The Use (and Misuse) of Popular Music in Film

Screening Program

Music Video for “Derezzed”

American Psycho (2000); “Hip To Be Square” Scene

Forrest Gump (1994)

Juno (2007)

The Graduate (1967)

Gatsby (2013)

Written Statement

Throughout all popular mediums and art-forms, there has always been a generous amount of interdisciplinary overlap. As a medium naturally evolves, it begins to incorporate other art-forms until they inevitably begin to resemble each other. This phenomenon can be witnessed through the transformation of the filmic soundtrack, as well as the evolution of music videos and film trailers. In fact, many modern music videos contain scenes from films that they are featured in. Line are blurred whether the content one is to focused on is visual or audible. For example, the music video for Daft Punk’s “Derezzed” is almost exclusively made of scenes inspired by the film it was written for, TRON: Legacy (2010). However, the song itself has become one of the duo’s most popular hits. Watching the music video begs the question; what is the focus of the content being consumed? One might argue that the film is being advertised and prioritized over the song in which the music video was made for. A film’s score is one of many artistic elements that make up a film, but it is also clearly one that treads heavily on the music industry. Robb Wright explains that the production process is similar to any collaboration in the sense that the music is, one way or another, provided by an outside supplier (Wright 87). Many film’s have included original songs that top the popular charts, such as Adele’s Skyfall, or Celene Dion’s My Heart Will Go On. These films include music that is tailored for specific scenes, or the general content within the film. However, it is undeniable that the opposite occurs just as frequently. Pre-recorded music is added to a film during its post-production period, and the scene may be tailored towards the popular song. Reservoir Dogs (1992) features an iconic torture scene featuring Stealers Wheel’s Stuck In The Middle With You, and Mary Harron used the same technique of audio-visual juxtaposition in American Psycho (2000) with the song Hip To Be Square. In both scenes, the film’s script appears to be written with these specific songs in mind. That is to say that dialogue between the characters, or featured on the diegetic radio, make reference to these popular songs as if they are popular within the film’s narrative. This curation explores the possibilities within a film’s soundtrack when a film embraces popular music, and more importantly, how the choice of soundtrack can be more than a stylistic addition.

Robb Wright, in his writing Score vs. Song: Art, Commerce, and the H Factor in Film and Television Music, reveals that sound editors and mixers for film and television exploit audible techniques to manipulate their audience (Wright 88). According to Wright, as long as a sound is quieter than the various tracks that are incorporated into a single scene, it has a more direct access to the viewers subconscious than any visual information that is the focal point of the film. They help trigger the emotional responses that are desired. For this reason, the effect of the audible elements within a film cannot be understated or trivialized. This encourages the discourse of a film’s soundtrack, and more specifically, how the cultural context of a popular song can help evoke a particular response.

An important film in the discussion of popular music within a film’s score is Forrest Gump (1994). Forrest Gump features the title character’s involvement throughout some of the most important events in recent American history, despite his simple intelligence. The film features songs from the several eras that Forrest lived through and the soundtrack is evocative in ways that only an authentic representation from the film’s setting could achieve. For those who have lived throughout these eras, the soundtrack is a powerful reminder of the those times. The individual songs each conjure memories from the past. Therefore, the soundtrack selected for Forrest Gump (1994), as well as the film itself, is greatly benefitted from being comprised of popular music.

Of course, the decision to license a soundtrack that is entirely made up of popular music does not only authentically recreate a specific era, but it can help portray a culture that audience members might have trouble relating to. This is a technique that is used in Juno (2007). Juno MacGuff is a quirky and alternative high-school student who is dealing with a teenage pregnancy. The film’s score enables a wider audience to relate to Juno as a struggling female teenager, a character that they normally might have trouble relating to. The soundtrack of the film primarily consists of independent music that has a low-fi sound. The quality of the music lends itself to the simplistic and wholesome image that Juno lets off. The film ends with Juno and her boyfriend Paulie performing a song together with acoustic guitars, which solidifies the notion that the soundtrack is made up of music that Juno would listen to. The audience gets to better know Juno as a character through the film’s soundtrack, since the spectator and Juno are listening to the same songs. This technique lends itself to a non-original soundtrack since it authenticates Juno as a living human outside of the narrative, even though she is not.

All of the aforementioned films selected and discussed have used popular music for artistic reasons; there is a sense of artistic integrity that transcends consumer culture. However, the reality of the situation is that the film industry, like any other industry, primarily exists to generate income. It is very common for a film to feature a popular band or song for the simple reason that it is popular. If the song is topical, the film in which it is featured in is topical as well. Having a song or artist attached to a project may help a film’s image or perform more lucratively at the box office. Peter Larsen highlights the problematic nature of this practice in Striking a New Note: Film Music After the Golden Age.

“Many later films have demonstrated that songs on the soundtrack can convey what goes on in the mind of a fictive character, even though they are sung by someone else. The reason why it is difficult to consider Simon’s songs as Ben’s inner monologue or ‘internal songs’ is not that they are sung by Simon & Garfunkel, but simply that they were not written with The Graduate in mind. The lyrics are not actually about Ben – which means that connections between the lyrics and his thoughts have to be established at a more general level. The only piece of text that Simon wrote directly for the film, the four lines of ‘Mrs. Robinson’, have, strangely enough, no connection to the Mrs. Robinson of the film[…].” (Larsen 155)

While Larsen’s conclusion, that music not made explicitly for the film it is featured in obstructs the viewer’s suspension of disbelief, is arguable, he does display a problematic example. If one is to follow Robb Wright’s ideology of a film as a complex collaborative effort, Larsen’s conclusion suggests an imperative status that music has in respect to the quality of a film.

In recent years, there has been one notable blockbuster film that patches the problems that Larsen has with popular music in film; Gatsby (2013). Gatsby’s soundtrack seems to be the combination of several elements highlighted in this curation, thus it cannot simple be ignored or glossed over. First of all, Gatsby (2013) primarily features an original soundtrack compiling unique renditions of popular songs. While these songs are contemporary hits, they are remade in a 1920’s Jazz Age fashion. This allows the romanticization of an authentic soundtrack that fits the film’s era, while also satisfying the lucrative notion of featuring topical music in a Hollywood blockbuster. While the songs, lyrically, were not entirely written with the content of Gatsby (2013) in mind, these specific covers or renditions were. Aside from evoking a specific era in American History, Gatsby’s soundtrack also gives insight to the characters and context of the film. The several tracks all orbit around a few shares themes and topics; love, death, and partying. They are exclusively played over scenes that visualize these themes, which allow the viewer to subconsciously understand the context of the scene. Finally, the songs seem to fit within the context of the film, lyrically. Larsen may question the relevance of several lines in Paul Simon’s Mrs. Robinson, but themes of ill-fated romances are plentiful in the story of the Great Gatsby.

Of course, there have been a countless number of films that include popular songs in their soundtracks. This has become a staple trait of a popular and contemporary film. However, in this collection, the most iconic and important examples were chosen that illustrate how films may use a popular song in a non-trivial way. Some may look down at the notion of a popular soundtrack, but it is important to remember that these songs are often placed into these films selectively. Wright explains that, whether the music is pre-fabricated or not, it is provided by an outside supplier (87), and as long as a filmmaker acknowledges this, there is nothing universally wrong with a film or scene being tailored to its score.

Citation:

Larsen, Peter. “Striking a New Note: Film Music After the Golden Age”, in Film        Music. London: Reaktion Books, 2005, pp.146-165.

Wright, Robb. “Score vs. Song: Art, Commerce, and the H Factor in Film and             Television Music”, in Popular Music and Film. Edited by Ian Inglis. London           and New York: wallflower, 2003, pp.8-21.

Android: Netrunner – The Spaces Between Overview

Two weeks ago, I posted my review/overview of Upstalk, and we are already back at it again for The Spaces Between. Last time, I got a lot of responses that questioned some of my scores. To be honest, I’m happy I got so many people disagreeing with my last review because it means that interesting cards that have multiple advantages and disadvantages are being printed. These write-ups are only meant to encourage that we talk about these cards, even the ones that I blatantly overlook.

Anyway, a lot happens in this pack, which will probably make this one of those must-buy data packs (like What Lies Ahead). I feel like its important for those reading this to know that I have not been able to test most of these cards out, considering how quick they have been released and how close to Nationals this all is. This is (mostly) just a first-glance kind of impression.

The Foundry: Refining the Process

10521941_668766123214082_5148201408467117_n

The Foundry is going to be an interesting ID, which has obvious synergy with NEXT Ice and Grail Ice. I assumed that NEXT Design would be the home for NEXT Ice due to its name and the ability to get them out quicker, but not even NEXT Design can compete with The Foundry’s speed. So what does that mean for NEXT Design? Some people swear by its ability, but I would argue that The Foundry pretty much replaces that ID altogether. Even without NEXT or Grail ICE, The Foundry is pretty strong. The ability to stack 3 Eli’s in 3-4 turns will put a lock on any server fairly quickly. However, this creates a pretty huge downside. R&D will be very vulnerable, since you are pulling out all your Ice. So those 3 Elis should probably be put over that central first. Its an interesting balance, one that I look forward to exploring. Due to the ability, Indexing and R&D lock are both going to be very weak against this ID, and that alone is something worthwhile. I think the cherry on top of all of this is the full 15 influence, which is why I think this ID will be replacing NEXT Design for the foreseeable future. I don’t know exactly how to rate this yet, but it seems strong. 4/5

EDIT: The problem with writing a review during National Season is that I didn’t get a chance to try out a lot of these cards and this review is taking forever to write. So this edit is coming from AFTER Nationals, and now that I have played with The Foundry, it seems surprisingly weak. Noise’s random milling completely wrecks the vulnerable R&D, and R&D-focused Shapers are bound to see enough agendas to win the game. I am surprised and disappointed with how much I did not like this ID. 2/5, until the Grail ICE is released.

Enhanced Login Protocol

10593058_668766109880750_2035446211777698598_n

Currents. Its the next big thing, and will probably make a bigger splash than Double Events/Operations did. Considering that ELP is the first Current of the pack/cycle/game, I’ll get into my thoughts on the mechanic right here.

First of all, Let’s keep in mind that the trash condition of a current is “until another current is played or an agenda is stolen (scored).” I’m not certain that these are going to be needed in every deck, simply because scoring an agenda turns off the ability, as well. I’ve played around with Targeted Marketing and Net Celebrity and I found that the game isn’t unbalanced when your opponent is running Currents but you are not. Realistically, it can just be a waste of 1-3 credits if an agenda is stolen/scored the next turn. A lot of people are assuming you need to pack 2-3 of these to “turn off” your opponents currents reliably, but that doesn’t make too much sense. For you to turn off another current by playing your own, you need to have been holding onto one before your opponent played theirs or miracle-draw into one immediately after they played theirs. Obviously, that second condition is completely unreliable and depends on luck. So that means that you need to have been holding onto yours without playing it in order to turn off their current reliably. And that is where this whole string of logic fails. You would have to not play your current when you have it/need it until it will cancel out another current. Instead of playing it at a time when it will help you score more points, you are instead waiting until you can react to your opponents strong play.

I don’t know if I expressed my thoughts properly up there, but the TL;DR version of all of that is that currents shouldn’t be put into decks with the intention of shutting off other currents, because you might just not see it in time, or because you will miss a good opportunity to use its ability when it might really help. And that’s why, if you don’t want to run currents or don’t have the deck space for them right now, you probably shouldn’t freak out about it.

Anyway, Enhanced Login Protocol is a card I should probably start talking about. In faction, it does a few things. It makes Bioroids that much harder to click through, and it doubles the ability of a rezzed Ruhr Valley. Those are really strong abilities, but that’s only in faction. Outside of HB, it will obviously see play in Replicating Perfection. RP’s ability is already killing one of the Runner’s clicks, so ELP makes as much sense of a splash as Ruhr Valley (which, I assure you, is definitely a strong and common-enough splash in RP already). For those who still believe that currents are going to be a auto-include, ELP has a lot of synergy with a lot of decks. At two influence, it will be hard to slot 2-3 of these out of HB, but its ability is strong enough to warrant the splash.

It is important to note that some very competitive Runner builds are built to run every turn, and sometimes more than once each turn. This card slows down those fast and aggressive decks, so the downside of “not through a card ability” is probably a pretty balanced mechanic, and not something to complain about. I’ll need to play around with ELP, but its pretty clearly a strong card. 4/5

Heinlein Grid

10565250_668766133214081_7345608915982973076_n

Heinlein Grid is the power-house card I want to see more of. Its undeniable synergy with Bioroids mean that Stronger Together might be seeing a lot of play, soon. In Stronger Together, the Corp wants the runner to waste their turn by spending clicks, and this card reinforces that ideology. Its a catch-22, and the runner has the choice between losing all of their money the hard way or losing all of their money the easy way. Heinlein Grid is also really strong with NAPD Contracts and Ash sitting behind the walls of Bioroid Ice, making it a great fit in our current meta. For a 3/3 rez and trash ratio, this card doesn’t really have any blatant downsides, assuming it is in the right deck. 5/5

My favorite part of this Region is the fact that everyone is talking about Stronger Together, an ID that has been overlooked for a long time. Honor and Profit did the same thing for Jinteki PE. Who knows, maybe Because We Built It will get a huge boost soon as well.

Encrypted Portals

1939427_668766126547415_5238529329542598874_n

Encrypted Portals is in the wrong faction. Not because Jinteki doesn’t have great Code Gates (because they really do; Chum, Inazuma, Lotus Field, Etc.), but because there are so many great 1-pointers in faction. This competes with House of Knives, Clone Retirement, and Unorthodox Predictions, in addition to Gila Hands, Profiteering, and False Lead. So, on that fact alone, it probably won’t see too much play. However, lets assume it was put into a deck….how much would it impact the course of the game?

Well, a 5st Lotus Field would probably be worth the effort to score it, as well as the agenda’s natural counter to Atman. The credit return would probably be low, and only give you a few bucks later in the game. Realistically, unless you made a janky all-Code Gate deck (Kit and/or Gordian Blade say hello), you should probably just ignore the credit-back ability in the deck building process.

The +1 strength is good, but there are other ways of getting this effect (Lag Time, Experiential Data). I think this card becomes really strong when there are two scored. A 6 strength Lotus Field or 7 strength Inazuma (placed in front of an etr) is something out of a nightmare. So, with that in mind, it would probably be best to run 3 of these, to ensure that you can see two of them throughout the game.

To wrap this up, if you think long enough about the ability, it seems pretty strong. I just don’t think it has nearly enough of an immediate impact as Gila Hands would normally, and the deck that wants 1-pointers (a Personal Evolution damage deck) probably doesn’t care much about the taxing element of Encrypted Portals. Still, its a card that can certainly see play. I can’t wait until someone scores a few of these against me, and I inevitably take all of this back. 3/5

Cerebral Static

Cerebral-Static-The-Spaces-Between-Android-Netrunner-Spoiler

After only four cards, we are looking at about 1500 words. I was just starting to think that I should try to be more brief with the commentary, but then we hit Cerebral Static; a card that I have a lot to say about.

Cerebral Static is obviously the Jinteki current in the pack. People seem severely divided on the power of this card. Some people (Gabe, Kit, and Chaos Theory players) are loudly expressing their woes, and complain that this card does too much for a 2 cost operation. Others, however, see it as a circumstantial with the huge downside of being a dead draw against popular runners like Andromeda.

Let’s not give it points for turning off your opponent’s current, because presumably, you want this card to do more than that. Let’s judge this thing solely on what it does; wiping the text box of a Runner. See, that is an interesting ability, and it actually discourages creative deckbuilding by punishing those who build entire decks around the Runner’s ID. The Runner that is affected the most is Kit, who is built around encountering Code Gates. When Cerebral Static works, it shuts off Gabe’s economy, trashes a program against Chaos Theory, and makes Whizzard the worst Runner in the game (a blank Anarch ID would need a lot of help being competitive). When it doesn’t work, it might as well be a blank card.

That’s a difficult thing to weigh, considering that a dead draw is literally equivalent to doing nothing for a third of your turn. Another problem with Cerebral Static is that it doesn’t actually help your deck’s game plan. Since it will vary in effectiveness, it is not put in your deck to mitigate a weakness or enhance a strength. This is a non-Ice and non-economy card that doesn’t need to be in your deck like agendas do (see above for why I don’t think currents NEED to be in your deck). Cerebral Static is like Domestic Sleepers in the sense that you need to find deck space for this card that can potentially do very little. However, Domestic Sleepers is still built around to an extent, helping you rez Archers and firing off Midseasons. Cerebral Static, on the other hand, won’t aid you in any way. It will only hurt your opponent (sometimes).

So, that’s the side of the fence I sit on. Although I am absolutely aware that it is a strong ability that can wreck some IDs, I’m not convinced a deck running this couldn’t use the slot more efficiently. It doesn’t directly help a taxing, fast advance, or damage deck reliably. And every game you play against Andromeda and draw this, it could have been an economy card. 3/5

NOTE: For those of you complaining that it’s a 2 cost “Trash a program” against your CT deck, Bad Times should then be considered a 4 cost “Trash 2 programs” by that logic. So its not out of balance with what we already have.

Targeted Marketing

10568900_668766243214070_3416157571393387679_n

Targeted Marketing is the kind of “counter card” I want to see printed more often. I’m not unhappy with cards like Plascrete and Sealed Vault, but it promotes this “Rock, Paper, Scissors” kind of playstlye that is all about hard countering what your opponent plays sometimes. Targeted Marketing doesn’t give you that “good against x, bad against y” balance, but instead lets your knowledge of your own deck, popular archetypes, and the board state make the decisions. There are literally hundreds of options that you can chose when playing this card, but only a few will hugely impact the game. A well-timed Targeted Marketing “I name Parasite” can buy you 3-4 turns of early game set-up, but playing this at the right time is what makes all the difference. If you play this in your opening hand, they can cancel it out quickly, not even have a parasite, or not have any rezzed targets for their parasite. It means that you have to think about when you play Targeted Marketing, and its that kind of knowledge and decision making that proves a great Netrunner player. In the right hands, Targeted Marketing is very strong.

There are a few more things that I love about this card. It actually promotes people having fun while playing Netrunner, for starters. No one has fun when they get siphoned every turn, and while this kind of play is very strong competitively, it can also turn new players away from the game. If a newer player is having a hard time playing against a specific card, and doesn’t see the balance in stronger cards like Siphon or Parasite, Targeted Marketing means that they can simply counter it and not have to worry about it for the next little while. The second thing I love about this card is that it is one influence. This means that it can be a solution in any deck. Just as Jackson Howard proved, if a strategy gets out of hand, people are willing to splash 2-3 influence to stop it. Jackson Howard does that against noise-mill, but Targeted Marketing can do that against any printed card (except for IDs, I guess).

Of course, it is not an effect that lasts forever. Currents are pretty easy to get rid of, in my experience, but 3-4 turns of protection can easily swing a game, and this will definitely be (at least) considered for all of my Corp decks in the near future. 5/5

Information Overload

10458528_668766129880748_3667392006180286127_n

Since Near-Earth Hub was spoiled, a lot of people claimed that it was as close to blatant power creep as Netrunner has gotten. I’m not doubting the strength of the ID, but I really don’t think it shares the same design space as Making News. It turns out we were just all using MN wrong, unsurprisingly. Those 2 recurring credits imply a trace-heavy, tag-storm sort of play that just hasn’t surfaced. Even with the popular Midseason decks floating around, it doesn’t warrant the runner packing dedicated link. Well, the Lunar cycle gives me hope that this archetype will really become a thing. Primary Transmission Dish looked underwhelming at first, but a fully-fleshed out archetype of unbeatable traces and unlimited tags seems to be more and more viable each data pack. Upstalk had PTD. The Spaces Between has Information Overload. First Contact has Manhunt. This deck is coming, and it looks awesome.

Anyway, setting aside my dreams of a beautifully thematic NBN deck, let’s talk about Information Overload’s uses in our current meta. At two influence, it might look splashable, but its really not. Information Overload is arguably unplayable without Midseasons, and adding 8-12 influence for that alone makes Information Overload strictly a Yellow card. In NBN Making News, it is a trace 3 for a tag upon every encounter (assuming that they are Femming your Tollbooth). That’s not too shabby. Neither is dropping a Data Raven in front of this thing. 4 strength puts it out of mimic range, but leaves it in perfect Atman range. Luckily, its not dead 4-strength/1-subroutine ICE against atman decks when the runner is buried in tags. “I really like it” is what I’m trying to say.

All of that, and I didn’t get to the best part: It trashes EVERYTHING. Hardware. Resources. Programs. And all it needs is a strong Midseasons trace. I’m impressed. This will certainly be a worthwhile 1-of.

Trying to be fair and non-bias, it does have a pretty huge downside: it does nothing when the runner isn’t tagged. Early game, its like a Grim. But that doesn’t stop Grim from being an amazing card, so I guess its a moot point. Information Overload is one of those teethy sentries like Grim and Taurus that I think just demand respect during the right point of the game. 4/5

EDIT: I got to test this card much more and, simply put, it is a win condition card. Cards that interact with the number of tags you have will be very strong, just like Psychographics. This is no exception. It takes a lot of set-up, but if your deck is built around Midseasons, this card is a big deal.

Paywall Implementation 

10384829_668766176547410_4619000586753511576_n

Because there weren’t enough Andy/Criminal counters being released in the Lunar Cycle…

Paywall Implementation seems like a very problematic card for those Desperado-Datasucker-Security Testing decks (over 34% of winning Runner decks). Runners are practically trained to run every turn, so Paywall Implementation can essentially net you a lot of money. Obviously, Criminals will be running more than that, so you won’t be losing the economy battle with this thing out. How I look at this card is that it is a free Pop-Up Window in front of every server. It works great with Asset Economy because when they run to trash it you will get a credit out of it. All of that, and its a Transaction Operation, so original Weyland breaks even when they play it.

Paywall Implementation is two influence, but will probably be splashed often during those months of “growing pains” for currents. Its universally useful, but not overwhelming because it, like Cerebral Static, doesn’t actually help towards your game plan, it only reacts to the Runner’s.

I like this card in its usefulness, and I think it will see a lot of play in the immediate future in decks that really want to run currents. I don’t think that stage will last forever though, and I don’t think Paywall Implementation will be the first choice for Currents in a matter of months. It’s still strong though, solely because it is similar but essentially the opposite of Security Messaging. 4/5

Sealed Vault

10553502_668766219880739_1783873987254580367_n

Sealed Vault is a card that everybody asked for. It is a hard Siphon counter, but has uses for Vamp and Blackguard. Hell, maybe it can even help you get out of lamprey-lock (which is totally a thing, now). At an 8-trash cost, I don’t think it is realistic to trash this thing the old-fashion way (although Imp still works). I can get into why it is such a strong counter to Siphon, but I don’t think it is worth explaining, considering how blatant its uses are. I guess it would take two siphons and a lot of money, in addition to three clicks just to successfully siphon. Not worth it. Hence the flavor text.

The thing that is worth mentioning, however, is its influence of one(!). Expect to see this, at least immediately. And for the ability to shatter the meta, I’m going to give this a questionable deserved 5/5

Eden Fragment

10537429_668766103214084_4703821782622514809_n

More 3/5s is always a good thing. So, even if its a little underwhelming, I’m happy to get more options that don’t include the words “Executive” or “Retreat”. Eden Fragment is a Limit 1 Per Deck Agenda that has it’s uses in a 5/3-only Glacier build. In ETF, it can actually do a lot of work. Furthermore, once all of these Fragments come out, the 5/3 and Domestic Sleepers-only deck will be much stronger. So that’s pretty exciting.

As for right now, if you need a single 5/3 and you are not Jinteki or Weyland, this is probably the best option. It’ll save you some money, and is much less circumstantial than Priority Requisition. There’s not much to say about the ability, but its not “bad” by any stretch of the word. Its passive and useful, but not required. It’ll fill the slot it has to. 3/5

Lag Time

11287_668766166547411_8312805805805025984_n

Lag Time is the Corp’s neutral current (something the Runner doesn’t get, yet), so its probably going to be the benchmark for all currents released in the future. Most decks can use the +1 strength ability, so it won’t be uncommon to see this packed in a deck that couldn’t spare the influence. Lag Time synergizes with the soon-to-be-unstoppable Stronger Together deck, giving a whole new meaning to the term “taxing”. However, its a flexible enough card that it’s not even bad in the polar-opposite Fast Advance builds. It can make some binary ETRs a little less porous in the late game, and most FA decks run Eli 1.0, now-a-days already. Lag Time makes sense in a meta that is becoming more taxing, even in those faster gas-pedal deck. Mostly, it exists to make sure that all Corps can get in on the Current action, so its nice that Lag Time is a decent and almost universally useful card. I guess ICE-less/low ICE Personal Evolution decks don’t want it. Almost universally useful3/5

….? 4/5? I don’t know.

Will-O’-The-Wisp

1975112_668766229880738_2105590649715315256_n

Hey, we are finally getting WotW! And, on top of that, now that the acronym has been established in this review, I don’t ever have to type out its name again. Hurray!

WotW is this scary no-influence upgrade that has everyone scratching their head. It is too good. Hell, I’ve even seen it referred to as Core Set Good. The fact that it is no influence means that they are clearly trying to push a play style or game change. I just don’t know what exactly it reinforces. We already have Corp-play that is arguably stronger than current Runners. Did that need to be reinforced? Why was this card made?

I’m not complaining about it, we already have strong cards that completely reset the Runner’s game state (Aggressive Secretary, Archer, other Core Set cards). It’ll just take some getting used to, but I think Runners have the tools to play and recur their tutors almost on-demand. It will just be more of an uphill battle, in my eyes, for the side that I have recently been struggling with. WotW may very well be this cycle’s NAPD Contracts. And that’s pretty exciting. 5/5

D4V1D

10525658_668766113214083_6462057655638114588_n

Shapers have Deus X and Sharpshooter, Criminals have Faerie, and now Anarchs have D4V1D (I guess Knight also counts). Face-checking programs are really useful, there’s no denying that. And they are much better than events with the same purpose (I’m looking at you, Cyber Threat). For 3 cost, Anarchs get to face-check most of the scary stuff AND it sticks around after its first use. That is sounding pretty sweet already! It gets better though, because this thing synergizes with E3 Feedbacks beautifully, in a way that lets it be a more permanent fixture to your rig! E3 also plays nicely with Overmind, so some of you Anarchs may already be running it. All of these pieces fit so nicely together, I can’t really complain about D4V1D. I mean, it doesn’t break Ichi 1.0 or Rototurret, but Ichi 1.0 can be dealt with by running on your 1st or 2nd click, and Rototurret can easily be Parasited with a Clone Chip.

I’m happy Anarchs got something really useful in this pack, and at 4 influence, it will probably be exclusive to the faction. Granted, other factions don’t really need it, but its a nice supplement to a very competitive rig. 4/5

Scrubbed

10557440_668766189880742_7551356251799418473_nWell, here’s something a little bit less useful.

Scrubbed is the Anarch current that is really not worth the two credit cost. Technically, it can save you 2 credits each turn. Technically, it has synergy with the fixed breakers as well as a bunch of other tools Anarchs have. However, it probably won’t do any of that stuff.

Anarchs use Knight and Overmind, primarily. The -2 strength doesn’t do much for Knight, and honestly, any problematic piece of ICE for Overmind is destroyed via Parasite. It is an effect that won’t really be worth the 2 cost because Anarchs aren’t running Gordian Blade or Garrote, so they won’t always save 2 credits. While it has synergy with Ice Carver and Bishop, those are cards that are undeniably underplayed. Ice Carver is pretty decent, but Bishop is a very similar card to Scrubbed. They both reduce the strength of a single piece of ICE, and that’s why it won’t be played much. Even Bishop, which lets you choose the piece of ICE, isn’t worthwhile, so Scrubbed’s random and ever-changing target is even less useful.

Plus, Lotus Field puts a dent in that archetype, anyway. 2/5

 Three Steps Ahead

10563084_668766233214071_5291061784711059125_n

Three Steps Ahead is the first Lunar Cycle Criminal card that actually fits nicely into current competitive Criminal decks. Paper Tripping is conditional and treated as a silver bullet for Midseasons, instead of its potential alternate use of getting tag-me players out of tag-me mode mid-game. Power Tap is as close to useless, in our meta, as a card can be. So Three Steps Ahead is welcomed with open arms. However, I’m uncertain that it’ll actually impact these decks enough to make room for it.

Usually, it is pretty easy to write off Criminal events because there are already too many good Criminal events, and these need to be better than the ones that we aren’t already including in our decks. However, Three Steps Ahead is an economy card, so it doesn’t take up unnecessary space. It’s also a good economy card in the right deck. If the Runner runs archives 3 times, they have made 6 credits in 4 clicks, minus 1 for the play cost. In a normal turn, with no cards to buff your click’s worth, you can obviously only make 4 credits in 4 clicks. So, that’s a pretty underwhelming stat. However, if you add Desperado in the equation, it is now 9 credits in 4 clicks, minus the 1 cost. That’s Magnum Opus economy for a single turn. However, these decks can make it even crazier by adding Security Testing, John Masanori, and Datasucker. With Datasucker, you potentially make 12 credits in 4 clicks, minus the 1 from the cost. With John Masanori, its 13 “credits”, and adding ST its 15 credits (not including the play cost). Three Steps Ahead should obviously be played when you already have Desperado or more installed. Considering it always nets you the credit, as long as you can make 3 runs, it is never really a risky economy card.

Of course, if you are up against a taxing RP build with a pup or two over Archives, you won’t be making much money. If you are looking at Fast Advance across the table, prepare to give them Pop Up money for each of those runs on Archives. Additionally, Datasucker doesn’t fire off if you run a Pad Campaign. These are conditions that might affect this thing’s value, and these are conditions that seem very plausible. That’s why I am uncertain about Three Steps Ahead. It can give you a lot of money, and it does compress the clicks in a way that allows you to run while gaining money, similar to Dirty Laundry. In a way, it is balanced like Security Testing, which is a strong card. Does that mean this is a strong card? Maybe. I look forward to testing this card out, because new Criminal cards don’t tend to see a lot of play*. 4/5

Unscheduled Maintenance

10378533_668766239880737_693947931920921622_n

Unscheduled Maintenance is a boring current. It will be most effective on the turn before the game starts, but obviously that is not possible. So, instead, it remains almost useful in an ICE destruction deck. However, the Runner would need to open up two servers in order to make this thing noticeable, and that isn’t the easiest thing to do. The fact that it has a play cost of 1 is nearly insulting, considering that there are games where this active effect won’t even matter. Then, of course, there is the uncertainty factor of all currents, where it might be nullified next turn. The fact that someone would spend 1 credit for an uncertain card that is, in addition to that, just plain bad is baffling to me. This, to me, looks like an in-faction way for Criminals to turn off other currents, and that’s it. Maybe it will be more useful in a Leela Patel deck, where False Echo and her ability is bouncing every piece of ICE back to the Corp’s HQ. But a lot of us are doubtful of that kind of jank, so I’m just going to dismiss this card completely for now. 1/5

Cache

10384698_668766086547419_7215407433356111504_n

*=in faction.

Cache is worse than an Easy Mark*. It takes up memory but there are just better econ options available*.

Cache is a card that has everybody excited. It has a few key words and numbers that make it really strong- Out of faction, that is. First of all, It is a Virus. This means that it gets the mill from Noise. It also synergies with Grimoire because of this. Second of all, it costs a single credit, which makes the mill affordable for an identity that is known for being pretty poor. Thirdly, it does all of the above while being an economy card, This is really important. Noise just got a 1 cost Virus in the last pack, but this card is so good because it serves multiple functions in a single click. It is an economy card that is perfectly in line with the strategy and synergy of the deck. This is similar to why Dirty Laundry is in every Criminal deck. If a criminal can make a run while using their economy card, why wouldn’t they? If Noise can mill a card while also making money, why wouldn’t he? As if this wasn’t enough, it doesn’t auto-trash itself, which means that Noise will be selling this to Aesop, as he regularly does with Imp and Wlydside.

At one influence, this is clearly a Red card. While it is such a mediocre card elsewhere, it does so much for Noise that I can’t imagine it not being in every Noise build for the rest of the cycle. For that reason, I should give this a 5/5, even though it is strictly NOT a 5/5 elsewhere. While it doesn’t do much for anyone else, it does a lot of work in the right deck, just like Heinlein Grid. So yeah, 5/5

Net Celebrity

Net-Celebrity-Android-Netrunner-Spoiler-300x400Net Celebrity is the only Runner current that looks universally playable. If your meta has a lot of Corp currents, this might be a strong include, since it is almost as good as having a Bad Pub. 1 recurring credit for a single credit seems like a good exchange, but of course, the uncertain nature of currents means that this might only last two turns, and then this card becomes a lot worse. It is unfortunate that it isn’t a stealth card, because it would have really helped legitimize the archetype that a lot of people are excited for. Regardless, a 1 influence current that is inarguably more useful than both Scrubbed and Unscheduled Maintenance is looking pretty decent. 3/5

LLDS Energy Regulator

10271623_668766139880747_8800377703720223465_n

LLDS Energy Regulator doesn’t have a place in any current deck I can think of. Because of Leprechaun and Lamprey, I am starting to see Sacrificial Construct pop up again, which does the same thing except in addition to saving your programs. Instead, for 1MU and 3 credits, you can save an additional piece of hardware from being trashed. The problem is that it just isn’t worth it. How often is hardware being trashed? Once a game if you are unlucky, mostly never though. I can’t imagine this actually helping your deck do anything it wants to do, and unlike Sac Con, it isn’t flexible enough to be worth the include. 1/5

Ghost Runner

10569068_668766093214085_8151705538069146764_n

I was going to give Ghost Runner a 3/5 for being a useful support tool that isn’t too great anywhere else. However, it is much better than that for one reason; These credits aren’t retrieved via paid ability. Ghost Runner means that low-econ Runners can steal NAPDs during the access, as well as pay for their breakers. Cache can’t give you credits once you are digging R&D, but Ghost Runner is the perfect back-up. It is an incredibly flexible card in the right deck, and it makes a lot of decks that much more playable. It may not be the most exciting cards for people not running those archetypes, but it is a card that is so necessary for those decks that it opens up a lot more options in the deck building process. 4/5

—–

And that’s The Spaces Between! I wrote this review over the span of a week or two, so it is messy, inconsistent, and probably inaccurate due to the occasional lack of playtesting. So, I urge you to go out and test as many of these as possible, and gather your own opinions. There is a lot of exciting stuff in this pack.

 

Android: Netrunner – Upstalk Overview

Hey guys! It’s been a while since I wrote on the blog, let alone about Netrunner. I started an Honor and Profit review but about 4000 words into it, I realized that it was just too long to sit and read. So, I’m returning with an Upstalk review, and I’ll try not to split it up into two pages. Upstalk has been spoiled for quite a while, so I’ve had plenty of time to test out the cards.

Domestic Sleepers

domestic-sleepers-upstalk-1

Domestic Sleepers was partially spoiled months back, and everybody was worried that a 2/1 agenda in HB Fast Advance would be too strong. Interestingly, Domestic Sleepers actually turned out to be a 2/0 agenda. That is, of course, the first 0 point agenda in the game. So, what that means is that it doesn’t count towards the agenda limit in deckbuilding, but it has the ability printed “[Click] [Click] [Click]: Place 1 agenda counter on Domestic Sleepers. Domestic Sleepers is worth 1 agenda point while it has at least 1 agenda counter on it.”

This helps/opens up some interesting HB decks. An all 3-point agenda suite works really nicely with Domestic Sleepers because it turns HB into the “Harmony Medtech w/ Shi Kyu” archetype. Of course, that isn’t as strong as Medtech is because of Jinteki’s natural strength once the game hits match-point. Domestic Sleepers also works great with Midseasons (some support for Custom Biotics?) and Archer, both being interesting and powerful splashes out of faction. I think the fact that it makes these strong cards easier to splash in HB makes Domestic Sleepers a strong card. The fact that it also becomes a combo piece that is not entirely useless on its own is also nice. Overall, its a flexible card that some people will really want to run. Its biggest problem is the deck slot. It needs to be built around, or else it might be wiser to throw in another campaign.

Domestic Sleepers can get better though. If any card in faction interacts with the number of agendas the runner has (like Philotic Entanglement does for Jinteki), Domestic Sleepers has a huge power curve. 3/5

NEXT Silver

next-silver-upstalk-2

NEXT Silver is one of my favorite cards in the pack. When it was first spoiled, I figured it would be pretty great with NEXT Bronze, but I didn’t quite piece together how taxing the NEXT suite can actually become. After testing it with Mother Goddess, NEXT Silver became the MVP of the deck. It is actually much stronger than NEXT Bronze for a few reasons. As soon as it is rezzed, it will cost them one credit to break (Bronze dies to Yog). As soon as a second piece of NEXT Ice is rezzed, it gets better (Bronze still dies to Yog). NEXT Silver doesn’t need to be played in the late-game to be effective, all while it helps Bronze get better too. In one game, I quickly had R&D protected with two Silvers, and a Bronze over HQ. That’s three credits to break each Silver, where as Yog was still getting into HQ for free.

The downside is huge though, and it can’t be forgotten. Parasite eats NEXT Silver very quickly, and parasite seems to be in most competitive decks (Andysucker, Katman, Anarch denial). Realistically, that won’t change anytime soon, so that’s always something to consider. 4/5

Mutate

mutate-upstalk-4

I haven’t tested this one, so you can feel free to skip over to the next card. However, I do have a janky deck built with it, and it is exactly that; Janky. I can’t really see this card not exclusively being in janky builds. The cards requires a lot of support. Precog, Yagura, Shiro(?) and the perfect Ice suite. Without all of those pieces, Mutate is a gamble at best. With all those pieces, you have to ask if all of those deck slots are worth this combo. It’s not explicitly winning you the game, right? It also tells your opponent a lot about your deck, so there is another downside.

Honestly, if you look at what you’d want to mutate, the card begins looking a lot worse. The ideal target is low cost, low strength Ice. Quandary is perfect. However, you are Jinteki, and you have Yagura instead. In faction, Yagura is better, and it shouldn’t be trashed. If you are running Quandary for the sole purpose of Mutate, you have made you deck worse because of it. If you are running Quandary for other reasons, than maybe it can work. Ice Wall is another great example of why I don’t like this card. Sure, Ice Wall seems like an ideal target, but the only Jinteki deck running Ice Wall is Tennin for Trick of Light. Why would you mutate your 4 advanced Ice Wall? You wouldn’t. What I am trying to get at is that there are only a handful of cards you would actually want to mutate. Himitsu Baku and Pup come to mind, but now Mutate is filling a much smaller niche.

It looks like fun, but realistically, I don’t think you’ll see it in tournament winning decks. Mutate is probably the Push Your Luck of Upstalk, and that’s fine. 2/5, but only because when it actually does work, you will have the biggest smile on your face. And also because I haven’t tested it.

Lotus Field

lotus-field-upstalk-3

Oh my. I don’t want to talk about Lotus Field. Just about everything has already been said about this card, however, I don’t actually agree with most of it. One of the bigger claims is that Lotus Field kills Anarchs. I find that laughable, really. Anarchs run AI breakers, and they often don’t even bother with a Decoder. The biggest tournament since H&P was released was won by Reina, and she didn’t have a Yog. Between Overmind and Knight, I can’t imagine Anarchs really caring much about it.

However, I’ve been running Andy competitively lately. I’ve been having a lot of success during Regional season with a pretty generic build, and I was finally getting used to Yog. Lotus Field has been nothing but a headache for me, because in the back of my mind, I knew that I couldn’t keep Yogging once Upstalk is out.

Enough of my woes! Lotus Field is a great card, and that’s something to be happy about. I’ve had such a huge problem against parasite decks, its nice to see something with a low influence cost that can’t be parasited. A 5/4 Code Gate ETR is pretty impressive when there are only few ways around it for cheap. My biggest complaint is that *everything* is 4 strength now-a-days. And that’s been my deck’s second-biggest problem; Atman. Still, Lotus Field obviously deserves a 5/5. The other ETR options in the 4str Code Gate department are *really* soft ETRs: RSVP, Viper. Lotus Field is probably worth those two extra credits to rez. 5/5

Near-Earth Hub

near-earth-hub-upstalk-5

NBN finally gets a third ID, and its really strong. In my opinion, it is the strongest NBN ID available for our current meta. Most NBN Making News decks don’t use their two trace credits every turn. In fact, some of them won’t use it at all. If you are running one of those decks, why wouldn’t you switch to Near Earth Hub. Its a general ability that is really useful and will actually happen almost every turn. It is also really easy to take a pre-existing NBN deck and rebuild it for NEH. The two extra influence isn’t really necessary, but it just means that you can find room for that third scorched or Biotic Labour.

However, All of that text I just posted above undermines why I love this ID so much. The 17 influence means that you can creatively deck-build in NBN, which I have found difficult in the past. My current NEH build has the NEXT suite and Archer, and still has leftover influence. Its been a while since I played around with an NBN build, I am very happy that NEH has brought that element back into Netrunner for me. 5/5

Primary Transmission Dishprimary-transmission-dish-upstalk-6

When I saw this card, admittedly, I yawned and kept scrolling. It gives 3 trace credits, but nobody wants to make deck space for this kind of thing. But its been a while since it has been spoiled, and it turns out that PTD is a pretty decent card. First of all, it costs 2. For that small cost, it gives you 3 credits (which will be used immediately when rezzing it) and has a trash cost of 3. Those aren’t bad numbers there. Also, in Making News, that will mean that you have 5 recurring credits each turn. Sure, most competitive decks won’t want that, but the trace heavy, thematic big-brother NBN deck is creeping into playability. That’s pretty cool. 3/5.

Midway Station Grid

midway-station-grid-upstalk-7

The Replicating Perfection player in me loves this card. The Replication Perfection player in me hates this card.

That is where I stand with Midway Station Grid. Its a strong ability, easily worth 4 credits. But out of faction, it is a really hard import. 4 influence means it is borderline unplayable where it would be strongest. In faction, you don’t have many multi-subroutine ICE to make it shine.

Still, MSG is a very strong card to put in a central server. Taxing NBN isn’t exactly unheard of, and the more Neutral and NBN ICE released means this thing can potentially get even stronger. In NEH, you have extra influence for those Hives, anyway. MSG is fun, and its very strong. Its just doesn’t fit in every deck right now, and by design (influence), it probably won’t for a while. 4/5

The Root

the-root-upstalk-8

The Root has gorgeous art, so its kind of a shame you won’t see it all that often. Weyland doesn’t need the money it generously gives, and its an expensive import if you were to try it elsewhere. Essentially, The Root is a Dedicated Server, Simone Diego, and Eden Fragment combined. It avoids being blatant power creep through the fact that it is an asset, as well as unique. The ability itself is great, but Weyland doesn’t need this. They need something, but it isn’t this. If this helped with traces, it would be a better tool in faction, but I’m not sure this has a place right now.

Being more positive about a potentially useful card, The Root means two things: Weyland doesn’t need to ever look at Melange (not that they were any time recently) again considering the radically different trash costs, and Weyland can save even more money up for those game-winning traces. And who knows, maybe this will be an especially strong econ engine once Blue Sons is out. Saving money on the rez, to only bounce it back for more money can be worthwhile, I suppose. 3/5

Taurus

taurus-upstalk-9

Okay, I have a lot to say about Taurus. This is all stuff I have said before, but it needs to be stated here:

Taurus is an important card, one that demands a runner’s respect. If you don’t see it coming, it can blatantly lose you the game. We all know that modern Weyland decks run Grim, the 5str sentry that will bring runners back to an earlier stage of the game.  That is why this is important. How many times have you abused the mutually known placement of Grim over early RnD against Weyland? Runners will wait until they have exhausted all of the ETR ICE before bringing out their first breaker, but now they need to suspend themselves in the early game even longer, not even running with a sole console. Taurus strikes when the Runner thinks they are safe. While the Runner is waiting to instal their first card, the Corp is halfway through setting up their dream server protection.

What does all of this mean? It means that Weyland is really good at returning the runner to an earlier board state. This is an important piece to that, in my opinion. A particularly rich Weyland player won’t mind spending 8 credits to trash a plascrete or two, so it can’t be emphasized enough: don’t run without your sentry breaker!

People complain that this thing becomes a blank piece of ICE after they have had their hardware trashed, but realistically:

1) That’s okay, the Runner is running without plascretes

2) Some decks rely on their consoles! Look at Yogasaurus builds, or CT big breaker builds.

3) It already did its job.

Taurus’ biggest fault is it competes against Grim for a deck spot. Ideally, you would want to run both, but running two of each and three archers means you are especially vulnerable in the first few turns of the game. 4/5

Mother Goddess

mother-goddess-upstalk-10

Mother Goddess has been a hit between my friends and I. It is incredible in the opening turns of the game, but its the ability to power NEXT and Stronger Together that make it an auto-include in some decks. If you aren’t running one of those decks, it is still a good replacement for Rainbow (which is still an underrated card, IMO). Depending on the breaker suite, this thing can be pretty taxing, too. A 4 str Code Gate will cost Key Master  four credits to break. That isn’t too shabby. 4/5

Galahad

galahad-upstalk-11

Can someone explain to me why this is being overlooked until more grail ICE comes out? Galahad is circumstantially awesome, so lets take a look at it without other grails to accompany it.

First of all, if your deck doesn’t need Galahad, it is strictly a worse option than whatever you are running. NBN has wraparound. Weyland has Ice Wall. But lets say that you are Jinteki or HB, and you were going to spend some influence on a binary ETR barrier. Jinteki has Himitsu Bako in faction, but Galahad is much better considering that it will become more taxing than Himitsu Bako ever will. Sure, it will start off as a 1 credit-to-break ETR, but eventually it will cost 3 to break, and that’s the upside of the undeniably taxing Snowflake without all of the horrible, horrible downsides. If you are running HB, and you were going for a small barrier, once again, why not Galahad? For one extra credit, the runner will spend 2 extra credits to break it. That makes it a stronger splash than Ice Wall (unless you need advancement tokens) as well as a stronger splash than Wraparound (unless you have an atman problem in your meta). Sure, it will be a lot stronger with more Grail ICE, but this little guy pulls his weight on his own, assuming you were spending the influence already. 4/5

Bad Times

bad-times-upstalk-12

We have been begging for some solid tag punishment for ages. The core set has Closed Accounts and Scorched Earth, but its been quiet since. Bad Times is a new addition to this worthwhile collection, but I still haven’t determined if it is worth the one-of slot over Closed Accounts.

What makes Bad Times so worthwhile is the fact that it is neutral, and influence-less. If you wish you had Closed Accounts, but can’t find that one pip of influence, this card is your answer. However, when you realistically have the option between the two, things are less clear. Closed Accounts punishes Tag-me Siphon players, which can be a pretty big deal to some decks. Bad Times doesn’t do too much if you are sitting at 0 credits after a siphon. Additionally, it is very time-sensitive. Playing it early game does nothing, other than leave you down four credits. So is this 4 cost, situational tag punishment card enough?

I don’t know the answer. I have been testing it in NBN to determine its worth in comparison to Closed Accounts, but I can’t actually answer this yet. Closed Accounts is certainly more versatile, but it can easily be bounced back from under the right circumstances. Bad Times is less certain, but can be far more devastating. Try it out, and maybe throw in a third Jackson in your non-NBN deck, and you decide if its worth the swap. 3/5

Cyber Threat

cyber-threat-upstalk-13

This card is bad. Everyone, including myself, first thought that it was a Forged Activation Order and Blackmail combined. It is not. It is a Recon. It lets the corp rez a piece of ICE without you having to suffer the subroutines. And if they don’t rez it, you get a successful run. It really is just a more expensive, red-inked Recon. Furthermore, Reina practically does this with just her ID ability. How many free accesses will you get solely because they don’t want to spend/can’t spend the additional credits they need to? Cyber Threat is a bad Anarch card. At least it might get you an agenda, right? 2/5

Lamprey

lamprey-upstalk-14

Lamprey is one of the more talked about cards in the pack, and only partly because it is a one-cost virus. Of course, that powers Noise’s ability. However, consider how good it is just about anywhere! Reina/Whizzard are already playing the denial game. This slots very nicely into the 3x Account Siphon Anarch builds that have been fairly competitive lately. That makes it a great splash in Denial Criminals such as Gabe and Ken Tenma. Then there is an interesting Shaper build that can easily recur/protect this with Clone Chip and/or Sacrificial Construct. In Shaper, you can save influence, considering how easy it is to find your programs, too! Lamprey hasn’t made the splash that I thought it would, but there’s lots of time for this to shine. It shouldn’t be overlooked. 4/5

Paper Tripping

paper-tripping-upstalk-15

Paper Tripping is a relatively easy way out of “tag-hell”. Whether you are buried in tags from a devastating NAPD-into-Midseasons, or just your typical 5 Account Siphons, Paper Tripping can be a justified one-of. It is nice to end the Siphon-rain and begin setting up some sustainable economy. However, there are too many strong cards that us Criminals are already excluding from our decks (like Forged Activation Orders), and this is not the best of them. Sadly, that means that this will probably see very limited play. Perhaps a Plascrete-less Criminal will consider this. 3/5

Power Tap

power-tap-upstalk-16

What are you doing on there, Gabe? You don’t want your name associated with such a bad card, do you now?

Power Tap is flawed. Let’s go over why:

-It is a fake link, meaning it won’t help you set up Underworld Contacts (or power your Cloud Breakers).

-It is not tutor-able, meaning that having multiples out is circumstantial.

-If you use this as a real credit, instead of putting it towards the traces that are initiated, you will get tagged, and this can be easily trashed. This point is important, and makes it explicitly worse than a regular link.

-Criminals have Compromised Employee in faction, which is just better. It is just so much better.

-It takes quite a few traces to pay off one of these. Realistically, how many traces will you go through in a game?

Power Tap is so bad! 1/5

Nasir Meidan

nasir-meidan-upstalk-17

Nasir is one of the more interesting runners that everybody is excited to try. Having built multiple decks with him, I can’t seem to get him to work against more competitive decks. Against the most popular NBN decks, he simply struggles to trash SanSans. Furthermore, ICE is just too inexpensive to make a fortune off of his ability.

He is fun, though. I have made a Crescentus-based Nasir deck that shuts down the expensive stuff and Social Engineers it the next turn. It is fun, but once again, just not fast and aggressive enough. The most I can say for this guy is how effortlessly he can bring out a Toolbox in the early game.

Which leads me to my biggest problem; the late game. When everything is rezzed, you aren’t sitting on too much cash. Sure, runs are cheap, thanks to the recurring credits you probably packed the decks with. But setting up that last breakerb can be pretty difficult. Even with Ghost Runner, I haven’t made Nasir sing yet. I know he can, though. 3/5

Social Engineering

social-engineering-upstalk-18

Out of the three priority events in Upstalk, this might be the best one. Its a potentially great economy card (especially against HB) that allows you to apply central server pressure. However, there is a lot more you can do with this. If the Corp finally puts down a card in a remote server, you can social engineer a face-down piece of ICE, and then slap down a SMC. It will pretty much guarantee you access, considering that most ICE cost more to rez then they do to break the first time.

From experience, though, I know that it can also sit in your hand for a very long time. In the late game, it will do little to know work because everything is rezzed. This is a pretty huge downside when you need your draws to be as effective as possible. 3/5

Leprechaun

leprechaun-upstalk-19Leprechaun is being called the best Shaper console, and I kind of agree. It can provide 3MU for 2 credits, which is much more favorable than the cost ratios of the mem chips. However, it is also much more risky. A Power Shutdown can make it all crash, and losing that many programs can be game-changing (see: Bad Times). Sacrificial Construct helps, but that is just another added cost to this thing.

Still, there is a line of shaper decks that want this, badly. More so, I feel as though it is perfectly in tune with what Shapers are comfortable doing; tutoring out support cards that help make their rig of inevitability. This is probably the most playable Runner card right now, so I wouldn’t be surprised if you come across this once or twice during Nationals. 4/5

Eden Shard

eden-shard-upstalk-20

Eden Shard is too little, too late, if you ask me. Completely ignoring that it hard-counters the Power Shutdown combo, the practical utility of this card is for RnD lock decks. However, the Shaper decks that strongly focus on RnD lock are not nearly as popular as they used to be. Many Shapers have traded in their Interfaces for The Maker’s Eye, meaning the “run RnD every click” madness of the past is much less common. Even if those decks were more widely popular, this is limited to one-per-deck, and is not tutor-able. Hence, too little, too late. 2/5

____

And there you have it. Upstalk follows the recent trend of strong Corp cards, but barely playable runner cards, which is mildly disappointing. However, there are certainly meta-changing aspects in this little box. NEH will undoubtedly overthrow Making News as the most popular Corp ID, and there are a lot of support cards that hint at a longer, more taxing game to come. The Lunar Cycle may already be half-spoiled, but I get the feeling that none of us really know what is coming over the next few months, let alone how much the game is changing.

Android: Netrunner – Double Time Corp Overview

Let’s get straight to business. Most of the corps get some pretty awesome tools to play with in Double Time, so here are my impressions. You’ve probably already read the Runner cards review on my blog, but if not, go ahead and check that out.

Gryi Labyrinth

Gyri-Labyrinth-Double-Time-Android-Netrunner-Spoiler-214x306

Oh, hey! This is interesting. I can’t quite understand why a HB player would use it, but this looks great in PE and Weyland damage decks. Let me just try to understand this; The runner’s hand size is 3 (by default) until the corp begins their turn. However, the discard phase happens at the end of the Runner’s turn, so they are sitting on 3 cards during the corp’s turn? That sounds…very strong. 2 cost for 2 strength is also appealing, but the non-clickableness of it sounds even better. I like this. Chairman Hiro (I think that’s his name) makes this absolutely nuts in PE. Yeah, it may take some careful piloting, but I think I like this card a lot. I mean, its not going to be a defining card in the archetype, but runners are so worried about sentries, this just might work. 3/5

Reclamation Order

Reclamation-Order-Double-Time-Android-Netrunner-Spoiler-220x301

Archived Memories is a very strong card. It is much less limiting than Interns (another great card), meaning whether it is economy or traps that you are looking for, it always has a use. Reclamation Order is like an improved late-game version of it. Imagine grabbing 3 restructures from Archives. Or 3 Snares. This card seems pretty good everywhere, too. I don’t really see a downside. Except drawing this in your opening hand. 4/5

Broadcast Square

Broadcast-Square-Double-Time-Android-Netrunner-Spoiler-220x288

I never thought much of bad publicity. Until my local meta became so Weyland focused. It is hard to lose a game when you have 6+ additional credits each run. And for the low cost of 2, you can actually prevent them from happening, which makes illicit ice that much better in Making News. Additionally, 5 credits to trash makes this card have quite the presence on the table. However, the corp that wants this so bad is probably not going to be running it, considering having a reliable number of these is just way too much influence. I’ll say this: Broadcast Square is probably a fun card to run in Making News. A very, very fun card. For 2 to rez and 5 to trash, I might actually make an weird MN BP deck tonight. But honestly, who else is going to run this? Especially with such a low trace value. 3/5? I don’t really know what to score it. 3/5.

Corporate Shuffle

Corporate-Shuffle-Android-Netrunner-Double-Time-Spoiler-220x306

Corporate Shuffle is almost great, but actually ends up being way weaker than you may have thought. That is at least what has happened with me in play-testing. Drawing it early is a complete dead draw, but more importantly, the right situation to play it is just as crucial. Do you really want to ditch that SanSan back into your deck? I get that FA needs to see agendas, but Fast Track looks like it will be so much better. Corporate Shuffle is just a gamble. Plus, let’s not forget that FA decks have a lot more agendas because they traditionally run 1 pointers. Fast Track will at least let you grab that Astro you’ve been digging for. 2/5

Caprice Nisei

Caprice-Nisei-Double-Time-Android-Netrunner-Spoiler-220x303

*sigh*….5/5

Shinobi

Shinobi-Double-Time-Android-Netrunner-Spoiler-216x306

Yay! More illicit ICE with shitty traces that will likely never land! But it is a fun card, at least. And probably a headache for the Runner, if they don’t have base link. That last trace is pretty impressive actually. But still, I’d love to hear some stories of this actually landing once the public gets their hands on it. And who knows, maybe it becomes better after H&P. It would have actually been a pretty rotten card if it wasn’t for that last trace, tbh. I’m going to experiment with this thing. 2/5

Marker

Marker-Double-Time-Android-Netrunner-Spoiler-220x303

This is so bad. Sure, its 0 cost is attractive, but it circumstantially costs the runner 1 additional credit. And sensei is infinitely better, no? And this comes out right after Yagura? Ha! 1/5

Hive

Hive-Android-Netrunner-Spoiler-220x306

When I saw the Hive spoilers, I was thrilled. This thing looks gr….wait a second. After every agenda point? Well. Nevermind then. I misread that, it is trash. It is exclusively good as an early draw, but its 5 costs makes it only playable in GRNDL. And why would you ditch Ice Wall for this? Its just…nope. 1/5

Witness Tampering

Witness-Tampering-Double-Time-Android-Netrunner-Spoiler-213x306

Rejoice! Now we can free up both deck space and influence in our Weyland decks. I’ve tested this, and the 4 credits is not too much to ask when you consider it in ANY Weyland deck. Further more, 2 credits per click is a lot like trashing a resource or ditching a tag. Its a very understandable cost. And its the easiest way to ditch the BP. No janky executive suicide combos. No scoring agendas that have to sit. Just a double event and some pocket change for Weyland. And just when BP was starting to become real threatening, too. 4/5

NAPD Contract

NAPD-Contract-Double-Time-Spoiler-220x306

Whereas Corporate War is only great in Weyland, NAPD Contract is great everywhere but Weyland. If you run a clean game and need a 4/2, this is a pretty good choice. If you run Red Herring, this is a must. I like this card. It seems balanced, and it is a great taxing card in RP and NBN. Neutral Agendas should be this good. 4/5

Quandary 

Quandary-Android-Netrunner-Spoiler-220x306

Everyone, including myself, has been waiting for this since it was spoiled. And why not? With Yog running around, this makes the Corp not feel so stupid for playing some early code gates. Mark my words, you will see this in every FA deck, and probably elsewhere too. And that flavour text. 5/5

What a great pack! Paintbrush (don’t underestimate it!), Caprise, Quandary, Witness Tampering, Reclamation Order, Fall Guy, and Lucky Find all in the same pack. Double Time is probably the strongest of the Spin Cycle, wouldn’t you agree? I’d love to hear your opinions. What did I get wrong this time?

And of course, thanks for reading!

Android: Netrunner – Double Time Runner Overview

Last month, I posted my initial impressions of Fear and Loathing cards and I had a lot of hits. So much that WordPress sent a congratulations notification. So, for that, I thank you, kind reddit/google+ users.

Anyway, before going through the Runner cards, I just want to look back at how wrong I was about a few cards from last month. I can’t proxy test everything, and some of my judgment calls were just off. Like Subliminal Messaging. That card is great. It nets you, in total, one additional credit every time you use it. And while it may pressure the runner to run, a good corp will want the runner to run prematurely. It can become a taxing card for the runner just as much as it is an economy card for the corp. The card’s biggest downside is just that I often forget to bring it back. And that happens very, very often, unfortunately. Another card that I was totally wrong about was Blue Level Clearance. I like both money and card draw, so I thought I would like BLC. However, the fact that it is a double event strongly limits your overall turn. Drawing two cards can be pretty dangerous, and if you are relying on this card, odds are your tempo isn’t where it should be. It leaves you with one click, and a potentially vulnerable HQ. It will not see as much play as GLC, so I was so wrong. However, Blackguard is equally as strong as it was when I proxy tested it initially. Me and my friends have an inside joke where we sing the Star Wars Episode 1 chant from the Darth Maul duel whenever Blackguard is dropped. Its just that devastating. Building a deck for it is still really tough, but Lucky Find helps. GRNDL Refinery is also proving to be as strong as expected. It lets you kick the Runner when they are down. “Oh, you just spent all of your money? Cool, I’ll advance this 3 more times.”

So yeah, my point is this; although I am stubborn enough to argue the value of these cards prematurely, I am totally cool with fessing up when I am dead-wrong. And this is that confession. Subliminal Messaging is a great card. Until Donut comes out.

Okay! On with this month’s impressions!

Anyone who has returned to the blog previously probably knows that I don’t really like placing an arbitrary “score” in my reviews, but that seems to be the tradition in these card review posts, so I’ll use a x/5 scale.

 Singularity

Singularity-Android-Netrunner-Spoiler-220x306

Well, this card is trash. We’ve already known about it for sometime, and it just hasn’t gotten better. I’ve heard the ridiculous idea of “play Queen’s Gambit and then play Singularity”, but then you have accomplished very little. After 4 clicks, you have gained two credits and trashed one card. Which is meaningless if the rarely-played JACKSON HOWARD is in the Corp deck. This is a good counter to a upgrade-heavy deck, I guess, but Imp is better (yeah, I know, you have to access the card to trash it. Making those edge of world/snare protected servers pretty safe. But really, how many people actually play those? Is it worth the deck space for those few decks?). And cheaper. Also, Caprice makes this so much worse. Worse than it already was, somehow. Imagine spending two clicks and all that money for nothing.

Realistically, it has its uses. Occasionally. Just like Quest Completed. Its just not worth the deck space. 2/5

Queen’s Gambit

Queens-Gambit-Android-Netrunner-Spoiler-220x306

This card is weird. Primarily because it came out in the same pack as Lucky Find. They are both double events that will leave you with 6 credits. Except this one is a risk and Lucky Find is not. And this one is more influence. So, from that perspective, this card doesn’t look too good. But on the other hand, if I was playing anarch, I would love to have 3 more Lucky Finds in my deck. Anarchs are traditionally broke so I guess it isn’t that bad. But only because it is Anarch. Every other faction has better ways of making that money. I just don’t understand the influence cost. 3/5

Dyson Fractal Generator

Dyson-Fractal-Generator-Double-Time-Android-Netrunner-Spoiler-214x306

I’m way less skeptical of the stealth breaker suite that is inevitably on its way than I should be. I love the cloak and dagger combo (which just got so much better in Double Time), so I should love this, right? Well, the problem is that there is nothing to use this on? It is just not worth it when you have Corroder. It is also not helping with the higher install costs of the other worthwhile fracters. Eventually, this card will be a little better. Until then, it is simply pointless. 2/5

Silencer

Silencer-Double-Time-Android-Netrunner-Spoiler-220x296

Now we are talking! It makes Dagger a 1MU breaker! And criminals will have a reason to play something better than Ninja (because Garrote and Sneakdoor don’t leave much room for the rest of my rig). But that 3 influence makes Nasir sad. Anyway, I obviously like this card. Even if you don’t use Dagger, it makes infamously expensive ice less expensive. This isn’t a faction defining card, but it will fit nicely in a few decks. But still, I can’t get over that 3 influence. Ouch. 3/5

Savoir-Faire

Savoir-Faire-Double-Time-Android-Netrunner-Spoiler-213x306

Savoir-Faire is not a bad card to see in your opening hand. It gives criminals some flexibility that shapers are already comfortable with. I really do appreciate that. The problem is that Will-o’-the-Wisp makes this pretty useless late-game. Whereas it makes Self-Modifying Code that much better. Should I be complaining about a card that won’t be out for months? Probably not. But Savoir-Faire isn’t worth getting too familiar with, since it has a pretty short shelf-life. Doesn’t Personal Workshop do this already, anyway? Like, in a weird, but still totally useful way? Yeah, it does. But it isn’t bad. Its just already exists in other (and better) forms.  3/5

Fall Guy

Fall-Guy-Double-Time-Android-Netrunner-Spoiler-215x306

Both of my proxied Iain Stirling decks love Fall Guy. But realistically, so does everyone who uses Kati Jones. Which is….everyone? So, for one influence, you have some pretty solid resource protection. Oh, and it costs nothing but deck space and a click to install. And if it happens to just sit there, trash it for 2 credits. Works for me. 4/5

Power Nap

Power-Nap-220x306

Is there a deck for Power Nap? Is it the same deck that hosts Starlight Crusade Funding? I’m not quite sure if that deck is even worth making. Or at least not yet. I don’t know about you, but I am simply not running that many doubles to justify this card. And neither is anyone I play with. By the end-game, there might be a few in the heap, but not enough to justify this. I don’t know, maybe its a great card in disguise, but it begs the Runner to make a double event fuelled Shaper deck. For a few extra credits? No thanks. 2/5

Paintbrush

Paintbrush-Double-Time-Android-Netrunner-Spoiler-220x294

Move over, Caprice Nisei, Paintbrush is making this pack’s highlight a tough choice. I’ve been testing a Kit deck with Paintbrush, and I am quite surprised. If you can reliable tutor or draw for Yog, paintbrush will do a lot of work for you. And tutoring/drawing is what Shapers do best. I am currently in love with this card. It is Shaper’s Keyhole in terms of devastating 2MU effects, in my opinion, and the only thing that has been slowing my test deck out is a bad starting draw. I can’t wait to add some Quality times to Kit and let the good times roll. 5/5

Lucky Find

Lucky-Find-Double-Time-Spoiler-220x306

When this card was first spoiled, I scratched my head. Math time: 2 clicks + 3 credits = 5 credits. So this thing nets you 4 credits, right? So is it only marginally better than Sure Gamble? No. I was wrong. I try to include this in every deck I build now. Damn you, 2 influence. Damn you.

Basically, its hard to understand the strength of a 6 credit swing if you haven’t tried it already. this is nearly a stimhack (okay, not at all. But that is still a lot of credits!). And it only costed you two clicks. additionally, you will have at least 9 credits after using it, just like Sure Gamble. Lucky Find was the missing ingredient in my Blackguard deck. But really, its the missing ingredient in every deck I have ever made. I always want more money, and this is the best event-based economy card in the game. Unless I am forgetting something really awesome. But I don’t think I am. But influence….so 4/5

Okay, those are the runner cards. Anarchs got the shortest straws this month. Criminals did nicely, and Paintbrush is easily the Runner highlight card. However, in the end, everyone wins because Lucky Find just made all the decks better (assuming you can fit it. damn you, 2 influence). I’ll also be posting the Corp cards soon, so go ahead and take a look at that. And thanks for reading!

Android: Netrunner – Fear and Loathing Corp Overview

Let’s get straight into the second half of this pack. The Runner cards are discussed in my last post, but here we are just taking a look at the new Corp cards in Fear and Loathing.

Blue Level Clearance

NHGWT9w-300x400

Let’s talk money. We all know you can spend 1 click for 1cr. When people discuss econ cards in Netrunner, the action of playing the card costs 1cr, because you could have been clicking for that credit instead. Many like to add the draw of the card as 1cr as well, but that doesn’t make too much sense in a Corp deck, since they get free draws at the beginning of their turn. So, using that logic, let’s break down what this card is giving you, and how much you are actually earning. Blue Level Clearance costs 2cr and 2 clicks. You are gaining 5cr and 2 cards. the two cards are cancelling out the click cost, and you are netting 3cr after regarding the play cost. A net of 3 is more than a Beanstalk, Green Level Clearance and sometimes Sweeps Week. So, is this a good money card? Well, yes. You net nice money and you have two new cards in your hand. Should you run this? Only if you are in HB (saving influence) or the Building a Better World (ALL THE TRANSACTIONS). It works. It isn’t amazing, but it is a solid money card that will see just as much play as Green Level Clearance, in my opinion. 3/5

Strongbox

e1enWZJ-300x400

Haas-Bioroid couldn’t have gotten a more synergetic card. Strongbox fits in classic HB very nicely. Bioroid 2.0s are already draining clicks, and this is just going to make those a hell of a lot more annoying. Its trash cost is miserable, painful even, but if you are running a lot of Bioroids and not playing a fast advance deck, this is a pretty obvious include in your deck. It doesn’t really work outside of HB, other than (maybe) Replicating Perfection, and its splash cost is only 2 pips, which isn’t very demanding at all. This card does exactly what it should do, and where it should do it. 4/5

Toshiyuki Sakai

Toshiyuki-Sakai-Fear-and-Loathing-Netrunner-Spoiler

It is hard to be too excited over a new Jinteki trap when we just got a bunch of Honour and Profit spoilers, but Toshiyuki Sakai isn’t as worthless as you may have read elsewhere. Jinteki is generally played by those who want to cripple you from the inside, and this does that exceptionally. Nothing is quite as frightening as a well advanced Jinteki card. And if it fails, seasoned Jinteki players know that it can be easily rectified with Trick of Light. With that said, Toshiyuki is not nearly as faction-defining as cards like Snare and Shock, so I’ll score it accordingly. 3/5

Yagura

2014-02-18-06.15.02-300x394

This is a good card. This is a really, really good card. Early game ICE requires the runner to fetch their breakers, speeding up the game’s pacing. However, Yagura places no rush on the runner, allowing you to sit back and protect R&D efficiently for only 1cr. Pop a few of these consecutively and you have 2cr per card once they do have that Decoder in the rig. Some are complaining that it is in Yog’s range, but truthfully, if this cheap and effective piece of ICE costed the runner 5 credits and a tutor, that is really not a downside at all. Once they have that Yog, go ahead and prep your later-game Code Gates. Not to mention that this thing does Net damage on top of protecting R&D. All for 1 cr. 4/5

Restoring Face

2014-02-18-06.14.33-300x337

This is a silly card. I don’t really understand its purpose. Sure, it can clear some bad pubs, but can’t we already do that? Can’t Jinteki specifically do that decently already? I just can’t imagine this is worth its deck slot when there are assets and agendas that do this so much more efficiently.Do you really want to build a Jinteki deck with a laundry list of requirements to get rid of some bad pubs when you can just do it via agendas? No. You don’t. 1/5

Market Research

vmpL3oC-300x400

Market Research is a card that made me double-take. It has the potential to be a 4-3 agenda, yet every time it is stolen, it is worth a measly 2 points. That alone should justify this card’s slots in NBN tag decks. If your deck tags efficiently, then Market Research is more than you have ever asked for. If your deck doesn’t, then don’t run it. It is so good at what it does, there is just no other way to put it. 5/5

Wraparound

Zh60mqo-300x400More amazing early game Ice in Fear and Loathing. This time it is a Barrier. Wraparound is a cheap early game barrier that slows down AI focused decks drastically. It is really a shame that it couldn’t boost to 8, out of Knight’s range, but it is such a good denial card for so, so cheap. Decks running this and swordsman are Atman and Crypsis’ worst nightmare. I love it, and like most amazing NBN cards, its such a good splash. 5/5

GRNDL: Power Unleashed

GRNDL-Power-Unleashed-Fear-and-Loathing-Netrunner-Spoiler

10cr before the first click of the game can have an astronomical effect on the game. This is coming from someone who has been hit by a Sweeps Week or two on turn 1 while playing Andromeda. It is just so important that you have that early money for razzing. The one bad pub is vicious, but Weyland Consortium is no stranger to bad publicity, so I think this identity has a real shot at a viable competitive tourney deck. However, that 10 influence is just too low. And the deck is probably losing money between the loss of influence and the loss of the transaction ability. So maybe it will balance out. I haven’t tried this one yet, so I am going to give it a very uncertain mid-score. I wouldn’t be too surprised if this thing kicks ass though. 3/5

Vulcan Coverup

0h4baKy-300x400Weyland has enough 3-1 agendas that are working quite nice in their tag n bag decks, but Vulcan Coverup is a healthy addition. I’ve heard people refer to it as Weyland’s Ronin; saving the “score” for later, when it will be more devastating. It doesn’t take a click to score this thing once the advancement tokens are there, so a double scorched will make this card a pretty big deal. I like it. I don’t like the bad pub though. 3/5

GRNDL Refinery

GRNDL-Refinery-Fear-and-Loathing-Netrunner-SpoilerSo much money. Just….so much money. Forget the math and the runner’s incentive to run this for just a moment. Imagine having one nice server. Install, advance, advance. Advance, Advance, trash. 16 credits. At once. It is a beautiful thing. Of course you won’t net that much, but who cares. It is just so much money.

What is more likely is that you will instal and advance it once. And the next turn you will advance twice and trash it. But the flexibility is there, all it needs is one good server. Can you do that in Weyland? Yes. How about in HB? Yes. Even behind some Tollbooths in NBN. This card is great, and that splash cost makes it oh-so-splashable. 4/5

EDIT: I can’t math at 5am in the morning. In that initial scenario, 16 credits is what you earn, not 20. Still a huge burst of economy, and still something that can be advanced over multiple turns slowly if that doesn’t do it for you.

Subliminal Messaging

Subliminal-Messaging-Android-Netrunner-Spoiler-e1381507179385-300x412

I truthfully can’t tell you if this card is going to work the way it should. Subliminal Messaging is weird, and if you draw this turn 01, it has the potential to be an untrashable PAD Campaign. However, later in the game it won’t nearly be as effective. More importantly, drawing any more than one is a painfully dead draw. Do you run one of these and hope it shows up early? Or do you just run better drip-econ cards like PAD Campaign? Additionally, do you really want to be pressuring the runner into running more? 1/5

There you have it. Fear and Loathing has finally been leaked. Now that you have read what I think, I’d love to know what you think. Feel free to argue in the comments.

Android: Netrunner – Fear and Loathing Runner Overview

The penultimate data pack in the Spin Cycle is being released this week, and with it comes some highly anticipated cards. I figured that I’d contribute to the discussion and post my very own data pack review. Here are the spoiled runner cards, and my initial impressions! Go ahead and comment if you agree/disagree!

Anyone who has returned to the site probably knows that I don’t really like placing an arbitrary “score” in my reviews, but that seems to be the tradition in these card review posts, so I’ll use a x/5 scale.

Quest Completed

GJSxtcu-300x400

The first Anarch card in the pack is called Quest Completed. The spoiled picture cuts off the 2 influence pips. Its a 0 cost event that is very similar to Notoriety, however, you access 1 installed card instead of gain one agenda point. I am personally surprised that these central server cards are more than a one-of, given  how little I have seen Notoriety played, but I guess a deck is starting to shape up with those new central-only breakers in Honour and Profit. Still, it is a card that requires a sitting agenda and 3 successful runs. I don’t think this has much value, but an early game or absolute surprise Quest Completed might work occasionally. 2/5

Hemorrhage

iBVrNXu-300x400Hemorrhage is a great virus card and has high influence (especially for an efficient Anarch program). It can be tutored by Djinn, it activates Noises ability, it gains counters so easily, and has an ability actually worthwhile. At the right time, Hemorrhage will break combos or trash economy. Two consecutive Hemorrhage hits will probably be more of a significant blow than most people are giving it credit for. However, it is a click to use the ability each time, it is not very splashable, and will the counters will probably be wiped before any devastating use of them. Its great in Noise, but not much else. Still, its a solid Anarch card, and one that I think will see some play. 3/5

Tallie Perrault

Tallie-Perrault-Fear-and-Loathing-Netrunner-SpoilerTallie Perrault represents a deck type that I just haven’t seen take off. The tag-me, bad pub shoving, resource Anarch is just not viable yet. Looking at Tallie’s 4-line conditional, you have to take a tag in order to give a bad pub. We have seen that mechanic before, but without the need of something as potentially frightening as Scorched Earth being played first. And, as everyone loves to mention, it can easily be trashed without NACH or another tag-evasive manoeuvres. I just have never understood how that can work without the stars aligning. It can be trashed for a nice draw engine, and against Weyland you will be able to draw quite a bit, assumably. However, against Weyland is probably not where you want that condition to be met (I can’t be the only one nervous playing against tag and bag decks). Tallie has a purpose, she has a deck slot in the right deck, it is just that the deck isn’t worth the risk right now. It’s probably pretty fun to play though, especially with Blackmail coming out. 2/5

Executive Wiretaps

d9ynV8m-300x225Executive Wiretaps reintroduces a mechanic seen not that long ago, if my memory serves me correct. Actually, it was just two packs ago, in Mala Tempora. Strange. Anyway, I like the idea of exposing the entire corp hand, but 2 clicks and 4 credits is a serious cost. Criminals have the money, but that exact cost can be spent on Running Interference.  Running Interference actually works better in a Silhouette/Blackguard deck than this does, despite the flavour. If you really want to do this ability without spending the MU, then this is the card for that, but it is just so unnecessary. 2/5

Blackguard

Blackguard-Fear-and-Loathing-Netrunner-SpoilerFull disclosure: I am totally bias when discussing this card. I have been testing  a proxy blackguard/silhouette deck for some time, and it is just devastating. A lot of people have been imagining what devastating things you can do with Satellite Uplink, Infiltration, Snitch, Silhouette, and Lemuria. The truth is, Blackguard doesn’t even need that. It doesn’t need to be a gimmick deck. Silhouette alone can use Blackguard without the help of any additional cards, and it is as devastating as you’d hope it would be. Blackguard is an awesome card, but that is ignoring the elephant in the room. 11 INSTALL COST. Criminals land on their feet. They hit the ground running. A Blackguard deck is slowing down the fastest beast in the game, so use the card carefully. I know many people will argue this score, but I’ve had such a great time testing it, I’ll go ahead and give this card a score that reflects that. 4/5

CyberSolutions Mem Chip

JIV8NSX-300x225Apparently people aren’t digging this card. I’ve read impressions that complain about its cost, or that it is only for casual use. The truth is this: this thing is going to save you deck slots, and 4 credits in a Shaper deck on Hardware is not slowing down the runner. Mac gets it for 3. 2 MU for 3cr? Yes please. Modded brings it down to a 1 cost for the other Shaper identities. Its a solution for a non-problem, absolutely, but more options isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I know people who will run this. 3/5

Alpha & Omega

2014-02-18-05.57.35-300x3112014-02-18-06.01.51-300x299

I’m going to go ahead and pair these cards up because, frankly, I’m not a fan of either. I get how Omega works nicely with Kit, but 7cr for a drastically limited Crypsis with 1 strength doesn’t make sense to me. If you don’t want use Crypsis because of his counter-condition, then run Atman! This is Shaper we are talking about! Maybe we’ll see someone use these guys nicely, but 7cr is what I would spend on something as efficient as Garrote. Shapers can do this so much more efficiently, and with a 3 splash cost, I don’t see it being played much at all. One is a Kit card and the other is for face checking, but just run Snitch instead, right? 2/5

Blackmail

Blackmail-Fear-and-Loathing-Netrunner-Spoiler

That’s more like it! Blackmail is what a lot of us have been waiting for, and should live up to the promise of scarier bad pubs. We have seen a lot of bad pubs being thrown around in the spin cycle, but not much the runner can do with it. Well, Blackmail is hopefully only the first card in a series of card types that will punish the corp further for their bad pubs. Blackmail is a game-winning card in the right meta. With illicits, Anarch tag-me’s, and Weyland existing, Blackmail will probably do quite a bit of damage in the general meta right now. I like it. I like it a lot. 4/5

—–

That wraps up the Runner cards, but that is only half the pack. I’ll post the rest very soon, but for now, feel free to vocally object to my impressions and correct any errors that resulted from posting at 5am.