Mala Tempora: Bona Fide?

Second Thoughts has come and gone and the tournament scene has been left relatively unscathed. While there were no new breakout decklists, certain Runners and Corps are enjoying some new toys (especially Jinteki). Turning to Mala Tempora; is it going to be the meta breaking set some say it’s going to be? Let’s turn to our panel to find out.

malabox

 

Reina Roja

Tomas: The first new identity in the cycle pulls no punches. The red queen could not have entered the fray at a better time. The two most popular archetypes for Anarchs at the moment are Account Syphon recursion variants and ‘Back to Basics’ style builds inspired by Team Covenant heartthrob Steven Wooley’s top 16 effort at Worlds. Reina will have an impact on every game from turn one unlike current go-to-guy Whizzard, who can get unlucky and never touch a trashable.

Pat: No doubt she’s strong. I don’t know that she’s everything Anarchs need to get back on their feet, but in an age of Corps using all operation-based economy she’s far better at econ denial than Whizzard. Best paired with Xanadu and Rook along with ways to kill or de-rez ice to make defending servers a real pain against her.

Mike: “Anarch’s need to get back on their feet?” Whizzard being the “go-to-guy?” I don’t know what you’re talking about. Jackson Howard be damned Noise is still the poster boy for Anarch in my book. I’ll have to save it for my ‘In Defence of Noise’ article.

Anyway, there’s going to be a rush of people trying the new hotness; I’ll be one of them. She seems a pretty solid all rounder: 1 link, ability that’s relevant for the whole game regardless of the Corp deck (other than low ice builds like Jamieson’s Jinteki build that’s causing a fuss). I feel she’ll probably be better as part of an overall denial strategy (Imp, Vamp, Parasite etc) rather than full on anti-ice (Crescentus, Emergency Shutdown, Xanadu etc) or all out Caissa. Interested to see how she pans out.

 

Deep Red

Tomas: Red is the Green light that Caissa needed. The synergy with already powerful effects like Self-Modifying Code and Clone chip makes me think chess could be the real deal.

Pat: Pairing this with Self-Modifying Code and Clone Chip will be good, but how useful the three extra memory for Caissa will actually be remains to be seen. I suspect you’re going to want to go all-in with them to make full use of it. Perhaps an all-Caissa deck that forgoes a traditional breaker suite lies waiting to be discovered; if so, Deep Red is going to enable it.

Mike: Not that excited. The three points of memory is useful but limited to Caissa, which is hindering. Without having played it, I think the ability is negligible. The power of Caissa seems to be the ability to move them frequently and Deep Red only works immediately after install. There might be times when you need to install but don’t want to use just yet and you lose the benefit of Deep Red.

Unless you go all Caissa, I think I’d prefer Grimoire in faction, especially if playing Imp.

 

Knight

Tomas: An interesting one, for sure. Knight is a fantastic counterpart to cards like Atman, parasite and fixed-strength breakers that all lose effectiveness against the bigger ‘show-stopper’ ICE. In this way, it plays a similar role to Femme Fatale. Tollbooth, Grim and Bastion are a few of the more common hurdles that Knight can help you jump over.

Pat: We’re on the same page on this one – this is a card that lets you get past a piece of ice the Corp thought was unbreakable, when you really need to. As part of a longer gameplan, this pairs well with a parasite-focused deck. You kill the smaller ice, and if the Corp manages to rez something big and nasty just stick a Knight on it. Not a bad addition to the arsenal.

Mike: As Tomas suggests, it’s not going to be your only breaker, but a great supplement to any breaker suite. Throw it on unrezzed ice before you run through it and see if the Corps willing to spend the cash.

Running Interference

Tomas: A great effect, but 4 influence buys you a lot these days. In-faction you’ve already got strong runs like Account Syphon, Inside job and Dirty Laundry with powerful splash events like Stimhack and Maker’s Eye seeing a good amount of play. Not feeling this one.

Pat: Very situational. Making the Corp pay double for all their ice is nice, but if you’ve got the cash and the clicks to play this event, you can probably afford to just install some breakers. Really this is not so much a way to get into a server, but to throw off the Corp’s maths. Suddenly they’re paying a lot more than they expected to defend that remote and can no longer afford to score an agenda, buying you some time.

Mike: Not interested. I see it as a less effective Stimhack: you use it when you’re making a run on a server you must get into (probably a remote). But Running Interference won’t do anything if the ice is rezzed. Sure, maybe you’ll get in if the Corp can’t afford the higher rez cost. But maybe she can, and whilst you’ve taxed the Corp, you’re still not stealing that agenda/trashing that Melange/whatever. Stimhack, on the other hand, will usually get you in if you’ve got the breakers. Therein lies perhaps the only benefit of Running Interference; if you’re running a breakerless (or breaker light) deck.

 

Expert Schedule Analyzer

Tomas: This card feels like a lose/lose situation all the time. You either see all the agendas you could’ve stolen with the run, or you see that making the run was pointless anyway. Game feel and aggressive running should give you enough information to not need an effect like this. The MU cost is the final nail in the coffin.

Pat: I have to disagree here. Sure, if you’re running HQ all the time you probably don’t need it. But it’s more useful as a precursor to an R&D lock – just take a peek at everything in HQ, and so long as the Corp can’t win or kill you with the cards in there, you’re free to lock down R&D for an easy win.

Mike: Also uninterested. Effect is cool, and I think more worthwhile than Tomas gives credit. If it were hardware or a resource; I’d think about it. But as a program? MU is tight as it is. No thanks.

 

Grifter

Tomas: Don’t get conned into playing this.

Pat: As a rule, cards that force you into a certain play style are problematic. Sure, running often is how you win this game, but running every turn just for the sake of it can get you into trouble. Honestly I’d rather have Underworld Contact than this. That needs link to trigger, but at least it won’t trash itself if I need to save up credits for one turn.

Mike: A fitting name for what the card does to you if you play it. Don’t bother.

 

Torch

Tomas: The decoder business has never been better for the consumer. Competition like Gordian, Yog and Cyber-cypher has bred innovation and Torch is the result. Outside of Kit it comes down to a metagame decision. If it’s Enigma and Datapike that ail ya, look elsewhere. If your meta has evolved to counter Yog with the likes of Viper and Viktor, take up the torch to light your way.

Pat: First Leviathan, now this. Exactly what kind of monster code gate does Fantasy Flight have in the pipeline? Well for now, this isn’t so bad. I’ve always liked Cyber Cipher in Kit decks, and for seven credits more this gives you the same effect on any server. But that’s a big investment, and most Runners won’t see as much utility from it. I’m reserving judgment on this one until we see what code gates are coming that might warrant it.

Mike: 5 more credits gets you 2 more strength compared to the Shaper stalwart Gordian Blade. That 9 initial outlay is a bit of a hump and decreases the utility and flexibility of Torch, Eureka shenanigans aside. You’d need to do some repeated runs through code gates to get your money’s worth. For the moment, unless you’re Kit, I’d probably stick to the Blade.

 

Woman in the Red Dress

Tomas: There’s a lot to this card, but blue boys Gabe and Laramy are going to maximize on the red lady. Tired of accessing trash off the top? You know who to take Hostage! Bring her out when needed to let you know where your creds are best spent running.

Pat: Yeah, if your plan of attack involves hitting HQ a lot, this is pretty good. Say it reveals an agenda. Corp doesn’t draw it? Great, now an R&D run is a guaranteed score. They draw it? Well if you’re hitting HQ anyway, do they really think it will be any safer in there? And let’s not forget, scoring agendas isn’t the only reason to run; information is power, and this card will reveal pretty much the Corp’s entire deck in time, no upkeep required. Just be careful against combo decks, as you’re giving them a hell of a lot of card draw potential with this.

Mike: For the Magic players, you may remember a series of red cards which presented your opponent with a choice of 2 effects. Browbeat is likely most well known: for 2 colourless and one red mana, your opponent could choose to either take 5 damage or let you draw three cards.

Both are powerful effects for the cost of the card. But the problem was that you always got the effect which was the worst of the two given the circumstances at the time (assuming that your opponent is making smart choices). If they’re both bad for your opponent, then you’re probably in a winning position anyway. As a result, the cards were generally considered ineffective and didn’t see much play.

I think we have the same issue here: the Corp gets to choose whether they draw and, assuming optimum play, should choose what’s best at the time and (generally) has more information than you when they do it. Maybe they leave the agenda on R&D to force you into the Archer that’s waiting.  Or because their hand is full of Astroscripts and they’d rather you take the Breaking News on R&D. Plus, you can’t turn the effect off. If the Corp stabilises, you’ve giving them more gas to press their advantage.

What I do like, however, is that it allows for more mind games, interaction and bluffing between the Corp and the Runner. That’s the essence of Netrunner and what I love about this game.

 

Raymond Flint

Tomas: Doesn’t seem like there’s a huge disadvantage to playing Ray, especially as part of a sweet hostage package. Drop him early to get a bit of value from common problems like Grim, Hostile takeover and Profiteering. Sac him late as an expensive infiltration. Good to see him without a bottle in his hand, too.

Pat: I’m not sure we have all the pieces yet for Raymond Flint to really shine. Together with Frame Job and the upcoming Blackmail and Tallie Perrault, these cards may one day enable the kind of Runner who sits back and doles out bad publicity to achieve victory. For now, I think the mechanic has become popular enough with the Corp for Raymond Flint to see some use, but I doubt a few random accesses and an expose are really worth the deck space.

Mike: Not a bad card in the current meta; makes bad publicity a riskier proposition for the Corp and trashing it lets you expose at will (and mid run too). Remember that the HQ access is not optional: I’m sure that there’ll at least be a couple of flat-lined Runners from a forced Snare access.

But it’s also not an overly good card. Can you really find the room for him? I think he’ll be having a few drinks at Wyldside (or some other Seedy Location) for a while yet, until there’s a deck that can really use him.

 

Isabel McGuire

Tomas: As a way to reset various HB campaigns, I’m not a fan. I’m more interested in the 1 influence cost, allowing Jinteki to bounce back Snares and shocks. Other than that, am I missing something?

Pat: How useful is the ability to cycle cards back into your hand? Recycling Eve and Adonis Campaigns seems to be a bit more trouble than it’s worth. It can kill off hosted Parasites and Caissa by uninstalling ice, but then you’re still paying for the extra rez costs if you ever want that ice back. Maybe there’s a use for Isabel, but I can’t help but feel her ability would be so much more useful if it cost credits instead of a click.

Mike: Noting the rez/trash/influence cost and title of the card, is this perhaps part of a cycle with Jackson Howard? In any event, I agree that bouncing back economy assets is of limited use. More interesting is the ability to bounce failed traps (even advanced ones), misplaced ice (perhaps a Chum in the wrong position) or ice with hosted programs. Yes there may be some additional cost involved, but that still seems worthwhile in the right build. But that’s the key: in a world of ubiquitous cards like Jackson Howard and Hedge Fund, the deck needs to be tuned to take advantage of Ms McGuire.

 

Hudson 1.0

Tomas: If there’s one common theme amongst top performing Runners, it’s that they all have some way of hitting more than one card off the top. R&D Interface, Medium and Maker’s Eye are seeing play in droves and we’ve all lost games because the Runner just hit too many cards off the top. It might not stop them dead, but for minimal investment you can add some nice beef to your server.

Pat: This is definitely good against all those multi-access enablers we’re seeing, though you’re going to want to back it up with something that actually ends the run. Plus you can use it to protect valuable upgrades in a beefed up remote server. It has potential, but we’ll have to wait and see how this one pans out.

Mike: I like it. 2 strength out of Yog range and even Torch has to boost to break; the routines are either going to fire or its going to tax the Runner. It won’t stop the access, but will put a dent in R&D Lock and multi-access decks.

 

Accelerated Diagnostics

Tomas: A very tough card to evaluate. It’s potential upside is great, getting a few economic operations or a double event off at discount. The downside however is you might just die. There are some ways to ‘fix’ the drawback including commonly played cards like Jackson and Archived Memories. Precognition can help set up various accelerations as well as being another sweet operation to hit. Netrunner is a game of risk vs reward and I like my odds.

Pat: I don’t know – if you’re using this card blind, the risk is the same as with Accelerated Beta Test, but the potential rewards are next to nothing. At best you’ll save a few clicks. There’s been a lot of talk about using this as part of an elaborate combo with Jackson Howard and Power Shutdown to play any 3 operations in your deck for the win (say, Scorched Earth). It’s gimmicky as anything, but I think gimmicky combo play is the only viable use for this card.

Mike: Forums are awash with cries of ‘OP’ and ‘broken’ due to the combos to which Patrick refers. Those combos will go off sometimes, and if it becomes endemic then this card might become the first entry onto the Banned and Restricted List for Netrunner. But I doubt it will come to that. There are ways to stop or slow down the combos (Clone Chip/SMCing a virus with Noise after Jackson Howard is hilarious).

Delicate combos aside, seems a fun but unreliable card. Similar to Accelerated Beta Test with less pay off.

 

Unorthodox Predictions

Tomas: I’m a big fan of this card. It’s a really unique effect that can have a huge impact on the game. If you throw it down with 2 advancements and the Runner passes it back to you unmolested, you can chain off another agenda afterwards or set up some nasty unrezzed ice. Many of the Jinteki players are moving towards jamming heaps of 1 point agendas and this is certainly better than the 3rd false lead/Gila hands.

Pat: For any other Corp this would be fairly useless, but given Jinteki’s penchant for leaving advanced cards on the table, the possibility of leaving this fully advanced then next turn scoring it and playing out a 3-point agenda, completely safe behind an Ice Wall, is not so far-fetched. Plus it’s more easy damage for Personal Evolution. Overall I think this is a strong card.

Mike: Jinteki just keeps getting better and better. Surely a straight swap for False Lead. A+, would buy from again.

 

Sundew

Tomas: Maybe the card that Replicating Perfection needs? The influence is too restrictive so it’s unlikely to see play outside of the red guys. To be honest, I’m not convinced it’s any good outside of RP. Either way, I’ll do the dew.

Pat: Actually, I think this is great for Jinteki (their economy is really kicking off this cycle). Because there’s no good option for the Runner with this card – they just have to go trash it soon as they see it. And if you’re Replicating Perfection it always pays for itself too. Couple it with Hokusai Grid or maybe behind a Data Mine, and it’s an extremely versatile card that can manipulate the Runner’s actions or just get you money, depending on what you need. I like it a lot.

Mike: Obviously slots into Replicating Perfection. But I don’t think it has a place in Personal Evolution; the ID has enough ways of generating money these days (Profiteering, Gila Hands Arcology, Celebrity Gift) unless you’re playing a very unusual Personal Evolution deck. In which case maybe you should be playing Replicating Perfection instead?

 

City Surveillance

Tomas: If you compare this card to its previous incarnation, they’re not even on the same level. This is what piques my interest to be honest. If a card needs to be nerfed that hard there needs to be a reason, right? Right?

csonr

Pat: This is good if you rez it while the Runner’s flat-broke, and pretty horrible the rest of the time. I’d say the deck archetype that wants City Surveillance doesn’t exist yet, but maybe the rest of the Spin Cycle will give us cards that make it worthwhile.

Mike: I liked this right up until I saw the rez and trash cost. Swap them around and it’d be way better. Perhaps it’s been nerfed too much?

 

Snoop

Tomas: Would you pay six creds for some potentially useless information? Well, that’s an exaggeration. Most players can easily tell what the Runner’s next few turns will involve by having a peek at their hand. Seeing that they can run on your under-protected R&D multiple times is going to sting though. Sometimes all you need in life is a Wall of Static. The paid ability is good. The ‘worth putting some creds behind a trace’ kind of good.

Pat: As a long-time NBN player I’m loving any effect they get that lets you look at their hand, and hitting them with this is far less restrictive than using Invasion of Privacy. Looking at their hand is an on-encounter effect, so you can stick this on a central like R&D and either they stop running or you keep constant tabs on what they’re up to. Plus if the trace hits you trash the most problematic card they have whenever you like. And since they can’t just jack out when they see it it’ll hit a lot more often than Data Raven. A bit pricey, but that 6 strength is compensation enough. I love this card.

Mike: I’m also a long time NBN player, simply because I love ‘on encounter’ effects. They can’t be broken (except in a round about way with a bypass)! So it’s unsurprising I’m excited for this card. Knowing what’s in the Runner’s hand is far from useless information. Stimhack/Inside Job past your Tollbooth to your previously thought safe Astroscript is always upsetting. Targeted pseudo-net damage if the trace goes off is also a plus; it may even see some play in Jinteki given it’s reasonable influence cost.

 

Ireress

Tomas: On average, this is just going to negate the bad pub you gave yourself. Not an ice you want early, but might see play as a 1-of in Weyland.

Pat: Negating bad publicity on one server is pretty good for something that costs you nothing, but it is sadly easily countered by Yog.0, the most common of decoders. Weyland will probably get some use out of this, negating the drawbacks of Hostile Takeover and Geothermal Fracking, but I don’t know it will see much play out-of-faction.

Mike: Garbage. Though funny if the Runner has already spent some of the Bad Publicity credits when Ireress fires (the one time in a million that would actually happen).

 

Power Shutdown

burnsshutdown

Tomas: Take that, Datasucker. Take that, Clone chip. Take that, nuclear power plant… oh fiddlesticks. Simpsons reference aside, Shutdown can be a low risk answer to some high power cards. Most lists are running a good number or Jackson Howard and could recover from hitting an agenda. If you’re going to try and hit something more expensive without backup though, you deserve the repercussions.

Pat: Oh yeah, that’s the stuff. The ability to kill off all that cheap but powerful Runner tech that we’re seeing for next-to-no cost is amazing. Plus tag & bag decks get a new way to deal with Plascrete Carapace. Since the risks of using this can be mitigated by good old Jackson Howard, Power Shutdown is really going to help restore power to the Corps this cycle.

Mike: Simpsons reference, Starcraft reference. What’s left for me? Anyway, great card, though I see this being more useful for hitting SMC/Datasuckers as opposed to the Plascrete Carapace. To draw parallels to Woman in the Red Dress, assuming that your opponent is making sensible decisions, you’re usually better off trashing an amount equal to the  lowest costed program/hardware that the Runner has. Either that’s the card you want to hit, or if it isn’t and you trash a higher number of cards from R&D, the Runner will choose the lower costed card because the Runner is better off that way.

About the only time you’d do otherwise is if you’re trying to mess with the Runner’s head again, or if you’ve got some hidden information that means that the Runner might just make the wrong decision and trash the higher costed card.

Oh, a reference: “Who disrupts my coronation?!?”

Probably more appropriate for Reina Roja, but anyway…

 

Paper Wall

Tomas: Exactly what the doctor ordered. There were a lot of decks out there which wanted a cheap way of keeping the Runner out but didn’t like the premium on Ice wall. NEXT Design and NBN fast advance jump out as potential investors.

Pat: Cheap end-the-run ice for no influence? Remote defense that even an Account Siphon can’t deny you? Yes please. And if your game plan is win fast or go home, you’ve probably lost by the time they start actually breaking subroutines anyway, so who cares if this trashes itself. Like Tomas said, it’s a certain type of deck that’s going to want this card, but for those decks it’s pretty great.

Mike: Rush decks are going to love this, as will most decks that run Ice Wall and are desperate for influence. Let’s face it, unless you’re advancing Ice Walls, they’re pretty much a dead draw once a Fracter is installed anyway.

 

Interns

Tomas: Installing from HQ seems pretty weak, archives is where the money is. It might be a poor man’s Archived Memories most of the time, but digging back that Adonis/Melange/SanSan the Runner just trashed is so tasty I can already hear the groans. Will you give the Interns a job at your Corp?

Pat: Apart from potentially saving some credits from installing ice, this doesn’t let you do anything that Archived Memories doesn’t already, but it lets you do it without spending influence. Weyland and Jinteki will likely get the most out of this as they have no in-faction ways to recur cards from Archives, but I’m not sure how widespread it will become. I think it’s good – it’s just not great.

Mike: Again, ignoring Accelerated Diagnostics combos, I’m not sure how much play this card will see competitively. Best used for trashed assets or upgrades (or, in a pinch, helping you build that 7 ice deep server a little more cheaply). Obviously can’t be used for trashed ambushes unless they’re face down. If nothing else, play it for the Saturday morning cartoon card art.

The Watch List

Not necessarily the most powerful cards of the pack, these are our picks for potential game makers and breakers.

Tomas:

1. Reina Roja
2. Power Shutdown
3. Woman in the Red Dress
4. Knight
5. Hudson 1.0

Pat:        

 1. Power Shutdown
2. Snoop
3. Reina Roja
4. Paper Wall
5. Sundew

Mike:

1. Power Shutdown
2. Reina Roja
3. Unorthodox Predictions
4. Knight
5. Paper Wall

That’s it for this month folks, how do you feel about what Fantasy Flight Games has cooked up? Did we get it right or is there something we missed? Let us know below or over at the ATGN facebook page.

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One Comment
  1. Greg
    January 5, 2014 | Reply

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