Over the moon! Upstalk review for Android Netrunner

Welcome to the Lunar cycle! It’s been a while since the last data pack for Netrunner and  though Honor & Profit shook the game up a bit, it’s about time we had some new toys. Throughout the next six data packs we will explore space and everything to do with the Android universe’s notorious Beanstalk. Today we look at the first offering of the cycle with Upstalk, let’s jump right in!

 

Domestic Sleepers

Lin: Interesting agenda that could see a lot of use in HB. Good as a one turn drop Archer fodder that can be later used to score the winning point if it wasn’t forfeited. It is a dead card if you don’t draw the archer though. Could this be indication that there are more ‘Forefeit Agenda’ cards coming. This card could also fraustrate runners who managed to steal it. If this see heavy use in meta I can see ‘Data Dealers’ seeing more play. 

Pat:  As Domestic Sleepers doesn’t count towards your agenda total for deckbuilding purposes, they’re card slots dedicated purely to extra points for the Corp, but when you’re on match point and just need one more agenda to round out the game, being able to convert clicks into that extra point may be very powerful indeed. Expect a lot of decks, especially fast advance, to start packing some of these.

Tom: Big fan! I don’t think it suits fast advance where cards are fighting for space already. Glacier, on the other hand, will get a new dimension of play. You set up your fat remote, install and double advance the sleepers. They either run through and get nothing for their efforts or let you score out a “1 point” agenda, quite relevant when you have a bunch of 3 pointers! Many of these style decks are running Aggressive Secretary, sleepers provide an interesting alternative.

NEXT Silver

Lin: Another NEXT ice. Nothing exciting until we see more NEXT. For now these just feel like filler.

Pat: The most exciting thing about this card is being able to get strength-6 NEXT Bronzes on the board. Silver itself is weak to Parasite, but what ice isn’t these days? Apart from that it seems a solid choice in any deck going for NEXT synergy, but I doubt we’ll see it played on its own – costing 3 to rez for just 1 strength and no more than 3 subroutines means you’re usually better off just playing Wall of Static. Still, I’m super excited for this one.

Tom: Is NEXT ice playable now? I’m not convinced. Between in-faction and neutral ICE Haas Bioroid already has a great selection of cheap stuff. Maybe when we get another piece it will be the choice but for now it’s a solid 2nd place.

Lotus Field

Lin: The anti-prarasite/datasucker/atman ice. This is another installment in the ices that target particular runner archetype, like Guard and Swordsman before it. Set all your Atmans to 4 strength from now, boys and girls. 
As much as I hate Atman/parasite decks, I do not see why this is coming out now as local and tournament meta seems to suggest Corp is running strong and runner is lagging behind.

Pat: So I know I just said all ice is vulnerable to Parasite, but, well, here’s the exception that proves I made up that rule. Much like Swordsman did for Atman, the mere existence of Lotus Field is going to curb the ubiquity of Yog.0, forcing people to at least run a backup decoder. I’m guessing this will be everywhere as soon as Upstalk hits (and rightly so) then recede from popularity as the meta shifts and it becomes apparent that this is just a little too expensive for what it does.

Tom: I’m in two minds about this. 5 creds is not insignificant for a benefit that could be irrelevant. Much like Swordsman, the implications to the metagame are much bigger than the card itself. Yog has already seen a slight drop off in popularity but I don’t think this card will be the nail in the coffin. It will see play, but not every deck will field it.

Mutate

Lin: Remember when Jenteki Ice used to suck? Ah, good ol’ days… Combine it with ‘Precognition’ and you can turn your Data Mines or Pop-ups into Wall of Thorns or even Janus if you spent the influence. Side note; am I the only one that is concerned that Janus is called Janus 1.0? What horrors will 2.0 bring, I shudder to think.

Pat: Do you want to know which of these cards excites me the most? Hint: it’s this one. The combo-lover in me just demands to do strange and wonderful things with Mutate and Precognition, and I really think a deck that oscillates between extremely cheap ice like Pup and raging behemoths like Janus can get real value out of it. And even if it doesn’t win a single game, c’mon, isn’t the idea of this card just plain cool?

Tom: Yes! Loving the flavour of this card, playability is an issue though. Doubt we will see it on top tables but for sure someone will rez a Janus with this at game night. Just give me Birthing Pod in asset form already!

podd

Near-Earth Hub: Broadcast Center

Lin: At first I did not see the appeal of this ID. Sure the extra influence is nice but Corp don’t really want forced card draw. And then it hit me, It’s the new SEA source Scorch ID. With the influence you can run 3 Scorches, easy and card draw is welcome when you are digging for those scorches. Splash some Snares and Junebugs and baby you’ve got a stew Seasource/Scorch engine going. 

Pat: It’s easy to undervalue, but 17 influence is a big deal, especially for Corps. It’s such a weird number and there’s a lot of ways to fill it out – the cautious Runner diligently counting up what influence they’ve seen to try and work out your game plan is going to have a hard time determining if you’re running, say, Scorched Earth somewhere in there. As for the card draw, it’s less good than getting free credits, but still respectably powerful. We should see a lot of TWIY* decks switch to this ID, if for nothing more than to see what NBN can do with that extra influence.

Tom: Express has taught us that extra influence is not a bad thing, the game text is where I’m conflicted. NBN definitely has the ability to go horizontal with in faction and neutral economy, Jackson gets even better with the extra draw. It just feels like if you want to go sideways that bad you should be playing Replicating Perfection instead. Probably missing something here and I’ll be happy to see what people come up with.

Primary Transmission Dish

Lin: I feel this is a direct support of the previous NBN ID. If you even get two of these up and running behind good ICE and you’ve halfway through your SEA source scorch set up.

Pat: Just as Scrubber lets every Runner pretend to be Whizzard, now you too can pretend to be NBN: Making News! Only slightly better! Not bad at all, especially considering that you profit off this card as soon as it’s rezzed. That said, I don’t expect to see this played in-faction much, because why pretend to be Making News when you can just actually be them instead? But this might help tracer ice like Draco, which never really felt worth playing outside of NBN, find a home in other Corps.

Tom: There are a few things to like about this card (other than Pat’s comparison with Scrubber), most notably that it costs more to trash than it does to rez. This means a majority of the time you’ll come out ahead economically in most situations. The real question is ‘are there enough good traces that you want to pump by 3 and would you play this over some real economy’. I’m hoping it lets me dish out some pain with Invasion of Privacy though.

Midway Station Grid

Lin: Once again I feel this is NBN Seasource/Scorch support as keeping runs expensive for runners is integral to making sure that Seasource goes off when you need it to.

Pat: Midway Station Grid (or Crystal Palace Station Grid, as it was known in the original Netrunner) is a card which just seems way too expensive to rez for too little payoff. The most notable thing about it is that programs which break multiple subroutines in one go (like Morningstar, not like Faerie) circumvent it somewhat. I’ll be waiting for something to combo it with before I consider experimenting with it.

Tom: Geez, this is a card. The first Region that really helps the taxing big ICE decks (Ruhr Valley is not a thing). The influence is prohibitive but people have been willing to splash caprice in the past and this seems a lot better than the clone. Potentially better outside NBN, a faction with an unfortunately low number of subroutines on their ICE.

The Root:

Lin: Weyland gets more economy that they don’t really need. This one is particularly good at mitigating the effectiveness of ‘Account Siphon’ since runners can no longer rely on draining credits with it first before running another server with unrezzed ice. Shame it’s unique.

Pat: Things this can’t be used for: playing operations, using card abilities, boosting traces, playing psi games. For everything else there’s The Root. If you can get a decent piece of ice in front of this early enough to get two full uses out of it, you’ll be laughing, and the Runner has to trash it (painful for them, with that trash cost). 3 recurring credits can snowball very quickly, so I’ll be watching out for this one.

masterroot

Tom: A hard one to evaluate without playing. Do you treat it as an expensive Adonis Campaign? Leaving it naked or lightly defended, happy to see your opponent burn credits. Is it more like a Melange? Defend it deep, replace it when you’ve stabilised. I feel like it’s the former, but I’ll need to play some games to get to the root of the issue.

Taurus

Lin: WOW! Pump it up to 5 and you get to trash a hardware regardless of whether runner match the trace or not!? Bye bye Plascrete. Bye bye consoles with necessary MU bonuses.

Pat: I’ve seen arguments that this is just nuts (“boost the trace by 3 and get a free Plascrete trash? Sweet!”) and also that it’s no good at all, since there’s little intersection between “times the Runner has hardware you really want to trash” and “times the Runner can’t break sentries”. Still, at 5 strength for 5 cost the numbers on Taurus look pretty good, and Weyland’s the best faction to make hardware trashing matter. Looks solid.

Tom: Definitely a step in the right direction for Weyland hardware control. Power Grid Overload is expensive at best and Power Shutdown is inaccurate. Taurus will hit the hardware you want if you push the trace with a bonus trash if you win. If they have a breaker then you’re not trashing anything, granted it is a 5 strength sentry. Might give Tag and Bag the wings it needs.

Mother Goddess

Lin: Love it. Runners are going to start splashing AI breakers or other answers. Could see a place in first advance NBN where you really want that Astrophysics to be successful early.

Pat: More crazy synergy for NEXT/Bioroid decks, with the added advantage that if this is the only ice rezzed it’s almost unbreakable. And even without the synergy, this is basically just a better Rainbow. If you can afford 4 credits for an early game ice, there’s little reason not to run a couple of these in your deck.

Tom: This just seems like a Bastion with downside. Yes, it might have some future interactions with Grail and NEXT ICE but for now I’d leave mum at home.

Galahad

Lin: How many Ice suites are FFG wanting to release at once. Seems good but it will all be dependent on the quality of future Grail ICE.

Pat: Galahad’s straight-up weak on his own, so I don’t see any reason to play it over any other cheap barrier at the moment. Once the other Grail pieces are released though, it’ll be able to do more than just end the run, and paying 2 credits for, say, a program trash, is pretty great. So this is one to set aside until we have Merlin and Lancelot in the mix.

Tom: While we need more Grail for it to be truly playable, Galahad is really solid. People have been paying 1 influence for Ice Wall for a long time and this isn’t much worse on base stats alone. You throw some more subroutines on and things start to look rough for your opponent.

Bad Times

Lin: Bad times indeed. Tag-punishment is welcome and may start discouraging Data Leak Reversal and Joshua B. Not really useful until the runner has their full suite out though.

Pat: Geez, and this is neutral? Well this is gonna put a damper on things if your plan was to Account Siphon for days. And if the Corp can muster enough money to play two of them in one turn, that is basically a gone rig. Like with Closed Accounts, I’d say careful timing in the use of this card is going to straight-up win games, and really help you out when you’re behind.

Tom: Bad times come in pairs. Or, rather, they’re good in pairs. But not good times, because this is bad times…you get the idea. Unfortunately, Bad Times suffers similar issues to Scorched Earth in that it will often rot in your hand until you can pull the trigger. Even when you do, it’s doesn’t end the game on the spot. As Pat said being neutral is a huge plus and should get the brewers cooking.

Cyber Threat

Lin: It feels like an expose support which makes it weird that it’s a Anarch card. It’s still a good card that give you easy ways to check ice without headbutting it early game when most servers still had a single ice.

Pat: Sort of a Forged Activation Orders meets Blackmail, tossed into an Anarch stew and served with a side of “play only as your first click” (I’m not good at metaphors, okay). Obviously best for avoiding facechecking nasty ice, but that makes it no good for hitting a scoring remote (since the Corp will just rez their cheap ETR). Which leaves me baffled as to when you’d actually use this… hopefully someone will come up with a good use on release.

Tom: A more expensive and restrictive Forged Activation Orders with a marginal upside. Could save you from a Roto or Jinteki nonsense but nothing that solid play couldn’t. Asking for 3 credits on top of this is a bit of a joke.

Lamprey

Lin: Not a big fan especailly considering it costs MU. I suppose it can make a Corp waste a turn with the purge and gets a mill in with Noise but would an Anarch Virus deck want to force a purge anyway?

Pat: I can see this splashed into some Criminal decks as the sole virus, but alongside other viruses (viri?) the “trash on purge” clause just seems too much of a liability. Still, forcing the Corp to lose any amount of money can be pretty funny, so if you’ve got easy access anyway or just want to get some extra value out of HQ runs, this seems like a good way to do it.

Tom: Lamprey enters the meta at an interesting point. Anarchs are already punching holes in Corp economy with Account Syphon and Imp. It will be a skill testing card for sure and should teach players how much they can commit to the board before the corp needs to purge. Finding that line and pressuring it is a key part of effective Anarch play.

Paper Tripping

Lin: I really like this card, not because it’s really powerful but because of the risk/reward nature it brings to the meta by coming out the same time with ‘Bad Times’.  Wanna float some tags for a turn so you get more out of those account siphons? You could lose some breakers.

Pat: I don’t mind this – it does for Midseason Replacements what Plascrete Carapace did for Scorched Earth. It ensures that if those sorts of decks ever get out of hand there’ll be a hard counter to it. So yeah, if Midseasons is ruining your day, infuriate your opponents by showing ’em one of these.

Tom: Unless you really hate playing against psychographics, this just seems far too marginal. If you think this is better than Lawyer Up, you’re probably tripping.

Power Tap

Lin: A nice card to see with all these seasource scorch around. The main appeal here is suprising an opponent in case he/she forget to factor this card in when they are mentally counting out their SEA souce/scorch cost.

Pat: If you’re linked up like a boss this could potentially turn tracers into money-making machines for you, but you’d think the Corp would have the good sense to immediately trash all their tracing ice in that situation. Really, this one is a meta call. If you’re seeing a lot of tracers in your games it’s worth considering, otherwise it’s probably just not worth the deck space.

Tom: For me, economy cards generally need to pass the ‘Easy Mark test’. That is, they need to be (consistently) better than an Easy Mark to warrant inclusion (otherwise you’d just play the easy money). Unfortunately, power tap fails this by quite a large margin. It’s no Bagbiter, but chances are it’ll cost you more than it gains.

Nasir Meidan

Lin: Well, at least it’s interesting. Jury’s still out on whether or not it’s good. Maths will need to be done on how many ice can be effectively broken with just their rez cost. Main concern is whether or not you will have the cash to grab those NAPDs and Fetals or even trash vital cards after a successful run. It could go well with Xanadu and Rooks but you will have to spend the influence. I am not a fan overall.

Pat: This has got to qualify as the most unique identity we’ve seen so far (and hopefully an indication of what the rest of Lunar cycle has to offer). The best game plan seems to be to run Personal Workshop so you can quickly dump all your credits before encountering ice, turning his ability into pure value. Recurring credits and breakers that boost for the entire run also play nice with Nasir. So will he be any good? I really have no idea. But he will be a lot of fun, no question.

Tom: I agree with Pat on this one, Personal Workshop seems like the game plan. Probably too much fussing around to be consistent and competitive, though this cycle has some expensive toys coming up.

Social Engineering

Lin: Goes with the previous ID to double the amount gained when corp rez an ICE. I see it’s appeal more in a expose deck. At 2 influence it’s quite splashable in a ‘Silhouette’ deck and could be effective in conjunction with forced activation order to force Corp to make some tough decisions. 

Pat: There’s a mad combo here waiting to happen with Blackguard. Besides that combo, you have to pay 2 credits for this in the first place, which limits how much value you’ll get out of it, since cheap ice Corp builds remain fairly popular right now. But if big ice makes much of a comeback, this might be a good card for hedging your bets. It lets you say, “I either get into that server or get tonnes of money”. For added hilarity, target HQ ice and then play Account Siphon.

Tom: My reading of this gives me the idea that it’s a bit of a nono with Nasir. If this is the case, 0/10 on the flavour meter. Not a big fan of the effect either, anything that interacts well with Blackguard is suspect in my book.

Leprechaun

Lin: Combine it with Djinn to start running insane amount of programs. Then get hit with a bad times and weep as you lose it all. It could be good for a Professor deck.

Pat: We really have been waiting since the core set to get another Daemon. And here it is, and it’s pretty great. This effectively lets you turn 1 memory into 4 (with, say, a Magnum Opus and a Paintbrush hosted), at the cost of being more vulnerable to program destruction and Power Shutdown. I like it a lot.

Tom: I’ve expressed my loathing of Daemons in the past and this is no different. When the corp hits you with an Ichi or Roto, you’ll realise theres no gold at the end of this rainbow.

Eden Shard

Lin: When you want to dig deep into R&D multiple times in one turn, this is a good card. Goes well with Medium. 

Pat:  This will definitely pair well with Laramy Fisk when he’s eventually released, letting you flood the Corp’s HQ with more cards than they can hold. But without any other combo pieces yet in the mix, I’m just not feeling this one. There’s a kind of deck that could make it work, but the cards we need for it just don’t exist yet. And with this being limited to one per deck, it can’t do too much on its own.

Tom: The first in the cycle of shards, each revolving around a different central server. The way the game is at the moment, I would throw the singleton in Noise. Minimal disadvantage/ big upside with medium, possibly good with nerve agent if you can keep their hand thick with agendas. I would be surprised if it didn’t see high level play.

That’s a wrap!

Lin: Overall, I feel this is a good pack. There are a couple of cards I don’t much care for and a couple that need more support to be effective. I am pretty excited about most of the cards and some are going straight into my decks while others have already got me inspired to build new decks. It’s certainly a datapack I am actively looking forward to.

The Watch List:

Pat: 

  1. Mutate
  2. NEXT Silver
  3. Mother Goddess
  4. Bad Times
  5. Near-Earth Hub

Tom:

  1. Eden Shard
  2. Domestic Sleepers
  3. Lamprey
  4. The Root
  5. Taurus

 

Liked it? Take a second to support ATGN on Patreon!

Leave a Reply