Emergency Cache

As Synisill remarked in his review, this card does not see a lot of play. Why is that? Certainly, the level 0 Emergency Cache is a pretty playable card. It provides useful resource acceleration, which lets investigators get expensive cards into play much more quickly by sparing you the need to use multiple "take a resource" actions. Some investigators have access to superior cards for this role (e.g. Mystics with Uncage the Soul), but for a lot of investigators, Emergency Cache is still the best level 0 resource acceleration available.

So if Emergency Cache is pretty decent, and Emergency Cache II is clearly even better, why do so few people make the upgrade? The answer is twofold. First, it is important to note that although Emergency Cache II is clearly a better card than Emergency Cache, it is not actually better at the core mission of the card, which is to provide resource acceleration. Both the level 0 and level 2 versions get you more resources with equal speed.

The second reason, and the more critical one, is that paying two XP for +1 card is a lousy deal. This is because, at this point in this game's development, every investigator has access to a huge number of cards that can simply trounce that. Take Beat Cop II. That's also 2 XP. Compared to its level 0 version, you basically get two successful Fight actions that you can use whenever you want. A successful action is much more valuable than a card, and Beat Cop II gives you two of them! Or take Pickpocketing II. You get the Fast keyword, which is almost always better than +1 card (consider that you can use the action saved to draw a card, if you want to), and you get a substantially more powerful effect. Or Deduction II, which gives you +1 clue (and +1 to a skill test). Again, far superior to +1 card.

And, of course, spending 2 XP on a measly +1 card will also slow down your progress toward the high-XP game-changers--you know, the stuff like Lightning Gun, Key of Ys, Shrivelling V, and Will to Survive--the cards that can just dominate scenarios. Those cards are absolute bombs, and there is no way that a slightly more efficient Emergency Cache is going to justify delaying them.

I won't list all the XP options that trounce Emergency Cache II in terms of efficiency because it would just be a list of most of the XP cards in the game. The fact is that spending two XP for +1 card is simply behind the curve. XP is precious and immensely powerful in this game, and spending two to get an additional draw isn't worth it.

Flashlight

One of the best cards in the game on Expert. Flashlight is consistently very useful, so much so that I run it in the majority of my level 0 Expert decks.

The power of Flashlight lies in the fact that it can reduce test difficulty to 0, if it targets a 1 or 2 shroud location. That means every token except the autofail will succeed. Even the -8 is no threat! So Flashlight essentially equals three guaranteed clues from low-shroud locations. That's very strong.

The average token in the Expert chaos bag is usually somewhere between a -3 and -4, which means directly investigating a 2-shroud location with an Intellect value of less than 5 tends to go very poorly. Yes, you could just let the party's Seeker handle the low-shroud locations; but it's extremely useful for the non-Seekers to chip in with a few clues. The team can advance the Act deck far faster if the Seeker gets some help. Flashlight is one of the most reliable ways to provide that.

Flashlight does face competition from other cards that can help low-Intellect characters pick up clues, cards like Scene of the Crime or "Look what I found!". But it can get more clues than any one of these events, albeit at the cost of more actions.

In a pinch, of course, Flashlight can also be used on a 3+ shroud location to boost your odds of success. There its benefit is much less dramatic; and on Expert it's generally best to either a) cheat out clues from high-shroud locations or b) let the Seeker handle them. But sometimes you've got to improvise, and if you urgently need to crack a high-shroud location, Flashlight can certainly help.

A further benefit of Flashlight is that it stays in play when its charges are exhausted. This makes it useful fodder to protect your essential assets from the likes of Crypt Chill, Pushed into the Beyond, Corrosion, etc.

Three more synergies should be mentioned. First, Flashlight turns Double or Nothing into a de facto Deduction (if used on a low-shroud location), which is a very nice play. Second, Flashlight works very well in conjunction with "Look what I found!". Investigate a 3 or 4 shroud location with Flashlight and it is guaranteed that you will either succeed, or you will fail by 2 or less and be able to play "Look what I found!". Third, if your Seeker friend is running Arcane Insight, you can combine it with Flashlight to near-automatically crack 3-4 shroud locations, too.

So under what circumstances should a level 0 Expert deck not run Flashlight? The first is if you can't afford to give up a hand slot. This isn't often the case with level 0 decks, but maybe if you were really excited to run Baseball Bat, Flashlight would not work. Of course, XP increases the value of hand slots, and adding powerful two-handed assets like Lightning Gun may necessitate dropping Flashlight down the road.

Seekers can also often skip Flashlight. If you can investigate with a base Intellect of 6+ (as all Seeker builds should aim to do), and your class provides plenty of efficient ways to boost yourself further, Flashlight's ability to auto-succeed on 1-2 shroud locations ceases to be that significant. Flashlight still isn't terrible, as +2 to three investigate tests is a decent return, but it's no longer a game-changer. Seekers can generally find more efficient investigation boosts from their own class, and leave Flashlight to their teammates.

Hiding Spot

This card combines very well with an Evade strategy. Especially in games with 3+ players enemies that you do not want to kill for whatever reasons will pile up on locations and will sometimes have to be evaded again and again while you are waiting for some crucial clues to be collected. Playing Hiding Spot on these locations will prevent the enemies from re-engaging in the upkeep phase and let the investigators use their actions for something else.

Emergency Cache

A deceptively powerful improvement over the basic Emergency Cache. Even leaving aside the powerful Strange Solution combo, this upgrade is fully TWICE as efficient as its base, if we assume that one card is roughly as valuable as one resource:

Standard gain resource action: 1 action => 1 resource: baseline efficiency.

Basic Emergency Cache: 1 action + 1 card => 3 resources: 1 point of efficiency (2 additional resources - 1 card).

2XP Emergency Cache: 1 action + 1 card => 3 resources + 1 card: 2 points of efficiency (2 additional resources - 0 cards).

3XP Emergency Cache: 1 action + 1 card => 4 resources: 2 points of efficiency (3 additional resources - 1 card).

This puts Emergency Cache on similar footing as Cryptic Research (which is a straight-up net of two cards with no action cost), with the added benefit that it's impossible to backfire by drawing weaknesses.

The real question is, can we justify spending an additional XP over the 2XP Emergency Cache? Yes, I think we can. The ability to convert one card into four resources is more tightly focused than the ability to convert one card into three resources and a card. Being able to pull out a Lightning Gun or a Leo De Luca quickly can make a huge difference to an investigator's chances.

Obviously, Hot Streak is on a whole other level, but any investigator without access to higher-level Rogue cards should consider picking this up.

An interesting case. I should say that the general assumption is that one card is stronger, and significantly so, than one resource. Perhaps you are right to say that if you're playing Emergency Cache, that's a sign that you really need resources, so card > resource calculus does not hold. Perhaps. — CaiusDrewart 587
In any case, though, 3 XP for an additional resource, if you're NOT taking advantage of the supply token function of this card, is grossly overcosted. Compare the upgraded Leo de Luca, which offers you a 1 resource discount for 1 XP. There are just a multitude of cards available to every single investigator which will give you far more bang for your XP buck. (If you ARE taking advantage of the supply token ability, then that's different. But if you're not, this is not a good card, at least not considering the XP price.) — CaiusDrewart 587
Well, I don't want to overstate my case. I'm not so much arguing that this is a top-tier card as I'm arguing that four resources is actually a twofold improvement over three, and that 3XP is reasonable costing for a twofold improvement over a 0XP card. Obviously, the card is only worth getting for characters who tend to need a lot of resources and don't have access to better economy sources - Zoey and certain builds of Finn, for example. Stand Together is lovely, but it doesn't address the common Zoey problem of having a huge gun in-hand that she cant get into play for an entire round. — sfarmstrong 1
How exactly can Cryptic Research not backfire by drawing weaknessess?? — matt88 4
Shrivelling

This is an exceptionally strong card. One of the most powerful and coveted upgrades in the game.

A repeatable source of 3-damage attacks is amazing. The number one way the developers make this game hard is by throwing lots of high-health health enemies at you. The number one way to lose is to draw more enemies in a short span than the team can deal with. A card that can repeatedly annihilate 3-health enemies in one action makes the game way easier. Being able to consistently crush the bigger stuff that comes out of the encounter deck in 2 actions is extremely useful, too.

Shrivelling V stands out as a particularly great purchase relative to the other superweapons in the game. Let's compare it to Lightning Gun (itself a very good card!). Shrivelling V is 3 resources cheaper, which is a huge deal, and has 33% more charges! It also has a far better slot situation as one arcane slot is a much smaller price to pay than 2 hand slots. Yes, you lose some to-hit bonus, but Shrivelling V's +3 bonus is still very good and will get results even on Expert. There is the horror penalty for Shrivelling V, which is harsh but has several workarounds (see below). All in all, I think the comparison is very favorable.

The 2 horror drawback is notable, one of the few "if you pull a special token" effects on a Mystic card that is harsh enough to make you sit up and take notice. But I find Shrivelling V well worth it. First, Mystics have naturally large sanity pools, and two excellent level 0 cards that can soak multiple horror. Mystics also have efficient in-faction horror healing if they want it. Second, since Mystics have really high Willpower, they take fewer horror from the encounter deck than anyone else. All this means that one sanity hit from Shrivelling V, or even two, is often not that a big deal.

Moreover, Mystics have an abundance of cards that cancel a bad token, let you redraw one, or let you draw two tokens and pick one (which drastically reduces your odds of triggering these effects.) You can combine any or all of these with Shrivelling V as the campaign goes on, which really neuters its drawback.

Note in particular how perfectly Grotesque Statue's 4 charges line up with Shrivelling V's 4 charges. I often aim to have both in my deck by the mid-to-late-campaign. If you get them both in play, you basically have 12 damage whenever you want it--damage that you can literally guarantee, even on Expert. Awesome.

To go back to the comparison with the game's other superweapons: compared to something like Lightning Gun or Shotgun, Shrivelling V is much more convenient. From a slot perspective and a resource perspective it's much easier to just pop it into your deck; you can easily still have the money and room to play other expensive and powerful stuff in addition. I'll repeat once more that 4 charges (that's 12 damage!) for 3 resources is just an amazing deal. It really is.

I end up buying this sooner or later (usually sooner) with pretty much every Mystic I play, and I really think it is one of the most important cards in the game for consistently winning at high levels.

Finally, the fact that Shrivelling V is a Spell is very helpful, given its powerful interactions with the likes of Arcane Initiate, Recharge, Uncage the Soul, and Arcane Research.

Technically, it has 33% more ammo than Lightning Gun, but who's counting. — SGPrometheus 72
Don't forget both Books of Shadows. The more expensive one grants an addtional arcane slot. — Django 772
@SGPrometheus: LOL, you are right. Let me fix that. :) — CaiusDrewart 587