Friday, 11 October 2013

Opening Movies Set Review - Runner Cards

Opening Moves has finally arrived in Europe (I believe the US received it last month?) and so the first data pack in Spin Cycle has only just become a reality for me.  You may well have found several other people's views on the cards already but if, like me, you're just getting acquainted with Jackson Howard and John Masanori for the first time then hopefully this will still make for a good read.

But before I get into the Runner cards from Opening Moves a quick word about my approach to card reviews.  I'm not a Kermit, who just gets excited to make new friends and thinks the best of everyone.  I'm more like Statler & Waldorf: the old guys in the balcony from The Muppets who hate everything.  It takes a lot for a card to impress me but if you find me dumping on your favourite card then please don't be disheartened - just consider it a challenge to prove me wrong!

Frame Job

If Frame Job was just a Double Event that gave the Corp a Bad Publicity it would be extremely good – investing a credit and two clicks to get a click back on every run you make is fantastic.  Frame Job requires you to forfeit a stolen Agenda, however, and that’s a real problem for me.  When the Corp plays a card that includes forfeiting an Agenda in the cost (such as Archer) they also have a say in what Agendas are in the deck – they can build an Agenda plan that includes 1-point Agendas they’re happy to lose.  The Runner doesn’t have that luxury and you can’t predict whether you’ll be needing to forfeit Priority Requisition or Gila Hands Arcology.
Kermit Rating: 


Pawn lets you find a Caissa and install it.  What’s a Caissa?  A Caissa is a chess piece and chess is the Anarch’s big thing in this set (they’re clearly the sort of anarchs who like to sit in smoky coffee houses and discuss Marxist literature rather than the sort of anarchs who throw Molotov cocktails or squat outside banks).  Pawn’s value is largely dependent on how good the other chess pieces are, and the news is that some of them are sort of ok.  So Pawn is a card that lets you find/recur (a good thing) and install for free (a good thing) something that’s sort of ok (not a great thing) after spending several clicks moving Pawn across the board (a bad thing).   Note that Pawn costs 0MU, though.  That’s a nice little perk, although you’ll have to remember to leave MU spare for the Caissa piece you get with the Pawn.
Kermit Rating: 


Rook is our first look at a real Caissa and it’s one of the ones that’s actually pretty good, arguably even the best of the bunch.  Once you get through the mountain of text around how Rook moves (short story: it moves like a Rook) you find that what Rook actually DOES is increase the rez cost of Ice on a server by 2.  That’s a pretty big impact and one that resource denial Runner decks will be happy to grab with both hands.

Key elements to remember:
  • The ice hosting Rook doesn’t have to be rezed
  • Although only one Caissa is allowed per Ice, Rook is not unique so a server can have multiple Rooks increasing the rez cost by 4 or even 6
  • The Corp can always choose to overwrite the Ice you have Rook on, destroying the Rook

The 1st and 3rd points interact with each other quite importantly.  Maximum use from Rook is to put it on an unrezed piece of Ice so that the hosted Ice also costs 2 more.  That play leaves you open to the Corp simply replacing an unrezed Wall of Static with an unrezed Enigma, killing Rook.  If that’s going to happen you’re going to be really glad of your Pawn’s ability to then return Rook from your Trash to then put it back onto the unrezed Enigma.
Kermit Rating: 


Hostage lets you grab a Connection.  What’s a connection?  It’s a subtype of Resource, and most importantly it’s probably either Kati Jones, Mr Li, or Professional Contacts – those are the best Connections currently printed, with Professional Contacts probably the card most likely to be sought after.  It costs two clicks to play Hostage but if you install the Connection right away you get one of the clicks back and that makes Hostage a good tutor effect that helps guarantee seeing your key economy cards early in the game.  Unless there's an Underworld Contacts deck waiting to be found then Hostage doesn’t rewrite many decks, and maybe doesn’t warrant the Influence cost in non-Criminal decks, but considered in isolation this is a cheap and effective way of getting your core economy working.
Kermit Rating: 

Gorman Drip v1

Gorman Drip is best when you have the Corp on its knees and are forcing them to click hard to gain cash.  This is what Criminals are good at and it’s perfectly in keeping with cards like Account Siphon, Crescentus, Forged Activation Orders and Emergency Shutdown that are built around kicking the Corp when they’re down.  Like a lot of those cards Gorman Drip also gets rapidly worse once the Corp is able to stand on its own two feet as they’ll replace the click-for-cash economy with something better (Gila Hands Arcology, Melange Mining Corp, Private Contracts, Government Contracts, or an Operation-based economy).  As an economy card that is slow to return cash and works best when you’re already winning I have to recognise the POTENTIAL for Gorman Drip to deliver a huge return on the 1 credit investment, but advise prospective shareholders to place their hard-earned credits into a more reliable pension fund.
Kermit Rating: 


You get a free credit every turn.  YAY!  You can only spend it on Decoders.  BOO!  And Yog.0 costs 0 to use anyway so realistically we’re only talking about Gordian Blade.  BOOOOO!  At the moment this card is pretty much entirely pointless but it could be the Cloak in a Cloak/Dagger combination we haven’t seen the other half of yet.  That would probably make it just mostly pointless, rather than entirely pointless.
Kermit Rating: 

False Echo

I like Crescentus a lot.  I like Emergency Shutdown a lot.  I like Forged Activation Orders a lot.  I don’t like False Echo.  The value in Crescentus and Emergency Shutdown is that you force the Corp to rez their Ice twice.  The value in Forged Activation Orders is that you permanently destroy a piece of Ice.  False Echo does neither of these things, and even if you get it to work you’re probably only getting parity with the Corp (you installed and paid for False Echo, and they just reinstalled their Ice and paid any cost for the extra Ice layers).  Almost entirely pointless.  Nice picture, though.  Serene.
Kermit Rating: 


I think Motivation may be a skill tester card because it seems to suggest that it does something good while actually doing almost nothing - I know players who are very excited by this card, which baffles me. 

The Case For The Defence
Motivation lets you see the top card of your deck at the start of the turn: if it’s good you know you want to spend a click to draw it, and if it’s bad you know you shouldn’t waste the click.  Information is power.

The Case For The Prosecution
Your hand doesn’t have what you need and you want to draw a card to make it better, so most of the time Motivation is competing with drawing blindly from the top of the deck.  If the top card of your deck is good then you were going to draw it anyway, and if the top card of your deck is bad then… you’re never going to draw another card again?  Unless you’ve got a deck full of shuffle effects that will reveal a new card on top you’ve no choice but to draw the card at some point, good or bad.  Worse yet, by drawing Motivation and then spending a click to install it you would actually have drawn two cards and made your hand better – it’s like a reverse Diesel!

Motivation makes your deck worse then may (possibly) slowly make it better over the next ten turns to the point where you’re back where you started.  Or you could just not play Motivation.
Kermit Rating: 

And finally...

John Masanori

The successful Criminal decks get a lot of value by adding incremental benefits onto successful runs, effectively getting multiple clicks worth of value out of a single click of running (using cards like Desperado and Datasucker).  John Masanori supports that sort of strategy quite well, adding a draw to the credits and virus counters already gained.  Mr Masanori is most frequently compared to Mr Li because he's going to appear in Criminal decks most often, and it's a comparison that's not entirely without merit as they're both contacts that draw you cards.  Mr Li is better at digging for specific cards - you see two at once, and can use it multiple times per turn - while John Masanori is all about providing incremental advantages without having to cost you a click.  Getting something for nothing is what marks out a great card but I'm still on the fence about whether there's a deck that really NEEDS what Masanori is selling.  I'm going to hedge my bets and sit on the fence.
Kermit Rating: 

That rounds up the Runner cards from Opening Moves, for me.  There's nothing special in here that I can see, with perhaps Rook the card you're most likely to rebuild a deck to play, but cards like Hostage and John Masanori provide some good routes towards efficient running and gaining an incremental edge over the Corp and I'm sure we'll see them feature in competitive decks at some point.