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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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