- Clarification: If 1 or more cards are forcibly removed from an investigator’s deck and returned to the collection (such as when a card is exiled, or when a campaign effect forces an investigator to remove cards from their deck), that investigator must purchase cards so that a legal deck size is maintained. When purchasing cards in this manner, that investigator may purchase level 0 cards at 0 experience cost until a legal deck size is reached.
- This rule also applies if an effect alters an investigator’s deck size, deckbuilding restrictions, or deckbuilding options such that 1 or more cards must be removed from or added to their deck as a result. - FAQ, v.1.7, March 2020
The actual strengths/weaknesses of this card have been articulated very well in other reviews. However, this card does something that I think many players will actually enjoy and value that isn't necessarily to do with how powerful your deck is.
I'm a pretty casual player, and I often find myself trying to make a deck being aware of the strong cards. However, at the same time I also really want to try out a different theme or some new interesting cards without knowingly gimping the deck too much. For example, I might be looking at a mystic deck with some core spell assets, but I do really want to try out some of the less common event spells too. However, deck slots are scarce and I run out of space for the fun cards. Sure, I could really figure out a deck without the staples and roll with it, and there's great fun in the challenge of that. But other times it's nice just to have the staples AND some fun stuff, particularly as someone who doesn't actually play the game lots and so has fewer opportunities to try things out.
Versatile allows me to get more cards for fun things like this, even though yes this is actually generally a downside to the card. (Admittedly, being co-op I could always house rule higher card limits, but I like playing to the rules to be honest).
The second thing it does is let you take any level 0 card. This may not be super powerful but can be nicely thematic and flavourful and add to the narrative, which is something that I think some players will get a kick out of. Perhaps Joe Diamond likes a cheeky swig from a bottle of Liquid Courage. Or maybe Ursula Downs never goes on an expedition without her trusty Survival Knife. Or maybe Nathaniel Cho just gets a bit vicious sometimes and uses a Baseball Bat. I think these options would appeal to some players and it's nice to have cards the enable this kind of thing.
Versatile offers every investigator the ability to buy any one level 0 card at the substantial cost of 2 experience and an increase in deck size. I actually think the +5 Deck Size is the greater cost associated with Versatile than the experience because its going to make it harder to find and draw your key assets - weapons to fight with, tools to gather clues with, etc. - not to mention also making it harder to find that special out of faction card you bought Versatile to play in the first place! I don't think its worth buying Versatile without an exceptionally good reason; the out of faction card you buy better offer you something especially powerful for your investigator. There are a hanful of investigators that get something really unique from Versatile or else who I believe are in the best position to take advantage of it:
Wendy Adams - Wendy gains access to Premonition, which combined with her amulet truly breaks Arkham Horror. The Forced ability on Wendy's Amulet is presently ruled to not apply to events that don't go immediately to the discard pile after being played. This means that, with Wendy's Amulet in play, you can play Premonition over and over again at the player window at the start of every skill test and always know exactly which token will be drawn. To dig to find this combo, Wendy has access to Rabbit's Foot, Drawing Thin, and Nothing Left to Lose, among other cards. You still won't reliably find your exact two cards in 35, and the experience cost of the best Survivor draw makes this combo likely a late campaign option at best. Personally, I think infinite Premonitions will spoil the major challenge of Arkham Horror - in having to guess which skill checks are worth your resources, and sometimes being screwed by bad luck you couldn't foresee.
Mandy Thompson - Mandy is a special case on this list. Her sheer power of deck searching means she cares far less about her deck being a bit on the large side. If you are playing Mandy with a base 30 Deck Size and all the generic deck searching cards that are so strong for her - Mr. "Rook", Eureka!, etc. - then you likely will find the card you bought Versatile for in most scenarios. The question remains as to what you should buy. Given Mandy's insane searching I don't think you need as powerful a combo as other investigators considering Versatile, but I'd suggest a powerful out of faction asset to make up for the fact she only gets events and skills in her "off-class".
William Yorick - being allowed to replay assets means that any you buy will get value for as many times as you can afford to play them. In addition to that though, Occult Lexicon offers Yorick a truly fantastic ability with Blood-Rite. Blood-Rite lets you discard assets you'd rather play actionlessly from your discard pile in exchange for the two things Yorick wants most of all: resources and damage. On top of that, Yorick's card pool contains a broad variety of powerful weapons all of which he's happy to play - Enchanted Blade, Baseball Bat, Meat Cleaver, etc. - so you can keep the desity of weapons in your deck high even if you add 5 more cards. In addition to the powerful Survivor draw available to Wendy, Yorick can use Yaotl to mill his own deck to dig for assets.
Calvin Wright - Calvin uniquely benefits from having his health and sanity pools extended because it means his stats cap out at higher values. The number of cards in the game that presently do that is exactly two: Five of Pentacles and Hawk-Eye Folding Camera. Five of Pentacles is already a Calvin staple. Is the camera worth it for 2xp and +5 Deck Size? The willpower and intellect boosts are also nice to double down on deepening his sanity pool. I'm not certain this is worth it, however. Both Five of Pentacles and the camera demand that you mulligan for them because they are far stronger when in your opening hand than when drawn later in the scenario, and all the card draw and deck searching in the world won't help you mulligan your thick 35 card deck. If you want to give Calvin a camera, you might be better gifting it to him by the use of Teamwork.
I think these examples show well enough when Versatile is likely to be good. It's not really worth it if all you are doing is buying some generic value card from out of faction; it really has to be a card with a unique effect that is particularly powerful with your investigator that you wouldn't be able to substitute with in-faction cards, and even better if you have access to plenty of card draw to dig through your bloated deck to find your cards.
This card potentially adds some insane combo potential, though the increased deck size makes your deck less consistent so it's also less likely to draw the card(s) you've chosen. It's better for investigators with lots of draw/ search effects, be it through their classes or their own ability. It's also better for assets, as you benefit from these longer than one time use of skills or events (though some investigator abilties may change that like Silas).
My favorite targets
Leo De Luca: Gain another action but his ressource cost is pretty steep.
Mr. "Rook": Search your deck for important cards and get your weaknesses out early, so they don't surprise you later. He's considered OP for a reason and is very likely to hit the taboo list. Be aware he's unique, so conflicts with other investigators.
Peter Sylvestre: To compensate low sanity of your investigator.
Dr. Milan Christopher: Useful for any high investigator. Mystics can use him too, though they don't benefit from +1 .
Scavenging: It's great for any clue-er but useless for the class it's in, as all survivors have medium to low int. Most clue-ers are almost guaranteed to trigger it every round. Use it to recur an item with many matching symbols or ?. Reload items with charges, secrets, etc. by discarding and replaying them, like Ancient stones or Grotesque Statue. This also works for mystics with Sixth Sense and similar spells.
Magnifying Glass: Cheap boost while investigating
Drawing Thin: Ressources or cards if you can afford to fail some tests or you don't care about the higher difficulty. Can add more secrets to Ancient Stone 1 if you beat the higher difficulty (use Hyperawareness or similar cards to beat the difficulty)
Teamwork: Opens some crazy combos by switching ressources, (XP) items and allies.
Hallowed Mirror: Everyone can heal HP/ Sanity now.
St. Hubert's Key: +1 and but pretty expensive.
Mariner's Compass: Not very useful in survivor because they have very few boosts. Gets a lot better the higher your (obviously). So get 1 more clue each turn if you don't need many ressources. Compared to Fingerprint Kit it has no limit but does not provide +1.
Lonnie Ritter If you need sanity or stamina healing, lonnie is a very good investment as her healing does not cost an action, like most other assets. Her +1 is also a very good side effect. Just be aware that you need an asset with damage on it to trigger her ability, also see her card's page for details. Combine with Solemn Vow to heal the team.
Winifred Habbamock loves this card. Being able to access to Track Shoes is a pretty good deal. She's using many ability cards that allow you to draw cards from your deck on top of her own ability. You will run through your whole deck many times most of the times anyway. A bigger deck means you'll take more time to cycle it and get less horror from that. Same for Patrice Hathaway
So, now every investigator is able to blur the lines regarding classes not just those came with Dunwich Legacy, but there is a catch: The card has an experience cost attached to it so in campaign play you have to buy it later, you cannot start with it. The issue with that is, it also increases your deck size by +5 and deckbuilding rules have to be obeyed at any given time. Now, as far as I do understand it, this means you not only buy Versatile for 2 XP, but you have to immediately buy 5 level 0 cards for 5 xp as well ("Each card costs experience equal to the card's level, to a minimum of 1 (purchasing a level zero card still costs 1 experience). The number of pips beneath a card's cost indicates the card's level.") There seem to be no kind of "auto fill" like with cards lost due to exile.
So if I am right here, versatile increases your deck size, you have to spent all XP to fulfill the +5 deck size at once. I wonder, if am overlooking something currently, because evidently it would require hoarding XP and careful planning what seems to be a bit overdone just for a single level 0 card of any class.
I think this card pretty much exists solely so you can play Harvey Walters. Thrice-Damned Curiosity coupled with his high card draw is basically going to kill him. You can either build as a somewhat weird Harvey that doesn't like to draw and uses soaks to offset the damage (losing imo one of the best parts of being a Seeker class: turnover)... or just take this card and Deny Existence to effectively completely ignore his signature weakness.
Let me pop this into the collective consciousness of the AH community:
With the advent of the Edge of the Earth permanents (which all severely muck with your deck at 0 XP), where does versatile stand?
Should it be taboo'd down to 0? Should the number of new level 0 cards be changed from one to two so you can at least run a playset?
I think both. Versatile has a lot of problems as a design: Adding one card to your deck and increasing its size by 5 creates a very intense anti-synergy that makes it hard to justify this card. Likewise, being 2 XP to downgrade your deck in most ways is rough, and the only way to justify it is if you built your deck around a card you lack access to and you seriously risk never drawing it outside of Seeker.
But the idea of being able to get just ooooooone playset of a very useful card into the 'wrong' type of deck is very interesting, but the cost of 5 extra cards is pretty extreme on its own in a way that is not intuitive until you run the math.
At the very least one of these two things could stand to be changed. You have a little under 50/50 odds of getting what of getting the thing you paid 2XP for and ruined your deck probability to nab even with two copies on a hard mulligain, but at least that is remotely likely compared to going hard for your single splash and only finding it maybe twice a campaign in your opener as a 28% snag. Or if you could start with it you can build your deck more appropriately around those extra cards and you get at least one more chance to find that card you hurt your deck to get.