Hello StimHack! This is Noah M., or Nobo715 on the forums. I’ve been playing Netrunner for about two years now. I won the Northern California Regionals this year, in addition to 4 Regionals T8’s, T8 at SSCI, T4 at SHL 3 and attendance at Worlds and GenCon.
Unfortunately, I don’t have any history with card games aside from Netrunner. I didn’t really imagine I would ever contribute Netrunner content, but since I’ve started playing games other than Netrunner I’ve realized how valuable card knowledge and conversation around new cards can be.
StimHack is a great resource for learning the game, as well as the central hub for sharing ideas, and hopefully these set reviews can give both new and experienced players some things to think about when evaluating the new cards.
Here is the scale I will be using:
5: Potentially meta-defining, the cornerstone of a new archetype, or so unconditionally valuable and efficient that most decks will include it regardless of their specific game plan or win condition.
This category includes:
- Ice that is highly difficult to break for all common breaker suites
- Upgrades that allow the Corp to reliably score agendas
- Agendas that directly enable you to score more agendas
- Economy cards, for both sides, with unmatched efficiency
- High-powered IDs
4: Super efficient, with functionality that places this card ahead of other choices. This card perhaps draws comparisons to similar cards, but ultimately wins the slot due to it’s usefulness at any point in the game or difficulty for an opponent to deal with.
This category includes:
- Icebreakers with unmatched efficiency for the current environment
- Ice that is highly difficult to break in relation to its cost
- Efficient economy or card draw solutions
- Multi-access cards
- Cards that increase click efficiency
3: Highly playable, but not worth building around, including conditional effects that are not always useful depending on the state of the game.
This category includes:
- Ice that are only worth rezzing at certain points in the game, to the point at which they can actively hinder a Corp’s strategy
- Cards on both sides that require a condition to be met, where the cost of said condition has the potential to outweigh the intended effect
2: Not often useful. Situational to the point of handicapping your deck in the current environment
1: To the author’s knowledge, these cards should not be played in a competitive setting.
[Build Around] denotes cards that need built-in support to be worth the include.
[Unsupported] denotes a mechanic that will likely have support released in a separate pack (see Cloud Breakers, NEXT, Caissa).
The Underway Set Review
Faust: 4, [Build Around]
The most apparent use of Faust is as a utility breaker that supports a suite of more traditional breakers.
Noise decks usually end up running some combination of Mimic, Crypsis, Knight, or Corroder to deal with Ice that can’t be dealt with by Parasite. However, most Noise decks are not running a way to tutor specific breakers, so a more universal solution such as Faust has the potential to be quite powerful in that archetype.
The weakness of Faust is that breaking high-strength or multi-sub ice repeatedly is not sustainable.
I also gave this the [Build Around] condition because building a deck with Faust as the primary breaker is going to require extensive support. Here is a version of what that deck might look like: http://netrunnerdb.com/en/decklist/23475/deadass-maxx-underway-write-up-example-
Street Peddler: 4
Street Peddler is cheap deck filtering. It’s not quite as valuable as raw card draw like I’ve Had Worse, but it can also save you a click when you are digging for pieces. It will win slots in most anarch decks that are not worried about losing unique events.
Parasite recursion is so strong right now most “good stuff” anarch decks are running a few Clone Chips. It will often be beneficial to discard a program off Street Peddler to install something else, then have the option to install it at paid ability speed with Clone Chip. This way you are playing two cards at paid ability speed, which is great for both tempo and flexibility.
Currently, Street Peddler seems most valuable in Valencia, but it will be found in many anarch decks going forward. It is probably not worth playing in PPVP Kate, but it might see play in other Shaper decks. It works off Geist’s ability, but until Criminals get a tutor besides Special Order I don’t anticipate it seeing play in the other Criminal IDs. (Click here to see an entire article focused solely on Street Peddler and it’s applications.)
Geist has 30-something cards that work with his ability, a cheap console that bumps him up to 2 link, and he’s a 45/15. He has a huge amount of support right out of the gate. As such, there are already a few different ways to build him.
Unfortunately, I don’t think the Cloud Breakers (Shiv, Spike, Crowbar) are effective or worth building around for the current environment.
Forger + Underworld Contacts is really promising. You can also run a pretty traditional Criminal deck and splash Crescentus + Clone Chip for a synergistic denial strategy.
Geist isn’t positioned to run with the competitive tier decks at the moment, but he is a well designed ID with enough support to build him in multiple, interesting ways.
Drive By: 2
My hesitancy with rating this card higher is that I strongly believe if it ever became popular enough to see consistent play Corps would just start Pre-rezzing their assets and upgrades.
For most decks, Pre-rezzing cards isn’t a big deal. It can often be a valid strategy if you suspect a MaxX player is sitting on a Queen’s Gambit.
The above strategy can make it hard to have multiple unique cards on the board, and perhaps Drive By will get rid of an unwanted Asset on occasion, but overall it is too easy to play around.
It has notable interactions with Unregistered S&W and it can be strong against Personal Evolution, but I don’t think these factors increase it’s playability.
Another way to get a link for Underworld Contacts. This probably won’t see play outside of Geist, Andy, and perhaps Iain.
Forger is also a soft protection from Scorched, as it gives you a link for Midseasons traces and then lets you clear a free tag. This isn’t a strong reason to play it though.
Again, the Cloud Breakers don’t correspond well to the Ice suites mainstream Corp decks are running right now.
I don’t think the loss in efficiency and board presence is worth it just for the synergy with Geist’s ability.
Gang Sign: 3
Gang Sign draws comparisons to Logos, as it will fire a fixed amount of times every game (usually 2 or 3). With the addition of Leela’s ability and HQ Interface this card can make scoring windows very awkward for the Corp.
This build might be worth pursuing, as HQ Interface has the benefit or working well Inside Job and Sneakdoor Beta, as well as ignoring the ability of Crisium Grid.
It is not unique, so installing multiple copies will have a compound effect.
The potential drawback is since it only fires 2 or 3 times, if you don’t see it early or don’t have an HQ Interface out to support it when it fires, the impact might not be worth the slot. You can include multiples, but ideally you only want one out with multiple HQ Interfaces to get the most out of your slots.
Muertos Gang Member: 1
A low-impact card. It could be useful in the very early game, especially if you have a way of capitalizing on early pressure, like with Leela’s ability. Maybe playable with Geist, but I don’t think the power level is there.
Chameleon: 2, [Build Around]
So, without any support, you are losing two credits and a click every turn to use Chameleon. It is also fixed strength, but 3 is quite high for an Icebreaker. There are ways to get around all of it’s flaws, like Autoscriptor, LLDS Processor, Sahasrara and Scheherazade, or London Library to bypass the cost entirely.
It’s actually a very interesting proposition. A four or five card combo to make a super breaker isn’t something that has been done effectively so far. I think Chameleon actually does it quite nicely, if you can find a way to deal with high strength Ice like Curtain Wall and Susanoo. Maybe you just splash David + Recursion?
Unfortunately, it’s not at all worth it, especially in Shaper. Shapers have access to such efficient breakers that they will often bypass them to regain flexibility (see the Gordian Blade instead of Cyber Cypher + Scavenge argument). There isn’t commonly played Ice that warrants this kind of super breaker right now.
It’s worth noting that Chameleon is not an AI, so it can break things like Turing. Overall, it’s a cool card.
This is interesting from a design perspective for a few reasons. It’s our first 3 MU card, but more significantly it seems like it is out of place on the color pie. Typically anarchs have the heavy click gain, like Stim Dealer, Amped Up, and Josh B. On the other hand, Shaper is the cheap MU faction, so perhaps that is why it’s green.
As powerful as gaining 3 clicks may seem, this card doesn’t slot well into any major decks, and there has yet to be a strong strategy regarding click gain. If you could save it, you might be able to use the extra clicks to make extra runs on Caprice, but it’s difficult so save without some awkward Personal Workshop budgeting or potentially trashing your rig.
Until a very obvious, very powerful outlet for additional clicks is revealed, I don’t think this has a practical use. It does scream combo though, so maybe there is something yet to come.
Test Ground: 1, [Unsupported]
I don’t see any benefit to this card. I gave it [Unsupported] because it seems so apparently detrimental that it wouldn’t surprise me if something came down the pipe later, but that is just a guess.
Defective Brainchips: 2
It seems like Brain Damage Cybernetics is in full swing. It is great to see new archetypes getting solid, powerful support. We’ll see a card later, called Markus Batty, that will make it easier than ever to land brain damage, so I don’t think Defective Brainchips is nearly as situational as it would have a been a few packs ago.
However, I’m not sure stacking this on top of already situational brain damage cards is effective. Markus Batty and Ryon Knight are somewhat hit-or-miss. It seems like the slots for Defective Brainchips might be better spent on recursion, or just general deck efficiency, rather than what some would call “win more.”
If you are regularly landing Edge of Worlds and just need a little extra something to get the runner dead, then perhaps this will slot.
Allele Repression: 3
Allele Repression is generically powerful, but it struggles with use cases. It doesn’t seem click-efficient enough to play in RP and I think if baiting the runner into servers had proven to be worth it in that deck then we would have already seen it with advanceable traps.
In Personal Evolution you can use Allele Repression to recur Snares before the runner accesses HQ, or just recur good stuff if the runner runs it in a remote. Perhaps it also has uses in IG.
A clearly powerful card with limited application currently.
Marcus Batty: 4
A card with a double condition and an extremely powerful effect. You have to win a psi-game and it has to be positioned correctly, but after that Markus Batty can resolve any subroutine in the game. The flashiest example being played around with right now is resolving a multiple program trash sub off of NEXT Gold.
You can also just resolve an ETR, which means in RP there will be scoring situations where the Corp can afford to lose a Caprice psi-game, then trigger the Batty psi-game, and upon failure still have a chance to use a Nisei token.
It can act as a Crisium Grid lite, potentially thwarting multi-access events and Siphons. It can of course just resolve a number of beneficial subs on common ice, like Ichi, Architect, Susanoo, and maybe Cortex Lock.
A hugely powerful card, though probably not worth building around in the way Caprice is, and hopefully not as meta-defining either.
Muckracker is the only relevant piece of illicit NBN ice, and Weyland already has two bad pub removal solutions with Elizabeth Mills and Witness Tampering.
There is not a deck that has made taking large amounts of bad pub worth it yet, and I doubt Exposé is the preferred removal solution for that deck.
The numbers on Pachinko are great. The current deck that it might fit into would be a Butchershop style deck. Unfortunately, I don’t think this ice helps that archetype very much. Butchershop would rather place cheap gear-checks with the occasional Data Raven, rather than an ice that isn’t contributing much until a Midseasons lands.
We have been getting tools for a tag based control deck for a while, with ice like Universal Connectivity Fee, Gutenberg, Bandwidth, and Information Overload. Pachinko doesn’t do much to complete this archetype yet; I think it’s going to require a different tool entirely.
Underway Renovation: 2
Forcing the runner to trash cards off their stack is not very appealing in an environment where the most prominent decks are running recursion, but there are two cases where Underway Renovation might be justified.
The first is that if you are playing a rush deck, and you manage hit a breaker or piece of recursion which opens up enough of a scoring window to justify the include.
The second reason is that there might be a synergy with Blacklist, although that would require having two protected servers up.
Unfortunately, I don’t think either of those reasons are strong enough to warrant the include, especially now that Oaktown Renovation has helped solidify the Weyland agendas.
Contract Killer: 4
This card may not be flashy, but it could have huge implications for Weyland Scorched. Two out of the three Runner factions can be heavily reliant on Kati Jones, and sometimes Kate will play Professional Contacts, so often the first ability will be the more desirable option.
Being able to proactively do meat damage without tags is a rare effect. Worst case, you can use it to chew through Plascretes.
The double ability really makes this card shine. Cards like Executive Bootcamp, and now Contract Killer are great for bringing flexibility to the faction, as well as keeping the Flatline win condition alive and powerful.
I really like the numbers on this piece of Ice. Unfortunately it’s a pretty great target for Parasite, but if you can keep it around taxing Lady for two counters every run is a great prospect. Weyland also has access to Power Shutdown, for controlling Datasucker tokens
Fire Wall is in the same cost range, is a little better against Corroder, a little worse against Lady, and is much less susceptible to Parasite. Unless you think it’s worth taking the risk to gain an edge against Kate I think Fire Wall or something else entirely will be slotted over this.
Underway Grid: 1
This card has two abilities, and they appeal to two separate decks.
The use for the first ability would be in an IT Department deck that wants to tech against Inside Job and Femme. I’m honestly not that familiar with the needs and wants of current ITD decks, but this seems way too specific to me.
The second ability would be used in a deck that has one server, in which things are constantly at risk of being exposed. The only thing close to this is Power Shutdown PE with advanceable traps. But that deck doesn’t usually run advanceable traps anyways. And there is no expose in the meta. So…
Top Three Picks
- Faust. In a world of hyper-efficient Icebreakers and largely unchecked Parasite recursion, Faust stands out to me as the coolest way to break ice in a long time. It’s a crazy feeling when you pair it up with David and literally never spend a dime pumping breakers. So much econ for trashing things!
- Markus Batty. In the same way Fast Track was released at the height of NEH Biotics, it is easy to look at Markus Batty and think it just makes a broken thing (RP) more broken. While this might end up being the case, Runners have become so efficient and careful that it is harder than ever to get a specific subroutine to fire. NEXT Gold + Batty seems to be the real deal. Hopefully Batty will widen the game without making RP too much deeper.
- Contract Killer. I love the Weyland love. It’s really important to have Scorched Earth in the game, and if it can be relevant out of Weyland then that is great. The complaint about Scorched is that you are dedicating slots to a win condition that will not always be attainable, depending on if the Runner drops an early Plascrete or won’t give up their econ advantage. With flexible cards like Contract Killer you aren’t shooting yourself in the foot on a turn when meat damage is irrelevant, as you can still use it to trash a connection or chew through their Plascrete. Making it two advancements instead of three was very good balancing.
Thanks for reading! The design has been really on point this cycle, and The Underway was no exception. Please let me know if this was useful or entertaining. I had fun writing it and would be happy to do it again.