deck is truly a deck—which is to say that it is impossible to draw multiples. Any card which you hold in your hand cannot be drawn from the deck, and when drawing multiple cards at a time, those cards cannot be the same card. What this means is that, in practical terms, you can hold cards you don’t want to draw in your hand. It’s best, of course, to hold cards with higher frequency, so that you’re making more of an impact on the contents of your deck through this technique. For example, one mistake that new players often make is holding moods in their hand. Moods look splashy and rare, but more often than not spending the action on them simply isn’t worth it. Saving it in your hand does almost nothing, whereas holding a more frequent card could make a bigger impact on the contents of your deck.

Further, if you can draw cards but are currently holding a card you want to play right now (but perhaps cannot do so, due to not having enough actions), you may want to hold off on drawing cards, so that you can first play the good card from your hand and “add it back into the deck”.

Knowing these things, this is why non-discardable cards are a danger: they can clog up your hand, therefore making your deck more diluted, as well as just reducing the number of opportunities you can hold on to at any given moment.

Know Your Rarities![edit]

In keeping with the idea that your opportunity deck is really a deck, you can imagine each card has a certain number of copies in your deck. When one copy is drawn, all the other copies are removed as well. And when that drawn card is either played or discarded, the appropriate number of copies is shuffled back into the deck. Each card has an associated rarity. This rarity determines the number of copies that are present in the deck at a given time. From most to least prevalent, here are the rarities and some of the cards that have these rarities.

  • Ubiquitous (100 copies): reserved for special cards that basically have to be drawn immediately, as either reward or punishment. Ubiquitous Frequency is applied to cards such as the black SMEN/ Unaccountably Peckish cards, festival (aka time-locked) opportunity cards, opportunity cards tied to mid-story progression, and the Merry Gentleman.
  • Abundant (50 copies): used for cards that also have to be drawn in short order, but for which a bit of a time delay is not the worst thing. Also applied to festival cards, some progression cards that start stories, player-sent assassins, and the New Arrival cards.
  • Frequent (20 copies): used for cards that the developers may want to appear more often than not. Applied to cards that have minor stories associated with them, certain lodgings cards, and cards that show up after cider-sipping.
  • Standard (10 copies): used for most cards. The faction cards are all Standard Frequency, most lodgings cards are standard frequency, etc. If a card has no good reason to be another frequency, it is often shunted into this one.
  • Infrequent (8 copies): used for certain cards that the developers may want to appear somewhat more rarely, for one reason or another. Several dreams cards are Infrequent (as there are many dream cards, and they could otherwise clog a deck—more on this later), and some “profitable” cards are in this rarity slot as well.
  • Very Infrequent (5 copies): used for cards that would otherwise either clog a deck (there are four relickers and each is Very Infrequent, several dreams cards are also Very Infrequent), be a bit too profitable (An Unsigned Message, A Presumptuous Little Opportunity), or both (faction conflict cards)
  • Unusual (2 copies): reserved basically for dream cards that would otherwise clog the deck. Some other cards (The Paronomastic Newshound, A Tournament of Weasels) are also Unusual.
  • Rare (1 copy): saved for cards that could break the game if too frequent. A Disgraceful Spectacle (12.5 Echoes with one action) is Rare, as are moods (used for sequence-breaking PoSI, faction renown, and Forgotten Quarter Expeditions). Rare is also used on opportunities that are just that—rare—as a kind of flavor. A Voice From a Well is rare, and so are the location-specific pet cards ( Salt Weasel, Haunted-looking Dog, Rubbery Euphonium).
  • Red (unknown): certain cards have a red border, also known as “autofire” cards because they play upon clicking on them. It is impossible to know the frequency of these red cards—it is likely that they do have different rarities from each other. If you click on (“play”) a red card while you have actions, they will consume one action, but if you click on them while you have no actions, they will still play, essentially saving you an action.


Depending on where you draw cards, your deck will be larger or smaller. Locations in London tend to have cards that are specific to that location. This makes certain locations better than others for drawing cards. For example, the Shuttered Palace is a terrible place to draw cards because it adds several worthless cards to your deck. Moloch Street is a relatively neutral place to draw cards because it has no location-specific cards. Wolfstack Docks adds two good cards to your deck, one for bones (including Knotted Humeruses) and one for the best source of stolen correspondence in the game (Wolfstack in the FogCrying His WaresTrade a Stained Red Velvet Gown), making it one of the better places to draw cards for newly minted PoSI. Here is a quick evaluation of every place to draw cards in London. Note that each location in the Upper River has a somewhat unique card deck—consult the wiki to see what specific cards can be drawn at each location.


All lodgings besides the two you start out with (the crypt and the attic/spare bedroom) have a specific card associated with it. All of these cards give a way to get Certifiable Scraps (worth about 0.5 Echo each) as well as some generally inefficient way to get Making Waves. Luckily, lodgings all also have an option on them to seal them up so long as you're not living there. Almost all lodgings cards are bad and should be sealed up. Listed below are the few you might consider keeping around. Note that all Lodgings cards are Standard Frequency (10 copies), except for the Handsome Townhouse and all 4-card lodgings, which are Frequent (20 copies)

City Vices (A Remote Lodgings)[edit]

Several cards are labeled “City Vices” which get removed if you move to a remote lodgings. Remote Lodgings are only available during Neathmas and through certain FATE purchases. They hold three cards (as opposed to five from the five-card lodgings), but make you unable to draw City Vices cards. City Vices cards are basically universally subpar, but several of them are avoidable through other means. In addition, having a five-card hand allows you to hold other, more frequent cards and influence the contents of your opp deck more than adding City Vices cards will. At the very least, two extra card slots means that you can hold two City Vices cards, which means that the Remote Lodgings needs to remove at least 20 copies’ worth of City Vices cards in order to be competitive. Listed below are all the City Vices cards, and other ways of removing them. Note that all City Vices cards are Standard Frequency unless otherwise specified.

All in all, the situation stands that there are 2 copies of City Vices cards which cannot be removed otherwise (Tournament of Weasels) and 20 more copies that players may find difficult to remove (Decadent Evening, Plea from an Old Friend). On balance, a five-card lodgings is probably better than a remote lodgings in the late game, especially if the account this is happening on has been made with an eye towards opptimization. It does stand to note that five-card lodgings are extremely hard to acquire normally, but during Neathmas they become far easier to purchase. And since Neathmas is also when Remote Lodgings become available to FATEless players, there’s no further consideration to be made.

Menace Cards[edit]

Each menace quality, when raised above a certain value, will add a menace heal card that's associated with it.

These cards all come with various methods for reducing their associated menace. There is one “default” option, which is often worse than simply using social action menace heals, and several other options, all of which are associated with the Counting the Days carousel and some which are tied to specific Closest To - qualities. These Counting the Days options can sometimes be more efficient than social action heals, such as the option Blame someone else for your sins on the Scandal menace card, which heals 3 CP per action as compared to the social action's 2.5 CP per action. However, these Counting the Days actions still tend to be outclassed by sending Licentiates Names Written in Gant.
It is also worth noting that the Nightmares menace card's default option is more efficient than social action heals (3 CP per action versus 2.5), and further that the Scandal menace card provides a fairly efficient option to farm Hell favours (An afternoon of mischief!)

Overall, these cards can present opportunities for slight increases in menace heal efficiency, as well as being ways to progress through the Counting the Days carousel in order to obtain Mark of Credit Pages and subsequently trading those in for certain items (the Iron Republic Safe-Conduct and the Consonant Violin being chief among them). You can easily add and remove them from your deck through basic manipulation of menaces, though it is worth noting that Nightmares (0) is required to remove the card City Vices: Orthographic Infection from your deck.

Furthermore, once certain menaces become really out of control, they add additional cards to your deck that are less pleasant.

There is an option on this card to buy the lodgings Reservation at the Royal Bethlehem for 50 Antique Mysteries, which is 625 Echoes as opposed to the 800 Echoes it would usually cost to buy it from the Bazaar. You also get refunded 30 Echoes worth of other items through this option.

To that end, it pays to keep your menaces low in order to remove these cards from the deck. As a small sidenote, Scandal, Wounds, and Nightmares all add cards to your University Laboratory deck at level 5.

Favours: A Consideration[edit]

When considering opp deck favour sources, acquiring a favour seems to require one action, or slightly above one action. However, what is the actual echo value of a favour? This depends entirely on how you are spending them (your “favour trade-in sources”). Each faction has an inherent trade-in spot in London, generally requiring one action to trade in one favour and gaining 4.2 Echoes:

Taking this as the baseline, we can see that the EPA of acquiring favours through the opp deck then trading them in at various London locations is about 2.1 EPA (or 3 EPA for the Flit factions). This is quickly outclassed by the midgame.
But the main function of the opportunity deck is to acquire faction favours. Therefore, in order to improve the quality of your opp deck, you should also look to improve the ways that you can trade in favours. There are some in London. For example, The Empress' Court pays out 12.5 Echoes for trading in 3 Society favours, a better deal than The Shuttered Palace.
It should also be noted that the fifth coil of The Labyrinth of Tigers allows you to trade certain faction favours for Tribute to The Court of the Wakeful Eye: Criminals, Society, Church, Docks, and Bohemian favours can be traded in for 20 Tribute per 5 favours, which can reach very high EPA depending on how much Tribute you hold onto at a time and what you exchange it for at the Court of the Wakeful Eye (note that 20 Tribute and four actions can be spent to acquire a T6 item).
However, most improvements to favour trade-ins are found in the Upper River, where building statues at various stations will give you better options to trade in favours. Trading in favours at statues is universally 5 EPA. In addition, once you become a Doctore of the Guild, trading in Docks favours at Jericho Locks then chartering barges to the Cedar-Woods (which is the highest echo reward out of the various locations, ignoring the whims of the Rat Market) also nets you about 5 EPA.
Overall, the problem of opptimization as it relates to faction favours is two-sided: you want to make faction favours as cheap to acquire as possible, then as profitable to trade in as possible.

Slime and Amber: the Rubbery Men[edit]

Both of the above points are exemplified in the Standard Frequency (10 copies) faction card Slime and Amber: the Rubbery Men. This card presents three different ways to acquire Rubbery favours, and two ways to trade them in.
To obtain Rubbery favours, you have three options:

Meanwhile, the card also presents two ways to trade in those favours:

Playing only this one card, if you use both the most efficient favour acquisition method (Give It a Great Quantity of Warm Amber) and the most efficient favour trade-in (Accept a Damp Gift), you reach 6 EPA.

Implausible Penance, Consideration for Services Rendered[edit]

Both of these are cards which show up in your opportunity deck if you have favours from a specific faction (much like A Rather Decadent Evening, discussed under City Vices).

Both of these cards are actually rather profitable: A Consideration for Services Rendered, if you value a Hell favour at 1 action and a single CP of Someone is Coming at 2 Echoes (bone payout), is actually a 3.195 EPA action.
An Implausible Penance is actually so valuable that there was at one time a legitimate strategy based around farming Criminal favours through the opp deck and playing this card over and over. But it’s not simply the EPA that’s at consideration here (though the card tops out at around 3.33 EPA), it’s the sheer variety of rewards, often paid out in rare and difficult-to-obtain items. For example, another reasonable source of Ostentatious Diamonds also requires Criminal favours, this card is a better source of Glim than Docks favours or Empress’ Court works, and there is no better source of Greyfields 1882 in the game.
Nevertheless, there usually comes a point in the game where you no longer want to play these cards. In that case, make sure to keep clear of Criminal or Hell favours in order to not dilute your opp deck with these cards.

Conflict Cards[edit]

As an extension of the previous discussion, conflict cards are cards which are Very Infrequent (5 copies), are non-discardable, and are only added to the opp deck if you have 5 favours each of two specific factions. Not all two given factions have a conflict card. There are 12 conflict cards total, and all factions with a faction card are represented, plus the Widow (who needs Connected: The Widow 30 for her cards to be added to the deck).

Each conflict card will have options that resolve things in one party’s favor and other options that resolve things in the other party’s favor. Some conflict cards (the latter seven listed) will also have a third option that takes 3 actions, provides some items, and resolves things in a neutral manner (this third option usually has its EPA outclassed by midgame). Conflict cards differ in how many favours they eat: some cards take 2 favours, while others will consume all favours from the chosen faction and spit out scaling rewards based on how many favours were consumed.
Conflict cards were considered quite valuable for a while, giving both good EPA and difficult-to-acquire items. However, they are still non-discardable, can get in the way while you’re trying to grind renown, and after a while their EPA is outclassed. Avoiding them is rather easy—simply avoid having 5 favours from two separate factions that have a conflict cards together.

Making Your Name[edit]

Cards get added to and removed from your deck as you progress through the Making Your Name storylines. These cards basically are all universally bad. Once you reach Making Your Name 7 in any quality (A Name in Seven Secret Alphabets, A Name Whispered in Darkness, A Name Scrawled in Blood, A Name Signed With a Flourish), all cards associated with that specific MYN quality get removed. This, in addition to the fact that the Making Your Name storylines are both rewarding on a monetary level and help advance your highway stats besides, is more than enough reason to advance each Making Your Name quality to 7. Note that it is not viable to skip Making Your Name altogether—the storylines are often required to access new areas (there is no way to access The University without A Name in Seven Secret Alphabets, for example). And just because it often gets asked: no, there is no downside to fingering the Consumptive Cryptozoologist over the Provost. You even get rewarded mechanically for doing so. The only downside comes in the form of your own conscience. (The effects of your conscience can be mitigated by losing your soul.)

An Intimate Of Devils[edit]

The An Intimate of Devils storyline starts appearing in your opportunity deck once you reach Hell Renown 5. It can actually be useful for certain things: for example, it can substitute for a Portfolio of Souls when attempting to start your newspaper. However, overall it simply acts as more filler to clog your deck. There are two devils after your soul and they each have a Standard Frequency (10 copies) card of their own, so it acts de facto as a useless 20 copies in your opportunity deck (worse because, by being two cards, you can’t just hold one Frequent card in your hand). There are four ways to get rid of these cards.

OPTION ONE: sell your soul to them. This requires you to advance the storyline to the last section, then play the luck check over and over until you get “unlucky” and lose your soul. The downside to this is that it adds another card to your deck: Where’s My Soul?, which is a useless card. Where’s My Soul?, however, is only Unusual Frequency; 2 copies instead of 20 is still a massive improvement. In time, you can get your soul back and remove this card, too: you find your soul when you find A Bundle of Oddities that’s exactly 200. This means that you’ll find it in an average of 200 actions if you only play the One’s Public card in order to get your soul back.

OPTION TWO: wait for the Feast of the Rose festival. During the two-week period, you’ll often find the opportunity card The Feast of the Rose!, which has the option A Dance With Devils when The Airs of London are between 0 and 25. If you then play the option Actually, You’ll Be Meeting Someone There, you can randomly gain CP of An Intimate of Devils (on average, it gives 0.8 CP per action). By doing this over and over, you can gain enough CP to raise your An Intimate of Devils quality to 18 and thereafter stop seeing the opportunity cards. The downside of doing this is that it will take a large portion of your actions during the festival to play the card and shuffle airs. And considering how good many of the options are, you’d probably rather be doing something else with both the opportunity card and your actions during the two weeks that the festival is happening.

OPTION THREE: stain your soul through SMEN. If you have not started the An Intimate of Devils storyline, they will not show up to begin it. And if you have advanced the An Intimate of Devils quality to the point where they are actively trying to ask for your soul, you can play an option on either card to wipe your An Intimate of Devils quality. If you’re in the middle of the storyline, advance it to the end and wipe it with the Stain option.

OPTION FOUR: Never properly start the storyline, and keep it at level 0. This will enable you to replay the option Write A Sharp Note And Send the Flowers Back, which gains you a Church favour at the cost of one Hell favour if you had one. In order to properly use it, make sure you have no Hell favours while doing the action. Note that Church favours are already fairly easy to obtain (Faction card, A Day at the Races, various Upper River cards). This option would be hard to use for not much reward, but that’s for you to judge.

Do note that if you sell your soul to another source (perhaps during Neathmas, or to a FATE source) while An Intimate of Devils cards are still showing up in your opportunity deck, you will find the card A Letter Arrives, which upon playing will wipe your An Intimate of Devils quality. And once you find your soul again, you will have to replay the entire An Intimate of Devils storyline again in order to rid yourself of them another way.

A Libraryette for Mr Pages[edit]

This Infrequent (8 copies) card shows up if you have 100 or more Proscribed Materials and less than 11 Connected: the Masters. There’s not really any profitable options on it: you can trade 100 Proscribed Materials for some luck-based menace heals, and there’s also an option to trade certain materials for Connected: the Masters.
To remove the card, either have fewer than 100 Proscribed Materials in your inventory or have Connected: the Masters 11. The former is much more doable than the latter, but the latter is a more permanent solution that you may find worth grinding.
There are a variety of ways to grind Connected: the Masters to level 11:

There are a variety of other, non-grindable ways to gain Connected: the Masters, but these are the repeatable, generally available (aka non-festival, non-FATE) ones.

Jack Strikes Again[edit]

This Standard Frequency (10 copies) card shows up if you’ve become An Annoyance to Jack-of-Smiles, have less than 6 of either Heartless or Magnanimous, and haven’t solved the Jack case yet. It is also entirely useless. Since you probably want to become An Annoyance to Jack-of-Smiles in order to unlock the Criminal/ Revolutionary favours option on the Smoky Flophouse card, the best way to remove this card is to increase either your Heartless or your Magnanimous to 6.
The card Give a Gift! does this really well, as most gift-giving options will increase Magnanimous up to 10. A gift of dead rats, for example, will net you 3 CP.