- You can use free abilities as many times as you want, as long as you can pay the cost; there is no limit.
Physical Training, Hyperawareness, Hard Knocks, Arcane Studies, Dig Deep - they all have something in common: all these cards give you temporary boosts to individual skill tests at the cost of resources.
The inclusion of these cards is closely related to your investigator's economy! With the new card, Dark Horse, you may plan to stay poor as a church mouse and this asset can help you with that. Or, on the contrary, if you are living the dream, and some investigators proverbial float in resources, you can afford to bundle Hard Knocks+Arcane Studies or Physical Training+Hyperawareness to boost all your skills! In short, keep your hands off if you don't have action-free income!
If you are interested in the discussion, i would recommend this thread to you. If "Skids" O'Toole is going to play one of the beforementioned talents, he is going to play Physical Training. With base 4 and a deck packed with icons, he does not really need to buff his agility, wheras his base willpower of 2 (and a deck mostly bereft of icons) does need some help. Physical Training is said to work well with Zoey Samaras, too, while Roland Banks struggles for the money to use it effectively.
- Reliant boosting flexibility. Depending on the difficulty level and the test's danger level, you can boost as much as barely is needed (roughly +2 over your baseline) or sink all your money in it.
- Theoretically unlimited uses.
- The asset stays in play. From the moment you play this, you are forearmed.
- It does not need to be slotted.
- Goes well along with Dark Horse. Also combines perfectly with cards that have an additional effect if you overfulfill: List, special mention here goes to the Shotgun.
- You have to find it in your deck, it lacks the Permanent trait.
- Resource-hungry asset (install and activation).
- Only helps the investigator who plays it.
This is still seen a lot in beginner decks, so I thought I'll write an updated review (and because the existing pros and cons review is kind of misleading).
You should almost never take Physical Training (0). Not even as deck slot filler, unless you have nothing but the core set (in which case you might not have any other deck slot fillers).
This card (and this class of cards in general) is among the most inefficient cards in the game. By standard action-economy analysis, this costs 4 "actions" to play: 2 resource, a card, and a play action. That's a large investment for a card that you need to burn even more resources on to get any benefit out of. If you don't use it a lot, you just spent 4 "actions" for very little benefit. If you use it a lot, you'll find yourself short of resources to play actually useful allies weapons and events.
By the time you gained a +3 boost from Physical Training, you have just paid for a Leo De Luca in a class that isn't especially known for being flush for resources, and have gotten far less benefit.
The + could have come from an ally or weapon you could have played if you hadn't spent resources playing and boosting with Physical Training. The horror damage you reduced by boosting could have been soaked by the same ally. Or the same boosts could have been gotten by committing cards that you drew using the tempo you gained by not playing Physical Training (+1 skill boost ~= 1 card committed ~= 1 resource anyway!).
If your 0xp deck is flush enough in resources to take Physical Training, it is a sign that you've over-invested in resources for your deck, or should take the chance to throw some Dynamites.
The upgrades don't have this problem because they have a much lower upfront cost (and synergy with Well Prepared).
Physical Training, Hyperawareness, Hard Knocks, Arcane Studies, Dig Deep are part of a cycle, and partly share a common review. These cards are really, really inefficient, yet they have unique capabilities and I at least consider whether to take them every time I make a character. They have two main purposes:
- Making use of excess resources. Most characters are tight for resources early on, but many times a character will reach the point where they have what they need, or they can't afford the actions to play any more cards, and they start just building up resources. These cards ensure that you can never have too much money, because if nothing else your one resource per turn becomes a flexible, storable +1 each turn. If you really have run out of other ways to spend your resources, a card to turn resources into bonuses can become a very effective play. However, it is important to be aware that just because your character tends to have a few resources hanging around at the end of the game is no reason to take this card, you would be better off taking a skill card. Just playing the card alone will use up 2 resources before you even gain a benefit. You really need to have a character who would otherwise end up with at least 6 extra resources at the end of this scenario, before you start to get excited by this type of card. That is entirely possible for certain characters, but most characters won't end up in that situation. You need to be very aware of what kind of resource economy your character has, and that your character really does spend substantially fewer resources than they earn over the course of a scenario, before you put this type of card in your deck. (Some characters make money more quickly than one per turn, and have stronger reasons to take this card).
- Flexibility. Sometimes you have other ways to spend your resources, but this card gives you the flexibility to spend a bunch of resources on two very different skills, in any amount and any way you choose. Normally skill cards are way, way more efficient than this kind of card, but a single skill card isn't going to give you, for instance, +7 on a test of your choice, and this card can. Inefficient though this card may be, if you have it in play and you are forced to make an extremely critical skill check, it is quite comforting that there is almost always something you can do to improve your chances – you can make the decision that a resource you otherwise would have spent on something else would be better spent giving you a +1 on this test. So you don’t really need to have nothing at all to do with your resources, in order to play this card. But you still need lots of available resources. A character who is tight on resources (which is quite common) just should not use this type of card; even though the flexibility might be useful, you can’t afford the action and 2 resources to play it.
If you do play one of these cards, when it is worth using? A really good situation is when +1 skill would turn 3 tokens (about 1/5 of the bag) from failure to success. So if turning a failure into a success isn’t worth 5 resources, you shouldn’t be using this.
Now for the review specific to Physical Training: In theory this could be the best card of the cycle, because combat and willpower checks can be the most vital, with the worst penalties for failure. But guardians tend to be cash strapped and unable to use this card even if they would like to. You might find it usable if you tend to complete your character and not need any more money after that (a machete fighter perhaps), or if you are someone like Skids who needs the help and has access to extra resources.