The man asks, “what do you think about The Underway?”
You know that The Underway is a set of Netrunner cards, but you don’t have any opinions about it. You glance at the gun at your temple as you begin typing. You’ve never been more apprehensive about the result of a Google search. You check the top result: “The Underway Set Review”! Salvation!
I rate cards using the following new and improved scale:
1 – Bad
One of the worst cards in the game.
Examples: Salvage, Net Police, Gingerbread, Disruptor
2 – Weak
This card can do things, but it isn’t good enough to be worth playing.
Examples: Alix T4LB07, Thomas Haas, Networking, LLDS Processor
3 – Decent
This card is playable, but competitive decks usually play better cards instead.
Examples: Neural Katana, Subliminal Messaging, Cyberfeeder, Notoriety
4 – Good
A strong card that sees plenty of play.
Examples: Mental Health Clinic, Enigma, Grimoire, R&D Interface
5 – Great
One of the best cards in the game.
Examples: Jackson Howard, Hedge Fund, Parasite, Clone Chip
On to the cards!
Faust gets you into servers like no other breaker, but requires support and a reduced icebreaking burden to be efficient. Wyldsyde + Adjusted Chronotype and D4v1d are essentially mandatory; Datasucker and additional card draw (Inject or I’ve Had Worse) are good as well.
The runners best suited to play Faust are Noise and Quetzal. Noise is relatively uninterested in breaking ice, and Faust lets Noise skimp on breakers while still being able to get in when he needs to. Quetzal eases Faust’s icebreaking burden (and handles Wraparound), appreciates how Faust deals with stacked barriers, and has reason to play e3 Feedback Implants.
Faust is interesting as an alternative to Eater in aggressive Account Siphon decks: it’s faster, can access remotes, and doesn’t get shut out by Crisium Grid. The problem is that it’s much worse than Eater at making Keyhole runs. Be on the lookout for another card like Data Leak Reversal that can bury a corp without needing a lot of runs.
There’s already an entire article about Street Peddler, so I’ll be brief. Digging 3 cards for 0 credits and having them be facedown until you feel like installing as a paid ability (at a discount, even) is great. Street Peddler’s biggest limitation is how it doesn’t work with events, but it’s strong enough that many decks will play fewer events in order to accommodate it.
For a card that begs to be used in janky, mega-turn decks , Hyperdriver is amusingly efficient as a pure economy card – it’s on par with I’ve Had Worse even before considering Kate or Hayley. Leprechaun is the obvious way to handle the 3 memory requirement. Best buddies with Notoriety.
On paper, there are many ways Chameleon can support a Shaper rig: it can cover for Cyber-Cypher, save Lady counters, or support Atman + Datasucker, to name a few. In practice, the fact that Chameleon is hideously inefficient without a lot of support cards means it’s only worthwhile when heavily built around. Personal Workshop and quality-over-quantity runs are the starting point. It sounds like an unworkable idea, but you’d be surprised.
Being only an Icebreaker means it can’t break Wraparound alone or use Lockpick credits, but it also lets Chameleon be hosted on Dinosaurus and handle Swordsman and Turing. Note that Chameleon returns to your hand after you discard down to your maximum hand size.
Armand “Geist” Walker
Geist needs more cards that trigger his ability that are worth playing in their own right. Until then, Geist decks are stuck spending too many card slots to do not enough. Being able to play Fall Guy as Green Level Clearance and getting a degree of flatline protection for free are both nice.
The Breaking & Entering breakers are some of the most linear cards in the game, so there’s not much to say about them. Faerie means that Shiv is the least likely of the trio to see play outside of a dedicated B&E deck.
An Access to Globalsec console is bad. You can get more out of Forger by using the Decoy ability to clear Account Siphon tags, but you need another source of link in order to avoid losing a bunch of programs by turning off cloud. The only runner even remotely interested in that is B&E Geist. I appreciate the flavor of Forger not being unique.
Gang Sign is eventually a dead draw, but against most corps the window for setting it up is large. You want the corp to have multiple agendas in HQ so they are forced to choose between ditching the extra ones and braving the access. Gang Sign is better in more controlling decks: aggressive decks would rather just run HQ, and the longer the game goes on the more cards the corp draws and the more expensive HQ runs become (especially for Criminal). Leela likes how it makes scoring even more awkward for the corp. It’s also nice that Gang Sign works with HQ Interface and isn’t unique.
The dream: blowing up Caprice (or Ash). The problem: the corp can play around Drive By with a preemptive rez. Drive By is much better out of faction, where corps are less likely to play around it. Drive By’s strength in Criminal is cyclical: corps play around it -> runners don’t play it -> corps stop playing around it -> runners play it.
Drive By can still be useful even if you aren’t trashing Caprice, although Desperado makes it less exciting to use it on naked remotes. It can help you connect with Account Siphon by trashing the card the corp was planning to rez. It’s an expose effect, so it’s great against Mushin No Shin decks and other cards with on-access abilities (e.g. Cyberdex Virus Suite).
Muertos Gang Member
Muertos Gang Member’s gets outclassed by Emergency Shutdown and Crescentus due to its weakness to small ice and its hatred of tags. It’s best in the early game where there is less ice rezzed and the corp is potentially more vulnerable. Opportunities for using the trash ability without the corp being able to rez anything good are rare, but it will sometimes be nice in desperation mode or as flatline protection.
Advanceable non-traps are fun: you can bait the runner into unproductive runs, but still get something if the runner doesn’t bite. Getting the payoff even if the runner does run is even more fun.
The derez effect is good for two things: refreshing Adonis Campaign or Eve Campaign and derezzing ice with Parasite on it (either the runner trashes Parasite or it sits there using memory). Test Ground’s biggest problem is its relatively demanding requirements for use. You won’t always be able to stick a campaign, and it’s only practical against slow Parasites. When you do get a window where the effect would be useful, you won’t always be able to afford the tempo to set Test Ground up. Decks with the full Adonis/Eve suite would rather play Breaker Bay Grid.
Jinteki’s reliance on Caprice Nisei for scoring makes bluffing agendas awkward. If you advance without an upgrade outside of a potential scoring window, the runner is going to be suspicious (read their mind and install an agenda instead!). Advancing with a Caprice can potentially trick the runner, but you had better have another Caprice in Archives in case the runner wins the psi game.
The best fit for Allele Repression is Mushin decks, which want as many Mushins and Ronins as they can get. It’s also cute with Snare! and Industrial Genomics. Decks like RP will stick with the more efficient Interns.
Decks that plan on removing bad publicity are rare. Exposé is clunkier than those decks’ bad publicity removers (Elizabeth Mills in Blue Sun, Clone Retirement), and NBN lacks reasons to take bad publicity. Exposé’s best shot is an NBN deck with Executive Bootcamp that wants to tech against Valencia, and perhaps support Grim.
Contract Killer is an extra three clicks and four credits relative to an unboosted Snatch and Grab, and you can’t fire it on-demand with Atlas counters. The upside is that it will work regardless of the credit situation, but at that cost there had better be some credits on Kati. At least it’s not too difficult to set up, and the runner playing around it hurts Kati’s efficiency. Film Critic could provide another connection worth gunning for, especially for Punitive or Midseason decks. Bootcamp Glacier appreciates Contract Killer’s run baiting capability.
The 2 meat damage is mostly irrelevant: it can snipe key cards like I’ve Had Worse or Levy AR Lab Access, but at too steep a cost to be a thing you want to plan on doing. Posted Bounty and Ronin both outclass it as a flatline threat.
A one-shot Caprice is solid. Being a paid ability means you can fire subroutines prior to an encounter that the runner is committed to. The most powerful example of that tactic is trashing a breaker right before the runner encounters a destroyer (pairing Marcus Batty with NEXT Gold is just bullshit), but there’s also cute jank like Chum or Inazuma.
It takes a more compelling reason than Blacklist and Student Loans to justify playing a 3/1 that installs face up and only mills a few cards. If you are somehow crushing the runner by overadvancing this, why are you not just scoring agendas instead?
Countering Femme is the only application of Underway Grid good enough to justify a card slot. It’s nice that you can install it after the Femme is installed and then rez it as they approach the Femme’d ice.
Pachinko’s would need to be a lot better against Lady to be worth the fuss of needing the runner to be tagged. Like a lot of low cost + high strength ice, my favorite thing about Pachinko is the idea of pairing it with cards like Sub Boost and Chum.
Landing brain damage is difficult enough without holding up a giant sign that says “I AM TRYING TO BRAIN DAMAGE YOU”. Runners will play it safe with Defective Brainchips out, so don’t expect to connect with things like Fenris, Ryon Knight, or Heimdall 2.0. Cerebral Overwriter, Edge of World, and Janus 1.0 are your best bet. Countering Stimhack is amusing, though the runner probably wasn’t going to play it anyways.
Spiderweb is Bastion with two strength converted into subroutines. That’s an improvement against breakers – most notably Lady, but also things like Corroder + Net-Ready Eyes / Datasucker, Atman, and Knight – but the elephant in the room is Parasite. How you feel about Spiderweb getting killed by Parasite is the biggest determinant of whether you should play it.