Monday, 14 October 2013

Opening Movies Set Review - Corp Cards

Welcome back, true believers, to my second look at Opening Moves and the Corp cards.  I will deliver precious little preamble but if you're suddenly confused by the appearance of a certain much-loved boggle-eyed green puppet then check out my Runner cards analysis for at least some suggestion of where he came from.

Project Ares

I started my Runner analysis by explaining I wasn't easily excited by a card but something in Project Ares keeps drawing out the exciteable part of me and occasionally I have to go for a sit down and take some deep breaths.  I'm pretty certain Project Ares is pretty horrible - the amount of time, money and clicks you have to invest into it to get a decisive impact from overadvancing it simply doesn't warrant taking the risk.  You probably need 7-9 counters on Project Ares before it really hurts the Runner, and to do that you have to leave it out dangling on the table for at least two turns (Fast Advance tricks like Psychographics notwithstanding).  The risk that that Runners comes and steals Project Ares in that time is huge and the amount of tempo you'd lose would be crippling.  I'm sure I won't be able to resist trying to make this card work in a few decks, maybe using Jinteki traps and Trick of Light to persuade the Runner not to check it out before it's too late, but I accept it's probably not a serious card.  Fun times when it works, though.
Kermit Rating: 

NEXT Bronze

Introducing the first NEXT piece of Ice, which the effect of NEXT Bronze suggests will be joined by several more NEXT Ice in future.  Accepting that NEXT Bronze is likely to get better in future I have to say I actually quite like it now as a 2/0 Code Gate that Ends the Run.  If you're a rush-type Corp strategy, which many Haas-Bioroid decks are, then a cheap piece of Ice that keeps the Runner out in the short term is welcome.  Is it as good as Ice Wall?  No, clearly not.  Is it playable as a second bank of cheap ETR Ice?  Yes, definitely.  Time will tell how good NEXT Bronze gets, but right now it's pretty solid anyway.
Kermit Rating:  and maybe  more in future.

Celebrity Gift

A double action to reveal to the opponent up to 5 cards and gain up to 10 credits.  At full strength you've effectively gained something like a double Hedge Fund worth of extra credits at the cost of handing the opponent some information on your hand, which is a not-inconsiderable sum of money.  Let's tackle the two sides of this one at a time: first, you don't have to reveal 5 cards, but as it costs you 3 credits and 2 clicks Celebrity Gift only really makes sense if you're prepared to go all-in and show 4 or 5 cards.  The other side of the equation is what you tell your opponent, and the value of that depends entirely on your deck and your hand - showing your opponent an Agenda and two Snare! is relatively harmless because the Runner has to stay wary of Snare!, but showing them your SEA Source and Scorched Earth could seriously damage your chances of landing the Flatline kill, and showing them the Agendas could just signal open house on HQ.

Importantly, it's cash for Jinteki and Jinteki DESPERATELY needed cash, so it's well-welcome there, and most important is the way Celebrity Gift benefits from being played alongside the standout Corp card from Opening Moves (which we'll discuss soon), Jackson Howard.  Jackson asks Corps to play an Operation-based economy because he will keep a steady supply of economy cards coming, and alongside Hedge Fund, Beanstalk Royalties and Successful Demonstration the Celebrity Gift can be an important part of that style of deck, ensuring a enough high-return economy Operations to give the Corp more cash than Scrooge McDuck
Kermit Rating: 


Himitsu-Bako is a Barrier.  It really is.  It looks like a Code Gate.  It sounds like a Code Gate (Himitsu-Bako is the Japanese for 'Puzzle Box') but this is one enigma that's a Barrier.  Go figure.  And it's a Barrier that I really, really like.  A 2/2 ETR Barrier is excellent value - similar to the excellent Ice Wall, though obviously you can't do any advancing of the Strength like you can with Ice Wall - and the fact that you've got such a good, solid ETR piece of Ice in Jinteki adds something new to that Corporation.  You'll get very little value from the ability to return Himitsu-Bako to hand, but you'll get a ton of value from the three little words "End the run".
Kermit Rating: 

Character Assassination

How much does NBN need a 4/2 Agenda?  About as much as I need a hole in the head seeing as they've already got two excellent 3/2 Agendas in the shape of Astroscript Pilot Program and Project Beale, and the neutral Private Security Force that fits nicely with NBN's tagging strategy.  How much does NBN need the ability to destroy a resource?  Only slightly more than I need a hole in the head seeing as NBN has all the tagging it needs to destroy resources anyway, including the ability to basically replicate the effect of Character Assassination by using Breaking News and a click.  It's not bad, per se, it's just not needed much in NBN.
Kermit Rating: 

Jackson Howard

Printing Jackson Howard changes the game of Netrunner.  Everything about this card has been deliberately priced to make it relatively painless for you to add this card into your deck:

  • He only costs 1 Influence so any Corp can add him.
  • He costs 0 to play, so you don't need to be rich
  • He has trash cost so the worst that happens is the Runner pays 3, so you don't even need to protect him to gain value.

And what do you gain for playing with Jackson Howard?  Jackson helps you in two very different ways, the most obvious of which is that he turns your 'Click: Draw a Card' into 'Click: Draw two cards'.  This ability alone is powerful enough to change a lot about how you want to build Corp decks.  Suddenly one-shot effects like Beanstalk Royalties or Hedge Fund are going to turn up twice as often, reducing the Corp's need to rely on other Assets for long-term economy benefits.  Suddenly your efforts to assemble 'combos' of cards like SEA Source/Scorched Earth or Trick of Light/Archived Memories will come together twice as rapidly.  Suddenly you can keep a hand full of cards to reduce the Runner's odds of hitting Agendas in HQ.  Suddenly you will see Agendas twice as often!

Not impressed yet?  How about the second thing Jackson Howard does - he shuffles your best cards back into R&D so you can draw them again.  Say whaaaat!?!?  Were you playing three copies of Hedge Fund?  Well how about shuffling them back into your deck six times to effectively play nine copies?  Playing a Fast Advance deck with Trick of Light?  How would you like do it more than once?  One of the killer offensive applications for this is Snare!, which you can shuffle back into R&D later in the game to increase the density of traps in your deck and frustrate the Runner.  

Still not convinced?  How about using Jackson Howard to draw extra cards then discarding the unwanted Agendas into Archives to reduce the chance of your opponent hitting Agendas from HQ, then trashing Jackson Howard to shuffle the Agendas back into R&D if the runner decides to check the Archives?  Jackson Howard is effectively a two card combo with himself.

Jackson Howard.  He's quite good.
Kermit Rating: 

Invasion of Privacy

Invasion of Privacy is a card that seems to promise a lot but, unlike Jackson Howard, has been designed so that it is relatively hard to get full value from it.  The temptation is there to throw Invasion of Privacy out on the first turn and destroy the Runner's opening hand, taking away things like Account Siphon, Sure Gamble or Professional Contacts but Trace2 is low enough that, outside of NBN: Making News, it's hard to use Invasion of Privacy for a devastating first turn that shreds the Runner's hand without making the Corp spend enough credits to set them back a similar amount.  Where Invasion of Privacy really shines is in decks where you're not just hoping to use the discard effect as disruption, but to capitalise on the fact that in Netrunner hand size is equivalent to the Runner's health bar and follow up with a Scorched Earth or Ronin to finish the job.

If Invasion of Privacy is pulling double-duty in your deck as damage or disruption then I think it can be quite exciting, particularly in NBN: Making News, but you're hoping to rip the Runner's hand to pieces simply for the hell of it then you're likely to need a pot of spare cash handy to make it worthwhile.
Kermit Rating: 

Geothermal Fracking

How much does Weyland need a 4/2 Agenda?  About as much as... wait, it does WHAT?  Geothermal Fracking is effectively two Hostile Takeovers that have been stuck together with duct tape and shuffled into your deck.  You don't get the cash immediately that has both good and bad connotations - you have to burn clicks to get your 14 (fourteen!) credits, but you also don't have to give the Runner the Bad Publicity cash until you really want to.  Geothermal Fracking gives you such a huge boost of cash that it has to be serious good times, and with a set of this and a set of Hostile Takeovers Weyland can guarantee a solid flow of cash from it's nefarious undertakings to fund the more expensive things in life.

Go on then, I'll wheel Scrooge back out for another dip, because it's well-deserved...

Kermit Rating: 


One of the things Weyland loves to do with its piles of duck cash is invest in some big pieces of Ice (I'm looking at you, Hadrian's Wall) and Swarm joins those ranks as a piece of Ice that can be pretty terrifying once it's advanced.  However Swarm is one of those pieces of Ice that really only shines when you've invested a couple of turns in advancing it, at which point you're often signalling to the Runner what you're looking at.  In a Weyland deck that advances Ice a lot - Ice Wall, Shadow, Hadrian's Wall - the Swarm adds an important element in being a piece of Ice where the advancement counters actually hurt the Runner instead of simply making your passive Ice harder to break.  With Swarm I think most decks will be put off by the amount you have to invest in using the card, but for the decks which can use Swarm properly it's going to be a gamewinner.
Kermit Rating: 

Cyberdex Trial

Cyberdex Trial is very simple - it compresses an effect that all Corps can get from three clicks (purging Virus counters) into single Operation, and a single click.  With Noise and Datasucker decks at the height of their powers right now a lot of people are turning to Cyberdex Trial as a specific answer to their metagame but I feel that, ultimately, it's a card that doesn't do enough to justify inclusion in most decks, particularly well players can always purge virus counters now if they really need to.  Will purging Virus counters for one click make a difference in some games?  Yes, definitely.  Will it happen often enough to justify having a dead card in hand for the other 60% of games where the Runner isn't smashing you with Viruses?  I doubt it.
Kermit Rating: 


Grim is an imposing guard dog of a piece of Ice, with two good points balanced by two bad points.  In the Pros column is that Grim trashes a Program, which is one of the strongest things a piece of Ice can do, permanently hurting the Runner's ability to run.  Also on the plus side is the impressive strength of 5 for a rez cost of only 5, although being Strength 5 rather than 4 doesn't actually make too much difference on a Sentry - Mimic either has a Datasucker for company and can break it, or doesn't, Ninja jumps straight to Strength 5 anyway, and the Criminal decks using Crypsis or Faerie only have to spend a little more cash to get there anyway.

Where Grim really shines is against a half-assembled Atman deck that has an Atman set at 4 and no Datasucker tokens.  How often does that happen against a half-competent opponent?  Not very often.

On Grim's downside is that he doesn't End the run, making him useless in the early game when the Runner hasn't any programs installed and is free-running against your servers, and that you hand the Runner a Bad Publicity token when he is rezed.  The Bad Publicity means you really need to sting the Runner badly when you first rez Grim because from there on in Grim is likely to be working against you.

Will he be played?  I think you'll see one or two copies cropping up in decks relatively often a surprise blow to spring on the Runner mid-game, but I doubt you'll see many players bringing the full set of three copies.
Kermit Rating: 

Wrapping Up

Overall I like the Corporation cards from Opening Moves a lot better than the Runner cards, but that just goes to reset some of the imbalance we found in Creation & Control, where the Runner got all-star cards like Atman, Professional Contacts and Self-Modifying Code while the Corp got very little.  Undoubtedly the best cards are in the Corp; particularly Jackson Howard, Himitsu-Bako and Geothermal Fracking, but there are promising signs for the Runner and we've yet to see if the Caissa turn out to be a whole deck that is being drip-fed into the metagame.

I'm going to enjoy exploring Opening Moves, and trying to blow up the world with Project Ares.  My question to you - what's your favourite card from Opening Moves, and what have I got completely wrong?