By h4mx0r –
An overview of the different enhancements you can acquire in-game and my thoughts on their usefulness. This guide is mainly aimed at newbies who have not yet tried out all the enhancements yet.
This guide is mostly for newbies who haven’t had the chance to really try all the enhancements in the game yet. Due to the game’s RNG nature when dealing out cards and enhancements, what works for your run may be different than the norm. I may give an unfavorable opinion of an enhancement, but still end up using it because the other options aren’t great either.
As you play more of this game, you’ll come to develop your own conclusions towards how useful these enhancements are. These are just my two cents when I come across these enhancements in my playthroughs.
Apprenticeship: Reward cards are automatically upgraded (if an upgrade is available).
I like to pick this for my first enhancement during deck draft if given the option. Over the course of the game you’ll get a lot of reward cards to pick from. There is a ton of value in getting fully upgraded cards. Early on you’ll be hitting like a truck and late game your deck can remain more consistent (assuming you’re picking the right cards). Obviously, this enhancement gets less attractive as you get further in the game, because not only is the number of potential rewards dwindling, but your deck gets leaner and more focused and you start getting picky about what you take. Fantastic RNG can still keep feeding you though.
Bonus Combo: Gain 6 Combo every 5 turns.
You can play some combo heavy decks with this. I’m not a huge fan of this one as I personally think five turns it a long time. Consider that you’re usually trying to finish a stage in around 7 turns, you’ll probably only trigger this once. You’re better off building your combo regularly and picking another enhancement.
Bonus Move: Gain a “Free Movement” card each turn.
Free movement is a card that lets you move up to 2 spaces in any direction for free. That is really good, but there is a catch that is worth mentioning.
The catch is that it has to be the first card you play, otherwise it is discarded. That means you can’t prep your move with a block or attack. In that sense it’s not as flexible as you’d think. Still very good for emergencies, and especially when playing a Purist difficulty run. Also, unlike the ‘Emergency Move’ enhancement, you get one every turn, not just at the start of the fight.
Bounty Hunter: Gain an additional $5 at the end of a fight for every enemy knocked out (except enemy-spawned characters).
Basically amounts to about $20-$30 on average. Get this early and you can start making big bucks. Get this late, and it can still help pad out your upgrades.
Card Sharp: Choose from one extra card reward at the end of each fight.
It is what it says. The game naturally gives you a choice between three cards. Since it’s complete RNG what is presented to you, I don’t think it’s worth wasting an enhancement slot just to *maybe* see something you want as a 4th pick.
Card Shredder: Reduce the cost of card removal by $20.
Card removal typically costs $60 at the Gym. This is certainly useful for cutting the chaff out of your deck. However, in most of my runs, I don’t think I cut enough things to justify an enhancement slot on this. Unless I have literal dead weight in my deck, I’m usually more focused on spending money for upgrades. (Definitely cut out weak cards, but your deck only comes with so many and ideally you aren’t just making bad picks all day)
Combo Captain: Increase maximum combo by 5.
Good if you’re playing a combo heavy deck. Five extra combo is potentially a lot of extra damage. Look at all the upgraded versions of cards that care about your combo. They can pay off some massive damage. Yes, you can increase combo cap by two in some levels, but no one ever said no to an extra five! Of course, some decks are not combo reliant, and just make do with the base ten combo cap. If that is you, then you can safely skip this.
Deadly Deal: Lose 3 health every turn BUT restore health to maximum at the end of every fight.
This one is pretty useful, but it does put you on a clock. It lets you play a bit looser as long as you can finish the fight fast. Since you know you’re getting a full heal at the end, you can stand to take a hit or two. Increase your max health whenever you can to get more value out of this (and reduce your chances of accidentally dying to it)
Deep Pockets: Get an extra 15% on currency rewards.
Pretty straightforward. If your deck is having trouble meeting those side objectives, you may want to pass on this, since it basically only rewards you if you have a fast deck that can meet level requirements. (And often it is “beat the level in X turns”)
Distraction: Reduce incoming damage from attacks by 3.
This enhancement is VERY good. It might not sound like much especially in the late game when enemies can hit for 20+ damage… but there are also a lot of enemies who hit multiple times for small damage. For example, the infamous purple mohawk Rifleman. He can auto-attack three times for 8 damage each! Well, with Distraction, he only hits for 5 damage. If you hit him with a negative damage modifier he basically becomes harmless. (Yes, you can reduce an enemy’s damage to zero. Undermine is a very decent card.) Also, you know those times that you play a block, but the enemy does enough damage to chip you? Not anymore! Trust me, you’ll get a lot of mileage out of this enhancement. I’m not saying it’s a windmill slam insta-pick, but it’s pretty high up there.
I’m not saying you gotta use this combo, but it’s pretty dang funny to have a rifleman shoot at you with a wet noodle.
Also stronger enemies become much more manageable if you have to tank a hit.
Regular Undermine is -2 damage modifier
Upgraded Undermine is -6 damage modifier
Emergency Move: Gain an Emergency Move card at the start of each fight.
You get one ‘Emergency Move’ in your hand that you retain for the fight. It’s very similar to the ‘Bonus Move’ enhancement but unlike that one, you can hang on to Emergency Move until you really need it.
You only get one per fight, but it doesn’t get discarded if you don’t use it for your first action. I think I might prefer this one more due to the flexibility of when you want to use it. If you need multiple free movement cards, either your deck is built wrong, you have the worst RNG, or you’re being too reckless.
This is merely my preference though. Both are good.
Enhanced Facilities: Gain 25 extra Health when you heal at a Medical Facility
90% of the time this just means a full heal for $40. It comes in handy sometimes but I usually won’t pick this if there’s something else. Much like health insurance in the real world, you’re better off picking preventative care instead of reactive care. (Which means go pick something that’ll help you win fights fast and/or safely so you don’t need to go heal so bad)
Fast Heal: Recover 6 Health after completing a fight.
Not bad. If you’re playing right, usually you get through fights unscathed or with a little bit of chip damage. Six health will fix that right up. If you make a big mistake and lose a big chunk of health, you can get it all back if you can be more careful and breeze through the next few stages. It should keep you at least patched up enough to survive until you either get to a hospital or bypass one because you’re still healthy.
You can negate the self-damaging effects of cards like these with Fast Heal.
If you play carefully you can keep using cards like these and not need to visit a medical facility.
Fast Learner: All purchased cards are automatically upgraded (if an upgrade is available).
Not as good as ‘Apprenticeship’ because of two reasons. First, is that you have to spend money on cards. That means in the worst case, you don’t have enough money to buy a card you want. Second, you only get to hit up so many gyms in the game, whereas ‘Apprenticeship’ triggers at the end of every fight. If you end up needing to go to a hospital, then you skip a gym opportunity as well. That being said, if ‘Apprenticeship’ is not available to you, this can still work in a pinch if acquired early. It’s not that great but it’s not the worst either.
First Turn Redraw
First Turn Redraw: Gain Redraw card on first turn of each fight.
Mulligan! It’s very nice to have but not necessary. If you don’t like the other enhancement picks, this can be decent. ‘Redraw’ will let you discard your hand and draw that many cards. This is most useful in protecting you from a bad starting hand and getting wrecked on turn one. Keep in mind that ‘Redraw’ is not retained, so if you don’t use it, it gets shuffled into your deck.
Impenetrable: Gain 25% extra Block when Block is added.
Situational. If you’re playing a defensive counter-strike sort of deck, this is really good. If your blocks are upgraded, this can be the difference between taking chip damage and completely preventing damage. Late game, this can help you tank hits from multiple strong enemies. However, aggressive decks tend to rely on dodges or attacks, and won’t benefit very much from this. If you’re not playing a block almost every turn, then avoid this one.
Increasing Strength: Gain +2 damage modifier every 3 turns.
Pretty good. Extra damage modifier is always welcome. Three turns isn’t too shabby, as your fights probably last twice or maybe thrice as long. There are faster ways to gain damage modifier via cards, but you can still supplement any deck with this enhancement.
Lean Decker: Gain $20 every time you skip a card reward.
This is like Bounty Hunter. This will really shine in the mid-to-late game, but can also pay off early game as well. Once you’re familiar with this game, you’ll often be presented with choices that just aren’t favorable to the deck you want to build. $20 for skipping? Hell yeah! That’s $20 closer to an upgrade, or removal, or a heal, or… you get the idea.
Momentum Boost: Increase maximum and per turn Momentum by 1.
Obviously Momentum is important. There is a world of difference between having three and four Momentum. Sometimes four momentum is all you need to play your entire hand. If you get five, there’s almost no limit to what you can play. More than that? Gravy. This enhancement is straightforward. However, late-game if you need to replace an enhancement to make room for a new one, consider getting rid of this one if you managed to pick up some Momentum upgrades in your run. Five or more momentum is pretty solid generally.
Momentum Master: Increase maximum and per turn Momentum by 2.
See ‘Momentum Boost’. Same thing, but strictly better.
Peripheral Vision: Add 1 Block per enemy on turn start.
On average you’re looking at maybe three to four block per turn. Maybe more if things get out of hand. Most useful if you’re playing cards that let you retain your block over turns. There are usually better enhancements to work with.
Resilience: Add 3 Block per turn.
Straightforward. I think it’s better than ‘Peripheral Vision’ because it’s more consistent. It only loses out when there are four or more enemies on the board, but one extra point of block isn’t going to change much in those situations. ‘Distraction’ is still better, but I digress. Resilience isn’t that bad. It can help shore up your defenses on a defensive deck, but I don’t see too much use in other deck builds.
Special Serum: Remove Combo cap. Lose all Combo if you play no attacks in a turn.
This can get real nuts real fast with the right deck and some luck. You won’t even have to pay attention to those combo upgrade rewards on stages. You’ll drop your combo occasionally but if your deck is built right, you should be able to jump-start your combo again.
Steel Body: Add 8 to Max Health
You get eight additional max health. It’s a pretty boring enhancement. Counter-striker deck comes with one by default. I’d only pick this if the other options were terrible. It is universal because you can always use extra health, but it doesn’t exactly help you win situations. It doesn’t improve your deck and it doesn’t improve your strategies. It’s better than nothing but still.
Strength: Apply +2 damage modifier to attacks.
Also a little boring like ‘Steel Body’, but much more useful. The more damage you do, the faster you can finish the fight. Damage modifiers are always good.
Tactician: Increase Card Draw by 1.
Top tier. There is no other effect in the game that lets you consistently draw an extra card per turn. Best card advantage effect in the game. More cards drawn means more options. More options means more ways to win and more ways to survive. Combine this with Momentum upgrades and you now have a huge advantage.
Toned Physique: Gain 5 Health every time you skip a card reward.
This is like ‘Fast Heal’ except it only triggers when you skip a card reward. Technically sometimes a stage will have two card rewards, but it’s really situational. I don’t really have anything to add here except that it’s a ‘Fast Heal’ that doesn’t always trigger.
Twitchy: Combo never drops below 1.
It is not as useful as it sounds. It can help you restart your combos but that shouldn’t be much of a problem unless you’ve heavily skewed your deck towards combo-costing cards and can’t draw enough non-combo attack cards consistently.
Versatility: Open up two additional enhancement slots.
This is a trap during selection. It doesn’t do anything by itself early game, and it probably won’t pay off if you get it late game. The only way for it to pay off is total RNG. Over the course of a normal run, you’ll only pick up four guaranteed enhancements. One of which you must replace to keep (because you have four slots, you start with one, but earn four more, so five total) I’ve created a visual aide to explain why it’s kind of useless.
Okay so how do you make Versatility pay off?
Well, there’s only one way to get more enhancements besides boss battles, and that’s the EVENT spaces on the overworld map. However, this is total RNG. There’s no guarantee that you will get an event that grants you a new enhancement. If you are lucky and get an event with such a reward, it usually is followed by a risk/reward where you might earn an injury instead. Finally, even if you strike lucky and get rewarded the enhancement… it might not be something useful that you want. And to enable all of this, you have to take Versatility which is now a dead slot until you manage to pick up something from an EVENT space.
As you can see, most enhancements will serve a purpose, though some of them are above and beyond the others.
Certain enhancements seem like instant locks like Tactician and Momentum Mastery, whereas others like Resilience and Deep Pockets might take a bit of thought. I didn’t include injuries because those are negative effects that you always want to avoid.
As you play this game over and over, you’ll figure out what works for you and when a certain enhancement prove to be more useful, but I hope this guide has given you a baseline to start your strategies with.