Opening Moves Initial Set Review

As always these are EARLY thoughts.  Most of these I haven’t even had a chance to play yet.  The text is more important than a rating ‘number’ as it talks about why a card is good or bad and in what situations or decks.


I’m going to give a rating from 0 to 5 for each card.  

5: Best of the best.  Game defining cards.  Ex: Account Siphon, SanSan City Grid.

4: Strong staples.  You want it in most decks of this faction and many decks of another faction.  Ex: Corroder, Ice Wall.

3: Playable cards.  It might make the cut, or be good situationally, or in the right deck.  Not universally useful but still played a reasonable amount in decks.  Ex: Armitage Codebusting, Enigma.

2: Niche.  It’s only good in the right deck, and even then it’s not amazing, just reasonable.  Ex: The Helpful AI, Wyrm.

1: Bad Cards.  It’s always bad, and only in its best conditions does it rise to reasonableness.  Ex: Aurora, Research Station.

0: Terrible cards.  You actively hurt your game by using it.  Ex: Data Dealer, Tyrant.


Cards ranked from best to worst:

Jackson Howard: 5

Celebrity Gift: 4.5

Rook: 4

Himitsu Bako 3.5

John Masanori 3.5

Hostage: 3.5

Character Assassination 3.5

Next Bronze: 3.5 (once more good NEXT ice is printed)

Cyberdex Trial: 3

Geothermal Fracking: 3

Pawn 3? (Need to see what Caissa programs will exist)

Invasion of Privacy: 2.5

Lockpick: 2

Swarm: 2

Grim: 1.5

Motivation: 1 (for now)

False Echo: 0.5

Project Ares: 0

Frame Job: 0


Cards whose existence annoys me:

Gorman Drip v1



Card Rating Descriptions:


Frame Job: 0/5

This card is actually worse than Data Dealer!  Bad Publicity is great, but it’s not as good as $9.  And this is a double click event that also costs $1.  And unlike Data Dealer, you can’t Pawn it for $3 after using it.

Both Frame Job and Data dealer will be horrible unless they start printing 0 point agendas that get heavily played.  In which case Data Dealer becomes decent and is still a lot better than this.



Pawn: 3/5 ? (Not yet knowable / Narrow to certain decks, but potentially good)

It’s a card for the Caissa deck only, but it’s important to that deck.  With the Caissa console (coming in a later set), you can play it directly onto the ice, and then soon get to recur Caissa programs for free.  (Nice with Exile, if that deck is a reasonable archetype for him).

Ultimately, the strength of this card will rely on how well the Caissa deck works, and we don’t even know what all the cards in it will do yet.  So essentially, the rating of this card at present is basically irrelevant, we cannot tell how strong it will be until we see all the Caissa stuff.



Rook: 4/5

Unlike Pawn, this is strong on its own, a very good way to deny the corp money or the ability to rez ice on a particular server that you want to attack.  Most likely we will see Anarch or even other runner faction denial strategies lining up Rooks on R&D, and then pounding it with Medium or R&D interface.  Paying $4 for any ice with a pair of rooks there makes rezzing nearly impossible, especially as whatever ice you DO rez will get hit with Parasite or Emergency Shutdown.

Using Midori to swap out the Rooked ice might become a thing.  I’m sad that Midori is 3 influence, because I think she could actually be an important counter to this strategy, which might prove very devastating to corps.  (And also incredibly un-fun.  If every game is just watching the runner rook up all your R&D defense, and then Medium you, and the corp just can’t EVER get any rezzed ice on R&D, that’s pretty depressing).  Now, you can always trash the Ice that Rook is on to remove it.  But they can always Pawn it back.

I pretty much hate the existence of this card.  It exacerbates problems that the corp already has, where the corp desperately needs to defend R&D against all the strong R&D attacks that exist, but the corp has trouble getting and keeping ice rezzed there, due to Siphons, Shutdowns, Parasites, etc.

I really don’t think that Netrunner should be about “Never let the corp get/keep a rezzed piece of ice on R&D”.   I hope that this card will prove weaker than I expect it will.  But I fear it will just be hell to play against.

Even worse for the corp, if you have your remote server with several ice, and you try to score an agenda there, they can just move the rook over, run it, and then move the rook back to R&D.

We might end up needing to trash ice that has been rooked, replacing it with new ice.  If so, it’s just another reason to want Jackson Howard in your deck, letting you draw extra ice and then shuffle back in the trashed ice into R&D.



Hostage: 3.5/5

Did you want to take Kati Jones hostage and force her to do your bidding?   You naughty person!

Hostage is a Connection tutor!   You spend 2 clicks and $1 to play this, spend the cost of the connection, and it’s in play.     The net cost of this card is one extra click and $1, since it also lets you put the connection into play (saving a click).

Here are the connections I might really want to tutor for:

Kati Jones

Professional Contacts

Aesop’s Pawnshop

John Masonori

Underworld Contacts?

Of course, it also tutors for whatever other utility Connection you might need as well, like Decoy or The Source.


This is a strong tool for Criminals to splash 1-of Connections like Pawnshop or Pro Contacts, and then reliably get them.  It also helps them to be able to cut duplicates of things like Kati Jones from their decks.   For example, rather than play 3 Kati Jones and 2 John Masanori, you might want 2 Kati, 1 Masanori, and 2 Hostage.

If you are planning to avoid tags as criminal, you can now tutor up a 1-of Professional Contacts, which is quite nice.

You could also splash this in other factions.  Shaper could tutor for the missing Professional Contacts if needed, or for Kati or Pawnshop.  Same with Anarch.

John Masonori is another good target, providing a Desperado like ability on successful run (and it’s a card draw!), though only once a turn, and with a penalty for UNSUCCESSFUL runs.

I think this will see a reasonable amount of play and will make runners more consistent.

Could corps get some effects like this?  That aren’t freaking Levi University?  Please?  Where is ‘search your R&D for a piece of ice, and install it.  As an event that doesn’t reveal the ice?’



Gorman Drip v1: Annoyed/5  

More than having an opinion on strength or weakness of this card, I feel this is bad game design.  You punish the corp player if they are doing badly, really rubbing it in their face that they are taking $1 clicks or basic draws, by sticking money on this program!  Suck it corps!  Like the corp wasn’t already getting kicked hard enough by C&C.

If the corp is doing well?  They have a scored Gila Hands or Government Contracts?  Or a Melange in play?  And a Jackson Howard to draw with?  And they drew their Hedge Funds?  Then this card sucks.

But if they are SCREWED?  Well, THEN you get to stomp all over them with this.  You siphoned them, trashed all their money cards, and now they have to click for $3 every turn?  Have a reward!  Make them suffer more as they watch you put a counter on this every time they have to do a thing they already know is bad.


Basically the result of this card is to cause a struggling player to feel even worse than they already do.  Corps already struggle a lot against good runners, and printing a card to rub in it is pretty low.  It’s a good thing this set also contains the best corp card to be printed in many sets, because we really didn’t need another set that just gives cool things to the runners AND gives them something to use to piss off corp players when they are screwed.


I don’t know that this card will actually get played much.  It would be a great splash in Noise Mill, but that archetype is taking a huge blow from Jackson Howard.  It might work well in a criminal denial deck without other viruses.  Just leave this there, kill their money assets, and then build it up while they click for $3.


The existence of this card makes it more important that you play corp cards that let you click usefully for cards and money.  Jackson for drawing, and Gila Hands, Private Contracts, Burst economy cards, Melange, etc. for credits.   This card certainly makes you desire a couple Gila Hands in all your decks even more than you already did (aside from maybe Weyland who has the big version).


This card fails you when the corp is actually doing well, it’s mainly good when they are screwed.  I’m not going to rate it yet because I really have no idea how strong this is.


As someone commented: “Gorman Drip v2 will allow you to physically punch your opponent in the balls when he clicks for a credit”.



Lockpick: 2/5

While it’s better than Cloak by virtue of being Hardware and thus not costing MU, it has the major flaw that the best Code Gate breaker, Yog, doesn’t require credits.  And there isn’t yet a Stealth Decoder.


If they do print a good stealth decoder, and it actually is reasonable compared to Yog or Gordian Blade, then this could become a good card.

If this card worked for Sentry Breakers, and powered Dagger, it would be pretty great.  If Cloak had been this card and just worked for all breakers, it would be a great card, and would probably still be decent even if it cost $2 instead.


If the stealth decoder we get is actually really good, then this could become strong.



False Echo: 0.5/5

Maybe Kit should’ve freed the ice by trashing it, if she wanted this to be a good card!


On first glance it looks like a Shaper version of Forged Activation Orders.  On second glance, it reveals that it’s horrible.

Forged Activation Orders forces the corp to rez it before you WALK THROUGH THE ICE, giving the corp a chance to rez it.  Let’s say they have an Archer.  If you use False Echo and run, they rez the Archer and wreck you.  If you Forged Activation it, they are sad.  Do they let it die?  Do they Rez it and lose an Agenda?  Let’s say they rez it.  You can then use tricks like Emergency Shutdown to go derez it again, without ever getting wrecked by it!

But that’s not all.  Forged Activation threatens to trash the ice.  This only sticks it back in their hand.

They already made the decision to not rez it this turn.  You stick it back in their hand.  Who cares?  They can just stick it out again next turn.

Yep, this card is horrendously bad, it pretty much does nothing, but it eats an MU while it sits in play.



Motivation: 1/5  But it has future potential.

This is pretty terrible right now.  You get to look at your top card as runner?  Who cares.   If this was for corp, you could see if an agenda was on top of R&D, that could be useful.

As it is, the only point of this card is to be Pawned into an Easy Mark, after making sure that the top card of your deck wasn’t the program that you needed to Test Run for.

But what if in the future, they print a card that involves predicting the top card of your deck.  Like “At the beginning of your turn, name a card and then reveal the top card of your deck.  If it is the named card, draw it”.   Or maybe you have an effect that trashes the top card of your deck, and if it’s the right card type it does something cool.  Those cards could combo with this to do something useful.

Until then, leave this in your card binder.



John Masanori: 3.5/5

This is a STRONG effect, a draw-based Desperado, as a neutral resource!  But there is also a big drawback.  Fail a run, and suddenly you are tagged, and now he can be trashed.


One strong use of this card is as an enabler of Data Leak Reversal.  Fail a run on purpose, mill you twice, clear the tag.   Add crash space to reduce the cost.    Too bad Jackson Howard is going to allow corps to counter your milling strategy.    (Actually, it’s a good thing he is, or else this might just be both really strong and the most annoying and non-interactive strategy ever).

Barring that, you can use him as a draw engine, though you might occasionally need to clear tags.  Maybe you play Tag-me, you use him some early, then you Siphon them.  You no longer care about his drawback, and they have to pay to trash him.  Similar to how Tag-me decks still use Kati Jones, this could be strong.

My rating is lowered by the fact that a lot of players are going to put this guy out, and then be too afraid to run without a complete breaker suite, for fear of failing and getting tagged.  If he makes you play a lot worse by not pressuring the corp at all, then he isn’t very useful.


As long as your plan involves having good ways to ensure successful runs (instant speed breakers or parasites is useful), and you can mitigate the tag risk, then this guy rules.  But you wouldn’t want him in a deck with Professional Contacts.



Project Ares: 0/5

Pretty much the worst 4/2 agenda in the game.  Over advancing this thing just is not a good idea.  The RUNNER gets to choose a couple cards to trash, and you get a Bad Pub.  That’s not a good deal.  And do you seriously think you’re going to get so many counters on him that you can trash their entire setup?  I can see the bad Johnnies making their Midseason, Psychographics, Project Ares decks already.

This card might as well be a blank 4/2 agenda.  You could’ve gotten an Efficiency Committee scored instead.



NEXT Bronze: 3.5/5 when a bit more NEXT ice is printed. 

I like it.  Cheaper than Enigma, and can potentially become big enough later to escape being made irrelevant by Yog!  But it needs more NEXT ice before it can overcome a Yog, so for now it’s just a weak Enigma.

I like the NEXT ice ability more than Bioroids, in general.  Bioroids kind of suck.  Bioroids don’t force the runner to find and play breakers.  They don’t force the runner to need a program, turning on HB’s program trashing effects.  This is really important.

If I can ignore your Ichi because I have no programs, and I can also click through your Eli without needing a program, so that I never need to turn on your Ichi…you have a problem.

And Eli and Ichi are the best of the Bioroids.  Honestly, HB is a faction with terrible ice, being held up by its good agendas and economy, and the strong EtF economy power.

NEXT Ice help solve that issue.  They actually, forcing the runner to actually INSTALL ICEBREAKERS!  Amazing concept.   And just like Bioroids, they grow stronger the more of them you have.  But they work decently individually as well.


This card is decent already as a cheap Enigma, and has good future potential.  Possibly a lot of future potential, if they make lots of good NEXT ice.



Celebrity Gift: 4.5/5   (Possibly lower if the drawback ends up being a big deal)

Wow, Jinteki economy!  Good Jinteki economy!  $7 for two clicks and a card!

This super hedge Fund would be even better except that it has a drawback: reveal your hand!  Ouch.

Reveal your hand can be a significant drawback.  If you have to show them a Braintrust and Nisei, that could be sad.  However, I think that the drawback limits which types of decks can use this more than actually making it much weaker in the decks that will use it.  Jackson Howard does a great job of mitigating this drawback.


With a Jackson Howard, you can:

Draw 2.  (Up to 8).

Play Celebrity Gift.  Reveal some agendas!


Discard the agendas.  If they run archives, or run Jackson Howard, shuffle them back into your deck.

But now you are playing mind games!

Maybe you DIDN’T throw the agendas away!  Maybe you still have them.  Better run HQ.

Or maybe you DID throw them away, and watch them run HQ repeatedly, wasting time.


Even without him, if you have 1 agenda in hand, you can make the following play:

Draw to start turn.  Draw.  (Now you have 7).

Play this (6 cards left).  Reveal the 5 non-agenda cards, out of the 6.  Good way to make the runner less interested in running your hand, helping you to hide that one agenda there.


In the end, this is a very strong economy card.  It has a drawback, but the drawback is mitigated by Jackson Howard, an insanely good card that you will already want to play for other reasons.  It also lets you play fun mind games.  At 3 influence, this is primarily a Jinteki card, and I feel that Jinteki will often be fine showing you’re their hand.  Hey look, a Snare and a Fetal!   Alternately, with Jackson, the reveal even becomes a mind game, as you discard stuff afterward, and the runner doesn’t know if any agendas you show them remain in your hand or not.  Used correctly, the drawback can be turned around and possibly help you waste the runners time, or get them to not run your hand, but then you actually have agendas there.


Note: I played some games with a couple of these in NBN.  Most of the time when I drew them, it SAVED me.  Rather than having $3 and being unable to defend well, and not being able to make a server to defend a Melange to actually get money, I had $10 and could do things.  It was even worth showing that I had an Astro and Beale in hand to do that.



Himitsu Bako: 3.5/5

Cheap barriers are useful!  Ice Wall is better, because Ice Wall is even cheaper, and Corroder breaks both for $1.  Ice Wall also works well with Trick of Light.

The ability to put it into your HQ adds some value, mostly against Parasite.  If it’s out in play, and they get into HQ, and you put it in your hand to help guard the agendas there, that might be nice.  The main benefit is that they can’t just kill it with parasite like they could an Ice Wall.  They actually must put out a breaker that can deal with a 2 strength barrier, they can’t just Parasite all your ice.

Overall, it’s a good thing to have available ice at more different cost/strength levels.



Character Assassination: 3.5/5

Heck Yeah!  Crush that Kati, Pro Contacts, Workshop, Pawnshop, Wyldside, or whatever else they are using.  Along with Breaking News, this gives NBN even more potential to counter those pesky economy resources.

I really love what even the threat of this card does to a Personal Workshop.  With the possibility to add the final needed counter with Astroscript, or the possibility that that upgrade its sitting on is a SanSan, this might actually be score-able before you put the fourth advancement on it.  That means that if the runner has a full Workshop, they might actually have to evacuate the workshop BEFORE you get to 4 counters on this, to be safe.

Not only that, since they don’t know that the agenda you are advancing is a Character Assassination, they might need to blow all their money evacuating their workshop when you are advancing some OTHER agenda.  Or a trap.  Or a Thomas Haas.

In order to take advantage of this, whenever you are advancing anything, each time you advance, ask the runner if there is now anything they want to do.

Corp: Puts 2nd advancement counter on a thing.  “Want to do anything?”

Runner: “No”.

Corp: Rez SanSan, use Astroscript, score Character Assassination, and blow up your Workshop with 5 things.



Corp: Puts 2nd advancement counter on thing.  “Want to do anything?”

Runner: “No”.

Corp: Puts 3rd advancement counter on thing.  “Want to do anything?”

Runner: “Oh crap.  Pay $12 to get all my stuff off workshop”.

Corp: Score my Project Beale.  Lol.



I think this is about as good as Efficiency Committee.  Crushing a Kati or Pro Contacts with this will be more beneficial than Efficiency Committee, but sometimes it won’t do much.



Jackson Howard: 5/5

He is so good, I had to write an article specifically for him!


Given the hype he received, some people are going to play him, thinking he is supposed to be the greatest thing ever, and just win the game when they use him, and they’ll be disappointed.  He is a risk mitigator more than a game winner.  He does a really good job of keeping you from losing in many situations.  He isn’t a game winner, he is more of a really good game-not-loser, like Plascrete Carapace is for runners.


The #1 thing you’re going to be doing with him is drawing to find the ice and money you need, throwing away excess agendas that are clogging your hand and opening you up to risk, and shuffling them back in.


Regarding his effect on Noise, while I’ve said “Noise is dead”, I don’t think Noise’ ability will actually be worthless.  It will eat up your Jacksons, and it will probably still score points some as well.  Just not as much as before, and with more running required.   I am pretty sure that Noise Mill strategies will fall into at least the middle of the pack, if not become below average.  Not worthless, but below average.   He is no longer #2 to criminal on the list of best strategies.  Expect no more Noise domination.  Expect to fear him less when you do run into him, because Jackson Howard is in all your corp decks.  Know that you will want to ice up your archives reasonably against him, and save Jackson mostly for countering his power.



Invasion of Privacy: 2.5/5

This card is pretty expensive (2 clicks, $2, and you HAVE to make the trace work).


The effect is interesting.  If used as part one of a Kill Combo, to reduce the runner’s hand size, then it could act as a Pseudo-Scorched Earth.  But it wont actually kill by itself, you need a combo partner to finish the runner off (Scorched Earth mostly, maybe Neural EMP if you get really lucky).


Used in this way, it might allow NBN to do the equivalent of Double-Scorch combo kills with just a single Scorch.  But you can’t Sea Source n the same turn, since this is a Double.



If not used as a damage source, its a potentially expensive way to deny the runner potential important cards like Account Siphon, but it might miss.  Its important for the runner to be poor before you use this, or else youll spend a ton of money making the trace work, for an effect that is hit or miss.  It’ll usually hit something, but if its not something really important like the Siphon, its probably not worth paying a lot for.


Overall I am mostly interested in it as a Pseudo Scorch as part of a kill combo, that also has some potential utility if the runner gets poor, to knock out their Siphons, Shutdowns, etc.



Geothermal Fracking: 3/5

I think this is decent.  If it just gave you $14 and 2 bad publicity, it might be too much of a drawback if you scored it early, and then weren’t able to Sea Source/Scorch combo them with all the money.

Government Contracts is probably better, but if you want a 2/4 this is probably Weyland’s strongest option right now.

Save the counters until near the end of the game.  THEN destroy the environment, to get the money burst you need to do what you gotta do (Scorch combo them, force through an agenda with Troubleshooter, etc).    Hostile Takeover is far easier to score, but you HAVE to take the money and bad publicity early.  Some runners will punish that pretty efficiently.

By not giving the bad publicity immediately, you are able to save it until you think the game is almost over, and thus deny the runner much time to use it effectively.


Finally, with the upcoming Elizabeth Mills, you will be able to take a bad publicity with this and then eliminate it right away.



Swarm: 2/5

Man, I was so excited for Illicit ice.  “Ooh, Ice that gives you bad pub when rezzed, but is AWESOME, and WRECKS the runner.  Then you try to remove the bad publicity!”  That sounded great.  Something that might help even the scales, and let the corp win sometimes.

But this card is kindof bad.  It requires a ton of investment in order to make it do something.  You have to advance it several times before it becomes reasonable, and that makes its cost really huge, even before accounting for the Bad Publicity.    If they manage to Siphon your money below 8 and then Forged Activation this, after you advance it a bunch, you will be SO sad.

I feel that the main purpose of this card is to make the runner feel really scared of your heavily advanced but unrezzed Ice Wall, or to be advanced 10 times so that you can play Commercialization, and have a big threat.


The main problem with this card is that the bad publicity is pretty much just tacked on as a drawback, but no compensation is given.  This card, without giving the bad pub, should cost like 8.  But they threw a bad pub on there and didn’t reduce the cost at all.


What should this card cost in order to actually be GOOD?  Like, maybe $2 or so.   At a rez cost of 8, you advance it a few times, and you effectively spend like $14-16 (counting the advance clicks opportunity cost), PLUS a bad publicity, and you get a card that a Ninja spends like $6-7 to break.  Then they use Emergency Shutdown on it, and you’re REALLY sad, because you also have a Bad Publicity now.


This card is a doesn’t give us real, playable “Illicit” ice.  I hope that some other illicit ice in the future will be good, and provide reasonable compensation for the drawback.


This card would have been a lot better if Emergency Shutdown hadn’t been printed.  But as is, even if you hurt the runner a lot with it, a Shutdown leaves you crushed, and a forged Activation Orders after you advance it a bunch is pretty devastating.


Still, this has more potential than Grim, as an advance/Commercialization target.  It’s potentially playable in a Commercialization deck, and maybe the Commercialization deck gets a lot better now due to Jackson Howard finding them and then recurring them?



Cyberdex Trial: 3/5 (Meta dependent)

It’s a meta card primarily for a deck that will be falling in popularity, with Jackson Howard hurting Noise a lot.  However, lots of other Viruses get played, and it’s a good way to clear those Parasites and Datasuckers.

If you are seeing lots of viruses, you might want to play this.  It’s a good counter to the current universality of Datasuckers.



Grim: 1.5/5

Wow, what’s with the bad illicit ice?  We were excited for these.

How about a card that REWARDS us for taking that bad publicity.


What should Grim actually cost, if it was just an ice, and didn’t give bad pub?  Well, it’s like a Data Naga from original Netrunner that doesn’t end the run.

Data Naga cost 9.  If you remove the end the run it loses significant value, and is probably worth more like 5-6.  Compared to Rototurret, Grim is better, but by how much?  If Gabriel is pounding you early in the game with no breakers, Grim does nothing.  At least the Rototurret might keep him away until he finds a Ninja.


Grim doesn’t stop the runner.  Grim doesn’t do anything if the runner doesn’t have programs.  Even if he does kill a runner program, they go through it and then they Emergency Shutdown it, and the corp is much worse off due to the bad pub.  And then they can bring back the program with a Clone Chip.


Like Swarm, I feel like Grim should cost about $2 to rez, given the Bad Publicity drawback.   It should be: “Surprise, you thought I was broke?  Lose that program”.  Not “For the same price I could’ve made you lose a program with Rototurret or Ichi, I make you lose a program with a bit more certainty, AND I get a Bad Publicity”.

These two ‘Illicit’ Ice that we have been shown so far basically give no compensation for the bad publicity.  It’s like they took a destructive ice, didn’t modify its cost at all, and made it give you bad publicity.  They should’ve reduced the cost to almost nothing.  We need ice like this that the corp can rez when BROKE, so that the runner is ALWAYS afraid.  Giving a bad publicity is a huge drawback.  It needs SUFFICIENT compensation.

For $5 and a bad pub, I want something like THIS guy:


He does all the things.  And he is a dog.  Corps need some good dogs.




A very polarized set.  Lots of great and terrible cards, not much middle.  Feels like the opposite of some sets where most things feel okay, niche, and borderline, and only a couple things stand out or really suck.


I’m very excited for Jackson and Celebrity Gift.  On the runner side, Rook adds to the denial and R&D attack strategies.

NBN gets Character Assassination, which I think definitely replaces any remaining 3 point agendas, and might replace PSF is you were using that.  Himitsu Bako is a nice cheap barrier that’s resistant to parasite.

Hostage and John Masanori are interesting for runners.  One gives more reliable Kati Jones, Pawnshop, and Pro Contacts.  The other is a high risk/high reward draw-based Desperado effect that might also combo with Data Leak Reversal, though that strategy is weakened by Jackson Howard.


Overall, I think the set finally gives Corp more than Runner.  We need more sets like that.

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