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.