One of the things i like most about deckbuilding for Arkham is how many options we have. Between 5 classes and more than 50 investigators all with their unique twists there’s a lot of neat things we can do. One card busts this pool of options even more open: Versatile. This is an article that aims to take a deep look at Versatile, how to use it, who might use it and what cards are worth the cost.
The card itself
First things first, let’s look at Versatile itself, what it does and what those things mean.
One the plus side:
– Versatile allows adding a level 0 card from any class to any deck. This is the main effect of the card and in the vast majority of cases the reason why you are taking this card.
– Versatile is Permanent. It doesn’t take up deck space or clog up draws. Once we bought it and modified our deck, we can forget about it for the most part.
On the negative side:
– Versatile costs 2XP. That’s not a whole lot, but since we are getting a level 0 card in return, we are overpaying a bit for the privilege of reaching out of our card pool. This also means that Versatile isn’t available at deck creation unless we take it in tandem with In The Thick Of It, Offer You Can Not Refuse, Father Mateo, Kymani Jones or the print&play Parallel Roland.
– Versatile increases your deck size by 5. This is the big scary looking drawback that has people shy away from using Versatile. Increasing your deck size decreases your consistency when drawing cards, making it more unlikely to find specific cards. Turning this drawback into a positive or at least minimizing its impact is going to be one of the key things for making Versatile work.
You get +5 Deck Size.
Conventional wisdom teaches us that increasing your deck size in a card game is inherently bad. If you are looking for a specific card, you have a certain chance to draw it and increasing your deck size decreases that chance. However, this is only really important if your deck relies on finding specific cards. But very often that isn’t actually the case. The card pool is deep enough today that it offers redundant options for most things. Also, many decks are built to be more generally good, to meet the different challenges that a campaign throws at you over the course of multiple scenarios. Often it won’t matter if you draw Deduction, Sharp Vision or Winging It… as long as you can keep the clue train rolling, you are in business. Most decks aren’t looking for a specific card, but for a mix of cards that allow following whatever the act deck asks of you.
There are of course cases where the deck increase hits harder. Any investigator built around their signature card (like Diana, Bob or Tommy might be) is already struggling to find their one copy in a deck of 30. Increasing the deck size to 35 only makes it harder. A deck that is built around the likes of Practice makes Perfect and/or the Research events will work better if they keep their deck as lean as possible. If you dumped 10XP into a pair of level 5 cards, a Customizable card or even a single copy of an Exceptional card, then adding Versatile can make the difference between actually seeing that card and … well, not getting to play with the thing you invested so highly into.
So the short of it is that to make the most out of Versatile, you will want to equalize the powerlevel within your deck. If every card is good, it doesn’t matter which one you draw. If you have spikes and valleys in how impactful and useful your cards are or you are running overly situational cards, then you should probably stick to a 30 card deck.
Also to consider is what cards to add in those 5 slots. One is spoken for by the card from the other class that you are targeting. The other four can be used in whatever way you like, but there are broadly speaking four options:
– Redundancy. Just add more cards that are good for your deck. Use these slots to double up on some important roles in your deck, like maybe some weapons for your fighter. Basically, this is just the generic “more stuff” option.
– New things. Deck space is very limited and getting an extra 5 can enable you to add another aspect to your deck that wasn’t in there before. This isn’t terribly common and probably also not advisable in most cases as this will only increase the consistency issue introduced by Versatile. But it is an option. Just make sure you aren’t stretching yourself too thin in too many directions.
– Minimizing the size increase. By adding cards that draw cards you can minimize how much this deck increase really matters to you. For example a Luke deck with Versatile could opt to add 2 Guts and 2 Perception into those slots, cards that cycle for free thus making those extra slots barely matter except for mulligans. There’s also Tempt Fate, a card that is completely neutral in terms of card economy and can be added by anyone. But the Curse/Bless tokens it adds lean slightly negative unless you have some synergies so it’s not something i would suggest in most cases. Cards like Glory or Laboratory Assistant also can be included for this purpose.
– Adapting your deck. Adding new level 0 cards to your deck during the campaign costs 1XP. Rogues have the card Adaptable to help them change their cards on the fly, other classes aren’t that flexible. Buying Versatile allows adding 4 level 0 cards to your deck “for free” and that can be worth it. Maybe you are planning to pick up some high XP card down the road and use it with a level 0 card. Usually that’d mean taking that level 0 at deck creation and having a semi-dead card in your deck until you get to buy the card that enables it. Planning to Versatile it in later can make your deck more efficient until you got all the pieces together. The other use case are the five investigators from Edge of the Earth who move from one class to the next. Getting to upgrade out of their initial 5 level 0 cards and add new ones with Versatile later on can make a lot of sense.
Another thing to note about the deck size increase is that its significance scales with your initial deck size. Or in other words, the +5 don’t matter as much if your deck is already bigger. Or matter more, if it’s low. Patrice would go from 42 to 47 cards, which doesn’t seem bad at all. Similarly, if your Seeker deck is already extended to 45 cards because you are running Forced Learning, then upping the deck size to 50 doesn’t matter much. Now, the argument in the other direction would be that finding your one bonus card in a bigger deck is more difficult than in a standard 30 card deck… but both Patrice and Forced Learning offer enough card draw that this doesn’t necessarily hold up, at least not in full.
Characters with smaller deck size also exist, mostly in the world of parallel investigators or rogues with Underworld Support who have 25 cards. For them, the added +5 weighs higher and is a bigger ask.
Finally, there are some special cases where the card added with Versatile doesn’t go into the regular deck. It could be a Permanent card or it could be something for a special side deck like Joe Diamond’s hunch deck or it could fit on Stick to the Plan. Those cases can make Versatile a lot more attractive because you are more likely (maybe even guaranteed) to profit from your singleton card.
The final point to make about the deck size increase is that it doesn’t just impact your chances of drawing a certain player card or signature. It also decreases your chance to draw one of your weaknesses. Now, you usually won’t want to take Versatile just to make your weakness slightly less likely – the 2XP can often be spent otherwise to mitigate the weakness. But in extreme cases, like Doomed or Offer You Can Not Refuse, this can make the difference between seeing that weakness that one extra time that defeats you. Conveniently, Offer You Can Not Refuse even hands you the 2XP required to buy Versatile at deck creation. I could imagine spending the 2XP on Versatile for Faustian Bargain on a Guardian that drew Offer as their weakness…
Keeping in mind the effects of the deck size increase, there are therefore these reasons you might have to include Versatile in your deck:
– Adding a new high impact card. The default reason. You use Versatile to throw something into your deck that would make a huge impact when you draw it, but that your deck doesn’t rely on. This could be a Leo De Luca, Dream-Enhancing Serum, Pete Sylvestre or similar.
– Enabling a combo. Different from the previous option through the intent of it. By using Versatile, you add a card to your deck that interacts with your investigator or your class in a particularly powerful way, then build your whole deck around this interaction. A popular example is splashing a copy of Premonition into Wendy and replay it over and over with her amulet to make a mockery of the chaos bag. If you are going for something like this, note that you will have to somehow fish out that one copy out of your 35+ card deck (or one of two copies out of 40+ cards) which can be a challenge in itself.
– Increasing your options. This has overlap with the previous two, but is slightly its own thing. What i mean is giving an investigator access to cards their ability cares about but that their card pool innately doesn’t support. So you aren’t adding just pure power but something that adds to what you can already access. Examples would be an off-class Insight card for Joe Diamond or an off-class and non-Innate skill for Silas. Of course that card would still need to actually be worth running!
– Adapting your deck. See above. You get to add 4 level 0 cards for 2XP which can be attractive in some contexts.
– Mitigating your weakness. See above. The lower chance to draw a certain card applies to your weakness as well. Mitigating your weakness can also mean something a bit more proactive than just tweaking down the chance to draw it a bit by including cards that directly combat the weakness. If you are stuck with an enemy weakness, adding a copy of Spectral Razor into your non-Mystic deck can do wonders if you are otherwise badly equipped to deal with it but have decent willpower. Deny Existence deserves a special mention here as it is able to apply to a surprising number of weaknesses, no matter if they are basic ones, campaign specific or investigator specific.
– Making room/Toolboxing. Again, see above. This is the most shaky reason to use Versatile, increasing your deck size to fit more stuff into your deck. Increasing your tool box can make sense if you have very good card draw or card selection. However, Seekers are better off using Forced Learning and other classes often struggle with that card selection requirement. Of course, once you already run Forced Learning, feel free to throw Versatile on top. The extra +5 don’t add much when applied to 45 cards and the card selection from Forced Learning will mitigate Versatile further.
You can of course have multiple reasons for adding Versatile and since you are adding 5 cards to your deck, you should actually make good use of every one of them. Increasing your toolbox in a draw heavy deck might not be a good enough reason to run Versatile on its own, but if you gain access to a potent off-class addition AND ALSO increase your options, then you are starting to get somewhere.
What makes a good Versatile target?
Since we are not only overpaying 2XP for our level 0 card, but also messing with our deck consistency, we want our Versatile target to really mean something when we draw it. For that reason, assets will have a much easier time of impressing us than events or skills do. A one-and-done effect on one card in a stack of 35+ is just going to have a hard time to be impactful enough, but there are certainly cases where they do work out.
We will want the target card to do something that our innate card access can’t replicate. There’s little need to Versatile for Beat Cop’s +1 fight if you can just run Jessica Hyde or Lonnie Ritter instead. As another example, using Versatile for Track Shoes used to be a thing for Ursula decks. While still not at all bad, the Hiking Boots from Edge of the Earth are a close enough alternative that will make Track Shoes (for 2XP and +5 deck size) much less attractive.
Investigators that do something special with events or skills can of course easily get enough value out of those, too. Amanda or Silas can use and re-use skills many times and there are several good targets for them to do so. Similarly, a Diana or Sefina can potentially get enough mileage out of events to put them on a level with assets.
But for the most part you will be looking at assets that either shore up some weak spots or add just generic power.
The level zero Permanent cards
Before i finally go over the card pool, there is one cycle of cards that deserves special mention: Edge of the Earth introduced a cycle of five Permanent cards, one for each class: Geared Up, Forced Learning, Underworld Support, Down the Rabbit Hole, Short Supply. These cards have two things in common: One, they have to be bought at deck creation. Two… well, they are Permanent.
What that means is you can only get these if you use In the Thick of It during deck creation or if you get starting XP from your investigator or weakness.
Them being Permanent means you don’t have to care about having to draw the card, so the “one in thirtyfive” problem is already solved. You do however still have to add 5 level 0 cards to your deck, the Versatile target won’t count towards those.
Geared Up: This one is difficult to use at the best of times because it demands that a high number of cards in your deck is Item traited to work. Increasing the deck size will probably mean that you’ll also have to include a couple extra Items. There are some fun things you can do with Geared Up in Sefina (who draws a 13 card start hand to make that first turn really count) and in Bob (who has innate synergy with the Item trait).
Forced Learning: Versatile for Forced Learning adds 20 cards to your deck size, but also counteracts this by giving you card selection every turn. This can either be used to create a huge toolbox that allows players to shape their hand to meet current demands. Or Forced Learning can be used as a discard outlet for Survivors that want to go deep on discard synergies. As an example, a William deck that has both Forced Learning and Short Supply would have an insane amount of options to choose from each turn.
Underworld Support: That’s the one that doesn’t make sense at all. The whole point of Underworld Support is decreasing your deck size by 5, which would just be canceled out by Versatile. Hard pass.
Down the Rabbit Hole: Rabbit Hole is used to save XP. Paying 2XP for it means you have to make up for that, but the card is powerful enough that this can be worth it, provided you plan ahead far enough. I built a Roland decklist with it, but i’ve seen a bunch of other interesting decks with this card on arkhamdb. One particular interaction that i liked when reading about it is using Rabbit Hole in Survivor to pay for rebuying Exiled cards.
Short Supply: Making use of cards dumped in your discard is really a Survivor only thing, so there’s going to be limited use for Short Supply in other classes. Of note, there isn’t a single (non-survivor and legal) deck with this combo on arkhamdb. Just to throw something out there: Mark using Winging It and Improvised Weapon through his Tactics access could use Short Supply to have those cards start in the discard. Yeah sorry, that’s the best i got for this one. Maybe as an enabler for the Synergy keyword to give a token Survivor asset for other classes?
Cards to Versatile for
Alright, with all of this mumbo jumbo out of the way, let’s finally get to the fun part. I’ll be going over the current level zero card pool and point out cards that i think are worth going for. Grouping them by class doesn’t make much sense in this context, so i will loosely arrange them by role.
The Top Tier
The best of the crop. These six cards are all generically useful and fit into a large variety of investigators because they require little support.
Dream-Enhancing Serum: The mother of all card draw engines. Not only does this asset allow you to draw extra cards, but it also allows you to keep those extra cards in your hand for more options. Keeping those card in your hand also slims down the deck should you reshuffle, so the extra deck size won’t matter anymore on your second (and third, fourth…) go through the deck. Finally, it uses a card slot that isn’t always hotly contested.
Leo De Luca: The value option. Everyone can use additional actions. Of course there’s a real cost to spending 6 resources and your ally slot, but Leo has been worth it since the Core and he won’t stop soon. If your deck can swing the cost, then this is an option to consider.
Crystallizer of Dreams: As long as your deck plays a reasonable amount of events, Crystallizer offers double value on those by also turning them into skills to bank for later. Again, this is something that most decks can make great use of. Crystallizer is cheap, but of course it does take up the accessory slot and adds an enemy to your deck.
Peter Sylvestre: If you can get value out of both things he offers, then he’s a great addition to your deck. But even if you won’t make consistent use out of the +1 agility, the sanity buffer he provides is still exceptional.
Drawing Thin: Utterly broken card that should never have been printed. Personally i refuse playing with this card, but if you want you can add this abomination to all of your decks for just 2XP (5XP, if you use the taboo). Just a completely busted resource and card engine that doesn’t cost any resources to play and doesn’t even take up a slot.
Deny Existence: Deny Existence can neutralize a wide number of cards. This includes a couple of weaknesses and that is indeed one of the better uses for Versatile. Deny Existence can for example help Harvey overcome his Thrice-Damned Curiosity or it can be an answer for any investigator to an otherwise crippling Paranoia or Amnesia. Versatile for Deny Existence is also hot tech for the Dunwich Legacy, to combat Beyond the Veil both through making your deck bigger and through having Deny as a silver bullet that neuters the damage trigger. It’s simply a workhorse of a card and having access to it give you an out to many, many problems.
Many decks will stack up on skill values through their assets to help them pass tests. Some will even go further and try to squeeze such boosts to the skill(s) they are interested in into every equipment slot. A shame then that some classes don’t have a full set of such boosters. Well, that’s where Versatile comes in of course. Personally, i don’t find this a particularly interesting or even powerful use of Versatile, but it’s certainly an option.
Willpower: Mostly interesting for Mystics and they are of course also the ones that have most willpower boosters. David Renfield, Holy Rosary and Crystal Pendulum are all available and could for example go into a Guardian deck that tries to get the most out Martyr’s Vambrace. Mystics on the other hand can only look towards Granny Orne (or Dario el-Amin if they are desperate) for a willpower ally if they don’t want Renfield.
Intellect: Again, most of these are allies. Alice Luxley, Whitton Greene, Jeremiah Kirby, Milan Christopher and Alyssa Graham are available here. Additionally, Magnifying Glasses can go into the hand slot.
Fight: More allies. Beat Cop, Grete Wagner and Lonnie Ritter give fight options to the two classes that want it the most so those don’t need to Versatile for them. Survivor gets Jessica Hyde at 1XP, so they also don’t need either of these options. That leaves Mystic and Seeker as classes that might want a fight ally? Akachi with Lonnie Ritter and Robes of Endless Night, anyone?
Agility: Peter has already been mentioned and it’s not going to get better than that. Outside of allies, there’s Track Shoes. Those used to be a thing in some Ursula decks, but Hiking Boots exist now. Still, i could see Winifred or Kymani pick up some Track Shoes!
Multiple: Multiple skill boosts at once at level zero is mostly kept to the accessory slot. Tooth of Eztli, St. Hubert’s Key and Moon Stone are the options here. As is the Crystallizer, sort of. Finally, there’s also Dark Horse if you want to throw that into even more decks.
Card draw/Card selection
As with most card games, having more cards means more options and that is just something that all investigators are interested in. It’s a bit unfortunate then that most of the good card draw and card selection is limited to the Seeker class with a bit of Rogue on the side. The others get the occasional draw event here and there, but nothing that really lasts longer. Again, Versatile to the rescue. We already went over what i consider to be the best of the bunch, Dream-Enhancing Serum, but there are other options.
Mr. Rook: If DES is the best at card draw, then Rook is the best at card selection. Getting to dig 9 cards deep 3 times is pretty much guaranteed to find you what you need. Rook is good enough even when playing with errata, using his ability as an action is still quite potent.
Lucky Cigarette Case: As long as you can reliably pass your tests, LCC will keep feeding you cards. Mystics usually have their accessory slot spoken for, but both Guardian and Seeker might be interested in this.
Rabbit’s Foot: If you reliably fail your tests and are not a Survivor, i do sort of wonder what you are doing, but you might as well get a Rabbit’s Foot to get something out of your
incompetence unique strategy.
Empirical Hypothesis: Interested in either Cigarette Case or Rabbit’s Foot, but don’t have an accessory slot? Well, if you can pass just a bit harder (or fail harder!) then the slotless version is available, too. Note that this is the only customizable card on this list and that you won’t be able to upgrade it further after getting it with Versatile.
Pickpocketing: The other slotless alternative to Lucky Cigarette Case. It doesn’t block your accessory slot, it doesn’t require oversucceeding… but it will only trigger on evasion successes. This is a semi-popular option for Rita.
Laboratory Assistant: Finally, the last three options are one-shot options. Lab Assistant becomes interesting in decks that use Calling in Favors to get enough out of it to make it a worthy Versatile target. Otherwise I’d not consider it.
Jeremiah Kirby: The better Lab Assistant. Digs deeper and even provides a stat boost while in play afterwards. Kirby also profits a lot from Calling in Favors, but he’s absolutely good enough even without that. Note that when playing with taboo, Kirby costs an extra 2XP even when added via Versatile, so you’d pay a total of 4XP.
Deep Knowledge: As a card that costs zero and draws 3 cards in one action, this is as good as it gets for an event at level 0. Still, a one-shot card draw seems questionable at best to me as it barely counteracts the deck size increase. I would only consider this if I (or someone on the team) had curse synergy, maybe as something to spice up a Curse Dexter build.
Basically a subset of card draw/card selection, recursion draws you cards from your discard pile. This is usually strictly a Survivor theme, but Versatile can give you a taste in your class, too.
Scavenging: I almost put this in the S-Tier, but it’s not quite as universally useful as the others. For one, you need to be investigating. And you need items to recur. But if you have those, Scavenging is an incredible value machine. Tons of decks have been built around this card since the Core Set days and it’s only getting stronger over time.
Scrounge for Supplies: Spending a card and an action on a card is quite slow. But if it gets back the right card, it can be a winner. Scrounge can prop up combos, increase consistency, insure against encounter effects or just simply double up on your strongest cards.
Finding clues is an essential part of winning the game. Raising intellect is something that was already covered and firmly in Seeker hand. It will surprise then that in terms of cards that directly investigate or just scoop up clues, Seekers are actually not all that present. At least not in terms of cards that we might consider Versatile for. Again, we aren’t interested in increasing our deck size just for one extra clue per go through the deck, we expect a bit more juice than your common Working a Hunch.
Fingerprint Kit: Up to three extra clues and a decent intellect boost. Worth considering if you have a way to refill or recur it. Otherwise it’s probably a bit too expensive. The power is certainly there, though.
Mariner’s Compass: The other good investigation asset. Unlimited uses, but does come with its own restrictions.
Magnifying Glass: If neither Kit nor Compass appeal, then Magnifying Glass is probably your best bet in terms of clue support. I don’t think it has enough oomph to be a Versatile candidate, but it’s on the cusp.
Pilfer: Three clues in one action is a big game. Of course you do need to have the agility to pass this, but you can certainly use two of the four extra slots you have to fill after Versatile to get a pair of Manual Dexterity to use with Pilfer.
Read the Signs: Unlike other Mystic spells, Read the Signs doesn’t rely completely on willpower, making it a reasonable option for investigators as long as the sum of willpower and intellect is okay. That being said, a 2 clue event that requires a test is slightly on the shaky side for Versatile.
Drawn to the Flame: If i am getting two clues once with the card that i Versatile for, then i don’t want to be able to fail. I’d take Drawn to the Flame over Read the Signs. But likely i’d take neither and instead go for…
Intel Report: Both the ability to pick up two clues in one go and the ability to reach two locations far make this the sort of one-shot effect that has enough impact to be worth considering. Of course it’s expensive, but you do get your money’s worth.
Winging It: Perhaps i am just slightly obsessed with this card. It just keeps giving you extra clues over and over thanks to recurring itself. That of course sidesteps the whole event issue with Versatile. You’ll need some sort of discard outlet for it to be good enough, but there’s some in most classes.
Look What i Found: Probably the actual best investigative event. Pay 2, gain 2 clues. No risk, no extra action, no frills. Just fail an investigation which is easy to do even on accident.
Let’s face it, level 0 weapons are for the most part kinda junk. They also need a decent fight value to even be used, so anything that doesn’t at least give +2 fight is already out for this discussion. Long story short, there are three weapons worth looking at… and they are all survivor weapons. Guardians, you should be ashamed of yourselves.
.18 Derringer: Deals 2 damage, gives +2 attack, so technically it fits the bill. I’d rather run Knife than Versatile for this dorky little pistol, though.
Meat Cleaver: That’s better. Both the damage and +2 attack are conditional, but you have good control over the conditions and can make this weapon work. This is my pick for most generally useful weapon to Versatile for.
Fire Axe: Running the Axe requires some concessions in terms of your resource economy. But it does give you a monstrous amount of fight value which make it even usable on someone with very low fight to kill the occasional cultist.
Machete: Outside of those three, i suppose that Machete is the last one that is at least bearable, but at that point, in-class options should be comparable enough to not be worth the 2XP and deck size.
Investigators that dabble in fighting are better off with some damage effects that are either testless or at least offer good chances and a lot of damage at once.
Occult Lexicon: A beast of a card that offers card draw and/or resources when you need them, but is also a potent weapon as long as you have some resources and extra cards stockpiled. Testless 2 damage while digging through the deck is really powerful and it even gets around things like Aloof or Retaliate.
Dynamite Blast: I was asking for events with high impact and this certainly fits the bill. As with many of these events that i champion for Versatile, it does cost a bunch of resources, but it also nukes a complete location so that seems fair!
Spectral Razor: There’s a couple of events that deal 3 damage to one target, but since Versatile allows us to pick the best one, I’ll only mention Razor here. It has all the hallmarks of a great card. 3 damage. Combines two skills into one for an easy test. And it even sidesteps Aloof. I am not convinced that Versatile for a single target kill spell is quite impactful enough, but if it is for you, this is the best of the bunch.
This is of course the other option to deal with enemies. Evade them and either outrun them or let someone else deal with them later. This is mostly Rogue territory, but thanks to Versatile, others can at least dabble.
Disguise: This is a brilliant card that you can rely on to take you of the danger zone and also give you a headstart towards getting away from the baddie. Versatile for Disguise and a pair of Manual Dexterity is going to go a long way towards shoring up an investigator’s weakness to enemies that would otherwise be able to pin them.
String of Curses: If the whole idea of having to make a test to evade doesn’t appeal, there’s a couple of options as well. String of Curses isn’t the best when it comes to just pure evasion, but it has a couple of other things going for it as well that might be valuable enough to you.
Decoy: This is the default one-shot evade. Just pay your way out instead, with the option to go bigger.
Cunning Distraction: Or just go with the nuclear option and throw a turkey into the room, then hoof it. Usually Decoy will be preferable to Gobble Gobble Turkey Time thanks to its ability to scale, but if you expect a lot of enemies or want your card to be a Tactic, then this is worth a look.
Especially Mystics and Guardians often struggle with their resource economy, due to relying on expensive assets and having limited options to pay for them. Versatile can allow those paupers to learn a few tricks from the rich guys.
Faustian Bargain: 5 resources, no questions asked. Doesn’t get more simple. There’s the small matter of the two curses, but those hardly matter if Faustian allows you to play your assets when you otherwise wouldn’t be able to. This is the best card for a quick cash injection.
Crack the Case: The only other one-shot option that i would consider instead of Faustian. It’s worse at generating resources because it’s dependent on shroud values, but in return it doesn’t cost an action.
Voice of Ra: This is a bit out there, but with the recent errata this now triggers on pulling curses and blesses as well. That means that in the correct deck this can semi-reliably go for 5 to 7 resources which is a big game indeed.
Lone Wolf: In one and two player games, Lone Wolf is an excellent constant source of extra resources. Depending on your exact needs, this can beat Faustian.
Charles Ross: Ross is a bit of a weird card in that his abilities are quite unique, but he is in a class that isn’t really able to use it well. With Versatile we can fix that and hand Charles Ross to someone like Preston or Jenny that has the money to pay for the team’s items.
Using Versatile for healing is rarely going to be something to go for. If trauma stacks up near the tail end of a campaign there’s always the neutral Bulletproof Vest, Elder Sign Amulet and Moment of Respite to take up the slack. But just for completeness sake, there are two cards that have enough power to possibly be worth using Versatile for.
Hallowed Mirror: The best healing card in the game. Almost unique in that it can cure both damage and horror and it also does so in an efficient way, thanks to the Soothing Melodies refunding their card cost. It also is usable on others, so Versatile for Mirror could fix issues for the whole team.
Liquid Courage: Like Mirror, Courage can heal efficiently and across the whole team, but only for horror. Usually Mirror will be better, but Courage does not require an equipment slot and it is able to dump all its charges immediately without having to draw them first. That gives it a niche.
Canceling encounter cards is extremely potent, but limited to the Mystic class. Again, we can use Versatile to sneak this effect into different contexts. Deny Existence i mentioned earlier, but i at least want to mention Ward here as well.
Ward of Protection: The classic solution to almost anything that comes from the encounter deck. Just for value, paying 2XP and the deck size for the cancel is unlikely to be worth it, but as part of a toolbox approach and/or in combination with getting good value out of the other four cards you can make this work.
A couple of cards allow using Versatile to overcome the slot limit which is another deckbuilding limitation – and thus open up more options. There are neutral solutions for more accessory or ally slots, but for anything else an in-class option has to be co-opted.
Bandolier: Give up a body slot for a handslot, limited to weapons only. Offers the option to carry a sidearm with a two-handed gun for non-Guardians.
Arcane Enlightenment: Also adds a handslot, but only to tomes. Much more limited than Bandolier, but if a tome is part of your plans, then this beats Bandolier thanks to taking up a slot that is often less valuable and the tacked on bonus to hand size.
Sign Magick: I don’t see a reason why you would want additional arcane slots if you don’t have innate access to Mystic, but if you do see one… well, here’s how to get them. Familiar Spirit is an alternative, but sacrificing the ally slot is an even bigger ask.
Some smart person came up with that Premonition Wendy deck. Who knows what else can be infinitely recurred by Wendy to break the game? Sorry to disappoint, but i don’t actually have any similarly game-breaking combos for you. What i can give you is a couple of cards that look like typical combo cards to me, cards that can supercharge others to great effect. Maybe you can connect the dots on these.
Eldritch Sophist: The vast majority of cards with secrets on them are Seeker, but there are a couple in the other classes. By splashing Eldritch Sophist, you can recharge those assets. Mind’s Eye and Eon Chart look like the two best candidates for this. Truth from Fiction also exists, but doesn’t have enough raw power to qualify. Eldritch Sophist also manipulates charges. One well-known combo with it uses either version of Red Clock, which allows to keep the clock at the same number of charges at all time while feeding the generated charge into another card for more value.
Daredevil: If you use Daredevil in a deck without other Rogue skills, you can reshuffle your deck at will. There is the matter of the weaknesses staying in the deck, but this is a powerful effect nonetheless that can be abused for shenanigans.
Quantum Flux: Does what Daredevil does and without caring about weaknesses. However, it removes itself from the game on use which limits its potential for combos.
Double or Nothing: The only card to make its way to the Forbidden list for how insane it is. If you aren’t using taboo, Versatile gives you all the opportunities to break Double or Nothing in new and exciting ways.
Sleight of Hand: Another taboo list frequent flyer. If you play it unrestrained, it works with all sorts of fun cards from Necronomicon over Shotguns to Chainsaws. But even in its limited form it can do some neat things. Nothing terribly broken in its taboo’d form, but that can always change as more cards are released.
Hit and Run: Sleight of Hand, but for allies. It’s biggest limitation is being printed in the one class that can’t really use it well. But that’s what Versatile is for, right? The obvious combo is Seeker allies with Enters-Play effects, but there are other things to do with it as well, like blinking in a high cost ally only to then return it to your hand with Calling in Favors. Again, even if there’s nothing horribly unfair yet, this is the sort of card that is going to break eventually.
Chance Encounter: Sleight of hand, but for allies, but from the discard pile! Same basic principle, if you can abuse Hit and Run some way then Chance Encounter can probably do the same thing. What’s even better, Versatile can make you put both into one deck. Add Calling in Favors and the sky is the limit on what you can do with your allies.
Practice Makes Perfect: Sleight of Hand, but for skills, but from the deck! I’m sure you are picking up the pattern here. PmP is of course well known as a very powerful card that lets you double dip on skills (and also search for them, something the previous cards need Calling in Favors or Backpack for). Not sure if there’s really much ground to explore with it that hasn’t already been explored but I just couldn’t leave it off the list after going over all of the Sleight of Hand variants.
(Quick Thinking): This one is just for completeness sake. Quick Thinking was recently errata’d to only be playable once per round. Before that, Versatile could make it part of infinite actions – or at least a lot of them. Now it’s just a good skill. Speaking of those…
There are going to be few reasons to include a skill via Versatile. It would need to do something very unique because otherwise it’s just going to be outclassed by an asset that does something similar. Daredevil was mentioned already, as were Quick Thinking and Double or Nothing. The following ones are all skills that i wouldn’t consider on their own merits, but because the investigator i take them in (or some card i run) might have special interactions with them due to being skills: Vicious Blow, Deduction, Eureka, Quick Thinking, Promise of Power, Take Heart.
Amanda and Silas are the two that immediately come to mind when talking about skill cards and they might be interested in any of these they can’t innately take. To be honest, they probably don’t need them though… but maybe you are seeing something i don’t! There’s a couple assets that care about skills that can be interesting in this context as well. As an example, Versatile can enable you to put the combo of infinitely recurring Take Heart via the Survivor level 3 version of Grizzly Totem into Amina. Or maybe you want your Guardian to have an Eureka or two to commit with Bestow Resolve?
Phew, we somehow made it through the whole card pool. If you are still with me, here are some decklists that i used myself over the last years. Nothing i created specifically for this article, but things that i had uploaded on arkhamdb before.
Dynamite Luke: Turning Luke into a mad bomber was good fun. Luke is able to throw Dynamite anywhere on the map while standing in his Dream-Gate.
DES Agnes: Parallel Agnes, built around drawing an insane amount of cards using either Dream-Enhancing Serum, Heirloom of Hyperborea or both.
De Luca Amanda: Leo De Luca is one hell of a card by default, but for Amanda he pulls double duty, not only giving her an additional action, but also gaining additional value out of the skills under her.
Rabbit Hole Roland: Fueled by DtRH, this Roland deck runs fully upgraded at 23XP.
Quick Thinking Darrell: The rare example where i included a skill card with Versatile. Using Quick Thinking here offsets the action cost of True Survivor and makes the deck never lose any tempo. True Survivor is powerful, but normally sort of clunky. On Your Own and Quick Thinking turn it into something that’s barely fair anymore.
I’ve used Versatile on other decks before, those are just the ones that i documented on arkhamdb for some reason or another. While we are on the site, let me point out some other lists there that do something cool with Versatile. I won’t comment on them further beyond the link since they aren’t mine, i am going to let the authors of those decks speak for themselves.
In no particular order:
Geared Up Sefina
Track Shoes Winifred
Forced Learning William
Sophist/Red Clock Skids
Joey “The Rat” Tommy
and many, many more!
And that’s it for the deep dive on Versatile. It should be pretty obvious that this is a card that i enjoy building decks with a lot. In terms of pure efficiency, Versatile doesn’t often measure up with some of the more ridiculous cards out there, but that’s also not really what the game is about (at least for me). Beating the game with some Flamethrower Mark and overtuned Rex/Darrell deck is easy enough, the real fun starts when some of the more out there ideas come together in a satisfying way. And few cards do enable that sort of ideas like Versatile does.
I hope this article gave a good impression of what’s possible with this card. Inevitably i will have missed a lot of things, so while i tried to be as comprehensive as possible i am sure you will come up with even more interesting combinations, making cards shine in wholly new contexts.