Well Prepared is an article series that takes a look at “problem solvers”: player cards used by the investigators to solve specific challenges the encounter deck throws at them. Each of the articles will pick a couple of cards from that class and look at their application and where they are most useful. There’s an article for each of the classes and another one for the neutral cards, this is the final one.
Neutral cards are available to every investigator, so they are usually more baseline effects and less efficient than more specialized cards in the class pools. These are the cards that player fall back on when the rest of their deck building doesn’t give them access to anything better.
Level 0 cards are notable for being available right from the start. Investigators with access to Adaptable gain further benefits from knowing their way around the relevant level zero cards.
Fine Clothes: The bonus to parley breaks open some scenarios, most prominently The Last King. But there are several other spots where this can help out a lot, from recruiting Jazz in Dunwich to convincing Nasht and Kaman-Thah in Dream-Lands. Players who want to ally with the lodge in Circle Undone will want to be able to parley with Silver Twilight enemies to remove their doom. And the Man in the Pallid Mask makes sure that Fine Clothes are still useful in Carcosa past the second scenario. This is one of the best cards for Adaptable users to keep in mind. Often neutral cards are just weaker version of some effect that one or more classes can do better. This is the exception, where a neutral card does something no class can.
Unexpected Courage, Guts and Manual Dexterity: While Overpower and Perception are usually used more proactively, these three can be thrown into any deck that wants some encounter card protection. Anything class specific is often better for this, but these three are at least always available and should be your bar to evaluate other cards against. To make use of these, the investigator needs to already be somewhat okay in that stat. Raising your willpower from 1 to 3 is usually not going to cut it (unless against scaling tests like on Rotting Remains), but going from 3 to 5 is certainly helpful.
Level 1 and 2
This is where the XP cost is low enough that spending some on specific answers can be worth it even if the card is maybe not useful in all situations.
Versatile(2): Like Adaptable in Rogue, this card doesn’t solve the problem itself, but it gives access to cards that can do so. The costs for Versatile are steep and this is going to pay off rarely. But if your Seeker deck that draws lots of cards wants to do Dunwich and doesn’t have a plan for Beyond the Veil yet, then Versatile for Deny Existence might just be exactly what is needed.
Level 3 to 5
These are a bigger investment in XP, so they need to have utility throughout the campaign to be worth it.
Bulletproof Vest(3) and Elder Sign Amulet(3): Not all classes have good answers to being dealt a lot of damage or horror. These two assets from the core set are the option that everyone can fall back on. At only 2 resources for a 4 point soak, they are certainly efficient cards. The bigger problem is usually that they take up a valuable equipment slot. Often, taking Charisma and running more allies can sink a similar amount of damage or horror.
Moment of Respite(3): A viable alternative to the Elder Sign Amulet. It doesn’t take up a slot and it does replace itself. However it costs one more resource to play and can not be played proactively. Which one to pick (if any) is going to depend on the circumstances a lot. Personally, i like Moment of Respite whenever i have to start with lots of horror right away. For that reason, Moment of Respite is one of my more frequent buys right before Dim Carcosa.
Ornate Bow(3): Gives a fighting option to many investigators that are otherwise unable to fight efficiently. Rogues, the primary users of this card, just got a contestant for this job with the Beretta(4), but the Bow does still have its use on a few Seekers and Survivors with low combat and high evasion values.