Sunday, 8 December 2013

Mala Tempora Set Review - Runner Cards

Yesterday I looked through the spoilers released from Mala Tempora of the Corporation cards, and I'm following up with the Runner cards today.

Colour me several shades of unimpressed but you may find that my naturally curmudgeonly outlook gets even more of an airing than usual as I look at what Runners have been given to combat the Power Shutdowns and Accelerated Developments of this world...


Reina Roja

Reina Roja has been printed specifically to be the best Anarch ID.  That's her function.  Unless you have a really good reason to play Noise or Whizzard then Roja should be your default choice.  Her ability is a very solid economic benefit which can be further turned into a deck strategy with cards such as Rook or Xanadu, taxing the Corp for rezzing Ice to keep her out, but really what matters is that she’s just better than the other options (including coming with 1 link).

Anarch as a faction still needs help – I’m not buying Caissa as a serious thing – but Reina Roja will be played a lot.

         


Knight

Most of the Caissa are pretty uninspiring and while Knight has it’s uses it also has plenty of limitations.  In the early game having an Icebreaker that can tutor onto a specific piece of Ice to ensure access, no matter the Ice type, helps you to get through with your first few runs.  Ultimately, though, I feel like diverting to Knight in the early game probably just distracts you from setting up your final desired rig.  I think I can see where decks would play a single Knight to search up with Test Run/SMC to break specific problem pieces of Ice, but with 2 to break each subroutine the Knight isn’t actually that efficient at breaking any decently sized piece of Ice – 8 for an Archer, 4 for an Eli – it’s not like Knight presents an efficient breaker for the fact it only works on one piece of Ice, and you have to admit that trading 1MU for a single piece of Ice being broken isn’t terribly efficient either.

   


Deep Red

Deep Red’s usefulness depends 100% on whether a deck with a ton of Caissa will actually be any good.  I’m pretty sure that it won’t be, although there could be a killer Caissa that we haven’t see yet.  Anarchs already have Grimoire to support virus decks in a similar way and that’s hardly set the world ablaze.  I may be downselling the Caissa as a whole but so far the only one I really like is Rook, so the idea of playing enough of them to make it necessary to rely on something like Deep Red to provide the MU to install them all… sounds pretty horrible.  Shouldn’t you just have played Mimic and Datasucker instead?

 


Running Interference

Running Interference is an expensive way of running but adds another strong tool to the Criminal’s already-bulging toolbox of ways to invalidate and frustrate the Corp’s defences.  I’m not sure there’s much space for this alongside the Inside Jobs and Emergency Shutdowns already played but I think we can expect to see 1 or 2 copies crop up for when the Criminals absolutely want to make sure they break into a server.  What I keep having in the back of my mind is that pretty soon we’re also going to have Blackmail available, which is both 75% cheaper than Running Interference and much more effective.  It’s hard to rate this card too highly when you know it’s about to get severely outclassed.

    


Expert Schedule Analyser

No.  Just no.  I’m kind of onboard with the effect, but making it take up precious MU and then make it an effect that you have to click for, so you can’t overlay this effect with a Sneakdoor Beta, or Dirty Laundry, or Inside Job, or anything interesting.  No, you can only use this effect if you announced in advance that you weren’t interested in scoring Agendas or anything like that, and just wanted a look 
around.



Grifter


Criminals don’t need much help at the moment, which is good because Grifter really doesn’t offer much by way of help.  Compared to existing cards like Compromised Employee or Desperado the Grifter gives you cash back much more slowly, offers no secondary benefits and will trash itself the second you don’t manage a successful run that turn.





The Woman In The Red Dress

This is a card that is pretty hard to judge the usefulness of.  Each turn you get to see the top card of R&D and the Corp can choose to draw it.  You gain information about what is coming but the Corp has control over that information.  If they’re worried about R&D dig and you reveal an untrashable piece of Ice they will be happy to leave it there, but if it’s an Agenda they can choose to pull it into HQ.  Yes, you now know there’s an Agenda in HQ but Shapers tend to be more focussed on R&D accesses.  On the surface I don’t think there’s much use for this but that it’s unique and comes with a high Influence cost makes me think I may be misunderstanding this card or missing a key interaction – why else would it come with those restrictions attached?

If you know what I’m missing let me know, please!



Torch

Torch is a really expensive alternative to Gordian Blade, asking you to pay just over twice as much for a Decoder a lot less than twice as good.   Most players and decks will correctly forget about Torch but there are a couple of examples of occasions where you’re going to want to pack a Torch as an option.  The first is Kit decks, which will get much more value out of that initial investment in a big Decoder, and the second is decks that have some way of ‘cheating’ install costs on Icebreakers (eg. Retrieval Run, Stimhack/Self-Modifying Code or Test Run/Scavenge).  Once in play Torch is very good, and if the additional cost over Gordian Blade isn’t a real obstacle then… why not?

My Kit deck currently uses Stimhack/Self-Modifying Code and I will be packing 1 copy of Torch as a search target.  Once it’s in play I’ll quickly reap the rewards of increasingly efficient running from all the Code Gates I give to the Corp.

   


Raymond Flint

I’m not sure about Raymond.  If Bad Publicity becomes a thing he might be semi-ok but even then you’re going to be giving the Corp advance warning of your HQ access and they can probably choose to gain Bad Publicity at a time that minimises the risk of the access hurting them.  Outside of that he’s a bad alternative to Infiltration and not many people even play that any more.

Nice hat.


   


And that's Mala Tempora.  Aside from the arrival of Reina Roja I don't think we find much here for the Runner, certainly nothing as fundamental as Power Shutdown or Ppaper Wall, or as potentially devastating as Accelerated Development.  Still, for most players Roja alone will be justification enough for Mala Tempora existing.