Saturday, 7 December 2013

Mala Tempora Set Review - Corp Cards

The spoilers for the third data pack in Spin Cycle was leaked onto Twitter today and I, along with Netrunner players the world over, devoured the new inputs.

What follows is my first kneejerk response to the cards (Corp first, Runner cards tomorrow) and as such I reserve the right to be proven wrong. If you think I'm misunderstood or misrepresented something, or I'm just please mistaken, then please let me know!  My Opening Moves review used the internationally-recognised KERMIT system for rating cards and I'm going to stick to that for my review of Opening Moves.

Without further ado, let's get onto looking at some cards!



Ireress

I’m currently unsure about this card.  It’s either bad, or really bad.  Ireress drains the Runner of credits, which is great, but those are just the free credits that you gave them with Bad Publicity!  This isn’t a particularly exciting ability for several reasons.  First of all you shouldn’t be giving yourself Bad Publicity in the first place if you’re really going to care about the credits the runner gains.  You can’t  rely on Ireress taking the credits away and if you’re going to have a deck that hands out BP willy-nilly you’re going to have to have a deck that can cope with the consequences.   Secondly the runner gets the credits in every run on every server while Ireress only covers one server – Ireress doesn’t ‘undo’ the Bad Publicity you gave, it just undoes it when the runner runs on that particular server.  Thirdly the Runner doesn’t always need to use those credits in their run anyway.  Fourthly, Yog.0 exists.

So.  Ireress partially fixes a problem you shouldn’t really have, assuming you were smart in how you built Bad Publicity into your deck and the runner isn’t playing the most common Code Gate breaker.  Ace.



Power Shutdown

One of the most eagerly awaited cards in Mala Tempora, Power Shutdown finally allows Corps to get proactive in hunting down the runner’s rig.  As several people have already worked out, Power Shutdown is actually at its best when played with X as a small amount.  The more you pay for Power Shutdown the more choice you give in the runner in what they trash – you could want to trash Plascrete Carapace but only catch a Sahasrara - but if you use Power Shutdown as a cheap counter for specific cards like Self-Modifying Code or Datasucker when the runner doesn’t have any other cheap Hardware or Programs they can choose to trash instead.

There is a second interesting wrinkle to Power Shutdown which is that it might crop up as an enabler for combo decks.  You can choose to make X as many cards as you have in R&D, then cards like Archived Memories or Jackson Howard can let you pilfer the best cards back from the Archives on command.  I’m going to explain this in a bit more detail at the end because it interacts well with another card in Mala Tempora, but for now suffice to say somebody will try to make this work, and there’s a chance it will succeed.

         


Paper Wall

I like this – it’s a real boon to rushy Corp decks to have another option to either replace or complement Ice Wall.  It isn’t actually that much worse than Ice Wall a lot of the time - sure Corroder will trash Paper Wall but once Corroder lands the Ice Wall isn’t too much of an obstacle either and at least Paper Wall gets out of the way to reduce install costs of bigger Ice!

I’m not saying Paper Wall is as good as Ice Wall, because it clearly isn’t, but an influence-free option to Ice Wall is something a lot of decks will have time and space for.

       


Interns

Using Interns to install from HQ is pretty weak – you’d have to have some deep Ice towers to make the saving on install cost worthwhile.  I imagine it could show up in a NEXT Design deck, perhaps?  Installing from Archives is more exciting, and that makes Interns a decent neutral option for returning/installing Upgrades and Assets.  Unfortunately I can’t think of many great options off the top of my head – SanSan City Grid is probably your #1 target just because it costs so much for the Runner to trash.




Unorthodox Predictions

I really want this to be a 3/2 Agenda rather than a 3/1, mostly because I feel like Jinteki deserves a decent 3/2.  As yet another playable 1pt Agenda option in Jinteki (alongside cards like Gila Hands, False Lead, Profiteering and Clone Retirement) Unorthodox Predictions is competing with good company for a slot in your deck but the effect is a very interesting one.  It probably won’t help you chain Agendas together because the turn that it guarantees your Ice stays frozen solid isn’t enough to play and score a second Agenda, but it always buys you valuable time. 

I think this will see most play in Replicating Perfection alongside Trick of Light.  With Trick of Light to help advance Agendas the one turn shutdown IS enough time to play/score an Agenda and that fits a little more with RP than it does with PE’s net damage plan.  I’m just not sure how high up the Jinteki hierarchy it sits in relation to other 1pt Agendas.  If only it had been a 3/2 this would have been the first truly solid Jinteki agenda…

   


Sundew

Replicating Perfection likes this card a lot because it’s guaranteed to get its money back before the runner trashes Sundew.  This is a decent card that caused ripples when first spoiled a couple of months ago because *SHOCK* Jinteki was getting an economy card.  In the post-Profiteering/Celebrity Gift world Jinteki is no longer the pauper Corp it once was so Sundew is less essential.  As it is this card is a perfect fit for Replicating Perfection but that still leaves the identity several cards short of a full deck (RP has Caprice Nisei on pre-order).  Sundew is a decent card but it will take time for the deck to assemble around it so for the time being it’s not too hot.

   



Snoop

Data Hound and Data Raven had a lovechild, and it’s horrible.  When you hit Snoop I get to look at your hand.  Big woop.  Because Snoop is a huge Strength 6 Sentry I almost certainly get to trace you, and once traced I can force you to discard a card of my choice (an effect not dissimilar to dealing you 1 Net Damage).  It’s not a bad effect but you’re paying six credits to make this happen and not getting a particularly powerful effect at the end of it – nothing that does anything to interfere with the run underway, or even anything currently in play.

Where I DO like this card, actually, is in Jinteki Personal Evolution where the ability to force discard in your turn is like a proxy for Neural EMPs and helps to set up a flatline kill.  The hard part there is getting the trace to land, but there’s definitely a use for Snoop in decks that equate the discard disruption with damage and flatlines.

There’s a saying that knowledge is power, but then money talks.  With Snoop you’re spending an awful lot of money to buy a small amount of power.  I’m not in the market for that trade.

   


City Surveillance

If the rez and trash cost of this card were reversed I would be a big fan of City Surveillance, but unfortunately that’s not the case.  Paying 5 credits for an effect that MIGHT tax the runner for 5 credits over 5 turns assuming you played it early enough is not attractive to me.  I can do better things with those 5 credits in NBN (like holding onto them for Midseason Replacements).





Isabel McGuire

Isabel probably fuels some fun decks but I can’t see her turning up in anything serious as there’s simply too much tempo loss involved in playing her then using clicks to pick things back up that you already paid clicks to install, only to then pay more clicks to install them again or install something else in their place.  Yeesh.  No wonder the art shows her playing golf because Isabel seems like the sort of Executive who spends most of the time schmoozing and doesn’t get much actual useful work done.

Edit:
As an example of what I mean by this, one of the cards I've seen people talking about using Isabel McGuire with is Adonis Campaign - returning it to hand to replay it gain more cash.  Let's see how that works for you.

Adonis Campaign costs 4 but gives you 12 credits, so it's +8 credits for the single click of playing it.  Not bad.  If you want to use Adonis Campaign with Isabel you have to return it to hand before you receive your final 3 credits, making it only a +5 credits.  That's still not so bad.  Then you want to return it to hand (for a click) and play it again (for a click) and cash in on another +5 credits.  Still sounds good, right?

But wait.  Playing Adonis Campaign twice is +10 credits but costs two clicks more than just letting the last 3 credits tick off Adonis Campaign.  You could simply bank the +8 credits from the original Adonis Campaign and spend two clicks gaining credits to get the same +10, and you won't have had to waste time and effort drawing/installing Isabel.


Another card is Snare!  If you played Snare! and the runner didn't fall for it then return it to hand and try again.  BUT if you played Snare! and the runner ignored it because he was focussed on doing something more profitable than facechecking Jinteki assets, what makes you think he's any more likely to fall for it second time around after you wasted three clicks playing Isabel and signalling that it was probably a failed Snare! by returning it to hand?  The Snare! example is just Toshiyuki Sakai all over again.



Hudson 1.0

Aliens is my favourite movie so I want to like this card, but I simply can’t bring myself to do so.  I get that it counters cards like R&D Interface, Medium, Nerve Agent or servers with multiple cards installed.  I get that.  But you know what also counters those cards?  Any ice with an ETR subroutine, which reduces the number of cards accessed to 0 rather than just 1.  Strength 5 is good for a Code Gate, but this is a Bioroid so if the runner really wants to R&D lock this does nothing to stop them because they can click past.

The nail in the coffin, for me, was putting this card next to Eli.  They cost the same, they have the same influence cost, they have the same number of subroutines.  Hudson has +1 strength but does SO much less than Eli that I can’t imagine ever choosing Hudson over Hicks.  Sorry, over Eli.  I meant Eli.

 


Accelerated Diagnostics

I am terrified of this card.  I think this is the first time I’ve seen a Netrunner card and my first gut reaction was “that’s going to get banned or something” but it happened with Accelerated Diagnostics.  Accelerated Diagnostics screams to be abused because it breaks the clicks-per-turn rule, and it does it very cheaply and easily (unlike other cards like Biotic Labor, Director Haas, AI Arcology, Mandatory Upgrades).  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think this card will actually be played very often because most of the time it’s pretty bad – if you take pretty much any existing deck and put this card in, it will suck – but eventually there will be a deck built to use this card, and that deck will make me wet the bed in fear.

People to try hard to break this card, and there’s a chance they’ll succeed.  The first obvious use I can think of is in the big Cerebral Imaging decks, which are already big combo decks that use tons of Operations to gain sizeable work compression benefits, and Accelerated Diagnostics fits perfectly in a deck full of Biotic Labours, Shipments from Kaguya, Shipment from SanSan, Shipment from Mirrormorph and Archived Memories.  That’s a deck that is already threatening to get the critical mass of useful Operations to become a monster, and Accelerated Diagnostics probably fits perfectly in there.

The second use is in big combo kill decks where you can fix what the top of your R&D is.  When I talked about Power Shutdown I hinted at a combination with another Mala Tempora card and it’s Accelerated Diagnostics I was referring to.  A possible scenario for what that deck might aim to do involves something like this:

·        ·         Runner makes a run on their turn.
·         Click 1: Corp plays Jackson Howard
·         Click 2: Corp plays Power Shutdown for 37, trashing the whole of R&D.  Corp removes Jackson Howard from the game to shuffle SEA Source, Scorched Earth and Scorched Earth into R&D
·         Corp plays Accelerated Diagnostics, revealing SEA Source and two Scorched Earth.  Runner dies in a fire.


That’s what I thought up in the first two minutes of trying to abuse Accelerated Diagnostics.  People will be spending MUCH longer on it than that and I have to believe that somebody is going to crack it (if the above example didn’t crack it already).  An instant kill combo where the component parts are all extremely good in their own right and support each other outside the combo (Jackson draws the other cards, Power Shutdown kills Plascrete Carapaces to set up Scorches) is a dangerous thing to have in your game.

The one unknown about Accelerated Diagnostics appears to be the Influence cost and if that is high enough it may limit the availability of the card in combos.  Although I note that even if it costs 4 influence you could still pack 3 Jackson Howard and 3 Accelerated Diagnostics into a Weyland deck and give it a try.

         


So there you go.  The Corp gets a really mixed bag here - an awful lot of chaff but some devastatingly competitive cards.  I will take a view of the Runner cards tomorrow and put that up, but in the meantime please tell me what I'm horribly wrong about everything!