Slotless reoccurring skill boosts are generally amazing, and this would be no exception ... if it weren't for the fact that Recall the Future is half the XP cost and only triggers when you need it. There are two upsides to this card vs Recall: the first is that Recall only covers one "out of range" token, while this is a normal skill boost, but I think half a Lucky! is still better than a Guts; the second is that after you use the two resources off of it you're left with an Arcane Studies (0), but to be honest I just haven't liked any of that cycle since the cardpool got big enough to not need filler cards.
Uses (2 resources). Replenish these resources at the start of each round.
Spend 1 resource from your resource pool or from Arcane Studies: You get +1 or +1 for this skill test.
As an upgrade to the regular Arcane Studies, this is a rather impressive and really cool upgrade, turning a card that occasionally gives a bonus when you have extra money, to a card which gives bonuses all the time. It is impressive enough to consider whether you would want to take it primarily for its free bonuses, even if you would not put the basic version of the card in your deck. For that purpose, the closest other Mystic card to compare it to would seem to be Recall the Future, so here is a comparison:
- The +2 bonus from Arcane Studies is a much stronger bonus than +2 on only a single named token. The comparison depends very much on the bag and the circumstances, but I'd estimate it is roughly twice as strong as the bonus from Recall the Future, or perhaps a teensy bit less.
- The full free +2 bonus can only be used once per turn, while the bonus from Recall the Future can usually be used on every test during a turn, since you won't often be forced to exhaust it.
- Recall the Future can be used on any kind of skill test, Arcane Studies cannot be used on combat and agility checks.
- Arcane Studies also has the ability of the original Arcane Studies to let you spend extra money to increase the bonus or use it more times.
- Arcane Studies costs two more experience points.
In general, since it is fairly common for characters not to make many skill checks during a turn, and one of those checks may be more important than the others, I tend to think that (1) outweighs (2) and is a small net advantage for arcane studies. But the difference is not enough to outweigh (5), so it comes down to (3) and (4). Standard spellcasting Mystics don't use combat or agility very much at all, but if you are making a character who does routinely fight with combat or evade with agility, you will want Recall the Future. And if you are tight with money and don't ever expect to use (4), you will also prefer Recall the Future. But otherwise, this is a good solid card, and is worth putting in a deck if you would have been interested in the original version of arcane studies but felt it was not efficient enough to be worthwhile.
4XP is a lot, but I like this suite of card designs. Recurring credits were a definite thing in Netrunner, and they are just as good here. Getting a +2 for an Investigation, or boosting almost any spell by +2 once a turn is pretty nice, and this will help with most of the Parlay tests that come up in scenarios. And, of course, if there is some ridiculously high test, you can always spend resources on it. It's gravy that it refills at the beginning of the Round, so it's available for Treachery defense.