This article was written with the meta up through “Underway Grid” having been released. This article is about the opinions of the writer, and 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).
Jinteki: Replicating Perfection Identity: Megacorp (Trace Amount #31)
Currently one of the most powerful corp IDs, Replicating Perfection didn’t start out that way. Like most Jinteki at the time, it was broke, unable to power even the ambushes that are so common for the red clone corp. That changed when economic cards like Sundew and Mental Health Clinic came out. Abandoning the kill plays, Replicating Perfection strove to tax the runner into being unable to do anything when they want to, in terms of both econ and clicks, and be rich while doing so.
Throw in a Caprice Nisei and a scored Nisei MK II token, and there aren’t often enough clicks in a turn for a runner to get in. Not only does a central have to be run, then at least two runs on a remote, assuming the Psi game from Caprice can be won, anytime an agenda may be in there. That leaves, in the best case scenario, only a single click to money up and get into that server on demand.
That is where RP has become so powerful, being rich with all of their economic assets that are so expensive to trash, and really taxing the runner. Even though the run on a central doesn’t have to be successful, its common to put a prickly ICE on the outside of those servers, forcing them to use up something or take damage in some way just to be able to run on a remote.
It is no wonder it has become so strong of an ID with Fast Advance being a wary proposition for some players. Yet it is asset heavy, and as discussed last week, Whizzard is a key answer to that. The meta does seem to be advancing around this concept quickly, so only time will tell how RP continues to play.
Braintrust Agenda: Research (A Study in Static #72)
Possibly the least used agenda in all of Jinteki, Braintrust doesn’t give much bang for its buck. Requiring a double turn scoring window in order to get any bonus out of scoring it, and its effect is not going to be as needed once those ICE protecting it have been rezzed to keep that scoring window open. It is a three for two, which in a Fast Advance strategy is just what the doctor ordered - Some Jinteki have tried that approach, but it has never really caught on.
It could be used for some crazy positional ICE Whirlpool Cell Portal infinite loop combo kill server, but the number of moving parts in there is simply so complicated, it is unlikely to ever be pulled off with any sort of consistency. It is possible that Braintrust would see more use with Fast Advance strategies out of Jinteki, a place where most players have not forged ahead - and that means for at least a little bit, it could be quite a surprise deck to see.
Fetal AI Agenda: Ambush (Cyber Exodus #53)
A five for two is an unusual agenda cost, and because of that it doesn’t see as much play. Not only is it difficult to score, but unlike a five for three, it doesn’t reduce the number of agendas in a deck as well. It has two difficult drawbacks because of that. Yet it still sees a lot of play.
This is simply because of the fact it protects itself. It bites back when accessed, and if the runner doesn’t have the credits to steal it, it stays there. It is used with other agendas like it that protect themselves, and creates a difficult situation for the runner. Not only is damage a threat, but a number of credits has to be kept on hand ‘just in case’ during every run which might encounter these kinds of agendas.
While Fetal AI hasn’t seen as much use out of the currently powerful Replicating Perfection, it still is a common agenda that has been a staple part of many Jinteki plans at world domination.
Dedicated Server Asset: Facility (A Study in Static #72)
Like Braintrust, the point of this card is to help keep rez costs low. The most use out of it is going to come if the runner has to run over multiple turns, encountering multiple ICE that needs to be rezzed. That is where it fails, and why it has had very little impact on the game. It isn’t cost effective, and it has to be seen early to get any real benefit out of it. See it too late, and the ICE is already rezzed; see it early and that is great, but it still requires at least two runs on separate turns to save the corp any money.
It is slow, and ineffectual at helping to advance the win condition of most decks, and that is why it has seen very little use - and likely, will see very little in the future. The economy is there, and strongly, for Jinteki now, this kind of band-aid economy isn’t needed anymore.
Edge of World Asset: Ambush (Cyber Exodus #53)
A card that maybe should see a little more use as a one off in glacier style decks, Edge of World is hard to pull off but a very strongly designed card. Because it cannot be advanced, that makes it hard to bluff out as an agenda and force the runner to run on it. Not only that, but the timing has to be critical - the runner has to have enough credits to get in, but it can’t look too easy. If the runner is simply richy and can access whatever they want, seeing a card go down with no advancements isn’t an incentive to run unless there are some other factors.
Edge of World can lead to some surprise kills though. As only two influence, popping a single one into any glacier deck could be very surprising. Especially if there is a Never Advance sort of strategy going on (install card, but do not advance. Only advance the next turn to score a three for two). Even if it is seen early in RD or HQ, the threat of it it will put the runner on alert, causing them to run more cautiously when facing un advanced cards in servers with a lot of ICE.
Ronin Asset: Hostile (Future Proof #112)
A staple of Jinteki kill decks, this card relies on the fact that a ‘failed trap’ is often left alone. Install and advance advance and a runner will go after the card, assuming it to be an agenda. Install and advance only once, and the runner will stop to consider, look at the board state - maybe they won’t run. Maybe they will assume it is a trap and let it be. A few more slow advanced turns and all that is left is waiting for the runner to drop below three cards in their grip.
In combination with Industrial Genomics this is a rather common strategy, boosting the trash cost to high levels, in combination with Shock!s in archives and Hostile Infrastructure as an additional cost, leaving a runner in a potentially bad state. Ronin has other uses, and when played in the right manner is a great way to snag a kill.
Bullfrog ICE: Code Gate - Deflector - Psi (A Study in Static #73)
Bullfrog has seen pretty much no play at all, due to its very strange nature. Once Susanoo-No-Mikoto came out, while a more focused deflector, Bullfrog dropped off whatever little bit of use it might have had. The Psi game requirement makes it not a guarantee to fire, as a four strength code gate it may be slightly more difficult for Yog.0 to break, but not really - there are lots of ways to get -1 strength for Yog’s benefit. It really could not be relied on to fire more than once, and even if it did, it meant that it was no longer on the server originally, making it easier for the runner to get into that server on the next attempt. Outside of a combo heavy ICE trap kill deck, where Bullfrog might be used to put the runner into that server after it is setup (but without other cards, the run doesn’t even have to continue) it is unlike Bullfrog will ever see much use.
Sensei ICE: Code Gate (Trace Amount #34)
Positional ICE is always difficult to make use of. See it too early, and it is useless without support cards to move ICE. See it late and it is nice, but did it really do its job then? Sensei is at least a piece of ICE that is not only difficult to break at five strength, but also adds subroutines to all other pieces of ICE after it. That adds the tax factor up really quickly. Given also that token breakers are becoming more popular (such as Lady) an additional subroutine could run those kinds of breakers out faster, opening up scoring windows for the corp.
It is positional, and that is its greatest drawback for certain. It is an average of three of four credits to break though, which can be good - more so the more ICE that it is in front of. On average it probably is only going to be an additional two credits to break those subroutines it adds to the ICE behind it (assuming it averages out most often as the third ICE on a server), meaning its high tax to break will never be paid in favor of the smaller addition to further ICE.
Snowflake ICE: Barrier - Psi (What Lies Ahead #15)
Out of all the Psi ICE, Snowflake is possibly the best of the lot. It is cheap to rez, which is good because spending money on the Psi game is an additional cost, and it simply ends the run. A good combination that may be often overlooked.
The drawback is of course that it is Psi. The cost to keep the runner out can add up very quickly, and it is not a guarantee that it will do so even if there are no breakers on the table for it. The cost is reduced out of Nisei Division, but that ID hasn’t seen enough reason to be run yet.
Whirlpool ICE: Trap (Humanity’s Shadow #94)
Positional (ish) ICE that is really the key to any ICE Kill server style deck. Not that those decks are very effective, or even have a winning percentage, but if the concept is going to be explored, Whirlpool is the key to doing so. As a Trap it is far more likely to fire, as long as those pesky AI breakers aren’t in position to break it. It really needs to be on the outermost bit of the server, and it would need a lot of combination with other pieces of ICE set up in just the right places, some cost reduction for rezzing those ICE, and a way to get the runner to run on it when the corp is ready for them. So many moving pieces make it difficult to pull off.
Whirlpool could be used in combination with traps of course, forcing the runner down a server they don’t want to be going down. End the Run would have to be non existent then; the runner could just let that subroutine fire when they want to get out. That in turn reduces the ability for ICE in general to keep the runner out, which is a bad proposition for most corp strategies. It could make an interesting surprise, a one off in a deck that makes the runner pause and think, step back, have to really consider what is going on down there, but it would only work once, and deckslots are allways tight.
Sunset Operation (Cyber Exodus #54)
One of those methods for rearranging ICE that is needed for the Whirlpool and Cellportal style decks, and is great with Jinteki having a lot of positional ICE. The problem is that instead of playing cards that are good all the time, playing this card means cards are being played that are only good some of the time, and additional card slots are being used up to shore up those cards, making more cards that are only good some of the time. That is why it hasn’t seen any play, and likely won’t.
Trick of Light Operation (Trace Amount #33)
This is the Jinteki Fast Advance card, and it is only good if there is a place to bank those advancement tokens. Advanceable ICE for instance, is a great place to put them, and it helps relieve some of the tempo sting of advancing agendas. Scoring an agenda naturally requires time and money (clicks and credits), which means that every time the corp does so, tempo is being lost. Nothing is being done on that turn except setting up the chance to score, and if it is not fast advanced, then setting up the chance for the runner to steal as well.
Trick of Light alleviates some of that. Not only is it a Fast Advance strategy, allowing a three for two to be scored out in one turn (even a four for two), the process of putting tokens on advanceable ICE to save them for later spreads the tempo hit out over multiple turns to score an agenda, instead of all at once. It may not be the strongest of the Fast Advance core strategy cards, but it still has some uses and will still see play.
Hokusai Grid Upgrade: Region (Humanity’s Shadow #95)
Hokusai is starting to see some use in Jinteki decks that tax more than just clicks and credits. It is expensive to trash, and with some prickly assets like Hostile Infrastructure and ICE that is dangerous to pass through, it can lead to a critical mass of pricks that makes it very dangerous for the runner to run. Seen most often on Archives in Industrial Genomics, that is a perfect example of its use - protecting those face down cards, and adding another bite to the Shock!s that are going to be in there already.
Midori Upgrade: Sysop (Future Proof #113)
She simply has not seen a lot of use yet, and that is probably because prickly ICE or even threatening ICE simply isn’t common enough yet to really make her powerful. Having to rez that piece of ICE is an additional cost as well, but at least Midori is free to rez. What she does do extraordinarily well is advance the shell game. That ICE could be anything. It could a simple trap that just is dealt with, or it could be a piece of ICE the runner won’t have the breaker or the money to deal with, leading to a very tough decision - does the runner jack out? (Her ability triggers during 2.0, the approach - meaning she has to already be rezzed before the run starts if it's the first piece of ICE, or she can only affect the second piece onward - and the runner can choose to jack out at 2.2) That insecurity of what is there ahead of them can be the key to bluffing away a lot of runners.
Reminder: This article was written with the meta up through “Underway Grid” having been released. This article is about the opinions of the writer, and 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).
Authors Note: Due to real world events, Wyldside will be on hiatus next week. Enjoy the 4th Weekend for all our American readers, and play some good Netrunner!