Monday, April 27, 2015

1.2 Criminal - Core Set

Criminal core set has long been regarded as the repository for several of the most powerful cards in the game. For many tournaments and events Criminal dominated the playscape on the runner’s side, and many of them were using quite a bit of core set cards, even though so many new cards had been released to the blue.

Criminal has been said to be the faction that makes runs light and lean. With very few either cost efficient or cheap icebreakers in faction, they rely on other ways to get into servers. They don’t brute force their way past the ICE, they slip through, over, around, bypassing or not even going the same path. It has been said that the best Criminal players never play an icebreaker, and still are able to win the game.

This article was written with the meta up through “The Valley/Breaker Bay” having just been released. This article is about the opinions of the writer, as a review of cards as they are seen throughout the length of the game. The main goal of the article is for new players to have an understanding of the history of the cards as the meta evolved, and for experienced players to maybe re-look at a cards they long since dismissed. (It is a nice side effect that the writer learns more about the cards as well).

Gabriel Santiago: Consummate Professional Identity: Cyborg (#17 Core Set)

Gabriel Santiago: Consummate ProfessionalImpact 4 out of 5

Gabe has been a runner that has seen a lot of use. He fell to the less popular side as Andromeda took over during the Genesis Cycle, but he always seems to make a comeback. His ability is very useful, and focuses a lot of the runner’s attention on HQ. New players who are having trouble understanding how often to run might want to consider playing Gabe a few times; because his ability is focused on a successful run there is pressure to make those runs.

It appears at times that even experienced runners drift back to Gabe from Andromeda after a time, if just looking for something different while keeping a lot of their favorite tricks. He continues to shine, with new cards interacting wonderfully with his ability. “Sir Gabe” using Knight was very popular for a while, as you could access HQ through a single early piece of ICE for, most of the time, basically free.

In the end, he has a reliable, stable ability that continues to be useful even late game, and because of the strength of the rest of the Criminal cards, he will often be used.

Account Siphon Event: Run - Sabotage (#18 Core Set)

Account Siphon
Impact 5 out of 5

No other card in the entire pool of Netrunner cards has had the impact that Account Siphon has had. For months it was complained as impossible to deal with, especially with some of the runner decks designed to be able to play the card 10+ times over the course of a game.

On the surface it doesn’t seem that bad. If you clear the tags you gained from it, it would only be a 6 credit gain at best, right? That is assuming there was no ICE that had to be dealt with. It is however, a potential 15 credit swing, in total, and at the time there was not a lot of tag punishment outside of Scorched Earth. It was primarily responsible for the creation of the ‘Tagme’ archetype of play, where runners used very little Resource cards and didn’t bother clearing tags away.

Even more important than the credits gained or the total swing was the fact that it caused the corp to go broke, very fast. A poor corp can’t rez ICE. They cannot score agendas. They cannot use their cards. Even Hedge Fund becomes unusable. Account Siphon Spam led to broke corps all across the world, and that in turn let runners get into all their servers.

Play has developed and while Account Siphon is still a dangerous card, it at least has lost some of the fury directed at it. Players have learned to play around it, ICEing HQ if they suspect it with a good piece of ICE that could stop them, maybe even double ICEing. Dropping money into traces or rezing upgrades to prevent the runner from gaining credits.

While there has been no ‘silver bullet’ directly printed to deal with Account Siphon (though some claimed Targeted Marketing would be such a card, it didn’t really pan out to be. Crisium Grid however, is very close to being so) the increase of cards that can interact and deal unfortunate effects against the runner for being tagged helped mitigate some of the strength of Account Siphon. In addition, the increase in good, playable resources led to less a desire for playing ‘tagme’ style.

Account Siphon still is a powerful and useful card for keeping the corp broke and the runner rich. It will continue to be one for as long as money is an issue in Netrunner, which is to say: for all time.

(Edit: It was pointed out that the card Sealed Vault is effectively a Silver Bullet to Account Siphon. By the time it was released however, players had learned to deal with Account Siphon through more soft counters like trace ICE and rezzing assets/upgrades that spending a whole deck slot just against Account Siphon did not seem very worthwhile)

Easy Mark Event: Job (#19 Core Set)

Easy MarkImpact 2 out of 5

At first Easy Mark was played in many decks, Criminal and otherwise. Like the corporation version Beanstalk Royalties it was a quick, cheap way to gain credits for a single click. It was, and still is, very efficient. As mentioned on this blog before, however, the one area of power creep for Netrunner is economy. Card slots are always at a premium in any deck, and just gaining 3 credits isn’t enough, not when there are much better, more efficient methods out there

Like Beanstalk, it has fallen considerably out of use as the economy options grow. It is unlikely to come back into play either, if only because it could be replaced with a card that does the same thing, but better.

Forged Activation Orders Event: Sabotage (#20 Core Set)

Forged Activation OrdersImpact 3 out of 5

A useful card, if not entirely at first glance. A new player may wonder why you would want to give the corp the option to rez a piece of ICE - doesn’t that make it harder for a runner? In effect it is good, either way the corp chooses. Either the ICE is gone, or the runner knows exactly what breaker they need to go get to deal with it. Plus the money was spent, possibly leaving the corp in a position where they do not have the money to rez ICE on another server.

When used against ICE like Archer it can be even more devastating. The additional cost must still be paid, and getting an Archer targeted by Forged Activation Orders is a very painful choice for the corp.

It has a lot of great use, and it often see’s play. It isn’t a card that has been the bane of someone’s existence like Account Siphon, nor is it one that is forgotten when players make decks. It sits comfortably in the middle of the pack as a good card.

Inside Job Event: Run (#21 Core Set)

Inside JobImpact 4 out of 5

Inside Job get’s a 4 rating because of the simple fact that all players must learn to play around it. It will be in Criminal decks, and without a card like Guard handy, any server protected by a single piece of ICE is a prime target for Inside Job.

It also is a perfect example of the playstyle of Criminal. As mentioned in the introduction to this article, it allows the runner to get in without icebreakers. That alone has given it power.

It may not be a card that has turned the meta on its head, left people raging or celebrating, or made a huge memory in players minds, it still has a very large impact on how the game is played.

Special Order Event (#22 Core Set)

Special OrderImpact 3 out of 5

A card that is a very nice tutor for your icebreakers, it must be remembered that any use of this card increases the cost of your icebreakers by a credit and a click. It is also a bad idea to play this card without being able to install and make a run that same turn. The corp now knows what icebreaker is in the runner’s grip, and can install ICE that is not of that type if they need to protect servers.

It is a solidly useful card, as are most Criminal cards of the core set, providing a good way to get single copies of icebreakers when you need them. That can be a dangerous proposition if there is no way in a runner’s deck to retrieve those single copies should they be trashed, but it also provides a way for single specialized breakers like Deus X or Sharpshooter to be found when needed. It continues to be used and as a tutor, will always be useful.

Lemuria Codecracker Hardware (#23 Core Set)

Lemuria CodecrackerImpact 1 out of 5

Expose abilities are seemingly underrated through most of the game. While information is always useful to have, having to spend an action on that alone has never really caught on in competitive decks. Silhouette at the least get’s the expose for doing something she already wants to be doing - making runs. Doing it for an additional click and a credit is often seen as too slow, or a waste of time. Why not just run instead and find out what it is while forcing the corp to spend money, and possibly be able to deal with whatever was going to be exposed all in the same click?

The argument against that is traps, such as Project Junebug of course. Most of the time however it is simply easier to prepare for the worst when running into what could be trap. Protection, enough cards in hand, a click and money to clear any tags, and traps are far less dangerous than the need to spend an entire click on exposing them.

Interestingly however, the release of Government Takeover might just give some runners an incentive to pack some expose. Some decks have tried to score a Takeover by advancing it slowly, one counter a turn, making it look like a Trick of Light battery, or a failed trap. Likewise, they do the same thing with traps. A four advanced Junebug or Cerebral Overwriter is a bad bad thing to run into, and expose could let you know if you need to make that run or not to stop the corp from winning with a scored Takeover.

Still, expose remains on the weak side of the design space for Netrunner. It has a lot of places to go, and if explored Codecracker may come back into vogue, but until then it has little to no impact.

Desperado Hardware: Console (#24 Core Set)

DesperadoImpact 5 out of 5

Often rated as the single best  console in the game, Desperado is one of the primary pioneers of the idea of ‘click compression’. Its ability at first glance does not sound like very much, but combined with Datasucker (which can be considered credits for dealing with the strength relation of icebreakers and ICE), Dirty Laundry or Bank Job, and other effects that trigger off a run, it simply adds to the pile of effectiveness for that single click.

As more and more consoles come out, Desperado still remains one of the strongest. Even ignoring the idea of click compression, the runner wants to run. It is the only way for the runner to win the game, realistically (baring milling the corp, which has yet to be a truly effective strategy) and gaining a credit for doing what is already going to be done anyways is simply powerful.

There are a lot of great consoles in Criminal, but all of them are very specific in their abilities. Any one of them coming into play is going to show the corp what that runner deck is built around. Desperado is so generic in its strength that it still leaves any option open for where the runner may go, giving the corp less information to work from.

It continues to see play, and will for a very long time as a console that is simply effective and generic enough to be good in almost any deck.

Aurora Program: Icebreaker - Fracter (#25 Core Set)

AuroraImpact 1 out of 5

From the highs of Account Siphon and Desperado to the lows of Aurora, Core Set Criminal has a lot of very interesting design choices. At first glance Aurora may seem like a good answer to some very big barriers, but its not. On all the barriers, the likes of Corroder is still cheaper (for new players, see the website Sneakdoor Zeta for a comparison of how much it costs breakers to break a piece of ICE). Perhaps if influence was a problem, then maybe aurora would be more useful alternative. However, Criminal has the likes of Inside Job and Femme Fatale to get around big beefy ICE.

With cards like Breach having been released, while limited to Central Servers, it is as effective, if not greatly more, than Aurora against every single piece of ICE it can interact with.  The math doesn’t lie, Aurora remains one of the least effective breakers in the entire game. Barriers may be the weak spot for Criminal icebreakers, but all that means is that it is time to use the tools already available to get past them, rather than rely on horribly expensive means.

Femme Fatale Program: Icebreaker - Killer (#26 Core Set)

Femme FataleImpact 4 out of 5

While at first glance Femme may seem extremely expensive (and indeed, she is) her bypass ability is incredibly powerful. That ability alone is what has given her the impact she has. Being able to get around a Tollbooth for a single credit completely destroys the taxing hope of the corp wherever they placed that Tollbooth. (For new players, a run happens during the runners turn, so Femme's ability resolves first before, bypassing the ICE - it is never encountered, so the encounter ability of Tollbooth does not resolve.) It allows bypass of high strength low subroutine ICE for a pittance, an even multiple subroutine ice is considerably cheaper most of the time.

While Femme is indeed expensive, that too has become less and less of an issue. Economy power creep and tricks like Test Run into Scavenge or other methods of getting her onto the table for far less credits make her even more effective. Her bypass ability is also very useful in core, with the fact that core set Criminal cards contain no decoders.

Femme is often a one of include in decks, for making taxing ICE not so taxing. She continues to be played for that reason, and will see great effect into the future.

Ninja Program: Icebreaker - Killer (#27 Core Set)

NinjaImpact 2 out of 5

While not as bad as Aurora, it is still not the most effective icebreaker. For strength 5 or 4 sentries it is amazingly efficient, but outside of that small window it becomes either horribly expensive or utterly overcosted.

Killers are criminals most effective icebreaker type, but most of their breakers are often overscored by the likes of Mimic, with tricks. Ninja may not see as much use as Faerie or even
Alias it still has seen some use in influence heavy Criminal decks, though not much use outside of blue.

Sneakdoor Beta Program (#28 Core Set)

Sneakdoor BetaImpact 3 out of 5

A card that certainly could see more use in the future, Sneakdoor Beta is often the surprise that corp players simply aren’t ready for. Spreading ICE thin over servers that are not getting attacked is a danger for corps. Sneakdoor forces archives to be ICE’d, especially late game when agendas may be sitting in HQ waiting for scoring windows.

It fell out of favor because of the 2 MU cost, making it hard to keep around with a full breaker suite. It makes surprise appearances in decks from time time, and is a good way for blue to force the corp to ICE Archives. As a one of in the tutor heavy Shaper decks, it is great for that quick and sudden surprise run.

It may have fallen a bit out of favor because it initiates the run, so it can’t be used with the likes of Account Siphon, Legwork, or any other Run Event. It is likely to see a resurgence in popularity as it fades from memory, to be a surprise for the corp. Many cards do this, going into and out of popularity in decks simply because the other side is ready for them. When they stop preparing for them all the time because no one plays them anymore, it is time to bring them back.

Bank Job Resource: Job (#29 Core Set)

Bank JobImpact 3 out of 5

A useful way to make money, Bank Job was used as a primary tool for economy for blue for a long while. As the economy power creep continued, it fell out of use as such, though it continued to be an effective way to ‘punish’ the corp for leaving unprotected remotes.

It has a slight weakness that if the server disappears while being run (through, for instance, Jackson Howard being already rezzed and used with no ICE on the server) the run is neither successful or unsuccessful, the click is lost, and the money is not gained.

It has had its day in the sun, and as a way to make money it may be a little more effective with the horizontal play style that has been gaining traction.

Crash Space Resource: Location (#30 Core Set)
Crash SpaceImpact 2 out of 5

It may have been the only way to prevent Meat Damage in the core set, but it quickly lost popularity when Plascrete Carapace was released. The recurring credits to remove a tag might be nice in combination with Account Siphon or other tagme type cards, but have to be used at least twice for it to provide a benefit over clearing tags without Crash Space

When the cycle rotation comes into play in a few years, it might see more use - Plascrete will be going out of rotation, and unless something similar is printed, Crash Space may see use then as a viable protection.

Data Dealer Resource: Connection - Seedy (#31 Core Set)

Data DealerImpact 2 out of 5

A card with a hefty price. Though the boost of credits can be quite the surge for runners, and close off corp scoring windows rather suddenly, it is very hard to reliably use. Like most ‘forfeit an agenda costs on cards, it is best used with 1 point agendas (or 0 point like Domestic Sleepers). The runner however has no way to guarantee that those will be available. There may be none in the deck to steal, or the runner may only have seen 3 pointer agendas. Sacrificing 3 points, especially if the runner is on 6 already, for, at best, a chance to score an agenda is not a good trade off.

Design wise it is very similar to Stimhack in gaining the nine credits for a steep price. The use of Stimhack to get into servers unexpectedly is well known, and a thought could be said that Data Dealer could be used for the same. There comes two problems with this. First, as a Resource there is no surprise factor. It would take three clicks to play, click for nine credits, and make a run compared to a single click with Stimhack. Second, more often than not the only agendas available to be forfeited would be of the same point value (or greater!) than the one being stolen.

There was some consideration of Data Dealer when Shi.Kyū was released, and it has seem some work in a Connections style criminal deck with Calling in Favors - at least in that style of deck it has a purpose if no agendas are worth being forfeited to it.

Data Dealer could see some use in the future, but it is likely to be a niche card used against certain decks, and so not very likely to be seen in competitive play.

Decoy Resource: Connection (#32 Core Set)

DecoyImpact 2 out of 5

The best thing Decoy has going for it is its instant speed use of avoiding a tag. Decoy allows the runner to take the tag a SEA Source would give in preparation for a double Scorched and instantly avoid it, protecting them from the inevitable block explosions that follow. It has also been used for cards like Activist Support to protect it long enough for that bad publicity to fire.

Its real weakness is the single use it has. Tagstorm through the likes of Midseason Replacements makes it a useless protection, and other methods of tagging are so prevalent that a single use won’t protect when the time comes for the corp to make use of those tags.

Criminal in Core

Perhaps most interesting is that Criminal cards in core were either the absolute strongest the game had (and for a few, still has) seen, or they were pretty much ignored. Account Siphon and Desperado will be fixtures in blue decks for practically all time, but the likes of Aurora will never see widespread accepted use. Criminal were set up strong in the core set, and that strength showed through many tournaments and many seasons.

Next week, the deadly Jinteki

The red corp, with its net damage and its shell games full of traps and prickly situations is next week!

Reminder: This article was written with the meta up through “The Valley/Breaker Bay” having just been released. This article is about the opinions of the writer, as a review of cards as they are seen throughout the length of the game. The main goal of the article is for new players to have an understanding of the history of the cards as the meta evolved, and for experienced players to maybe re-look at a cards they long since dismissed. (It is a nice side effect that the writer learns more about the cards as well).

Monday, April 20, 2015

1.1 Haas Bioroid - Core Set

Haas Bioroid is a corporation with very interesting strengths. Its in faction Bioroids are strong for their cost; ICE with the rez cost to strength ratios that Bioroids have is generally a trait of HB. They do have a built in drawback of being porous in a unique way however.  In addition, HB is the corp that deals most extensively in Brain Damage effects, frying the neurons of unwary runners that fall victim to its traps.

Core Set HB saw some use - Engineering the Future is a solid ID, and remains strong even to this day. It got its best swing when Creation and Control was released, but even before that HB was a strong contender in most meta’s. As the flavor text on Engineering the Future states the goal of HB is to be Effective. Reliable. (Humane?), and the identity of the Core Set is certainly that. 

This article was written with the meta up through “The Valley” having just been released. This article is about the opinions of the writer, as a review of cards as they are seen throughout the length of the game. The main goal of the article is for new players to have an understanding of the history of the cards as the meta evolved, and for experienced players to maybe re-look at a cards they long since dismissed. (It is a nice side effect that the writer learns more about the cards as well).

Haas-Bioroid: Engineering The Future Identity:Megacorp (#54 Core Set)

Haas-Bioroid: Engineering the FutureImpact 4 out of 5

Out of all the core set Identities, Engineering The Future was one of the strongest, and remains so. Along side Weyland’s Building a Better Future it pushed one of the earliest aspects of the meta - Corporation economy dominance. The single credit may not seem like much, but it is reliable, and like several runner cards, allowed a compression of actions. The corp is going to be installing anyway, right? To be able to also gain a credit in the same click helped keep the corp running smoothing. Efficient almost.

ETF remains strong even into the current meta, being a typical choice for a lot of HB Fast Advance style decks. It remains strong and impactful even to the point where most HB deck lists that pop up on the internet are often challenged with the line: “This would run better out of ETF.” That makes this one of the more dominate identities. No other identity within HB has had dominance at all in the metas, though fringe cases may occur. Only Cerebral Imaging has even come close; however even those decks are mostly combo decks relying on putting many pieces together.

This dominance might have a limited scope with some of the upcoming spoiled identities for HB, but even so, how many decks presented in any of these identities will be challenged with ‘This would be better in ETF’?  The smoothing out of the economy, even if it is no longer a dominance like the days of just the Core Set or a few data packs, remains a strong and viable ability.

Accelerated Beta Test Agenda: Research (#55 Core Set)

Accelerated Beta TestImpact 4 out of 5

One of the few “Three for Two” agendas, Accelerated Beta Test was, and still is, a staple among HB Decks. While its ability may not always be used (‘Fired’ as the lingo states) the fact that it is a 3/2 Agenda is strong for all decks. The ability to put it down and advance it out entirely in either one turn with tricks like Biotic Labor or SanSan City Grid or two turns without giving away that it is an agenda (because you don’t have to advance it the first turn to score) is very powerful.

Certainly this agenda found some more consistent use after Jackson Howard came onto the scene, giving a very common and useful way to protect the corporation against a bad activation of its ‘when scored’ ability. NEXT Design also gave it some life, with the math that 22-26 pieces of ICE is the way to ensure a full effect of NEXT’s first turn. That much ICE in a deck made firing an ABT much more reliable.

As the design space moved on to exclude further 3/2’s from the new card pool, ABT remains strong even with a less than always desirable ability. It will continue to be played in HB for all time, just because of its very cost effective to point value and ability to be scored out in one turn.

Adonis Campaign Asset: Advertisement (#56 Core Set)

Adonis CampaignImpact 3 out of 5

Adonis Campaign is one of the more common drip economies that require influence. It certainly has seen its play, holding quite a bit of money on it. It also tends to be rather safe. If the runner trashes it before it is rezed, they are out 3 and the corp is just out a click of the install. If they trash after its rezzed and fired once, its only a credit lost. Trash it after it has fired more than once and it is almost not worth it for the runner. It must be said that the only time to rez an Adonis Campaign is during the paid ability window at the end of the runner's turn. This way the runner doesn't have a chance to trash it, and the corp gets the first income drip right away. Rezing it any time before that just gives the runner a chance to trash it without the corp collecting any money.

The existence of Eve Campaign means it can often be overshadowed. Eve has longer staying power and a higher trash cost, even if it does provide less per turn than Adonis. Combined however, they make a potent drip economy, especially with the likes of PAD Campaign. Adonis lower rez cost is often what gets it in the door over Eve, combined with the greater per turn gain.

That does not mean Adonis is useless however. It is good, reliable money, and even if the runner is just trashing it as soon as they can, then it is causing them to spend money on actions that are not stealing agendas or preparing to steal agendas. It continues to see use, and will continue to be a solid useful bit of drip economy.

Aggressive Secretary Asset: Ambush (#57 Core Set)

Aggressive SecretaryImpact 3 out of 5

Jinteki may have been the trap king of the core set box, but Aggressive Secretary has still been a useful card for many decks. It may not be as scary as it’s brain damage cousin, Cerebral Overwriter, but it is perhaps a little more powerful. Trashing installed programs without ICE is a rare effect, one the runner has little way to protect themselves from. Destroyer ICE, that is ICE with the Destroyer keyword that most often has a trash program subroutine, are almost always Sentries. While a few exceptions exist, it is very safe for a runner to find their sentry breaker if they are worried about losing an important program, or put down a Sharpshooter to protect themselves.

Aggressive Secretary takes that protection away. Only Sacrificial Construct can give a shield sort of effect, and only once. AggSec is very often placed to open up a scoring window. Not only does the runner have to run it - possibly through layers of ice they paid to get through, but losing a key breaker can keep them out. With a fracter gone from the table, those end the run barrier ice are suddenly much more imposing again. Even if it is only for a turn or two until the runner can get a fracter back out, it is still a window to score. As one of the few advanceable traps, it is well used even without the program destruction, even if it just is for causing the runner to use up their credits to get in.

Still, it is not that easy. Shaper in particular, but imported to other runners, have a large amount of recursion in their decks. Bringing programs back from the heap is very easy to do, and often can be done on the fly. There is no scoring window if the runner just uses a Clone Chip to bring their icebreaker back.

There is a bit of a light for AggSec however. Cards like Scheherazade, Leprechaun,, and other Daemons are a great target for AggSec, usually destroying two or three programs at the same time and leaving the runner without a vital piece of their rig. Programs always need to be trashed, if just to set the runner back a few clicks, and AggSec will always be an option for that.

Archived Memories Operation (#58 Core Set)

Archived MemoriesImpact 2 out of 5

One of the few methods of recursion for the corp, Archived Memories is strong for that regard alone. However, it does so with less impact than the other options. Jackson Howard is of course the most well known. Unlike Jackson, it can’t be used in response to a run, unlike Interns it does not install the card, and unlike Reclamation Order it only takes one card back. 

Yet of course, Archived Memories is cheaper, not a double event, and does not need to be installed to work. It has its own place as a method for recursion for the corp. It is not a card that has been seen as a crucial linchpin of any deck, but it certainly has a place. That also means it is often the card left just outside the 49 (or 45 or 44 or 40) the final deck list.

Biotic Labor Operation (#59 Core Set)

Biotic LaborImpact 4 out of 5

Despite being quite an expensive four credits to, effectively, gain a click, Biotic Labor is one of the primary tools for the dominant strategy for corp decks; fast advance. Four clicks is the magic number for corporations, allowing them to install and advance to score 3 for X agendas. It is also not an installed card; this means the runner cannot even run to trash the card on purpose. Certainly a lucky access with Imp or Edward Kim,, to name a few, could take care of it, but without certain cards in a runner deck, there is very little that can be done about it.

Biotic works surprisingly well with cards such as Melange Mining Corp.. Seven credits is exactly the amount needed to use Biotic Labor and score a 3 for X agenda. When fast advancing agendas out this way they need no protecting ICE, which allows the corp to leave the Melange in a defended remote server and continue to push forward this method of scoring.

Biotic Labor is often imported into other corps, for purposes other than just fast advancing. While it is not worth playing Biotic Labor without a definite plan for the extra click, it can provide a surprise to the runner if not expecting it. New cards like Jinteki Biotic: Life Imagined can gain good use out of having a fourth click, to still be able to do things on their turn as well as flip the identity.

As of this writing Clot has been released, which many have called the ‘death of fast advance.’ The ramifications of Clot are not for Wyldside to discuss, but even should fast advance strategies loose some of their dominant power, Biotic labor will remain a potent force.

Shipment from MirrorMorph Operation (#60 Core Set)

Shipment from MirrorMorphImpact 2 out of 5

While certainly not a bad card, Shipment from MirrorMorph has not seen a lot of crucial use. The click compression is fantastic, for setting up a new server for instance, or playing out a horizontal strategy. Given the fact that installation costs for corp are only a few credits when dealing with multiple layers of ICE, the cost of this compression is rather low. 

Though this card has not seen much impact in the meta, it can be a wonderful combination with cards such as Mushin No Shin, protecting the server created after playing Mushin with more than a single piece of ICE. Of course, doing so mandates that the corp have not only Mushin, Shipment from MirrorMorph, an agenda in hand, but also at least two pieces of ICE to make it worth using. Then also have the money to rez those ICE. 

This Shipment has some uses, and as the card pool grows it could find more use. It has drifted into and out of decks as a useful way to install many cards at once, but not one that has made a lasting impression.

Heimdall 1.0 ICE: Barrier - Bioroid - AP (#61 Core Set)

Heimdall 1.0Impact 3 out of 5

One of the big boys of the Bioroid series, Heimdall 1.0 is a serious threat. With three subroutines and six strength he is also very expensive to break. At seven credits a pop for Corroder or two power counters for Cerberus "Lady" H1 or D4v1d, this barrier can put a serious tax on the runner who has to break it time and time again. Yet, it is a Bioroid, and the break for a click aspect of all Bioroids makes it a bit more porous. 

The great thing about Heimdall is his three subroutines. A runner spending an entire turn just to break through one piece of ice (one click for the run, three for the subroutines) is quite nice. Add to that the turn you rez him can often see the runner making the tough choice to bounce by paying the click for the brain damage, or taking the brain damage and still getting through, and he is a serious threat.

Eight credits used to be a lot harder to manage, truthfully told, but money has become more and more easily to both sides. If there is any sort of power creep in Netrunner, it is economy becoming more prevalent. That and his status as AP can make a sudden Deus X a big threat to a scoring window.

Heimdall never really had a spotlight like some pieces of ICE, but he is still a very respectable barrier. With barriers starting to make a come back, he certainly can see some lime light again.

Ichi 1.0 ICE: Sentry - Bioroid - Tracer - Destroyer (#62 Core Set)

Ichi 1.0Impact 3 out of 5

Ichi is another of the Bioroid ICE that has had its appearance but never really the spotlight. Ichi is often regarded as a great piece of surprise ICE, and like all the three subroutine ICE, considered rather taxing. It is also very well costed for its strength, like all Bioroids. This is, of course, due to their click through drawback. 

Ichi’s third subroutine is often what new Netrunners might really want to try to work. Brain damage is so very intriguing, but there has yet to be a way to land enough of it with success to finish off the runner. It makes landing meat or net damage easier, which is probably what the tag is there for as well - a single brain damage and a tag as the runner’s turn ends is a prime position for a Scorched Earth to follow up on, making Ichi a good splash into Weyland. That isn’t quite enough to kill them, but there are a plethora of other cards for damage now, and saving the click to get the tag might be all you need.

Ichi’s trash program subroutines are probably the more devastating however. Two programs on one piece of ICE is a hefty cost, and if hit with only a single click left (as most runners tend to run on their third click) it can still cost them something. Assuming of course, a relevant icebreaker isn’t already installed.

Ichi continues to be useful for what he does, and is often a good, cheap (ish), program destruction for Haas Bioroid. While he hasn’t made that much of a splash, he still has places to go.

Viktor 1.0 ICE: Code Gate - Bioroid - AP (#63 Core Set)

Viktor 1.0Impact 2 out of 5

The last piece of Bioroid ICE from the core set, finishing off the three primary types of ice as a code gate, and one of the few code gates that can actually do damage to the runner. This alone gives it a strength that is often overlooked. Even experienced Netrunners will look for a killer to protect themselves from damage on ICE first, not a decoder.  

Only two subroutines and three strength make it the weakest of the core set Bioroids, which also puts it right in Yog.0 range. This in itself is not a detriment to the card - only a fact to be aware of. Yog has certainly no longer seen the same popularity it once did, and yet still Viktor is not a very taxing piece of ice. It is also not a binary ice, given the ability to be clicked through of all Bioroids. This puts Viktor in a most difficult situation. He is not a hard stop until a decoder is found, and he does not cost the runner very much to get through. 

If a brain damage kill deck (which might come along with cards spoiled for the SanSan Cycle) becomes more of a definite archetype, then Viktor will undoubtedly see more play. He still see’s some play in decks that just want one or two brain damage to make a kill easier, and again the fact that he is a code gate that deals damage reinforces that. Yet his non binary status and inability to be truly taxing has left him on the lower side of desirability when designing an ICE package for corp decks.

Rototurret ICE: Sentry - Destroyer (#64 Core Set)

RototurretImpact 3 out of 5

Rototurret has a unique place among ICE of the core set. As a destroyer with an End the Run it is a great early piece of ice, allowing a quick stop to a run while also killing that fracter that would be interacting with other popular end the run ice. The rez cost of four however makes it rather expensive to use before a  few turns have gone by, and the 0 strength makes it only good as a binary piece of ETR ICE. It stops the runner cold, and that is all. 

It saw a lot of use early on, where there were no good alternatives. It is played less with the current environment as more destroyers come out and other options for program destruction become available.  It will have its days where it is useful in decks, but it certainly keeps a narrow window for effectiveness in a game state, and that limit’s its desirability to decks that make full use of that particular time in the game.

Corporate Troubleshooter Upgrade: Connection

Corporate TroubleshooterImpact 2 out of 5

This is a card that could possibly be making a large comeback. Originally, the cost did not seem worth the effect. Corporations didn’t have a lot of free cash to be throwing at strength of an ICE, and only working once didn’t seem very much worth the card slot either.

Yet recursion is quickly becoming more and more prevalent for the corp. Add to that the one true power creep of Netrunner that is economy, and Corporations having tons of credits to sink into this kind of card become possible. With the final piece that ICE that hurts more or is more dangerous to the runner if they can’t break it, Corporate Troubleshooter could quickly see a resurgence in possibilities.

Because this card is used during the paid ability window after the runner has already decided to encounter the ICE, with enough money there is no way for the runner to avoid the subroutines firing. Given that most of the time ICE subroutines are only effective on the corps terms the turn you rez the card, this can make the primary tool of interaction the corp has with the runner (ICE) hit more than once or twice. 

At only one influence, it certainly is going to see far more play as a card to make ICE effective mid to late game, and should see more of an impact.

Experimental Data Upgrade (#68 Core Set)

Experiential DataImpact 1 out of 5

At first glance the (somewhat) blanket boost to all ICE in that server is a good thing right? It would mean each piece costs at least one more credit to break, making more taxing options, and might take some pieces out of fixed breaker ranger. Seems like this could be a very useful card. Unfortunately the reality Netrunner is that you cannot keep a runner out, only delay them from getting in. So this upgrade becomes very worthless, at most taxing the runner for a single run before they trash it.

That is where the big weakness lies - With only a two credit trash cost this card will go quickly after a successful run is made, and won’t offer any lasting benefit. It hasn’t seen any impactful play because deck space, even as far back as the core set, in corp decks is so tight. 

With a deep enough server maybe this card could hold out the runner for a single extra turn. Maybe it could be used to draw the runner into a run where they only have barely enough credits to pass, and that +1 strength will force them to hit an ICEs subroutines. The drawback of course is that the runner might just jack out if they can’t get much further in. This in turn means that it could only really impact the ICE that the runner was encountering when the corp rezed Experimental Data. That logically follows it would only work if the runner had exactly enough credits to break through, not even one extra.

Corporate Troubleshooter does that far more effectively, and the tax that Experimental Data theoretically applies is only good for a run, maybe two due to its low trash cost. That would be why this card has see so little impact on the game as a whole, and why it most likely won’t in the future as well.

Haas Bioroid in Core

Purple was a very strong faction during Core. Engineering the Future’s smooth economic might was something to be reckoned with, and the cheap but strong in faction ICE made it even more fearsome. While the ICE of HB wouldn’t really become scary until future Bioroids were released, and Weyland could match its economic thrust, HB still had a very solid showing in Core.

Next Week

Next week we take a look at the fearsome blue Criminals, and possibly several cards that have had the biggest impact on the game as a whole… The dreaded Account Siphon. 

Binary Ice? Taxing Ice? For a more indepth discussion, if possibly a bit out of date, refer to this blog post by David Sutcliffe on analyzing ICE as Binary, Analog, Taxing, or ETR.

Reminder: This article was written with the meta up through “The Valley” having just been released. This article is about the opinions of the writer, as a review of cards as they are seen throughout the length of the game. The main goal of the article is for new players to have an understanding of the history of the cards as the meta evolved, and for experienced players to maybe re-look at a cards they long since dismissed. (It is a nice side effect that the writer learns more about the cards as well).