Tuesday, 14 January 2014

True Colors Set Review - Runner Cards

The Corp cards got to use the all-new Evil Pinky Scale, and for the Runners I unveil the Groovy Scale...

1 Groovy - Fun?  Thematic?  Cool?  Maybe.  Good?  No.

2 Groovies - Rarely played but will have its moments

3 Groovies - Solid card - you'll definitely see this around

4 Groovies - A great card - a faction staple

5 Groovies - Shagadelic!  You'll see this used across all factions


Lets start with the biggie – Keyhole was spoiled a while ago and I've never previously liked this card.  However enough people have said it's great, including some of the people whose card evaluations I pay close attention to, that I've gone back to basics and taken a fresh look.

Ignoring the cost and 2MU for now, what does Keyhole actually do for you?   

Keyhole shows you 3 cards at random from the Corp's deck, and roughly half the time that will include an Agenda.  You'll be able to trash the Agenda then run on Archives to collect it.  Given unfettered access to R&D you should be able to score an Agenda every turn by running R&D two or three times the running the Archives.  Because you shuffle R&D after your access you don't get to ensure that the Corp won't draw an Agenda the way you can with an R&D Interface 'lock' but if you're seeing 6 or 9 cards per turn and the Corp is only drawing 1 or 2 cards you can certainly expect to see Agendas more rapidly.  This is actually quite different to playing Medium, the current Anarch R&D dig of choice, where it will typically take you longer to score Agendas but you can be pretty certain that the Corp can't draw any in the meantime.  

Compared to Medium I think Keyhole is better when you're winning (ahead on Agenda Points, in a dominant position and able to access Central servers repeatedly for little cost) while Medium is better in other situations.  Medium only needs one run per turn to really deny the Corp the chance to draw an Agenda.  When you're behind on Agenda points Keyhole leaves the door open for the Corp to score their last Agenda before your accesses can find 7AP, which Medium doesn't do, and it's worth noting that the first time you try and steal an Agenda with Keyhole you'll likely find Jackson Howard ready to rip it away from you, buying the Corp more time to win. 

That said, Keyhole is powerful and I had definitely dismissed it too readily, although I think many players are too quick to see its strengths when you're ahead and overlooking the times when you would rather have Medium.  The key for Keyhole (pun intended) is fitting it into a rig which can afford to access R&D and Archives so easily, and that's where the 2 MU becomes a bit of a problem.  It could be that deck requires Grimoire to fund that additional MU while supporting the Anarch rig of Corroder/Yog.0/Mimic/Datasucker, maybe with Djinn to help out.  Reina Roja has already sparked huge interest in Anarch decks and I'm sure many people will try to use Keyhole as their win condition.  

Keyhole can certainly win games but compared to Medium I think it requires the runner to be in a stronger position before it can be effectively used and it's not yet clear in my mind that it's not 'win more' compared to Medium.  I think that in situations where Keyhole will win the game for you Medium would probably also win the game, although it would take longer to do it.  Back the other way I'm not so sure that Keyhole will always win the game for you in situations where Medium would have locked the Corp out. 

BTW, a nice little difference between Keyhole and Medium is that you're not accessing multiple cards, and this significantly de-risks running against Jinteki decks full of Shock! and Snare!  If Jinteki takes off then Keyhole definitely gains an edge over Medium & R&D Interface.

Activist Support

Being able to give the Corp a Bad Publicity is a great ability but giving the Corp the chance to trash your Activist before he can even Support you isn’t so great.  You’ll need to put the Corp between a rock and a hard place before this actually works out for you so don’t get too excited about what this claims to do.

Lawyer Up

Lawyer Up brings a mini Quality Time into Criminal, allowing the Event-heavy decks to keep their hands topped up.  You have to keep in mind that this is a Double event, though, so unless you’re gaining value from the clearance of tags this card is less exciting than you might think – versus simply clicking to draw two cards you’re +1 card (which is just cycling the Lawyer Up) but -2 credits, which isn’t exactly a stellar trade.  The only real value comes from wanting to clear tags and that’s something that, currently Criminal decks are happy to ignore doing.  Right now I think this is a lot less thrilling than it looks at first glance precisely because it’s a Double and Criminals are usually happy to play Tag Me, but if you want tags gone and you want cards in hand Lawyer Up provides both at once as some solid work compression.


Even without the restriction of running HQ I wouldn’t be too interested in this card – it’s much easier to play Plascrete to avoid Meat damage and simply play well to avoid Net damage.  That I have to run somewhere I don’t want to have to run in order to generate an effect I don’t want to generate is just a nail in the coffin.  Leverage would be a strong contender for the worst card in the set if that hadn’t been wrapped up by Starlight Crusade Funding a long time ago.


On initial reactions this seems to have divided people but I am definitely on the side of the fence that Garrote is a great addition to the Icebreakers.  Up to now no single Icebreaker has offered an efficient breaking formula and it has been much harder to break Sentries than any other type of Ice.  When I made my analysis of the ice andIcebreakers from the Top 32 decks at Worlds I highlighted that there wasn’t a really good Sentry killer, and even explored what two programs you could most effectively combine (Mimic & Knight or Mimic & Femme being best).

Because of that analysis I feel like you’re frequently going to devote 2MU to Sentry breaking anyway – either Mimic/Datasucker or Mimic/Femme or similar – and that Garrote takes up 2MU alone isn’t such a bad bargain because it turns out that Garrote is SIGNIFICANTLY more efficient than any other Sentry breaker (see the table below).  Yes, Garrote costs 7.  Yes, it takes up 2 MU.  But you were probably spending 2MU and lots of credits anyway to install a combination of cards to break Sentries with.  Garrote brings it all in one card, and one card you can search for with Special Order and which doesn’t cost Influence.

I don’t know if Criminals are going to switch from Mimic/Datasucker to Garrote because Datasucker synergises so well with Desperado, but I do see that their Anarch rig is coming under attack (Power Shutdown for Datasuckers, Str 4+ Code Gates like RSVP and Inazuma) and Garrote offers the option to jump out into a Garrote/Gordian rig instead (similar to the versions from Worlds that were based on Magnum Opus).  It’s definitely a possibility I will playtest, and I also think Garrote is tempting for Shapers to port over into their Test Run/Scavenge decks.

If your evaluation stops at the cost and MU of Garrote then I think you’re not appreciating the investment required to break Sentries with the current selection of Breakers.  Garrote is good, not quite Mimic/Datasucker good but good nonetheless.

LLDS Processor

Big woop.  No advantage you get from this can possibly be worth the cost of drawing/installing it.  I heard somebody say you would use it with Faerie/Clone Chip decks… presumably because the one thing you need with Faeries is some way to dodge the enormous cost of giving Faerie +1 Strength. </sarcasm>


The program-saving version of Deus X, Sharpshooter is limited use but essential for the decks running Self Modifying Code as your get-out when you run into an unexpected Archer.  I think you can expect to see a couple of copies played quite frequently in Shaper decks and this quite effectively neuters the swing towards Grim/Rototurrets in Corp decks.  A neat little card that achieves quite a lot simply by existing.


So if you built your deck badly to include lots of duplicates of cards you don’t want duplicates of, then put lots of draw effects in so that you keep drawing the cards you don’t want rather than filtering past them with search effects, this card is good.  Alternatively you could punch yourself in the face repeatedly if you’re feeling particularly masochistic.

Starlight Crusade Funding

I’m sure there is going to be a wacky theme deck of Double events that uses this.  I’m equally sure it will be terrible.

The Runners definitely get the raw side of the deal in True Colors, as has been true all the way through Spin Cycle so far, but each faction gets something that I think is good.  The standout card is Keyhole, which follows hot on the heels of Reina Roja and Knight to keep players interested in what Anarchs can do, but I think both Garrote and Sharpshooter will be valued additions to the war against Sentries and program destruction.